Countdown: March to war with Iran + Terror + CA Fires (videos; updated)

Dandelion Salad


Part I

What? Oh no! Keith is not here tonight? Where could he be? He is on a very top secret important assignment in Boston…watching baseball. David Shuster fills in.

The drumbeat for war with Iran continues as we back them into a corner with harsher sanctions. Well, that always works well. It’s worked well with Cuba for the past fifty years hasn’t it? I mean, didn’t that Castro guy leave about ten or twenty years ago?

What can I tell you. So many of you said not too long ago, “Well, Bush only has a little over a year left. What harm can he do in that amount of time?” You may now reconsider the answer to that question.

Part 2

Hilary is having second thoughts about calling Iran’s military a terrorist organization, thus helping to give George Bush a reason to start dropping a few bombs over there as well. Seems she finds it necessary to send out an email stating why she did it. Sorry, but emails don’t work for me.

It’s obvious you were thinking of the general election and trying to woo a bunch of right wing nincimpoops who are never going to vote for you anyway.

And Barack Obama supporters can wipe that gleeful smile off of their face as well as far as I’m concerned. He’s another one trying to have his cake and eat it too by touring with a known hateful homophobe by the name of Donnie McClurkin.

So he tries to “fix it” by inviting a WHITE homosexual clergy to open the SAME tour, as if somehow that excuses it. John Avarosis of Americablog puts it well: At the same time, while Obama has said that he “strongly disagrees” with Pastor McClurkin’s comments, he will not exclude from his campaign the many Americans including many in the African American community who believe the same as Pastor McClurkin.

Great, so we’re to believe Obama would not exclude anti-Semites or racists from his campaign either? Well, would he? Someone needs to ask him that question – Senator, are you saying that you would welcome anti-Semites and racists into your campaign, even though you strongly disagree with them, because you believe in some kind of big tent of bigotry?

So besides Hilary, you can cross Obama off my list for now also. Oh, and there’s nothing about Obama in this report, but I wanted to show that instead of showing leadership where they should, both Barack and Hilary are out on the campaign trail being wishy washy. Obama couldn’t even be bothered to show up to vote on the same bill he is criticizing Hilary over, and they both HID until the last minute on the Iraq funding bill, not voting against it until the vote was decided and they could do so with impugnity. Shame on both of them.

Part 3

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy! Rudy Giuliani as you know, is campaigning on the fact that he happened to be the mayor of New York on 9/11 making him by default the world’s foremost anti-terror expert, and an expert on criticizing others about terrorism such as former President Clinton.

Uh….not so fast Rudy. As YOUR VERY OWN testimony before the 9/11 commission has shown, you pretty much have always had your head stuck up your ass in that regards, and apparently still do. Now who will protect us from Rudy’s incompetence?

Wayne Barrett joins David.

Oddball: Darth Cheney does his Rip Van Winkle impersonation, Buffalo Racing, and a woman who saved a valuable painting worth millions from the trash gets a paltry 15,000 reward.

Part 4

Okay, go out and pop the popcorn while Shrub takes his photo op tour with The Turdinator, gives out a few hugs and tries to find a way to blame the invention of fire on the Democrats.

An early law enforcement review is out on the “Don’t taze me bro” incident in Florida a few weeks ago. Yeah, we’re talking about Andrew Myer. What do I think? I think I’ll reserve judgment until he shows up on Countdown next Tuesday for an interview with Keith. so there’s something for you to look forward to.

Keeping Tabs: Britney pays up for damaging a car in a parking lot. Her and the Kev are going to anger management classes. Sarah Jessica Parker Broderick was named the unsexiest person of the year.

Part 5

Of course everybody knows Marie Osmond took a fall in that made for TV competition known as Dancing with the Stars. In other words, she fainted dead away.

So what is the cause of her fainting spell? Was it the California Fires, her asthma, a combination of the two or something else altogether. Christian Finegan joins David for the scientific and medical explanation of Marie’s collapse.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, Big-Game Hunting in Iraq By Tom Engelhardt

Dandelion Salad

By Tom Engelhardt
October 25, 2007

Evidently, Blackwater, the now infamous private security company whose hired guns, working for the State Department, mowed down at least 17 Iraqis in a Baghdad square recently, wants to soften its image. (I wonder why?) The New York Times’ Paul von Zielbauer just reported that the company has redesigned its logo. Once, according to him, it was “a bear’s paw print in a red crosshairs, under lettering that looks to have been ripped from a fifth of Jim Beam” on a “menacing” black field. Like Daniel Boone, the company was evidently selling its ability to put “big game” in the crosshairs of its gun sights in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, subtly transformed, the logo is on a white background; the bear’s paw more modest looking; and the crosshairs of that sniper’s rifle have simply disappeared.

Continue reading

Pete, Nancy, George and WWIII By Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan

by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
October 25, 2007

You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.
Pete Stark (D-Ca)

“While Members of Congress are passionate about their views what Congressman Stark said during the debate was inappropriate.”
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, (D-Ca)

But this — we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have (sic) the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
George Bush, War Criminal

I cheered inside my head when I heard Rep. Stark unbelievably utter his words condemning the murderous acts of BushCo on the House floor, and I was impressed with his candor, compassion and what I consider an appropriate amount of rage and honesty. How many of us were not thinking the same thing about the S-CHIP votes? I knew, however, that it would not be long until Pete Stark had to apologize. It happened today.

I believe that Speaker Pelosi’s comments about Rep. Stark were utterly inappropriate and out of line. I believe that when she said that impeachment was “off the table,” her remarks were not only inappropriate but also antithetical to our Constitution and directly in opposition to why the people of this country put Democrats back in power.

We may remind the Speaker of some of the things George has said: He told us that Saddam was able to reach the Eastern part of the US with drones that contained either chemical or biological weapons; that the smoking gun might come in the form of a “mushroom cloud” and that Saddam was also seeking significant amounts of “yellow cake uranium.” George and his co-criminals also told us over and over again that 9-11 was the justification for an attack on Iraq because Saddam had something to do with 9-11.

It is imperative that Ms. Pelosi be a true leader and lead the charge to impeach the liars, or at least get the hell out of the way so they can be impeached. I buried my son for no logical, moral or truthful reason for God’s sake, and she has neither the integrity or fortitude to finally say that BushCo has to be stopped before George is the instigator for Armageddon.

Ms. Pelosi is not the only one who condemned Rep. Stark; she joined hands (again) with Republicans to do so. However, for the Republicans to say that Congressman Stark’s comment demeaned “the troops” is so patently ridiculous, it is stunningly pathetic. Our troops and their much higher paid cousins, the mercenary killers, are killing innocent Iraqis. IT IS A WAR! What do these morally bankrupt Chickenhawks think occurs in war? It would be better for everyone if “the troops” went over to play pinochle with the Iraqis, but occupied peoples have an inherent hatred of their occupiers and want them to leave their country: dead or alive. Congress wants to hide behind “the troops” by giving BushCo billions more dollars to wage the occupation so their lobbyist buddies and campaign contributors can become richer off of the flesh and blood of those same troops that they claim to support.

BushCo has over 14 more months to sew their demented seeds of destruction all over the planet. We must all join Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh) in his call to remove them from office not only for their past, but for their future, illegal wars of aggression, possibly even doing the unthinkable: using a nuclear weapon. The terrorists that wear Brooks Brothers and Armani and live and work in the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue are more dangerous to our way of life and safety than any others.

I wish Congressman Stark had not caved to the establishment elitists. George is the one that needs to apologize to each and every one of us for killing just about everything that we hold dear: our treasury, our Constitution, our standing in the international community, our ecology, our children, and for murdering our hopes and dreams for the future.

When I replace Nancy Pelosi as the Representative from California’s 8th district, I will fight for the lives, security and prosperity of not only my constituents, but for all the human beings in the world. If BushCo is still in office, God forbid, when I am sworn in, I will do everything in my power to hold them accountable for their crimes against humanity and I will never, ever apologize for telling the truth.

To Contact Cindy:

h/t: ICH

Ron Paul Revolution: a liberal re-thinks Ron Paul by Davis Fleetwood (video)

Dandelion Salad


American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)


The Challenge for students video:…

By clicking these blue things, you travel to places you need to be:
say hello on facebook:…
or on myspace:

New logo design by Manila Ryce:

NO CURE FOR THAT (read/ write/ get creative):



American Freedom Campaign – Take Action (Close Gitmo; wiretapping)

Kucinich: Bush Wants More War – This Time With Iran

Dandelion Salad

October 25, 2007

Today, the Bush Administration announced additional sanctions on Iran and labeled the Revolutionary Guard Corps as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and a unit of the Corps – the Quds Force – as a “specially designed global terrorist.” Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) charged the Administration with drumming up support for a war with Iran.

“The Administration has been dramatically increasing its efforts in the last several weeks to go to war with Iran,” Kucinich said. “This latest stunt is nothing more than an attempt to deceive Americans into yet another war—this time with Iran.”

Last week, President Bush stated in a news conference: “So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

In a speech Sunday to the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, Vice President Dick Cheney said that if Iran continues on its current course, the United States and other nations are “prepared to impose serious consequences. Our country, and the entire international community, cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its grandest ambitions.”

In announcing the sanctions today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: “Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security by pursuing nuclear technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon, building dangerous ballistic missiles, supporting Shia militants in Iraq and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and denying the existence of a fellow member of the United Nations, threatening to wipe Israel off the map.”

“After the lies and deception used to lead us to war in Iraq, the belligerent Bush Administration cannot be given leeway with statements that suggest a preemptive attack on Iran is necessary,” Kucinich said. “We are systematically destroying every available route to restoring peace and security in the Middle East.

“Congress must take back its exclusive authority to declare war from the Bush Administration.”

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Kucinich: Bush Close to Igniting WWIII by Monisha Bansal

Attack Iran and you attack Russia By Pepe Escobar

Attack Iran and you attack Russia By Pepe Escobar

Dandelion Salad

By Pepe Escobar
10/25/07 “Asia Times

The barely reported highlight of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran for the Caspian Sea summit last week was a key face-to-face meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A high-level diplomatic source in Tehran tells Asia Times Online that essentially Putin and the Supreme Leader have agreed on a plan to nullify the George W Bush administration’s relentless drive towards launching a preemptive attack, perhaps a tactical nuclear strike, against Iran. An American attack on Iran will be viewed by Moscow as an attack on Russia.

But then, as if this were not enough of a political bombshell, came the abrupt resignation of Ali Larijani as top Iranian nuclear negotiator. Early this week in Rome, Larijani told the IRNA news agency that “Iran’s nuclear policies are stable and will not change with the replacement of the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council [SNSC].” Larijani will keep attending SNSC meetings, now as a representative of the Supreme Leader. He even took time to remind the West that in the Islamic Republic all key decisions regarding the civilian nuclear program are made by the Supreme Leader. Larijani actually went to Rome to meet with the European Union’s Javier Solana alongside Iran’s new negotiator, Saeed Jalili, a former member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), just like President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

In itself, the Putin-Khamenei meeting was extraordinary, because the Supreme Leader rarely receives foreign statesmen for closed talks, even one as crucial as Putin. The Russian president, according to the diplomatic source, told the Supreme Leader he may hold the ultimate solution regarding the endlessly controversial Iranian nuclear dossier. According to IRNA, the Supreme Leader, after stressing that the Iranian civilian nuclear program will continue unabated, said. “We will ponder your words and proposal.”

Larijani himself had told the Iranian media that Putin had a “special plan” and the Supreme Leader observed that the plan was “ponderable”. The problem is that Ahmadinejad publicly denied the Russians had volunteered a new plan.

Iranian hawks close to Ahmadinejad are spinning that Putin’s proposal involves Iran temporarily suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for no more United Nations sanctions. That’s essentially what International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammad ElBaradei has been working on all along. The key issue is what – in practical terms – will Iran get in return. Obviously it’s not the EU’s Solana who will have the answer. But as far as Russia is concerned, strategically nothing will appease it except a political/diplomatic solution for the Iranian nuclear dossier.

US Vice President Dick Cheney – who even Senator Hillary Clinton now refers to as Darth Vader – must be foaming at the mouth; but the fact is that after the Caspian summit, Iran and Russia are officially entangled in a strategic partnership. World War III, for them, is definitely not on the cards.

Let’s read from the same script
The apparent internal controversy on how exactly Putin and the Supreme Leader are on the same wavelength belies a serious rift in the higher spheres of the Islamic Republic. The replacement of Larijani, a realist hawk, by Jalili, an unknown quantity with an even more hawkish background, might spell an Ahmadinejad victory. It’s not that simple.

The powerful Ali Akbar Velayati, the diplomatic adviser to the Supreme Leader, said he didn’t like the replacement one bit. Even worse: regarding the appalling record of the Ahmadinejad presidency when it comes to the economy, all-out criticism is now the norm. Another former nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, told the Etemad-e Melli newspaper, “The effects of the [UN] sanctions are visible. Our situation gets worse day by day.”

Ahmadinejad for the past two months has been placing his former IRGC brothers-in-arms in key posts, like the presidency of the central bank and the Oil, Industry and Interior ministries. Internal repression is rife. On Sunday, hundreds of students protested at the Amir-Kabir University in Tehran, calling for “Death to the dictator”.

The wily, ultimate pragmatist Hashemi Rafsanjani, now leader of the Council of Experts and in practice a much more powerful figure than Ahmadinejad, took no time to publicly reflect that “we can’t bend people’s thoughts with dictatorial regimes”.

This week, the Supreme Leader himself intervened, saying, “I approve of this government, but this does not mean that I approve of everything they do.” Under the currently explosive circumstances, this also amounts to a political bombshell.

As if anyone needed to be reminded, the buck – or rial – stops with the Supreme Leader, whose last wish on earth is to furnish a pretext for the Bush administration to launch World War III. If Ahmadinejad now deviates from a carefully crafted strategic script, the Supreme Leader may simply get rid of him.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007). He may be reached at

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Big Brother: House passes the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” by Lee Rogers

Dandelion Salad

by Lee Rogers
Global Research, November 2, 2007

House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet and actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism. If passed into law, it will also establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism. Amazingly, 404 of our elected representatives from both the Democrat and Republican parties voted in favor of this bill. There is little doubt that this bill is specifically targeting the growing patriot community that is demanding the restoration of the Constitution.

Continue reading

Immigration Policy by Guadamour


Dandelion Salad
featured writer

Guadamour’s Blog
Oct 25, 2007


The US has a “wet foot” “dry foot” immigration policy with Cuba. If illegal immigrants from Cuba are apprehended at sea they have a ‘wet foot’ and are returned to Cuba. If they are encountered on land they have a ‘dry foot’ and are allowed to stay in the USA.

Recently Cuba immigrants have started coming to the US via Mexico. These are called ‘dusty foot.’ If the Cuban immigrants can convince the authorities that they are indeed Cubans, they are allowed to stay.

This has convinced Mexican and other illegal immigrants to study Cuban geography and history, and practice their ‘Cuban’ accents.

A lot of these other immigrants become so proficient at being ‘Cuban’ that they are allowed to stay.

The US policy concerning Cuba raises a number of questions:

Why are people allowed into the US from a country that the Federal government has opposed for close to fifty years?

Why don’t we give countries that we have friendly relationships with the same immigration opportunities that Cuba enjoys?

Why don’t we have an equal opportunity denial program for all of Latin America?

Why don’t we honor treaties that allow indigenous peoples free right of travel throughout the Americas?

We are signatories to this treaty, and actually wrote them.

Mexico and Guatemala have the largest amount of indigenous blood of any Latin American countries.

If any person in the Americas can prove that they are one quarter indigenous blood, theoretically they have the freedom to travel anywhere in the two continents and isthmus without restriction.

When are we going to start honoring our treaty commitments to these people?


Blackwater’s run for the border by Eilene Zimmerman

CODEPINK Members Unlawfully Arrested at Foreign Relations Committee Meeting by Medea Benjamin (+ videos)

Dandelion Salad

by Medea Benjamin
Atlantic Free Press
Thursday, 25 October 2007

Woman waves blood-colored hands at Secretary Rice, 4 others arrested

Five Codepink members arrested this morning at the House Foreign Relations Committee Hearing with Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

Those arrested, Desiree Fairooz of Arlington, TX, Liz Hourican of Phoeniz, AZ, Lori Purdue of Indianapolis, IN, Medea Benjamin of San Francisco, CA and Zool Zulkowitz of Washington, D.C.

Desiree Fairooz of Texas approached Secretary Rice with red paint on her hands to deliver the message that the Bush Administration had the blood of the Iraqis and American military on their hands.

Chair Lantos ordered her out. Ms. Fairooz was escorted out by security guards yelling “war criminal.” The Capitol Police then viciously yanked Liz Hourican of Arizona and Lori Purdue of Indiana from their seats, pulling Liz by her arms, legs, feet as she screamed in pain, “you are hurting me! What are you doing?” over and over. They were both dragged into the hall and promptly arrested.

Medea Benjamin remained in the hearing room and was asked to leave after flashing a peace sign with her fingers. She collected her belongings, left and was walking down the hall when 2 Capitol Police approached her and cuffed her. Zool Zulkowitz was with arrested with Ms. Benjamin.

The Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee contacted the Capitol Police later in the day to again relay that there is a policy of that committee to not arrest Citizen protesters but to instead escort them out of the room. The Deputy asked for the CODEPINK members to be released promptly from custody.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK Arrested In Condi Rice Hearing

Wednesday October 24th 2007
Medea Benjamin was filmed making statements about her unlawful arrest after being removed from a Congressional hearing for holding up a peace sign.

CODEPINK Women Arrested In Congressional Hearing

This video is of Liz Hurican being manhandled by Capitol Hill police. She had not done anything disruptive in the hearing, but was simply arrested for wearing pink. Several others were arrested un;lawfully as well.


Protester: Condoleezza Rice You Have Blood On Your Hands!




Condi Rice Hearing (videos)

Torture, Paramilitarism, Occupation and Genocide by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, October 25, 2007

On October 5, George Bush confronted a public uproar and defended his administration claiming “This government does not torture people.” Again he lied. Once secret US Department of Justice (DOJ) legal opinions confirm the Bush administration condones torture by endorsing “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.” It also condones paramilitary thuggery, oppressive occupation, and genocide. This unholy combination is the ugly face of an imperial nation run by war criminals. That’s the state of things today. First, the practice of torture.

Torture as Policy under George Bush

In a hollow posturing gesture, DOJ publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a December, 2004 legal opinion. That secretly changed after Alberto Gonzales became Attorney General in February, 2005 and authorized physical and psychological brutality as official administration policy. This continues unabated in violation of international and US laws that include fifth and eighth amendment prohibitions against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all forms for any reason. These practices been long-standing US official policy, nonetheless, but the mask came off post-9/11 when former CIA Counterterrorism Center chief Cofer Black (now Blackwater USA’s vice-chairman) told a joint House-Senate intelligence committee hearing September 26, 2002: “There was a before-9/11 and an after-9/11 (on the use of torture). After 9/11, the gloves came off” and “old” standards no longer apply. They never did, and Congress knows and condones it.

Further, George Bush signed a secret September 17, 2001 “finding” authorizing CIA to kill, capture and detain “Al Qaeda” members anywhere in the world and rendition them to secret black site torture prisons for interrogation presumed to include torture.

As White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales then wrote a sweeping memorandum to George Bush January 25, 2002 calling the Geneva Conventions “quaint” and “obsolete” and claimed the administration could ignore Geneva international law in interrogating prisoners henceforth. He also outlined plans to try prisoners in military “commissions” and deny them all protections under international law including due process and habeas rights. DOD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on board as well. In December, 2002, he approved a menu of banned interrogation practices that allowed most anything short of what would cause organ failure.

A new book called “Administration of Torture,” by two ACLU attorneys, contains evidence (from FOIA requests) from over 100,000 newly released government documents. It reveals how US military interrogators carried out abuse and torture orders from their superiors on scores of prisoners. The book quotes Major General Michael Dunlavey who had DOD responsibility for interrogations of “suspected terrorists.” He and Guantanamo commander General Geoffrey Miller both told the FBI they got their “marching orders” from Donald Rumsfeld to use harsh methods at Guantanamo that presumably were meant for all other US-run torture prisons as well. It was also revealed that Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in overseeing the torture-interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani. He was falsely accused of being the 20th 9/11 hijacker, confessed under torture, and then retracted his testimony later as completely untrue.

Torture violates international law. The (non-binding) Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlawed it in 1948. The four 1949 Geneva Conventions then banned any form of “physical or mental coercion” and affirmed detainees must at all times be treated humanely. Its first two conventions protect sick and wounded forces in battle. The third one defines who is a prisoner of war and establishes “minimum standards” for POW treatment. The fourth convention applies to civilians and affords them protections during war that require they be treated humanely. All four conventions have a common thread called Common Article Three. It requires non-combatants be treated humanely at all times. There are no exceptions for any reasons and violations are grave breaches under Geneva and other international law that constitute crimes of war and against humanity.

The European Convention followed Geneva in 1950. Then in 1984, the UN Convention Against Torture became the first binding international instrument dealing exclusively with the issue of banning torture in any form for any reason. These are sacred international laws all signatories, that include the US, are bound by. No longer under George Bush’s unconstitutional “unitary executive” authority power grab Chalmers Johnson calls a “bald-faced assertion of presidential supremacy….dressed up in legalistic mumbo jumbo.” Condoning torture as official policy under it is Exhibit A.

In her important new book, “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Defied the law,” law professor and current National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn calls torture abhorrent and violates at least two US laws – the 1996 War Crimes Act and 1994 Torture Statute. The US is also party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that guarantees the right to life and prohibits cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

The 1996 War Crimes Act provides up to life imprisonment or the death penalty for persons convicted of committing war crimes within or outside the US. Administration memos from Gonzales, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and David Addington supported dictatorial powers for the president and advised Al Qaeda and Taliban interrogators were exempt from torture laws under George Bush’s “commander-in-chief powers.” Cohn, in her book, explained “the Torture Convention permits no such exemption, even during wartime.”

Yoo and Bybee also distorted what constitutes torture by claiming psychological harm must last “months or even years.” Otherwise, it’s just harsh “enhanced interrogation” of the secret kinds George Bush authorized in a July, 2006 executive order. They reportedly include sleep deprivation, simulated drowning, stress positions, prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation and/or overload, beatings, induced hypothermia, and more that can cause irreversible physical and psychological harm including psychoses.

The October, 2006 Military Commissions Act followed, appropriately called the “torture authorization act.” It gives the administration extraordinary unconstitutional powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute alleged terror suspects and anyone thought to be their supporters. The law lets the president designate anyone in the world an “unlawful enemy combatant,” without corroborating evidence, and order they be arrested and incarcerated indefinitely in military prisons outside the criminal justice system without habeas and due process rights. US citizens aren’t exempt. We’re all “enemy combatants” under this law. Anyone charged under it loses all constitutionally protected rights and can be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment including torture.

Ironically, on the one year anniversary of the Military Commissions Act enactment, Fr. Louie Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly were both sentenced to five months in federal prison for opposing torture. They also oppose teaching it at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and tried to deliver a letter with their views to the base commander, Major General Barbara Fast, former head of military intelligence in Iraq. Both priests were arrested for trespassing while kneeling in prayer on the base driveway in November, 2006. In an appalling miscarriage of justice, the presiding judge refused to allow any evidence of torture to be introduced. He also ruled out discussion of the illegality of the Iraq war and all references to international law.

Relief from these type abuses are nowhere in sight as leading Democrats condone them and now assure extremist Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey’s nomination won’t be challenged. He promises business as usual that’s bad news for supporters of the law. He earned his bona fides as a US District Court Southern District of New York judge by ruling Jose Padilla, a US citizen, could be imprisoned without trial and held indefinitely by the military.

Padilla spent three and a half years uncharged in a 9 by 7-foot isolated South Carolina Navy brig cell where he underwent alternating sensory deprivation and overload and was denied the right to counsel for two years. Months of beatings, mind-altering drugs, and denial of medical treatment destroyed his mind, turned him to mush, and him easy pickings to convict on all charges without evidence he broke any law. Under Bush administration justice, we’re all potential Jose Padillas in a nation where the rule of law affords no protection, and torture is the preferred means of social control.

Administration Outsourced Paramilitarism

The Bush administration believes anything government can do private business does better, so let it. And that applies to the military as well with Blackwater USA’s powerful emergence Exhibit A. Author Jeremy Scahill portrays the company as “the world’s most powerful mercenary army” in his frightening new book about it. It describes a “shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world….accustomed to operating without worry of legal consequences….largely off the congressional radar.” It has “remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus” with unaccountable license to practice street violence with impunity that includes cold-blooded murder.

A congressional report indicates Blackwater received more than $1 billion in mostly State Department no-bid contracts since 2001. It’s to provide security services for US diplomats, officials and others once assigned to the military at around six times the cost and can be up to $1200 per man-day. With Bush administration backing, it operates outside the law and Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and is immune from civil lawsuits like the military. Scahill calls the company the “Bush administration’s Praetorian Guard” with “immunity and impunity” to do as it pleases.

Today, around 200,000 private contractors operate in Iraq. Up to 100,000 of them are paramilitary mercenaries from companies like Blackwater, DynCorp, ArmorGroup, Erinys, Triple Canopy and others like the Australian-owned Unity Resources that murdered two Iraqi women October 9. Blackwater is the largest, is close to the Bush administration, and is cashing in big as a war profiteer from huge continuing no-bid contracts.

The company was founded in 1996 by former Navy SEAL Eric Prince who’s also closely allied to the extremist Christian Right. Blackwater came into its own post-9/11 and is now the world’s best connected, largest paramilitary army. It employs 2300 personnel in nine countries with 20,000 or more others on call as needed. The company also has its own 20 aircraft fleet that includes helicopter gunships as well as a private intelligence division and a 7000 acre Moyock, North Carolina headquarters Scahill calls “the world’s largest private military base.”

Controversary surrounding Blackwater made headlines after its mercenaries killed as many as 28 Iraqis in al-Nisour September 16 by some accounts and wounded dozens more. It was only the latest incident involving the company that has a disturbing history of instigating unprovoked violence and then falsely claim it acted in self-defense as Eric Prince told Congress saying his men act “appropriately at all times.”

A new congressional account from State Department and company documents reveals otherwise. It shows the company has been involved in at least 195 “escalation of force” incidents since early 2005 that include previously unreported Iraqi civilian killings. In at least one of them, evidence proved Blackwater personnel tried covering up what happened with a falsified report, and the State Department made no effort to hold them accountable or order the company to pay compensation to the families of the victims.

Agence France-Presse reported on September 16 Blackwater personnel shot recklessly “at everything that moved with a machine gun and even with a grenade launcher (as well as from two hovering helicopters). There was panic. Everyone tried to flee. Vehicles tried to make U-turns to escape. There were dead bodies and wounded people everywhere. The road was full of blood. A bus was also hit and several of its occupants were wounded.” Among the dead were women and children. A daughter witnessing her mother shot in the head and killed said: “They are killers. I swear to God, not one bullet was shot at them. Why did they shoot us?”

Following the incident, investigations were launched that are little more than damage control cover-up. The FBI is involved as well as a joint American-Iraqi inquiry. Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki has gone back and forth on this one. At first, he demanded Blackwater personnel leave Iraq. He then backed down under pressure. He’ll likely await the inquiry’s findings that are out in part from Iraqi investigators, but again said he wants Washington to sever all Blackwater ties, remove the company from Iraq in six months, and have it pay each family $8 million in compensation.

It won’t ever happen, even though early findings conclude Blackwater’s actions were unprovoked, the al-Nisour massacre was a deliberate crime, those involved in it should be charged, put on trial, and the families of victims fairly compensated. The findings are similar to an initial US military report that one Pentagon official confirmed saying Blackwater’s actions were “obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong. The civilians….didn’t have any weapons (and) none of the IP (Iraqi police) or any local security forces fired (on Blackwater).”

Investigations are still continuing, the State Department is in damage control mode, and an October 4 House-passed bill (not retroactive) just made US contractors accountable for felony crimes under the 2000 Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA). In addition, new operating procedures have been instituted to paper over the whole affair. Nothing, in fact, will change, however. Blackwater personnel will stay in place, none of them will face criminal charges, and things are again business as usual with the company’s paramilitaries back on Iraqi streets after being banned from operating there by an impotent prime minister.

A sign of things to come came a day ahead of the October House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Blackwater hearing. It was revealed the company’s Presidential Airways subsidiary got a new government contract to supply aircraft, crew and equipment for flight operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Blackwater personnel may likely show up anywhere and currently patrol New Orleans streets for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) post-hurricane Katrina. Their presence is menacing everywhere, and they may show up soon in a neighborhood near you as the “war on terrorism” touches down at home.

Imperial Conquest and Occupation

Current rhetoric aside, even Alan Greenspan’s new book admitted what’s “politically inconvenient to acknowledge (but) everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil” and it was “essential” Saddam be removed to control it. Unmentioned was Iraq’s importance that explains why Washington plans permanent occupation of the country. The Middle East has two-thirds of the world’s proved oil reserves; Iraq has the most untapped amounts of it; and it’s the easiest gotten, cheap to refine light sweet kind Big Oil covets. The country is also strategically located between Saudi Arabia and Iran at the top of the Persian Gulf. That makes it a perfect site for military bases sitting atop an ocean of oil worth trillions of dollars and surrounded by lots more of it.

The strategy to seize it was simply conceived but hopelessly flawed – replace the “cradle of civilization” with a newly created free market paradise with all that oil as grand prize pickings. It’s still up for grabs, but a huge supportive infrastructure is in place and still being built for permanent occupation.

By May, 2005, US forces were operating out of 106 bases around the country from an original 120 number of sites. They range in size from the huge Main Operating Base (MOB) Camp Victory complex near Baghdad airport with thousands of US troops to others for fewer numbers called Forward Operation Sites (FOS) that are still major installations. There are also many smaller Cooperative Security Locations (CSL) as well as prisons and detention facilities throughout the country plus others for Iraqi military and police units.

A sign of permanency are four to six or more super-bases built and planned, the largest of which is the huge Balad one. It’s the major Air Force facility in the country with its state of the art “Kingpin” air traffic control center (called the Common Grid Reference System) that divides the country’s airspace into “kill boxes.” The Army’s largest logistical support center and secret Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) are also there as well as well as thousands of civilian contractors in neighborhoods charmingly called “KBR-land.”

Balad and other major bases are enormous in size and on the order of small towns. They encompass 15 – 20 square miles with double runways as long as 12,000 feet, and Balad’s air traffic operates round the clock and is comparable in number of takeoffs and landings to Chicago’s O’Hare that along with Atlanta’s Hartsfield are the world’s two busiest airports.

In addition, they have their own neighborhoods and kinds of amenities found back home. They include department store-sized post exchanges, fast food outlets, movie theaters with the latest films, swimming pools, miniature golf courses, elaborate gymnasium and sports facilities, satellite internet access, cable TV, air-conditioning, international phone service and more. All the comforts of home including takeout pizza and Monday night football in the middle of a war zone.

Other major facilities are at al-Talil near Nasiriya in the South; the largest Marine base at al-Asad in Western Anbar province; al-Qayyara, 50 miles southeast of Mosul in the North; the US military command HQ at Camp Victory/Camp Liberty near Baghdad International Airport; Camp Marez near Mosul Airport; Camp Cook north of Baghdad; and a new base near Irbil in the North. In addition, another new Forward Operating base is being built near Zurbatiya near the Iranian border to be completed in November. It’s location is provocative as the centerpiece of a new border control surveillance, monitoring and logistical support strategy called “Combat Outpost Shocker.”

Then, there’s what critics call “Fortress Baghdad” or the “ultimate gated community” inside the city’s four square mile fortress-like Green Zone. It’s surrounded by thick blast-proof concrete walls, and to enter visitors must pass through up to eight checkpoints. Inside, security is intense and includes full body searches, electronic scanners, explosive-sniffing dogs and every other human and high-tech measure imaginable for security.

The US embassy compound is there as well that when finished will be the largest in the world. It’s Vatican-sized in dimensions and hugely fortified atop 104 acres, or six times larger than the UN complex in New York. Reports vary on whether 21 or 27 buildings are planned but their cost plus all facilities and perimeter security will top $1 billion. Construction is continuing, far behind schedule, it’s reported to be shoddy, and it’s already way over budget as predicted so the final cost remains uncertain but will be plenty.

The compound has everything – its own water, electricity, sewers, apartment buildings, swimming pool, shops, Marine barracks and will house more than 1000 civilian staff plus a large private and military security contingent. For the Iraqi people, it’s a hated symbol of imperial occupation Washington intends to be permanent, but it may in the end go the way of the Saigon embassy in 1975. That’s where the last US Vietnam remnants were frenetically rooftop-helicoptered out of the country in humiliating drawdown defeat. It ended visions of permanence then the way history may one day repeat in Iraq.

Imperial Genocide in Iraq

By any estimate, the human toll in Iraq is horrific from all that happened after Saddam’s August 2, 1990 Kuwait invasion. Four days later, Operation Desert Shield was launched. It began with US-led UN-imposed economic sanctions, large US and other troop deployments to the region, and a sweeping Kuwait-funded PR campaign to win public support for Operation Desert Storm that began January 17, 1991.

Before it ended six weeks later on February 28, US forces committed grievous war crime violations of the Hague and Geneva Conventions and UN and Nuremberg Charters. They included gratuitous mass killings as well as bombing and destroying essential to life facilities that included:

— power generating stations;

— dams;

— water purification capabilities;

— sewage treatment and disposal systems;

— telephone and other communications;

— hospitals;

— mosques;

— residential areas affecting 10-20,000 homes, apartments and other dwellings;

— irrigation sites;

— food processing, storage and distribution facilities;

— hotels and retail establishments;

— transportation infrastructure;

— oil wells, pipelines, refineries and storage tanks;

— chemical plants;

— civilian shelters like Al Ameriyya that was attacked February 13, 1991 by two laser-guided “smart bombs” killing around 400 civilians including 142 children;

— factories and other commercial operations;

— government offices;

— historical sites; and more in a willful malicious effort to return the country to a pre-industrial age and punish its people horrifically.

Lost was power, clean water, sanitation, fuel, transportation, medical facilities and medications, adequate food, schools, private dwellings and places of employment. Early post-war estimates placed the number of civilians killed at 113,000 (mostly children) according to the Red Crescent Society of Jordan. In addition, US CENTCOM commander, General Schwarzkopf and others, estimated 100,000 or more Iraqi military deaths plus thousands more killed gratuitously as they were retreating in disarray.

What then followed was 12 years of the most comprehensive genocidal sanctions ever imposed on a country as an act of vengeance and US-imposed imperial arrogance. They were first adopted in UN Resolution 661 four days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. They included a full trade embargo that crippled the country economically but initially allowed in food, medical and other essential humanitarian needs. UN Resolution 670 followed in September, 1990 that imposed an air blockade and measures to enforce it.

After the war in April, 1991, UN Resolution 687 was adopted. It required Saddam accept cease fire terms and comply with Geneva protocols banning biological and chemical weapons. It also affirmed Kuwait’s sovereignty, but it wasn’t good enough for US officials who wanted sanctions to remain in force until Saddam was removed.

Later on, the oil for food and medicine program was adopted under UN Resolution 986 in 1995 but was hopelessly inadequate by design. An internal UN report in 1999 revealed it delivered only $74 of food per annum per person (about 21 cents a day) and $15 worth of medicines (about 4 cents a day) with vitally needed items banned or in short supply like syringes, anesthetics, vaccines, antibiotics and other drugs. Everything with potential “dual use” was blocked – chlorine to purify water, vital medical equipment, chemotherapy and pain-killing drugs, ambulances, and anything Washington wished to deny the country punitively with horrific consequences.

Further complicating things, all Iraqi funds were frozen and administered through a US-controlled Development Fund for Iraq. In addition, UN Resolution 661 stipulated all goods entering the country had to be approved by a 15 member committee that included the five permanent Security Council members. Approval had to be unanimous with every member having veto power. The US representative abused his authority by blocking items or causing long delays in importing others. The practice became so extreme, on one occasion baby food was denied on the grounds adults might consume it. At other times, items on the World Health Organization (WHO) humanitarian priority list were blocked such as rice, school books, paper, agricultural pesticides, medical journals and catheters for babies.

The results were predictable and devastating. Normal life was impossible and became a daily struggle to survive. It became apparent by the mid-1990s many didn’t or wouldn’t:

— the UN World Food Program (WFP) reported 2.4 million Iraqi children were severely at nutritional risk in September, 1995;

— in December, 1995, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said 12% of Baghdad children were “wasted, 28% stunted and 29% under weight;”

— by year end 1995, FAO reported 567,000 Iraqi children sanction-related deaths;

— by March, 1996, WHO noted a six-fold mortality rate increase among children under five;

— in October, 1996 UNICEF reported 4500 monthly Iraqi children deaths from sanction-caused starvation and disease;

— by 1999, the under five child mortality rate rose three-fold from 1989, malnutrition doubled, and the entire young child population was affected;

— UN Secretary-General Boutras-Boutras-Ghali noted how health conditions deteriorated dramatically by the mid-1990s, and by 1997 the WHO Director General said Iraq’s health care system was systemically broken; in addition, malaria, typhoid, cholera and other life-threatening and communicable diseases were rampant.

These actions were committed willfully and are war crimes under relevant Geneva Conventions and other international law. They also constitute genocide under provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that “means any (acts like those listed above) committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the national, ethnical, racial or religious group (by) killing (its) members; causing (them) serious bodily or mental harm; (or) deliberately inflicting (on them) conditions (that may destroy them in whole or in part).”

US administrations under GHW Bush, Bill Clinton and GW Bush are criminally liable under “the genocide convention” and other relevant international law. Up to the March, 2003 attack and invasion, more than 1.5 million Iraqis, including over one million children, likely died from the combination of war and economic sanctions. Two UN heads of Iraqi humanitarian relief resigned under them in anger and frustration with Dennis Halliday saying in 1998 he did so because he “had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over one million individuals, children and adults” including 5000 Iraqi children monthly in his judgment.

To date, most members of Congress are mute on the Iraq genocide and continue funding it with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. Yet on October 10, the House Foreign Relations Committee hypocritically passed a non-binding resolution calling the 1915 – 1923 Armenian holocaust (taking 1.0 to 1.5 million lives) genocide with a full House vote on the measure still scheduled for November in spite of waning support for it and uncertainty where it will go in the Senate.

Speaker Pelosi still backs the measure and in 2006 as Minority Leader pledged to support legislation “that would properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. It is imperative that the United States recognize this atrocity and move to renew our commitment to eliminate genocide whenever and wherever it exists.” Today, Speaker Pelosi is mute on Iraq, Afghanistan and fully supports AIPAC’s agenda and its top priority of war with Iran. She’s not bothered by her own government’s genocide that far exceeds the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Turkish Armenian slaughter during and after WW I. The data below estimates as many as four million Iraqis have perished from 1990 – 2007, but speaker Pelosi’s condemnation of it is nowhere in sight.

Dr. Gideon Polya is a well-published biological scientist who’s book, “Body Count: Global avoidable mortality since 1950,” came out this year. It “documents….non-reported (worldwide) avoidable death(s) of 1.3 billion people since 1950” including in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also published his data on millions of violent and non-violent deaths under the three most recent US administrations in articles like his October 7 one on In it, he cites data on Iraq from the Lancet, UN and British polling firm ORB. His “Asian Wars” totals in Iraq, Afghanistan, Occupied Palestine and Lebanon are horrific, and, if correct, exceed any others published to date. A summary of his data follows.

— Eight million total violent and non-violent deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon breaking down as follows:

— 70,000 “US-backed” Israeli-caused deaths in Lebanon from 1978 – 2006, 10,000 of which were violent killings “by Israelis” or their “surrogates;”

— 300,000 1967-2007 Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) deaths plus another 10,000 violent deaths;

— 200,000 violent 1990-91 Gulf war deaths;

— 1.7 million 1990-2003 Iraqi sanctions-caused deaths including 1.2 million children under age five;

— 3.2 million 2001-2007 US Afghanistan war deaths including UN Population Division data totaling 2.5 million plus 700,000 children under age five;

— 2.0 million 2003-07 US Iraq war deaths including 1.2 million UK polling firm ORB violence-related estimates plus 800,000 children under age five from UNICEF data; and

— 500,000 2001-07 opiate drug-related deaths resulting from the resurgent Afghan opium industry under US-UK occupation; the UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates its output at 93% of world production.

Polya cites the failure of occupying powers to supply essential “life-sustaining requisites” as a major cause of preventable deaths. He also notes his eight million estimate exceeds the Nazi-inflicted Jewish holocaust total of about six million. And he rightly observes that major media misreporting, denying or “ignoring of this horrendous, ongoing mass” slaughter is the equivalent of Jewish holocaust denial and doing it endangers security for “both….victims and….perpetrators.”

There’s no denying the toll on victims, but consider the cost at home post-9/11:

— a nation with no outside enemies permanently at war and claims the right to wage preventive wars under the doctrine of “anticipatory self-defense” using first strike nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear states;

— world stability and peace further threatened by the administration’s abandoning NPT, ending Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty protection, rescinding and subverting the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, deploying so-called “missile defense” for offense, and plans to weaponize space toward the goal of “full-spectrum (unchallengeable) dominance” of all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems plus as much of the world’s energy resources as possible;

— a military budget hugely exceeding the rest of the world combined; The Independent Institute analyst Robert Higgs estimates the true FY 2007 budget exceeds $1 trillion with all defense-related items included;

— a rogue government operating outside constitutional and international laws and norms with the Congress and courts criminally complicit;

— an unprecedented wealth disparity in an omnipotent corporatist state;

— growing social decay and poverty in the richest country in the world;

— a secretive, intrusive, repressive administration under a president who disdains the public interest and is a serial liar and war criminal;

— condoning and operating secret torture-prisons around the world as a weapon of cruelty, vengeance and social control; and

— a cesspool of corruption stemming from incestuous business-govenment ties that defile democracy and mock any notion of government of, for and by the people.

The toll in Israel is evident as well. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein is an Israeli Jew, based in Jerusalem, and the Action Advocacy Officer with the Israeli Committee Against (Palestinian) House Demolitions (ICAHD). On August 30, 2007, she delivered an address at the UN Conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels commemorating the fortieth anniversary of Occupied Palestine. In it, she noted part of the toll on Israeli society caused by 40 years of Palestinian repression:

— around one million Israeli Jews “voted with their feet and left the country;”

— an estimate by some that up to 50% of Israeli youths refuse mandatory Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) service plus a “grey” Air Force refusal rate of around 30%;

— a significant recent observation from John Pilger that “something (around the world) is changing. (There’s a) swell of a boycott….growing inexorably….an important marker (may have) been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts (preceding) sanctions against apartheid South Africa” that led to the fall of its white-supremicist government; and

— her experience working with “diplomats, politicians and aid workers in Israel and Palestine (shows) that, on an individual basis, there’s enormous personal support and empathy for the Palestinian cause” because decades of abuse against them are intolerable and must end.

Push eventually will come to shove. We better hope it arrives soon. The world can’t wait much longer.

Stephen Lendman is a research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Chicago. He can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Mondays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries:
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2007
The url address of this article is:

Bush’s Free-Fire Zones By Robert Parry

Dandelion Salad

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
October 25, 2007

Determined to gain the upper hand in Iraq and Afghanistan, George W. Bush has turned large portions of the two countries into near free-fire zones where any resistance, even in populated areas, is met with aggressive tactics that often kill civilians.

Though more attention has been focused on trigger-happy Blackwater “security contractors,” Bush’s military strategy has employed its own indiscriminate firepower – from loose “rules of engagement” for U.S. troops, to helicopter gun ships firing on crowds, to jet air strikes, to missiles launched from Predator drones.

For instance, the U.S. military acknowledged on Oct. 23 that an American helicopter killed 11 people, including women and children, after someone allegedly shot at the helicopter as it flew over the village of Mukaisheefa, north of Baghdad.

Iraqi police and witnesses said 16 people died, apparently as some rushed to help a wounded man, the New York Times reported. The helicopter gunners presumed the wounded man to be an insurgent and thus opened fire on the locals who came to his aid, according to witnesses.

“The locals went to check if he was dead and gathered around him,” said Mohanad Hamid Muhsin, a 14-year-old who was shot in the leg. “But the helicopter opened fire again and killed some of the locals and wounded others.”

When Iraqis carried the wounded into houses to administer first aid, the helicopter fired on the houses, killing and wounding more people, said Muhsin, who added that the dead included two of his brothers and a sister.

A local police official said the 16 dead included six women and three children, while 14 other Iraqis were wounded.

The incident followed on the heels of an Oct. 21 gun battle in which 49 people died when U.S. forces attacked alleged Shiite militiamen in Sadr City, a crowded slum in eastern Baghdad. Local authorities said the dead included innocent bystanders. [NYT, Oct. 24, 2007]

Another account of the Oct. 23 incident in the Los Angeles Times quoted residents saying the men who were killed were farmers irrigating their fields in the pre-daylight hours.

Abdul Wahab Ahmed, a neighbor, said the U.S. attack also involved jets that conducted two bombing runs. The dead included two toddlers and four teenagers, he said. [Los Angeles Times, Oct. 24, 2007]

The U.S. military said one of those killed in the Oct. 23 attack was “a known member of an I.E.D. cell,” referring to improvised explosive devices that Iraqi insurgents have made their weapon of choice in fighting the U.S. occupation.

The American statement added that four other “military-age males” were killed along with five women and one child. U.S. military spokesmen often justify killings in Iraq and Afghanistan by noting that the dead are military-age males (or MAMs), slain in the vicinity of a firefight.

Vietnam Echoes

The shoot-to-kill strategy toward MAMs has a resonance back to the Vietnam War when U.S. helicopter-borne troops sometimes would spot a MAM working in a rice paddy, fire a shot near him and then interpret his running as an aggressive act justifying his killing.

This technique was described approvingly by retired Gen. Colin Powell in his widely praised autobiography, My American Journey.

“I recall a phrase we used in the field, MAM, for military-age male,” Powell wrote. “If a helo spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM, the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him.

“Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen [West Germany], Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

While it’s true that combat is brutal and judgments can be clouded by fear, the mowing down of unarmed civilians in cold blood doesn’t constitute combat. Under the laws of war, it is regarded as murder and, indeed, a war crime. Neither can the combat death of a fellow soldier be cited as an excuse to murder civilians.

[For more on Powell’s justification for war crimes, see our new book, Neck Deep.]

Evidence from recent military courts-martial also indicate that Bush has transformed elite units of the U.S. military – including Special Forces and highly trained sniper teams – into little more than “death squads” with a license to kill unarmed targets on suspicion they might be threats to American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This dark underbelly of the U.S. counterinsurgency effort has been whispered about for several years within the U.S. intelligence community, but hard evidence finally emerged with two attempted prosecutions of American soldiers whose defense attorneys cited “rules of engagement” that permit the killing of suspected insurgents.

One case involved Army sniper Jorge G. Sandoval Jr. who was acquitted by a U.S. military court in Baghdad on Sept. 28 in the murders of two unarmed Iraqi men – one on April 27 and the other on May 11 – because the jury accepted defense arguments that the killings were within the U.S. military rules.

The Sandoval case also revealed a classified program in which the Pentagon’s Asymmetric Warfare Group encouraged U.S. military snipers in Iraq to drop “bait” – such as electrical cords and ammunition – and then shoot Iraqis who pick up the items, according to evidence in the Sandoval case. [Washington Post, Sept. 24, 2007]

Sniper Killings

Army sniper Sandoval admitted killing an Iraqi man near the town of Iskandariya on April 27 after a skirmish with insurgents. Sandoval testified that his team leader, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Hensley, ordered him to kill a man cutting grass with a rusty scythe because he was suspected of being an insurgent posing as a farmer.

The second killing occurred on May 11 when a man walked into a concealed location where Sandoval, Hensley and other snipers were hiding. After the Iraqi was detained, another sniper, Sgt. Evan Vela, was ordered to shoot the man in the head by Hensley and did so, according to Vela’s testimony at Sandoval’s court-martial.

Sandoval was acquitted of murder charges because a military jury concluded that his actions were within the rules of engagement. (Sandoval was convicted of a lesser charge of planting a coil of copper wire on one of the slain Iraqis. He was sentenced to five months in prison and a reduction in rank but could rejoin his unit in as few as 44 days.)

The other recent case of authorized murder of an insurgent suspect surfaced at a military court hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in mid-September. Two U.S. Special Forces soldiers took part in the execution of an Afghani who was a suspected leader of an insurgent group.

Special Forces Capt. Dave Staffel and Sgt. Troy Anderson were leading a team of Afghan soldiers when an informant told them where the suspected insurgent leader was hiding. The U.S.-led contingent found a man believed to be Nawab Buntangyar walking outside his compound near the village of Hasan Kheyl.

While the Americans kept their distance out of fear the suspect might be wearing a suicide vest, the man was questioned about his name and the Americans checked his description against a list from the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan, known as “the kill-or-capture list.”
Concluding that the man was Nawab Buntangyar, Staffel gave the order to shoot, and Anderson – from a distance of about 100 yards away – fired a bullet through the man’s head, killing him instantly.

The soldiers viewed the killing as “a textbook example of a classified mission completed in accordance with the American rules of engagement,” the International Herald Tribune reported. “The men said such rules allowed them to kill Buntangyar, whom the American military had designated a terrorist cell leader, once they positively identified him.”

Staffel’s civilian lawyer Mark Waple said the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command concluded in April that the shooting was “justifiable homicide,” but a two-star general in Afghanistan instigated a murder charge against the two men. That case, however, foundered over accusations that the charge was improperly filed. [IHT, Sept. 17, 2007]

According to evidence at the Fort Bragg proceedings, an earlier Army investigation had cleared the two soldiers because they had been operating under “rules of engagement” that empowered them to kill individuals who have been designated “enemy combatants,” even if the targets were unarmed and presented no visible threat.

Suicide Vest?

In late September, a U.S. military judge dismissed all charges against the two soldiers because he ruled it was conceivable that the detained Afghani was wearing a suicide explosive belt, though there was no evidence that he was.

Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly hailed the acquittals of the two soldiers and blasted the New York Times for reporting on the original charges but not the exoneration. “Two separate investigations in the Afghan theatre clearly stated the Green Berets effectively did their duty,” O’Reilly said.

However, the larger point is that the case revealed that the “rules of engagement” approved by U.S. higher-ups countenance the murder of unarmed suspects, behavior that would appear to violate the laws of war.

The troubling picture is that the U.S. chain of command, presumably up to Bush, has authorized loose “rules of engagement” that allow targeted killings – as well as other objectionable tactics including arbitrary arrests, “enhanced interrogations,” kidnappings in third countries with “extraordinary renditions” to countries that torture, secret CIA prisons, detentions without trial, and “reeducation camps” for younger detainees.

The U.S. counterinsurgency and security operations in Iraq and Afghanistan also have been augmented by heavily armed mercenaries, such as the Blackwater “security contractors” who operate outside the law and were accused by Iraqi authorities of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in a shooting incident on Sept. 16.

The use of lethal force against unarmed suspects and civilians has a notorious history in irregular warfare especially when an occupying army finds itself confronting an indigenous resistance in which guerrillas and their political supporters blend in with the local population.

In effect, Bush’s “global war on terror” has reestablished what looks like the Vietnam-era Operation Phoenix, a program that assassinated Vietcong cadre, including suspected communist political allies.

Through a classified Pentagon training program known as “Project X,” the lessons of Operation Phoenix from the 1960s were passed on to Third World armies, especially in Latin America allegedly giving a green light to some of the “dirty wars” that swept the region in the following decades. [For details, see Neck Deep.]

Despite behind-the-scenes support for some Latin American “death squads,” the U.S. government presented itself as the defender of human rights and criticized repressive countries that engaged in extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions.

Double Standards

That gap between American rhetoric and reality widened after 9/11 as Bush waged his “war on terror,” while continuing to impress the American news media with pretty words about his commitment to human rights – as occurred in his address to the United Nations on Sept. 25.

Under Bush’s remarkable double standards, he has taken the position that he can override both international law and the U.S. Constitution in deciding who gets basic human rights and who doesn’t. He sees himself as the final judge of whether people he deems “bad guys” should live or die, or face indefinite imprisonment and even torture.

By early 2005, as the Iraqi insurgency grew, the Bush administration reportedly debated a “Salvador option” for Iraq, an apparent reference to the “death squad” operations that decimated the ranks of perceived leftists who were opposed to El Salvador’s right-wing military junta in the early 1980s.

According to Newsweek magazine, President Bush was contemplating the adoption of that brutal “still-secret strategy” of the Reagan administration as a way to get a handle on the spiraling violence in Iraq.

“Many U.S. conservatives consider the policy [in El Salvador] to have been a success – despite the deaths of innocent civilians,” Newsweek wrote.

The magazine also noted that many of Bush’s advisers were leading figures in the Central American operations of the 1980s, including Elliott Abrams, who is now an architect of Middle East policy on the National Security Council.

In Guatemala, about 200,000 people perished, including what a truth commission later termed a genocide against Mayan Indians in the Guatemalan highlands. In El Salvador, about 70,000 died including massacres of whole villages, such as the slaughter committed by a U.S.-trained battalion against hundreds of men, women and children near the town of El Mozote in 1981.

The Reagan administration’s “Salvador option” also had a domestic component, the so-called “perception management” operation that employed sophisticated propaganda to manipulate the fears of the American people while hiding the ugly reality of the wars.

[For details about how these strategies worked and the role of George H.W. Bush, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege. For more on the Salvador option, see’s “Bush’s Death Squads,” Jan. 11, 2005.]

Haditha Killings

Iraqis have objected to other disregard of innocent life by American troops, such as the killing of two dozen Iraqis in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, after one Marine died from an improvised explosive device.

According to published accounts of U.S. military investigations, the dead Marine’s comrades retaliated by pulling five men – MAMs – from a cab and shooting them, and entering two homes where civilians, including women and children, were slaughtered.

The Marines then tried to cover up the killings by claiming that the civilian deaths were caused by the original explosion or a subsequent firefight, according to investigations by the U.S. military and human rights groups.

One of the accused Marines, Sgt. Frank Wuterich, gave his account of the Haditha killings in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” including an admission that his squad tossed a grenade into one of the residences without knowing who was inside.

“Frank, help me understand,” asked interviewer Scott Pelley. “You’re in a residence, how do you crack a door open and roll a grenade into a room?”

“At that point, you can’t hesitate to make a decision,” Wuterich answered. “Hesitation equals being killed, either yourself or your men.”

“But when you roll a grenade in a room through the crack in the door, that’s not positive identification, that’s taking a chance on anything that could be behind that door,” Pelley said.

“Well, that’s what we do. That’s how our training goes,” Wuterich said.

Four Marines were singled out for courts-martial over the Haditha killings though some legal analysts believe the case is collapsing because of loose “rules of engagement” that let U.S. troops kill Iraqis when a threat is detected.

In the context of dangerous combat, many Americans sympathize with the individual U.S. soldiers who have to make split-second life-or-death decisions, all the while thinking they are operating under legitimate rules of engagement that allow killing perceived enemies even if they are unarmed and showing no aggressive intent.

But the greater significance of these recent cases is that they confirm the long-whispered allegations that the U.S. chain of command has approved standing orders that give the U.S. military broad discretion to kill suspected militants on sight – and to blast away at civilians who might get in the way.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Davis Fleetwood: S/He who controls the present, controls the past (video)

Dandelion Salad



BBC Reporter Has Rove Office Emails-Goodling/Sampson Obstruction of Justice evid by Greg Palast

Greg Palast on How Rove May Have Already Stolen the 08 Election – Interview

An Army of Rove-Bots-Captain Iglesias, Obstruction of Justice & the Theft of ’08 by Greg Palast

Amy Goodman & Greg Palast-“I have Karl Rove’s emails”

“Unlawful enemy combatant” by Amnesty Internatl (video; MCA)

“Unlawful Enemy Combatants” and the International Criminal Court by Prof Francis A. Boyle


More could be deemed enemy combatants by bill

Condi Rice Hearing (videos; updated)

Dandelion Salad


CONDI RICE: Peace Process and Palestinian State Prospects

10.24.07 hearing before House Foreign Affairs Committee

RICE: Extraordinary Rendition of Canadian Was “Imperfect”

10.24.07 hearing before House Foreign Affairs Committee



Updated: 10.25.07 

Rice Not ‘Personally Following Every’ Investigation


House Oversight and Govt. Reform Committee Hearing on State Department role in Iraq, October 25 2007

10.24.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Oct. 24, 2007


Will Iran’s Foreign Minister Resign? – Dubai TV, UAE
Turkish National Council Discusses Crisis on Borders – Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
Kurds are Outraged – Baghdad TV, Iraq
Iraqi Speaker of the Parliament Visits Syria – Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Rabin Remembered – IBA TV, Israel
NATO Needs Reinforcements in Afghanistan – Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Azhar Sheikh’s Controversial Fatwa – New TV, Lebanon
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani