Tag Archives: Baghdad

Operation Quagmire, 1994

You know, the times come around and around and around… So this has been resurrected, I give you: Dick Cheney, advising NOT to invade Iraq.

Video Surfaces of Cheney, in 1994, Warning That An Invasion of Iraq Would Lead to ‘Quagmire’
By E&P Staff
Published: August 12, 2007 10:20 AM ET

NEW YORK It’s not the first time that citizen “investigative journalists” have uncovered some embarrassing, or telling, nugget from the past that apparently remained buried for years. But it has happened again with the posting of a now wildly popular video on YouTube that shows Dick Cheney explaining in 1994 that trying to take over Iraq would be a “bad idea” and lead to a “quagmire.”

The people who put it up come from a site called Grand Theft Country, the on-screen source appears to be the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and the date on the screen is April 15, 1994. That looks right, by the age of Cheney.

Posted on Friday, it had received over 100,000 hits by this morning, after being widely-linked around the Web. The transcript of this segment is below.

Cheney had helped direct the Gulf War for President George H.W. Bush. That effort was later criticized for not taking Baghdad and officials like Cheney had to explain why not, for years. Some have charged that this led to an overpowering desire to finish the job after Cheney became vice president in 2001.

Here is the transcript. The YouTube address is at the end.

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?

A: No.

Q: Why not?

A: Because if we’d gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it — eastern Iraq — the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you’ve got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

The other thing was casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families — it wasn’t a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right.

Fecal material contacts rotary air circulation device…

This is like 20 minutes old, I would do a link but feel a certain urgency so here is the article verbatim,

Yahoo! News
Back to Story – Help
Turkey bombards northern Iraq, Iraq says

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 12 minutes ago

The Iraqi government said Turkish artillery and warplanes bombarded areas of northern Iraq on Wednesday and called on Turkey to stop military operations and resolve the conflict diplomatically.

The claim occurred amid rising tension and Turkish threats to strike bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK, which has been launching attacks against targets in Turkey from sanctuaries in Iraq.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press that the morning bombardment struck areas of the northern province of Dahuk, some 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Col. Hussein Kamal said about 250 shells were fired into Iraq from Turkey. He added that there were no casualties on the Iraqi side of the border.

“We have received reports that the Turkish government and the Turkish army have bombed border villages. The Iraqi government regrets the Turkish military operations of artillery and warplanes bombing against border cities and towns,” al-Dabbagh said.

“The Iraqi government calls for ceasing these operations and resorting to dialogue,” he said, insisting that Iraq wants “good relations with Turkey.”

Earlier Wednesday, Kurdish guerrillas staged a bomb attack against a military vehicle, killing two soldiers and wounding six others near the Iraqi border, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The attack occurred close to the Iraqi border, near the town of Cukurca in Hakkari province, Anatolia said. Military helicopters flew the injured to hospitals as military units in the region launched an operation to hunt down the attackers, it said.

Last week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Turkey had massed 140,000 soldiers along the border — a figure the U.S. disputed. Zebari said troop levels in the region were often increased during the spring and summer in response to increased activity by PKK.

U.S. officials cast doubt on the figure.

Turkish officials have repeatedly said they are considering military operations against the PKK in Iraq, a move that the United States fears would cause further instability.

Al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi government is ready either for bilateral talks or three-way talks that will include the United States. He added that the PKK matter is not new but years-old.

“We have said before that we will not allow Iraq to become a launching pad for operations against Turkey or any other country,” al-Dabbagh said.

Washington says it is working with Turkey to combat the PKK but that it is focused on combatting insurgents opposing U.S. forces.

The PKK has escalated attacks this year, killing about 70 soldiers so far. More than 110 rebels were killed in the same period.

Turkey has been battling the PKK since 1984 in a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people.

Kidnapped Iranian diplomat says that he was tortured by CIA

Kidnapped from Baghdad, an Iranian doplomat now released says that he was tortured by the CIA for info before he was let go. There was once a time when most Americans would have believed that a story like this would have been a complete fabrication. But not any more. We now have a government acting purely like Mafia thugs and the story is entirely credible.

So too are charges from Iran that the US government and its military are engaging in terrrorist attacks against their country. The charge is that the US is actively working with various opposition groups that have a long history of using terrorist attacks to oppose the Iranian government. ABC had a recent report documenting and supporting these charges.

We must rally now to stop an extension of the Iraq war into Iran and Syria. It is clear that only mass revulsion and rage against our own US government can stop this continual war expansionism that Bush and his Democratic Party enablers are currently engaging in. Sitting back and hoping for a change in government almost 2 years away is idiotic. No change is about to come about unless the American pulbic begins to engage in street rallies and protests, instead of riding around in their cars going shopping all the time with their thumbs stuck up their rear ends.

Green Zone goes way of Baghdad

Senator McCain ventured to a market five minutes outside the Green Zone, accompanied by a company of (100) soldiers in Humvees, and five helicopters, to be able to say it was safe for an American to walk about Baghdad. When asked incredulously if he was kidding about a neighborhood in Baghdad being improved by the troop surge, McCain replied “I’ve just come from one.”

While Iraqi merchants later could express only disbelief at McCain’s misrepresentation of their worsening plight, he told stories about the market sellers being so “grateful” they wouldn’t accept payment for the trinkets the military souvenir shoppers had sought. Can you think of an opposite reason they might not want to take money from Americans, or been seen taking the money? One merchant recounted US General Patraeus buying a one dollar item with a twenty dollar bill, telling the seller to “keep the change.”

Are things getting better in Iraq, or specifically Baghdad, where the increased US presence has pushed the resistance operations into the countryside? The car bombs may be fewer, but they’re bigger.

The real answer came last week, buried on Friday and repeated nowhere. Last Friday an American soldier together with a private mercenary contractor were killed INSIDE THE GREEN ZONE. Several others were wounded. The Green Zone’s been subjected to increased rocket attacks, but last week’s deaths mark the first. Where the Green Zone used to be the safe-haven Twilight Zone operating in virtual isolation, even disregard, for the mayhem in Baghdad, its occupiers now have to adopt battle stations. Everyone is mandated to wear their armor, even crossing to the cafeteria. No one’s allowed to congregate outside in groups any longer and the much photographed palace pool is now well off limits.

Has Baghdad become safer, as Senator McCain contends? Not even the Green Zone.

Get the US and its hired goons out of Somalia

It has been weeks since the US and its ally Ethiopia invaded Somalia. Invasions of other countries, lest we forget, are violations of international law. Unfortunately, the United Nations Security Council acts as Bush’s puppet and is once again rubber stamping US imperialist aggression. Now, Mogadishu threatens to spin into total anarchy ala Baghdad.

Every place the US carries its wars, chaos develops and security disintegrates. That goes for whether it is the US international so-called war on drugs, are it’s phoney so-called war on terror. Get the US and its hired goons out of Somalia now. In fact, get them out of Africa altogether!

Reality sucks for the right… Right Michael?

Now, our resident Provocateur, Slivka, has been talking (or writing) much smack lately about Walter Reed and comparing it to one of the Right Wingnut talking points, publicly funded health care.

On the other other hand,

Now this is a link to an Army newspaper, The Army Times. As everybody knows, a hotbed of Socialists and Liberals.

What it essentially means, (the story is about an Army General being silenced, by the Pentagon, but subpoenaed anyway to testify in Congress)
is that there seems to have been a little teeny small wee itsy bitsy thing Michael Slivka and his right wing Keyboard Kommando buddies didn’t want us to know. If Michael pleads ignorance, I for one am almost prepared to believe him.

You see, the health care at Walter Reed was privatized. To people with strong links to our old friend, Ali Burton, the Thief of Baghdad.

The righties got all wound up that it was a clear case of socialized medicine, and the failure thereof, and how a private health care scam ooops i mean “plan” would have made all better…

And then that bad ol’ wicked reality jumped up and bit them squarely on their right buttcheeks.

We should really be worried now

The ventriloquist turned toward his public and said with a wide smile that it was the dummy who was calling the ‘conference’ and not himself. We should really be worried now. The US has ‘decided to ‘attend’ the conference that its dummy has called. I am referring to the announcement that the Iraq PM is calling for a regional conference on March 10 in Baghdad.

How reasonable. If it’s broke, let’s try together to fix it. Does this seem like the Bush and Cheney we know? We’re about to get neo-conned again I rather think. This so called regional conference is not for real. One could expect that Iran and Syria would be totally berated by the US if they attended, so why even respond? The new US strategy is merely to pass blame for the Iraq mess off themselves and onto the countries they next desire to attack. Possibly with nuclear weapons. But first, let’s conference! How sweet….

Yes, the US government we have is so very reasonable. It wants peace with Iran and Syria. But what do those rogue maniac Muslim states do? You know that they’re not reasonable, and right about now, we can suspect that ‘they’ will do a ‘Pearl Harbor’ on the innocent ol’ USA, led by innocent ol’ Oily Dick Cheney. We’re innocent he will shout! We tried to hold out the olive branch,but they only knew how to try to scalp us. These Muslim nuclear seeking monsters must be stopped, before they al quaeda us yet again.

Will our neighbors worry about torture and renditions then? Will they nobly oppose the hysteria by holding up pieces of paper, the US Constitution? Old Glory will become Oh Hysteria, we’ve been attacked yet again! Imagine your neighbors livid with rage as the one or two of us try to protest what will be ordered in ‘response’? It’s a scary day ahead. My God, we’re under attack! Nuke ’em! Lynch mobs will be back in style once again.

The latest, boy is it stupid

I was on the bus going to Memorial yesterday. there was a copy of the Omygodzette laying on the seat across from me, open to a section somewhat removed from the headlines… Mr Bush has demanded a cut in Medicare and a quarter trillion for the war.

In related news, the Decider has said the intelligence that Iraq was spiraling downward out of control is proof we need to stay and make it spiral a little faster.

Scores of Iraqis were killed by a car bomb in a marketplace in Baghdad.

Bushiites called it an atrocity, glad they can see that. But can they see that Americans killing scores of Iraqis in a bombing is just as much an atrocity?

Since the bomber pretty mangled himself beyond any hope of redemption, how much would you bet that he will be tentatively ID’ed as an Iranian?

If one group of Iraqis kills members of another group of Iraqis, that is baaaadddd .
Unless the Iraqis doing the killing are the ones supported by George. And the ones being killed are not supported by George.

They’re all foreign fighters anyway.
Our nigras wuz perfectly happy with segregation until all these here Outside Agitators started comin’ down here and stirring them up….

200-300 Iranian Messianic Cult Pilgrims killed with much smaller bombs (the explosives that push bullets down a tube pointed in the general direction of other humans) Goooooooddddd

Do these freaks actually believe that being killed by a bullet is somehow going to make the guys or their families feel better?

“It’s okay, they didn’t use nerve gas to kill him”

Where are they now?

Whatever became of the children of Baghdad

If you do a Google search for images of Iraqi children, you’re led mostly to pro-war sites where war-bloggers are trying to foster the contortion that our soldiers love the children of Iraq. Operation Iraqi Children is a military sponsored project where concerned Americans can donate school supplies to the needy students of Iraq, for use in their newly painted schools.


Colonel Brian Allgood, West Point grad, army surgeon, Doctor Allgood, died last weekend in a helicopter crash, among a dozen unlucky American soldiers being transported across Baghdad. By all accounts he was an exemplary soldier.
Rest in peace. But why should he get peace, and not everybody?

Allgood worked for the Department of Defense whose chief function has been to kill people. As a doctor, Allgood’s particular role was to save people from dying, mainly of course those on our side. Allgood was a surgeon who healed battle injuries, reconditioning combat soldiers, as opposed to a doctor who ensured that subjects of interrogation did not succumb to their torturers before they fulfilled their intelligence potential. Without painting too dark a picture, we should be frank about the Hippocratic Oath in the military.

So let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Allgood’s proper name meant exactly what it said. Let’s say he wasn’t a sadist on a USDD Approved power trip, or a moral dimwit loosed on the sanctioned lawlessness of a battlefield, venting his anger with his sidearm, authorizing gunfire over video monitors, or ordering the destruction of communities for the sake of protecting US ambulance routes; say Allgood wasn’t a blind proponent of US imperialist superiority; say he wasn’t an Eichmann cog enabling the massive machinery of our military to grind its way through the bones of peoples and cultures; say he wasn’t an idealogue of convenience holding out for his honorable discharge, fearing a court-martial for disobeying orders, thinking about his family and his pension.

Say Mr. Allgood was an all-American do-gooder think-gooder. How much can that matter? Isn’t it time he would be the last?

Isn’t it time our soldier-citizens there in Iraq admit to themselves what they are seeing? Soldiers cannot blame a complicit media for keeping them from the darkness of their deeds. When can we expect these gun-ho idealists to figure out that shooting Iraqis is not the way to help them?

Allgood is dead -I wouldn’t be writing about him but for his name. Allgood was killed with a dozen maybe just as red-white-and-true soldiers. And this Blackhawk Down should take with it our national dellusion. Even America’s best are going to be pulled into the buzz-saw. Is this not the face of what will be America’s heavy price: Our innocence shattered, the same that we’ve done to the Iraqis as they look upon the senseless loss? The sacrifice of Allgoods of our own will join the sides of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi innocents.

65, 85, 100, how many more?

Just surfed by yahoo again… 100 + people killed in market blast in Baghdad. Gaza television station bombed… and something from yesterday, our Favourite Asswipe Tancredo is actually thinking of running for President in ’08.

The F.A.T. as i will probably start calling him, ain’t got a chance. His Zani buddies, (Nazi spelled sideways, sort of) don’t even trust him.

Me, I just love the way he speaks (in milder terms, but not much milder) of things like ethnic cleansing and Relocation & Detention Centers and how glorious the New World Order will be once the liberal dissenters are silenced. Or “learn their place and stay in it”.

Here’s a Couple of Clues, F.A.T., old boy, YOUR last name ends in an “O”.  Your English Only buds just don’t like that. They are gonna use you until you are not of any more use and then put you “in your place”.

When that happens you had better pray to God Almighty that there are a few anarchists still outside of your Relocation Centers that you might be able to hide behind.

The rebellion isn’t about Liberals and Conservatives, there isn’t going to be a huge victory over the Tree Huggin’ Hippies, the hippies started packin’ guns a looonnnnggg time ago, and a lot of them because they were taught how to do it in the Army, into which they were drafted.

You and your Masters want to draft people like for instance ME?

And you REALLY think that’s a good idea, don’t you?

The worst single incident of non-government-sponsored home grown terrorism in our History was pulled off by Army Veterans. Who were pissed off, and righteously so, because of the way the your government treats the people. Specifically it was a Government terror-bombing of a Church in Waco Texas that set them off.

And if you are gonna give me that tired old CRAP about the Chuch being heavily armed, skip telling me and tell it to the Chaplain. You know the ones, the guys who sell their personal priesthood to be cheerleaders for your killing machine? Your friends glorify and almost worship the Crusaders. Get a grip, son.

The killings in Baghdad, today? They are all about YOUR government policy of bombing Churches. Or Mosques. The Israeli people ought to be investing in extra toilets, cause when your Master starts bombing synagogues they are all going to shit.

And you want this to happen here, too. Or so you and the groups you mouthpiece for think you do.

The next Big Lie

As the befuddled, overly religious minions of America try to figure it all out about Muslims, terrorism, Satan, evolution, chimps, global warming, Osama, and when Jesus is returning, their next Big Lie is being prepared for them to hunker down with. Condi, Dick, Dubya, and the rest of the gang have got the ships, missiles, and soldiers in place, so they got to get the Big Lie in place, too. What will it be?

It is….
We have to threaten and attack Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, because they are assisting and arming the opposition that is fighting our troops in Iraq.

In reality, our government feels the need to attack the Shia, because they will not go along with the US government plan to steal their oil reserves. Stan Goff (ex US Special Forces officer) discusses this upcoming ‘surge’ in bloodshed where the US will attack the Shia in full force. Petraeus! Is Baghdad Burning?

It’s time to oppose what is just around the corner. What are you waiting for? It’s going to happen, simply because the Democratic Party is not going to effectively oppose Bush’s plan. In fact, the Clinton pair are calling for a ‘surge’ of troops to Afghanistan right now, even as they fail to oppose the main ‘surge’. Instead of withdrawal, the government is planning the new attacks to come.


More news, really bad all of it

Baghdad Dick claims unqualified victoryCheney said on DumFox news last night that the president has the final say on the course of the war, Mr Bush is about to make the same announcement tonight, I think in a few minutes.

Cheney also said that the policy course is going to be for the next 3 or 4 decades.

Apparently congress doesn’t matter, and neither do the American People.

Also on Yahoo news they finally admitted to the kids hanging themselves, added 5 more to the list and said that there were others, but not confirmed.

The big announcement…

Coming soon… All of America and the world wait with bated breath….

The Chimp is gonna tell us all about his new plan to save us, pull our nuts out of the fire and then he will dance nekkid on the Oval Office rug, while singing “I’m a little crackpot, here me shout.”

Ok so I made some of that up… The part about everybody anxiously waiting…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.

Already have been sent, on their way now, the first installment of the Big Surge. Also they have joyfully reported success in killing 50 militants in the house to house sweep in Baghdad. Although they as usual have declined to name any of them and are still trying to identify the remains of most of them what the hell?

If they don’t know who they were how are they so sure that they were actually militants?

It seems everybody who falls from a Yankee bullet is a militant as soon as the bullet pierces his or her vital organs, and if the militant is being held by his or her mom at the time they get two militants for the price of one.

Comparing the death tolls

In the aftermath of bombings and indiscriminate attacks in Iraq which reached record numbers on Thanksgiving, I read that the combined Iraqi civilian casualties raised the Baghdad death toll to 202. For the day. For Baghdad. The count starts anew each day.
Meanwhile the US soldier death toll is 50 and climbing, for the month. For all of Iraq. Why the differing units of measure? Why not consider weekly totals for both Americans and Iraqis, to facillitate comparison?

I know something’s wrong on the grocery shelf when the price of some items is given per ounce, while a similar commodity is described per pound. Somebody doesn’t want the price comparison weighed, and I haven’t yet taken a calculator with me to discover who.

Why this discrepancy of value for human lives? I’m thankful at least we are new counting the Iraqi lives lost, although the numbers are themselves distorted. US forces are conducting more air attacks where it’s more difficult to measure the casualties. Won’t somebody come out and say it, we care quite a bit less about Iraqi lives compared to American lives? Even though the Iraqis were likely innocents, often children and children.

How can news outlets simply set the standards of measure as if the most important factor was to have the result fall within manageable ranges, figures we can wrap our head around? Or more accurately, figures they can wrap around our head.

What’s going to happen when the daily toll of civilian deaths reaches higher? Will they break the day into parts, a morning Iraqi death toll for example? To compare not too insanely with the US deaths per month? What a ruse.

From Marine to Al Jazeera Journalist

Marines are crazy as a rule. Or so, that’s been my experience with them. But crazy can sometimes be good,too. Al Jazeera online is one of my favorite sources of information, so it’s particularly interesting to see this particular ex-marine go to becoming a journalist working for Al Jazeera. If you get a chance, see the documentary mentioned in this article from Mother Jones. It’s all about how the Pentagon keeps assassinating reporters, from the Yugoslav television stations they bombed, to the hotel in Baghdad they blew away at. Remember when they bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade? So many ‘accidents’. Go get The Education

NPR versus Habeas Corpus

I caught a little of National Public Radio today. Here’s what I heard: A news story about a new program of repatriating illegal immigrants: by flying them back their ancestral homes, away from the Mexico-American border. It’s working rather well administrators say. The program interviewed a freshly apprehended Mexican who has been returned to his $12 a day parking lot attendent job in Mexico City. He said through a translator that he is likely inclined to give up his dream of reaching El Norte.

So let’s see, that’s a story about subsidizing airlines, budgeting Homeland Security funds for the tickets, to be clear. And the one-way-trips seem to be along the logic of driving a live-trapped vermint a minimum of five miles away from your home to keep him from coming back. Works sometimes.

So is it working with the persistent Mexicans? Hard to say as yet. And yet, here’s a report about it on NPR.

Switch over online to Democracy Now and what are they talking about?

Holy Shit, the Senate has passed a torture/anti-human rights bill which repeals the right of Habeas Corpus! The Right of Habeas Corpus has been nearly universal in the western world since the Magna Carta, since 1215 AD. Thirteen Democrats joined with the Republicans to pass the bill, including our man Ken Salazar, and everybody’s slippery rodent Joe Lieberman. Commentators have likened this bill to the internment of the Japanese Americans during WWII and similar national disgraces. We’ll be struggling to apologize and pay reparations. Many are sensibly embarrassed already.

Next up, a description of the Green Zone in Baghdad. Halliburton is serving pork there, and alcohol, insensitive to the Iraqis who must work and eat there, unclean. And on and on.

Can you imagine an informed American populace without the media telling them what’s happening? Why are your friends and neighbors not able to hear Democracy Now on their radios? Who’s standing in their way from hearing the truth over the public airwaves?

In Colorado Springs the gatekeeper is KRCC, the public radio station with a dedicated community of listeners, most of whom are kept in the dark about Democracy Now. On a day like today, it would seem the difference of opinion about station programming is less about taste and more unthinkably out of touch.

News notes April 2006

Who’s paying the bill, who’s tendering the bill?
U. S. gas prices have hit over three dollars per gallon. Let’s see: we have oil men in charge of the country, they conduct secret meetings with energy companies, they convince us to invade Iraq with the world’s second largest oil reserves, the oil companies post record breaking profits, and we’re paying twice as much as we used to for gasoline. Who’s the patsy? Though that word might be a little insulting if you’re the parent of someone killed in this charade.
Whose conscience was not bothered by secret prisons?
If CIA officer Mary McCarthy was not the source of the leak about the network of secret prisons to which America is abducting people, the question that comes to mind is not who was, but rather, who else was not? Who among the CIA, government and military administrators knew about the illegal un-American activities and didn’t blow the whistle?
Diplomatic immunity for beachheads?
On the subject of flouting international law, it has been revealed that plans for the American embassy in Baghdad include facilities for mounting military operations. Since when has it been permissible to treat embassies as military beachheads? When Iranians stormed the U. S. embassy in Tehran, they claimed that the diplomats held hostage were in reality CIA operatives. Our country vehemently denied these charges, but history has shown the Iranian accusations to have been true.
Air quote, Zaqawi, end quote.
A recent Al Zarqawi videotape issues new warnings to Iraq’s occupiers. It renews the defiant posturing and reiterates the link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. When the BBC reported the latest story, they used quotations when refering to “Zarqawi.” Whose quotes might those be? Of what footnote to the Zarqawi story is the BBC reminding us?

Plague upon Iraq

Swarm of locustsNevermind that this operation appears to have been a diversion.
This is a picture of U.S. locusts launching the largest airborn assault on Iraq since the U.S. invasion. The attack upon a suspected resistance stronghold north of Samarra was called OPERATION SWARMER.

Where have you seen this imagery before? How about in A BUG’S LIFE, the nasty grasshopper gang, swarming the little ant colony to terrorize them and take their food.

If you missed A Bug’s Life, perhaps you recognize the malevolant silhouettes taking to the air in geometric formation from THE WIZARD OF OZ. The flying monkeys unleashed by the Wicked Witch.

An article from Time about the airborn assault ended with this description:

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.

What authoritarian rule looks like

Several recent events have lead me to some dots that need connecting. The dots may seem wildly disparate: the kidnapping of peace workers in Iraq and Palestine, the recent NYT revelations of counter-protest tactics employed be the NYPD, and a French film about heavy-handed manipulation of political prisoners.

Part One: Les Yeux des Oiseaux
I saw a movie two decades ago called EYES OF THE BIRDS. It depicted a prison in Uruguay for enemies of the state. They were making preparations for an inspection by the Red Cross. The story told of repercussions suffered by the political prisoners as a result of the long anticipated visit.

A couple of recent news items made me recall the film. In an early scene the prison warden ordered one of his men to do something irrational. Without provocation the warden ordered a guard to begin shooting at the prisoners who were assembled in the yard. At the same time, the warden filmed how the prisoners reacted.

That night the prison staff studied the footage to determine who among the political prisoners were the troublemakers. They weren’t looking at who was the more provoked, who was the quickest to run for cover, or even who was the most defiant. They weren’t looking for the strongmen or cellblock Kapos, they were looking for the leaders. They noted who shielded the others with their own bodies, who shepherded fellow prisoners to cover, and who sought to defuse the chaos by urging everyone to remain calm.

Those persons were then sequestered from the rest of the population, kept from contact with the Red Cross inspectors, and promptly dispatched with bags over their heads and buried. The film was fictional, but based on many corroborated accounts from Uruguay’s long years of repressive rule and disparados.

Part Two: NYC undercover cops
A recent New York Times article describes how NYPD officers infiltrated a number of peaceful street protests to incite the crowds to react. Tactics like this are nothing new for union-busters. The Pinkerton Security Agency for example got its start by hiring thugs to disrupt early efforts to organize strikes.

But do we expect such behavior from our men in blue? They’ve sworn to protect and serve us “with honor!” It used to be against the law for law enforcement to infiltrate political organizations.

Here’s what the NYPD was doing. Perhaps so as not to risk charges of false arrest, the police would plant, not drugs, but arrestees! The police would confront a crowd of protesters and arrest their own undercover officers. Immediately one of the arrestees would reveal himself as being under cover. This would divert suspicion from the ones still playing the victims and serve to incite the crowd to anger. They were angry for having been infiltrated, and then for seeing several among them arrested without apparent provocation.

With the crowd sufficiently distracted from its non-violent mantras, uniformed officers could move in from the sidelines and make their selective arrests.

Three fake protestorsFrom video taken by an IndyMedia reporter.
Number 36 cried out
“I’m under cover.”
The two behind him
pretended to be arrested,
only to be spotted later
at another protest site.
Real arrests followed.

Does this authoritarian maneuver resemble the M. O. used in Uruguay? To work, the perpetrators count on two things. First, that the heat of the moment will wrong-foot even the most defensive strategist. The tactic is after all nothing new.

That the targets feel the heat counts on a second, very cynical, assumption: that peace activists, like political dissidents, like freedom fighters, have a not easily repressed sense of humanity. They’ll betray their own goodness sooner than bear witness to injustice.

Probably you can see where I’m going with this.

Part Three: CPT Peace activists in the Middle East
When we hold vigils for the Christian Peacemaker Team members still held hostage in Iraq, we wonder how can those nasty insurgents threaten the lives of people who are so plainly on the side of the Iraqi people? It does seem particularly godless of those rebels doesn’t it? And absurd. I offer four thoughts.

A. Peace workers held in high regard
A friend of mine went to Iraq before the first Gulf War as a human shield to try to prevent the U.S. bombing campaign against Iraq. He wore a t-shirt which proclaimed his purpose there.

He told me that after a while, his journalist friends were begging to buy his t-shirt from him. So revered were the peace activists, they could walk into the worst areas in the middle of the night, and fear nothing. The few reporters and photographers who remained in Baghdad were so jealous of the access the peace workers had to ordinary Iraqis as a result of the deference shown to them.

B. Iraqi treatment of captured U. S. soldiers
Without exception, American soldiers captured by Iraqi forces have been returned to us safe and sound, neither hooded, tormented, tortured, nor humiliated. The extent of the “interrogation” of the captured supply line crew was to ask them to put truth to a lie: “had they been greeted with flowers and candy?”

Americans captured by IraqisFootage banned in the US: Iraqis ask them “were you greeted with flowers and candy?”

Not far from there, Iraqi doctors were already trying to return the captured Jessica Lynch to the American lines, but American soldiers kept shooting at their ambulance, forcing them to turn back. (Later American doctors would accuse the dumb-founded Iraqis of having raped Jessica’s limp body. In fact Lynch had earlier been forceably sodomized by a fellow U.S. soldier.)

Indeed Iraqis have shown a greater sense of compassion and humanity than our feeble representatives have ever shown them. From cluster bombs to DU to acceptable collateral damage to Free-Fire Zones to Kill Boxes to indiscriminate savagery to dehumanizing protocol. Americans have proven to be as barbaric as the Iraqis are cultured and forgiving.

What about the suicide bombers and the beheadings? The Iraqis are a divided people, and they have been driven to desperation. Execution by beheading, so horrifying to us, is more commonplace in their traditions. And then again, all may not be what it appears…

C. The mysterious beheading of Nick Berg
Nick Berg was a young do-gooder who traveled to Iraq on his own dime to try to take part in the reconstruction. He supported the war apparently, but it would be hard to paint him as an opportunist or profiteer. Nick Berg went to Iraq without a contract, nor much prospect for getting one. He went there to help.

The last people to see Nick Berg alive were CIA, a fact they denied at first. Nick was being detained by the U.S. military before his disappearance into the hands of his executioners. Though he was horribly decapitated on a video distributed all over the world, no reporter is quite ready to say who did it. Behind Nick Berg in the video, the figures under the robes did not look quite right.

The U.S. military immediately said the voice on the tape was that of AL-ZARQAWI. Robert Fisk, one of the most respected and senior reporters of Middle East affairs is not prepared to say that he even believes there exists such a person as Al-Zarqawi.

The timing of Nick Berg’s beheading was also very strange. World outrage was at an all time high from the photos just out of Abu Ghraib prison. Nick Berg’s gristly death seemed to provide a counterpoint to Lindy England’s sorry pose.

If I were suggesting that U. S. Forces were behind the Nick Berg execution, the case has been made by many already, I would be going off track. It certainly reflected poorly on the insurgents. But making the other side look bad is no clever trick. We trained Central Americans to do it all the time. Take off your uniform, dress up like rebels, and make it look like they massacred the village and not you.

When the Iraqi police in Basra apprehended two British black-ops this summer and then refused to release to them to British custody, the British forces immediately organized a prison break by driving a tank into the police station. They rescued the captured brits before they would be made to explain why they were dressed up like insurgents and what they were planning to do with a carload of live Improvised Explosive Devices!

It is suggested that those who killed Nick Berg took Abu Ghraib off the front page. I would suggest that the abduction of westerners serves a motive more closely related to the Uruguayan – NYPD gambit.

Why aren’t these hostages taken from the ranks of American soldiers? Some of the hostages have been contractors, and I’m sure many of their abductors have been criminals. Large ransoms are being paid for these hostages, it stands to reason that organized crime wants a piece of it. And whether these abductions are sanctioned or renegade, they achieve the same result, for whomever.

For the most part, the highest visibility hostages have always been people sympathetic to the cause of righteousness. It makes the insurgent/resistance fighters look bad, but more importantly I bet it makes them feel bad. Whichever it is, the Iraqi people probably scramble as desperately as we do to save the lives of the hostages.

D. British aid workers kidnapped in Gaza
Peace workers go to Palestine for one purpose, to save Palestinian lives. Palestinians are being shot left and right by Israeli soldiers, it is only when they are accompanied by western volunteers that the Israelis are deterred from shooting them and that Palestinians have a chance of being permitted through checkpoints so that they can reach medical care, or so that their children can reach school unmolested.

Activists Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall died putting themselves between Palestinian civilians and Israeli rifles. Activists brave tough Israeli travel restrictions to get into the occupied territories so that they can try to save innocent lives.

Certainly only the most heartless of Palestinians could be threatening the lives of these altruist activists. Maybe the Israeli military is counting on the fact that most Palestinians will not be heartless enough to sit idly by.

If there are Palestinians who believe the kidnap scenario, perhaps they are trying to contact resistance members whom they believe might have some influence. Perhaps resistance members themselves are hurriedly trying to ferret out possible miscreants in their ranks.

Regardless of who is in possession of the captives, the Israeli military is no doubt studying everyone’s movements very carefully. Normally a resistance network has to communicate between cells very sparingly. But with the clock ticking, with international pressure, and the life of a selfless non-combatant at stake, resistance fighters might eshew the risks of disclosing their activities in their effort to facilitate the search for an unjustly jeopardized fellow human being.

What does Palestine have to do with Iraq?
More on that another time. It is fashionable to argue that the liberation of Iraq was less about democracy and more about oil. What are you now paying for gas? This war is even less about oil than it is about global dominance. In the Middle East our colonial presence is called Zionism.

Could the Americans be orchestrating the kidnapping of sympathetic westerners in an Uruguayan style provocation of the Iraqi resistance? Have our other military actions been any less dastardly?

Let’s pause for a moment of silence for the hostages. May both sides unite to save the lives of the captive Christian Peacemaker Team, and of Kate Burton and her parents in Palestine. And please Lord, may too many Iraqis not jeopardize their own lives trying to help save a handful of ours.


It is proposed that we ask participants to gather together in the center of the lot and someone in their midst will “explode.” We’ll use a combination of noise, streams of graffiti, flour and whatever else in the air to simulate what is now everyday in Baghdad.

Some participants will be coached by veterans who’ve returned from Iraq, as to which victims should scream, which should run, which should stand with their hands cupped to their ears, dazed.

Photographers will be permitted to take shots from vantage points on the roofs, spectators will be cordoned off, although the actual simulation might be staged outside of the expected area.

Timing will also be unpredictable. Suspected bombers will circulate interminably. Spectators will be asked to try to identify potential threats. Participants may be coached to avoid congregating in groups large enough to attract a suicide bomber. Hopefully we’ll achieve an awareness of something of the insecurity that Iraqis must live with every day.

Peter Jennings eulogy collaborator propagandist

High paid spokesman for the highly paid

How’s this for an obit? I remember Peter Jennings alright. Bastard.

March 20, 2003, the evening of SHOCK AND AWE, I watched Peter Jennings talk to somebody in Baghdad to get their take about what was about to happen there. He reached a Ba’ath opposition leader, a professor, in Bagdad on the phone.

Jennings was asking him if he and his family was scared, etc. But the professor started immediately criticized the bombing in particular and the invasion in general. “Why are you Americans doing this?” he asked.

Jennings didn’t know what to say. He tried to extricate himself apologizing to the audience -perhaps more so to his bosses- “I apologize again, I don’t know how that happened.”

This apology happened twice. Jennings asked the subject “Did we call you? Did you call us? How was this conversation set up?” It was not supposed to have happened apparently.

They don’t have too many people to talk to if they are looking for expressions of support for what we’re doing. And the location journalists who agreed to be IN BED with our military turn my stomach.