Posts tagged ‘Iraq occupation’

Ten Years on, Iraqis ‘Have No Future’ ………

Dahr Jamail and Nick Turse

by , March 27, 2013

Operation Iraqi Freedom

In the lead-up to the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush made a promise.  “The Iraqi people can be certain of this,” he said. “The United States is committed to helping them build a better future.”  A decade later, his successor, Barack Obama, seemed to suggest the U.S. had kept its end of the bargain.  On the 10th anniversary of the invasion, he lauded U.S. troops who, he insisted, gave the Iraqi people “an opportunity to forge their own future after many years of hardship.”

A promise made, a promised kept. Mission accomplished, right?

But what happened to the “better future” for the untold number of Iraqis who died in the charnel house that resulted from the American invasion?  Where can we find the “better future” of the nine-year-old girl killed by an air strike in Baghdad‘s Al-Nasser marketplace on March 28, 2003?  Or the 12-year-old boy killed by a car bomb in Al-Ula market in Baghdad’s Sadr City on July 1, 2006?  Or Dawoud Nouri’s eight-year-old daughter who was beheaded in Kirkuk on April 21, 2007?  What happened to their opportunities “to forge their own future”?

According to a recent report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University, at least 123,000-134,000 Iraqi civilians have died “as a direct consequence of the war’s violence since the March 2003 invasion.”  In fact, while the U.S. military left Iraq in 2011 and war supporters have advanced a counterfeit history of success there — owing to then-General (now disgraced former CIA director) David Petraeus’s military “surge” of 2007 — the war’s brutal legacy lives on.  Last year, the casualty watchdog group Iraq Body Count tallied 4,570 Iraqi civilian deaths from violence, a small increase over the death toll from 2011.

And on the day of Obama’s 10th anniversary announcement, car bombs and other attacks killed and wounded hundreds in the Iraqi capital Baghdad alone.  Add to these numbers the countless wounded of the last decade and the approximately 2.8 million Iraqis who, to this day, remain refugees outside the country or internally displaced within it and the words of both presidents ring hollow indeed.

Today, Dahr Jamail, who, in the early years of the American occupation of Iraq, covered that country’s nightmare in a way that few other American reporters even tried to do, returns to its still war-torn streets to do what he does best: give voice to the men and women who were promised those bright futures by America’s commanders-in-chief.  The Iraq they speak of, not surprisingly, bears little resemblance to the fantasyland touted by America’s recent presidents.  And their thoughts, for the years ahead, seem to fall somewhere between fatalism and nihilism. “Hardship” is hardly in the past and a “better future” appears nowhere in sight on a dim road filled with sectarian tensions, despair, lack of basic services, and the urge for revenge.  An “opportunity to forge their own future”? Tell it to the dead. Nick Turse

Living with No Future 
Iraq, 10 Years Later
By Dahr Jamail

Back then, everybody was writing about Iraq, but it’s surprising how few Americans, including reporters, paid much attention to the suffering of Iraqis.  Today, Iraq is in the news again. The words, the memorials, the retrospectives are pouring out, and again the suffering of Iraqis isn’t what’s on anyone’s mind.  This was why I returned to that country before the recent 10th anniversary of the Bush administration’s invasion and why I feel compelled to write a few grim words about Iraqis today.

But let’s start with then. It’s April 8, 2004, to be exact, and I’m inside a makeshift medical center in the heart of Fallujah while that predominantly Sunni city is under siege by American forces. I’m alternating between scribbling brief observations in my notebook and taking photographs of the wounded and dying women and children being brought into the clinic.

A woman suddenly arrives, slapping her chest and face in grief, wailing hysterically as her husband carries in the limp body of their little boy. Blood is trickling down one of his dangling arms. In a few minutes, he’ll be dead.  This sort of thing happens again and again.

Over and over, I watch speeding cars hop the curb in front of this dirty clinic with next to no medical resources and screech to a halt.  Grief-stricken family members pour out, carrying bloodied relatives — women and children — gunned down by American snipers.

One of them, an 18-year-old girl has been shot through the neck by what her family swears was an American sniper. All she can manage are gurgling noises as doctors work frantically to save her from bleeding to death.  Her younger brother, an undersized child of 10 with a gunshot wound in his head, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomits as doctors race to keep him alive. He later dies while being transported to a hospital in Baghdad.

According to the Bush administration at the time, the siege of Fallujah was carried out in the name of fighting something called “terrorism” and yet, from the point of view of the Iraqis I was observing at such close quarters, the terror was strictly American. In fact, it was the Americans who first began the spiraling cycle of violence in Fallujah when U.S. troops from the 82nd Airborne Division killed 17 unarmed demonstrators on April 28th of the previous year outside a school they had occupied and turned into a combat outpost. The protesters had simply wanted the school vacated by the Americans, so their children could use it. But then, as now, those who respond to government-sanctioned violence are regularly written off as “terrorists.” Governments are rarely referred to in the same terms.

10 Years Later

Jump to March 2013 and that looming 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion.  For me, that’s meant two books and too many news articles to count since I first traveled to that country as the world’s least “embedded” reporter to blog about a U.S. occupation already spiraling out of control. Today, I work for the Human Rights Department of Al Jazeera English, based out of Doha, Qatar.  And once again, so many years later, I’ve returned to the city where I saw all those bloodied and dying women and children.  All these years later, I’m back in Fallujah.

Today, not to put too fine a point on it, Iraq is a failed state, teetering on the brink of another sectarian bloodbath, and beset by chronic political deadlock and economic disaster.  Its social fabric has been all but shredded by nearly a decade of brutal occupation by the U.S. military and now by the rule of an Iraqi government rife with sectarian infighting.

Every Friday, for 13 weeks now, hundreds of thousands have demonstrated and prayed on the main highway linking Baghdad and Amman, Jordan, which runs just past the outskirts of this city.

Sunnis in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq’s vast Anbar Province are enraged at the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki because his security forces, still heavily staffed by members of various Shia militias, have been killing or detaining their compatriots from this region, as well as across much of Baghdad.  Fallujah’s residents now refer to that city as a “big prison,” just as they did when it was surrounded and strictly controlled by the Americans.

Angry protesters have taken to the streets. “We demand an end to checkpoints surrounding Fallujah.  We demand they allow in the press.  We demand they end their unlawful home raids and detentions.  We demand an end to federalism and gangsters and secret prisons!” So Sheikh Khaled Hamoud Al-Jumaili, a leader of the demonstrations, tells me just prior to one of the daily protests. “Losing our history and dividing Iraqis is wrong, but that, and kidnapping and conspiracies and displacing people, is what Maliki is doing.”

The sheikh went on to assure me that millions of people in Anbar province had stopped demanding changes in the Maliki government because, after years of waiting, no such demands were ever met.   “Now, we demand a change in the regime instead and a change in the constitution,” he says. “We will not stop these demonstrations. This one we have labeled ‘last chance Friday’ because it is the government’s last chance to listen to us.”

“What comes next,” I ask him, “if they don’t listen to you?”

“Maybe armed struggle comes next,” he replies without pause.

Predictably, given how the cycle of violence, corruption, injustice, and desperation has become part of daily life in this country, that same day, a Sunni demonstrator was gunned down by Iraqi security forces.  Lieutenant General Mardhi al-Mahlawi, commander of the Iraqi Army’s Anbar Operations Command, said the authorities would not hesitate to deploy troops around the protest site again “if the protesters do not cooperate.”  The following day, the Maliki government warned that the area was becoming “a haven for terrorists,” echoing the favorite term the Americans used during their occupation of Fallujah.

Today’s Iraq

In 2009, I was in Fallujah, riding around in the armored BMW of Sheikh Aifan, the head of the then-U.S.-backed Sunni militias known as the Sahwa forces. The Sheikh was an opportunistic, extremely wealthy “construction contractor” and boasted that the car we rode in had been custom built for him at a cost of nearly half a million dollars.

Two months ago, Sheikh Aifan was killed by a suicide bomber, just one more victim of a relentless campaign by Sunni insurgents targeting those who once collaborated with the Americans.  Memories in Iraq are long these days and revenge remains on many minds.  The key figures in the Maliki regime know that if it falls, as is likely one day, they may meet fates similar to Sheikh Aifan’s.  It’s a convincing argument for hanging onto power.

In this way, the Iraq of 2013 staggers onward in a climate of perpetual crisis toward a future where the only givens are more chaos, more violence, and yet more uncertainty.  Much of this can be traced to Washington’s long, brutal, and destructive occupation, beginning with the installation of former CIA asset Ayad Allawi as interim prime minister.  His hold on power quickly faltered, however, after he was used by the Americans to launch their second siege of Fallujah in November 2004, which resulted in the deaths of thousands more Iraqis, and set the stage for an ongoing health crisis in the city due to the types of weapons used by the U.S. military.

In 2006, after Allawi lost political clout, then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq neoconservative Zalmay Khalilzad tapped Maliki as Washington’s new prime minister. It was then widely believed that he was the only politician whom both the U.S. and Iran could find acceptable.  As one Iraqi official sarcastically put it, Maliki was the product of an agreement between “the Great Satan and the Axis of Evil.”

In the years since, Maliki has become a de facto dictator. In Anbar Province and parts of Baghdad, he is now bitterly referred to as a “Shia Saddam.” Pictures of his less-than-photogenic face in front of an Iraqi flag hang above many of the countless checkpoints around the capital.  When I see his visage looming over us yet again as we sit in traffic, I comment to my fixer, Ali, that his image is now everywhere, just as Saddam’s used to be. “Yes, they’ve simply changed the view for us,” Ali replies, and we laugh. Gallows humor has been a constant in Baghdad since the invasion a decade ago.

It’s been much the same all over Iraq.  The U.S. forces that ousted Saddam Hussein’s regime immediately moved into his military bases and palaces. Now that the U.S. has left Iraq, those same bases and palaces are manned and controlled by the Maliki government.

Saddam Hussein’s country was notoriously corrupt.  Yet last year, Iraq ranked 169th out of 174 countries surveyed, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. It is effectively a failed state, with the Maliki regime incapable of controlling vast swaths of the country, including the Kurdish north, despite his willingness to use the same tactics once employed by Saddam Hussein and after him the Americans: widespread violence, secret prisons, threats, detentions, and torture.

Almost 10 years after U.S. troops entered a Baghdad in flames and being looted, Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places on Earth. There are daily bombings, kidnappings, and assassinations. The sectarianism instilled and endlessly stirred up by U.S. policy has become deeply, seemingly irrevocably embedded in the political culture, which regularly threatens to tip over into the sort of violence that typified 2006-2007, when upwards of 3,000 Iraqis were being slaughtered every month.

The death toll of March 11th was one of the worst of late and provides a snapshot of the increasing levels of violence countrywide.  Overall, 27 people were killed and many more injured in attacks across the country. A suicide car bomb detonated in a town near Kirkuk, killing eight and wounding 166 (65 of whom were students at a Kurdish secondary school for girls). In Baghdad, gunmen stormed a home where they murdered a man and woman. A shop owner was shot dead and a policeman was killed in a drive-by shooting in Ghazaliya. A civilian was killed in the Saidiya district, while a Sahwa member was gunned down in Amil. Three government ministry employees in the city were also killed.

In addition, gunmen killed two policemen in the town of Baaj, a dead body turned up in Muqtadiyah, where a roadside bomb also wounded a policeman. In the city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, gunmen killed a blacksmith, and in the northern city of Mosul, a political candidate and a soldier were both killed in separate incidents. A local political leader in the town of Rutba in Anbar Province was shot and died of his injuries, and the body of a young man whose skull was crushed was found in Kirkuk a day after he was kidnapped. Gunmen also killed a civilian in Abu Saida.

And these are only the incidents reported in the media in a single day.  Others regularly don’t make it into the news at all.

The next day, Awadh, the security chief for Al Jazeera in Baghdad, was in a dark mood when he arrived at work.  “Yesterday, two people were assassinated in my neighborhood,” he said. “Six were assassinated around Baghdad. I live in a mixed neighborhood, and the threats of killing have returned. It feels like it did just before the sectarian war of 2006. The militias are again working to push people out of their homes if they are not Shia. Now, I worry everyday when my daughter goes to school. I ask the taxi driver who takes her to drop her close to the school, so that she is alright.” Then he paused a moment, held up his arms and added, “And I pray.”

“This Is Our Life Now”

Iraqis who had enough money and connections to leave the country have long since fled.  Harb, another fixer and dear friend who worked with me throughout much of my earlier reportage from Iraq, fled to Syria’s capital, Damascus, with his family for security reasons. When the uprising in Syria turned violent and devolved into the bloodbath it is today, he fled Damascus for Beirut. He is literally running from war.

Recent Iraqi government estimates put the total of “internally displaced persons” in Iraq at 1.1 million. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis remain in exile, but of course no one is counting.  Even those who stay often live as if they were refugees and act as if they are on the run.  Most of those I met on my most recent trip won’t even allow me to use their real names when I interview them.

My first day in the field this time around, I met with Isam, another fixer I’d worked with nine years ago. His son narrowly escaped two kidnapping attempts, and he has had to change homes four times for security reasons. Once he was strongly opposed to leaving Iraq because, he always insisted, “this is my country, and these are my people.” Now, he is desperate to find a way out. “There is no future here,” he told me. “Sectarianism is everywhere and killing has come back to Baghdad.”

He takes me to interview refugees in his neighborhood of al-Adhamiyah. Most of them fled their homes in mixed Sunni-Shia neighborhoods and towns during the sectarian violence of 2006 and 2007. Inside his cobbled-together brick house with a roof of tin sheeting held down with old tires, one refugee echoes Isam’s words: “There is no future for us Iraqis,” he told me. “Day by day our situation worsens, and now we expect a full sectarian war.”

Elsewhere, I interviewed 20-year-old Marwa Ali, a mother of two. In a country where electric blackouts are a regular event, water is often polluted, and waste of every sort litters neighborhoods, the stench of garbage and raw sewage wafted through the door of her home while flies buzzed about. “We have scorpions and snakes also,” she said while watching me futilely swat at the swarm of insects that instantly surrounded me. And she paused when she saw me looking at her children, a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. “My children have no future,” she said. “Neither do I, and neither does Iraq.”

Shortly afterward, I met with another refugee, 55-year-old Haifa Abdul Majid. I held back tears when the first thing she said was how grateful she was to have food. “We are finding some food and can eat, and I thank God for this,” she told me in front of her makeshift shelter. “This is the main thing. In some countries, some people can’t even find food to eat.”

She, too, had fled sectarian violence, and had lost loved ones and friends. While she acknowledged the hardship she was experiencing and how difficult it was to live under such difficult circumstances, she continued to express her gratitude that her situation wasn’t worse.  After all, she said, she wasn’t living in the desert.  Finally, she closed her eyes and shook her head.  “We know we are in this bad situation because of the American occupation,” she said wearily. “And now it is Iran having their revenge on us by using Maliki, and getting back at Iraq for the [1980-1988] war with Iran. As for our future, if things stay like they are now, it will only keep getting worse. The politicians only fight, and they take Iraq down into a hole. For 10 years what have these politicians done? Nothing! Saddam was better than all of them.”

I asked her about her grandson.  “Always I wonder about him,” she replied. “I ask God to take me away before he grows up, because I don’t want to see it. I’m an old woman now and I don’t care if I die, but what about these young children?”  She stopped speaking, looked off into the distance, then stared at the ground.  There was, for her, nothing else to say.

I heard the same fatalism even from Awadh, Al Jazeera’s head of security.  “Baghdad is stressed,” he told me.  “These days you can’t trust anyone. The situation on the street is complicated, because militias are running everything. You don’t know who is who. All the militias are preparing for more fighting, and all are expecting the worst.”

As he said this, we passed under yet another poster of an angry looking Maliki, speaking with a raised, clenched fist.  “Last year’s budget was $100 billion and we have no working sewage system and garbage is everywhere,” he added. “Maliki is trying to be a dictator, and is controlling all the money now.”

In the days that followed, my fixer Ali pointed out new sidewalks, and newly planted trees and flowers, as well as the new street lights the government has installed in Baghdad. “We called it first the sidewalks government, because that was the only thing we could see that they accomplished.”  He laughed sardonically. “Then it was the flowers government, and now it is the government of the street lamps, and the lamps sometimes don’t even work!”

Despite his brave face, kind heart, and upbeat disposition, even Ali eventually shared his concerns with me.  One morning, when we met for work, I asked him about the latest news.  “Same old, same old,” he replied, “Kidnappings, killings, rapes. Same old, same old. This is our life now, everyday.”

“The lack of hope for the future is our biggest problem today,” he explained.  He went on to say something that also qualified eerily as another version of the “same old, same old.”  I had heard similar words from countless Iraqis back in the fall of 2003, as violence and chaos first began to engulf the country.  “All we want is to live in peace, and have security, and have a normal life,” he said, “to be able to enjoy the sweetness of life.”  This time, however, there wasn’t even a trace of his usual cheer, and not even a hint of gallows humor.

“All Iraq has had these last 10 years is violence, chaos, and suffering. For 13 years before that we were starved and deprived by [U.N. and U.S.] sanctions. Before that, the Kuwait War, and before that, the Iran War. At least I experienced some of my childhood without knowing war. I’ve achieved a job and have my family, but for my daughters, what will they have here in this country? Will they ever get to live without war? I don’t think so.”

For so many Iraqis like Ali, a decade after Washington invaded their country, this is the anniversary of nothing at all.

Dahr Jamail is a feature story staff writer and producer for the Human Rights Department of Al Jazeera English. Currently based in Doha, Qatar, Dahr has spent more than a year in Iraq, spread over a number of trips between 2003 and 2013. His reportage from Iraq, including for TomDispatch, has won him several awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism. He is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Dahr Jamail

This article was originally published at Tom Dispatch.



Bush, Blair are war criminals, court says …..


A War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of war crimes for their roles in the Iraq war, Press TV reports.

The five-panel Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal decided that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against humanity by leading the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday.

In 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Malaysian tribunal judges ruled that the decision to wage war against Iraq by the two former heads of government was a flagrant abuse of law and an act of aggression that led to large-scale massacres of the Iraqi people.

Bombings and other forms of violence became commonplace in Iraq shortly after the US-led invasion of the country.

In their ruling, the tribunal judges also stated that the US, under the leadership of Bush, fabricated documents to make it appear that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

However, the world later learned that the former Iraqi regime did not possess WMDs and that the US and British leaders knew this all along.

Over one million Iraqis were killed during the invasion, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.

The judges also said the court findings should be provided to signatories to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, and added that the names of Bush and Blair should be listed on a war crimes register.


NATO’s secret weapon – racism …….

http://humanrightsinvestigations.orgPosted on September 1, 2011 by

Human Rights Investigations has been repeatedly warning about the Libyan rebels and it has become increasingly clear that racism lies at the very heart of the conflict in Libya. It now clear that the rebel forces are NATO (and Qatar and UAE)’s proxy fighters on the ground. Many of these fighters have been recruited and motivated on the basis of psy-ops about African mercenaries, fired up by viagra, mass-raping women and pillaging their cities – discredited stories which have been spread and amplified by rebel commanders, NATO ministers, the media and ICC prosecutor Moreno Ocampo.

The effects of this pernicious propaganda campaign have been seen in Benghazi, Misrata and Tawergha and across the nation and are now being seen on the streets of Tripoli as rebels round up black-skinned Libyans and African guest workers, putting them into football stadiums.

AP reports:

Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying. But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees – all black – clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.         

In the Khallat al-Firjan neighborhood in south Tripoli, Associated Press reporters saw rebel forces punching a dozen black men before determining they were innocent migrant workers and releasing them.     

Racism lies at the heart of many of the NATO campaigns, including in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq where innocents are slaughtered in a way that simply would not be accepted if the victims were white.

NATO’s chief weapon in the Libyan conflict has been and continues to be, not Brimstone or Paveway bombs, Tornados, Typhoons or Tomahawk cruise missiles – but racism.

To appreciate the importance of racism in motivating soldiers please listen to Mike Prysner’s speech made at the 2008 Winter Soldier hearings:


“And I tried hard to be proud of my service but all I could feel was shame and racism could no longer mask the occupation. These were people. These were human beings. I’ve since been plagued by guilt anytime I see an elderly man, like the one who couldn’t walk and we rolled onto a stretcher, told the Iraqi police to take him away. I feel guilt anytime I see a mother with her children like the one who cried hysterically and screamed that we were worse than Saddam as we forced her from her home. I feel guilt anytime I see a young girl like the one I grabbed by the arm and dragged into the street.

”We were told we were fighting terrorists, but the real terrorist was me and the real terrorism is this occupation. Racism within the military has long been an important tool to justify the destruction and occupation of another country. It has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation, and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon deployed by this government. It is a more important weapon than a rifle, a tank, a bomber or a battleship. It is more destructive than an artillery shell, or a bunker buster, or a tomahawk missile. While all of those weapons are created and owned by this government, they are harmless without people willing to use them.

”Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round. They do not have to fight the war. They merely have to sell the war. They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers into harm’s way and they need soldiers who are willing to kill or be killed without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb, but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow orders to use it. They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth, but there will only be a war if soldiers are willing to fight, and the ruling class: the billionaires who profit from human suffering care only about expanding their wealth, controlling the world economy, understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince us that war, oppression, and exploitation is in our interests. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, have nothing to gain from this occupation.

”The vast majority of people living in the US have nothing to gain from this occupation. In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain, but we suffer more because of it. We lose limbs, endure trauma, and give our lives. Our families have to watch flag draped coffins lowered into the earth. Millions in this country without healthcare, jobs, or access to education must watch this government squander over $450 million a day on this occupation. Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in another country to make the rich richer, and without racism soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war

”I threw families onto the street in Iraq only to come home and find families thrown onto the street in this country in this tragic, tragic and unnecessary foreclosure crisis; only to wake up and realize that our real enemies are not in some distant land. But not people whose names we don’t know, and cultures we don’t understand. The enemy is people we know very well and people we can identify. The enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable. The enemy is the CEO who lays us off our jobs when it’s profitable; it’s the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable; it’s the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not 5000 miles away, they are right here at home. If we organize and fight with our sisters and brothers, we can stop this war, we can stop this government, and we can create a better world.”


Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (Full Movie)

by grtv
Robert Greenwald

The story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war.

Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq (Blackwater, Halliburton/KBR, CACI and Titan) and the decision makers who allow them to do so.

Originally released in 2006.

Image of War’s Pain

From the Rockland Coalition for Peace & Justice


May 27, 2011

The over 8-year war/occupation in Iraq, based on false pretenses, has cost the lives of 4,452 U.S. soldiers and over a million Iraqi civilians.

Among them were Samar Hassan’s parents. A front page article in the New York Times (5/7/11) read “The image of Samar, then 5 years old, screaming and splattered in blood after American soldiers opened fire on her family’s car in the northern town of Tal Afar in January 2005, illuminated the horror of civilian casualties.” Now 12-year-old Samar lives on the outskirts of Mosul with relatives. The trauma left Samar and her siblings wounded psychologically. Ali, Samar’s brother-in-law, said, “I’ve taken them many times to the hospital, where they get pills” for emotional problems.

He says Samar’s 8-year-old brother, Muhammad, talks to himself when he is alone. “When we go out and see a family, they get sad,” he said. Sometimes he finds the children in a room together, crying. “When they remember the accident, it’s like they just died.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Rights Watch, remembers crying when she first saw the photo in a newspaper, and having to explain the image to her children.

“At the time, I thought it captured perfectly the horrors of the war that was not really understood by Americans,” she said. “Everything in that girl’s face symbolized what I felt all Iraqis must feel.” She added, “I wonder what life will be like for this girl?”

Samar had never seen the picture until this week, but she said she understood that it showed the world “the sad thing that is happening in Iraq.”

Near the end of the interview, she pointed to a family photograph on the wall. “I always dream about my father and mother and brother,” she said.
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:: Article nr. 78140 sent on 28-may-2011 23:12 ECT

President Obama’s top 5 broken campaign promises

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 — 1:09 pm

President Barack Obama came to office on a tide of voters eager to see a change in more than just the White House’s occupant. Two years into his presidency — and one day after he launched his 2012 reelection campaign — and even some of his most ardent supporters are having trouble coming to terms with the answer to Sarah Palin’s 2010 question: “How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out?”

Polls show that less than half the country believes President Obama deserves reelection, with disaffected liberals now a fast growing demographic.

Even though Obama clearly leads all of the likely Republican front-runners at this point, the deep dissatisfaction brewing within his core constituency could make the president, and his whole party, uniquely vulnerable in next year’s elections.

Below are five of the biggest campaign pledges Obama failed to keep — for which he’ll likely have to answer before election day 2012.

1. Health care for all
If you’re an American making less than $30,000 a year, chances are you still have trouble seeing a doctor, despite the passage of President Obama’s health care reform plan. In 2007, then-Senator Obama said he wanted to make sure no American is without access to vital medical attention and proposed using revenues from the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts to fund it. When the campaign laid out their specific plans in 2008, they included a “public option” that would be paid for by the public at large and made available to anyone who could not obtain coverage through their employer or other public program.

Ultimately, the debate in Washington became so heated and rife with disinformation that the administration and its allies in Congress agreed to forgo the public option, using it as a bargaining chip to ensure other proposals, like ending the “pre-existing condition” exclusion in private insurance policies, were passed in the final bill. They also gave in to Republican demands and extended the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, promising to take on the issue again in 2012. In spite of the modest legislative victory of actually getting health reform passed, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that even after all the elements take effect in 2014, over 22 million Americans will still lack access to basic health services.

2. Close Guantanamo
As a symbol of everything that liberals thought to be wrong with the Bush-era, closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba should have been an easy target for the new and popular president and his Democratic super-majority in Congress — and, in fact, then-candidate Obama promised to do just that. But as he soon found out, strategic and political calculations have made it almost impossible to shuck.

Today, Obama has turned away from his promise to close the facility and embraced the controversial terror war symbol, ordering the resumption of military tribunals and even moving the accused 9/11 plotters’ trial from a civilian court in New York City to the secret military court at Guantanamo.

3. Defend labor rights
“Understand this,” Obama said during a campaign rally in 2007. “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America.” (Watch.)

Despite efforts by state-level Republicans in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, Maine, Florida and Indiana to curtail collective bargaining rights, the President has yet to appear at a single protest or picket line.

4. Reform the Patriot Act
Contrary to popular belief, Obama has never actually argued for a repeal of the Bush administration’s sweeping, post-9/11 security initiatives, which were passed with a mandatory “sunset” clause to overrule the concerns of civil libertarians at the time. Instead, Obama has consistently said he favors enhanced judicial oversight and a pullback from some warrantless searches — like the provisions that allow the FBI to access library records without a warrant.

But every time the emergency laws have been due to expire, President Obama has pushed to extend them without any reforms. Most recently, the administration sought an extension of the Patriot Act that was even longer than the one Republicans wanted. They gave it to him and continued the sweeping spy powers through 2013, ensuring that the next extension doesn’t become an election year issue.

5. End the wars
Even as a candidate, Obama maintained that Afghanistan should be “the focus” of Bush’s terror war, and he pledged to make it so. But the president was also swept into power on a wave of anti-war fervor behind his calls to end the occupation of Iraq. Iraq has calmed down quite a bit as U.S. troops steadily stream out of the country, but Afghanistan is more violent than ever amid Obama’s own “surge.”

Even though the president promised his Afghan occupation would conclude in July 2011, military officials have admitted that sometime in 2014 is more likely. Elsewhere, American forces are dropping more bombs on more countries today than at any point during the Bush administration, with continued occupation forces in two massive countries even as they stage aerial bombardments of Pakistan, Libya and Yemen.


Kucinich “It A Question Of Priorities…We Will Borrow Over 5 TRILLION Dollars For Current Wars!”

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