The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

News & Views 01/02/08

Photo: A member of the 1920s Revolution Brigades sits next to the body of his comrade, Abdel Rafa Adil at the hospital morgue in Baqouba, some 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. The man was killed along with six others when a bomber detonated his explosives belt near a hospital in the center of Baqouba, the capital of Diyala, said police. The dead included a policeman and two members of a U.S.-backed armed volunteer group, the Brigades of 1920s Revolution. (AP Photo)


Wednesday: 27 Iraqis Killed, 32 Iraqis Wounded

US Copter Fire Leaves Six Civilians Wounded in Western Mosul

30 Dead in Baghdad's Worst Attack in Months [Other reports put the total as 36 dead. – dancewater]

Bomber strikes Iraq Sunni militia

String of suicide bombings in Iraq

Two suicide attacks in Iraq, including the deadliest to hit Baghdad since August, killed at least 56 people and wounded at least 42 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

U.S. troops storm Health Ministry again

U.S. troops barged into the Health Ministry building early this week, seizing several guards, destroying doors and tinkering with official documents. U.S. officials in Baghdad have declined comment on the reasons that spurred them to storm the building in the heart of Baghdad. They also have given no explanation for their detention of the guards. A health ministry source, refusing to be named, said: “U.S. forces stormed the building of the Health Ministry … and captured several guards assigned to protect it, destroyed several doors and tinkered with its contents.” The source said the troops have refused to issue a statement with regard to the ‘attack’ or the reasons that led them to do so. It is the second raid by U.S. troops on the Health Ministry building. Early in 2007, the troops made an unannounced assault on the building and detained a Deputy Minister Hakem al-Zamili. Zamili, a member of the political wing of the movement led by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, is still languishing in a U.S. jail allegedly for fomenting sectarian violence.

US Offers Iraqis Service Jobs

Children skip across a stream of raw sewage on a side road, trash piles up in a dusty lot and there are few desks - and even fewer chairs - in the village school's dark, cold classrooms. On the main street, fruits and vegetables are displayed for sale on sacks lying under corrugated metal awnings. Huda, a Shiite village of about 3,000 southeast of Baghdad, sits on the edge of a region the U.S. military and locals say is dominated by insurgents and al-Qaida in Iraq. Here, many men are out of work, and the village is in desperate need of basic services. Grinding poverty and disillusionment with the government and U.S.-led coalition can create fertile ground for insurgent or militia recruitment. But the U.S. military believes it has a way to help residents and the village by providing jobs that also could dim the allure of militancy.

Informal housing sweeps Baghdad

The illegal construction of houses and squatting on state-owned land has become an increasingly common phenomenon in the Iraqi capital since the U.S.-led invasion of the country in 2003. In the past four years, many estate agencies have made a fortune by exploiting individuals' feeling of deep insecurity, their willing to settle and their inability to afford high rents. Ahmed Abdullah, a government employee in his late forties, said that he was overburdened by high rents. "The sharp increase in rents following the 2003 incidents has forced me to deplete my savings to build a two-room house on a football field in the neighborhood," Abdullah told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "I was not alone in this- many other local residents have done the same. We all want to escape from the greediness of landlords who keep raising their rents under some pretext or other. What else could we do?" Abdullah wondered. Khalida Abd al-Hussein, who built a few rooms on a piece of land adjacent to a polyclinic, said that she had no option but to set up an informal house on state-owned land after she found no room for herself or her children in the house of her husband's family in Sadr City. "We have the right to a piece of land to live on," the woman said. "We admit that we have trespassed on others' property. Let the government give us another option.

24,000 civilian Iraqi deaths in 2007: independent group

Violence in Iraq, including actions by US-led coalition and paramilitary forces, was responsible for some 24,000 civilian deaths in 2007, according to an independent group monitoring casualties in the war-ravaged country. The Iraq Body Count (IBC) whose figures are tallied from media reports, morgues, hospitals, non-governmental groups and other sources, said in a report released Tuesday that there were between 22,586 and 24,159 violent civilian deaths in Iraq during the past year. [Just yesterday, a claim of 16,000 Iraqi deaths was made. That claim, and this one, is too low. It is beyond ridiculous to think that all Iraqi deaths due to violence and occupation are listed in the western press. It is easy to find examples of deaths in Iraqi blogs and in ACLU findings that were never reported in the western press. – dancewater]

Returning Iraqis face lack of services, property disputes

Dr. Ahmed Farid heard it from his family and saw it with his own eyes: his old neighborhood in Baghdad is safer, maybe secure enough to move back from the city of Basra. Since his family left the capital city in fall 2006, one of the most brutal periods since the war began, he's worked two medical jobs to cover rent and food. His children study in crumbling school buildings with 55 students to one teacher. Basra is close to his wife's family, but violence is boiling and Shiite Muslim power struggles continue. Still, he won't return to Jihad, his Baghdad neighborhood, just yet. It's the place where he was a target for kidnappers, his daughter woke daily from panicked nightmares and he's not sure he can find a job.

Iraq still divided one year after Saddam’s death

The first anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s execution may have passed in Iraq with scant mention by the government or the press, but it was marked by his loyalists who gathered at the ousted leader graveside on Sunday in his birthplace of Awja in central Iraq. Ali al-Nida, chief of the Baijat tribe to which Saddam belonged, said the followers of the Sunni leader held a simple ceremony in Awja to remember him for his role in ""maintaining the dignity"" of the Iraqi people. ""We will observe this day every year as Saddam is in our hearts,"" said Ghalib Hammudi, a relative of the former president who was hanged in Baghdad at the age of 69 for crimes against humanity on December 30, 2006. According to AFP, several posters of Saddam Hussein were posted in Awja, while loudspeakers played verses from the holy Qur’an. In Tikrit, Saddam’s stronghold, walls were painted with slogans paying tribute to the late president. ""We will take revenge for president Saddam Hussein,"" read one. Saddam’s posters were also seen in Baghdad's Sunni district of Adhamiyah in the north of the capital.

IRAQ: Islamic extremists target women in Basra

One hundred and thirty-three women were killed last year in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, either by religious vigilantes or as a result of so-called “honour” killings, a report said on 31 December. The report, released by Basra Security Committee at a conference on women’s rights in the city, said 79 of the victims were deemed by extremists to be “violating Islamic teachings”, 47 others died in “honour” killings and the remaining seven were targeted for their political affiliations. “The women of Basra are being horrifically murdered and then dumped in the garbage with notes saying they were killed for violating Islamic teachings," Bassem al-Moussawi, head of the committee and a member of Basra’s Provincial Council, told the conference. “Sectarian groups are trying to force a strict interpretation of Islam… They send their vigilantes to roam the city, hunting down those who are deemed to be behaving against their [the extremists’] own interpretations,” al-Moussawi said.

201 detainees freed in Diala, Basra

Diala police forces on Wednesday morning released 201 detainees, who were not proven guilty of any crime, the chief of the Diala police department said. "A total of 201 detainees were released from the Bucca detention center in Iraq's southern province of Basra, Qarqoush jail in Baladruz, north of Baghdad, and from the Baaquba police department, after they had been proven not guilty of involvement in any crime," General Ghanem al-Qureshi told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI).

U.S. forces release emergency squad commander in Wassit

U.S. forces released on Wednesday the commander of the Lion Emergency Squad, one year after his arrest in Wassit province, Iraqi police said. "U.S. forces on Wednesday set free Colonel Iyad Abd Hassoun, the commander of the Lion Emergency Squad, who was arrested in 2006," a source from Wassit police, who requested anonymity, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Wassit's police held a huge celebration in honor of the colonel's release, the source indicated. The source did not provide further details.


Amnesty Bill Sent to Iraq's Parliament Speaker

The government sent Iraq's parliament speaker a draft bill on Tuesday for an amnesty for some detainees being held in Iraqi prisons, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. The bill excludes those held in U.S. custody and those imprisoned for a variety of crimes ranging from terrorism, kidnapping and rape to antiquities smuggling, adultery and homosexuality. It also excludes senior figures of the former Baath regime. If passed in its current form, the bill could see some 5,000 prisoners released, al-Dabbagh said. The Iraqi government has about 20,000 people in custody, while the U.S. military holds about 25,000. Sunni parliamentarians have criticized the draft for its limited scope. They have argued that most prisoners are charged with terrorist crimes, rendering the bill ineffective. Some also fear referring the bill to Iraq's gridlocked parliament will actually delay prisoner releases.

Iraq invites international oil companies to expand oil industry

Oil Ministry on Wednesday invited international oil companies willing to work in Iraq to submit their papers, provided that they were officially registered in the country’s concerned offices, a ministry spokesman said. “Contracts and licensing directory in Oil Ministry on Wednesday called on all qualified and well-known international companies to submit their applications to work in Iraq,” Assem Jihad, from the Oil Ministry, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). Jihad considered “the registry of companies in Iraq as a standard condition.” He added “Companies have to fill in application forms and submit the documents before the end of January 2008.”

Iraq denies arrests of Iranians

The Iraqi government denied local media reports that three men working for the Interior Ministry arrested as insurgents were Iranian citizens. The ministry's chief of operations, Maj. Gen. Abdel-Karim Khalaf, told Kuwait's KUNA news agency the unidentified men arrested by U.S. forces Monday in Baghdad would be freed and were not Iranian. "I dismiss that the three persons ... may hold Iranian nationality," he said. "It is their right as Iraqis to go wherever they want."


Analysis: U.S. lost Fallujah's info war

A secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows the U.S. military believes it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to political pressure that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents. "The outcome of a purely military contest in Fallujah was always a foregone conclusion -- coalition victory," reads the assessment, prepared by analysts at the U.S. Army's National Ground Intelligence Center. "But Fallujah was not simply a military action, it was a political and informational battle. … The effects of media coverage, enemy information operations, and the fragility of the political environment conspired to force a halt to U.S. military operations," concludes the assessment. It adds that the decision to order an immediate assault on Fallujah, in response to the televised killing of four contractors from the private military firm Blackwater, effectively prevented the Marine Expeditionary Force charged with retaking the town from carrying out "shaping operations," like clearing civilians from the area, which would have improved their chances of success.


Lost in the surge hype and the media's endless demand that we cease caring about Iraq is the worsening crisis that was more heavily reported in early and mid 2007:

ACLU Releases Files on Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq

More Iraqis Flee As Figure Tops Four Million: UNHCR

Ignorance of Iraqi death toll no longer an option

Report says war on terror is fueling al Qaeda

2007 Oct 7 Towards Sustainable Security: Oxford Research Group International Security Report 2007

UN Report on Iraq Details an "Ever-Deepening" Crisis

Bush, Maliki Break Iraqi Law to Renew UN Mandate for Occupation


This is one of the harder topics for Americans to discuss by name, yet 2007 yielded a bumper crop of evidence of war crimes:

2007 May 4 Army Surgeon General's pentagon report on declining morale and war crimes

US Attack on Iraqi Peace Parliamentarian

US Electromagnetic Weapons and Human Rights

'Shocking' video: Shi'a Iraqi soldiers beat Sunnis as US trainers watch

Death Squads, American Style

Fifth Marine Pleads Guilty in Murder of Innocent Man

Jailed Two Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans

Bush Family War Profiteering

Coerced Labor Building Baghdad Embassy?

Illegal Bases in Iraq Openly Constructed, Used, Announced

Marine Told to Destroy Haditha Photos

The Other War: Iraq Veterans Speak Out on Shocking Accounts of Attacks on Iraqi Civilians

Marine says beatings urged in Iraq

Video: Marine on Hamdania Shooting

U.S. soldier convicted of beating Iraqi detainee with baseball bat

Marine tells of order to execute Haditha women and children

Documents Show Troops Disregarding Rules

U.S. Aims To Lure Insurgents With ‘Bait’

Soldier: Sergeant from N.C. ordered me to shoot unarmed Iraqi man

US Violating Chemical Weapons Convention in Iraq

And still we do not end the supreme war crime, the crime that contains the accumulated evil of the whole: the war of aggression.


2007 broke the corporate media ban on acknowledging the role of mercenaries in the occupation of Iraq. And when that dam burst, blood gushed out:

2007 Oct 11 UN report on Blackwater and other mercenaries killing indiscriminately

Blackwater security shot Iraqi man

CIA Mercenary Gets 8 Years for Beating a Prisoner to Death

Blackwater guards killed 16 as U.S. touted progress

FBI Admits Blackwater Mercenaries Murdered at Least 14 People


Yes, torture is illegal. Yes, torture is unconstitutional. Yes, the U.S. tortures. And, yes, the Congress just approved a new Attorney General who protects torturers.

Abu Ghraib: "Man In the Hood" provides testimony at War Crimes Conference

'We Were Torturing People For No Reason' -- A Soldier's Tale

CIA Tortured Me in Iraq, Claims Freed Iranian Diplomat

Photos of 'tortured' Iraqi's corpse released

Rumsfeld, Perjury, and Shoving Things Up Rectums



This is such fertile ground that although no more evidence is needed, it just keeps piling up. In fact, some of the old evidence is being buried In 2007 the White House deleted from its website the old claims by Cheney that Iraqis would welcome an occupation "as liberators" and so forth.

But deleting old Cheney lies only goes so far, when he keeps repeating them. In 2007, Cheney was still claiming that Iraq was to blame for 9-11.

The closest Congress came to touching the topic was a brief Senate committee hearing on a report on the Pentagon written by... the Pentagon. Even that report was fairly damning:

It dealt with the Feith Based Intelligence work of Doug Feith:

Pentagon Report Corroborates the Downing Street Memo, Intelligence and Facts Fixed Around the Policy!

Also in 2007, all pretense was abandoned that the invasion of Iraq was not driven by oil, as the Bush Administration and Congress pressured the puppet Iraqi government to pass a new law turning over much of the oil to foreign corporations:

Here's the text of the law:

And, of course, the original lies continued to be documented:

Two Explosive Books Tell the Inside Story of the Forged Iraq-Niger Docs That Helped Build the Case for War

Tenet's Book of Lies Leads to New Revelations

Senior CIA Analyst Believed Iraq Had No WMD

Two former CIA officers say the president squelched top-secret intelligence, and a briefing by George Tenet, months before invading Iraq.

Bush-Aznar Smoking Gun

Faulty Intel Source "Curve Ball" Revealed

U.S. Plan Envisioned Nuking Iran, Syria, Libya


Admissions of Iraqi Refugees Lagging

U.S. admissions of Iraqi refugees are nose-diving amid bureaucratic infighting despite the Bush administration's pledge to boost them to roughly 1,000 a month, according to State Department statistics obtained by The Associated Press. DIFFICULT TARGET: The steady decline means the administration will have to allow in 10,943 Iraqis over the next nine months, or roughly 1,215 a month, to meet the target it has set for itself. UNFAVORABLE HISTORY: In the past five years, with few exceptions, the United States has never been able to admit more than 1,000 refugees a month from any country.

IRAQ-SYRIA: Starving to survive: Iraqi refugees

Iraqi Fatima Ahmaji earns money to feed her family in Damascus by starving herself. Living with her two children in a bare room in Sayeda Zeinab, the Iraqi-majority suburb of Damascus, Fatima does not eat from dawn until dusk on behalf of people who have missed days of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “I am here in Syria jobless,” she told IRIN. “How can I survive and look after my children? I should and must work.” Since September Fatima has been fasting, receiving 3,000 Syrian pounds (about US$60) each month from Gulf and Iraqi clients. She says the work is taking its toll on her physical health. “I feel very weak, I’m exhausted and I suffer especially from headaches. Some days I have to eat and make up the fast later, but I shouldn’t because I’ve given my oath.” Fatima escaped the violence of Iraq in 2006 with her children after her husband was killed. Like many Iraqi refugees in Syria she has been forced to take extreme measures to make ends meet as the price of basic commodities and rents in Syria continue to soar.

How to Help Iraqi Refugees

ANOTHER Way to help: The Collateral Repair Project


Where are they

They are really careless of the Iraqi people's demands and needs. If we came back to 2006 and 2007 to find out what achievements did the parliament do , we would find nothing. I tried to call some prominent members to have a bit of information of their achievements during the last 20 months of their work in the parliament within Al-Maliki government. I got none of them …really none of them. They suppose to represent Iraqis, but they are not even trouble themselves to answer the phones as they are either switched off or out of the coverage area. Yes, they are because most of them are not in Iraq spending their time with their families who settle in London, Amman, Dubai, Cairo and Doha or they want to enjoy their time away of their families in Beirut, Paris , Damascus or Rome.I am going to give you just four names that I tried to get before and during writing this blog who are from different blocs. Ayad Allawi , the former Iraqi prime minister and the head of the Iraqia bloc, was the first ,but he lives in London and I tried to get his number there with negative results even from members of his bloc. Adnan Al-Duleimi , the head of Twafiq bloc in the parliament , was the second one with the same result having two numbers for him without any answer. I have friends in Jordan who said that he is in Amman now having some accusations against of displacing people and giving haunts for terrorists!! The third one was Ibrahim Al-Jafari , the former prime minister who ruled Iraq after Ayad Allawi , I tried to get numbers of someone to be in touch with in his hometown London ,but it was worthless. I heard that he made a visit to our new prime minister Noori Al-Maliki in London as the latter is having some medical tests in London hospitals at the present time.The forth one was Rose Shawis , a Kurd member of Kurdstan Democratic Party who is abroad too having this confirmation from his secretary telling me that he might come to Iraq next week!!!


The Internal Struggle for the Iraqi Oil Law Continues

A year has passed since the landmark deadline of December 2006, which was ‘publicly’ imposed by the IMF, the Iraqi Study Group (ISG), the US administration and the International Oil companies (IOCs) on the Iraqi government to deliver the long awaited Iraqi oil law. But it still seems that we are no closer today to seeing the new law approved than we were back in December 2006. In an August 22, 2007 “What is holding up the delivery of the long-awaited Iraqi oil law,” I covered the history, the background and the political developments surrounding the controversy over the Oil Law, including all the external and internal factors behind the delays in its materialization. I concluded that internal Iraqi factors were the main causes behind the hold-up of the new oil law. The developments on the ground over the past four months proved the accuracy of this analysis. Therefore, this article should be read in conjunction with the earlier analysis and should be seen as a further step in bringing the debate surrounding the oil law up-to-date. The Iraqi dynamics behind all the delays in the approval of the oil law have become more and more obvious over the previous few months. Their role in setting back the delivery of the oil law is becoming accepted by many International and by most Iraqi oil experts and analysts as the key factors bringing the progress on the oil law to a halt, as well as bringing some changes to US tactics on this benchmark.

….1. The US Administration and the IOCs have recognized in the past few months that their tactics up until the middle of 2007 of ‘publicly’ imposing all kinds of benchmarks and deadlines on the Iraqi government are having the opposite effect on their chances of having the oil law passed by the Iraqi parliament. 2. It has become clear that it’s in the interest of the US & the IOCs to use more discreet methods of pressure in order to improve their chances of having the oil law materialize. This change in tactics is due to the increase in opposition and mistrust by the vast majority of the Iraqi people from all classes. This rejection is not only towards the oil law, but also towards all US administration policies that attempt to continue the occupation under different forms. These tactical changes should not be seen as an indication of any strategic changes in the US attitude toward the oil law. The US administration, the Democrats, and the strong international oil lobbies are all adamant that passing this oil law is a vitally important benchmark, and that this goal should be pursued, whatever the cost to the Iraqi people.

Iraq's Civil Resistance

Although it is eclipsed from the headlines by the ongoing carnage, there is an active civil resistance in Iraq that opposes the occupation, the torture regime it protects and the Islamist and Baathist insurgencies alike. This besieged opposition--under threat of repression and assassination--is fighting to keep alive elementary freedoms for women, leading labor struggles against Halliburton and other contractors, opposing the privatization of the country's oil and other resources and seeking a secular future for Iraq. They note that what they call "political Islam" dominates both sides in the conflict--the collaborationist regime and the armed insurgents. Both seek to impose a reactionary, quasi-theocratic order.

…..On July 4 the leader of a popular citizens' self-defense force in Baghdad was executed. According to the Iraq Freedom Congress (IFC)--a civil resistance coalition--a unit of US Special Forces troops and Iraqi National Guard forces raided the home of Abdel-Hussein Saddam at 3 am, opening fire without warning on him and his young daughter. The attackers took Abdel-Hussein, leaving the girl bleeding on the floor. Two days later his body was found in a local morgue. Since late last year Abdel-Hussein had been the leader of the Safety Force, a civil patrol organized by the IFC to protect their communities. Like many IFC leaders, he had been an opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime and was imprisoned for two years in the 1990s. His death was mostly ignored by the world media. But on August 3 some 100 activists from the Japanese antiwar group ZENKO, an acronym for National Assembly for Peace and Democracy, gathered near the US Embassy in Tokyo to protest the slaying. One banner read: Do US-Iraqi security forces promote civil rights or Big Brother thuggery? Abdel-Hussein found out! …. The IFC was formed in 2005, bringing together trade unions, women's organizations, neighborhood assemblies and student groups around two demands: a secular Iraqi state and an end to the occupation.

We Support the Troops Who Oppose the War

On the weekend of 13-15 March, 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will assemble history's largest gathering of US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Iraqi and Afghan survivors. They will provide first hand accounts of their experiences and reveal the truth of occupation. We support Iraq Veterans Against the War and their Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation. Join us in supporting the effort to reveal truth in the way that only those who lived it can.

Please go to this website to sign the petition.

Quotes of the day: James Madison and George Mason wanted impeachment in the Constitution in case a president ever pardoned someone for a crime that he himself was associated with. They did get impeachment into the Constitution. Nancy Pelosi removed it in 2007. ~ David Swanson