A Reform to Restore the People’s Power By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
July 12, 2007

The American political system has failed. The fabled checks and balances of American politics were no match for a neoconservative administration with a secret agenda. The American people were deceived and tricked into supporting two invasions that are war crimes under the Nuremberg standard.

US aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians have radicalized Muslims throughout the world and swelled the ranks of insurgents. Despite the “surge” and an additional 30,000 US troops in Baghdad, the US is unable to protect its own embassy. On July 10, the fortified Green Zone, which contains the US and British embassies and the puppet Iraqi government, came under intense mortar and rocket attack. Within the protected Green Zone, 18 people were wounded and 3 were killed.

The US military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus said that the US is a decade away from victory in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus could have added another truth and acknowledged that the US military lacks sufficient fresh troops to remain in the conflict. Last year Colin Powell said the US Army is “about broken.” The US military is exhausted by the insurgencies and will be driven out if not withdrawn.

Gen. Petraeus assumed command in January. Six months later, Petraeus says “the question is how can we gradually reduce our forces so we reduce the strain on the army.” [US Iraq chief warns of long war BBC NEWS / MIDDLE EAST, July 9 2007]

In the US Senate, Republican support for Bush’s wars is fading as senators face a hostile public that has had enough of Bush’s pointless and lost wars based on lies and deception. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq never had any valid reason. The US occupations of these countries have failed, and no purpose has been achieved except the enrichment of the military-security complex and the swelling of al-Qaeda’s ranks and credibility.

One trillion dollars has been totally squandered. Moreover, Bush’s wars have had to be financed by borrowing abroad. The result has been a reduction in the dollar’s value and an erosion of the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. The dollar has fallen to a new low against the Euro and has reached a 26-year low against the British pound.

The latest comprehensive worldwide Pew poll reveals the complete collapse of America’s standing in the world.

This is a huge price to pay for Bush’s childish ego, for the enrichment of Cheney’s cronies at Halliburton and merchants of death, and for Congress’ appeasement of AIPAC.

Bush’s and Cheney’s lies and assaults on the US Constitution and American civil liberty, their plans to attack Iran, and the war crimes for which they are responsible provide an open and shut case for their impeachments. The latest polls show that 54% of Americans support impeachment of Vice President Cheney, with only 40% opposed. Bush hangs on by a hair with 45% favoring his impeachment and 46% opposed. But Democrats, like Republicans, have failed the electorate and refuse to do their duty. Congress is a creature of special interests and no longer represents the American people.

Obviously, some new method is needed for removing incompetent or dictatorial presidents and vice presidents.

Constitutional reform might be next to impossible, but before dismissing the possibility consider that according to British news reports, Britain’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, intends a wide- ranging program of constitutional reform, including giving up the prime minister’s power to declare war.

The London Telegraph says: “The measures are intended to restore ‘trust’ in politics after the by-passing of Parliament and the Cabinet, as well as the culture of spin and media manipulation, that characterised the Blair decade.” [Brown gives up the power to declare war , July 3, 2007]

If America is to remain a democracy, the people need refurbished powers to hold “government of the people, by the people, for the people” accountable. One way of doing this would be a vote of confidence by the people. The question can be put to a national referendum: “Shall the President remain in office?” “Shall the Vice President remain in office?”

The state of Florida does this for judges, including Florida’s Supreme Court, so there is precedent for allowing the people to decide whether officials may remain in office.

As the American people can no longer rely on elected officials to respond to public opinion, the people must do what they can to gather power back into their hands before they become the subjects of tyrants.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

What Lies Beneath: Privileged Grotesques, Ordinary Monsters and the Iraqi Deathscape. by Phil Rockstroh

Dandelion Salad

by Phil Rockstroh
Dissident Voice
July 12th, 2007

At present, George W. Bush is unpopular with the majority of the American public not because of the murderous mayhem he has unloosed in Iraq; rather, his standing has plummeted due to the fact that he didn’t deliver the goods. Americans are fine with fueling our republic of road rage using the blood of Iraqis (or any other distant and darker people) as long as “the mission” doesn’t drag on too long or reveal too much about ourselves.

Continue reading

Seeking Political Reform Through Solidarity by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Dandelion Salad

Thursday, 12 July 2007
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

All over the Internet are sincere efforts to reform and improve America’s political-government system. The downside is fragmentation of the subpopulation that has escaped brainwashing, cultural distraction, and self-delusion. Strategy solidarity is missing, but is possible.

Millions of discontent, dissident and truly patriotic Americans see our federal government as corrupt and untrustworthy, disrespectful of our Constitution, under the grip of moneyed interests, subservient to corporate and globalization elites, unresponsive to the needs of ordinary people, and very much on the wrong track. But they are not united.

This subpopulation no longer believes that electing different Democrats or Republicans will turn around the nation. Many have stopped voting. Some believe violent revolution is necessary. Some think that only national economic disaster will produce necessary change. Most find hope in a particular reform strategy that has attracted their attention and respect. However, so many reform efforts reduce prospects for success.

I am talking about political-government reforms, not party reforms. Many successful websites often described as “progressive” seek changes in the Democratic Party. On the political right others hope to reform the Republican Party. Party reform is not the same as reversing the many declines in American democratic institutions. Devotees of popular sites like dailykos.com, moveon.org and huffingtonpost.com, for example, still believe that electing different Democrats is the solution, while true dissidents have given up on that. Being passionately anti-Bush/Cheney does not change their loyalty to the two-party system.

For the dissident subpopulation, fragmentation impedes building a critical mass that can precipitate a tipping point for revolutionary change that solves systemic national problems. Fragmentation results in large measure because of the ease of creating new groups with their own websites. Dissidents align with some web group (and sometimes several), hoping and perhaps praying for success, even if they admit the probability is low.

Admittedly, our monumentally negative and complex national situation will not receive some quick magic-bullet solution. And many will argue that we need multiple strategies and that many of them are complementary. Yet the fragmentation-critical mass issue must not be ignored any longer. Especially when we acknowledge the myriad, powerful forces supporting our ugly, oppressive status quo system and their demonstrated capability over many decades to beat back serious reform attempts. Success requires solidarity. If we do not take the fragmentation problem seriously, untold numbers of micro-reform groups will remain marginalized. Just what status quo forces want.

Realistically, reaching consensus will be resisted by many reform-groups that would not be selected as the priority, solidarity option. One cannot ignore the considerable egos of activists that have energetically created a web group, and that have attained supporters – though rarely in significant numbers. They sincerely believe that their strategy is the best one and having relatively few supporters does not deter them. Many are as opposed to alternative reform strategies as those in the status quo establishment, but not all. Most celebrate their long shot status with a religious zeal bordering on obsession. We need passion for a solidarity strategy.

This requires maturity and open-mindedness from entrepreneurial activists to acknowledge that some other strategy offers more promise of wide scale success. Joining together in common cause is necessary to save our nation.

Umbrella Strategy: What we can strive for is that many reform advocates can support another strategy that does not contradict or oppose their own one. In seeking a solidarity strategy, we want the capacity to serve as an umbrella movement that ultimately can assist others to succeed or at least fairly compete against each other for public support.

Unlikely Mass Action: The solidarity strategy should not be dependent on changing the behavior of enormous numbers of people. Many sincere groups believe that millions of converts will change more than their thinking or values – they will change their behavior. They trust that their information stimulus will produce their desired response. One group aims at convincing people to have only one child per couple as the planet-wide solution. Another preaches voting out incumbents. Another wants supporters for replacing our representative democracy with direct democracy – despite being antithetical to our constitutional republic framework. Such micro-movements hope that true believers will voluntarily choose to behave in the desired fashion. But how can one person confidently believe that millions of others will behave likewise? Such groups typically exist for years despite no objective evidence that their message is causing millions of people to behave similarly.

Unlikely Lawmaking: Many other groups, such as those pursuing specific electoral reforms, base success on Congress eventually passing the desired law. But if we are talking about profound reforms, passage is unlikely. Powerful moneyed interests spend whatever is necessary to preserve the status quo through lobbying and campaign funding. Getting dissidents to send letters to members of Congress, sign petitions and participate in street protests are tactics that rarely succeed against the corrupt power of money. Moreover, many of these groups pursue beneficial but narrow reforms that will not profoundly change our system. Note that I am not talking about worthy issue-specific actions that often mobilize large numbers, such as the recent success to kill the attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants and as yet unsuccessful attempts to impeach Bush and Cheney, stop the Iraq war, and stop globalization.

It comes to this: Is there a solidarity strategy for achieving deep reforms? Yes. Some time ago I anguished over the decision to dedicate my time, energy and money to a movement that I had researched and concluded had the capacity to produce many major reforms. An Article V convention could be the successful solidarity strategy. The Framers of our Constitution created this option exactly because they anticipated the loss of public confidence in the federal government. That day has arrived.

This strategy is a clear constitutional right. An Article V convention, moreover, would provide a legal venue for consideration of many possible amendments. Indeed, when I examined countless reform groups, the clearer it became that many goals could be instituted through constitutional amendments – our ultimate lawmaking opportunity.

Why so many failed attempts to get an Article V convention? Powerful groups on the political left and right had opposed the convention. They wanted to retain their ability to greatly influence public policy and feared a convention that circumvented all three branches of the federal government. The great hypocrisy was that those professing to honor and love our Constitution opposed using exactly what our Constitution offers us.

I first wondered why Congress had not proposed an amendment to remove the convention option. But then I realized that Congress has chosen to conceal its opposition to a convention. But two of our greatest presidents backed it: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I linked up with other conventionists and now we have a major web presence for Friends of the Article V Convention at www.foavc.org. We are nonpartisan and will not endorse specific amendments. We have shown the potential for wide scale success by achieving remarkable rapid growth in membership in just a few months and have begun building state chapters.

If you are a true dissident looking for major political-government reforms come with an open mind to our website. Access a wealth of information and analysis that refute any fears you may have about a convention (because of propaganda from anti-conventionists). If you have a reform group or are committed to one and can envision a constitutional amendment to reach your goal, consider affiliate membership for your group.

In solidarity there is strength. Much strength is needed to meet our common reform goal of restoring American democracy and rebuilding a trustworthy government.

[Joel S. Hirschhorn is the author of Delusional Democracy and can be reached through www.delusonaldemocracy.com.]

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Americans Unready to Revolt, Despite Revolting Conditions by Joel S. Hirschhorn

The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush’s National Security Doctrine: “Revealing the Lies” on 9/11 Perpetuates the “Big Lie” by Michel Chossudovsky (2004)


Dandelion Salad

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, July 12, 2007

2004-05-27

Text of Michel Chossudovsky’s keynote presentation at the opening plenary session (27 May 2004) to The International Citizens Inquiry Into 9/11, Toronto, 25-30 May 2004. (First published by Global Research, 27 May 2004

The Bush administration had numerous intelligence warnings. “Revealing the lies” of Bush officials regarding these “intelligence warnings” has served to uphold Al Qaeda as the genuine threat, as an “outside enemy”, which threatens the security of America, when in fact Al Qaeda is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus.

America’s leaders in Washington and Wall Street firmly believe in the righteousness of war and authoritarian forms of government as a means to “safeguarding democratic values”.

9/11 is the justification.

According to Homeland Security “the near-term attacks will either rival or exceed the 9/11 attacks”.

An actual “terrorist attack” on American soil would lead to the suspension of civilian government and the establishment of martial law. In the words of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge: “If we go to Red ... it basically shuts down the country,"

"You ask, 'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life. People don't do that unless it's a serious situation." (Donald Rumsfeld)

The "Criminalization of the State", is when war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide "who are the criminals", when in fact they are the criminals.


Revealing a lie does not necessarily lead to establishing the truth.

In fact the experience of the 9/11 Commission which has a mandate to investigate the September 11 attacks has proved exactly the opposite.

We know that the Bush administration had numerous "intelligence warnings". We know they had "intelligence" which confirmed that terrorists had the capacity of hijacking aircrafts and using them to target buildings.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had apparently been warned in August 2001 by the FBI to avoid commercial airlines, but this information was not made public. (See Eric Smith at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SMI402A.html )

The Pentagon had conducted a full fledged exercise on an airplane crashing into the Pentagon.(See http://globalresearch.ca/articles/RYA404A.html )

We also know that senior Bush officials including Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice lied under oath to the 9/11 commission, when they stated that they had no information or forewarning of impending terrorist attacks.

But we also know, from carefully documented research that:

There were stand-down orders on 9/11. The US Air force did not intervene. see http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/ELS305A.html , Szamuely at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SZA112A.html )

There was a cover-up of the WTC and Pentagon investigation. The WTC rubble was confiscated. (See Bill Manning at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MAN309A.html

The plane debris at the Pentagon disappeared. (See Thierry Meyssan, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/MEY204C.html )

Massive financial gains were made as a result of 9/11, from insider trading leading up to 9/11 (See Michael Ruppert, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RUP110A.html .)

There is an ongoing financial scam underlying the 7.1 billion dollar insurance claim by the WTC leaseholder, following the collapse of the twin towers (See Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO403B.html

Mystery surrounds WTC building 7, which collapsed (or was "pulled" down in the afternoon of 9/11 mysteriously (For details see WTC-7: (Scott Loughrey at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/LOU308A.html ).


The White House is being accused by the critics of "criminal negligence", for having casually disregarded the intelligence presented to president Bush and his national security team, and for not having acted to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The unfolding consensus is: "They knew but failed to act".

This line of reasoning is appealing to many 9/11 critics and "Bush bashers" because it clearly places the blame on the Bush administration.

Yet in a bitter irony, the very process of revealing these lies and expressing public outrage has contributed to reinforcing the 9/11 cover-up.

"Revealing the lies" serves to present Al Qaeda as the genuine threat, as an "outside enemy", which threatens the security of America, when in fact Al Qaeda is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus.

The presumption is that these forewarnings and intelligence briefs emanating from the intelligence establishment constitute a true and unbiased representation of the terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, the history of Al Qaeda and the CIA has been shoved to the background. The fact that successive US governments since the Soviet-Afghan war have supported and abetted the Islamic terror network is no longer mentioned, for obvious reasons. It would break the consensus regarding Al Qaeda as the outside enemy of America, which is a crucial building block of the entire National Security doctrine.

This central proposition that Islamic terrorists were responsible for 9/11 serves to justify everything else including the Patriot Act, the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, the spiraling defense and homeland security budgets, the detention of thousands of people of Muslim faith on trumped up charges, the arrest and deportation to Guantanamo of alleged "enemy combatants", etc.

The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush's National Security Doctrine

Spelled out in the National Security Strategy (NSS), the preemptive "defensive war" doctrine and the "war on terrorism" against Al Qaeda constitute the two essential building blocks of the Pentagon's propaganda campaign.

No Al Qaeda,

No war on terrorism

No rogue States which sponsor Al Qaeda

No pretext for waging war.

No justification for invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq

No justification for sending in US special forces into numerous countries around the World.

No justification for developing tactical nuclear weapons to be used in conventional war theaters against Islamic terrorists, who according to official statements constitute a nuclear threat. (See http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405A.html ).

The Administration's post 9/11 nuclear doctrine, points to Al Qaeda as some kind of nuclear power.

"The Pentagon must prepare for all possible contingencies, especially now, when dozens of countries, and some terrorist groups, are engaged in secret weapon development programs." (quoted in William Arkin, Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable, Los Angeles Times, 9 March 2002)

Central Role of al Qaeda in US Military Doctrine

The very existence of Al Qaeda constitutes the justification for a pre-emptive war against rogue states and terrorist organizations. It is part of the indoctrination of US troops fighting in the Middle East. It is also being used to justify the so-called "abuse" of POWs.

The objective is to present "preemptive military action" --meaning war as an act of "self-defense" against two categories of enemies, "rogue States" and "Islamic terrorists":

"The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain duration. …America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.

Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction (…)

The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population, in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare. As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.

The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction- and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, (…). To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively." (National Security Strategy, White House, 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html )

To justify pre-emptive military actions, including the use of nuclear weapons in conventional war theaters (approved by the Senate in late 2003), the National Security Doctrine requires the "fabrication" of a terrorist threat, --ie. "an outside enemy." It also needs to link these terrorist threats to "State sponsorship" by the so-called "rogue states."

But it also means that the various "massive casualty-producing events" allegedly by Al Qaeda (the fabricated enemy) are also part of the propaganda ploy which consists in upholding the Legend of an outside enemy.

9/11 and War Propaganda

In other words, the forewarnings sustain the Al Qaeda legend, which constitutes the cornerstone of the "war on terrorism". And the latter serves as a justification for America's "pre-emptive wars" with a view to "protecting the homeland".

One year before 9/11, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) called for "some catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor," which would serve to galvanize US public opinion in support of a war agenda. (See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NAC304A.html )

The PNAC architects seem to have anticipated with cynical accuracy, the use of the September 11 attacks as "a war pretext incident."

The PNAC's declared objective is "Defend the Homeland'' and "Fight and decisively win in multiple, simultaneous theater wars", perform global constabulary funcitons including punitive military actions around the World, and the so-called "revolution in military affairs", essentially meaning the development of a new range of sophisticated weaponry including the militarisation of outer space,the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, etc. (on nuclear weapons see http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405A.html ,, on the PNAC, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NAC304A.html )

The PNAC's reference to a "catastrophic and catalyzing event" echoes a similar statement by David Rockefeller to the United Nations Business Council in 1994:

"We are on the verge of global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."

Similarly, in the words Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book, The Grand Chessboard:.

"…it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus [in America] on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter was one of the key architects of the Al Qaeda network, created by the CIA at the onslaught of the Soviet Afghan war (1979-1989). (See Brzezinski at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.print.html )

The "catastrophic and catalyzing event" as stated by the PNAC is an integral part of US military-intelligence planning. General Franks, who led the military campaign into Iraq, pointed recently (October 2003) to the role of a "massive casualty-producing event" to muster support for the imposition of military rule in America. (See General Tommy Franks calls for Repeal of US Constitution, November 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/EDW311A.html ).

Franks identifies the precise scenario whereby military rule will be established:

"a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event [will occur] somewhere in the Western world - it may be in the United States of America - that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event." (Ibid)

This statement from an individual, who was actively involved in military and intelligence planning at the highest levels, suggests that the "militarisation of our country" is an ongoing operational assumption. It is part of the broader "Washington consensus". It identifies the Bush administration's "roadmap" of war and "Homeland Defense." Needless to say, it is also an integral part of the neoliberal agenda.

The "terrorist massive casualty-producing event" is presented by General Franks as a crucial political turning point. The resulting crisis and social turmoil are intended to facilitate a major shift in US political, social and institutional structures.

General Franks' statement reflects a consensus within the US Military as to how events ought to unfold. The "war on terrorism" is to provide a justification for repealing the Rule of Law, ultimately with a view to "preserving civil liberties."

Franks' interview suggests that an Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack will be used as a "trigger mechanism" for a military coup d'état in America. The PNAC's "Pearl Harbor type event" would be used as a justification for declaring a State of emergency, leading to the establishment of a military government.

In many regards, the militarisation of civilian State institutions in the US is already functional under the facade of a bogus democracy.

Actual Terrorist Attacks

To be "effective" the fear and disinformation campaign cannot solely rely on unsubstantiated "warnings" of future attacks, it also requires "real" terrorist occurrences or "incidents", which provide credibility to the Washington's war plans. These terrorist events are used to justify the implementation of "emergency measures" as well as "retaliatory military actions". They are required, in the present context, to create the illusion of "an outside enemy" that is threatening the American Homeland.

The triggering of "war pretext incidents" is part of the Pentagon's assumptions. In fact it is an integral part of US military history.(See Richard Sanders, War Pretext Incidents, How to Start a War, Global Outlook, published in two parts, Issues 2 and 3, 2002-2003).

In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had envisaged a secret plan entitled "Operation Northwoods", to deliberately trigger civilian casualties to justify the invasion of Cuba:

"We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," "We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington" "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." (See the declassified Top Secret 1962 document titled "Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba"16 (See Operation Northwoods at http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/NOR111A.html ).

There is no evidence that the Pentagon or the CIA played a direct role in recent terrorist attacks, including those in Indonesia (2002), India (2001), Turkey (2003) and Saudi Arabia (2003).

According to the reports, the attacks were undertaken by organizations (or cells of these organizations), which operate quite independently, with a certain degree of autonomy. This independence is in the very nature of a covert intelligence operation. The «intelligence asset» is not in direct contact with its covert sponsors. It is not necessarily cognizant of the role it plays on behalf of its intelligence sponsors.

The fundamental question is who is behind them? Through what sources are they being financed? What is the underlying network of ties?

For instance, in the case of the 2002 Bali bomb attack, the alleged terrorist organization Jemaah Islamiah had links to Indonesia's military intelligence (BIN), which in turn has links to the CIA and Australian intelligence.

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament --which contributed to pushing India and Pakistan to the brink of war-- were allegedly conducted by two Pakistan-based rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure") and Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Mohammed"), both of which according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) are supported by Pakistan's ISI. (Council on Foreign Relations at http://www.terrorismanswers.com/groups/harakat2.html , Washington 2002).

What the CFR fails to acknowledge is the crucial relationship between the ISI and the CIA and the fact that the ISI continues to support Lashkar, Jaish and the militant Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen (JKHM), while also collaborating with the CIA. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Fabricating an Enemy, March 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO301B.html )

A 2002 classified outbrief drafted to guide the Pentagon "calls for the creation of a so-called 'Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group' (P2OG), to launch secret operations aimed at "stimulating reactions" among terrorists and states possessing weapons of mass destruction -- that is, for instance, prodding terrorist cells into action and exposing themselves to 'quick-response' attacks by U.S. forces." (William Arkin, The Secret War, The Los Angeles Times, 27 October 2002)

The P2OG initiative is nothing new. It essentially extends an existing apparatus of covert operations. Amply documented, the CIA has supported terrorist groups since the Cold War era. This "prodding of terrorist cells" under covert intelligence operations often requires the infiltration and training of the radical groups linked to Al Qaeda.

In this regard, covert support by the US military and intelligence apparatus has been channeled to various Islamic terrorist organizations through a complex network of intermediaries and intelligence proxies. (See below in relation to the Balkans)

Foreknowledge is a Red Herring

Foreknowledge implies and requires the existence of this "outside enemy", who is attacking America.
Amply documented, the Islamic brigades and Al Qaeda including the madrassas and the CIA sponsored training camps in Afghanistan are a creation of the CIA. The Taliban were "graduates" of the madrassas, which formed a Us sponsored government in 1996.

During the Cold War, but also in its aftermath, the CIA using Pakistan's Military Intelligence apparatus as a go-between played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA-sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam.

Every single US administration since Jimmy Carter has consistently supported the so-called "Militant Islamic Base", including Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, as part of their foreign policy agenda.

And in this regard, the Democrats and the Republicans have worked hand in glove. In fact, it is the US military and intelligence establishment which has provided continuity in US foreign policy.

Media Reports on Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Military Intelligence (ISI)

It is indeed revealing that in virtually all post 9/11 terrorist occurrences, the terrorist organization is reported (by the media and in official statements) as having "ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda". This in itself is a crucial piece of information. Of course, the fact that Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA is neither mentioned in the press reports nor is it considered relevant to an understanding of these terrorist occurrences.

The ties of these terrorist organizations (particularly those in Asia) to Pakistan's military intelligence (ISI) is acknowledged in a few cases by official sources and press dispatches. Confirmed by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), some of these groups are said to have links to Pakistan's ISI, without identifying the nature of these links. Needless to say, this information is crucial in identifying the sponsors of these terrorist attacks. In other words, the ISI is said to support these terrorist organizations, while at same time maintaining close ties to the CIA.

In other words, the focus on foreknowledge has served to usefully distract attention from the US government's longstanding relationship to the terror network since the Soviet-Afghan war, which inevitably raises the broader issue of treason and war crimes.

Continued...


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Down in the Flood: The Senate’s Blank Check for War on Iran by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 12 July 2007

(UPDATED BELOW)

As you may know — unless you rely on the corporate media for your news, of course — yesterday the U.S. Senate unanimously declared that Iran was committing acts of war against the United States: a 97-0 vote to give George W. Bush a clear and unmistakable casus belli for attacking Iran whenever Dick Cheney tells him to.

The bipartisan Senate resolution – the brainchild (or rather the bilechild) of Fightin’ Joe Lieberman – affirmed as official fact all of the specious, unproven, ever-changing allegations of direct Iranian involvement in attacks on the American forces now occupying Iraq. The Senators appear to have relied heavily on the recent New York Times story by Michael Gordon that stovepiped unchallenged Pentagon spin directly onto the paper’s front page. As Firedoglake points out, John McCain cited the heavily criticized story on the Senate floor as he cast his vote.

It goes without saying that all of this is a nightmarish replay of the run-up to the war of aggression against Iraq: The NYT funneling false flag stories from Bush insiders. Warmongers citing the NYT stories as “proof” justifying any and all action to “defend the Homeland.” Credulous and craven Democratic politicians swallowing the Bush line hook and sinker.

To be sure, stout-hearted Dem tribunes like Dick Durbin insisted that their support for declaring that Iran is “committing acts of war” against the United States should not be taken as an “authorization of military action.” This is shaky-knees mendacity at its finest. Having officially affirmed that Iran is waging war on American forces, how, pray tell, can you then deny the president when he asks (if he asks) for authorization to “defend our troops?” Answer: you can’t. And you know it.

This vote is the clearest signal yet that there will be no real opposition to a Bush Administration attack on Iran. This is yet another blank check from these slavish, ignorant goons; Bush can cash it anytime. This is, in fact, the post-surge “Plan B” that’s been mooted lately in the Beltway. As you recall, there was much throwing about of brains on the subject of reviving the “Iraq Study Group” plan when the “surge” (or to call it by its right name, the “punitive escalation”) inevitably fails. Bush put the kibosh on that this week (“Him not gonna do nothin’ that Daddy’s friends tell him to do! Him a big boy, him the decider!”), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a fall-back position – or rather, a spring-forward position: an attack on Iran, to rally the nation behind the “war leader” and reshuffle the deck in Iraq.

Of course, the United States is already at war with Iran. We are directing covert ops and terrorist attacks inside Iran, with the help of groups that our own government has declared terrorist renegades. We are kidnapping Iranian officials in Iraq and holding them hostage. We have a bristling naval armada on Iran’s doorstep, put there for the express purpose of threatening Tehran with military action. The U.S. Congress has overwhelmingly passed measures calling for the overthrow of the Iranian government. And now the U.S. Senate has unanimously declared that Iran is waging war on America, and has given official notice that this will not be tolerated. It is only a very small step to move from this war in all but name to the full monty of an overt military assault.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there is madness at work here. There is no other word for it. As I noted a few years ago:

Homo sapiens is the only species that dreams of its own total demise. Our brief history of conscious thought is replete with vivid scenarios of the end of life on earth….Religion has produced most of these — giddy, voluptuous nightmares of universal extinction, usually by fire, at divine order. A favored remnant is always saved in such tales, of course, but only after being transformed into some different, higher order of being. The gross human body — that bleeding, fouling, endlessly replicating sack of earth — is gleefully consigned to eternal oblivion.

It seems that some ineradicable nihilism pervades us, like a virus, now dormant, now flaring: something in us that wants to die, to be done with the long, overhanging doom of mortality — and to take the world with us. Our grandiose visions of the future seem to hide, at their core, a secret, desperate anxiety about the profound meaninglessness of existence — an anxiety that often disguises itself in elaborate fantasies of the afterlife, in dreams of “dominance” for one’s “own kind” (nation, tribe, faith, race, ideology, etc.), or in the eroticizing of death, war and destruction.

Instincts for preservation, sentiments of affection, the drive for pleasure — from the most basic bodily urges to the most sublime creations and apprehensions of the intellect — act as counterweights to this dark virus, of course. They provide for most of us, most of the time, enough fragments of meaning — or at least sufficient distraction — to get on with things, without too much resort to world-engulfing visions or the extremes of nihilistic anxiety.

On the individual level, the calibration of these competing impulses can be intricate, subtle, ever-shifting, because the individual mind is so complex and all-encompassing, yet also so enclosed, so unlockably private as well: an infinitely supple tool for managing the conflicts and contradictions of reality. But on the broader level — species, nation, group — human consciousness is, of necessity, a far more blunt and brutal instrument.

There, our brain-fevers and anxieties rage more virulently, lacking the counterweights of individual feeling and the quick, intimate responsiveness of the private mind. In the group-mind, the fantasies that root in the muddy fear of meaninglessness can emerge full-blown. Thought and discourse are reduced to broad strokes, slogans, codes and incantations, with little correspondence to reality. Awareness of this tendency can mitigate some of its effects; but the group-mind’s fundamental falsity and irreality almost invariably infects the thoughts and actions of group leaders — and eventually many of the group members as well.

Thus we can sometimes say, not entirely metaphorically, that nations “go mad,” hurtling themselves toward ruin, embracing self-destruction, lusting for violence and death, sick with nihilism — although this sickness is always painted in the colors of patriotic fervor or religious zeal, or both…

Now draw these dangerous streams together, and you have a portrait of the blunt and brutal group-mind at work in the leadership of the world’s most powerful nation. The folly, fantasy and death-fetish of the Bush Regime — long evident to anyone who cared to see — were finally “revealed” in the mainstream media recently by the quasi-official Establishment oracle, Bob Woodward. His latest insider portrait, Plan of Attack, offers — in the usual, easily-gummed pabulum form — a few tastes of the bitter truth behind the Regime’s mad, ruinous war crime in Iraq.

The corrosive nihilism at the heart of the enterprise ate through the gaudily-painted surface most tellingly in a single anecdote. Woodward asks George W. Bush how he thinks history will regard his adventure in Iraq. Bush, gazing out the window, shrugs and waves the question away. “History, we don’t know,” he says. “We’ll all be dead.” No fine, faith-filled talk here about God and Jesus and the immortal soul responsible for its actions throughout all eternity — the kind of zealous patter Bush favors in public statements. This was just the cold, rotten, meaningless core of his grand vision: “We’ll all be dead.” So who cares? Après moi, le deluge.


Who would have thought the floodwaters of this death vision would have risen so high again so soon? Yet here they are again, beating against the gates.

UPDATE: Jonathan Schwarz points out that all of the Senate’s Democratic candidates for president voted for Lieberman’s Iran War amendment: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and Joe Biden. Just in case you were expecting a saner foreign policy after the 2008 election.

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‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’ By Leonard Doyle


Dandelion Salad

Interviews with US veterans show for the first time the pattern of brutality in Iraq

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
ICH

07/12/07 “
The Independent

It is an axiom of American political life that the actions of the US military are beyond criticism. Democrats and Republicans praise the men and women in uniform at every turn. Apart from the odd bad apple at Abu Ghraib, the US military in Iraq is deemed to be doing a heroic job under trying circumstances.

That perception will take a severe knock today with the publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.

The report steers clear of widely reported atrocities, such as the massacre in Haditha in 2005, but instead unearths a pattern of human rights abuses. “It’s not individual atrocity,” Specialist Garett Reppenhagen, a sniper from the 263rd Armour Battalion, said. “It’s the fact that the entire war is an atrocity.”

A number of the troops have returned home bearing mental and physical scars from fighting a war in an environment in which the insurgents are supported by the population. Many of those interviewed have come to oppose the US military presence in Iraq, joining the groundswell of public opinion across the US that views the war as futile.

This view is echoed in Washington, where increasing numbers of Democrats and Republicans are openly calling for an early withdrawal from Iraq. And the Iraq quagmire has pushed President George Bush’s poll ratings to an all-time low.

Journalists and human rights groups have published numerous reports drawing attention to the killing of Iraqi civilians by US forces. The Nation’s investigation presents for the first time named military witnesses who back those assertions. Some participated themselves.

Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence. A number of interviewees revealed that the military will attempt to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis. The veterans said the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifles beside corpses to make it appear that they had died in combat.

“It would always be an AK because they have so many of these lying around,” said Joe Hatcher, 26, a scout with the 4th Calvary Regiment. He revealed the army also planted 9mm handguns and shovels to make it look like the civilians were shot while digging a hole for a roadside bomb.

“Every good cop carries a throwaway,” Hatcher said of weapons planted on innocent victims in incidents that occurred while he was stationed between Tikrit and Samarra, from February 2004 to March 2005. Any survivors were sent to jail for interrogation.

There were also deaths caused by the reckless behaviour of military convoys. Sgt Kelly Dougherty of the Colorado National Guard described a hit-and-run in which a military convoy ran over a 10-year-old boy and his three donkeys, killing them all. “Judging by the skid marks, they hardly even slowed down. But, I mean… your order is that you never stop.”

The worst abuses seem to have been during raids on private homes when soldiers were hunting insurgents. Thousands of such raids have taken place, usually at dead of night. The veterans point out that most are futile and serve only to terrify the civilians, while generating sympathy for the resistance.

Sgt John Bruhns, 29, of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armoured Division, described a typical raid. “You want to catch them off guard,” he explained. “You want to catch them in their sleep … You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall… Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds. You’ll ask ‘Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda?’

“Normally they’ll say no, because that’s normally the truth,” Sgt Bruhns said. “So you’ll take his sofa cushions and dump them. You’ll open up his closet and you’ll throw all the clothes on the floor and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it.” And at the end, if the soldiers don’t find anything, they depart with a “Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening”.

Sgt Dougherty described her squad leader shooting an Iraqi civilian in the back in 2003. “The mentality of my squad leader was like, ‘Oh, we have to kill them over here so I don’t have to kill them back in Colorado’,” she said. “He just seemed to view every Iraqi as a potential terrorist.”

‘It would always happen. We always got the wrong house…’

“People would make jokes about it, even before we’d go into a raid, like, ‘Oh fuck, we’re gonna get the wrong house’. Cause it would always happen. We always got the wrong house.”

Sergeant Jesus Bocanegra, 25, of Weslaco, Texas 4th Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour that began in March 2003

“I had to go tell this woman that her husband was actually dead. We gave her money, we gave her, like, 10 crates of water, we gave the kids, I remember, maybe it was soccer balls and toys. We just didn’t really know what else to do.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Morgenstein, 35, of Arlington, Virginia, Marine Corps civil affairs unit. In Ramadi from August 2004 to March 2005

“We were approaching this one house… and we’re approaching, and they had a family dog. And it was barking ferociously, cause it’s doing its job. And my squad leader, just out of nowhere, just shoots it… So I see this dog – I’m a huge animal lover… this dog has, like, these eyes on it and he’s running around spraying blood all over the place. And like, you know, what the hell is going on? The family is sitting right there, with three little children and a mom and a dad, horrified. And I’m at a loss for words.”

Specialist Philip Chrystal, 23, of Reno, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade. In Kirkuk and Hawija on 11-month tour beginning November 2004

“I’ll tell you the point where I really turned… [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little two-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs and she has a bullet through her leg… An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me… like asking me why. You know, ‘Why do I have a bullet in my leg?’… I was just like, ‘This is, this is it. This is ridiculous’.”

Specialist Michael Harmon, 24, of Brooklyn, 167th Armour Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. In Al-Rashidiya on 13-month tour beginning in April 2003

“I open a bag and I’m trying to get bandages out and the guys in the guard tower are yelling at me, ‘Get that fuck haji out of here,’… our doctor rolls up in an ambulance and from 30 to 40 meters away looks out and says, shakes his head and says, ‘You know, he looks fine, he’s gonna be all right,’ and walks back… kind of like, ‘Get your ass over here and drive me back up to the clinic’. So I’m standing there, and the whole time both this doctor and the guards are yelling at me, you know, to get rid of this guy.”

Specialist Patrick Resta, 29, from Philadelphia, 252nd Armour, 1st Infantry Division. In Jalula for nine months beginning March 2004

‘Every person opened fire on this kid, using the biggest weapons we could find…’

“Here’s some guy, some 14-year-old kid with an AK47, decides he’s going to start shooting at this convoy. It was the most obscene thing you’ve ever seen. Every person got out and opened fire on this kid. Using the biggest weapons we could find, we ripped him to shreds…”

Sergeant Patrick Campbell, 29, of Camarillo, California, 256th Infantry Brigade. In Abu Gharth for 11 months beginning November 2004

“Cover your own butt was the first rule of engagement. Someone could look at me the wrong way and I could claim my safety was in threat.”

Lieutenant Brady Van Engelen, 26, of Washington DC, 1st Armoured Division. Eight-month tour of Baghdad beginning Sept 2003

“I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, ‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’… [Only when we got home] in… meeting other veterans, it seems like the guilt really takes place, takes root, then.”

Specialist Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry. In Baquba for a year beginning February 2004

“[The photo] was very graphic… They open the body bags of these prisoners that were shot in the head and [one soldier has] got a spoon. He’s reaching in to scoop out some of his brain, looking at the camera and smiling.”

Specialist Aidan Delgado, 25, of Sarasota, Florida, 320th Military Police Company. Deployed to Talil air base for one year beginning April 2003

“The car was approaching what was in my opinion a very poorly marked checkpoint… and probably didn’t even see the soldiers… The guys got spooked and decided it was a possible threat, so they shot up the car. And they [the bodies] literally sat in the car for the next three days while we drove by them.

Sergeant Dustin Flatt, 33, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. One-year from February 2004

“The frustration that resulted from our inability to get back at those who were attacking us led to tactics that seemed designed simply to punish the local population…”

Sergeant Camilo Mejía, 31, from Miami, National Guardsman, 1-124 Infantry Battalion, 53rd Infantry Brigade. Six-month tour beginning April 2003

“I just remember thinking, ‘I just brought terror to someone under the American flag’.”

Sergeant Timothy John Westphal, 31, of Denver, 18th Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. In Tikrit on year-long tour beginning February 2004

“A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that if they don’t speak English and they have darker skin, they’re not as human as us, so we can do what we want.”

Specialist Josh Middleton, 23, of New York City, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division. Four-month tour in Baghdad and Mosul beginning December 2004

“I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people. The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with, and everybody else be damned.”

Sergeant Ben Flanders, 28, National Guardsman from Concord, New Hampshire, 172nd Mountain Infantry. In Balad for 11 months beginning March 2004

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, by Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian, appears in the 30 July issue of The Nation

© 2007 Independent News and Media Limited FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

see:

Dahr Jamail, Iraq Reporter Schizophrenic in Disneyland By Tom Engelhardt

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian

Dahr Jamail, Iraq Reporter Schizophrenic in Disneyland By Tom Engelhardt

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Engelhardt

posted July 12, 2007 3:47 pm

What if you spoke regularly of “haji food,” “haji music” and “haji homes”? What if your speeding convoys ran over civilians often enough that no one thought to report the incidents? What if your platoon was told pointblank: “The Geneva Conventions don’t exist at all in Iraq, and that’s in writing if you want to see it”; or, when you shot noncombatants, it was perfectly normal to plant “throwaway weapons” by their bodies, arrest those civilians who survived, and accuse them all of being “insurgents”? What if your buddy got his meal-ready-to-eat standard spoon and asked you to take a photo of him pretending to scoop the brains out of a dead Iraqi? Or what if the general attitude among your buddies was: “A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi…. You know, so what?”

These examples — and many more like them — can be found in a remarkable breaking story in the new issue of the Nation magazine. In a months-long investigation, Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian interviewed 50 U.S. combat veterans who had been stationed in Iraq. They were intent on exploring “the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians” (as well as on those soldiers). The article, “The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness,” offers Americans a look behind the bombings and carnage in the headlines at just what kind of a war American troops have found themselves fighting — focusing on the degradation that is essential to it and will accompany those troops home.

It is the perfect companion to the piece independent reporter Dahr Jamail has written for Tomdispatch today, which gives a sense of what anybody, even a journalist exposed to such “apocalyptic violence” and despair, is likely to bring home with him. Even more important, through a series of wrenching emails Jamail has received recently from Iraq, you get a small sense of what the dark and horrific war the American vets described to Hedges and al-Arian, a war only escalating in brutality, looks like to the Iraqis — the ones who stand in danger of getting run over by those speeding convoys, or are at the other end of the kicked-in door, or the racism, or simply the anger and frustration of isolated soldiers in a strange and hostile land.

Jamail’s new book on the Iraq he saw but most Americans, soldiers or journalists, didn’t — Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq — is being published in October. Like Hedges and al-Arian, he offers a sense of an ongoing war you almost never hear about on the nightly news. Tom

Iraq on My Mind

Thousands of Stories to Tell — And No One to Listen

By Dahr Jamail

“In violence we forget who we are” — Mary McCarthy, novelist and critic

1. Statistically Speaking

Having spent a fair amount of time in occupied Iraq, I now find living in the United States nothing short of a schizophrenic experience. Life in Iraq was traumatizing. It was impossible to be there and not be affected by apocalyptic levels of violence and suffering, unimaginable in this country.

But here’s the weird thing: One long, comfortable plane ride later and you’re in Disneyland, or so it feels on returning to the United States. Sometimes it seems as if I’m in a bubble here that’s only moments away from popping. I find myself perpetually amazed at the heights of consumerism and the vigorous pursuit of creature comforts that are the essence of everyday life in this country — and once defined my own life as well.

Here, for most Americans, you can choose to ignore what our government is doing in Iraq. It’s as simple as choosing to go to a website other than this one.

The longer the occupation of Iraq continues, the more conscious I grow of the disparity, the utter disjuncture, between our two worlds.

In January 2004, I traveled through villages and cities south of Baghdad investigating the Bechtel Corporation’s performance in fulfilling contractual obligations to restore the water supply in the region. In one village outside of Najaf, I looked on in disbelief as women and children collected water from the bottom of a dirt hole. I was told that, during the daily two-hour period when the power supply was on, a broken pipe at the bottom of the hole brought in “water.” This was, in fact, the primary water source for the whole village. Eight village children, I learned, had died trying to cross a nearby highway to obtain potable water from a local factory.

In Iraq things have grown exponentially worse since then. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that 70% of Iraqis do not have access to clean water and 80% “lack effective sanitation.”

In the United States I step away from my desk, walk into the kitchen, turn on the tap, and watch as clear, cool water fills my glass. I drink it without once thinking about whether it contains a waterborne disease or will cause kidney stones, diarrhea, cholera, or nausea. But there’s no way I can stop myself from thinking about what was — and probably still is — in that literal water hole near Najaf.

I open my pantry and then my refrigerator to make my lunch. I have enough food to last a family several days, and then I remember that there is a 21% rate of chronic malnutrition among children in Iraq, and that, according to UNICEF, about one in 10 Iraqi children under five years of age is underweight.

I have a checking account with money in it; 54% of Iraqis now live on less than $1 a day.

I can travel safely on my bicycle whenever I choose — to the grocery store or a nearby city center. Many Iraqis can travel nowhere without fear of harm. Iraq now ranks as the planet’s second most unstable country, according to the 2007 Failed States Index.

These are now my two worlds, my two simultaneous realities. They inhabit the same space inside my head in desperately uncomfortable fashion. Sometimes, I almost settle back into this bubble world of ours, but then another email arrives — either directly from friends and contacts in Iraq or forwarded by friends who have spent time in Iraq — and I remember that I’m an incurably schizophrenic journalist living on some kind of borrowed time in both America and Iraq all at once.

2. Emailing

Here is a fairly typical example of the sorts of anguished letters that suddenly appear in my in-box. (With the exception of the odd comma, I’ve left the examples that follow just as they arrived. They reflect the stressful conditions under which they were written.) This one was sent to my friend Gerri Haynes from an Iraqi friend of hers:

Dear Gerri: No words can describe the real terror of what’s happening and being committed against the population in Baghdad and other cities: the poor people with no money to leave the country, the disabled old men and women, the wives and children of tens of thousands of detainees who can’t leave when their dad is getting tortured in the Democratic Prisons, senior years students who have been caught in a situation that forces them to take their finals to finish their degrees, parents of missing young men who got out and never came back, waiting patiently for someone to knock the door and say, “I am back.” There are thousands and thousands of sad stories that need to be told but nobody is there to listen.

I called my cousin in the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad to check if they are still alive. She is in her sixties and her husband is about seventy. She burst into tears, begging me to pray to God to take their lives away soon so they don’t have to go through all this agony. She told me that, with no electricity, it is impossible to go to sleep when it is 40 degrees Celsius unless they get really tired after midnight. Her husband leaves the doors open because they are afraid that the American and Iraqi troops will bomb the doors if they don’t respond from first door knock during searching raids. Leaving the doors open is another terror story after the attack of the troops’ vicious dogs on a ten-month old baby, tearing him apart and eating him in the same neighborhood just a few days ago. The troops let the dogs attack civilians. The dogs bite them and terrify the kids with their angry red eyes in the middle of the night. So, as you can see my dear Gerri, we don’t have only one Abu Ghraib with torturing dogs, we have thousands of Abu Ghraibs all over Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

I was speechless. I couldn’t say anything to comfort her. I felt ashamed to be alive and well. I thought I should be with them, supporting them, and give them some strength even if it costs me my life. I begged her to leave Baghdad. She told me that she can’t because of her pregnant daughter and her grandkids. They are all with them in the house without their dad. I am hearing the same story and worse every single day. We keep asking ourselves what did we do to the Americans to deserve all this cruelness, killing, and brutishness? How can the troops do this to poor, hopeless civilians? And why?

Can anybody answer my cousin why she and her poor family are going through this?? Can you Gerri? Because I sure can’t.

In recent weeks I had been attempting to get in touch with one of my friends, a journalist in Baghdad. I’ll call him Aziz for his safety. Beginning to worry when I didn’t receive his usual prompt response, I sent him a second email and this is what finally came back:

Dear old friend Dahr, I am so sorry for my late reply. It is because my area of Baghdad was closed for six days and also because I lost my cousin. He was killed by a militia. They tortured and mutilated his body. I will try to send you his picture later.

Just remember me, friend, because I feel so tired these days and I live with this mess now.

With all my respect,

Aziz

Conveying my sadness, I asked him if there was anything I could possibly do to ease his suffering. As a reporter in that besieged country, he is constantly exhausted and overworked. I hesitantly suggested that perhaps he should take a little time to rest. He promptly replied:

Dahr, my old friend, I really appreciate your condolence message. Your words affected me very much and I feel that all my friends are around me in this hard time. I live with this mess and I do need some rest time as you advise before getting back to work again. BUT, really, I have to continue working because there are just very few journalists in Iraq now, and especially in my area. I have to cover more and more everyday.

Anyway friend, everything will be ok for me. And I wish we can make some change in our world towards peace.

With my respect to you friend, Aziz

I have also been corresponding with “H,” who lives in the volatile Diyala province and has been a dear friend since my first trip to Iraq. He would visit me in Baghdad, bringing with him delicious home-cooked meals from his wife, insisting always that I be the one to eat the first morsel.

A deeply religious man, his unfailing greeting, accompanied by a big hug, would always be: “You are my brother.”

He was concerned about the perception that there were vast differences between Islam and Christianity. “Islam and Christianity are not so different,” he would say, “In fact they have many more similarities than differences.” He would often discuss this with U.S. soldiers in his city.

Yet he was no admirer of imperialism. Last summer in Syria, he and I visited the sprawling Roman ruins of Palmyra. One evening, as we stood together overlooking the vast landscape of crumbling columns and sun-bleached walls in the setting sun, he turned to me and said, “Mr. Dahr, please do not be offended by what I want to say, but it makes me happy to see these ruins and remember that empires always fall because empires are never good for most people.”

After several weeks when I received no reply to repeated emails, I wrote to “M,” a mutual friend, and received the following response:

Habibi [My dear friend], It has been very long since I have written to you. I’m sorry. I was terribly busy. I have some very bad news. [H] was kidnapped by the members of al-Qaeda in Diyala 25 days ago and there is no news about him up to this moment. It’s a horrible situation. One cannot feel safe in this country.

When I pressed him for more information, he wrote me the details:

[H] was kidnapped as he was trying to get home. He was coming to Baquba to visit his parents, as he does every day. His oldest daughter who was with him told him that a car carrying several men was following them from the beginning of the street leading to his parents’ home. So, when he stopped to get his car in the garage, they got out of their car covering their faces and asked him to come with them for questioning. People in Diyala definitely know that such a thing means either killing or arresting for few days. You may ask why I’m sure it is al-Qaeda. That is because no other group, including the U.S. military, dominates the whole city like they do. We are the people of the city and we know the truth. They overwhelmingly dominate the streets and are even stronger than the government. So, there is no doubt about whether this was al-Qaeda or another group. You may ask how people stay away from these very bad people. People never go in places like the central market of Baquba. For this reason, all, and I mean all, the shops are closed; some people have left Diyala, some have been killed, while most are kept in their homes.

If someone wants to go the market, this means a bad adventure. He may be at last found in the morgue. Al-Qaeda fought every group that are called resistance who work against coalition [U.S.] forces or the government (policemen or Iraqi National Guards). Nowadays, there is fighting between al-Qaeda and other [Iraqi resistance] groups like Qataib who are known here as the honest resistance in the streets. By the way, I forgot, when al-Qaeda kidnaps someone, they also take his car in order that the car shall be used by them. So, they took his car, along with him. In case he is released, he comes without his car. I will tell you more later on.

I soon slipped into the frantic routine all too familiar by now to countless Iraqis — scanning the horrible reports of daily violence in Iraq looking for the faintest clue to the whereabouts of my missing friend

3. Murderously Speaking

In McClatchy News’ July 5th roundup of daily violence for Diyala, I read:

“A source in the morgue of Baquba general hospital said that the morgue received today a head of a civilian that was thrown near the iron bridge in Baquba Al Jadida neighborhood today morning. A medical source in Al Miqdadiyah town northeast [of] Baquba city said that 2 bodies of civilians were moved to the hospital of Miqdadiyah. The source said that the first body was of a man who was killed in an IED explosion near his house in Al Mu’alimeen neighborhood in downtown Baquba city while the second body was of a man who was shot dead near his house in Al Ballor neighborhood in downtown Baquba city.”

The data for Baghdad that day read:

“24 anonymous bodies were found in Baghdad today. 16 bodies were found in Karkh, the western side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (7 bodies in Amil, 3 bodies in Doura, 2 bodies in Ghazaliyah, 1 body in Jihad, 1 body in Amiriyah, 1 body in Khadhraa and 1 body in Mahmoudiyah). 8 bodies were found in Rusafa, the eastern side of Baghdad in the following neighborhoods (6 bodies in Sadr city, 1 body in Husseiniyah and 1 body in Sleikh.)”

What could I possibly hope to find in nameless reports like these, especially when I know that most of the Iraqi dead never make it anywhere near these reports. That is the way it has been throughout the occupation.

On July 8th, M sent me this email:

Habibi, Up to this moment, I heard that one of my neighbors saw [H’s] photo in the morgue but I couldn’t make sure yet. Traditionally, when a body is dropped in a street and found by police, they take it to the morgue. The first thing done is to take a photo for the dead person in the computer to let the families know them. This procedure is followed because the number of bodies is tremendously big. For this people cannot see every body to check for their sons or relatives. For this, people see the photos before going to the refrigerator. I will go to the morgue tomorrow.

The next day he wrote yet again:

Habibi, Today I went to the morgue. I saw horrible things there. I didn’t see [H’s] photo among them. Some figures cannot be easily recognized because of the blood or the face is terribly deformed. I saw also only heads; those who were slayed, it’s unbelievable. Tomorrow, we will have another visit to make sure again. In your country, when somebody wants to go to the morgue, he may naturally see two or, say, three or four bodies. For us, I saw hundreds today. Every month, the municipality buries those who are not recognized by their families because of the capacity of the morgue. Imagine!

In one of H’s last emails to me sent soon after his return home from Syria earlier this summer, he described driving out of Baquba one afternoon. Ominously, he wrote:

We left Baquba, which was sinking in a sea of utter chaos, worries, and instability. People there in that small town were scared of being kidnapped, killed, murdered or expelled. The entire security situation over there was deteriorating; getting to the worse.

Now, that passage might be read as his epitaph.

4. Subjectively Speaking

The morning I receive the latest news from M, I crawl back into bed and lie staring at the ceiling, wondering what will become of H’s wife and young children, if he is truly dead. Barring a miracle, I assume that will turn out to be the case.

Later, I go for a walk. It’s California sunny and the air is pleasantly cool on my skin. I’m aware — as I often am — that I never even consider looking over my shoulder here. I’m also aware that those I pass on my walk don’t know that they aren’t even considering looking over their shoulders.

The American Heritage Dictionary’s second definition of schizophrenia is:

A situation or condition that results from the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic qualities, identities, or activities: the national schizophrenia that results from carrying out an unpopular war [italics theirs].

That’s what I’m experiencing — a national schizophrenia that results from our government carrying out an unpopular war. It’s what I continue to experience with never lessening sharpness two years after my last trip to Iraq. The hardest thing, in the California sun with that cool breeze on my face, is to know that two realities in two grimly linked countries coexist, and most people in my own country are barely conscious of this.

In Iraq, of course, there is nothing disparate, no disjuncture, only a constant, relentless grinding and suffering, a pervasive condition of tragic hopelessness and despair with no end in sight.

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has covered the Middle East for the last four years, eight months of which were spent in occupied Iraq. Jamail is currently writing for Inter Press Service, Al-Jazeera English, and is a regular contributor to Tomdispatch.com. Jamail’s forthcoming book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Independent Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books) will be released this October. His reports are regularly available on his website, Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches. (Thanks to Tom Engelhardt for the research done to provide the statistics used in this article.)

Copyright 2007 Dahr Jamail

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The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian
ICH
The Nation

Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.

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