PDA

View Full Version : Iraq - What Went Wrong?



ZippyTheChimp
September 28th, 2003, 09:10 AM
Sunday, Sep. 28, 2003

So, What Went Wrong?

Ever since America's decisive military victory, Iraq has been nothing but trouble. TIME reports on the errors and bad guesses, before and after the war, that got the Bush Administration into this spot

By MICHAEL ELLIOTT

On May 1, off the coast of California, president George W. Bush landed in flying gear on the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln—which sported a banner reading mission accomplished—and said, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

The war, said Bush, had been carried out "with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before."

But the mission wasn't accomplished then, and it still is not. The reconstruction of Iraq has proved far more difficult than any official assumed it would be. Since May 1, 170 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, as sporadic guerrilla attacks have continued. Two potential leaders of the new Iraq—Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and Akila al-Hashimi, a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq—have been assassinated. Also dead is Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. chief representative in Iraq, who was killed when a bomb exploded at U.N. headquarters last month. After a second bombing last week near the building, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan ordered a reduction in the size of the organization's mission—already much smaller than it had once been—for reasons of safety.

Over the long, hot Iraqi summer, frequent power cuts made life unbearable for millions, while the flow of oil, which the Administration had hoped would fund Iraq's reconstruction, was, on some days, less than half what it had been before the war. And despite five months of searching, the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), whose possession by Saddam Hussein had been the principal reason advanced by Bush for the war, are still nowhere to be found. "There are challenges greater than we anticipated," said a White House official last week, while insisting "In time, the benefits of our actions will be quite obvious."

The number of Americans to whom those benefits are obvious right now is in decline. In the latest Gallup poll, Bush's approval ratings dropped to 50%, the lowest since right before Sept. 11, 2001. Some critics of the Administration's hard-liners pull no punches. "It reminds me of Vietnam," says retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, who headed the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. "Here we have some strategic thinkers who have long wanted to invade Iraq. They saw an opportunity, and they used the imminence of the threat and the association with terrorism and the 9/11 emotions as a catalyst and justification. It's another Gulf of Tonkin."

On Capitol Hill, Bush's eye-popping supplementary budget request of $87 billion in the current fiscal year for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan—which includes $20 billion in grants to rebuild Iraq—has left even Republicans gasping. As it becomes clear that there will not be a sudden influx of non-American troops into Iraq, the Pentagon is having to extend tours of duty there of regular soldiers and reservists. Bush's travails have invigorated the Democratic Party; all the Democrats running for the White House make criticism of Bush's record in Iraq a part of their pitch. And although few are brave enough to say it, other world leaders—most of whom opposed the war—can hardly hide their sense that the Bush Administration is getting what it deserves. When Bush spoke before the U.N. General Assembly last Tuesday, he faced an audience he has often described as having the enthusiasm of a "wax museum." The applause that greeted his speech was tepid, while that reserved for war opponent Jacques Chirac, the French President, was, at least by the U.N.'s decorous standards, positively thunderous.

In the speech, Bush said the U.S.-led coalition is "helping to improve the daily lives of the Iraqi people," rebuilding schools and reopening hospitals. The claim is well made. For most Iraqis, everyday life is steadily improving, helped by the onset of cooler weather. But the missteps and violence of the summer, and the realization that the U.S. and its allies will be paying for Iraq in blood and treasure for years, have altered America's politics and foreign policy, making it likely that the 2004 election will be competitive and practically ensuring that if the U.S. wants to embark on another adventure like the pre-emptive war in Iraq, it will do so virtually alone.

Those consequences flow from a series of flawed assumptions and decisions made before the war started—some based on resolute optimism, some based on naivete, and some that carried unfortunate unintended consequences. The Administration's leading members, said Democratic Senator Joseph Biden last week, "believed we would find an oil-rich, functioning country, that we'd be met by cheering crowds, that all we had to do was sweep out the top Baathist layers, implant our favorite exiles and watch democracy take root as the bulk of the troops returned home by Christmas." Allowing for Bidenesque hyperbole, that is not far off the mark. Bureaucratic infighting, wishful thinking and—at least according to his many rivals—an undue influence in Washington exerted by Ahmed Chalabi, the exile leader who is the darling of the neoconservative faction in Washington, contributed to a process by which the Bush Administration got Iraq wrong. Here's how:

WHAT WEAPONS?
Of all the miscalculations on Iraq, few have been as surprising as the inability to find real evidence of Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction. Pentagon officials say the 1,200-strong team led by cia weapons expert David Kay, whose interim report is expected soon, has not found any stockpiles of deadly chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. So far, says an Administration official, "they have come across only parts and pieces and things—and that's about the best they are going to come up with." Members of Bush's senior national security team, says this official, "are as surprised as anyone—they really thought that it would be a lot easier to find, identify and show the world everything that was there." Iraqi sources involved in Saddam's WMD programs, meanwhile, insist that there was nothing to find; all weapons, they say, were destroyed long ago (see following story). For Bush, the failure to find WMD has been a source of political embarrassment. For his principal ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it has been a disaster, as allegations that his government exaggerated a nonexistent threat have sapped confidence in his leadership.

Critics insist that Bush and Blair stretched the available intelligence on WMD until it fit their predetermined decision to go to war. But that can't be the whole story. There is no doubt many British and U.S. officials really believed that Saddam had at least chemical and biological weapons—the British government, certainly, would never have taken the risk of waging an unpopular war if it had genuinely thought there was nothing deadly to be found in Iraq. And in their conviction that Saddam was hiding something, Bush and Blair were not alone. Top members of Bill Clinton's Administration were also convinced that Saddam had WMD programs, and in an interview with Time in February, even Chirac said it was "probable" that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. U.N. weapons inspectors had long said that Iraq had not accounted for all the WMD discovered in the 1990s.

Why were so many people so sure that Saddam had WMD? In part, of course, because he did once have them—and until challenged by U.N. inspectors after the first Gulf War had tried to conceal them. There may, however, have been another reason: Saddam himself apparently thought he had them. Sources tell Time that Western intelligence intercepted communications from Saddam that indicated he was taking a keen interest in the progress of ongoing WMD programs. It may be that evidence of such programs will yet turn up. Or possibly Saddam may have been duped by his own scientists, who didn't tell him their work on WMD was not getting far. (It would have been a brave Iraqi who crossed Saddam on that point.) Alternatively, in the hall of mirrors that was Iraq, Saddam may have been trying to fool everyone into thinking that he had something he hadn't. But if the assumption that Saddam had deadly weapons looks, at least for now, to have been mistaken, it was to an extent understandable.

VICTORY WITHOUT PACIFICATION
The fruitless hunt for WMD has not cost American lives. The failure to understand that the war was not over—and in some ways, had barely begun—when Bush stood on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln, has. The war that was fought in Iraq—with a swift march from the south to Baghdad—was not the war that Pentagon planners had anticipated.

Right up to a few weeks before the start of hostilities, plans had called for the 4th Infantry Division to advance from Turkey through northern Iraq. Administration officials, especially Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who led the negotiations with Ankara, had believed that Turkey would support the U.S. But the prospect of war in Iraq was deeply unpopular in Turkey, and on March 1, the Turkish parliament, dominated by the Islamist A.K. (Justice and Development) Party, turned the U.S. down.

Diplomats and observers in Ankara allocate responsibility for the fiasco in many ways: some blame inexperienced A.K. ministers who overplayed their hand with the U.S., while others point the finger at Wolfowitz, who, say his critics, never understood that with the election of the A.K., military and secular leaders with strong ties to the U.S. no longer monopolized power. Says Emin Sirin, an A.K. parliamentary deputy and Istanbul businessman: "The Americans thought that if you talk to two or three people, you have Turkey in your hands. The whole system has changed, and they didn't appreciate that."

Whoever is to blame, the Turkish mess made it harder to fight the war. With a substantial force coming down from Turkey, there was a chance—though no certainty—of pacifying the "Sunni triangle" to the north and west of Baghdad, including Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. Instead, Iraqi fighters loyal to Saddam left Baghdad and went home, where, motivated by nationalism and tribal loyalties, they could regroup and plan attacks on American forces. It was not until June—in Operations Desert Scorpion and Peninsula Strike—that the fight was taken to them. One battle, for the town of Dululiyah, north of Baghdad, involved 4,000 U.S. soldiers.

The speed of the U.S. advance from the south, coupled with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's determination that the U.S. invading force should be as small as possible, had a further consequence. When the war was over, there were not enough U.S. troops to detain and disarm Iraqi fighters or maintain security in the cities. Governmental authority in Iraq collapsed, leaving the U.S. forces, already stretched thin, to do everything from guarding banks to hunting down guerrillas. "The Americans thought they would come and just slot in at the top," says Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman in Baghdad for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (I.N.C.). "But the whole government basically melted away, and they weren't ready for that."

That failure was compounded by the disastrous decision by U.S. proconsul L. Paul (Jerry) Bremer in May to disband the Iraqi army, which put thousands of armed men on the streets with no pay and no reason to support the Americans. In December a blue-ribbon commission created by the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University had argued the opposite case. The Iraqi army, the panel said, "could serve as a guarantor of peace and stability if it is retrained in part for constabulary duty and internal security mission"—something that has only just been started. Ron Adams is a retired Army lieutenant-general who acted as deputy to retired Army General Jay Garner, chief of the reconstruction effort in its first months. Says Adams: "There were some of us saying, right from the get-go, 'We think there's a troops-to-task mismatch here—I'm not sure there are enough troops to maintain security.'" Ibrahim al-Janabi, of the Iraqi National Accord (i.n.a.), says that in early March, i.n.a. leader Ayad Alawi, who now sits on the Governing Council, met with top U.S. officials, including Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell, to recommend that the U.S. keep the Iraqi army and police force intact to maintain security. Chalabi, for his part, had argued for a U.S.-trained, 15,000-strong military-police force to keep the peace after the collapse of Saddam's regime. "It would have made all the difference in the world," he says. But U.S. policymakers, claims Chalabi, "didn't listen to us at all."

TOO MANY COOKS
That Chalabi thinks he was not listened to by U.S. officials will produce a hollow laugh in both Washington and Iraq. For his opponents in Iraq, the chaos over the summer can be laid at Chalabi's door. "I think the Americans relied on information they got from Iraqis outside the country, especially Chalabi," says Rabiah Mohammed al-Habib, a prominent tribal prince in Iraq. "These people simply wanted military intervention." Sometimes unfairly, Chalabi is blamed for encouraging his friends in Washington to think that an invasion would be a breeze and reconstructing Iraq not much harder.

Chalabi's longstanding links to top officials in the Administration are legendary. He considers Wolfowitz a good friend and the night after the statue of Saddam fell in Baghdad spoke with 12 Senators from his base in Nasiriyah, Iraq. One I.N.C. official says that in the run-up to the war, Francis Brooke, Chalabi's point man in Washington, spoke once a week to Bill Luti, who ran the Pentagon's Iraq policy from the Special Plans Office. Brooke also had access to John Hannah, who runs the Middle East desk in Vice President Dick Cheney's office. "From Day One, we were having discussions with the Bush Administration," says Brooke. "Our views were well known."

And they were influential. A year ago, Tom Warrick, a career State Department official, assembled a Future of Iraq project that brought together more than 200 Iraqis in working groups with U.S. officials observing. The I.N.C. joined only one of the working groups. Chalabi's people dismiss the whole exercise as absurd. "We just thought it was a joke," says an I.N.C. official. Says another: "The idea that there was a well-organized project at the State Department that was producing sophisticated postwar planning is ridiculous. The scholarship was at the high school-essay level." Others believe I.N.C. and its allies in the Administration already knew what they wanted to do and undermined an effort to unite Iraqis of all persuasions around a common project. "What happened to all that work we put in?" says Laith Kubba, an Iraqi at Washington's National Endowment for Democracy. For whatever reason, the Future of Iraq project was pretty much ignored. "The White House barely knew about it," says a former official involved in postwar planning.

In fact, by September 2002, the White House had its own exercise under way. In August of that year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had held contentious hearings on Iraq, focusing on the apparent lack of any postconflict preparation. Just after Labor Day, Rice summoned her top staff to an evening meeting and set up four working groups to try to coordinate inter-agency squabbling. State, as usual, was trying to find a multilateral approach to Iraq and to boost the status of opponents to the regime inside Iraq. The Defense Department was happy to go it alone and rely on its favored Iraqi exiles. The cia, meanwhile, was trying to warn that governing Iraq after the war would not be as easy as some of the exiles had thought.

Rice's working groups failed on two counts. First, they never succeeded in getting State and the Pentagon on the same page. In January Bush assigned responsibility for postwar Iraq to the Pentagon—to which Garner reported—which soon made it plain that everyone else would play a secondary role. But, just as important, the Rice group responsible for postwar planning, led by Elliott Abrams from the National Security Council and Robin Cleveland from the Office of Management and Budget, woefully underestimated the cost of reconstructing Iraq. It was the work of that group that in large part led omb director Mitch Daniels to estimate a year ago that the total price tag of the Iraq adventure would be just $50 million to $60 million, a range Bush surely now wishes were true. The failure to get the costs right turned on two false assumptions: that Iraq's infrastructure was in relatively decent shape and that Iraqi oil exports would pay for much of the country's reconstruction. But Iraq's electricity grid is barely functional, and its oil installations aren't much better. "The oil refineries can't be repaired, in my opinion," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham after a visit to Iraq last month. "They have to be replaced."

How did the Administration get its cost estimates so wrong? The conventional explanation—offered last week by Marine General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—is that "until you get in on the ground, you don't have a thorough understanding of how degraded those systems became." But Iraq isn't on the dark side of the moon. "There were plenty of people in and out of Iraq—inspectors and many other potential sources of information about the state of Iraq's infrastructure," says Ralph Peters, a retired Army intelligence officer. "This was a whopping intelligence failure."

Peters has a point. A report on Iraq to the U.N. Security Council last year stated: "The deficit in electric power as a result of damage inflicted and nonavailability of spare parts and equipment for maintenance is a serious problem throughout the country. The network continues to deteriorate." The Council on Foreign Relations/Rice University study estimated that "rebuilding Iraq's electrical power infrastructure could cost $20 billion to restore its pre-1990 capacity." Many oil experts spent last winter publicly debunking the Administration's assumptions on oil, pointing out that 12 years of sanctions had left the industry in a terrible state. "There has been a great deal of wishful thinking about Iraqi oil," said the Council on Foreign Relations/Rice University report, noting that the oil sector was "being held together by 'Band-Aids'" and estimating that the Iraqi industry needed $30 billion to $40 billion to rehabilitate active wells and develop new fields. "Put simply," the report continued, "we do not anticipate a bonanza." According to Department of Energy figures, Iraq is pumping only about 1.65 million bbl. of oil a day now, compared with 2.8 million before the war and 3.5 million before 1990, which makes that revelation something of an understatement.

LIBERATORS VS. OCCUPIERS
Administration officials insist that U.S. forces were welcomed into Iraq as liberators—which, for a week or so, they were—and that there is still gratitude for their presence now—which is more debatable. In a society that has been as repressed as Iraq's for 50 years, true popular sentiment is hard to judge. Iraq is still getting used to freedom and its boundless possibilities. After the war was over, many stores in Baghdad did not take up their shutters, though it was safe for them to do so. "We're waiting for someone to tell us to open," said an elderly shopkeeper. But whatever horrors they have suffered, Iraq's proud citizens cannot be expected to be happy with the reality of foreign soldiers on their streets. "There is a real nationalistic feeling here," says a European diplomat who has worked in Baghdad for two years. "It is a real country, and it has a real national feeling that it is being occupied. And even if they don't know who will lead them tomorrow, they don't want to be occupied." Kasim al-Sahlani, a senior member of the Dawa Party, a moderate Islamic party that opposed Saddam from within, complains that Bremer said Iraqis were not yet ready to lead the country. "The Iraqis are civilized people," he says, "but Paul Bremer's words make us sound like children."

Joe Fillmore, a contract translator with the 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit, agrees that resentment is deepening. Things may look better on the surface, he says, but there is a growing frustration with the occupation. "The town is divided into two parts," he says. "Those who hate us and those who don't mind us but want us to go." Even Chalabi, who is among the most pro-American people in Iraq, says, "When the U.S. said we are not liberators, we are an occupation force, the views of people changed."

Part of the difficulty is simply cultural. "If an Iraqi policeman stops someone on the street and asks them politely to do something," says al-Janabi of the I.N.A, "that person will be ready to be a ring on the policeman's finger. But if you shout at him like the Americans do and hurt his dignity—he will hate you." In Baghdad a U.S. special-forces officer sadly agrees. "We should have been culturally sensitive," he says. In places like Fallujah, he argues, "we should never have gone into people's houses. Saddam's soldiers never went into houses—they would negotiate and settle things with money. We don't understand how things work around here." That is an honest assessment, not an indictment. There is not the slightest reason in the world why 19-year-old boys from Kansas and Kentucky should know how to deal with Iraqi sensitivities—to get Iraq right—and it is unfair to condemn them for failing to do so. But it is not unfair to judge those who got Iraq wrong and thought five months ago that the mission of those young men, now hunkering down for a longer tour of duty than they ever expected, was over. It is not.

—Reported by Brian Bennett, Simon Robinson, Vivienne Walt and Michael Ware/Baghdad, J.F.O. McAllister/London, Andrew Purvis/Vienna and Timothy J. Burger, Massimo Calabresi, Matthew Cooper, Viveca Novak, Mark Thompson, Douglas Waller, Michael Weisskopf and Adam Zagorin/Washington

Copyright © 2003 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

Punzie
March 8th, 2007, 10:59 AM
Any chance you would re-title this to:

"Iraq - What Went Right?"

kliq6
March 8th, 2007, 11:03 AM
Going in in the first place and not finsihing the job with Bin Laden, the guy who killed 3,000 people here

Punzie
April 28th, 2007, 11:45 AM
The New York Times
April 28, 2007
Books of The Times


An Ex-C.I.A. Chief on Iraq and the Slam Dunk That Wasn’t


By MICHIKO KAKUTANI (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/michiko_kakutani/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Since the publication of Bob Woodward’s 2004 book, “Plan of Attack,” George J. Tenet (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/george_j_tenet/index.html?inline=nyt-per), former director of central intelligence, has become best known for two words: “slam dunk” — that is, for reportedly telling President Bush that intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was “a slam dunk case!” Those words have been quoted countless times, most notably by Vice President Dick Cheney (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/dick_cheney/index.html?inline=nyt-per), who, during a “Meet the Press” appearance last year, suggested that the administration had “made a choice” to go to war based on the “slam dunk” intelligence provided by the C.I.A. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org) — intelligence that later turned out to be wrong.

In his much-anticipated and intermittently fascinating new memoir, “At the Center of the Storm,” Mr. Tenet writes that the whole “slam dunk” scene described in Mr. Woodward’s book took his words out of context and “had been fed deliberately to Woodward” by someone in the White House eager to shift blame from the White House to the C.I.A. for what turned out to be a failed rationale for the Iraq war. In short, he says, he and the agency were set up as “fall guys,” and he was made to look like a fool — rising up, throwing his arms in the air and saying those two words, as if he were “Tom Cruise (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=86295&inline=nyt-per) jumping on Oprah Winfrey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/oprah_winfrey/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s couch.”

In fact, Mr. Tenet says he doubts that W.M.D.’s were the principal cause of the United States’ decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place, that it was just “the public face that was put on it.” The real reason, he suggests, stemmed from “the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.”

Mr. Tenet notes that his “slam dunk” remarks came “10 months after the president saw the first workable war plan for Iraq,” and “two weeks after the Pentagon had issued the first military deployment order sending U.S. troops to the region.” He points out that many senior Bush administration officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/paul_d_wolfowitz/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq long before 9/11, and that Mr. Cheney asked Bill Clinton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/bill_clinton/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s then-departing secretary of defense, William Cohen, before the 2001 inauguration to give the incoming president a comprehensive briefing on Iraq and detail possible future actions.

On the day after 9/11, he adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: “Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility.” This, despite the fact, Mr. Tenet writes, that “the intelligence then and now” showed “no evidence of Iraqi complicity” in the 9/11 attacks.

Alternately withholding and aggrieved, earnest and disingenuous, “At the Center of the Storm” is interesting less for any stunning new revelations than for fleshing out a portrait of the Bush White House already sketched by reporters and former administration members. Mr. Tenet depicts an administration riven by factional fighting between the State and Defense Departments, hard-liners and more pragmatic realists, an administration given to out-of-channels policymaking, and ad hoc, improvisatory decision-making.

“There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat,” he writes of a war that has already resulted in more than 3,300 American military deaths, at least 60,000 Iraqi civilian deaths and already cost more than $420 billion. Nor, he adds, was there “a significant discussion regarding enhanced containment or the costs and benefits of such an approach versus full-out planning for overt and covert regime change.”

Mr. Tenet’s book also ratifies the view articulated by former military, intelligence and Coalition Provisional Authority insiders that the White House repeatedly ignored or rebuffed early warnings about the deteriorating situation in post-invasion Iraq. Mr. Tenet writes that the C.I.A.’s senior officer in Iraq was dismissed as a “defeatist” for warning in 2003 of the dangers of a growing Iraqi insurgency, though it was already clear then that United States political and economic strategies were failing. Although the trends were clear, he adds, those in charge of policy “operated within a closed loop.” In that atmosphere, he says, bad news was ignored: the agency’s subsequent reporting, which would prove “spot-on,” was dismissed.

Mr. Tenet writes that there was “no strategy for when U.S. forces hit the ground” in Iraq, aside from a desire to put the exile Ahmed Chalabi (who had provided administration hawks with much unreliable prewar intelligence) in charge of the country: “You had the impression,” Mr. Tenet sarcastically writes, “that some Office of the Vice President and D.O.D. reps were writing Chalabi’s name over and over again in their notes, like schoolgirls with their first crush.”

He is not optimistic about the current surge in Iraq: sectarian violence, he argues, has “taken on a life of its own,” and he sees American forces becoming increasingly “irrelevant to the management of that violence.”

On the controversial matters of the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques, its covert prison system abroad and its use of “extraordinary rendition” (whereby foreign terrorism suspects are sent to third countries for interrogation), Mr. Tenet simply stonewalls. He asserts that “the most aggressive interrogation techniques conducted by C.I.A. personnel were applied to only a handful of the worst terrorists on the planet” and that those interrogations were “conducted in a precisely monitored, measured way intended to try to prevent what we believed to be an imminent follow-on attack.”

Mr. Tenet does not grapple with reports that the C.I.A. has possibly been implicated in the deaths of at least four detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. He does not grapple with the problem of sorting out the innocent people sometimes swept up in arrests along with genuine Qaeda suspects. And he sheds no light on the secret Justice Department memos establishing interrogation techniques. On the subject of Mr. Bush’s secretly authorizing the National Security Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_security_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org) to eavesdrop without a court order on calls and e-mail messages between the United States and other countries, Mr. Tenet suggests that the idea originated with Vice President Cheney, who he says called him shortly after 9/11 to ask “if N.S.A. could do more” than it was then doing under laws in place since the 1970s.

Although Mr. Tenet acknowledges that the C.I.A. failed to predict the specifics of the 9/11 attack, he cites repeated warnings it issued, over the years, about the dangers posed by Osama bin Laden (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/osama_bin_laden/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Al Qaeda (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/al_qaeda/index.html?inline=nyt-org). Most notably, he describes the alarming intelligence he presented to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per) at a July 10, 2001, meeting — including information from late June of that year that predicted a “big event” was coming. Mr. Tenet’s efforts to spin the C.I.A.’s own failure to watch-list two of the 9/11 hijackers when they first came across the agency’s radar screen two and a half years earlier feel particularly lame: had they been caught, he suggests that Al Qaeda would simply have replaced the two men with other recruits.

As for the C.I.A.’s role in the lead-up to the Iraq war, Mr. Tenet admits that the agency’s reports about W.M.D.’s, cited in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, were flawed. He adds, however, that he himself believed Saddam Hussein (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/saddam_hussein/index.html?inline=nyt-per) possessed W.M.D.’s and he contests allegations that the C.I.A. caved to pressure from administration hard-liners on the matter of W.M.D.’s: “Intelligence professionals did not try to tell policy makers what they wanted to hear,” he writes, “nor did the policymakers lean on us to influence outcomes.”

Mr. Tenet also disputes the allegation made by Tyler Drumheller, the C.I.A.’s former head of the European division, that he — Mr. Drumheller — had raised serious questions about the credibility of a key source known as Curveball with top agency officials before the invasion. He does not, however, come to terms with Mr. Drumheller’s other allegation, made on “60 Minutes,” that a C.I.A. source in Mr. Hussein’s inner circle said in the fall of 2002 that the dictator had no active weapons-of-mass-destruction program and that this information was ignored.

Mr. Tenet describes himself as like his father, “a very trusting man, loath to say anything bad about anyone,” and notes that his staff jokingly called him “the subliminal man” — based on a “Saturday Night Live” skit in which one of the cast members “would say normal things like ‘How are you, madam?’ and then quickly and quietly mutter something different under his breath, such as ‘You miserable twit.’ ” And while he has some nice things to say in these pages about President Bush and Vice President Cheney, there often seems to be an unspoken subtext.

According to Ron Suskind’s 2006 book on the C.I.A., “The One Percent Doctrine,” Mr. Tenet felt indebted to the president for allowing him to keep his job after the 9/11 attacks, and Mr. Tenet repeatedly praises Mr. Bush in these pages as a focused leader, “absolutely in charge, determined and directed.” And yet, at the same time, Mr. Tenet depicts him as presiding over an often dysfunctional administration in which crucial decisions were made without a considered weighing of pros and cons, and expert advice often went unheeded.

As for Mr. Cheney, Mr. Tenet describes thinking of him as very supportive of the intelligence community but then goes on to note numerous occasions in which the vice president delivered or planned to deliver bellicose speeches about Saddam Hussein that exceeded the available intelligence.

Mr. Tenet is more willing to take the gloves off with lower-ranked members of the administration. Condoleezza Rice comes across here as an ineffectual national security adviser, unwilling to make hard calls or mediate among warring parties. Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, comes across as a fool who discounted the C.I.A.’s warnings about Al Qaeda in the summer of 2001, asking Mr. Tenet if he had thought about the possibility that Al Qaeda’s threat was “just a grand deception, a clever ploy to tie up our resources.” And Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, who headed a Pentagon unit that provided the White House with dubious information about a possible Al Qaeda-Iraq connection, is mocked for providing “Feith-based analysis.”

Paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/daniel_patrick_moynihan/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Mr. Tenet concludes: “Policymakers are entitled to their own opinions — but not to their own set of facts.”

Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/28/books/28kaku.html



http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/04/28/books/28kaku190.jpg

AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM
My Years at the C.I.A.
By George Tenet
with Bill Harlow
Illustrated. 549 pages. HarperCollins. $30.

OmegaNYC
April 28th, 2007, 11:46 AM
Iraq: What hasn't gone wrong. That should be the question.

OmegaNYC
April 28th, 2007, 11:47 AM
Going in in the first place and not finsihing the job with Bin Laden, the guy who killed 3,000 people here

That sums it up.

Punzie
May 25th, 2007, 06:34 PM
The New York Times
May 25, 2007

Senators Accuse Bush of Ignoring Warnings on Iraq

By SCOTT SHANE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/scott_shane/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

WASHINGTON, May 25 — Democrats on a deeply divided Senate Intelligence Committee accused the Bush administration today of ignoring warnings in 2003 from the nation’s spy agencies that a post-war Iraq (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iraq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) could face violence and division and that an invasion could strengthen the hand of Al Qaeda (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/al_qaeda/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and Iran.

“Sadly, the administration’s refusal to heed these dire warnings, and worse, to plan for them, has led to tragic consequences for which our nation is paying a terrible price,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the Democratic chairman. It was one of many dueling statements accompanying a long-awaited committee report on the spy agencies’ pre-war predictions of the effects of toppling Saddam Hussein (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/saddam_hussein/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Republicans (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/republican_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org) replied that the 226-page report exaggerated the prescience of the intelligence agencies. They noted that the 2003 assessments barely mentioned the possibility of a Sunni insurgency — a point the committee’s Democratic majority voted not to include in the text — and were “certainly not a crystal ball.”

The overall report was approved by a 10-5 margin, with two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/chuck_hagel/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Nebraska, joining all eight Democrats on the committee. But in a strong dissent, Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, the committee’s Republican vice chairman, said the inquiry “has become too embroiled in politics and partisanship to produce an accurate and meaningful report.”

Senator Bond called the study of pre-war assessments “a bad idea” and called on the committee to stop rehashing past controversies and focus on “the myriad of threats we face today.” But Mr. Bond, along with two Republican colleagues, could not resist adding to the report a 17-page addendum rehashing a favorite issue of their own: the role of Valerie Wilson (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/valerie_plame/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the former Central Intelligence Agency (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org) officer, in arranging a pre-war trip to Africa to investigate Iraqi uranium purchases by Joseph C. Wilson (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/joseph_c_th_wilson/index.html?inline=nyt-per) IV, her husband and a former ambassador.

The committee released declassified versions of the two major pre-war assessments by the National Intelligence Council, one titled “Principal Challenges in Post-Saddam Iraq” and the other “Regional Consequences of Regime Change in Iraq.” The main findings of both documents, originally classified as confidential, have been previously reported, but the report contains fuller versions than those already public.


Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/25/washington/25cnd-intel.html

lofter1
August 31st, 2007, 10:21 AM
U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq

An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts ... The Army last month suspended the company, Lee Dynamics International, from doing business with the government, and the case now appears to be at the center of a contracting fraud scandal ...

Court documents filed in the case say the Army took action because the company was suspected of paying hundreds of thousands in bribes to Army officers to secure contracts ...

... Maj. Gloria D. Davis, a contracting official in Kuwait, shot and killed herself in Baghdad in December 2006. Government officials say the suicide occurred a day after she admitted to an Army investigator that she had accepted at least $225,000 in bribes from the company ...

... Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation or the contracting office in Iraq at the time said “Person B” was Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who worked with an officer who has emerged as a focus of the investigation in the weapons case in Iraq.

That officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, was at the heart of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005.

... Last week, Maj. John Cockerham, a former Army contracting officer in Kuwait, and his wife and his sister were indicted on charges that they accepted up to $9.6 million in bribes for defense contracts in Iraq and Kuwait.

... Lee Dynamics appears to be emblematic of scores of companies formed since the Iraqi government fell to take advantage of billions of dollars in contracts to clothe, feed and arm American troops in Kuwait and to sustain Iraq security forces in Iraq.

According to a July 9 statement by Larry S. Moreland, an agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the company’s founder, George H. Lee, and an unnamed person formed American Logistics Services, a Kuwait-based company, to provide logistical support to the military.

In 2004, the company was awarded $11.7 million in contracts ...

In May 2005, the document said, Mr. Lee and his son, Justin W. Lee, shifted assets and contracts to Lee Dynamics ...

That month, after Major Davis moved to the Pentagon, Lee Dynamics was awarded a $12 million warehousing contract ...

Between August 2005 and April 2006, the company transferred more than $220,900 in three separate deposits to bank accounts controlled by Major Davis ...

According to its Web site, Lee Dynamics’ warehouses in Taji, Umm Qasr, Ramadi, Mosul and Tikrit, all in Iraq, “have received, stored and issued a large part of the more than a billion dollars worth of materials and equipment that has been ordered for the reconstruction of Iraq."


Putting some faces / links to those names so we know who is profiting on this misery ...

Lee Dynamics International (LDI) (http://www.ldikw.com/home.htm)

George H. Lee – President & CEO
Lee Dynamics International (LDI):

http://www.ldikw.com/photos/kem001.jpghttp://www.ldikw.com/images/spacer.gif

CHAIRMAN & CEO
George H. Lee
Tel: (00965) 574-3639
Fax: (00965) 574-3637
E-mail: george.lee@ldikw.com (george.lee@ldikw.com)


Mr. Lee and his son, Justin W. Lee:

http://www.ldikw.com/photos/father-son1.jpg
The Father and Son Dynamic Team


Ahmad F. Al-Shukry – LDI Director,
Government Relations / Managing Director:

http://www.ldikw.com/images/spacer.gifhttp://www.ldikw.com/photos/kem04.jpghttp://www.ldikw.com/images/spacer.gif

Mr. Al-Shukry brings to the table a vast amount of knowledge
and experience having worked in senior management positions
with a renowned multinational Fortune 500 company subsidiary
in Kuwait for several years as well as other major organizations
within the Kuwait business community.


Donald L. Bullock – LDI Senior Vice President,
Operations, Contracts & Business Development:

http://www.ldikw.com/photos/kem02.jpghttp://www.ldikw.com/images/spacer.gif

Mr. Bullock has over 28 years military experience with
the U.S. Army and Department of Defense. Since his
retirement, he has worked with several Defense Contractors
in Program Management and Business Development positions.


Iraq Programs > LDI Overview Iraq Programs (http://www.ldikw.com/ldi-overview-iraq-programs.htm)

Iraq Programs > Iraq Management Team (http://www.ldikw.com/iraq-management-team.htm)

The LDI multi-national team of experienced and highly skilled professionals
in Iraq, has proven itself time and again to be “THE BEST IN THE REGION” ...

... Inspite of all the challenges, LDI personnel continued to deliver the services
and materials to meet the requirements of our customers. During this process,
LDI has also further refined the processes and skills that will be needed ...

In providing a brief description of the LDI mission, it is fair to say that LDI
warehouses have received, stored and issued a large part of the more than
a billion dollars worth of materials and equipment that has been ordered for
the reconstruction of Iraq.


Iraq Programs > Management Team in Iraq (http://www.ldikw.com/management-team-in-iraq.htm)

http://www.ldikw.com/photos/management-iraq4.jpg
Iraq Programs Support Manager, Wilma Diaz,
visiting the Umm Qasar Warehouse & LDI staff.

http://www.ldikw.com/photos/management-iraq3.jpg
LDI President - Justin W. Lee,
Adam J. Abdullah - Warehouse Specialist &
Musttafa Abraham - Warehouse Clerk,
at the office of the Baghdad Police College.

***

lofter1
August 31st, 2007, 10:41 AM
Officer's 2005 Suicide
A Painful Reminder of Corruption in Iraq

muckraker.com (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004022.php)
By Spencer Ackerman
August 28, 2007

With the Pentagon's inspector general set to arrive in Iraq in a few weeks to personally investigate (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004016.php) allegations of corruption in, among other places, the training of Iraqi security forces, it's worth remembering that suspicions of wrongdoing in the command led one officer to take his own life out of apparent shame. In a suicide note left on his bed in Baghdad, Lt. Colonel Ted Westhusing wrote, "I didn't volunteer to support corrupt, money grubbing contractors, nor work for commanders only interested in themselves."

Westhusing, 44, killed himself on June 5, 2005.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/images/westhusing-muck.jpg

Much about Westhusing's case remains a mystery. According to a definitive Los Angeles Times exploration (http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/112805A.shtml#1) of his death published in November 2005, the committed Christian and West Point graduate began working for the training command, known as MNTSC-I, in January of 2005. General David Petraeus, who now leads U.S. forces in Iraq, commanded MNTSC-I in 2004 and 2005. Westhusing's primary responsibility was to oversee a private company, USIS (http://www.usis.com/default.htm), which held a $79 million contract to train Iraqi special forces, and Petraeus told him he had exceeded "lofty expectations."


In May, however, someone -- apparently a USIS contractor -- slipped him an anonymous four-page letter contending widespread corruption within the company and the command. Journalist Robert Bryce obtained the letter (http://www.robertbryce.com/documents/1.pdf) (pdf) earlier this year for a piece in the Texas Observer:
Recently I was told that USIS... is only missing 4 weapons. Now, we just spent the last 9 months with almost 200 weapons missing so I wondered how we went from 200 to 4. The missing weapons are common knowledge within the camp and no one seems to be trying to hide it. The take on it is that the Iraqis are stealing them and it is not our problem. This is not true. A lot of weapons were signed out by instructors and never returned ...
Our Log guys have lost total control over what is issued. If you try to match up what USIS is charging the government, the inventory on camp and what has been issued to Iraqis it will not even be close.The provenance of the letter is unknown, and it alleged even more serious charges -- including contractor murder of Iraqi civilians. Westhusing initially wrote to a commander, Major General Joseph Fil, that USIS was "complying" with the terms of its contract, and that the "evidence suggests the other allegations are not true as well" barely a week before his death. Investigators came to much the same conclusion, though questions about missing weapons were recently corroborated by a Government Accountability Office report disclosing that MNSTC-I lost nearly 200,000 rifles and pistols during 2004 and 2005.

Westhusing -- who friends describe as having fallen victim to depression that spring -- somehow came to believe the claims to be substantiated, perhaps out of a general sense of despair in his mission. He began to make ominous statements about his fate to family members. His wife later told (http://www.robertbryce.com/documents/2.pdf) (pdf) Army investigators that Westhusing told her, "The contractors are corrupt, the Iraqi [sic] were untrustworthy."

On June 5, at a USIS meeting at the military complex surrounding Baghdad International Airport, Westhusing expressed anger at construction delays, funding shortfalls and delays in training Iraqis. He excused himself during a noontime break. When a colleague went looking for him, he found Westhusing face-down on the floor in a pool of blood. There was gunpowder residue on his hands; after a three-month investigation, Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide.

Investigators discovered a note in his trailer that "lashed out" at Petraeus and Fil, and ended, "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."

Now, another MNSTC-I official, an Air Force lieutenant colonel named Levonda Joey Selph, faces questioning (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004016.php) by criminal investigators for unspecified wrongdoing. Recent government reports have hinted at serious problems with the command's contracting process, leading Lieutenant General Claude "Mick" Kicklighter, the Pentagon inspector general, to travel to Iraq in the coming weeks to helm a broad anti-corruption investigation. Whether it can rectify the problems Colonel Westhusing came to believe exist throughout the contracting process in Iraq remains to be seen. But hopefully it will bring a sense of closure to his wife, Michelle, who said in a sworn statement to Army investigators, "I think Ted gave his life to let everyone know what was going on."

***

lofter1
October 9th, 2007, 11:49 PM
Another debacle ...

US Embassy opening in Baghdad delayed indefinitely

REUTERS (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N09435348.htm)
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The opening of the mammoth new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has been delayed indefinitely while its Kuwaiti contractor fixes a punch list of problems, the State Department said on Tuesday.

The sprawling complex, whose cost is edging toward $750 million, was set to open last month but U.S. lawmakers say shoddy work by the contractor and poor oversight by the State Department have delayed it.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack rejected claims of inadequate oversight and said there was no indication how long it would be before the new embassy opened.

"I can't tell you when the embassy is going to open," said McCormack. "We don't have an answer."

McCormack said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was prepared to "cut everybody involved some slack" if the delay fell within the norms of opening a large embassy complex but would demand answers if it dragged on too long.

"Anytime you have a large construction project you have punch list items, and we shall see in, I would hope, the not-too-distant future whether or not ... these delays ... fall outside the norms that one might expect for this kind of project," McCormack said.

"We're not going to buy ourself a turkey here. We're going to make sure that we get what we paid for," he said.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, who heads an oversight committee in Congress, sent a letter to Rice on Tuesday asking her to explain the delay and accusing her department of incompetence and inadequate oversight.

OVER BUDGET

Congress originally allocated nearly $600 million to build the biggest U.S. Embassy in the world but Waxman said the project was now $144 million over that budget.

In addition, he said new documents showed hundreds of violations of fire codes and other regulations and electrical problems throughout the complex.

"These problems were so severe and widespread that the inspectors concluded that none of the buildings on the new embassy compound could be approved for occupancy," wrote Waxman, a staunch critic of the State Department's oversight of its contractors in Iraq.

McCormack said original specifications of the contract changed after it became clear that more office and living space was needed for civilian and military staff.

"It is not a cost overrun. It is an additional contract requirement," he said.

Waxman, in turn, accused the State Department of misleading his committee over the status of the embassy project at a hearing on July 26 when he said senior officials dismissed issues raised by his committee as minor problems.

"It would appear to be gross negligence if the department's senior management were unaware of the defects at the embassy when they testified before the committee," he said.

"Increasingly, it appears that the State Department's efforts in Iraq are in disarray," added Waxman, referring to an investigation involving U.S. security contractor Blackwater.

Asked about Waxman's comments that the State Department's efforts were in disarray, McCormack replied: "That is just a ridiculous statement."

Waxman has opened an inquiry into accusations that the State Department's inspector general interfered with investigations into waste and fraud involving the construction of the embassy. The inspector general rejected these claims.

Copyright (http://www.foundation.reuters.com/copyright.htm)

lofter1
October 9th, 2007, 11:59 PM
Chairman Henry Waxman's Letter (http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20071009103256.pdf) to Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice ...

Dear Madam Secretary:


I am writing to raise new concems about the State Department's $600 million U.S.
Embassy in Iraq. On July 26,2007, the Committee held a hearing to review reports
of numerous problems with the Embassy construction project. In particular, the
Committee asked about allegations of substandard work by the prime contractor,
First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Company, and whether problems with
the fire protection systems, electrical systems, and power plant would delay the
opening of the Embassy beyond its September 2007 completion date and increase
the costs to the taxpayer above the $592 million budget.


At the hearing, Maj. Gen. Charles V/illiams (Ret.), the Director of Overseas Building
Operations (OBO) at the State Department, dismissed all of these concems,
stating emphatically:


I am pleased to report, Mr. Chairman, that the project is on schedule and
on budget. We are slated to complete the project in September of this year
and personnel can begin to move into offrces and residences shortly thereafter.
As to project quality, OBO is proud of its employees and contractors work
on this project.

We have received numerous accolades as to the extremely high quality
of construction. It is among the best that OBO has managed.
This weekend, however, it was disclosed that the Embassy construction project has

gone $144 million over budget and the State Department has delayed its opening
indefinitely ...

Jasonik
October 10th, 2007, 02:22 AM
IRAQ: Blood, Sweat and Tears at New U.S. Embassy
By David Phinney

WASHINGTON, Jun 8 (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38102) - The U.S. Justice Department is actively investigating allegations of forced labour and other abuses by the Kuwaiti contractor (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13258) now rushing to complete the sprawling 592-million-dollar U.S. embassy project in Baghdad, numerous sources have revealed.

Justice Department trial attorneys Andrew Kline and Michael J. Frank with the civil rights division have been contacting former employees of First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting (http://www.firstkuwaiti.com/) and other witnesses for interviews and documents, but declined to comment on the investigation other than to say they are looking into allegations of labour trafficking.

The two investigators are said to be looking for actual workers around the world who claim they were misled or pressured to work in Iraq against their will by the company.

Rumors of forced labour in Iraq have plagued First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting for several years, but U.S. government officials have discounted such allegations by workers from Nepal and the Philippines in the past, even as the company continued to rack up contracts now totaling several billion dollars from the Pentagon and U.S. State Department.

Late last year, several U.S. citizens also said they boarded separate chartered jets in Kuwait loaded with work crews from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Africa holding boarding passes to Dubai, but the planes then flew directly to Baghdad.

More recently, another U.S. citizen told IPS that he was told by workers from Ghana on the embassy site that they thought they would have jobs in Dubai but were then taken to work in Iraq.

lofter1
October 10th, 2007, 10:10 AM
That ^^^ should make us all proud.

The cesspool of Iraq is the one of darkest stains to mark our country. In terms of history-altering misdeeds our "efforts" there are right up near the top of an ugly list. It will take generations of good work for the damage to the region (as well as what has been done to the US & our true purpose) to be reversed -- if that can happen at all.

ManhattanKnight
October 14th, 2007, 08:47 AM
October 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us

By FRANK RICH

“BUSH lies” doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to confront the darker reality that we are lying to ourselves.

Ten days ago The Times unearthed yet another round of secret Department of Justice memos countenancing torture. President Bush gave his standard response: “This government does not torture people.” Of course, it all depends on what the meaning of “torture” is. The whole point of these memos is to repeatedly recalibrate the definition so Mr. Bush can keep pleading innocent.

By any legal standards except those rubber-stamped by Alberto Gonzales, we are practicing torture, and we have known we are doing so ever since photographic proof emerged from Abu Ghraib more than three years ago. As Andrew Sullivan, once a Bush cheerleader, observed last weekend in The Sunday Times of London, America’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques have a grotesque provenance: “Verschärfte Vernehmung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the ‘third degree.’ It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.”

Still, the drill remains the same. The administration gives its alibi (Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples). A few members of Congress squawk. The debate is labeled “politics.” We turn the page.

There has been scarcely more response to the similarly recurrent story of apparent war crimes committed by our contractors in Iraq. Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

The gunmen who mowed down the two Christian women worked for a Dubai-based company managed by Australians, registered in Singapore and enlisted as a subcontractor by an American contractor headquartered in North Carolina. This is a plot out of “Syriana” by way of “Chinatown.” There will be no trial. We will never find out what happened. A new bill passed by the House to regulate contractor behavior will have little effect, even if it becomes law in its current form.

We can continue to blame the Bush administration for the horrors of Iraq — and should. Paul Bremer, our post-invasion viceroy and the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts, issued the order that allows contractors to elude Iraqi law, a folly second only to his disbanding of the Iraqi Army. But we must also examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.

I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press — the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration’s case — failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

In April 2004, Stars and Stripes first reported that our troops were using makeshift vehicle armor fashioned out of sandbags, yet when a soldier complained to Donald Rumsfeld at a town meeting in Kuwait eight months later, he was successfully pilloried by the right. Proper armor procurement lagged for months more to come. Not until early this year, four years after the war’s first casualties, did a Washington Post investigation finally focus the country’s attention on the shoddy treatment of veterans, many of them victims of inadequate armor, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals.

We first learned of the use of contractors as mercenaries when four Blackwater employees were strung up in Falluja in March 2004, just weeks before the first torture photos emerged from Abu Ghraib. We asked few questions. When reports surfaced early this summer that our contractors in Iraq (180,000, of whom some 48,000 are believed to be security personnel) now outnumber our postsurge troop strength, we yawned. Contractor casualties and contractor-inflicted casualties are kept off the books.

It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.

Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military’s holes. With the war’s entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.
We ignored the contractor scandal to our own peril. Ever since Falluja this auxiliary army has been a leading indicator of every element of the war’s failure: not only our inadequate troop strength but also our alienation of Iraqi hearts and minds and our rampant outsourcing to contractors rife with Bush-Cheney cronies and campaign contributors. Contractors remain a bellwether of the war’s progress today. When Blackwater was briefly suspended after the Nisour Square catastrophe, American diplomats were flatly forbidden from leaving the fortified Green Zone. So much for the surge’s great “success” in bringing security to Baghdad.

Last week Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war combat veteran who directs Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, sketched for me the apocalypse to come. Should Baghdad implode, our contractors, not having to answer to the military chain of command, can simply “drop their guns and go home.” Vulnerable American troops could be deserted by those “who deliver their bullets and beans.”

This potential scenario is just one example of why it’s in our national self-interest to attend to Iraq policy the White House counts on us to ignore. Our national character is on the line too. The extralegal contractors are both a slap at the sovereignty of the self-governing Iraq we supposedly support and an insult to those in uniform receiving as little as one-sixth the pay. Yet it took mass death in Nisour Square to fix even our fleeting attention on this long-metastasizing cancer in our battle plan.

Similarly, it took until December 2005, two and a half years after “Mission Accomplished,” for Mr. Bush to feel sufficient public pressure to acknowledge the large number of Iraqi casualties in the war. Even now, despite his repeated declaration that “America will not abandon the Iraqi people,” he has yet to address or intervene decisively in the tragedy of four million-plus Iraqi refugees, a disproportionate number of them children. He feels no pressure from the American public to do so, but hey, he pays lip service to Darfur.
Our moral trajectory over the Bush years could not be better dramatized than it was by a reunion of an elite group of two dozen World War II veterans in Washington this month. They were participants in a top-secret operation to interrogate some 4,000 Nazi prisoners of war. Until now, they have kept silent, but America’s recent record prompted them to talk to The Washington Post.

“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an M.I.T. physicist whose interrogation of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, took place over a chessboard. George Frenkel, 87, recalled that he “never laid hands on anyone” in his many interrogations, adding, “I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Capn_Birdseye
October 15th, 2007, 04:51 AM
Iraq - What Went Wrong?

What do you expect when its based on a tissue of lies & deceit and "pushed" by the neo-cons in cahoots with the Military/Industrial/Oil Industry complex?

Its been an utter disaster for the US and its allies, including Britain, it was never going to work!

jemstone123
October 15th, 2007, 05:17 AM
In My eyes Bush Destroyed our country..why did we get involved really..it was his idea not ours. we shouldn't have joined
blah..

Jasonik
January 12th, 2008, 12:18 PM
Baghdad Embassy Is Called A Fire Risk
'Serious' Problems Were Ignored, Says State Dept. Official

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 12, 2008; A01 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/11/AR2008011103772.html?wpisrc=newsletter)

The firefighting system in the massive $736 million embassy complex in Baghdad has potential safety problems that top U.S. officials dismissed in their rush to declare construction largely completed by the end of last year, according to internal State Department documents, e-mails and interviews.

Some officials assert that in the push to complete the long-delayed project, potentially life-threatening problems have been left untouched. "This is serious enough to get someone killed," said a State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation. "The fire systems are the tip of the iceberg. That is the most visible. But no one has ever inspected the electrical system, the power plant" and other parts of the embassy complex, which will house more than 1,000 people and is vulnerable to mortar attacks.

Other sources involved in the project, also requesting anonymity, insist that disputes involve technical paperwork issues, largely because the contractor had never built an embassy and did not realize that under State Department rules it needed approval for substituting certain materials. Now, much of that work needs to be reexamined and checked, they said, substantially delaying the project's completion.

The finger-pointing over fire safety is a microcosm of the suspicion that hangs over the troubled project, which is built on acreage almost four times the size of the Pentagon. Originally expected to be completed by July 1, 2007, at a cost of $592 million, the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world has been plagued by poor planning, shoddy workmanship and design changes that have added to the cost. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of the contract and related subcontracts, sources said.

Patrick F. Kennedy, the undersecretary of state for management, said he was aware of the fire-safety concerns. He said that although the project manager determined last month that the facility is substantially complete, it will not be considered finished until Kennedy signs the certificate of occupancy.

Kennedy said that the fire system, "as installed, did not meet specifications" and needed to be fixed, and that so far only the main underground water lines have been certified. The rest of the fire-suppression system is still being examined, he said. "That's why we do these final inspections and accreditations," he said. "You check and you check and you check."

Some of the problems became apparent when plastic pipes burst during an underground water-pressure test last fall. The pipes had been installed by First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, the firm in charge of building the embassy compound. State Department fire-safety experts said the failure highlighted a cascade of problems in the embassy's fire-suppression system that would take months to fix, including replacing the plastic pipes with cast-iron ones.

The plastic pipes were ripped out and replaced, and top officials then turned to an outside consulting firm for a reassessment, State Department documents show. When that consulting firm uncovered additional problems in October and November, top officials involved in the project tried to whittle down the list of possible repairs. First Kuwaiti then hired its own consultant to assist with the testing.

Just days before he resigned from the State Department, retired Maj. Gen. Charles E. Williams, the head of State's Overseas Building Operations, initialed a key document on Dec. 12 certifying that the water system was working properly.

The Justice Department probe is said to focus on James L. Golden, a contract employee who oversaw the project, and Mary M. French, the project coordinator based in Baghdad, according to sources and congressional testimony. Both Golden and French were viewed by many at State as resistant to questions, and both have left the project in recent weeks. Officials in Washington and Baghdad said their departures have greatly improved the atmosphere for the final inspections.

In an e-mail exchange obtained by The Washington Post, French insisted that First Kuwaiti's fire-safety consultant not send reports and data to Washington, even after the consultant received a request on Dec. 12 from William G. Miner, the State Department's director of engineering. Miner wrote that he was seeking "some assurance from a fire inspector" that the systems were working properly.

"The data/report will come thru my office," French instructed the consultant, who worked for Baltimore-based Hughes Associates. "It should not be sent directly to Mr. Miner."

Golden did not respond to e-mails, and French declined to comment. Miner did not respond to e-mails and phone calls. A spokesman for First Kuwaiti also declined to comment, citing restrictions under the company's contract. During construction of the project, the company has faced allegations of poor building and labor practices.

As early as October 2006, State Department fire inspectors raised concerns about the embassy's alarm and sprinkler systems. Several sources said the inspectors were denied permission to reinspect the systems after Golden and French assured them that the problems had been fixed.

Then, in September 2007, the pipes burst during a pressure test, and the inspectors discovered that many of the problems they had identified had been ignored. The inspectors documented hundreds of violations of the contract specifications and of fire codes and regulations, according to portions of the report made public by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in October.

Kennedy this week praised State's fire-safety experts as "pros, former fire marshals, who had identified problems out there so that they could be corrected."

One problem the inspectors raised was that First Kuwaiti had used plastic piping for the water mains. Although the firm's contract, dated May 13, 2005, called for plastic pipes, according to a copy, the State Department issued new regulations for embassies worldwide on Feb. 28, 2006, that insisted on cast-iron pipes. Ordinarily, such a change would be renegotiated with the contractor, but French did not tell First Kuwaiti of the change, according to two sources, and so it installed the wrong piping.

When the State Department inspectors identified this and other lapses in construction, Williams, the head of overseas building, hired another company, Schirmer Engineering of Chicago, to reinspect the fire-safety system. Schirmer produced reports on Oct. 22, Oct. 29 and Nov. 1 that uncovered even more problems. Williams and Golden appeared to minimize the issues in e-mails and directives, and then Schirmer's contract was ended. Williams did not respond to a request for comment, and Schirmer officials declined to comment.

First Kuwaiti then hired Hughes Associates, though it received an e-mail on Nov. 8 from a top State Department official saying that hiring such a consultant "is not a contract requirement." The Hughes representative signed a document stating that he witnessed a test of the fire-safety system on Dec. 7, but that did not mean he said it was working properly, said Philip J. DiNenno, president of Hughes.

"I am aware of some work done by the State Department inspectors and a contractor hired by State," DiNenno said, adding that Hughes is preparing a report on the fire systems. "I guess it wasn't coincidental that we heard from First Kuwaiti in November."

On Dec. 12, Williams initialed a statement saying that the underground piping for the fire system met requirements. On Dec. 28, project officials in Baghdad notified him that construction of the compound "has been substantially completed in accordance with the contract plans." Williams left the State Department three days later.

lofter1
January 12th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Our tax dollars at work, building a new and safer world ...

Wondering how much of a commission Rumsfeld & Cheney made on this deal?




Baghdad Embassy Is Called A Fire Risk

'Serious' Problems Were Ignored, Says State Dept. Official

... finger-pointing over fire safety is a microcosm of the suspicion that hangs over the troubled project, which is built on acreage almost four times the size of the Pentagon.

... First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, the firm in charge of building the embassy compound ...

... The Justice Department probe is said to focus on James L. Golden, a contract employee who oversaw the project, and Mary M. French, the project coordinator based in Baghdad ... Both Golden and French were viewed by many at State as resistant to questions, and both have left the project in recent weeks ...

In an e-mail exchange obtained by The Washington Post, French insisted that First Kuwaiti's fire-safety consultant not send reports and data to Washington, even after the consultant received a request on Dec. 12 from William G. Miner, the State Department's director of engineering ...

"The data/report will come thru my office," French instructed the consultant, who worked for Baltimore-based Hughes Associates. "It should not be sent directly to Mr. Miner."

Golden did not respond to e-mails, and French declined to comment.

"Helluva job, Frenchy!"

:cool:

First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting

Clients (http://www.firstkuwaiti.com/clients/index.php):

Our clinets [sic] include a long list of governmental departments,
government organizations and private companies and clients.

Below is a list of our major clients:

-US Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE)
-Halliburton, Kellog Brown & Roots (KBR)
-US Government, Army
-US Government, Marine
-US Government, Air Force for Environmental Excellence (AFCEE), subcontract through ECCI
-Bechtel

http://www.firstkuwaiti.com/images/clients_logos1.jpghttp://www.firstkuwaiti.com/images/clients_logos2.jpghttp://www.firstkuwaiti.com/images/clients_logos3.jpg

lofter1
January 12th, 2008, 03:27 PM
Will any of this become an issue in the Presidential Election?

The players in this sordid game have received their introductions.

A reminder of what our ruling class hath wrought ...

Suicide Is Not Painless

So far some $6 billion worth of contracts are being investigated for
waste and fraud, however slowly, by the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/opinion/21rich.html?_r=1&oref=slogin)
By FRANK RICH
October 21, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

It was one of those stories lost in the newspaper’s inside pages (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/16/us/16contract.html). Last week a man you’ve never heard of — Charles D. Riechers, 47, the second-highest-ranking procurement officer in the United States Air Force — killed himself by running his car’s engine in his suburban Virginia garage.

Mr. Riechers’s suicide occurred just two weeks after his appearance in a front-page exposé (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/30/AR2007093001402.html) in The Washington Post. The Post reported that the Air Force had asked a defense contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute, to give him a job with no known duties while he waited for official clearance for his new Pentagon assignment. Mr. Riechers, a decorated Air Force officer earlier in his career, told The Post: “I really didn’t do anything for C.R.I. I got a paycheck from them.” The question, of course, was whether the contractor might expect favors in return once he arrived at the Pentagon last January.

Set against the epic corruption that has defined the war in Iraq, Mr. Riechers’s tragic tale is but a passing anecdote, his infraction at most a misdemeanor. The $26,788 he received for two months in a non-job doesn’t rise even to a rounding error in the Iraq-Afghanistan money pit. So far some $6 billion worth of contracts are being investigated (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/washington/21contract.html) for waste and fraud, however slowly, by the Pentagon and the Justice Department. That doesn’t include the unaccounted-for piles of cash, some $9 billion in Iraqi funds, that vanished (http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/01/30/iraq.audit/) during L. Paul Bremer’s short but disastrous reign in the Green Zone. Yet Mr. Riechers, not the first suicide connected to the war’s corruption scandals, is a window into the culture of the whole debacle.

Through his story you can see how America has routinely betrayed the very values of democratic governance that it hoped to export to Iraq. Look deeper and you can see how the wholesale corruption of government contracting sabotaged the crucial mission that might have enabled us to secure the country: the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure, from electricity to hospitals. You can also see just why the heretofore press-shy Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater USA, staged a rapid-fire media blitz a week ago, sitting down with Charlie Rose (http://www.charlierose.com/guests/erik-prince), Lara Logan (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/13/60minutes/main3364195.shtml), Lisa Myers (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12410322/) and Wolf Blitzer (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0710/14/le.01.html).

Mr. Prince wasn’t trying to save his employees from legal culpability in the deaths of 17 innocent Iraqis mowed down (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/world/middleeast/03firefight.html) on Sept. 16 in Baghdad. He knows that the legal loopholes granted (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/11/world/middleeast/11legal.html) contractors by Mr. Bremer back in 2004 amount to a get-out-of-jail-free card. He knows that Americans will forget about another 17 Iraqi casualties as soon as Blackwater gets some wrist-slapping punishment (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g4OiK8Bkks3epqQ-eXeiSGX6cu7g).

Instead, Mr. Prince is moving on, salivating over the next payday. As he told (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119240518691958669.html) The Wall Street Journal last week, Blackwater no longer cares much about its security business; it is expanding into a “full spectrum” defense contractor offering a “one-stop shop” for everything from remotely piloted blimps to armored trucks. The point of his P.R. offensive was to smooth his quest for more billions of Pentagon loot.

Which brings us back to Mr. Riechers. As it happens, he was only about three degrees of separation from Blackwater. His Pentagon job, managing a $30 billion Air Force procurement budget, had been previously held by an officer named Darleen Druyun, who in 2004 was sentenced (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/02/business/02boeing.html) to nine months in prison for securing jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law at Boeing while favoring the company with billions of dollars of contracts. Ms. Druyun’s Pentagon post remained vacant until Mr. Riechers was appointed. He was brought in to clean up the corruption.

Yet the full story of the corruption during Ms. Druyun’s tenure is even now still unknown. The Bush-appointed Pentagon inspector general delivered a report to Congress full of holes in 2005. Specifically, black holes: dozens of the report’s passages were redacted (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/06/AR2005060601715.html), as were the names of many White House officials in the report’s e-mail evidence on the Boeing machinations.

The inspector general also assured Congress (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/07/AR2005060701751.html) that neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz knew anything about the crimes. Senators on the Armed Services Committee were incredulous. John Warner, the Virginia Republican, could not believe that the Pentagon’s top two officials had no information about “the most significant defense procurement mismanagement in contemporary history.”

But the inspector general who vouched for their ignorance, Joseph Schmitz, was already heading for the exit (http://www.dodig.mil/fo/Foia/ERR/recusalletter_061505.pdf) when he delivered his redacted report. His new job (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083102602.html) would be as the chief operating officer of the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company.

Much has been made of Erik Prince and his family’s six-digit contributions (http://weblogs.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/blog/2007/10/grilled_blackwater_chairman_a.html) to Republican candidates and lifelong connections (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/08/washington/08prince.html) to religious-right power brokers like James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Mr. Prince maintains that these contacts had nothing to do with Blackwater’s growth from tiny start-up to billion-dollar federal contractor in the Bush years. But far more revealing, though far less noticed, is the pedigree of the Washington players on his payroll.

Blackwater’s lobbyist (http://moneyline.cq.com/pml/lobbyist-profile.do?lobbyistId=2555181&lobbyRegistrantId=22770) and sometime spokesman, for instance, is Paul Behrends, who first represented the company as a partner (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/29/AR2006032902278.html) in the now-defunct Alexander Strategy Group. That firm, founded by a former Tom DeLay chief of staff, proved ground zero in the Jack Abramoff scandals. Alexander may be no more, but since then, in addition to Blackwater, Mr. Behrends’s clients have included (http://thehill.com/business--lobby/bottom-line-2007-09-04.html)a company called the First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Company, the builder (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/20277.html) of the new American embassy in Iraq.

That Vatican-sized complex is the largest American embassy in the world. Now running (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/06/AR2007100601450.html) some $144 million over its $592 million budget and months behind schedule, the project is notorious for its deficient, unsafe construction, some of which has come under criminal investigation (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/20676.html). First Kuwaiti has also been accused (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118118318284127413.html) of engaging in human trafficking to supply the labor force. But the current Bush-appointed State Department inspector general — guess what — has found no evidence of any wrongdoing.

Both that inspector general, Howard Krongard, and First Kuwaiti are now in the cross hairs (http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1528) of Henry Waxman’s House oversight committee. Some of Mr. Krongard’s deputies have accused (http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/004327.php) him of repeatedly halting or impeding investigations in a variety of fraud cases.

Representative Waxman is also trying to overcome State Department stonewalling to investigate corruption in the Iraqi government. In perverse mimicry of his American patrons, Nuri al-Maliki’s office has repeatedly tried to limit the scope (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/world/middleeast/07iraq.html) of inquiries conducted by Iraq’s own Commission on Public Integrity. The judge in charge of that commission, Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, has now sought asylum (http://oversight.house.gov/story.asp?ID=1514) in America. Thirty-one of his staff members and a dozen of their relatives have been assassinated, sometimes after being tortured.

The Waxman investigations notwithstanding, the culture of corruption, Iraq war division, remains firmly entrenched. Though some American bribe-takers have been caught — including Gloria Davis, an Army major who committed suicide (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06E7DC1339F937A1575AC0A9619C8B 63) in Kuwait after admitting her crimes last year — we are asked to believe they are isolated incidents. The higher reaches of the chain of command have been spared, much as they were at Abu Ghraib.

Even a turnover in administrations doesn’t guarantee reform. J. Cofer Black, the longtime C.I.A. hand who is now Blackwater’s vice chairman, has signed on (http://www.mittromney.com/News/Press-Releases/Cofer_Black_Joins_Romney_Campaign) as a Mitt Romney adviser. Hillary Clinton’s Karl Rove, Mark Penn, doubles as the chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, the P.R. giant whose subsidiary helped prepare Mr. Prince for his Congressional testimony. Mr. Penn said (http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/1007/Client_of_the_day_Blackwater.html) the Blackwater association was “temporary.”

War profiteering happens even in “good” wars. Arthur Miller made his name in 1947 with “All My Sons,” which ends with the suicide of a corrupt World War II contractor whose defective airplane parts cost 21 pilots their lives. But in the case of Iraq, this corruption has been at the center of the entire mission, from war-waging to nation-building. As the investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele observed (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/10/iraq_billions200710) in the October Vanity Fair, America has to date “spent twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars to rebuild Iraq as it did to rebuild Japan — an industrialized country three times Iraq’s size, two of whose cities had been incinerated by atomic bombs.” (And still Iraq lacks reliable electric power.)

The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption (http://www.texasobserver.org/article.php?aid=2440), not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

Colonel Westhusing’s death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case (http://www.hachettebookgroupusa.com/books/87/0316166286/chapter_excerpt24536.html) in his book “Blood Money.” Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America’s engagement in Iraq as a suicide note.

“I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars,” Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. “I am sullied.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

BrooklynRider
January 13th, 2008, 07:43 PM
I love all the links here to supporting documentation.

lofter1
January 13th, 2008, 07:49 PM
That ^ seems to be a new feature of NY Times commentaries.

It used to be that Times' links simply took you to info within the NY Times (and therefore I would de-link all the text when posting Times articles).

Capn_Birdseye
January 14th, 2008, 05:17 AM
A very interesting and informative piece lofter, thanks for posting it. When will decent Americans rise up against the corrupt and self-serving cabal that has inflicted so much pain in its continual lust for power and money?

BenL
January 16th, 2008, 01:24 PM
Iraq: What hasn't gone wrong. That should be the question. The fact that Iraq is a democracy rather a dictatorship; that a dictator who committed some of the worst genocides of the late twentieth century is no longer in charge; that since the US surge, Baghdad is beginning to get more stable?


The cesspool of Iraq is the one of darkest stains to mark our country.
And what about Iraq? It was hardly a paradise before the war...

And whilst I have lots of respect for America, I think the lack of action on global warming, Guantanamo, the UN sanctions on Iraq and lack of action on Bosnia were/will be considerably worse in your country's recent history!

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 06:12 PM
Britain doesn't get off lightly in regards to Iraq, so you might want to wipe that smirk off your face ;)

BenL
January 16th, 2008, 06:19 PM
What do you mean? I support Britain and America's decision to go in, even if as the articles suggest, there were huge failings in the practicalities of the reconstruction and healing of wounds on both our countries' parts. I get an awful sense of history repeating itself with Britain retreating from Basra (for largely populist motives) and entrusting control to vicious fundamentalist militia. This may guarantee short term stability but not the democracy and freedoms I believe motivated Blair to commit British troops.

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 07:01 PM
I mean that neither Britain nor the USA thought through what the F they were going to really do in Iraq. And together they stirred up a wasps nest of trouble. And that Britain is greatly responsible for the pseudo-country of Iraq to begin with. And thereby has blood on its hands for everything that has taken place there for the past 80+ years. And if Britain went in to liberate or free or democratize Iraq then they sure as hell left too early because no matter how many times you say it what is there now is not a democracy. And to say "Well you Americans aren't doing such a great job now, but in the beginning our intentions were good" is just a big CROCK.

I don't think that the stated reasons for the Invasion are what motiviated either Bush or Blair at all. And if both or either truly believed that their actions could or would bring Freedom and Democracy to an area which had no historic basis for such a society then they denser than one can possibly imagine.

Anything else that might not be too clear?

BenL
January 16th, 2008, 07:27 PM
I wasn't ranting at you so I don't see why you need to rant at me...

If you understood my post (;)), you'd see I accepted there was a real lack of planning and decisions made after the war against Hussein had been won. You'd also see I said it is wrong that Britain is retreating from Iraq. It is technically a democracy but despite the relative stability in the areas Britain controlled they are effectively controlled by militias which have complete contempt for democracy. I actually said the Americans are doing a much better job than the British at the moment...

I really don't like what you're getting at in your last statement. Should we have said that to Germany or Japan after WW2 - you don't understand democracy and you've never had it, so it's too much of a risk to give it to you... Should America not have bothered with the Constitution because there was no real tradition of democracy? Eastern Europe has had little experience of democracy but the countries of the EU-27 are just as democratic as America's first modern democracy.

I don't think what you said can be reconciled with a belief in democracy. Surely support for democracy is rooted in the concept that is universal, a human right by virtue of our common humanity?

What do you believe Blair's motivations were?

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 08:32 PM
If I'm ranting then it is due to statements such as this, which to me shows a complete lack of forethought and little to no understanding of consequences, and thereby exhibits a failure of logic:


I support Britain and America's decision to go in, even if as the articles suggest, there were huge failings in the practicalities of the reconstruction and healing of wounds on both our countries' parts.
Could we please move beyond the words, words words and get own to the real terrifying results of the god-awfully stupid decision to "go in"?

Leaders who think they can "shock & awe" a people into a state of democracy are deluded. And those who follow behind the leaders who make such claims are not much more clear-headed.

Regarding Blair's motivation: One would have to dig into the netherworlds of the leader's head to find out what the motivation might be. I think if one can get beyond the platitudes of Freedom and Democracy and get down to the nitty gritty in the grey matter it would become apparent that some sort of personal aggrandizement is operating ("Look what Good I did for the World"). Unfortunately ego building like that that has nothing to do with the very improtant nation building, which might actually feed the mothers of deposed bureaucrats or educate the children of dead soldiers.

Here we are in 2008. We have MBAs / CEOs running the western world. The state of the finances in the USA shows that many of those folks aren't necessarily the sharpest pencils in the box.

These fools have tried to implement a 10-year plan that just doesn't work. Never could have. Never will.

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 08:35 PM
And please realize that none of this ^ is personal.

It's just that tonight I find myself in despair over the state of the world.

investordude
January 16th, 2008, 09:27 PM
I think we should be grateful to the Brits for standing with us. It's not their fault Rumsfeld screwed up so badly. Ultimately, we were the primary military partner and deserve the credit for these screw ups.

I have to say 1 thing though - the NYT has taken a blow in my opinion on credibility. Why did they publish that story saying Iraqi veterans come back as violent, even though the murder rated they cited is significantly lower than the crime rate among the general population of 18-34 year olds in the US. It just seems like they want to bad mouth our troops with a totally bogus story.

Like most people who oppose the war, I take offense at smears against our troops. Just because George Bush is a f-cking moron doesn't mean our troops are non honorable, just and moral. And the only place I've seen ethical lapses is with mercenary contractors like BlackWater that Congress still hasn't acted to rein in and make subject to the rule of law.

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 11:30 PM
Of course Britain is completely blameless and only helped to invade Iraq because they have no brains of their own and only did what they were told to do.

WTF?

And of course the NY Times has slipped. I hear their are union workers on that paper.

investordude
January 17th, 2008, 12:44 AM
Britian didn't make the decision to send in too few troops, which is why the war went badly. I think its fair to say we controlled strategy in Iraq, for the most part. I'm greatful to Britain for their friendship and steadfastness in standing with us for the common purpose of liberty - even in this case I happen to disagree that the war was a good idea.

I can see you're still smarting from my accurate assessment that unions damage America in other threads, but I didn't say anything to that effect about the Times article. They have a liberal bias, although I don't think unions have anything to do with that. (To their credit, most union people are fiercely patriotic - even the organized crime linked unions like the Teamsters are patriotic).

lofter1
January 17th, 2008, 11:20 AM
What do you mean "Britain didn't make the decision to send in too few troops"???

Who made the decsion about how many troops Britain would offer as part of the deal to invade Iraq?

investordude
January 17th, 2008, 11:57 AM
Britain at the end of the day is a country with about the population of the east coast. I just don't think they have enough young and able bodied people who would be in a position to send in several hundred thousand troops to make up for our failure to send in the right number of troops in the beginning. We have 5 times the population they do.

And don't forget they have troops in Afghanistan. They have more of their amred forces overseas on a percentage basis than we do. We're the ones who needed to send in the right troop number. Britain decided to act as America's steadfast ally, and I think we owe them our gratitude for that, and take responsibility for screwing up and ignoring general shinseki.

lofter1
January 17th, 2008, 12:34 PM
We need to give gratitude to the Brits for making the same stupid mistake that our leaders made when invading Iraq?

Interesting way of looking at the debacle.

And Afghanistan is a whole separate issue. To link Afghanistan <> Iraq is to buy the whole load of crap taht the neo-cons have been selling for the past years.

It was a pack of lies then and it remains a pack of lies now.

Capn_Birdseye
January 17th, 2008, 02:01 PM
I think its fair to say we controlled strategy in Iraq, for the most part.
You mean there actually was a strategy? :) You could have fooled me!

I'm greatful to Britain for their friendship and steadfastness in standing with us for the common purpose of liberty
I don't believe the "common purpose" was "liberty", it was more to do with oil. All Tony B Liar did, as many British Prime Ministers have done in the past, was play poodle at George W's feet, humiliating us in the process. But hey, Tony B Liars gone and now receives his pay-off, a non-show job at J P Morgan's paying him a cool £1m! Being a poodle pays even if your self-respect and service to your country doesn't.

Ninjahedge
January 17th, 2008, 02:33 PM
CB, I think you are exaggerating. I think Blair played it much better than Bush, but was forced to capitulate in order to keep Bush's glaring almost xenophobic ignorant belligerent comments in check.

I do not agree with what the UK did, or its strident support for the US without questioning things that SHOULD have been questioned, but I do not put him in as a lap dog.

That association is only made by those that want to consider themselves as superior to him in some way and elevate their own social status by means of denigration of those above them.

Your points have merrit, but you managed to put the hammer through the wall in your attempts to nail them in.

lofter1
January 17th, 2008, 02:44 PM
Either the UK has / had full responsibility or Blair was a patsy. One or the other. There is no in-between when it comes to Iraq. A country cannot "sort of" go to war.


If the following comments posted in this thread don't paint the picture of the UK as a mere "lap dog" (which is not my personal take on the situation) then I'm not sure what the Brits should be called:
"Britain at the end of the day is a country with about the population of the east coast ... decided to act as America's steadfast ally"

"I think its fair to say we controlled strategy in Iraq"


"our fault, not Britain ... I think we should be grateful to the Brits for standing with us. It's not their fault Rumsfeld screwed up so badly. Ultimately, we were the primary military partner and deserve the credit for these screw ups."

investordude
January 17th, 2008, 05:30 PM
I think there is a difference between a friend and a lap dog. I think Britain agreed with us about overthrowing Sadaam and disagreed about post war planning or troop levels. But Britain has mostly refocused on Afghanistan and more stable parts of southern Iraq, so I think its clear that reflects they acted as an ally rather than a patsy. I'm not sure they screwed up the parts they were responsible for, and so I don't think we should hold them responsible (though I think Gates may be right that we need smarter thinking in Helmand about counterinsurgency fighting).


We are clearly a more powerful country than Britain. But I don't think its fair to say that means they are a lap dog, or we treat them that way.

lofter1
January 17th, 2008, 08:34 PM
Well, I think there is a clear distinction between someone who leads and is responsible and someone who follows and is thereby a patsy / lap dog and can pretend that the responsibility lies elesewhere.

I turn to the great playwright Edward Albee, who in his laugh-a-minute "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" presented the distinction as that of one who is either a "stud" or a "houseboy" (but never the twain shall meet) ...

VID (http://youtobe.51ksp.com/watch?v=_H7IRs1vmS4&feature=related)

Capn_Birdseye
January 18th, 2008, 06:59 AM
I think Britain agreed with us about overthrowing Sadaam
The British people certainly did not support Blair's enthusiasm to go to war against Iraq. Blair planned this in secret well before the British people or Parliament even had a whiff of what was going on behind closed doors. Blair had to resort to the dodgy intelligence dossier to somehow "justify" his illegal and immoral actions.

The Sunday Times May 01, 2005

Blair planned Iraq war from start

Michael Smith
http://images.thetimes.co.uk/images/trans.gif

INSIDE Downing Street Tony Blair had gathered some of his senior ministers and advisers for a pivotal meeting in the build-up to the Iraq war. It was 9am on July 23, 2002, eight months before the invasion began and long before the public was told war was inevitable.

The discussion that morning was highly confidential. As minutes of the proceedings, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, state: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.”
In the room were the prime minister, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, and military and intelligence chiefs. Also listed on the minutes are Alastair Campbell, then Blair’s director of strategy, Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Sally Morgan, director of government relations.

What they were about to discuss would dominate the political agenda for years to come and indelibly stain Blair’s reputation; and last week the issue exploded again on the political scene as Blair campaigned in the hope of winning a third term as prime minister.

For the secret documents — seen by The Sunday Times — reveal that on that Tuesday in 2002:

Blair was right from the outset committed to supporting US plans for “regime change” in Iraq.
War was already “seen as inevitable”.
The attorney-general was already warning of grave doubts about its legality. Straw even said the case for war was “thin”. So Blair and his inner circle set about devising a plan to justify invasion.
“If the political context were right,” said Blair, “people would support regime change.” Straightforward regime change, though, was illegal. They needed another reason.

BenL
January 18th, 2008, 07:20 AM
If I'm ranting then it is due to statements such as this, which to me shows a complete lack of forethought and little to no understanding of consequences, and thereby exhibits a failure of logic:


Could we please move beyond the words, words words and get own to the real terrifying results of the god-awfully stupid decision to "go in"?

Leaders who think they can "shock & awe" a people into a state of democracy are deluded. And those who follow behind the leaders who make such claims are not much more clear-headed.

Regarding Blair's motivation: One would have to dig into the netherworlds of the leader's head to find out what the motivation might be. I think if one can get beyond the platitudes of Freedom and Democracy and get down to the nitty gritty in the grey matter it would become apparent that some sort of personal aggrandizement is operating ("Look what Good I did for the World"). Unfortunately ego building like that that has nothing to do with the very improtant nation building, which might actually feed the mothers of deposed bureaucrats or educate the children of dead soldiers.

Here we are in 2008. We have MBAs / CEOs running the western world. The state of the finances in the USA shows that many of those folks aren't necessarily the sharpest pencils in the box.

These fools have tried to implement a 10-year plan that just doesn't work. Never could have. Never will.
But surely so much does lie in whether something is completed competently? The question of whether you believed it was right to invade should not really influence what our countries should do now: the likes of Obama seem to think that because they did not support the invasion (in 2002 at least...) that absolves them of any responsibility for the situation now. Surely you would accept that if your country invades another in the name of democacy and freedom, it has an obligation to its people not to leave until that objective is accomplished?

Western air strikes in Kosovo, for which there was pretty much consensual support for showed many of the characteristics of Iraq: US/UK led, even less of a UN Mandate, genocidal dictator... One of the biggest differences was in the execution. Britain had built up a major coalition of support for the attacks so that the lack of a UN Mandate was considered less important and the mission was a success. Iraq has not been so successful but the moral basis behind invasion does not seem hugely different to me...

Shock and awe was a successful military strategy against the Baathist armed forces, it's a bit glib to suggest it was used against the Iraqi people.

I think this is where we disagree. I wish there had been better plans made for nation building, that more resources were put in to the invasion and that more time was taken to encourage a broader coalition (as Blair wanted). But these are all practical concerns which would have probably made the invasion a success but not really changing the morality of the war. Look at Blair's foreign policy up to Iraq and read his 1999 speech (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/international/jan-june99/blair_doctrine4-23.html)in Chicago. I think it's clear he had a worked out doctrine of humanitarian interventionism. I'm sure that is because he thought it would do the world good, by spreading freedom and democracy.


We need to give gratitude to the Brits for making the same stupid mistake that our leaders made when invading Iraq?
Again you lump the practicalities (troop numbers) with the moral question (whether to invade in the first place). As of January 2007, Britain had 30,000 troops deployed abroad and spends more than any country in the world, bar the United States, on defence. Last year, the Chief of Defence staff warned that British forces were "very stretched" and the ex-Chief warned in November that "the forces are at full stretch".

ZippyTheChimp
January 18th, 2008, 08:27 AM
If the invasion was justified on moral grounds (removing a repressive regime from power and installing a democracy), it should have been sold on that basis.

Iraq was the same dictatorship before 09/11. Would the people of Britain and the US have supported the war plans if 09/11 had not occurred?

The justification for the invasion was that Iraq was a threat to the US. Given that this view was not merely an error in judgment, but a deliberate distortion; I don't see how you could call the invasion morally justified.

Your WWII example is a poor one. Regardless of what was done after the war, the reason the Allies went to war had nothing to do with removing repressive regimes and installing democracy. There was reason and opportunity to do that long before the war began.

investordude
January 18th, 2008, 08:34 AM
capn, I agree the war was controversial in both the US and the UK, with more people in the UK in opposition. But I also think the UK is fairly democratic, and that there was a more vigorous discussion of the war's potential downside in the British media than in the US. But at the end of the day, parlaiment could have passed a no-confidence vote in Blair and there would have been a new PM who could have gone in a different direction. Just like Congress could have withheld funding for the war in the US. Democracy works, and polls don't always measure intensity of feeling by the way - I think a lot of people had the studious position the war was folly but didn't really vehemenetly opposse it the war people in favor of the war ardently favored it. If the politicians had misjudged sentiment about the war, Blair would have been gone a lot sooner.

BenL
January 18th, 2008, 09:13 AM
More than that, there was a vote in Parliament on March 18 2003 on whether Britain should go to war. Blair stated Britain would not invade and he would resign as Prime Minister if the government lost the debate. A debate on a war, having never been done before in Britian, struck a new precedent and Brown is now working on plans to constitutionally transfer powers of declaring war from the Prime Minister to Parliament.


If the invasion was justified on moral grounds (removing a repressive regime from power and installing a democracy), it should have been sold on that basis.

Iraq was the same dictatorship before 09/11. Would the people of Britain and the US have supported the war plans if 09/11 had not occurred?

The justification for the invasion was that Iraq was a threat to the US. Given that this view was not merely an error in judgment, but a deliberate distortion; I don't see how you could call the invasion morally justified.

Your WWII example is a poor one. Regardless of what was done after the war, the reason the Allies went to war had nothing to do with removing repressive regimes and installing democracy. There was reason and opportunity to do that long before the war began.

It's true that Britain didn't declare war on Germany to spread democracy, although I would argue self-interest only played a part in the decision. Naivety and unwillingness to deal with reality combined with a justifiable long-term view explains the ultimately successful policy of appeasement under Chamberlain. But anyway, I don't see how the weak argument that a lack of history of democracy somehow makes democracy impossible is anyway altered by the reasons for WW2. I also gave the examples of Eastern Europe, which now have very strong democracies despite over 40 years of Soviet domination.

I accept that the war probably would have encountered more opposition, certainly in the US, if it had been proposed before 9/11. I wish Iraq had been sold on humanitarian interventionism from the start, although to be fair Blair's speech to Parliament on the day of the vote spoke of regime change in these terms:

"But [regime change] is the reason, I say frankly, why if we do act we should do so with a clear conscience and strong heart.
I accept fully that those opposed to this course of action share my detestation of Saddam. Who could not? Iraq is a wealthy country that in 1978, the year before Saddam seized power, was richer than Portugal or Malaysia.
Today it is impoverished, 60% of its population dependent on food aid.
Thousands of children die needlessly every year from lack of food and medicine.
Four million people out of a population of just over 20 million are in exile.
The brutality of the repression - the death and torture camps, the barbaric prisons for political opponents, the routine beatings for anyone or their families suspected of disloyalty are well documented.
Just last week, someone slandering Saddam was tied to a lamp post in a street in Baghdad, his tongue cut out, mutilated and left to bleed to death, as a warning to others.
I recall a few weeks ago talking to an Iraqi exile and saying to her that I understood how grim it must be under the lash of Saddam.
"But you don't", she replied. "You cannot. You do not know what it is like to live in perpetual fear."
And she is right. We take our freedom for granted. But imagine not to be able to speak or discuss or debate or even question the society you live in. To see friends and family taken away and never daring to complain. To suffer the humility of failing courage in face of pitiless terror. That is how the Iraqi people live. Leave Saddam in place and that is how they will continue to live." March 18, 2003

If you read the assessment (http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page271.asp)of the British government prior to invasion, the evidence appears pretty strong. I don't recall any government opposed to the war at the time saying that Iraq didn't have WMDs...

investordude
January 18th, 2008, 09:32 AM
I'm oppossed to the war and was at the time, as I thought Hussein was a bad guy but a lower priority than rebuilding Afghanistan.

But, I think its unlikely we attacked them for oil, as some have proposed, for the simple reason that we would have just taken the oil and stayed clear of the urban warfare that hobbled us. Defending an oil field is the kind of mission the militaries of the west are good at - its the guerilla warfare where friend and foe look alike and we don't want to harm civilians that we don't do well.

Capn_Birdseye
January 18th, 2008, 01:16 PM
I'm oppossed to the war and was at the time, as I thought Hussein was a bad guy but a lower priority than rebuilding Afghanistan.
I agree with you investordude, but we in Britain were worried by Blair's, (as it turned out, false), claim that Saddam had missiles he could deploy within 45 minutes. This statement painted all sorts of frightening scenario's in people's minds, which was probably the reason for Blair uttering it in the first place. The dodgy dossier, built on exaggerated and tenuous intelligence was the cornerstone of Blair's headlong rush into war.

It is all about OIL. J P Morgan has nicely and neatly mortgaged Iraq'a oil production to American banks for the next 40 years with little chance that much will find its way to helping the poor Iraqi people in their everyday lives.
I'm sure, given the chance, this is how the Military/Industrial/Oil/Neo-Con complex would love to redraw the map of the Middle East:

BenL
January 18th, 2008, 01:34 PM
JP Morgan is an investment bank. Do you have any evidence for it becoming an energy company? If we were so fussed about the oil, we would have done as France and Russia did and continued to trade with Iraq rather than take part in a multi-trillion dollar war. Even if the war was (against economic sense) for oil, we would have given control of the oilfields to BP, Esso, Shell etc. It has been kept for use by the Iraqi people. The only possible way one could argue it has been used for Coalition interests is the way in which (in a resolution passed 14-0 by the UN) some of the oil wealth was used to pay for reconstruction of Iraqi infastructure. But that hardly makes us a profit...

Capn_Birdseye
January 18th, 2008, 02:04 PM
J P Morgan is not an energy company, its as you rightly say an investment bank, but you're missing the point. The part it plays is as a financial co-ordinator in terms of securing the oil assets against goods and services provided by Halliburton, Bechtel, etc.

Suggest you take a look at these links:

http://www.carbonweb.org/documents/media_release_crude_designs_UK.pdf

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9119641061303735733&q=Iraq+For+Sale%3A+The+War+Profiteers+%09Iraq+For+ Sale%3A+The+War+Profiteers

investordude
January 18th, 2008, 02:22 PM
In truth, US banks haven't done enough financial business with either Iraq or Afghanistan. If I as president had a war, I'd have put some pressure on the banks to do business there. You don't need to force that with legislation - just use the bully pulpet and keep the issue in the public eye.

I'd also have written enough of a first draft of their legal systems to ensure constracts get enforced, etc, so the banks agreed to sign on. But I think the antiwar folks make a mistake when they paint banks as the villain - you need banks to rebuild a nation.

Halliburton is a different story - we made a mistake by handing them contracts instead of local companies. The west is also ignoring the potential for Indian and Chinese companies to help us. Very few skilled people want to give up their comfortable lives to go live in Africa or Afghanistan. China and India have willing people who could help (just look at Africa and Chinese business emerging there)

ZippyTheChimp
January 18th, 2008, 02:59 PM
But I think the antiwar folks make a mistakeThe antiwar folks.

LOL

investordude
January 18th, 2008, 03:26 PM
zippy, I guess I'm showing off I lived in other regions before. I still do the thing where I start saying y'all when I travel to certain parts of the country - by the way, I have to say y'all is a great innovation, as English is one of the only languages without a plural version of "you."

Yeehaw!

Jasonik
January 18th, 2008, 03:40 PM
Yeah, who says folks? :rolleyes:

I have great sympathy for the moderators -- who must refrain from using the ignore function.

Ninjahedge
January 18th, 2008, 04:47 PM
The war itself was not for oil, but without it, we would not have had it.

It was to try to establish a more secure position in the middle east. We have no real solid stable allies there that would not be a significant drain on us or a possible liability. So, establish a democracy! Hooray! The people will rejoice, love us, and give us a military base filles with flowers and all the oil we can ship!

Not.

But the only reason we really need a base/position in that area is because of the oil. w/o it, there are not many other reasons to be mucking around out there. SO that brings us back to the whole "war for Oil" thing again.


Look at it this way. Afghanistan kind of liked us going in there and taking out the baddies. They did NOT like us piddling off anf going elsewhere before they could secure everything. Now, thanks to us, world Heroin prices are down and dealers everywhere are feeling the burn.

But Afghanistan did not really have any marketable resources. Poppies? Um, yeah. Pet rocks? PLENTY! But nothing that would make them a self sustaining ally. We would have to give them billions a year just to get cable TV and Israel would get jealous.

So, next step, Iraq. Relatively small, a dictator we helped establish, religious radicals surpressed by military regime, Enough oil to actually MAKE us money rather than cost us for an alliance. PERFECT!

We go in, sweep the dictator out, everyone is happy and instantly takes over, we build Wal-Marts, CostCo's and Exxon stations in every neighborhood and move out.


So the war was not FOR oil, but it was most definitey BECAUSE of oil. Slight, but significant difference.

Does it invalidate the positions on either side? Not really, but this black-and white diametrically opposed "debate" on oils place in the war gets us nowhere. The "libbies" should stop doing the "blood for oil" campaign, and the "Arse clenchers", Oh I am sorry, but "conservatives" is not an insult, yet. The "conservatives" should stop denying the influence that oil obviously had on the whole schmear.

Anywho. Most important thing now is how to solve this. The "surge" has helped in some areas, but, as the name implies, this is only temporary. How can we set up more than a "green zone" and get all the kiddies to play nice in the sandbox together? You think seperate sandboxes is the answer? Or just have a bunch of military standing in the middle of it for them to shoot at?

I don't know.

investordude
January 18th, 2008, 04:54 PM
Yep, the best argument against the war is that the money would have been better spent kicking our addition to oil. But that opportunity may be lost in the short term.

I'm less confident than the media that the surge is working. Violence is down, admittedly, but I still think we should get out of there - we're arming Islamic extremists who just don't happen to go by the name Al Queda. Eventually, they'll start killing us just like bin Laden turned on us after we were no longer useful to him

Jasonik
January 18th, 2008, 05:27 PM
Oil in Iraq (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/irqindx.htm)

Click around here a bit.

Capn_Birdseye
January 19th, 2008, 11:32 AM
Greenspan admits Iraq was about oil, as deaths put at 1.2m

Peter Beaumont and Joanna Walters in New York
Sunday September 16, 2007
The Observer (http://www.observer.co.uk/)

The man once regarded as the world's most powerful banker has bluntly declared that the Iraq war was 'largely' about oil.Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987 and retired last year after serving four presidents, Alan Greenspan has been the leading Republican economist for a generation and his utterings instantly moved world markets.
In his long-awaited memoir - out tomorrow in the US - Greenspan, 81, who served as chairman of the US Federal Reserve for almost two decades, writes: 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.'

Some reader comments from The Timesonline:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article2461214.ece

The American military has been reduced to a form of corporate welfare, serving only to protect Cheney's Haliburton employees while they steal billions of unmetered oil from the Iraqi people. Americans are paying to retrieve the oil, both in blood and with tax dollars, and then paying to receive the oil they already paid for when they buy it back at the pump.

Socialized expenses, privatized profits.

America: land of the greed and home of the slaves.

Amy, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

______________________________

Its incredulous that anyone would not think that oil was the key motive for our invasion of Iraq. And it is even more so that we are still discussing why we went to war 4 1/2 years afterwards. Our reasons for going to war in Iraq are as old as history - simply put "conquer and plunder". During the "conquer" phase, a weak target is selected that has something you want - you then beat the hell out of them and later strut around flaunting your mettle. We saw this from Mr. Bush with "Mission Accomplished" and "Bring 'em on". But the real payoff is when you can loot their stuff - in this case oil. People might remember phrases such as "Iraqui oil will pay for the reconstruction", "$20 a barrel oil", and such. This was the administration's *real* energy policy. And its not without precedent - we did the same thing to the Spanish during the Spanish-American war, the Mexicans during the Mexican-American war and and certainly the American Indians during the Indian wars.

Warren Trimble, Grand Haven, MI, US

__________________________________

R. Hunt of Hunt oil was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board by his close friend George Bush signed an oil agreement with the Kurds. You are right Mr. Greenspan, it is the blood of our soldiers for oil. It is time to impeach.


Vegan, Las Vegas, NV

investordude
January 19th, 2008, 12:01 PM
I mean, on the war, he's just some guy speculating. Don't get me wrong - if Iraq didn't have oil or was located somewhere else, we would have ignored it. But I don't think the fact that our foreign policy puts a higher priority on crises in strategic country means we went in to steal Iraq's oil. If we wanted the oil, we would have taken it.

lofter1
January 19th, 2008, 12:38 PM
What do you mean "would have taken it"?

Who do you think is profiting from Iraqi oil now?

Jasonik
January 19th, 2008, 12:41 PM
I reiterate. (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=210262&postcount=57)

lofter1
January 19th, 2008, 12:51 PM
This thread gives new meaning to "falling upon deaf ears" ....

Jasonik
January 19th, 2008, 12:57 PM
What?

lofter1
January 19th, 2008, 01:57 PM
This might cure what ails ya (http://www.earclear.com/) ...

http://www.pharmacydirect.co.nz/productimages/4539med.jpg

investordude
January 19th, 2008, 02:23 PM
jasonik, I dunno, sounds like its just some random think tank. Think tanks say all kinds of things. Am I looking for something in particular?

By the way, lofter1, if we're profiting from Iraqi oil, I must not understand economics very well. The truth is we COULD have profited from Iraqi oil- we could have only defended the oil fields with a mild force (maybe 10k troops and air cover), and then pumped the oil. We haven't even rebuilt the oil capacity to prewar levels yet - mainly because we are trying to stop problems in the cities. We wouldn't be worrying about the cities if oil was the goal.

Oil was a factor in the invasion - the fact that it gave the Iraqis money means they are more dangerous than, say, Uganda was in the 70s or Sudan is today. But I don't think we went to take it from them.

Not that the war wasn't a stupid idea.

Jasonik
January 19th, 2008, 02:42 PM
Ahh yes... the truthiness doctrine. Documentable historical facts have relative verity if they don't support proclivities.

Click some more. (http://www.iamb.info/)

investordude
January 19th, 2008, 07:23 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcrtjkb5Jf4

Maher is criticizing think tanks on the right (accurately). But left wing think tanks are also biased in their factual presentation. Aside from the occassional use for a RAND study analyzing military weapons effectiveness, the truth is think tanks are partisan elements of the Washington establishment.

lofter1
January 19th, 2008, 07:43 PM
I certainly didn't mean that it was the common American taxpayers who are profiting from the Iraqi oil. I'm not so stupid as to think that. We're all just getting screwed, money wise.

But there are definitely a few well-placed Americans who are profiting quite nicely from whatever oil is coming out of the ground over there. Not to mention the guys who have those ancilliary companies (http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/41083/) connected to the Iraqi rebuilding effort & the Iraqi oil biz (you really can't separate those two aspects of Iraq).

Curious: Does that country have any real cash crop (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N29558670.htm) other than Texas Tea? I mean, aside from dates (http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=358&Itemid=110) and opium (http://current.com/items/88817539_opium_becoming_the_new_cash_crop_in_iraq) ?

btw, IDude: You keep saying things like this:




... we could have only defended the oil fields with a mild force (maybe 10k troops and air cover) ...

But even with 15 X that number of troops in Iraq the US has not been able to fully secure and adequately maintain the production and flow of oil so that Iraq could reach pre-war production levels, as this ARTICLE in the Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0714/p02s01-woiq.html) explains and this REPORT from NBC news (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6621523/) describes.

Nevertheless the chaos & corruption that has ensued since the invasion seems to work well for those being paid to do reconstruction -- and those providing security for same. One might be wise to wonder if that outcome was not foreseen as a possible scenario. It sure seems like those civilian companies were up and ready to go pretty damn quick after the invasion. If nothing else it warms my heart to know that Rumsfeld put some energy into that business when he was playing Secretary of Defense (he sure as hell didn't think through the military aspect of his little foray). What was it that he thought he was defending, anyway?

Bottom line: Profits are NOT going to the Iraqis. The general population is experiencing rampant unemployment, an utter lack of essential services and a complete disruption of any semblance of a working society. Not to mention that most of the intelligentsia have fled to safer lands (if they were lucky enough not to be killed).

How anyone can look at the current outcome over there and think, "Well, side from some unfortunate bad luck, it could have gone well" is really not seeing the big picture -- and giving far too much credit to those who trotted out the old fairy tale:

Freedom & Democracy at the Point of a Gun.

lofter1
January 19th, 2008, 11:03 PM
Lest anyone bring forth an argument that the Iraqi people are happier now ...

Discontent Surging In Iraq


I would rather live in Saddam Hussein's hell than the paradise of these new leaders.

Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/19/discontent-surging-in-ira_n_82328.html)
by HAMZA HENDAWI
January 19, 2008

BAGHDAD — In the depths of a strangely cold winter in the Middle East, Iraqis complain that the lights are not on, the kerosene heaters are without fuel and the water doesn't flow _ and they blame the government.

And with the war nearing its fifth anniversary, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is feeling the discontent as well from the most powerful political centers in the majority Shiite community.

It's a pincer movement of domestic anger that yet again could threaten al-Maliki's hold on his Green Zone office.

"Where's the kerosene and the water?" asked Amjad Kazim, a 56-year-old Shiite who lives in eastern Baghdad. "We hear a lot of promises but we see nothing."

Little kerosene is available on the state-run market at the subsidized price of $0.52 a gallon. But the fuel can be found on the black market, where it goes for more than $3.79 a gallon.

Overnight temperatures since the first of the year have routinely fallen below freezing when normally they only dip into the upper 30s Fahrenheit.

An average household needs at least 1.32 gallons a day to stay warm, which translates into a monthly expense of $150, or half what an average Iraqi earns.

"I have had no electricity for a week, and I cannot afford to buy it from neighborhood generators," said Hamdiyah Subeih, a 42-year-old homemaker from Baghdad's Shiite Baladiyat district. "I would rather live in Saddam Hussein's hell than the paradise of these new leaders."

Even during the shortages of last summer's heat, most Iraqi's were counting on electricity for air conditioners, fans and refrigeration about half the day. Now it's off for days at a stretch in many areas and on only a few hours daily on average, residents say.

"My children are so happy when the power comes back on they dance," said Marwan Ouni, a 34-year-old college teacher from Tikrit, Saddam's hometown north of Baghdad. "For me, the nonstop power cuts have made my life tedious. It's depressing."

That's the view from below, despite a considerable reduction in violence across the country. The view among those who hold power here is growing equally bilious.

Stinging criticism late last week from Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of parliament's largest Shiite bloc, was a stark break with the past. And a threat by Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric who once supported al-Maliki, not to renew an expiring six-month cease-fire he imposed on his feared militia could upend recent security progress.

In admonishing tones, al-Hakim called on the government and parliament not to be "entirely focused on political rivalries at the expense of the everyday problems faced by Iraqis." He also demanded that lawmakers quickly adopt key legislation divvying up the country's oil wealth and setting the rules for provincial elections to be held later this year.

He spoke of administrative and financial corruption, saying Iraqis were now forced to pay bribes to get business done with ministries and government agencies.

"It makes one's heart bleed ... it's a violation of man's freedom and dignity," he told tens of thousands of supporters in Baghdad on Friday.

Al-Hakim's harsh words carry considerable weight because his party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, is al-Maliki's most important backer after al-Sadr pulled ministers loyal to him from the Cabinet last year and took his 30 lawmakers out of the Shiite bloc.

Al-Hakim's focus on the daily hardships of most Iraqis finds a ready audience among those struggling to keep warm through one of the coldest winters in years. It snowed across Baghdad for the first time in living memory on Jan. 11. And al-Sadr's huge following among more radical Shiites could close the pincer on al-Maliki.

Copyright © 2008 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

investordude
January 20th, 2008, 12:40 AM
Well, I won't bring up that argument because I think the war has been a disaster, and that its unlikely the military surge will hold unless we see very tangible improvements in people's lives fairly soon. Given the lack of focus on bringing in financial players to capitalize on the security improvements and start creating jobs and business, I'm skeptical the surge will hold violence down for more than another 6 months.

But I see the probability of McCain winning the White Hous on the back of "the surge is working" rhetoric rising dramatically. I hope the surge works -- but I really, really doubt it will hold over the long term.

lofter1
January 20th, 2008, 11:05 AM
It seems you're correct on the sruge. But not on McCain taking the White House. How can he talk about fiscal responsibility and the need to rein in out of control government spending on the one hand and then support the continuing war effort of the other? The war -- beyond anything else -- is what is bankrupting the USA.

Back to the surge: It will only hold as long as troop levels are kept at the current numbers. Once the numbers drop down then the balance of power will shift and the various factions within Iraq will go at each other once again. The current lack of services only exacerbates that situation -- and might render the surge ineffective before troop levels drop. The failure to implement reconstruction further plays into this. And the failure to foresee the difficulty of rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure that (A) was bombed by US / Coaliton forces into oblivion and (B) was not in great shape before the invasion is tied directly into the intital (unworthy) plan to go to war.

If you are building a new house where another one once stood and demolition goes well but the construction of the new building doesn't then you really can't say "Well, part of our plan was good."

The one means nothing without the other.

Jasonik
November 26th, 2008, 08:05 PM
Vast U.S. Embassy in Baghdad: A monument to what?

By Roy Gutman | McClatchy Newspapers (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/56416.html)


"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away."


Shelley's lines about a long-forgotten ruler's monument to himself come unavoidably to mind the first time one visits the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The vast, fortified complex is sterile and austere, not the open door ambiance for which Americans like to be known. Congressional funding didn't cover landscaping, so where gardens and grass should be, there's only dirt. In Iraq's hot, dry climate, it turns to dust, which blows into the eyes of anyone walking through the compound. At night, when sodium lamps illuminate the red brick construction, it has an eerie feel, like a scene out of a sci-fi movie

The compound exudes power, but also fear. It was built during the heaviest phase of fighting for an immense sum – $740 million dollars – with specs set by pessimists who assumed mortars would be fired at it for years. The cafeteria has massive bulletproof glass doors, an indoor gym is visible behind bulletproof glass as is an indoor swimming pool, and there are housing and offices for 1,000.

This colossal complex will shortly replace the current embassy – the Republican Palace built by Saddam Hussein and seized by the conquering U.S. army in 2003. That monument to pomposity, decorated in the gaudy style to which the dictator was accustomed, at least has some architectural touches borrowed from Mesopotamian history. And it will once again receive state visitors, when it is returned to the Iraqi government.

But who will be occupying the new U.S. Embassy complex in 10 years? Will there be new tenants? Will there be buckets out to collect rainwater dripping through the roof, as there were the other day at the Palace? Will grass and bushes ever be planted or will it be left to the wind: a center of Western presence in Iraq or a monument to the still inexplicable decision to come here and assert what some thought to be limitless power.

Baghdad is a place of many questions, but none so trenchant as those put to me by an Iraqi journalist: Why are you here? You overthrew a tyrannical government but then you demolished the security structure, so you had to stay. Was it oil? Did you hope to take charge of the region? What did you have in mind? And what are your plans?

There’s no ready answer to these questions except the last. U.S. plans are now clear: according to the status of forces agreement just approved by the Iraqi cabinet, U.S. forces will be completely gone in three years.

The terms of that agreement are testimony to the improvement in security. It's not safe — the remnants of al Qaida in Iraq, which sprang up after the U.S. invasion in 2003, can still stage suicide bombings — but it's nowhere near so dangerous as it was. The progress in security, the sine qua non for everything else, is solid, though incomplete, according to politicians across the political spectrum, and there’s a sense of hope, according to Iraqis who otherwise are in open disagreement.

"Yes, of course," this is a moment of hope, says Sheikh Ali Hatem al Suleiman, the prince of the largest Sunni tribe, the Dulaim.

Yet, five and one half years later, the country of 24 million is still hopelessly broken.

Electricity is being distributed – but not by the state. Instead, private entrepreneurs have set up generators and sell it by the ampere.

Baghdad is a city of many sophisticated people but no storm drains; markets that have barely been repaired, streets and buildings that remain uninhabited. You expect to see construction cranes everywhere, but instead there are traffic jams, caused largely by police checkpoints. A visitor longs to explore the byways and mix with locals but the word from security experts is to speak no foreign language and keep a low profile. Will three more years of a U.S. troop presence restore commerce and kick-start the economy? It’s hard to imagine.

The current security situation is the outcome of changed circumstances over the past two years. A lot of people would agree with Baha al Araji, a Sadrist lawmaker, who first and foremost credits Muqtada al Sadr, for ordering his own militia, the Mahdi Army, to convert itself into a social welfare organization.

The main factors, more specifically are:

-- the U.S. adoption of counter-insurgency tactics, in which U.S. forces now run joint outposts with the Iraqi army and bring security to the population,

-- the daring spring offensives ordered by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, which took on the Mahdi militias in Basra and Baghdad’s Sadr City slums, aided in both instances by timely U.S. military support,

-- the subsequent order by Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr to his followers to lay down their arms,

-- and the decision of Sunni insurgents to form the Sons of Iraq, U.S.-supported militias determined to suppress the Al Qaida in Iraq forces.

The major exception is the city of Mosul, which is anything but calm, and Diyala province, where differences between the central government and the autonomy-seeking Kurdish minority have led to at least one confrontation.

The first big test of the current calm is under way. The Iraqi government is committed to integrating one fifth of the Sons of Iraq into the security forces and hiring or training the remaining members while paying them monthly salaries. “I spoke with the prime minister. He is serious about making this work,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey W. Hammond, the commanding general of the Multinational Division in Baghdad in talks with SOI in Ghazaliya in western Baghdad. He seemed convinced and convincing as he spoke during a brief embed I did in Ghazaliya.

The Iraqi army says it's moving right along. According to Brig. Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Baghdad security plan, the handover operation "took place faster than we anticipated." He said 51,133 militia members were now being processed. And a Sunni Sheikh in Baghdad confirmed that the process is moving forward in Baghdad. "It is moving forward," said Sheikh Ali Hatem. He credited the Americans with protecting the interests of the Sunni fighters, who took on and have largely suppressed al Qaida in Iraq fighters.

"The Americans have played a good role and stood by the Sahwas," he said, referring to the militias. "They have paid the salaries for months, trained them, given them weapons, and have pressured the Iraqi government into accepting them and incorporating them into their forces."

That doesn’t translate into an efficient handover everywhere, and in fact the transition is going to be full of problems, but it does suggest some goodwill, engendered by some relentless lobbying by the U.S. military and civilian representatives.

The second test is whether Maliki can maintain the tenuous standoff with Sadr and prevent a revival of the Shiite Mahdi army militia. As many as 10,000 militia members fled to Iran, where Sadr spokesman Baha al Araji points out they are under the control of the Iranian government. "I asked the government to give an amnesty to these people, but in its arrogance, the government put those people under the control of Iran," he said. It is a tool Iran could employ at a time of its choosing.

A third test is whether Al Qaida in Iraq remains underground, severely weakened, and prevented from mounting more major attacks against civilians. Here there are differing perspectives. Sheikh Ali Hatem pronounces Al Qaida Iraq to be “defeated in our regions.” U.S. officials disagree. "Al Qaida is degraded, not defeated," says a top U.S. official. (Top U.S. intelligence officials say Al Qaida has been "strategically defeated.")

In fact they’re still recruiting.

In Ghazaliya, a reputed al Qaida operative approached a Sunni member of the Sons of Iraq and offered money and assistance to his family if he’d join them, an Iraqi officer told Gen. Hammond. U.S. forces set up an ambush and captured four men, all 17 to 20 years of age, all from within Ghazaliya. What will become of them? One top U.S. aide says until al Qaida in Iraq are "annihilated," they will be a threat. Hammond says they cannot be turned like the Sons of Iraq into supporters of the government. "They're brainwashed. They are hung up on an idea and not willing to reconcile," he says.

But Qassim Atta says the Iraqi government, if it captures the prisoners, will deal with them case-by-case. If one is a criminal and has committed a murder, he will be handed over to judicial authorities. "But if it's someone who was (merely) misled, this person is worth the effort of redemption." Which course of action will be taken, and with what effects remains to be seen.

Then there are the more profound tests with unknowable outcomes at the heart of a state that is notoriously difficult to rule: Will Shiites rely on their clerics to guide their politics, and will Sunnis tolerate that (Ali Hatem says they won’t), or will Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites view themselves more as Arabs, as opposed to the Persians across the gulf, who have designs to influence Iraq’s future? And if the Arabs unite, where will the Kurds fit in? Will Maliki operate on the basis of bravado gained from his successful gambles in Basra and Sadr City and assume a security force is of such strength that he can operate without support from U.S. troops?

Ironically, the biggest cause of uncertainty now is not the internal bickering of the past five years or the threat of mortars, but the issue of how to structure the American troop withdrawal. The completion of the status of forces accord, which, name notwithstanding amounts to the articles of divorce rather than a marriage agreement, could itself prove the undoing of the current security climate. The accord dramatically changes relations with the United States after a period that saw gross abuses at the hands of U.S. forces, from the torture at Abu Ghraib to impunity by Blackwater and other U.S. private contractors who are alleged to have shot Iraqi citizens in the way of VIP convoys.

The new accord puts Iraq in charge of detentions and lifts the immunity of the private firms. It sets a timetable for U.S. force withdrawal and the terms for restoring Iraq’s sovereignty. The accord has been approved by the Iraqi cabinet and Iran, initially opposed, is willing to let it go forward. Only the Iraqi parliament still must act.

The U.S. concessions in the SOFA implicitly acknowledge the validity of the question: why are we here? There were no WMD, and according to the terms of the SOFA, almost certainly at Iraq’s insistence, the United States is forbidden to import any.

In addition, despite the strong preferences of U.S. conservatives, the United States cannot attack Iran from here without Iraq agreeing. The argument seems awfully tenuous that the United States is in Iraq to claim the country’s oil, for U.S. suppliers will buy Iraqi oil or any other supply on the world market at market prices.

And if the American aim was to gain power in the region, the upshot is actually the opposite, having enormously strengthened the role of Iran. Was the aim the spread of democracy? In fact the Bush administration has backed away from its brave campaign throughout the region, and there is now no doubt that the U.S. can live with an Iraq that is governed on some model other than that of Washington or Westminster. None of these reasons holds water.

The only plausible explanation for staying is one that no American spokesman will admit to publicly: guilt and obligation. The real reason the U.S. is in Iraq today, is so that, having destroyed the place, we can leave with honor. Three years won’t complete the job, but it’s a start. That is actually a worthy reason for sticking around. And the new U.S. Embassy could be a fitting monument to that ambition.

Zephyr
December 14th, 2008, 07:03 AM
Maddening article about bungling efforts to reconstruct Iraq to the tune of 100 billion USD.




http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo153x23.gif


Report Spotlights Iraq Rebuilding Blunders


By JAMES GLANZ and T. CHRISTIAN MILLER
Published: December 13, 2008


BAGHDAD — An unpublished 513-page federal history of the American-led reconstruction of Iraq depicts an effort crippled before the invasion by Pentagon planners who were hostile to the idea of rebuilding a foreign country, and then molded into a $100 billion failure by bureaucratic turf wars, spiraling violence and ignorance of the basic elements of Iraqi society and infrastructure.



http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/world/14reconstruct02-650.jpg
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images

COMMUNICATION Landline phone service plunged after the invasion,
forcing Iraqis to rely on cellphone companies, above.


The history, the first official account of its kind, is circulating in draft form here and in Washington among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior officials. It also concludes that when the reconstruction began to lag — particularly in the critical area of rebuilding the Iraqi police and army — the Pentagon simply put out inflated measures of progress to cover up the failures.

In one passage, for example, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is quoted as saying that in the months after the 2003 invasion, the Defense Department “kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’ ”

Mr. Powell’s assertion that the Pentagon inflated the number of competent Iraqi security forces is backed up by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former commander of ground troops in Iraq, and L. Paul Bremer III, the top civilian administrator until an Iraqi government took over in June 2004.

Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.

The bitterest message of all for the reconstruction program may be the way the history ends. The hard figures on basic services and industrial production compiled for the report reveal that for all the money spent and promises made, the rebuilding effort never did much more than restore what was destroyed during the invasion and the convulsive looting that followed.

By mid-2008, the history says, $117 billion had been spent on the reconstruction of Iraq, including some $50 billion in United States taxpayer money.

The history contains a catalog of revelations that show the chaotic and often poisonous atmosphere prevailing in the reconstruction effort.

When the Office of Management and Budget balked at the American occupation authority’s abrupt request for about $20 billion in new reconstruction money in August 2003, a veteran Republican lobbyist working for the authority made a bluntly partisan appeal to Joshua B. Bolten, then the O.M.B. director and now the White House chief of staff. “To delay getting our funds would be a political disaster for the President,” wrote the lobbyist, Tom C. Korologos. “His election will hang for a large part on show of progress in Iraq and without the funding this year, progress will grind to a halt.” With administration backing, Congress allocated the money later that year.

In an illustration of the hasty and haphazard planning, a civilian official at the United States Agency for International Development was at one point given four hours to determine how many miles of Iraqi roads would need to be reopened and repaired. The official searched through the agency’s reference library, and his estimate went directly into a master plan. Whatever the quality of the agency’s plan, it eventually began running what amounted to a parallel reconstruction effort in the provinces that had little relation with the rest of the American effort.

Money for many of the local construction projects still under way is divided up by a spoils system controlled by neighborhood politicians and tribal chiefs. “Our district council chairman has become the Tony Soprano of Rasheed, in terms of controlling resources,” said an American Embassy official working in a dangerous Baghdad neighborhood. “ ‘You will use my contractor or the work will not get done.’ ”


A Cautionary Tale

The United States could soon have reason to consult this cautionary tale of deception, waste and poor planning, as troop levels and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan are likely to be stepped up under the new administration.

The incoming Obama administration’s rebuilding experts are expected to focus on smaller-scale projects and emphasize political and economic reform. Still, such programs do not address one of the history’s main contentions: that the reconstruction effort has failed because no single agency in the United States government has responsibility for the job.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the history concludes, “the government as a whole has never developed a legislatively sanctioned doctrine or framework for planning, preparing and executing contingency operations in which diplomacy, development and military action all figure.”

Titled “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” the new history was compiled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, led by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a Republican lawyer who regularly travels to Iraq and has a staff of engineers and auditors based here. Copies of several drafts of the history were provided to reporters at The New York Times and ProPublica by two people outside the inspector general’s office who have read the draft, but are not authorized to comment publicly.

Mr. Bowen’s deputy, Ginger Cruz, declined to comment for publication on the substance of the history. But she said it would be presented on Feb. 2 at the first hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which was created this year as a result of legislation sponsored by Senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, both Democrats.

The manuscript is based on approximately 500 new interviews, as well as more than 600 audits, inspections and investigations on which Mr. Bowen’s office has reported over the years. Laid out for the first time in a connected history, the material forms the basis for broad judgments on the rebuilding program.

In the preface, Mr. Bowen gives a searing critique of what he calls the “blinkered and disjointed prewar planning for Iraq’s reconstruction” and the botched expansion of the program from a modest initiative to improve Iraqi services to a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Mr. Bowen also swipes at the endless revisions and reversals of the program, which at various times gyrated from a focus on giant construction projects led by large Western contractors to modest community-based initiatives carried out by local Iraqis. While Mr. Bowen concedes that deteriorating security had a hand in spoiling the program’s hopes, he suggests, as he has in the past, that the program did not need much outside help to do itself in.

Despite years of studying the program, Mr. Bowen writes that he still has not found a good answer to the question of why the program was even pursued as soaring violence made it untenable. “Others will have to provide that answer,” Mr. Bowen writes.

“But beyond the security issue stands another compelling and unavoidable answer: the U.S. government was not adequately prepared to carry out the reconstruction mission it took on in mid-2003,” he concludes.

The history cites some projects as successes. The review praises community outreach efforts by the Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department’s plan to stabilize the Iraqi dinar after the invasion and a joint effort by the Departments of State and Defense to create local rebuilding teams.

But the portrait that emerges over all is one of a program’s officials operating by the seat of their pants in the middle of a critical enterprise abroad, where the reconstruction was supposed to convince the Iraqi citizenry of American good will and support the new democracy with lights that turned on and taps that flowed with clean water.



http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/world/14reconstruct01-650.jpg
Max Becherer/Polaris, for The New York Times

WATER Students used water from a faucet at the Khulafa al-Rashideen school in
Baghdad in October. Access to potable water plummeted after the 2003 invasion.


Mostly, it is a portrait of a program that seemed to grow exponentially as even those involved from the inception of the effort watched in surprise.


Early Miscalculations

On the eve of the invasion, as it began to dawn on a few officials that the price for rebuilding Iraq would be vastly greater than they had been told, the degree of miscalculation was illustrated in an encounter between Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, and Jay Garner, a retired lieutenant general who had hastily been named the chief of what would be a short-lived civilian authority called the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

The history records how Mr. Garner presented Mr. Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq.

“What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan.

“I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said.

“My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.”

In a way he never anticipated, Mr. Rumsfeld turned out to be correct: before that year was out, the United States had appropriated more than $20 billion for the reconstruction, which would indeed involve projects across the entire country.

Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment on the history, but a spokesman, Keith Urbahn, said that quotes attributed to Mr. Rumsfeld in the document “appear to be accurate.” Mr. Powell also declined to comment.

The secondary effects of the invasion and its aftermath were among the most important factors that radically changed the outlook. Tables in the history show that measures of things like the national production of electricity and oil, public access to potable water, mobile and landline telephone service and the presence of Iraqi security forces all plummeted by at least 70 percent, and in some cases all the way to zero, in the weeks after the invasion.

Subsequent tables in the history give a fast-forward view of what happened as the avalanche of money tumbled into Iraq over the next five years.


Dashed Expectations

By the time a sovereign Iraqi government took over from the Americans in June 2004, none of those services — with a single exception, mobile phones — had returned to prewar levels.

And by the time of the security improvements in 2007 and 2008, electricity output had, at best, a precarious 10 percent lead on its levels under Saddam Hussein; oil production was still below prewar levels; and access to potable water had increased by about 30 percent, although with Iraq’s ruined piping system it was unclear how much reached people’s homes uncontaminated.




http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/world/14reconstruct03-650.jpg
Michael Kamber for The New York Times

ELECTRICITY A new generator in Baghdad in 2007. Electricity output is
now only slightly higher than it was before the war.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/world/14reconstruct04-650.jpg
Nabil al-Jurani/Associated Press

OIL The production of oil at Iraqi fields, like the one above,
370 miles southeast of Baghdad, has been below prewar levels.


Whether the rebuilding effort could have succeeded in a less violent setting will never be known. In April 2004, thousands of the Iraqi security forces that had been oversold by the Pentagon were overrun, abruptly mutinied or simply abandoned their posts as the insurgency broke out, sending Iraq down a violent path from which it has never completely recovered.

At the end of his narrative, Mr. Bowen chooses a line from “Great Expectations” by Dickens as the epitaph of the American-led attempt to rebuild Iraq: “We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us.”


James Glanz reported from Baghdad, and T. Christian Miller, of the nonprofit investigative Web site ProPublica, reported from Washington.



Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/world/middleeast/14reconstruct.html?_r=1&hp)

Zephyr
December 14th, 2008, 07:50 AM
http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/article/pieces/postcom_logo.gif


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/photo/2005/03/26/PH2005032604413.jpg


Policy of Abuse

A Senate committee shows how Bush administration decisions led to the mistreatment of prisoners.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


"THE ABUSE of detainees at Abu Ghraib (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Abu+Ghraib?tid=informline) in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own." Some 4 1/2 years after its first hearing to investigate allegations that U.S. personnel grossly abused detainees in Iraq, the Senate Armed Services committee at last has agreed on a conclusion that was obvious to many from almost the beginning of the scandal: that the sickening photographs of naked, hooded prisoners being threatened by dogs and forced into humiliating poses were the direct result of policies adopted by then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior Bush administration officials. The detailed report on detainee abuses unanimously approved by the committee and released last week doesn't break much new ground factually. But as a bipartisan finding after more than 18 months of deliberations, it delivers what ought to be a crushing blow to the continuing attempts of the Bush administration to deny, whitewash or obfuscate the truth behind the scandal.

Mr. Rumsfeld and U.S. generals in Iraq told the Armed Services Committee at that first hearing in May 2004 that the abusive Abu Ghraib techniques were invented by rogue enlisted soldiers skylarking on the night shift. Even as the evidence against that version mounted, Mr. Rumsfeld stuck to his story while doing his best to shift responsibility to others; the Pentagon brass clumsily tried to pin blame on a female reserve brigadier general who had nothing to do with the interrogation of prisoners.

The Senate report meticulously details the real story. In the summer of 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld's chief counsel, William J. Haynes II, sought guidance from a Pentagon agency that specializes in teaching U.S. special forces how to resist harsh interrogation techniques and torture of the kind employed by foreign dictatorships. A number of the techniques, like sleep deprivation, enforced standing, nudity and intimidation with dogs, were then adopted by the Pentagon for use at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/related/topic/Guantanamo+Bay?tid=informline), with the explicit approval of Mr. Rumsfeld. The legality of the techniques was approved by Bush appointees at the Justice Department; Mr. Haynes dismissed the arguments of senior military lawyers who said they were illegal.

Within days of Mr. Rumsfeld's approval of these methods, the Senate report says, military intelligence officers in Afghanistan had been briefed on them, and the command headquarters had issued a memo adopting many of them. Those same techniques were then adopted in Iraq, first for special missions units and then for all U.S. forces. Though Mr. Rumsfeld rescinded some of the techniques in 2003 and U.S. commanders in Iraq also backtracked on their initial approval of them, the original harsh methods continued to be used by U.S. forces -- including the soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

Armed Services Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have vowed for years to establish full accountability for the abuses of detainees by the military, and the new report goes a long way toward accomplishing that aim. But the full story of the Bush administration's violations of international norms in arresting and detaining foreigners has yet to be told: There has been no account, for example, of the CIA's secret prisons and the torture of al-Qaeda leaders held in them. That's why the next Congress and the Obama administration should agree to establish a full-fledged investigative commission, like the one that studied the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to give a comprehensive accounting of the abuses against foreign detainees and how they came about. Only when this terrible story is told, fully and repeatedly, can Americans come to terms with it -- and ensure that it does not happen again.


© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/13/AR2008121301725.html)

Zephyr
December 19th, 2008, 02:36 AM
http://www.thenation.com/images/structure/logo-sm.png


Will War Crimes Be Outed?


By Jeremy Brecher & Brendan Smith

December 17, 2008


As the officials of the Bush administration pack up in Washington and move into their posh suburban homes around the country, will they be able to rest easy, or will they be haunted by the fear that they will be held accountable for war crimes committed during their reign?

There are many reasons to anticipate that the incoming Obama administration and the new Congress will let sleeping dogs lie. Attention to criminal acts by the former administration would probably anger Republicans, whose support Obama is hoping to win for his first priority, his economic program. Democratic Congressional leaders have known a great deal about Bush administration lawlessness, and in some cases have even given it their approval--making an unfettered review seem unlikely.

Some of Obama's own top appointees would undoubtedly receive scrutiny in an unconstrained investigation--Obama's reappointed defense secretary Robert Gates, for example, has had responsibility not only for Guantánamo but also for the incarceration of tens of thousands of Iraqis in prisons in Iraq like Camp Bucca, which the Washington Post described in a headline as "a Prison Full of Innocent Men," without even a procedure for determining their guilt or innocence--unquestionably a violation of the Geneva Conventions in and of itself.

But the repose of the Cheneys, Bushes, Gonzaleses and Rumsfelds may not turn out to be so undisturbed. In his notorious torture memo, Alberto Gonzales warned about "prosecutors and independent counsels" who may in the future decide to pursue "unwarranted charges" based on the US War Crimes Act's prohibition on violations of the Geneva Conventions. While no such charges are likely to be brought anytime soon, neither are they likely to vanish. In the short run, Obama and his team face inescapable questions about the legal culpability of the Bush administration. And in the long run, such charges are likely to grow only more unavoidable once the former officials of that administration have lost the authority to quash them.

In April Obama said that if elected, he would have his attorney general initiate a prompt review of Bush-era action to distinguish between possible "genuine crimes" and "really bad policies."

"If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," Obama told the Philadelphia Daily News. He added, however, that "I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve."

Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, speaking to the American Constitution Society in June, described Bush administration actions in terms that sound a whole lot more like "genuine crimes" than like "really bad policies":



Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning."



A Reckoning?

While attention has focused on whether, once president, Obama will move quickly to close Guantánamo, shut down secret prisons, halt rendition and ban torture, there's a less visible struggle over whether and how to provide a reckoning for war crimes past.

A growing body of legal opinion holds that Obama will have a duty to investigate war crimes allegations and, if they are found to have merit, to prosecute the perpetrators.

In a December 3 Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, law professors Anthony D'Amato (the Leighton Professor at Northwestern University School of Law) and Jordan J. Paust (the Mike & Thersa Baker Professor at the Law Center of the University of Houston) ask whether president-elect Barack Obama will have "the duty to prosecute or extradite persons who are reasonably accused of having committed and abetted war crimes or crimes against humanity during the Bush administration's admitted 'program' of 'coercive interrogation' and secret detention that was part of a 'common, unifying' plan to deny protections under the Geneva Conventions."

They answer, "Yes."

"Under the US Constitution, the president is expressly and unavoidably bound to faithfully execute the laws." The 1949 Geneva Conventions "expressly and unavoidably requires that all parties search for perpetrators of grave breaches of the treaty" and bring them before their own courts for "effective penal sanctions" or, if they prefer, "hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party."

The statement is particularly authoritative--and particularly striking--because Paust is also a former captain in the United States Army JAG Corps and member of the faculty at the Judge Advocate General's School.

Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights says that one of Barack Obama's first acts as president should be to "instruct his attorney general to appoint an independent prosecutor to initiate a criminal investigation of former Bush Administration officials who gave the green light to torture."

Parallel to the legal community, members of Congress and president-elect Obama are trying to chart a strategy that avoids the appearance of seeking to punish Bush administration officials without appearing blatantly oblivious to their apparent war crimes. According to the AP's Lara Jakes Jordan, "Two Obama advisors say there's little--if any--chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after anyone involved in authorizing or carrying out interrogations that provoked worldwide outrage." Instead, "Obama is expected to create a panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission to study interrogations, including those using waterboarding and other tactics that critics call torture."

Asked if Bush administration officials would face prosecution for war crimes, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy flatly said, "In the United States, no," but he does intend to continue to investigate Bush administration officials and their interrogation policies. "Personally, I would like to know exactly what happened. Torture is going to be a major issue."


Continue the Cover-Up?

President-elect Obama may well seek to delay taking a stand for or against such accountability actions. But he is likely to be confronted early in his administration by choices about whether to continue or terminate legal cover-up operations the Bush administration currently has under way.

For example, the Bush administration has blocked the civil suit against US officials by Canadian Maher Arar for his "rendition" to Syria and his torture there by invoking the "state secrets" privilege. According to Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU, they have appointed a prosecutor to investigate the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations, but the investigation is limited only to whether crimes were committed in relation to the destruction of the tapes--not whether what was being videotaped is a crime. The administration has refused to cooperate with the trial of twenty-six Americans, mostly CIA agents, who kidnapped a terrorism suspect in Milan and flew him to Egypt where, he says, he was tortured. And they have refused to provide secret documents to the British High Court in the case of Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed that may demonstrate that US officials were complicit in his torture in Morocco.

If the Obama administration continues the Bush administration's efforts to prevent investigators from investigating and courts from hearing such cases, it will rapidly become part of the cover-up. If it begins to, at a minimum, stop obstructing such proceedings, the result could be a rapid crumbling of the wall of silence the Bush administration has tried so assiduously to build around its "war on terror."

A bipartisan report issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 11 will make it far more difficult to evade the responsibility of holding Bush administration officials legally accountable for war crimes. Released by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain after two years of investigation, the report concluded:



The abuse of detainees in US custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own.... The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.... Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantánamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there.


In an interview published in the Detroit News, Senator Levin said he was not responsible for deciding whether officials should be prosecuted for authorizing torture, but he admitted that there is enough evidence that victims of abuse could file civil lawsuits against their assailants. Levin also suggested that the Obama administration "needs to look for ways in which people can be held accountable for their actions."


An Accountability Movement

Outside the Beltway, a movement to hold Bush administration officials accountable for torture and other war crimes after they leave office is gradually emerging. It received a boost when over a hundred lawyers and activists met in Andover, Massachusetts on September 20 at a conference entitled "Planning for the Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals." The conference created an ongoing committee to coordinate accountability efforts. At the close, conference convener Dean Lawrence Velvel of the Massachusetts School of Law noted more than twenty strategies and specific actions that had been proposed, ranging from the state felony prosecutions proposed by former district attroney Vincent Bugliosi to the international prosecutions pioneered by the Center for Constitutional Rights' Rumsfeld cases; and from impeaching Bush appointees like Federal Judge Jay Bybee to public shaming of torture-tainted former officials like ohn Yew, now a professor at the University of California Law School.

One of proposals discussed at the Andover conference was the creation of a citizens' War Crimes Documentation Center, modeled on the special office set up by the Allied governments before the end of World War II to investigate and document Nazi war crimes. Such a center could be the nexus for research, education and coordination of a wide range of civil society forces in the US and abroad that are demanding accountability. It could bring together the extensive but scattered evidence already available, to compile a narrative of what actually happened in the Bush administration. It could help or pressure Congress to conduct investigations to fill in the blanks. It could pull together high-profile coalitions to campaign around the issue of accountability for specific crimes like torture. If Obama does initiate some kind of investigating commission, such a center could provide it with information and help hold it accountable.


A Moral Education

There are a myriad of reasons for urgently holding the Bush regime to account, ranging from preventing unchallenged executive action from setting new legal precedent to providing a compelling rationale for the immediate cessation of bombing civilians in the escalating Afghan war.

But the issue raised by Bush administration war crimes is even larger than any person's individual crimes. As Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right." The long history of aggressive war, illegal occupation, and torture, from the Philippines to Iraq, have given the American people a moral education that encourages us to countenance war crimes. If we allow those who initiated and justified the illegal conquest and occupation of Iraq and the use of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo to go unsanctioned, we teach the world--and ourselves--a lesson about what's OK and legal.

As countries like Chile, Turkey and Argentina can attest, restoration of democracy, civic morality and the rule of law is often a slow but necessary process, requiring far more than simply voting a new party into office. It requires a wholesale rejection of impunity for the criminal acts of government officials. As Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) put it, "We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this administration whether or not it helps us politically.... Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history."


About Jeremy Brecher
Jeremy Brecher is a historian whose books include Strike!, Globalization from Below, and, co-edited with Brendan Smith and Jill Cutler, In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond (Metropolitan/Holt). He has received five regional Emmy Awards for his documentary film work. He is a co-founder of WarCrimesWatch.org. more.. (http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/jeremy_brecher).

About Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith is a legal analyst whose books include Globalization From Below and, with Brendan Smith and Jill Cutler, of In the Name of Democracy: American War Crimes in Iraq and Beyond (Metropolitan). He is current co-director of Global Labor Strategies and UCLA Law School's Globalization and Labor Standards Project, and has worked previously for Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a broad range of unions and grassroots groups. His commentary has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, CBS News.com, YahooNews and the Baltimore Sun. ... more... (http://www.thenation.com/directory/bios/brendan_smith)



Copyright © 2008 The Nation (http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081229/brecher_smith?rel=hp_currently)

Zephyr
December 19th, 2008, 04:25 AM
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/nytlogo379x64.gif
Editorial


The Torture Report


Published: December 17, 2008


Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.




That order set the stage for the infamous redefinition of torture at the Justice Department, and then Mr. Rumsfeld’s authorization of “aggressive” interrogation methods. Some of those methods were torture by any rational definition and many of them violate laws and treaties against abusive and degrading treatment.

These top officials ignored warnings from lawyers in every branch of the armed forces that they were breaking the law, subjecting uniformed soldiers to possible criminal charges and authorizing abuses that were not only considered by experts to be ineffective, but were actually counterproductive.

One page of the report lists the repeated objections that President Bush and his aides so blithely and arrogantly ignored: The Air Force had “serious concerns regarding the legality of many of the proposed techniques”; the chief legal adviser to the military’s criminal investigative task force said they were of dubious value and may subject soldiers to prosecution; one of the Army’s top lawyers said some techniques that stopped well short of the horrifying practice of waterboarding “may violate the torture statute.” The Marines said they “arguably violate federal law.” The Navy pleaded for a real review.

The legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time started that review but told the Senate committee that her boss, Gen. Richard Myers, ordered her to stop on the instructions of Mr. Rumsfeld’s legal counsel, Mr. Haynes.

The report indicates that Mr. Haynes was an early proponent of the idea of using the agency that trains soldiers to withstand torture to devise plans for the interrogation of prisoners held by the American military. These trainers — who are not interrogators but experts only on how physical and mental pain is inflicted and may be endured — were sent to work with interrogators in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo and in Iraq.

On Dec. 2, 2002, Mr. Rumsfeld authorized the interrogators at Guantánamo to use a range of abusive techniques that were already widespread in Afghanistan, enshrining them as official policy. Instead of a painstaking legal review, Mr. Rumsfeld based that authorization on a one-page memo from Mr. Haynes. The Senate panel noted that senior military lawyers considered the memo “ ‘legally insufficient’ and ‘woefully inadequate.’ ”

Mr. Rumsfeld rescinded his order a month later, and narrowed the number of “aggressive techniques” that could be used at Guantánamo. But he did so only after the Navy’s chief lawyer threatened to formally protest the illegal treatment of prisoners. By then, at least one prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, had been threatened with military dogs, deprived of sleep for weeks, stripped naked and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks. This year, a military tribunal at Guantánamo dismissed the charges against Mr. Qahtani.

The abuse and torture of prisoners continued at prisons run by the C.I.A. and specialists from the torture-resistance program remained involved in the military detention system until 2004. Some of the practices Mr. Rumsfeld left in place seem illegal, like prolonged sleep deprivation.




These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.”

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened — and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military’s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.




Given his other problems — and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign — we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

At the least, Mr. Obama should, as the organization Human Rights First suggested, order his attorney general to review more than two dozen prisoner-abuse cases that reportedly were referred to the Justice Department by the Pentagon and the C.I.A. — and declined by Mr. Bush’s lawyers.

Mr. Obama should consider proposals from groups like Human Rights Watch and the Brennan Center for Justice to appoint an independent panel to look into these and other egregious violations of the law. Like the 9/11 commission, it would examine in depth the decisions on prisoner treatment, as well as warrantless wiretapping, that eroded the rule of law and violated Americans’ most basic rights. Unless the nation and its leaders know precisely what went wrong in the last seven years, it will be impossible to fix it and make sure those terrible mistakes are not repeated.

We expect Mr. Obama to keep the promise he made over and over in the campaign — to cheering crowds at campaign rallies and in other places, including our office in New York. He said one of his first acts as president would be to order a review of all of Mr. Bush’s executive orders and reverse those that eroded civil liberties and the rule of law.

That job will fall to Eric Holder, a veteran prosecutor who has been chosen as attorney general, and Gregory Craig, a lawyer with extensive national security experience who has been selected as Mr. Obama’s White House counsel.

A good place for them to start would be to reverse Mr. Bush’s disastrous order of Feb. 7, 2002, declaring that the United States was no longer legally committed to comply with the Geneva Conventions.



Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/opinion/18thu1.html?_r=1)

Zephyr
December 19th, 2008, 05:13 AM
http://www.playback.com.au/images/logos/logo_salon.jpg


Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday Dec. 17, 2008 07:32 EST


Prostitution vs. war crimes: The real moral offense


In October, the extremely pro-war, neoconservative New York Sun ceased operations, and its journalists are now finding a warm and welcoming home, appropriately and revealingly enough, at The New Republic. Sun reporter Eli Lake was quickly hired as a TNR Contributing Editor (where he now "exposes" and excoriates "the Left" for its sinister "solidarity" with "Islamic supremacist insurgents" in Iraq, such as shoe-throwing reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi), and yesterday, TNR published a finger-wagging sermon by former Sun reporter Jacob Gershman, who vigorously objects that Eliot Spitzer is allowed to appear in public and even write a Slate column so soon after exposure of his grave and monumental sin of hiring adult prostitutes.

Gershman's column – entitled: "Why Eliot Spitzer's attempt to be taken seriously again won't work – and doesn't deserve to" – illustrates how warped our public morality has become. As a result of his minor, consensual, victimless, private crime (not because of his actual sin of hypocrisy as a former persecutor of prostitution rings), Spitzer was forced to resign as Governor, had intimate details of his sex life voyeuristically dissected by hordes of people driven by titillation masquerading as moral disgust, and was as humiliated and disgraced as a political figure can be. But apparently, that's not even close to enough. According to Gershman, Spitzer has many more steps to complete in his public humiliation ritual before he should be permitted to appear in decent, respectable company again:



But a comeback, especially for a scandal-tarred politician, must follow set guidelines and steps of progression. You can't skip ahead. Spitzer's problem is that he isn't playing by the rules. . . .

For one, Spitzer has yet to convince the public that he's actually sorry. When he resigned in March, he faced the cameras and said he had "begun to atone for my private failings." Since then, while privately apologizing to some friends and colleagues, Spitzer has made little effort to publicly show his remorse, and people have noticed. "He's missing the hurt he caused everybody, the hopes that were dashed, and the fact that the entire state government ground to a halt," one of his former senior aides told me. . . .

Even then, Spitzer wouldn't be off the hook, says [P.R. adviser Howard] Rubenstein, who recommends that Spitzer emulate John Profumo, the British war secretary, whose affair with a showgirl who was also seeing a Russian spy scandalized the U.K. in 1963. After he resigned, his decades of social work in London's East End became as well known as the events that ended his political career. Spitzer, says Rubenstein, should "pick a charity he likes and thinks he could work for. It can be a soup kitchen. He has to do something where he can use his talent or physical being" . . . .


All that – he needs to self-flagellate and beg public forgiveness more humbly and even work for years or decades in a soup kitchen before he can even be heard from – because, in private, Spitzer hired prostitutes.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney went on ABC News on Monday night, where he was treated with oozing (i.e., typical) respect by correspondent Jonathan Karl, and literally admitted, brazenly and unapologetically, to committing war crimes; blithely justified the atrocities that were committed as part of our attack on Iraq; and glorified the whole slew of illegal surveillance programs he ordered. And that's how most of the world outside of the U.S. (accurately) perceives Cheney's comments – as a brazen admission of responsibility for many of the world's worst crimes of the last decade:



The outgoing US vice-president, Dick Cheney, last night gave an unapologetic assessment of his eight years in office, defending the invasion of Iraq, the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, secret wiretapping and the extreme interrogation method known as waterboarding. . . .

He told ABC News he stood by the most controversial policies of the Bush administration, and urged president-elect Barack Obama to think hard before undoing them. Asked about the use of torture on terror suspects, he replied: "We don't do torture. We never have. It's not something this administration subscribes to."

Later in the same interview, Cheney was asked whether the use of waterboarding in the interrogation of the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, had been appropriate. He replied: "I do."

Waterboarding is a technique that induces the sensation of drowning, and is widely regarded as a form of torture.


Yet unlike Eliot Spitzer, Dick Cheney – just like Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo; think tank scholar, author and former Georgetown School of Foreign Service Professor Doug Feith; Georgetown's current Distinguished University Professor George Tenet, and so many others – isn't going to be forced to endure any humiliation or remorse rituals whatsoever. As Cheney is feted by network news anchors a year or two from now upon release of the book he plans to write, there will be no real objections that this monstrous war criminal and perverter of our constitutional framework is treated like some sort of retired royal dignitary. Cheney is and will remain a symbol of profound seriousness, entitled to respect and endowed with permanent wisdom.

What's most striking is not that we have zero intention of prosecuting the serious crimes committed by our leading establishment figures. It's that we don't even recognize them as crimes – or even serious transgressions – at all. To the contrary, we still demand that those who are culpable be treated as dignified, respectable, serious and inherently good leaders. Real outrage is never generated by the crimes and outrages they have undertaken, but only when they are not given their proper respectful due as leading American elites. Hence:

An Iraqi citizen throws his shoes at an American President who – all based on false pretenses – invaded, occupied and obliterated his country; set up prisons where his fellow citizens were encaged without trials and subjected to brutal treatment; slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and displaced millions more. And the outrage is predominantly directed at the disrespect, irreverence and the "ingratitude" displayed by the shoe-thrower, not the murderous and inhumane acts of the dignified American leader.

Tom Friedman goes on national television and sociopathically justifies the attack on another country by the need to make its citizens "Suck. On. This," and while Friedman is universally treated as one of America's most cherished and important public intellectuals, it's the college student who throws a harmless pie in Friedman's face to protest his deranged and highly damaging war-cheerleading that prompts angry condemnation ("absolutely horrifying," protested vocal Iraq war supporter Jonathan Chait). Dick Cheney – on his way to a lavishly rich and respectful retirement full of five-and-six-figure-speech-fees – giddily admits to war crimes and other brutal and illegal acts, and TNR is angry that Eliot Spitzer is allowed to opine in public before being humiliated and humbled some more.

The reason the American political establishment tenaciously refuses to acknowledge the devastation and crimes that have been unleashed during the Bush era is obvious: aside from the generalized belief that Americans are inherently good and thus incapable of meriting terms such as "aggressive wars" and "war criminals" no matter what they actually do (those phrases are applicable only to lesser foreigners), most of the establishment supported these crimes and the criminals who unleashed them. We can therefore tolerate thinking about Bush officials and their bipartisan enablers as political and opinion leaders who (with the best of intentions) embraced what turned out to be some misguided policies, but not as people whose criminal acts led to death and suffering on an enormous scale and an almost complete degradation of whatever was still commendable about American political values.

That's the real benefit, the real cause, of these flamboyant and obsessive collective outrage sessions directed at petty offenders who do things like hire prostitutes, commit adultery, or engage in some sleazy though quite commonplace political corruption. Those rituals enable those who participated in and cheered on real crimes to parade around as righteous defenders of the moral good without having to acknowledge the extremism, brutality and destruction they've supported. The spectacle of the pro-war New York Sun and the Lieberman-endorsing TNR - of all people - joining together to complain that Eliot Spitzer (of all people) hasn't yet been humiliated or scorned enough is just one particularly vivid illustration of this warped public morality.

– Glenn Greenwald



Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc. (http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/12/17/spitzer/index.html)

Ninjahedge
December 23rd, 2008, 02:11 PM
Quick quote:


And in the long run, such charges are likely to grow only more unavoidable once the former officials of that administration have lost the authority to quash them.

IOW, wait until there is no hope of a presidential pardon.

Zephyr
December 26th, 2008, 06:28 PM
http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/article/pieces/postcom_logo.gif


Study Criticizes Bush Approach to War Funding, Calls for Changes


By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 26, 2008


President-elect Barack Obama's administration needs to monitor war spending much more closely than the current White House has, according to a new study that criticizes President Bush's approach to funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- a bill that is projected to approach nearly $1 trillion next year.

Even with declining troop numbers in Iraq, the direct price tag of the two wars could grow as high as $1.7 trillion by 2018, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments reported last week. The defense think tank's figure does not include potentially hundreds of billions more in indirect economic and social costs, such as higher oil prices and lost wages.

The war in Iraq alone has already cost more in inflation-adjusted dollars than every other U.S. war except World War II, the CSBA found.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, named by Obama to continue in that job, has made it clear that the incoming administration will scrutinize defense spending, which has mushroomed since 2001 as a result of the wars and related costs.

"There clearly is going to be very close scrutiny of the budget," Gates said this month, adding: "We need to take a very hard look at the way we go about acquisition and procurement."

The CSBA agreed and blamed the ballooning budgets on the Bush administration's unprecedented decision to fund the wars through giant emergency spending measures rather than through appropriations requests.

"The process has reduced the ability of Congress to exercise effective oversight. It has also tended to obscure the long-term costs and budgetary consequences of ongoing military operations," the report says. It also warns that such emergency bills have included "substantial amounts of funding for programs unrelated to the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Steven M. Kosiak, a defense budget expert and author of the study, said the Obama administration should "budget in a more straightforward way, to provide better justification for war-related costs" by having a budget for military operations and long-term force modernization, and limiting supplemental spending to "a real emergency."

The Office of Management and Budget declined to comment on the CSBA report. It said that Congress had appropriated $819.6 billion for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan through fiscal 2008. Fiscal 2009 ends Sept. 30.

The report noted that the Iraq war has cost far more than the Bush administration estimated before the March 2003 invasion, and it cited an interview that Mitch Daniels, then the OMB director, gave to the New York Times, in which he indicated the Iraq war could cost $50 billion to $60 billion. "These estimates have already proven to be wildly optimistic," the report says.

Direct costs of the wars have increased from about $17 billion in 2001, when the United States overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan, to $93 billion in 2003, when the U.S. military invaded Iraq, and $182 billion for 2008. Those costs cover military operations, the building of Iraqi and Afghan forces, foreign assistance, and veterans benefits. The study was based on a broad survey of official and unofficial war-cost assessments.

The report also rapped the Bush administration's paying for the wars through borrowing, rather than tax increases and spending cuts. That approach, it concluded, will lead to interest costs through 2018 that range from about $70 billion to as high as about $700 billion, depending on how much of the war funding came through bond sales.

"If you want to go to war . . . we should probably pay for more of that war upfront rather than borrowing for it," Kosiak said, because the public feels more of the war's real burden through tax increases and spending cuts.

The study also explored various estimates of the macroeconomic costs of the war from higher oil prices and diverted investment. For example, if the war in Iraq caused a $5-per-barrel rise in the price of oil through 2006, as some experts estimate, that would have cost $235 billion in economic output. Social costs based on the value of lost lives and injuries are harder to measure, but some say they have already exacted a toll of hundreds of billions of dollars.


© Copyright 1996-2008 The Washington Post Company (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/25/AR2008122500757.html)

Jasonik
February 17th, 2009, 04:22 PM
A 'fraud' bigger than Madoff
Senior US soldiers investigated over missing Iraq reconstruction billions

By Patrick Cockburn in Sulaimaniyah, Northern Iraq
Monday, 16 February 2009 (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/a-fraud-bigger-than-madoff-1622987.html)

In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme.

"I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad," said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in "pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills" to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money. He is among the few US officials who were in Iraq to be convicted of fraud and money-laundering.

Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown. One of the few visible signs of government work on Baghdad's infrastructure is a tireless attention to planting palm trees and flowers in the centre strip between main roads. Those are then dug up and replanted a few months later.

Iraqi leaders are convinced that the theft or waste of huge sums of US and Iraqi government money could have happened only if senior US officials were themselves involved in the corruption. In 2004-05, the entire Iraq military procurement budget of $1.3bn was siphoned off from the Iraqi Defence Ministry in return for 28-year-old Soviet helicopters too obsolete to fly and armoured cars easily penetrated by rifle bullets. Iraqi officials were blamed for the theft, but US military officials were largely in control of the Defence Ministry at the time and must have been either highly negligent or participants in the fraud.

American federal investigators are now starting an inquiry into the actions of senior US officers involved in the programme to rebuild Iraq, according to The New York Times, which cites interviews with senior government officials and court documents. Court records reveal that, in January, investigators subpoenaed the bank records of Colonel Anthony B Bell, now retired from the US Army, but who was previously responsible for contracting for the reconstruction effort in 2003 and 2004. Two federal officials are cited by the paper as saying that investigators are also looking at the activities of Lieutenant-Colonel Ronald W Hirtle of the US Air Force, who was senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004. It is not clear what specific evidence exists against the two men, who have both said they have nothing to hide.

The end of the Bush administration which launched the war may give fresh impetus to investigations into frauds in which tens of billions of dollars were spent on reconstruction with little being built that could be used. In the early days of the occupation, well-connected Republicans were awarded jobs in Iraq, regardless of experience. A 24-year-old from a Republican family was put in charge of the Baghdad stock exchange which had to close down because he allegedly forgot to renew the lease on its building.

In the expanded inquiry by federal agencies, the evidence of a small-time US businessman called Dale C Stoffel who was murdered after leaving the US base at Taiji north of Baghdad in 2004 is being re-examined. Before he was killed, Mr Stoffel, an arms dealer and contractor, was granted limited immunity from prosecution after he had provided information that a network of bribery – linking companies and US officials awarding contracts – existed within the US-run Green Zone in Baghdad. He said bribes of tens of thousands of dollars were regularly delivered in pizza boxes sent to US contracting officers.

So far, US officers who have been successfully prosecuted or unmasked have mostly been involved in small-scale corruption. Often sums paid out in cash were never recorded. In one case, an American soldier put in charge of reviving Iraqi boxing gambled away all the money but he could not be prosecuted because, although the money was certainly gone, nobody had recorded if it was $20,000 or $60,000.

Iraqi ministers admit the wholesale corruption of their government. Ali Allawi, the former finance minister, said Iraq was "becoming like Nigeria in the past when all the oil revenues were stolen". But there has also been a strong suspicion among senior Iraqis that US officials must have been complicit or using Iraqi appointees as front-men in corrupt deals. Several Iraqi officials given important jobs at the urging of the US administration in Baghdad were inexperienced. For instance, the arms procurement chief at the centre of the Defence Ministry scandal, was a Polish-Iraqi, 27 years out of Iraq, who had run a pizza restaurant on the outskirts of Bonn in the 1990s.

In many cases, contractors never started or finished facilities they were supposedly building. As security deteriorated in Iraq from the summer of 2003 it was difficult to check if a contract had been completed. But the failure to provide electricity, water and sewage disposal during the US occupation was crucial in alienating Iraqis from the post-Saddam regime.

lofter1
May 28th, 2009, 12:31 PM
So Obama doesn't want to release the latest (or worst) photos of "detainees." No wonder. They're shameful, and the acts shown were done in the name of the USA ...

Photos Obama won't release include images of rape ... (warning, graphic)

at-Largely.com (http://www.atlargely.com/atlargely/2009/05/photos-obama-wont-release-include-images-of-rape.html)
May 28, 2009

Not that this is a surprise, we knew much from Maj. General Taguba's report on Abu Ghraib. But the new development (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5395830/Abu-Ghraib-abuse-photos-show-rape.html) is (I am not sure just how new this is) that someone actually took photos of the rape and these are said to be the photos that Obama won't release:


"At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube."

I believe some of these photos have already been published. Salon published many of the sexual abuse in 2006 as did CBS. So if there are photos worse than the ones we have seen already, then God help us. Before I post a few of them, I want to cite some more of the above article:


"Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan."

I am only going to post three of the ones I believe are being discussed. When Dick Cheney defends his policy of torture, remember, he is defending this. When you tell people they can cross the line into cruelty, you have given them permission to engage in what you are about to see. That is what happens when legal controls are taken off and that is why Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are directly responsible for these rapes.

The images are incredibly graphic. I am only posting three because I cannot stand to look through more of them to find the others. I had actually seen these several years back when I was contacted to do a story. I flew to the meeting. I sat through the meeting. I looked at the photos. I excused myself and went out the front door and vomited all over myself. I knew I did not have the strength to write this story. So I hope no one thinks, not even for a moment, that I am in any way taking the posting of these photos lightly. They are horrific. But they are the truth and they must be seen.

Again, be certain you are ready for this. It is incredibly graphic.

(Photos at the LINK (http://www.atlargely.com/atlargely/2009/05/photos-obama-wont-release-include-images-of-rape.html))

From the original article in Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5395830/Abu-Ghraib-abuse-photos-show-rape.html) (May 28, 2009):

... The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions” taken.

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

MidtownGuy
May 28th, 2009, 12:40 PM
What an unspeakably disgusting shame. I have no words to describe the shameful blot on America this is. The people responsible for this, not just at the bottom but yes the ones at the top of command, need to be investigated and locked away. Cheney and his demonic cohorts need to be imprisoned for life once the truth is revealed.

Ninjahedge
May 28th, 2009, 01:51 PM
There is a certain line that even the people at the bottom would never be chastised for never crossing.

"Ordering" someone to stick a truncheon up someones butt has NEVER been something that could be used as a sitable reason for dismissal. What I am worried about is that all they did was a mutual permission to do what they wanted.

The guys at the bottom were told to degrade and abuse the prisoners, and the guys at the top just turned their heads away even when they knew exactly what that entailed. They were never officially "informed" bu they all knew and all should be held responsible for it.

lofter1
May 28th, 2009, 02:02 PM
Clearly the "interrogators' were instructed to "break down" the detainees. This no doubt followed instruction from superiors that the breaking of sexual taboos could be used to wear them down to the point of "cooperation" in the mistaken hope to get them to reveal "secrets" and other info (and perhaps learned from a study of the history of the prior practices of the such governmental agencies as the NYPD and other such controlling agencies within the USA).

it's now pretty well known that the word from the top was "Use anything that it takes to get us what we want."

All the upper echelon are responsible. And they dragged the rest of us into the guilty pot by doing it in our name.

At this point it becomes the civic responsibility of the Nation to get to the bottom and mete out proper and righteous justice to ALL involved.

lofter1
February 2nd, 2010, 04:15 PM
Blair Called a Liar in British Iraq Inquiry

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/world/europe/03britain.html?ref=world)
By JOHN F. BURNS
February 3, 2010

LONDON — Only days after Tony Blair offered an impassioned defense of his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq, a cabinet minister who resigned over the war delivered a blistering condemnation of the former prime minister on Tuesday, accusing him of “conning” her and of deceiving his cabinet, parliament and the public in his resolve to have Britain join the United States in the invasion of 2003.

Appearing before an official inquiry into the conflict, Clare Short provided an electrifying counterpoint to Mr. Blair’s testimony on Friday. The former prime minister called Saddam Hussein “a monster,” said he had no regrets about the war and warned that the same concerns that led to war over Iraq now applied to Iran and Western concerns that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

Ms. Short, who quit as international development minister two months after the invasion in 2003, repeatedly accused Mr. Blair of “misleading” her and other cabinet ministers about the advice he was getting from government lawyers who questioned the legality of invading Iraq. She said on that issue, and on her written warnings of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the invasion’s wake, Mr. Blair effectively circumvented cabinet debate, relying instead on an inner circle of “his mates” in government, having “little chats” with outsiders like herself and plying what she called a “poodle-like” relationship with the United States.

She accused Mr. Blair of deceit at a critical moment in the run-up to the war. She said he argued that France had said that it would veto a so-called “second resolution” in the Security Council approving military action against Iraq, and that it would not shift from the position under any circumstances. That allowed Mr. Blair to say he had exhausted the diplomatic possibilities for dealing with Mr. Hussein and cleared the way for fulfilling his pledge to fight at America’s side.

“That was, in my view, a deliberate lie. It was one of the big deceits,” Ms. Short said. She said the truth was that that the French president at the time, Jacques Chirac, could have been persuaded to back military action if London and Washington had been prepared to give United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq more time. “There was no emergency,” she said. “No one had attacked anyone. There wasn’t any new W.M.D. We could have taken the time and got it right.”

There was little surprise in Ms. Short’s bitterness towards Mr. Blair, whose relations with the former minister had long been strained by her role as a left-wing firebrand within the ruling Labour Party. The more damaging element in her testimony might prove to be her revelations about the equivocal role played in the run-up to the war by Mr. Blair’s successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, who was then Britain’s finance minister and deeply estranged from Mr. Blair.

Mr. Brown built on the party’s anger about Iraq as he orchestrated Mr. Blair’s resignation, and his own takeover as prime minister, in June 2007. In 10 Downing Street, he quickly set about accelerating the deadline for British troops to withdraw from Iraq, a process completed last summer, but did so while maintaining a wary distance from questions about his own role in the cabinet discussions in the months before the 2003 invasion.

Ms. Short depicted Mr. Brown as positioning himself opportunistically by avoiding a clear commitment on the war. She said she had “various cups of coffee” with Mr. Brown, and found him to be “very unhappy and marginalized,” disillusioned over a range of government policies, but not specifically Iraq. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, however, when British and American troops had quickly defeated Saddam Hussein’s forces, she said, “Gordon was back with Tony and not having cups of coffee with me anymore.”

Ms. Short’s testimony seems likely to deepen the challenge facing Mr. Brown as he prepares for his own testimony later this month, when the inquiry panel seems sure to ask him — in the face of deep public anger over the war — whether he supported the invasion. After he bowed to left-wing discontent in the Labour Party and established the inquiry last year, Mr. Brown took flak from his critics for his plan not to testify until after a general election that is expected in May, which was widely viewed as an attempt to duck a public accounting before votes are cast.

But last month, Mr. Brown wrote to the inquiry saying he was ready to testify before the election, and the inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, responded by saying the panel was happy to set aside its plan not to call serving government ministers before the election if they were ready to appear sooner.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

Ninjahedge
February 3rd, 2010, 07:50 AM
If only we had the small fuzziy things to do the same with Cheney Rumsfeld and Bush.

But no, that would be siding with the Terrurists.

lofter1
August 30th, 2010, 06:39 PM
So much for Colin Powell's Pottery Barn directive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottery_barn_rule) and keeping our word ...

With U.S. Combat Troops Gone, Iraqis Say 'Thanks for the Mess'

TIME MAGAZINE (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2014446,00.html?xid=huffpo-direct)
By Charles McDermid / Baghdad
Monday, Aug. 30, 2010

Even as Washington is recasting the narrative of the Iraq war in terms of the troop withdrawal and campaign promises, Iraqi citizens say they're still caught in the same old story of frustration and fear. U.S. combat troops have now left the country, leaving behind an unfinished $53 billion rebuilding plan and some 50,000 personnel to advise and assist the populace. Meanwhile, President Obama is scheduled to speak about the end of America's seven-year military engagement in Iraq in a speech on Tuesday that will, among other things, officially change the code name for the U.S. mission from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.

But the rosy "rebranding" of the conflict, as some have called it, is hardly playing well in the bazaars of Baghdad and other embattled cities and towns where Iraqis of all stripes are scratching their heads over how charting their own course can possibly be a good thing. After all, a snapshot of today's Iraq is grim, and perceptions of an American retreat have the Iraqi streets rippling with anger and incredulity.

"What have the Americans accomplished for this country that they can now decide to just leave?" asks Hasnaa Ali, 42, a Baghdad schoolteacher who is heading home with a bag of groceries to prepare her family's iftar meal — the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. "We don't have clean water or electricity. Prices for everything are very high. There is no security, no jobs, no housing." She adds, "If their goal in coming here was to grant us freedom and democracy, how can they leave us when we are sunk in blood and trash? How can they hand Iraq over to our Iraqi politicians? Does the American President think we will be safe with such politicians? I don't think he understands them as well as we do." ...

FULL ARTICLE (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2014446,00.html?xid=huffpo-direct)

© 2010 Time Inc. All rights reserved

ablarc
August 30th, 2010, 07:07 PM
What went wrong??

Was anything ever right?

We should have left Saddam in power. Though horrendous, he was no worse than the King of Saudi Arabia, or any other muslim regime. And he had a powerful commitment to suppressing terrorists.


"What have the Americans accomplished for this country that they can now decide to just leave?" asks Hasnaa Ali, 42, a Baghdad schoolteacher who is heading home with a bag of groceries to prepare her family's iftar meal — the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. "We don't have clean water or electricity. Prices for everything are very high. There is no security, no jobs, no housing." She adds, "If their goal in coming here was to grant us freedom and democracy, how can they leave us when we are sunk in blood and trash? How can they hand Iraq over to our Iraqi politicians? Does the American President think we will be safe with such politicians? I don't think he understands them as well as we do." ...

nick-taylor
August 31st, 2010, 07:46 AM
What went wrong??

Was anything ever right?

We should have left Saddam in power. Though horrendous, he was no worse than the King of Saudi Arabia, or any other muslim regime. And he had a powerful commitment to suppressing terrorists.In an ideal world, Saddam would have been one of the first to go but the way it was carried out was all wrong. The biggest fault lies with the initial US administration assumption that nothing would go wrong and that it would be a breeze.

There were two critical problems that created a vacuum and the subsequent rise of insurgent forces;
- The army (composed of 400,000 trained and experienced individuals) was disbanded. Effectively unemployed they had free reign over countless stockpiles of unprotected arms and with the economy in tatters, turned to crime and the insurgent cause to feed them and their families.
- The banning and sacking of anyone who was a member of the Ba'ath party disposed of the administrators that had the specific knowledge of running Iraq. In addition intellectuals were dumped (to enter university in Iraq you needed to be a Ba'ath party member) across all walks of life from schools to hospitals simply because of their membership and not their ideological loyalties. Not only did this exacerbate a brain drain from the country but ensured that the country didn't have a sufficient counter to fanatical religious leaders which ultimately drained resources away from reconstruction and caused untold numbers of loss of life.

Merry
September 1st, 2010, 07:17 AM
Obama Announces End To Iraq Combat Mission In Oval Office Address

"The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” the president said in his Oval Office speech Tuesday night, only the second time he has addressed the nation from the (newly-redecorated) Office. Obama formally announced the end of the U.S. combat role in the country, declaring Operation Iraqi Freedom is “over” and it is time to” turn the page.” About 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq, but the president said in the address that all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year.

Considering many of Obama’s previous speeches have been praised as passionate and stirring, this one was noticeably subdued, the president providing a status report in an almost professorial manner. Chatter before the speech focused on how Obama would refer to his predecessor’s role in beginning the war. While he did not specifically mention former president George W. Bush’s 2007 "surge" in troops, Obama avoided any criticism of how Bush launched the war... and he actually lauded him.
“It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.”The president briefly mentioned the conflict in Afghanistan, noting that Al Qaeda “continues to plot against us.” He said the removal of troops in Iraq will mean additional resources for the effort in Afghanistan, though he pledged that those troops, too, will be removed from Afghanistan by the end of next year. The final act of the speech somewhat awkwardly transitioned into a discussion of the economy, as Obama claimed the country’s “most urgent task is to restore our economy” and add jobs.
“To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.”The closing of the speech centered on the veterans, as he noted that "part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who fought it.” He pledged: “We will do whatever it takes to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. This is a sacred trust."

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/08/obama_announces_end_to_iraq_co.html

lofter1
September 1st, 2010, 10:51 AM
The Endless War goes on ...

Combat Troops in Everything But Name Remain

THE DAILY DISH (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/09/combat-troops-in-everything-but-name-remain.html)
By Conor Friedersdorf
01 SEP 2010

The best thing you'll read about President Obama's speech on Iraq is here (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/09/a-date-that-will-live-in-oblivion.html) [A DATE THAT WILL LIVE IN OBLIVION by George Packer; The New Yorker, September 1 2010], and I'd like to associate myself with everything in this excerpt:



What President Obama called the end of the combat mission in Iraq is a meaningless milestone, constructed almost entirely out of thin air, and his second Oval Office speech marks a rare moment of dishonesty and disingenuousness on the part of a politician who usually resorts to rare candor at important moments. The fifty thousand troops who will remain in Iraq until the end of next year will still be combat troops in everything but name, because they will be aiding one side in an active war zone. The proclaimed end of Operation Iraqi Freedom has little or nothing to do with the military and political situation in Iraq, which is why Iraqis were barely aware when the last U.S. combat brigade crossed into Kuwait a few days ago. And for most of us, too—except, perhaps, those with real skin in the game, the million and a half Iraq war veterans and their families—there’s hardly any reality or substance to the moment.

It’s hard to have an honest emotional response or even know what one feels. After seven years of war, the occasion deserves some weight of feeling, but many Americans stopped paying attention a long time ago. And that’s exactly why the President made his announcement: because Americans want the war to be over, have wanted it for years. Tonight he told us what we wanted to hear. August 31, 2010, will go down in history as the day Americans could start not thinking about the war without feeling guilty.

This is not entirely ignoble, by the way.

George Packer goes on to explain why it isn't entirely ignoble. Read it all. I'll just remark on why it is partly ignoble: because even as President Obama spoke, some Marines were preparing to return to Iraq, having been recalled there, despite the fact that their tours were supposed to be over. They'll risk serious injury and death, a fate likely to befall dozens if not hundreds more Americans before we exit that country entirely, and as Mr. Packer observes, the effect of the speech is to give everyone permission to stop thinking about all the men and women who remain fighting.

Should the United States embark on another foolish war of choice, it'll be due partly to the willingness of our elected leaders across two administrations to hide from us the costs of war, and the complicity of the press in their efforts.

COPYRIGHT © WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 BY THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY GROUP.

eddhead
September 1st, 2010, 10:56 AM
"What have the Americans accomplished for this country that they can now decide to just leave?" asks Hasnaa Ali, 42, a Baghdad schoolteacher who is heading home with a bag of groceries to prepare her family's iftar meal — the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month of Ramadan. "We don't have clean water or electricity. Prices for everything are very high. There is no security, no jobs, no housing." She adds, "If their goal in coming here was to grant us freedom and democracy, how can they leave us when we are sunk in blood and trash?

Other than that, how's it going?

Seriously, what a mess, and what a compete abdication of responsibility on our part. We broke it and just walked away.



Should the United States embark on another foolish war of choice, it'll be due partly to the willingness of our elected leaders across two administrations to hide from us the costs of war, and the complicity of the press in their efforts.

Indeed.

Ninjahedge
September 1st, 2010, 11:49 AM
But who cares?

Those damned Iraqis are trying to build a Mosque ON GROUND ZERO!!!!

:crosseyed:

ablarc
September 1st, 2010, 02:17 PM
^ So, those guys are Iraqis, huh?

Ninjahedge
September 1st, 2010, 02:47 PM
Yep.


They commute.

ablarc
September 1st, 2010, 04:04 PM
Seriously, what a mess, and what a compete abdication of responsibility on our part. We broke it and just walked away.
Truly, we are the Great Satan.

eddhead
September 1st, 2010, 05:03 PM
^^
Are you suggesting that our actions led to a postive outcome for the people of Iraq? Or for that matter, that after spending more than $1TN and wasting 4400 lives on the combined wars, that we have somehow achieved some grand strategic geopolitical objective? Iraq never was a threat to us. We literally shredded more than $700BN in cash on the Iraqi war and achieved nothing but the mistrust and resentment of half the world. Indeed, as the Iraqi war efforts come to a close, we leave the place far worse off than how we found it.

I am not suggesting we are the "Great Satan", but it is no small wonder that half the Arab world thinks we are. We give US haters enough ammunition, that is for sure, and than we wonder about the motivations of disenfranchised suicide bombers.

We're the US and we're here to help.

lofter1
September 1st, 2010, 06:08 PM
Truly, we are the Great Satan.

Maybe you and Dick Cheney -- plus Wolfowitz, Luntz and Rumsfeld.

ablarc
September 2nd, 2010, 11:05 AM
Truly, we are the Great Satan.
I think some folks believe I meant this ironically. I didn't. See post #87.

I guess it balances out when I do mean irony and people don't catch it.



I keep forgetting to post smileys.

eddhead
September 2nd, 2010, 11:44 AM
ooops. my bad.

lofter1
September 2nd, 2010, 12:02 PM
I detected the seriousness of the Satan post. While all Americans have to accept some responsibility for the deeds done in our name, I think there are levels of "bad" that go along with the actions that ensue. The citizenry who tries and fails to hold to account those in higher positions of power (they who make the decisions and direct the money and bombs) would seem to be less culpable, thereby saving them from an eternity in the lowest rungs of hell. The citizens acting in concert with the war lovers would hold more responsibility -- bad but not necessarily Satanic. But those who lie and manipulate to force their intent into action, and seem to be bothered little about the havoc they wreak (especially if their pockets are full), are more like full partners with Satan -- and the more hellish their eternity the better. Perhaps I'm just trying to let myself off easy.

Ninjahedge
September 7th, 2010, 08:18 AM
Not everybody needs to be compared to Satan to be called Evil.