Western War Crimes Around the World - January, 2012

"Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy"
Henry Kissinger
More than ever before, US servicemen (and sometimes women) are enthusiastically living up to Kissinger's expectations of them. Having discussed the geopolitical aspects of the American war machine in previous blog posts, I would now like to briefly discusses the cultural decay plaguing the forces of "freedom and democracy". We are finally seeing the face of the ugly American is all its glory. US Marines, once a honorable fighting forces worthy of warrior's respect, have again been documented desecrating bodies of dead enemy combatants. This most recent war crime involving Western troops in Afghanistan is said to have occurred sometime last spring or summer. Thus, it can be safely surmised that the incident was already known by at least some high ranking military leaders and only became a matter of contention inside Washington as a result of the incident becoming public knowledge.

Despite how the incident will now be portrayed by civilian and military officials in Washington, I want to point out that such acts are much more common than they are portrayed by the empire's propaganda outlets.

This latest incident comes several months after
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine published leaked photographs showing American troops gleefully posing for pictures with dead militants in Afghanistan. When we juxtapose these inhumane acts with the frequently occurring indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians and the utter destruction visited throughout Afghanistan, what we have are ghastly war crimes being committed by the forces of freedom and democracy on a regular basis. But Afghanistan is not the only place Western forces have turned into a shooting gallery.A little less than two years ago Wikileaks released a video clip graphically depicting how scores of civilians, including two Reuters reporters, were killed in an American helicopter assault in Iraq. For more information on this incident, please see link called collateral murder below this commentary. We learned about these quite common occurrences in Iraq after the egregious war crimes that took place in Haditha and Falluja and information on widespread torture and murder in Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay prisons were leaked out to the public. And, just like in Afghanistan, when we juxtapose these barbaric acts in Iraq with the frequently occurring indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians and the utter destruction visited throughout the country, we have had in Iraq are ghastly war crimes responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Shootings and bombs are not the only way innocents have been murdered by Western forces. Economic sanctions imposed on Baghdad by Washington during the 1990s utterly devastate Iraq. Economic sanctions alone have killed an estimated five hundred thousand Iraqis just during the time period in question. And there's more.

American use of DU is "a crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time." US Iraq Military Vets "are on DU death row, waiting to die."

James Denver
One of the least talked about horrors of the war in Iraq has been the devastating effects of depleted uranium on the Iraqi population and Western troops alike. The use of thousands of tons of ammunition containing depleted uranium has polluted the landscape throughout Iraq; drastically increasing the rate of cancers such as leukemia. For more information on the horrible impact the use of depleted uranium has had on the civilian population in Iraq, please see the article posted towards the bottom of this page. 

History will recognize the barbaric occupation of Mesopotamia by Western forces as one of the most horrific episodes in the region's long and troubled history.

In an effort to rearrange their military assets in the region in preparation for a possible showdown against Iran, Western officials have officially ended their mission in Iraq. After utterly destroying a nation (by essentially breaking it up into three pieces) and being responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children by bringing Western style "democracy" into Iraq, US troops have for the most part finally departed from Iraq
; although the occupation of the country by continues by other means.  


After being administered a heavy dose of Western style democracy, Iraq today lies fractured, desolate and, as noted above, contaminated by thousands of tons of depleted uranium. 

Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently Libya are the glaring examples of Western style "freedom and democracy" at work in the world today. Are Syria and Iran next?

Ugly incidents such as the ones below this commentary (and far-far worst things you and I are not allowed to see or are simply not informed of) are nothing unique when it comes to Western style warfare in the 21 century. From Serbia to Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Pakistan, such war crimes have been played out thousands of times during the past twenty somewhat years. We may even get to see such things happening in places like Iran and Syria and God knows wherever else they are next 0planning on turning into a shooting gallery.

This blatant disregard for human life and the alarming absence of even the most fundamental aspects of human decency amongst the "civilized" forces of the "democratic" West today speak
s volumes about the cultural and spiritual decay of the Western world in general and of the United States in particular.

The barbaric acts of US servicemen have been made public not because the nation's news press have courageously reported on them but because the rest of the world is talking about them and the empire's propaganda organs posing as news outlets are forced to address the matter. Although horrific incidents involving US troops will, as usual, be portrayed as "rare events" carried out by "stressed" and/or "rouge individuals", I know enough about military culture in the US to know that devilish acts are much more common than they seem. In fact, the psychology (or the pathology) that allows such beastly behavior by US military personal is very common within the armed forced of the United States today.

Thanks to Hollywood's ubiquitous displays of sex and violence and the very popular computer gaming industry (both of which have been fully politicized and weaponized by officials in Washington), a generation of Americans have become totally desensitized to debauchery, murder and gore.

To imagine that some of the Western world's bloodthirsty criminals in uniform have gotten medals for their "heroic" combat duty is sicking to even think about, and it is an absolute insult to all the courageous fighting men and women that have walked this earth. I never thought I'd be this ashamed of the US military. But I also realize that this is no longer the America we once knew and loved and this Pentagon no longer serves the best interests of this nation. The ugly beast lurking within, having suppressed its urges for decades during the Cold War, finally came out of the closet the very day the Soviet Union fell some twenty year ago.

Humanity today desperately needs for Russia and China to get their act in order to stop the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance's global rampages and finally put Washington back in its rightful place - before obscene scenes such as those you are about to learn about below are played out in other nations as well.
 

Some readers may say: If given the opportunity nations in opposition to the Western alliance would do things just as inhumane and much worst.

Depending on the enemy, that may or may not be true. But that is not the point. The first thing one needs to realize is that the invasion and destruction of Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya were unwarranted, and Iraqis, Afghans and Libyans posed absolutely no threat to the West or any other nation on earth. Thus, what the West has been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is simply put - criminal. What the West most recently did in Libya and what they are currently trying to do in Iran and Syria is criminal as well. Moreover, none of Washington's main enemies/targets today (e.g. Russia, Serbia, China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq) have ever threatened any Western nation; unlike the war machine serving Washington. The Washington-led Western war machine has invaded quite a few nations during the past thirty somewhat years.

Moreover, and more importantly, it is precisely the United States and not any other nation that is claiming to be upholding "humanitarian" and "democratic" values around the world and it is the United States that is claiming to be the "policeman of the world."

Thus,
when underdeveloped/backward nations resort to cruel behavior during war, it is expected and somehow understood. On the other hand, brutality, torture and heinous crime against humanity is currently being carried out by a political system that proudly touts its adherence to humanitarianism and democracy. When an all-powerful entity that claims to be upholding "western values" around the world resorts to animalistic/demonic behavior and frequently carries out war crimes, the situation at hand becomes very-very troubling for the global community.

At the bottom of this commentary I have posted a two part documentary called "Soldiers of Conscience" and a recent RT video report about the active collaboration that is taking place between Hollywood and the military industrial complex in the American empire. Please watch them.
 

I would like to make one important observation about the Soldiers of Conscience documentary. After watching it I was astounded to learn that according to collected data dating back to the Second World War, about 3/4 of American soldiers in the battlefield hesitated to fire on the enemy even in the heat of combat. As it turns out, the human instincts of normal human beings was and continues to be anti-war and anti-murder by nature. I can imagine just how alarmed the military establishment in the Pentagon would have been about the troubling results of the study in question.
 

How can they conceive of offensive wars in the name of plunder and global empire when their young soldiers are not obedient bloodthirsty beasts? That Second World War study may in fact explain why Hollywoodian productions have been so violent in recent decades.
 

The world revered "pop culture" produced by the special-interests backed entertainment industry of the United States for the latter half of the past century is fundamentally based on three principals - materialism, sex and violence. These are the three basic elements that appeal to the lowest aspect of human nature. 

Look at any pro-West activist anywhere in the world today and you will see either a freak, an idiot or an animal.  

American pop culture appeals to the primordial/animalistic side of human nature. Moreover, because it naturally lacks intellect, sophistication and cultural refinement, American pop culture is rather easily disseminated within the masses via its globalizes language, music, literature, fashion, motion pictures, television programing and radio talk shows. From the debauchery we constantly see portrayed on Hollywood films to American "gangsta rap" music to the excessively bloody electronic simulation games that tens of millions of children play today - killing and sex is a major theme in American pop culture today.

This is essentially why we have young men and women in America behaving in the manner featured in news reports on this page, this is essentially why western civilization is in a steep decline.
 


I firmly believe that the ubiquitous violence we see in pop culture in America today (and by extension all around the world) is in no way a by-product of chance. I strongly believe that the conditioning of America's youth is commissioned by special groups in highest echelons of government and it is being done to desensitize them to death and murder. The youth in America are being weaponized to be exploited by Western imperial interests. Therefore, the Pentagon's alarm about the ethical handicap of young American soldiers on the battlefields of Second World War and the Hollywood's program to desensitize America's youth to killing are intimately interconnected.

Nevertheless, imagine the military of any other nation on earth today behaving in the manner Western troops have behaved in recent years. In my opinion, in the big picture, war crimes committed by dreaded Waffen SS during the Second World War pales in comparison to the egregious crimes that have been committed by the Anglo-American-Zionist global order for over a century. The following information, which is essentially only the tip of the iceberg, reveals the barbaric nature/character of the much touted forces of "freedom and democracy". These are crimes against humanity. Western forces are in fact guilty of egregious war crimes. Weren't actions such as these the excuse Western officials used to invade nations such as Serbia and Libya? Wasn't the West persistently attacking Moscow for its alleged crimes against Chechen civilians? Why aren't we being persistently bombarded with "full coverage" of these actions by the Western press? Why aren't Western officials holding around-the-clock press conferences to discuss these matters? 


American exceptionalism may explain why the empire's officials feel free to make and break nations. The following comment by Max Boot (a Russian born Jew who at one time worked for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal and is currently a Senior Fellow at the CFR) explicitly explains why the arrogant empire is engaged in wars around the world:
"The US military presence abroad has underwritten the expansion of liberty and freedom and free markets over the course of the last 60 years. It is our Army, our Navy, our Air Force, our Marine Corps which defend liberty around the world and prevent conflicts from breaking out. Their most important role is not even to fight wars; it’s to deter adversaries and prevent aggression from occurring. They have kept the peace, in large part, in places like Europe and Asia which have known nothing but war in the past, and they have allowed for the peaceful expansion of those regions, all of which has been very much to America’s benefit. The defense budget is actually very cheap by comparison with what we get for it. We’re spend now well under 5% of our Gross Domestic Product, roughly half of what we were spending during much of the Cold War. And for that, we basically underwrite global security which allows us to be the most prosperous nation in the world and benefit from this international trade of which we are much a major part."

Max Boot
In other words, it's all about money (the US Dollar of course). Nevertheless, the audacity of Max Boot in making such statements is nothing less than breathtaking. Having said that, I'd be the first to admit that I have enjoyed the fruits of the empire's global bloodletting. However, my conscious, my humanity, my ideological convictions and my intellectual integrity will never allow me to excuse or justify the actions of the American empire. Simply put, unlike Max Boot, I am not blinded by my material possessions or a narrow worldview to realize that Washington has become a genuine source of evil around the world in recent decades. Moreover, being a student of history, I also realize that sooner-or-later, large empires fall, and the larger they are the harder they fall. And due to the peculiar dangers of Globalism, this particular empire's eventual fall may drag down with it many nations around the world.

I'm willing to tighten my belt and live humbly if that means helping America return to its roots as a republic. Does the empire's ruling elite feel the same way? In the name of the founding fathers of the United States of America and in the name of humanity, I call on the empire's ruling elite to turn America back to the republic that it was envisioned to be. Downsizing, living frugally, making more with less and redirecting funds to social projects is the very secret to America's survival as a nation. But will their imperial arrogance, global economic pursuits and severe gluttony ever allow them to accept this wisdom? I don't think so. I'm afraid it's beyond the point of no return.

The convictions expressed on this page makes me a true American patriot. But I don't expect the empire's new breed of overweight, ignorant and Chinese-made American flag waving patriotic cattle to grasp any of what I'm saying.


The zombified masses of the civilized world today are in no psychological state for any form of cultural or political reawakening. However, I firmly believe that the global community will one day seriously reassess the global implications of Germany's defeat in 1945. I firmly believe that the world would have been a better place had National Socialism in Europe been somehow preserved. I firmly believe that western civilization would have experienced yet another golden age had the Third Reich survived the ravages of that time period. I also believe that the global community will one day come to the sober realization that the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was most probably one of Afghanistan's golden eras; if Afghanistan ever had one.
Where the Soviets built infrastructure, educated Afghanistan's peasantry and eradicated opium production there, the glorious armies of the Western alliance has turned into killing fields and poppy fields.


As much I personally dislike communism and was never a fan of the Soviet Union, my ethical and intellectual integrity compels me to admit that mankind will one day look back and realize that one of the blackest pages in world history, the event that led to the sudden rise of the beast, was the sudden fall of the Soviet Union. With National Socialism utterly uprooted and the Soviet Union relegated to the pages of history, the world today desperately need powerful nations such the Russian Federation and China to put the fear of God back into the hearts&minds of Globalist imperialists in the West. The world today desperately needs the emergence of multiple political systems. The world desperately needs multi-polarity in global politics. 

Arevordi
January, 2012

***
Collateral Murder (video): http://collateralmurder.com/

WikiLeaks editor on Apache combat video: No excuse for US killing civilians: http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday#p/u/6/7QEdAykXxoM

Soldiers of Conscience: To kill or not to kill? (part 1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxrLM21_2f4&feature=video_response

Soldiers of Conscience: To kill or not to kill? (part 2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3g7PZf4vnA&feature=related

Pentagon sanitizes movies to make Americans warlike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7DTKhWGGZw&feature=plcp

American-British war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoK-HpkVKT4

Video of US marines urinating on Taliban sparks outrage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SljHO-b4YEs

Iraq Miscalculation: America's greatest mistake? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HR6ZWc-NLg

Men of Steal: US troops make a killing in Iraq: http://www.youtube.com/user/RussiaToday#p/u/5/VgP43e1OXbg

US War Crimes in Iraq: http://www.albasrah.net/warcrimes.htm

***

Shock, Outrage Over Marine Urination Video

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02106/Marines_urinating__2106722b.jpg

Officials in the United States and Afghanistan expressed shock and outrage Thursday regarding a video purporting to show a U.S. Marine sniper team urinating on dead bodies, possibly in Afghanistan. "I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement. "I condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

Panetta said he has ordered the Marine Corps and International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. John Allen "to immediately and fully investigate the incident." "This conduct is entirely inappropriate for members of the United States military and does not reflect the standards of values our armed forces are sworn to uphold," Panetta's statement said. "Those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent."

A senior Pentagon official said Panetta was "deeply troubled" after viewing the video. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said in a statement the behavior is "wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history." Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, deputy commander of ISAF, called the actions on the video "disgusting."

"Any acts which treat the dead, enemy or friendly, with disrespect are utterly unacceptable and do not represent the standards we expect of coalition forces," Bradshaw said in a video statement. He said he was speaking on behalf of Allen, who is out of the country. An earlier statement from NATO-led forces in Afghanistan said, "ISAF strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of U.S. individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan."

The statement appears to indicate that military officials believe the video is real, even though the Marine Corps says it is still working to verify its origin and authenticity. A senior U.S. military official said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is the lead investigative agency on the incident. A Marine Corps investigation was also announced Wednesday.

Amos said he has pulled together a team "to thoroughly investigate every aspect of the filmed event." Also, he said he will assign a Marine General Officer and senior attorney, both with combat experience, to conduct an internal preliminary inquiry into the matter.

"Once the investigation and preliminary inquiry are complete and the facts have been determined, then the Marine Corps will take the appropriate next steps," Amos said. "We remain fully committed to upholding the Geneva Convention, the laws of war and our own core values." "We are aware of the video. The hate in it does not represent the U.S. Marine Corps," said Col. Ricco Player, a spokesman for the Marines in Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province. "An investigation has been initiated."

The story broke Wednesday when a number of websites, including TMZ and YouTube, posted a video showing four men dressed in Marine combat gear urinating on what appeared to be the dead bodies of three men on the ground in front of them. One of the men says, "Have a great day, buddy." A voice asks, "You got it on the video?" to which another voice responds, "Yeah." Another jokes, "Golden, like a shower."

It was not clear who shot or posted the 39-second video, who the people pictured in it were or where it was shot, though a U.S. official said it was a "reasonable conclusion" it was filmed in Afghanistan. The official, based in Afghanistan, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. government to investigate the video and hand down the harshest punishment possible.

"The government of Afghanistan is deeply disturbed by a video that shows American soldiers desecrating dead bodies of three Afghans," according to a statement released by the presidential palace on behalf of Karzai. "This act by American soldiers is simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest possible terms." A Taliban spokesman called the video "barbaric." "And no religion that follows a holy text would accept such conduct. This inhuman act reveals their real face to the world," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said via text message Thursday.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said in a statement Thursday it "strongly condemns" the actions in the video. "Such actions are reprehensible, dishonor the sacrifices of our military and the American people and violate the core values of both our societies," the embassy said. "Islam gives values and respect to every human being," regardless of which religion the individual follows, said Islamic scholar Mawlawi Enayatullah Baligh. "The value and respect is the same for an alive person and a dead body. Even the body of your enemy in the battleground is respectable in Islam." The video surfaces at a critical time for relations between the United States, the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Earlier this year, the United States outlined its plan to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, beginning by pulling out 33,000 "surge" troops who had been deployed to help quell the violence by the end of 2012. The remaining 68,000 troops would be withdrawn by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, the Taliban tentatively agreed in recent weeks to open an office in Qatar's capital city of Doha, a decision widely seen as an overture aimed at establishing an outside forum for political talks with NATO-led forces and the current Afghan administration, among others.

A senior Marine Corps official who has examined the video said Wednesday that the Marines are carrying 30-caliber sniper rifles and wearing helmets issued to members of Marine sniper teams. The helmets are designed with a shorter front and sides so that snipers can place rifles and scopes near their faces. The official added that the desecration of a body by U.S. troops could be considered a potential war crime.

"We recently became aware of an inappropriate video on a public website that appears to involve members of our military," International Security Assistance Force spokesman Col. Gary Kolb said from Kabul. "We will not speculate on the details but will take all necessary actions to determine the facts."

He said an investigation was under way but would not comment on the video's authenticity. The faces of the bodies are not identifiable. "While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps," said Marine Corps Media Officer Kendra Hardesty. "This matter will be fully investigated and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions."

Hardesty said the Corps was working to identify the Marines in the video. "Regardless of the circumstances or who is in the video, this is egregious, disgusting behavior," said Department of Defense spokesman Capt. John Kirby. "It's hideous. It turned my stomach."

In a statement released Wednesday, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the video. "If verified as authentic, the video shows behavior that is totally unbecoming of American military personnel and that could ultimately endanger other soldiers and civilians," wrote CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. "Any guilty parties must be punished to the full extent allowed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by relevant American laws."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/12/us/video-marines-urinating/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

US Army Apologizes for Horrific Photos from Afghanistan

Photo Gallery: The 'Kill Team' in Afghanistan

The images are repulsive. A group of rogue US Army soldiers in Afghanistan killed innocent civilians and then posed with their bodies. On Monday, SPIEGEL published some of the photos -- and the US military responded promptly with an apology. Still, NATO fears that reactions in Afghanistan could be violent.

For reasons of data protection and privacy, your IP address will only be stored if you are a registered user of Facebook and you are currently logged in to the service. For more detailed information, please click on the "i" symbol. The United States and NATO are concerned that reactions could be intense to the publication of images documenting killings committed by US soldiers in Afghanistan. The images appeared in the most recent edition of SPIEGEL, which hit the newsstands on Monday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already telephoned with her Afghan counterpart to discuss the situation. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has likewise made contact with officials in Kabul. The case threatens to strain already fragile US-Afghan relations at a time when the two countries are negotiating over the establishment of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.

In a statement released by Colonel Thomas Collins, the US Army, which is currently preparing a court martial to try a total of 12 suspects in connection with the killings, apologized for the suffering the photos have caused. The actions depicted in the photos, the statement read, are "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States."

The suspected perpetrators are part of a group of US soldiers accused of several killings. Their court martials are expected to start soon. The photos, the army statement said, stand "in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."

Major Public Backlash

At NATO headquarters, there are fears that the coming days could see angry protests in Afghanistan or even potential attacks against NATO units. "The images have an enormous potential here in Afghanistan," one NATO general told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Experience shows that it might take a couple of days, but then people's anger will be vented."

NATO, under the leadership of the US Army, has been preparing for possible publication of the photos for close to 100 days. In dozens of high-level talks with their Afghan partners, military leaders have sought to pursue the same strategy used by the US diplomatic corps in the case of the sensitive diplomatic cables released late last year by WikiLeaks. They warned those most directly affected and made preparations for the photos' appearance in the public sphere. This "strategic communication" was aimed at preventing a major public backlash.

The high ranks of those involved in the talks show just how seriously Washington has taken the problem. US Vice President Joe Biden recently spoke about the case with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The head of all NATO troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, likewise met with Karzai. By apologizing and by promising that those responsible will be prosecuted, the US is hoping to prevent Karzai from making any angry public statements on the case.

Whether the effort will ultimately be successful remains to be seen. On Tuesday, Karzai is scheduled to address his country to talk about the transfer of responsibility for his country's security from NATO to Afghanistan. With him will be members of the NATO leadership and the US ambassador to Afghanistan. Karzai's address contains no mention of the so-called "kill team," but the Afghan president is notorious for being unpredictable.

Political Conflict with the US

Observers say the fact that there hasn't been any serious reaction or demonstrations so far doesn't mean the danger has passed. One fact could be that Monday is a holiday in Afghanistan. A high-ranking official in the Afghan Foreign Ministry, who is close to President Karzai, said he believed the development would trigger a serious political conflict with the US.

"I assume we won't see the full effect of this matter until tomorrow, at the very soonest, when people return to work. Many people have Monday off," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He said the incidents had been "too outrageous" not to spark protests. "That this is engaging people can be seen by the fact that it is already being discussed on the Internet," he added.

In neighboring Pakistan, where relations with the United States are likewise strained, officials are also watching the matter closely. "We are acknowledging it, but for now it is a matter for the Afghan government to make any charges," a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad said. The release of CIA employee Raymond Davis, who shot two men at the end of January and was let go after paying blood money, as well as the increase in US drone attacks in the western part of the country, triggered angry protests in Pakistan.

The SPIEGEL story printed on Monday includes new details about a series of murders of innocent Afghans committed by a group of US soldiers. One of the accused, Corporal Jeremy Morlock, 22, confessed to the murders three months ago. Morlock is scheduled to face a general court-martial on Thursday. In total, 12 US soldiers who were allegedly part of what has been described as a "kill team" in Afghanistan are expected to go on trial soon.

'They Mowed Him Down'

The piece in SPIEGEL reconstructs some of the atrocities and includes three previously unknown photographs. Among other things, they show two of the suspected killers posing next to a corpse. The victim in the image is Gul Mudin, an Afghan man killed on Jan. 15, 2010 in the village of La Mohammed Kalay. In total, SPIEGEL and SPIEGEL TV has obtained a significant number of photos and videos.

The suspects are accused of having killed civilians for no reason and then of trying to make it look as though the killings had been acts of self-defense. Some of the accused have said the acts had been tightly scripted.

In one incident, which has been reconstructed based on documents from the investigation, the soldiers themselves detonate a hand grenade in order to make it look like they were the subjects of an attack before killing a man. One of those who allegedly participated, Adam Winfield, 21, described the incident to his father in a chat on the social networking site Facebook. "They made it look like the guy threw a grenade at them and mowed him down," SPIEGEL quotes Winfield as having written in the chat.

In a second incident on Feb. 22, 2010, one of the members of the "kill team" who had been carrying an old Russian Kalashnikov, fired it before pulling out another gun and shooting 22-year-old Afghan Marach Agha. In a third incident on May 2, 2010, it appears that a hand grenade attack was again staged before the shooting and killing of Mullah Allah Dad.

The 12 men are also facing further charges of desecration of corpses, illegal possession of photos of corpses, drug abuse and acts of bodily injury against comrades.

Source: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,752310,00.html

 Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq

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One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha. “I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers. Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine. Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.”

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

Charges were dropped against six of the accused Marines in the Haditha episode, one was acquitted and the last remaining case against one Marine is scheduled to go to trial next year. That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.

Told about the documents that had been found, Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the United States military in Iraq, said that many of the documents remained classified and should have been destroyed. “Despite the way in which they were improperly discarded and came into your possession, we are not at liberty to discuss classified information,” he said.

He added: “We take any breach of classified information as an extremely serious matter. In this case, the documents are being reviewed to determine whether an investigation is warranted.” The military said it did not know from which investigation the documents had come, but the papers appear to be from an inquiry by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell into the events in Haditha. The documents ultimately led to a report that concluded that the Marine Corps’s chain of command engaged in “willful negligence” in failing to investigate the episode and that Marine commanders were far too willing to tolerate civilian casualties. That report, however, did not include the transcripts.

Under Pressure

Many of those testifying at bases in Iraq or the United States were clearly under scrutiny for not investigating an atrocity and may have tried to shape their statements to dispel any notion that they had sought to cover up the events. But the accounts also show the consternation of the Marines as they struggled to control an unfamiliar land and its people in what amounted to a constant state of siege from fighters who were nearly indistinguishable from noncombatants.

Some, feeling they were under attack constantly, decided to use force first and ask questions later. If Marines took fire from a building, they would often level it. Drivers who approached checkpoints without stopping were assumed to be suicide bombers. “When a car doesn’t stop, it crosses the trigger line, Marines engage and, yes, sir, there are people inside the car that are killed that have nothing to do with it,” Sgt. Maj. Edward T. Sax, the battalion’s senior noncommissioned officer, testified.

He added, “I had Marines shoot children in cars and deal with the Marines individually one on one about it because they have a hard time dealing with that.” Sergeant Major Sax said he would ask the Marines responsible if they had known there had been children in the car. When they said no, he said he would tell them they were not at fault. He said he felt for the Marines who had fired the shots, saying they would carry a lifelong burden.

“It is one thing to kill an insurgent in a head-on fight,” Sergeant Major Sax testified. “It is a whole different thing — and I hate to say it, the way we are raised in America — to injure a female or injure a child or in the worse case, kill a female or kill a child.”

They could not understand why so many Iraqis just did not stop at checkpoints and speculated that it was because of illiteracy or poor eyesight. “They don’t have glasses and stuff,” Col. John Ledoux said. “It really makes you wonder because some of the things that they would do just to keep coming. You know, it’s hard to imagine they would just keep coming, but sometimes they do.”

Such was the environment in 2005, when the Marines from Company K of the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived in Anbar Province, where Haditha is located, many for their second or third tours in Iraq. The province had become a stronghold for disenfranchised Sunnis and foreign fighters who wanted to expel the United States from Iraq, or just kill as many Americans as possible. Of the 4,483 American deaths in Iraq, 1,335 happened in Anbar.

In 2004, four Blackwater contractors were gunned down and dragged through the streets of Falluja, their bodies burned and hung on a bridge over the Euphrates. Days later, the United States military moved into the city, and chaos ensued in Anbar Province for the next two years as the Americans tried to fight off the insurgents. The stress of combat soon bore down. A legal adviser to the Marine unit stopped taking his medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder and stopped functioning.

“We had the one where Marines had photographed themselves taking shots at people,” Col. R. Kelly testified, saying that they immediately called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and “confiscated their little camera.” He said the soldiers involved received a court-martial. All of this set the stage for what happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

A Tragedy Ensues

That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb. Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 — were killed, many inside their homes.

Townspeople contended that the Marines overreacted to the attack and shot civilians, only one of whom was armed. The Marines said they thought they were under attack. When the initial reports arrived saying more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll. Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

“I meant, it wasn’t remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn’t say remarkable, sir,” Mr. Norwood said. “And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it’s just —” An investigator asked the officer: “I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, ‘Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.’ ” “Not at the time, sir,” the officer testified.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths. “It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

“So, you know, maybe — I guess maybe if I was sitting here at Quantico and heard that 15 civilians were killed I would have been surprised and shocked and gone — done more to look into it,” he testified, referring to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. “But at that point in time, I felt that was — had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement.”

When Marines arrived on the scene to assess the number of dead bodies, at least one Marine thought it would be a good time to take pictures for his own keeping. “I know I had one Marine who was taking pictures just to take pictures and I told him to delete all those pictures,” testified a first lieutenant identified as M. D. Frank.

The documents uncovered by The Times — which include handwritten notes from soldiers, waivers by Marines of their right against self-incrimination, diagrams of where dead women and children were found, and pictures of the site where the Marine was killed by a roadside bomb on the day of the massacre — remain classified. In a meeting with journalists in October, before the military had been told about the discovery of the documents, the American commander in charge of the logistics of the withdrawal said that files from the bases were either transferred to other parts of the military or incinerated.

“We don’t put official paperwork in the trash,” said the commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, at the meeting at the American Embassy in Baghdad. The documents were piled in military trailers and hauled to the junkyard by an Iraqi contractor who was trying to sell off the surplus from American bases, the junkyard attendant said. The attendant said he had no idea what any of the documents were about, only that they were important to the Americans.

He said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash. “What can we do with them?” the attendant said. “These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html

Wikileaks Releases Video of US Copters Killing Iraqi Civilians

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The website Wikileaks.org today publicly issued a classified US military video from July 12, 2007, showing Apache helicopters killing at least a dozen civilians, including two employees of Reuters. The video had previously been sought by Reuters in its own investigation of the killings, and an encrypted copy had reportedly been smuggled to the website, who finally decrypted and released it. The video (see below) shows the soldiers in the helicopter watching the group of civilians walking casually down the street, and then declaring that one is holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (apparently the camera held by one of the Reuters employees). The helicopter then opens fire on the civilians, killing all but one, who is seen badly wounded as the crew discusses whether or not to kill him. When a van arrives and begins to cart off the wounded or dead bodies, the helicopter attacks it as well, killing several others and wounding two children. One of the voices on the video then glibly remarks that the injuries of the children are the fault of the van driver for “bringing their kids to the battle.”

US officials have confirmed the authenticity of the video but have largely declined comments on the question of why the troops so eagerly attacked the group, let alone attacked the people trying to rescue them. The State Department officially declined comment at today’s press conference, while the Pentagon maintains that the soldiers acted appropriately in the killings and no investigation would be held. At least as troubling is the Pentagon’s unwillingness to explain why, at the time of the killings, they claimed troops were “engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” when the video clearly shows no action at all taken by the civilians in question, who are summarily mowed down by helicopter gunfire and never had a chance to react one way or another.

A retired US intelligence officer speaking about the video on MSNBC said that it appeared to show violations of the military’s rules of engagement and that the soldiers should have made some effort to capture any suspects instead of just killing them en masse. He described the period after the initial firing, in which the troops mull killing the wounded Reuters employee (who is eventually killed when the van is attacked) as particularly disturbing. Though Wikileaks’ release was scheduled well in advance, the release comes at a particularly inopportune time, as the US military is still scrambling to explain away the killings of several civilians (including pregnant women) in an attack on an Afghanistan home. In that case as well, the military lied about a “firefight” which never happened, and even blamed the deaths of the pregnant women on insurgents that were never present at the site.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2010/04/05/wikileaks-releases-video-of-us-copters-killing-iraqi-civilians/

Whistleblowers on US ‘Massacre’ Fear CIA Stalkers

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Activists behind a website dedicated to revealing secret documents have complained of harassment by police and intelligence services as they prepare to release a video showing an American attack in which 97 civilians were killed in Afghanistan. Julian Assange, one of the founders of Wikileaks, has claimed that a restaurant where the group met in Reykjavic, the capital of Iceland, came under surveillance in March and one of the group’s volunteers was detained for 21 hours by police. Assange, an Australian, says he was followed on a flight from Reykjavik to Copenhagen by two American agents. The group has riled governments by publishing documents leaked by whistleblowers.

Last week it released the cockpit recording from an American Apache helicopter as it killed Iraqi civilians, including a Reuters photographer, in Baghdad in 2007. Assange claims surveillance has intensified as he and his colleagues prepare to put out their Afghan film. It is said to concern the so-called “Granai massacre”, when American aircraft dropped 500lb and 1,000lb bombs on a suspected militant compound in Farah province on May 4 last year. Several children were among those killed. In messages on Twitter, the internet social networking site, Assange complained of “covert following and hidden photography” by police and foreign intelligence services. There have been thinly veiled threats, he says, from “an apparent British intelligence agent” in a car park in Luxembourg.

“Computers were also seized,” another member of Wikileaks said on Twitter, raising alarm among supporters with a subsequent post: “If anything happens to us, you know why ... and you know who is responsible.”

Their apprehension is perhaps understandable. America’s defence establishment has made clear that it would like to silence the site. In 2008, the Pentagon produced a report on how to undermine and neutralise Wikileaks. This, too, emerged on the website. Assange, who is believed to be 37, founded Wikileaks three years ago with a group of like-minded computer programmers, academics and activists. The site says it has had more scoops since then than The Washington Post in three decades and has become a global clearing house for sensitive documents. It has exposed crimes from toxic dumping and tax evasion to extrajudicial murders in Kenya.

Assange says the 38-minute Iraqi video broadcast by the group is evidence of “collateral murder” by American forces. It shows a group of Iraqi men being killed by gunfire from the helicopter. A helicopter then shoots at a van arriving to take the bodies away. A crew member is heard saying: “Nice shooting.” When it emerges that two children in the van have been injured, someone else says: “Serves them right for bringing their children into a battle.” The film, in which American forces kill with the seeming detachment of video gamers, has been seen by millions on the internet since it was first aired on Monday. The website, which claims to exist on a shoestring budget, says it has since received more than £100,000 in donations.

America’s military defended the killings, saying no disciplinary action had been taken at the time of the incident. However, Reuters has striven in vain since 2007 to obtain access to the video under freedom of information laws. Broadcasting such a film could expose Wikileaks to prosecution in America but the organisation appears to have put itself beyond the reach of court injunctions by existing only in the digital sphere. There has been speculation that Wikileaks might be part of a sophisticated “psy-ops” campaign by the CIA. If that is the case, says Assange, “I only wish they would step forward with a cheque.”

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7094234.ece

War Crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

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War crimes, massacres, and, as Al Jazeera properly calls it, "collateral murder," are all part of the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. The release last week of the Wikileaks video, thirty-eight grisly minutes long, of US airmen casually slaughtering a dozen Iraqis in 2007 -- including two Reuters newsmen -- puts it into focus not because it shows us something we didn't know, but because we can watch it unfold in real time. Real people, flesh and blood, gunned down from above in a hellish rain of fire. The events in Iraq, nearly three years old, were repeated this week in Afghanistan, when trigger-happy US soldiers slaughtered five Afghans cruising along on a huge, comfortable civilian bus near Kandahar. As the New York Times reports:
"American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar on Monday morning, killing and wounding civilians, and igniting angry anti-American demonstrations in a city where winning over Afghan support is pivotal to the war effort."
The Kandahar incident is only one of many, of course. Over the past year, dozens of Afghans have similarly died in checkpoint and roadside killings. Not one, not a single one, of these murders involved hostile forces. In other words, when the smoke and dust cleared, in all of the cases over the past year the bodies recovered were those of innocents. As General McChrystal himself recently said:
"We really ask a lot of our young service people out on checkpoints because there's danger, they're asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it."
My question is: if so, then why aren't the rules of engagement altered? Why is it that US forces can fire wildly at an approaching vehicle, if in none of the cases that have happened thus far were there hostile forces involved? In the Iraq case, as revealed in the stunning Wikileaks video, a group of eight men on a Baghdad street, in plain sunlight, is shot to pieces under withering fire from above. Then, when a van carrying four or five other men arrives to pick up a wounded man who is crawling painfully along the gutter, the van too is blasted to smithereens when the airmen request permission to "engage." An analysis by Politifact takes apart Secretary of Defense Gates' callous assertion that the murders were "unfortunate" and "should not have any lasting consequences." We've already investigated this, he said, so what's the big deal?

The military's rationale for the slaughter is that US forces a few hundred yards away had taken small arms fire, and so the airmen in the copters circling above concluded that the men they'd seen carrying what they thought were weapons and RPGs -- although the "RPG" turned out to be a cameraman's telephoto lens -- were bad guys who could be shot to pieces at will. There was, of course, no evidence at all that the dozen or so Iraqis butchered were involved in what may or may not have been a shooting incident nearby. But, you know -- war is hell. Politifact, to its discredit, defends Gates on these grounds, quoting David Finkel, a Washington Post reporter and author of The Good Soldiers, who writes in blase defense of the slaughter:
"What's helpful to understand is that, contrary to some interpretations that this was an attack on some people walking down the street on a nice day, the day was anything but that. It happened in the midst of a large operation to clear an area where U.S. soldiers had been getting shot at, injured, and killed with increasing frequency. What the Reuters guys walked into was the very worst part, where the morning had been a series of RPG attacks and running gun battles.
"More context. You're seeing an edited version of the video. The full video runs much longer. And it doesn't have the benefit of hindsight, in this case zooming in on the van and seeing those two children. The helicopters were perhaps a mile away. And as all of this unfolded, it was unclear to the soldiers involved whether the van was a van of good Samaritans or of insurgents showing up to rescue a wounded comrade. I bring these things up not to excuse the soldiers but to emphasize some of the real-time blurriness of those moments.
"If you were to see the full video, you would see a person carrying an RPG launcher as he walked down the street as part of the group. Another was armed as well, as I recall. Also, if you had the unfortunate luck to be on site afterwards, you would have seen that one of the dead in the group was lying on top of a launcher. Because of that and some other things, EOD -- the Hurt Locker guys, I guess -- had to come in and secure the site. And again, I'm not trying to excuse what happened. But there was more to it for you to consider than what was in the released video."
Finkel, who apparently is not going to write a sequel to his book called The Bad Soldiers, cavelierly dismisses the deaths of a dozen Iraqis as something that happens in the "real-time blurriness of those moments." In Afghanistan, the repeated killings of innocent civilians has angered an embittered President Karzai, who has strongly and repeatedly condemned the killings of Afghan citizens by American troops. In a Washington Post story today, "Shooting by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan fuels Karzai's anger," the paper reports:
"Twelve days before President Hamid Karzai denounced the behavior of Western countries in Afghanistan, he met a 4-year-old boy at the Tarin Kowt civilian hospital in the south.
"The boy had lost his legs in a February airstrike by U.S. Special Operations forces helicopters that killed more than 20 civilians. Karzai scooped him up from his mattress and walked out to the hospital courtyard, according to three witnesses. 'Who injured you?' the president asked as helicopters passed overhead. The boy, crying alongside his relatives, pointed at the sky.
"The tears and rage Karzai encountered in that hospital in Uruzgan province lingered with him, according to several aides. It was one provocation amid a string of recent political disappointments that they said has helped fuel the president's emotional outpouring against the West and prompted a brief crisis in his relations with the United States. It was also a reminder that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have political reverberations far beyond the sites of the killings."
But I suppose Finkel can justify that one, too.

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/13-3

Covering up US War Crimes

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The US mass media "reports", the style, content and especially the language, echo their Nazi predecessors of 70 years ago to an uncanny degree. Coincidence? Of course! In both instances we have imperialist armies conquering countries, levelling cities and slaughtering civilians — and the mass media, private in form, state appendages in practice, disseminate the most outrageous lies, in defense and praise of the conquering "storm troopers" — call them SS or marines.

Both in Nazi Germany and contemporary US, we are told by the mass media that the invading armies are "freeing the country" of "foreign fighters" and "armed terrorists", who are preventing "the people" from going about their everyday lives. Yet we know that of the 1000 prisoners there are only four foreigners (three Iranians and one Arab); Iraqi hospitals report less than 10% of casualties are foreign fighters. In other words, over 90% of the fighters are Iraqis — most of whom were born, educated and raised families in the cities in which they are fighting.

Like the Nazi media, the major US radio and TV networks only report what they call "military casualties" — failing to report the civilians killed since the war started and the thousands of women and children killed and wounded since the assault on Fallujah began.

Like in Nazi Germany, the US mass media feature unconfirmed reports by the US military of the bloody murders, beheadings and kidnappings "by the foreign terrorists". The unconditional support of Nazi/US mass media for the killing fields is best captured in their reports of the massive bombing of densely populated city districts. For the US network NBC, the dropping of 500-pound bombs in the city of Fallujah is described as targeting an "insurgent tunnel network in the city". And the houses, markets, stores — the mothers and children above those tunnels — vaporised into "pink mist", their existence never acknowledged by the leading reporters and broadcasters.

Almost the entire population of non-Kurdish Iraq is opposed to the US military and its puppet regime — yet the media refer to the patriots defending their country from the imperial invaders as "insurgents", minimising the significance of a nationwide patriotic liberation movement. One of the most surreal euphemisms is the constant reference to the "coalition forces" — meaning the US colonial conquerors and the mercenaries and satraps that they direct and control.

The terror bombing of homes, hospitals and religious buildings by hundreds of airplanes and helicopter gunships is described by the media as "securing the city for free elections".

"Freeing the city of insurgents" includes the systematic murder of friends, neighbours and relatives of every Iraqi living in the city of Fallujah. "Surrounding the insurgents" means cutting off water, electricity and medical aid for 200,000 civilians in the city and putting tens of thousands who fled under threat of a typhoid epidemic. "Pacifying the city" involves turning it to absolute desolate poisoned rubble.

Why do Washington and the mass media resort to gross, systematic lying and euphemisms? Basically to reinforce mass support at home for mass murder in Iraq. The mass media fabricates a web of lies to secure a gloss of legitimacy for totalitarian methods in order that the US armed forces can continue to destroy cities with impunity.

The technique perfected by Goebbels in Germany and practiced in the US is to repeat lies and euphemisms until they become accepted "truths", and embedded in everyday language. The mass media by effectively routinising a common language implicates the listeners. The tactical concerns of the generals, the commanders directing the slaughter (pacification), and the soldiers murdering civilians are explained (and consumed by the millions listening and watching) by the unchallenged authorities to the compliant journalists and famous news anchors.

The unity of purpose between the agents of mass murder and everyday US public is established via "news reports": The soldiers "paint the names" of their wives and sweethearts on the tanks and armoured vehicles that destroy Iraqi families and turn Fallujah into ruins. Returning soldiers from Iraq are "interviewed" who want to return to "be with their platoon" and "wipe out the terrorists".

Not all of US combat forces experienced the joys of shooting civilians. Medical studies report that one out of five returning soldiers are suffering from severe psychological trauma, no doubt from witnessing or participating in the mass killing of civilians. The family of one returned soldier, who recently committed suicide, reported that he constantly referred to his killing of an unarmed child in the streets of Iraq — calling himself a "murderer".

Aside from these notable exceptions, the mass propaganda media practise several techniques, which assuage the "conscience" of US soldiers and civilians. One technique is "role reversal" to attribute the crimes of the invading force to the victims: It is not the soldiers who cause destruction of cities and murder, but the Iraqi families who 'protect the terrorists' and "bring upon themselves the savage bombardment".

The second technique is to only report US casualties from "terrorist bombs" — to omit any mention of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by US bombs and artillery. Both Nazi and US propaganda glorify the "heroism", "success" of their elite forces (the SS and the Marines) — in killing "terrorists" or "insurgents" — every dead civilian is counted as a "suspected terrorist sympathiser".

The US and German military have declared every civilian building a "storehouse" or "hiding place" for "terrorists'—hence the absolutely total disregard of all the Geneva laws of warfare. The US and Nazi practice of 'total war' in which whole communities, neighbourhoods and entire cities are collectively guilty of shielding 'wanted terrorists'—is of course the standard operating military procedure of the Israeli government.

The US publicises the cruel and unusual punishment of Iraqi "suspects" (any male between 14 and 60 years old) taken prisoner: photos appear in Time and Newsweek of barefoot, blindfolded and bound young men led from their homes and pushed into trucks to be taken to "exploitation centres" for interrogation. For many in the US public these pictures are part of the success story — they are told these are the "terrorists" who would blow up US homes.

For the majority who voted for US President George Bush, the mass propaganda media has taught them to believe that the extermination of scores of thousands of Iraqi citizens is in their best interests: they can sleep sound, as long as "our boys" kill them "over there".

Above all the mass propaganda media has done everything possible to deny Iraqi national consciousness. Every day in every way the reference is to religious loyalties, ethnic identities, past political labels, "tribal" and family clans. The purpose is to divide and conquer, and to present the world with a "chaotic" Iraq in which the only coherent, stable force is the US colonial regime. The purpose of the savage colonial assaults and the political labelling is to destroy the idea of the Iraqi nation — and in its place to substitute a series of mini-entities run by imperial satraps obedient to Washington.

Sunday morning: November 14. Today Fallujah is being raped and razed, captured. Wounded prisoners are shot in the mosques. In New York, the mega-malls are crowded with shoppers. Sunday afternoon: the Marines have blocked food, water and medicine from entering Fallujah. Throughout the US millions of men sit in front of the television watching football.

Shirer reported that, while the Nazis invaded and ravaged Belgium and bombed Rotterdam, in Berlin the cafes were full, the symphony played and people walked their dogs in the park on sunny Sunday afternoons.

Yes, there are differences between Shirer's account of Nazi propaganda in defense of the conquest of Europe and the US media's apology for the invasion of Iraq and Israel's slaughter of the Palestinians: One is committed in the name of the Fuehrer and the Fatherland, the other in the name of God and Democracy. Go tell that to the bloated corpses gnawed by dogs in the ruins of Fallujah.

Source: http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/30903

Torture at Abu Ghraib

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In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.

In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks. The coalition authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, and toilets, showers, and a new medical center added. Abu Ghraib was now a U.S. military prison. Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces.

Last June, Janis Karpinski, an Army reserve brigadier general, was named commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and put in charge of military prisons in Iraq. General Karpinski, the only female commander in the war zone, was an experienced operations and intelligence officer who had served with the Special Forces and in the 1991 Gulf War, but she had never run a prison system. Now she was in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists, most of whom, like her, had no training in handling prisoners.

General Karpinski, who had wanted to be a soldier since she was five, is a business consultant in civilian life, and was enthusiastic about her new job. In an interview last December with the St. Petersburg Times, she said that, for many of the Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib, “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned that they wouldn’t want to leave.”

A month later, General Karpinski was formally admonished and quietly suspended, and a major investigation into the Army’s prison system, authorized by Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior commander in Iraq, was under way. A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing:

Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”

The photographs—several of which were broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes 2” last week—show leering G.I.s taunting naked Iraqi prisoners who are forced to assume humiliating poses. Six suspects—Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, known as Chip, who was the senior enlisted man; Specialist Charles A. Graner; Sergeant Javal Davis; Specialist Megan Ambuhl; Specialist Sabrina Harman; and Private Jeremy Sivits—are now facing prosecution in Iraq, on charges that include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty toward prisoners, maltreatment, assault, and indecent acts. A seventh suspect, Private Lynndie England, was reassigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after becoming pregnant.

The photographs tell it all. In one, Private England, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, is giving a jaunty thumbs-up sign and pointing at the genitals of a young Iraqi, who is naked except for a sandbag over his head, as he masturbates. Three other hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners are shown, hands reflexively crossed over their genitals. A fifth prisoner has his hands at his sides. In another, England stands arm in arm with Specialist Graner; both are grinning and giving the thumbs-up behind a cluster of perhaps seven naked Iraqis, knees bent, piled clumsily on top of each other in a pyramid. There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded.

Such dehumanization is unacceptable in any culture, but it is especially so in the Arab world. Homosexual acts are against Islamic law and it is humiliating for men to be naked in front of other men, Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said.

Two Iraqi faces that do appear in the photographs are those of dead men. There is the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice. There is a photograph of an empty room, splattered with blood.

The 372nd’s abuse of prisoners seemed almost routine—a fact of Army life that the soldiers felt no need to hide. On April 9th, at an Article 32 hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury) in the case against Sergeant Frederick, at Camp Victory, near Baghdad, one of the witnesses, Specialist Matthew Wisdom, an M.P., told the courtroom what happened when he and other soldiers delivered seven prisoners, hooded and bound, to the so-called “hard site” at Abu Ghraib—seven tiers of cells where the inmates who were considered the most dangerous were housed. The men had been accused of starting a riot in another section of the prison. Wisdom said:

SFC Snider grabbed my prisoner and threw him into a pile. . . . I do not think it was right to put them in a pile. I saw SSG Frederic, SGT Davis and CPL Graner walking around the pile hitting the prisoners. I remember SSG Frederick hitting one prisoner in the side of its [sic] ribcage. The prisoner was no danger to SSG Frederick. . . . I left after that. When he returned later, Wisdom testified:

I saw two naked detainees, one masturbating to another kneeling with its mouth open. I thought I should just get out of there. I didn’t think it was right . . . I saw SSG Frederick walking towards me, and he said, “Look what these animals do when you leave them alone for two seconds.” I heard PFC England shout out, “He’s getting hard.” Wisdom testified that he told his superiors what had happened, and assumed that “the issue was taken care of.” He said, “I just didn’t want to be part of anything that looked criminal.”

The abuses became public because of the outrage of Specialist Joseph M. Darby, an M.P. whose role emerged during the Article 32 hearing against Chip Frederick. A government witness, Special Agent Scott Bobeck, who is a member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, or C.I.D., told the court, according to an abridged transcript made available to me, “The investigation started after SPC Darby . . . got a CD from CPL Graner. . . . He came across pictures of naked detainees.” Bobeck said that Darby had “initially put an anonymous letter under our door, then he later came forward and gave a sworn statement. He felt very bad about it and thought it was very wrong.”

Questioned further, the Army investigator said that Frederick and his colleagues had not been given any “training guidelines” that he was aware of. The M.P.s in the 372nd had been assigned to routine traffic and police duties upon their arrival in Iraq, in the spring of 2003. In October of 2003, the 372nd was ordered to prison-guard duty at Abu Ghraib. Frederick, at thirty-seven, was far older than his colleagues, and was a natural leader; he had also worked for six years as a guard for the Virginia Department of Corrections. Bobeck explained:

What I got is that SSG Frederick and CPL Graner were road M.P.s and were put in charge because they were civilian prison guards and had knowledge of how things were supposed to be run. Bobeck also testified that witnesses had said that Frederick, on one occasion, “had punched a detainee in the chest so hard that the detainee almost went into cardiac arrest.”

At the Article 32 hearing, the Army informed Frederick and his attorneys, Captain Robert Shuck, an Army lawyer, and Gary Myers, a civilian, that two dozen witnesses they had sought, including General Karpinski and all of Frederick’s co-defendants, would not appear. Some had been excused after exercising their Fifth Amendment right; others were deemed to be too far away from the courtroom. “The purpose of an Article 32 hearing is for us to engage witnesses and discover facts,” Gary Myers told me. “We ended up with a c.i.d. agent and no alleged victims to examine.” After the hearing, the presiding investigative officer ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convene a court-martial against Frederick.

Myers, who was one of the military defense attorneys in the My Lai prosecutions of the nineteen-seventies, told me that his client’s defense will be that he was carrying out the orders of his superiors and, in particular, the directions of military intelligence. He said, “Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?”

In letters and e-mails to family members, Frederick repeatedly noted that the military-intelligence teams, which included C.I.A. officers and linguists and interrogation specialists from private defense contractors, were the dominant force inside Abu Ghraib. In a letter written in January, he said:
 
I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell—and the answer I got was, “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.” . . . . MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days.


The military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information,” Frederick wrote. “CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI’s request.” At one point, Frederick told his family, he pulled aside his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, and asked about the mistreatment of prisoners. “His reply was ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

In November, Frederick wrote, an Iraqi prisoner under the control of what the Abu Ghraib guards called “O.G.A.,” or other government agencies—that is, the C.I.A. and its paramilitary employees—was brought to his unit for questioning. “They stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. They put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately twenty-four hours in the shower. . . . The next day the medics came and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away.” The dead Iraqi was never entered into the prison’s inmate-control system, Frederick recounted, “and therefore never had a number.”

Frederick’s defense is, of course, highly self-serving. But the complaints in his letters and e-mails home were reinforced by two internal Army reports—Taguba’s and one by the Army’s chief law-enforcement officer, Provost Marshal Donald Ryder, a major general.

Last fall, General Sanchez ordered Ryder to review the prison system in Iraq and recommend ways to improve it. Ryder’s report, filed on November 5th, concluded that there were potential human-rights, training, and manpower issues, system-wide, that needed immediate attention. It also discussed serious concerns about the tension between the missions of the military police assigned to guard the prisoners and the intelligence teams who wanted to interrogate them. Army regulations limit intelligence activity by the M.P.s to passive collection. But something had gone wrong at Abu Ghraib.
There was evidence dating back to the Afghanistan war, the Ryder report said, that M.P.s had worked with intelligence operatives to “set favorable conditions for subsequent interviews”—a euphemism for breaking the will of prisoners. “Such actions generally run counter to the smooth operation of a detention facility, attempting to maintain its population in a compliant and docile state.” General Karpinski’s brigade, Ryder reported, “has not been directed to change its facility procedures to set the conditions for MI interrogations, nor participate in those interrogations.” Ryder called for the establishment of procedures to “define the role of military police soldiers . . .clearly separating the actions of the guards from those of the military intelligence personnel.” The officers running the war in Iraq were put on notice.

Ryder undercut his warning, however, by concluding that the situation had not yet reached a crisis point. Though some procedures were flawed, he said, he found “no military police units purposely applying inappropriate confinement practices.” His investigation was at best a failure and at worst a coverup.

Taguba, in his report, was polite but direct in refuting his fellow-general. “Unfortunately, many of the systemic problems that surfaced during [Ryder’s] assessment are the very same issues that are the subject of this investigation,” he wrote. “In fact, many of the abuses suffered by detainees occurred during, or near to, the time of that assessment.” The report continued, “Contrary to the findings of MG Ryder’s report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to ‘set the conditions’ for MI interrogations.” Army intelligence officers, C.I.A. agents, and private contractors “actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.”

Taguba backed up his assertion by citing evidence from sworn statements to Army C.I.D. investigators. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused M.P.s, testified that it was her job to keep detainees awake, including one hooded prisoner who was placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes, and penis. She stated, “MI wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner and Frederick’s job to do things for MI and OGA to get these people to talk.”

Another witness, Sergeant Javal Davis, who is also one of the accused, told C.I.D. investigators, “I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section . . . being made to do various things that I would question morally. . . . We were told that they had different rules.” Taguba wrote, “Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said he stated: ‘Loosen this guy up for us.’ ‘Make sure he has a bad night.’ ‘Make sure he gets the treatment.’ ” Military intelligence made these comments to Graner and Frederick, Davis said. “The MI staffs to my understanding have been giving Graner compliments . . . statements like, ‘Good job, they’re breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They’re giving out good information.’ ”

When asked why he did not inform his chain of command about the abuse, Sergeant Davis answered, “Because I assumed that if they were doing things out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also the wing”—where the abuse took place—“belongs to MI and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse.”

Another witness, Specialist Jason Kennel, who was not accused of wrongdoing, said, “I saw them nude, but MI would tell us to take away their mattresses, sheets, and clothes.” (It was his view, he added, that if M.I. wanted him to do this “they needed to give me paperwork.”) Taguba also cited an interview with Adel L. Nakhla, a translator who was an employee of Titan, a civilian contractor. He told of one night when a “bunch of people from MI” watched as a group of handcuffed and shackled inmates were subjected to abuse by Graner and Frederick.

General Taguba saved his harshest words for the military-intelligence officers and private contractors. He recommended that Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of one of the M.I. brigades, be reprimanded and receive non-judicial punishment, and that Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the former director of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, be relieved of duty and reprimanded. He further urged that a civilian contractor, Steven Stephanowicz, of CACI International, be fired from his Army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen “who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by ‘setting conditions’ which were neither authorized” nor in accordance with Army regulations. “He clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse,” Taguba wrote. He also recommended disciplinary action against a second CACI employee, John Israel. (A spokeswoman for CACI said that the company had “received no formal communication” from the Army about the matter.)

“I suspect,” Taguba concluded, that Pappas, Jordan, Stephanowicz, and Israel “were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib,” and strongly recommended immediate disciplinary action.

The problems inside the Army prison system in Iraq were not hidden from senior commanders. During Karpinski’s seven-month tour of duty, Taguba noted, there were at least a dozen officially reported incidents involving escapes, attempted escapes, and other serious security issues that were investigated by officers of the 800th M.P. Brigade. Some of the incidents had led to the killing or wounding of inmates and M.P.s, and resulted in a series of “lessons learned” inquiries within the brigade. Karpinski invariably approved the reports and signed orders calling for changes in day-to-day procedures. But Taguba found that she did not follow up, doing nothing to insure that the orders were carried out. Had she done so, he added, “cases of abuse may have been prevented.”

General Taguba further found that Abu Ghraib was filled beyond capacity, and that the M.P. guard force was significantly undermanned and short of resources. “This imbalance has contributed to the poor living conditions, escapes, and accountability lapses,” he wrote. There were gross differences, Taguba said, between the actual number of prisoners on hand and the number officially recorded. A lack of proper screening also meant that many innocent Iraqis were wrongly being detained—indefinitely, it seemed, in some cases. The Taguba study noted that more than sixty per cent of the civilian inmates at Abu Ghraib were deemed not to be a threat to society, which should have enabled them to be released. Karpinski’s defense, Taguba said, was that her superior officers “routinely” rejected her recommendations regarding the release of such prisoners.

Karpinski was rarely seen at the prisons she was supposed to be running, Taguba wrote. He also found a wide range of administrative problems, including some that he considered “without precedent in my military career.” The soldiers, he added, were “poorly prepared and untrained . . . prior to deployment, at the mobilization site, upon arrival in theater, and throughout the mission.”

General Taguba spent more than four hours interviewing Karpinski, whom he described as extremely emotional: “What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers.”

Taguba recommended that Karpinski and seven brigade military-police officers and enlisted men be relieved of command and formally reprimanded. No criminal proceedings were suggested for Karpinski; apparently, the loss of promotion and the indignity of a public rebuke were seen as enough punishment.

After the story broke on CBS last week, the Pentagon announced that Major General Geoffrey Miller, the new head of the Iraqi prison system, had arrived in Baghdad and was on the job. He had been the commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center. General Sanchez also authorized an investigation into possible wrongdoing by military and civilian interrogators.

As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

The mistreatment at Abu Ghraib may have done little to further American intelligence, however. Willie J. Rowell, who served for thirty-six years as a C.I.D. agent, told me that the use of force or humiliation with prisoners is invariably counterproductive. “They’ll tell you what you want to hear, truth or no truth,” Rowell said. “ ‘You can flog me until I tell you what I know you want me to say.’ You don’t get righteous information.”

Under the fourth Geneva convention, an occupying power can jail civilians who pose an “imperative” security threat, but it must establish a regular procedure for insuring that only civilians who remain a genuine security threat be kept imprisoned. Prisoners have the right to appeal any internment decision and have their cases reviewed. Human Rights Watch complained to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that civilians in Iraq remained in custody month after month with no charges brought against them. Abu Ghraib had become, in effect, another Guantánamo.

As the photographs from Abu Ghraib make clear, these detentions have had enormous consequences: for the imprisoned civilian Iraqis, many of whom had nothing to do with the growing insurgency; for the integrity of the Army; and for the United States’ reputation in the world.

Captain Robert Shuck, Frederick’s military attorney, closed his defense at the Article 32 hearing last month by saying that the Army was “attempting to have these six soldiers atone for its sins.” Similarly, Gary Myers, Frederick’s civilian attorney, told me that he would argue at the court-martial that culpability in the case extended far beyond his client. “I’m going to drag every involved intelligence officer and civilian contractor I can find into court,” he said. “Do you really believe the Army relieved a general officer because of six soldiers? Not a chance.”

Source: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/10/040510fa_fact?printable=true#ixzz1jHGU2sw5

Study: US Wars Cost $4 Trillion, Killed 258,000

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A new study from Brown University’s Watson Institute has set an estimated that the post 9/11 costs of the assorted wars of the Bush and Obama Administrations has been in the realm of $4 trillion and has directly killed 258,000 people. If this death toll seems a tad low, its because it is. The study readily admits that it is only calculating “direct” kills, and not the indirect deaths from shoddy healthcare, lack of access to food and water, etc in the various occupied nations. The toll includes 137,000 civilians directly killed in Afghanistan and Iraq and notes that there are no reliable figures for the number of civilians killed in Pakistan, but says 35,000 more there is a conservative estimate. The cost of the wars includes direct appropriations as well as the increased liability for long term care for wounded soldiers, etc. It does not include the CIA’s drone wars, because the cost of those is not known.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2011/06/29/study-us-wars-cost-4-trillion-killed-258000/

America’s Peacetime Crimes Against Iraq

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Between the Gulf War and the Iraq War, the United States enforced a comprehensive sanctions policy against the Iraqi people, under the auspices of the United Nations. Whereas the hot conflict of 1990 and the one that has run from March 2003 to this day have occupied American attention, the sanctions, beginning even before Operation Desert Storm and persisting until Shock and Awe, implemented by three presidential administrations, were largely ignored. Trade restrictions simply do not elicit the primetime excitement that bombs and aircraft do. Yet the devastation from depriving a nation of international trade is easily comparable to that of war.

Philosophical, legal, and political lessons

On the eve of the Iraq War, moderate voices for “peace” even insisted that the sanctions were “working” in undermining Saddam’s regime and preventing it from rearming — as though such were worthy U.S. goals in the first place. But putting that question aside, the prospect of all-out war struck many Americans as imprudent, displeasing, perhaps even immoral — even as many of those same Americans defended the sanctions regime and advocated their continuation in lieu of war.

But more principled voices for nonintervention, and those aware of the enormity unleashed by the sanctions, had been protesting them for years. Indeed, as a practical matter, the sanctions ran counter to defending American lives on U.S. soil. Osama bin Laden cited the sanctions on Iraq, among other U.S. policies, as a main motive behind the attacks of September 11. Perhaps no single example of such policies is more horrific than the sustained and systematic destruction of Iraqi economic life — which is to say, Iraqi life — that took place in the “peacetime” era between the two wars. To this day, thanks to the sanctions as well as the wars, the Iraqis have “never [come] close to restoring the standard of living that most Iraqis had up to 1990,” according to Joy Gordon, whose new book, Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, is a powerful and rather comprehensive treatment of the topic.

War by other means

The sanctions began in August 1990, in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. During the actual Gulf War, 160,000 bombs were dropped on Iraqi forces and infrastructure. A UN envoy soon found 75 percent of the water access and 85-90 percent of the electricity infrastructure destroyed. The bombing and sanctions demolished Iraq’s relatively modern economy, turning the nation into a third-world country, and preventing it from recovering. “Between August 1990 and December 1995, food prices increased by 4,000 to 5,000 times.” The result of these policies was mass devastation:
The destruction from the 1991 bombing campaign of electric generating plants, water purification, and sewage treatment facilities resulted in cholera and typhoid epidemics. In 1990 the incidence of typhoid was 11.3 per 100,000 people; by 1994 it was more than 142 per 100,000. In 1989 there were zero cases of cholera per 100,000 people; by 1994 there were 1,344 per 100,000.
Meanwhile, major surgeries fell to “30 percent of the pre-sanctions level.” Most terribly, child mortality rates skyrocketed. Although there is disagreement over the data, “the majority of the studies over the course of the sanctions regime strongly suggest that, for the period from 1990 to 2003 ...at least 500,000” children died of malnutrition and disease who would most likely have otherwise lived.
All in all, “according to 1990 testimony before Congress, the sanctions eliminated 90 percent of Iraq’s imports and 97 percent of its exports. As a result, per capita income went from $3,510 in 1989 to $450 in 1996.” Iraq’s GDP, which had been $54 billion in 1979, sank to $10 billion in 1993.

At first, the goal was to pressure Iraqi forces to retreat from Kuwait. But sometime after the war began, the goal shifted to one of general containment and disarmament — at least as far as the UN Security Council was concerned — while the U.S. government and Britain upheld the more ambitious goal of regime change. That was a bipartisan policy in America. Bill Clinton said in 1993, “There is no difference between my policy and the policy of the [George H.W. Bush] Administration.... I have no intention of normalizing relations with [Saddam Hussein].” And as his secretary of State Madeleine Albright made clear in 1997, “We do not agree ... that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.”

But if the goal was regime change, the policy was virtually destined to fail. Gordon writes, If Saddam Hussein was supposed to be motivated by self-interest, and wanted sanctions to end, then there was no reason for him to comply with the demands of the Security Council, since sanctions could not be removed without U.S. agreement and the United States repeatedly made clear that it would never remove them while Hussein was in power.

In a chapter called “The Magnitude of Catastrophe,” Gordon documents the extent of that destruction and finds that only the combination of war, restrictions on imports, central planning of exports, and a systematic undermining of Iraqi infrastructure could produce the calamity that occurred. The destructive policies, such as the bombing of Iraq’s water treatment facilities and the UN ban on the importation of chlorine, worked together. “Or take, for example, the ceiling on oil exports: once the ceiling on oil sales was lifted, Iraq was blocked from obtaining the equipment necessary to increase oil production. Or consider the blocked contracts for electrical equipment: even if Iraq had been allowed to buy the equipment and chemicals for water and sewage treatment, there was not sufficient electricity to power the plants.” Gordon writes,

The perversity and irony of the sanctions regime, imposed under the auspices of international law, is that it may have done more human damage than Saddam Hussein’s persecution of ethnic groups and human rights combined.
Imperialistic central planning

How did the program work? Initially, the UN forbade all member nations to import any Iraqi goods, and required them to prohibit their nationals from shipping any goods or sending funds to either Iraq or Kuwait. From August 1990 to March 1991, that included food. The program soon came to involve “a labyrinth of UN agencies as well as the establishment of an entirely new agency within the UN.” Beginning in August 1991, Iraq was allowed to export up to $1.6 billion every six months to trade for food and medicine. All humanitarian goods, food, and medical equipment would be purchased through the “661 Committee,” which came to possess “extremely broad responsibilities for the overall implementation of the sanctions regime.” The 661 Committee, made up of 15 delegates, “few of whom had expertise in economic development, emergency relief, oil, or any other of the committee’s substantive areas of work,” made about 6,000 decisions a year about what would be allowed into Iraq. From 1990 to 1995, that was “the sole legal means for Iraq to import any goods.” By 1995, food was so scarce that an Iraqi government rationing program provided “1,100 calories per person per day.”And before Iraq could buy any goods, it would have to present a “distribution plan,” giving a

detailed description of the areas of need in each sector.... The plan then listed every single item to be purchased, how it would be used, and where it would be used: every piece of equipment for electrical production, and the specific power plant where it would go; every chemical or instrument for water treatment, and the specific laboratory or plant where they would be used; every dose of vaccine for poultry and cattle, and every syringe, needle and scissors for veterinarians; and so forth.
Even as Iraqi imports were controlled in this totalitarian manner, so too was its principal export, oil. By determining how much oil could be sold, the United States and UN exercised total domination over the Iraqi economy. Altogether, war and sanctions “meant an 85 percent decline in oil production.” In 1995, the UN set up the Oil-for-Food Program, in response to problems with and criticisms of the initial sanctions regime, but the control was still cruel and becoming of a total state. “The Oil-for-Food Programme originally allowed imports totaling $130 per person per year. Together with existing imports, which averaged $20 per person per year, total imports came to $150, well below the level of the poorest Arab countries.”

Moreover, Iraq never handled any of the funds. The “proceeds of all oil sales were deposited in [a UN] account and all payments to vendors were made from this account.” The U.S. meddling with oil prices through a socialist scheme of “retroactive pricing” also interfered greatly with trade with Iraq. “The chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute asked, ‘How can you do business if you don’t know what the price is?’”


The United States calling the shots



Although done through the UN, the sanctions were essentially a U.S. policy. “The United States exercised singular influence over every aspect of the structure and extent of the sanctions.” The Multinational Interception Force, which enforced the policy, “for its entire history was under the command of U.S. naval officers.” The United States first created the policy by intimidating and bribing member nations to vote for it — offering aid to Colombia, Ethiopia, and Zaire to vote for the sanctions; making deals with China and the Soviet Union; and canceling aid to Yemen for refusing to go along. Then, by exercising its veto power over the implementation of the sanctions, the United States would put a “hold” on various importation contracts — blocking agricultural goods, children’s milk, food-packaging materials, raw cotton, and glue. The United States even “blocked the purchase of salt on the grounds that it could be used for the salinization of leather, which contributed to Iraqi industry.” These holds were at times both absurd and devastating: “Vehicles in general were targeted by the United States on the grounds, for example, that a vehicle that could carry a bulldozer could conceivably be used by the military to carry a tank.... Sixty percent of transportation contracts on hold were for accessories such as tires, car batteries, or spare parts, making it impossible to maintain or repair whatever vehicles there were.”

This “dual use” rationale for blocking items that could supposedly be used for both civilian and military purposes was taken to obscene levels. The United States “blocked a contract for 1,000 water tankers on the grounds that they were lined with stainless steel and therefore were ‘WMD dual use.’” A “catering truck was blocked because it was refrigerated.” Propellant used to make inhalers was disallowed. Vaccines were blocked, because it was supposed to be possible to turn the weak viruses into biological weapons. Pesticides were blocked because “Iraq might extract chemical components ... to make chemical weapons.” Although the UN monitored how imports were used, the United States insisted on blocking such important goods outright. And although the holds were supposedly for security reasons, the United States was willing to reverse itself to benefit nations that went along with its sanctions policy.



All the while, Congress was content to allow the executive branch to handle the sanctions, blindly accepting State Department propaganda and only occasionally speaking up insofar as it concerned the disarmament of Iraq and regime change. Only a few legislators spoke in behalf of the devastated Iraqi people. Gordon provides a very good chapter on congressional dynamics. Of course, even with the Democrats running “both houses of Congress until 1995, for the most part they had little interest in the humanitarian situation.”

The UN itself is to blame as well, but, notably, most other member nations, the elected members of the Security Council, and the humanitarian organizations within the UN tended to protest the policy as framed by the United States and to an extent Britain. UN agencies produced damning reports of the humanitarian disaster. UN secretaries general complained. Starting in 1991, nations such as India, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Cape Verde, and Morocco proposed reforms to allow for more humanitarian aid. In 1999, UN panels issued reports finding that the Oil-for-Food Program could not be sufficiently reformed to deal with the horror. In 2000, delegates from more than 20 nations, at this point even including the United States and Britain, gave presentations urging reform. But at every turn, “the United States either prevented the reforms from being adopted or undermined their implementation after they had been adopted.”


As for the well-publicized Oil-for-Food scandal, Gordon has a whole chapter detailing the facts, showing that the corruption involved was overblown compared with the destruction and corruption of the sanctions policy itself. Even without the Oil-for-Food corruption, the Iraqi people would have been virtually no better off. And even here, the United States is hardly blameless: “By far the greater part of Iraq’s illicit funds came from ongoing trade with Jordan, Turkey, and Syria.... The United States blocked any punitive action by the Council against either Jordan or Turkey.” The amount of misallocated money involved in the scandal was dwarfed, for example, by the waste and mismanagement of Iraqi funds by the Coalition Provisional Authority established by the United States in 2003:

From 1990 to 2003 Iraq averaged about half a billion dollars in illicit trade annually. By contrast, in fourteen months of occupation, the U.S.-led occupation authority depleted $18 billion in funds, a good deal of it on questionable contracts with little justification, but much of it just an outright giveaway of cash.


None of this is to defend the Iraqi government, which Gordon writes about extensively in one chapter. Some people mistakenly place all the blame on Saddam’s regime for its corruption and cruelty; the Iraqi state did exacerbate the problem but not as much as is often believed. “The more serious failings concerned the basic structure and policies of the Iraqi government itself: the centralization, the reliance on oil income, reliance on imports and on foreign professionals, and the reliance on advanced technology.” Indeed, the centralized nature of the Iraqi state and the widespread public dependency upon it meant that its bankruptcy under the sanctions regime impoverished the whole country. Gordon credits the government for some of its rationing and subsidy efforts, but it is telling that one of the effective and positive things the Iraqi government did was to allow “the expansion of the private sector in health care, to compensate for the state’s inability to meet health care needs.”



Gordon finishes with a couple of chapters exploring the implications for international law and political and ethical philosophy. Libertarians will not be overimpressed by the sanctions’ incompatibility with UN guarantees such as the “right to health care,” but they will find very compelling the discussion of the Geneva Convention, war crimes, and the like. Gordon finds little legal recourse for the Iraqi people in the form of prosecution or judicial oversight of the Security Council. The sanctions, she concludes, probably do not rise to the level of “genocide” or “a crime against humanity” — “but it seems to me this does not constitute a vindication of the sanctions, but rather a failure of international law.” She comes to a rather encouraging libertarian conclusion: “It may be that, in the end, there is a particular risk posed to humanity by international governance,” whose institutions “entail the risk of a new form of global violence.”



But there is so much to learn from this tragic and disgusting episode. Conservatives need to recognize that totalitarianism and socialistic central planning are indeed not just an abstract threat under the banner of the Democratic Party, but are a reality of U.S. policy, especially as it concerns foreign affairs. They must come to grips with the evil and systematic destruction and terror that are unleashed in the name of U.S. national security upon innocent people in other countries. Liberals should learn that central economic control and restrictions of free trade contain the seeds for near-genocidal levels of cruelty and oppression; that allowing international bodies to govern trade is far from a panacea but is rather a tool of imperialism; that no political party and no state — American, international, or Iraqi — can be trusted not to put political interests above the human right to engage in economic exchange. The Iraqis have been brutalized by the U.S. government for 20 years now, and neither their own government, for all its monopolization of public services, nor the United Nations, for all its high rhetoric, has done much other than worsen their misery. The rest of us can learn about the extent of death and destruction meted out by our own government, in our own name, and come to see why so many in the world would hate us and be willing to kill us — not for our freedom, but for Washington, D.C.’s, war on the freedom of others. Invisible War is a very important book about a very important topic, a topic at risk of being neglected and forgotten, as have so many other atrocities committed by the U.S. empire.

Source: http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd1009f.a

UN Says Sanctions Have Killed Some 500,000 Iraqi Children

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Anupama Rao Singh, country director for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), made the estimate in an interview with Reuters. "In absolute terms we estimate that perhaps about half a million children under 5 years of age have died, who ordinarily would not have died had the decline in mortality that was prevalent over the 70s and the 80s continued through the 90s,'' she said. A senior U.N. official said Friday about half a million children under the age of 5 have died in Iraq since the imposition of U.N. sanctions 10 years ago.

A UNICEF survey published in August showed the mortality rate among Iraqi children under 5 had more than doubled in the government-controlled south and center of Iraq during the sanctions. Baghdad said the UNICEF survey proved that the sanctions were killing thousands of children every month and called for an immediate end to the embargo. Rao Sigh blamed malnutrition for the high mortality rate among children.

"Nutrition was not a public health problem in Iraq in the 80s. It emerged as a major problem in the 90s and it increased steadily till about 1996,'' Singh said. She said since the start of the U.N. oil-for-food program, malnutrition rates among children had stabilized, but death rates remained extremely high.

"One in four children below 5 suffers from some form of malnutrition or other and most of them are chronically malnourished,'' Rao Singh said. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq as punishment for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, although the United Nations has allowed Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. Rao Singh said the sanctions also have affected the quality of education, with many children forced to leave schools to hustle a living on the streets.

"There has been a drop in enrollment, an increase in drop- outs ... children working, children in the street -- all of which, we believe, is going to affect the quality of human resources that Iraq will have in the future,'' she said. According to Rao Singh, the sanctions have caused massive impoverishment except for a small proportion of the elite. ``The majority of middle class people in Iraq, for instance, now find themselves having to do all sorts of mean and insecure jobs to survive,'' she said.
Horror Of US Depleted Uranium In Iraq Threatens World
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"I'm horrified. The people out there - the Iraqis, the media and the troops - risk the most appalling ill health. And the radiation from depleted uranium can travel literally anywhere. It's going to destroy the lives of thousands of children, all over the world. We all know how far radiation can travel. Radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales and in Britain you sometimes get red dust from the Sahara on your car."
 
The speaker is not some alarmist doom-sayer. He is Dr. Chris Busby, the British radiation expert, Fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine and UK representative on the European Committee on Radiation Risk, talking about the best-kept secret of this war: the fact that, by illegally using hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) against Iraq, Britain and America have gravely endangered not only the Iraqis but the whole world.
 
For these weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that-whipped up by sandstorms and carried on trade winds - there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate-including Britain. For the wind has no boundaries and time is on their side: the radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years and can cause cancer, leukemia, brain damage, kidney failure, and extreme birth defects - killing millions of every age for centuries to come. A crime against humanity which may, in the eyes of historians, rank with the worst atrocities of all time.
 
These weapons have released deadly, carcinogenic and mutagenic, radioactive particles in such abundance that there is no corner of the globe they cannot penetrate - including Britain. Yet, officially, no crime has been committed. For this story is a dirty story in which the facts have been concealed from those who needed them most. It is also a story we need to know if the people of Iraq are to get the medical care they desperately need, and if our troops, returning from Iraq, are not to suffer as terribly as the veterans of other conflicts in which depleted uranium was used.
 
A Dirty Tyson
 
'Depleted' uranium is in many ways a misnomer. For 'depleted' sounds weak. The only weak thing about depleted uranium is its price. It is dirt cheap, toxic, waste from nuclear power plants and bomb production. However, uranium is one of earth's heaviest elements and DU packs a Tyson's punch, smashing through tanks, buildings and bunkers with equal ease, spontaneously catching fire as it does so, and burning people alive. 'Crispy critters' is what US servicemen call those unfortunate enough to be close. And, when John Pilger encountered children killed at a greater distance he wrote: "The children's skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight ahead. I vomited." (Daily Mirror)
 
The millions of radioactive uranium oxide particles released when it burns can kill just as surely, but far more terribly. They can even be so tiny they pass through a gas mask, making protection against them impossible. Yet, small is not beautiful. For these invisible killers indiscriminately attack men, women, children and even babies in the womb-and do the gravest harm of all to children and unborn babies.
 
A Terrible Legacy
 
Doctors in Iraq have estimated that birth defects have increased by 2-6 times, and 3-12 times as many children have developed cancer and leukaemia since 1991. Moreover, a report published in The Lancet in 1998 said that as many as 500 children a day are dying from these sequels to war and sanctions and that the death rate for Iraqi children under 5 years of age increased from 23 per 1000 in 1989 to 166 per thousand in 1993. Overall, cases of lymphoblastic leukemia more than quadrupled with other cancers also increasing 'at an alarming rate'. In men, lung, bladder, bronchus, skin, and stomach cancers showed the highest increase. In women, the highest increases were in breast and bladder cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.1
 
On hearing that DU had been used in the Gulf in 1991, the UK Atomic Energy Authority sent the Ministry of Defense a special report on the potential damage to health and the environment. It said that it could cause half a million additional cancer deaths in Iraq over 10 years. In that war the authorities only admitted to using 320 tons of DU-although the Dutch charity LAKA estimates the true figure is closer to 800 tons. Many times that may have been spread across Iraq by this year's war. The devastating damage all this DU will do to the health and fertility of the people of Iraq now, and for generations to come, is beyond imagining.
 
The radioactivity persists for over 4,500,000,000 years killing millions of every age for centuries to come. This is a crime against humanity which may rank with the worst atrocities of all time.
 
We must also count the numberless thousands of miscarried babies. Nobody knows how many Iraqis have died in the womb since DU contaminated their world. But it is suggested that troops who were only exposed to DU for the brief period of the war were still excreting uranium in their semen 8 years later and some had 100 times the so-called 'safe limit' of uranium in their urine. The lack of government interest in the plight of veterans of the 1991 war is reflected in a lack of academic research on the impact of DU but informal research has found a high incidence of birth defects in their children and that the wives of men who served in Iraq have three times more miscarriages than the wives of servicemen who did not go there.
 
Since DU darkened the land Iraq has seen birth defects which would break a heart of stone: babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, with their intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumors where their eyes should be, or with a single eye-like Cyclops, or without eyes, or without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test sites in the Pacific. Doctors report that many women no longer say 'Is it a girl or a boy?' but simply, 'Is it normal, doctor?' Moreover this terrible legacy will not end. The genes of their parents may have been damaged for ever, and the damaging DU dust is ever-present.
 
Blue on Blue
 
What the governments of America and Britain have done to the people of Iraq they have also done to their own soldiers, in both wars. And they have done it knowingly. For the battlefields have been thick with DU and soldiers have had to enter areas heavily contaminated by bombing. Moreover, their bodies have not only been assaulted by DU but also by a vaccination regime which violated normal protocols, experimental vaccines, nerve agent pills, and organophosphate pesticides in their tents. Yet, though the hazards of DU were known, British and American troops were not warned of its dangers. Nor were they given thorough medical checks on their return-even though identifying it quickly might have made it possible to remove some of it from their body. Then, when a growing number became seriously ill, and should have been sent to top experts in radiation damage and neurotoxins, many were sent to a psychiatrist.
 
Over 200,000 US troops who returned from the 1991 war are now invalided out with ailments officially attributed to service in Iraq-that's 1 in 3. In contrast, the British government's failure to fully assess the health of returning troops, or to monitor their health, means no one even knows how many have died or become gravely ill since their return. However, Gulf veterans' associations say that, of 40,000 or so fighting fit men and women who saw active service, at least 572 have died prematurely since coming home and 5000 may be ill. An alarming number are thought to have taken their own lives, unable to bear the torment of the innumerable ailments which have combined to take away their career, their sexuality, their ability to have normal children, and even their ability to breathe or walk normally. As one veteran puts it, they are 'on DU death row, waiting to die'.
 
Whatever other factors there may be, some of their illnesses are strikingly similar to those of Iraqis exposed to DU dust. For example, soldiers have also fathered children without eyes. And, in a group of eight servicemen whose babies lack eyes seven are known to have been directly exposed to DU dust.
 
They too have fathered children with stunted arms, and rare abnormalities classically associated with radiation damage. They too seem prone to cancer and leukemia. Tellingly, so are EU soldiers who served as peacekeepers in the Balkans, where DU was also used. Indeed their leukemia rate has been so high that several EU governments have protested at the use of DU.
 
The Vital Evidence
 
Despite all that evidence of the harm done by DU, governments on both sides of the Atlantic have repeatedly claimed that as it emits only 'low level' radiation DU is harmless. Award-winning scientist, Dr. Rosalie Bertell who has led UN medical commissions, has studied 'low-level' radiation for 30 years. 2 She has found that uranium oxide particles have more than enough power to harm cells, and describes their pulses of radiation as hitting surrounding cells 'like flashes of lightning' again and again in a single second.2 Like many scientists worldwide who have studied this type of radiation, she has found that such 'lightning strikes' can damage DNA and cause cell mutations which lead to cancer.
 
Moreover, these particles can be taken up by body fluids and travel through the body, damaging more than one organ. To compound all that, Dr. Bertell has found that this particular type of radiation can cause the body's communication systems to break down, leading to malfunctions in many vital organs of the body and to many medical problems. A striking fact, since many veterans of the first Gulf war suffer from innumerable, seemingly unrelated, ailments.
 
In addition, recent research by Eric Wright, Professor of Experimental Haematology at Dundee University, and others, have shown two ways in which such radiation can do far more damage than has been thought. The first is that a cell which seems unharmed by radiation can produce cells with diverse mutations several cell generations later. (And mutations are at the root of cancer and birth defects.) This 'radiation-induced genomic instability' is compounded by 'the bystander effect' by which cells mutate in unison with others which have been damaged by radiation-rather as birds swoop and turn in unison. Put together, these two mechanisms can greatly increase the damage done by a single source of radiation, such as a DU particle. Moreover, it is now clear that there are marked genetic differences in the way individuals respond to radiation-with some being far more likely to develop cancer than others. So the fact that some veterans of the first Gulf war seem relatively unharmed by their exposure to DU in no way proves that DU did not damage others.
 
The Price of Truth
 
That the evidence from Iraq and from our troops, and the research findings of such experts, have been ignored may be no accident. A US report, leaked in late 1995, allegedly says, 'The potential for health effects from DU exposure is real; however it must be viewed in perspective... the financial implications of long-term disability payments and healthcare costs would be excessive.'3
 
Clearly, with hundreds of thousands gravely ill in Iraq and at least a quarter of a million UK and US troops seriously ill, huge disability claims might be made not only against the governments of Britain and America if the harm done by DU were acknowledged. There might also be huge claims against companies making DU weapons and some of their directors are said to be extremely close to the White House. How close they are to Downing Street is a matter for speculation, but arms sales makes a considerable contribution to British trade. So the massive whitewashing of DU over the past 12 years, and the way that governments have failed to test returning troops, seemed to disbelieve them, and washed their hands of them, may be purely to save money.
 
The possibility that financial considerations have led the governments of Britain and America to cynically avoid taking responsibility for the harm they have done not only to the people of Iraq but to their own troops may seem outlandish. Yet DU weapons weren't used by the other side and no other explanation fits the evidence. For, in the days before Britain and America first used DU in war its hazards were no secret.4 One American study in 1990 said DU was 'linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and to] chemical toxicity-causing kidney damage'. While another openly warned that exposure to these particles under battlefield conditions could lead to cancers of the lung and bone, kidney damage, non-malignant lung disease, neuro-cognitive disorders, chromosomal damage and birth defects.5
 
A Culture of Denial
 
In 1996 and 1997 UN Human Rights Tribunals condemned DU weapons for illegally breaking the Geneva Convention and classed them as 'weapons of mass destruction' 'incompatible with international humanitarian and human rights law'. Since then, following leukemia in European peacekeeping troops in the Balkans and Afghanistan (where DU was also used), the EU has twice called for DU weapons to be banned.
 
Yet, far from banning DU, America and Britain stepped up their denials of the harm from this radioactive dust as more and more troops from the first Gulf war and from action and peacekeeping in the Balkans and Afghanistan have become seriously ill. This is no coincidence. In 1997, while citing experiments, by others, in which 84 percent of dogs exposed to inhaled uranium died of cancer of the lungs, Dr. Asaf Durakovic, then Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington was quoted as saying, 'The [US government's] Veterans Administration asked me to lie about the risks of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body.' He concluded, 'uranium does cause cancer, uranium does cause mutation, and uranium does kill. If we continue with the irresponsible contamination of the biosphere, and denial of the fact that human life is endangered by the deadly isotope uranium, then we are doing disservice to ourselves, disservice to the truth, disservice to God and to all generations who follow.' Not what the authorities wanted to hear and his research was suddenly blocked.
 
During 12 years of ever-growing British whitewash the authorities have abolished military hospitals, where there could have been specialized research on the effects of DU and where expertise in treating DU victims could have built up. And, not content with the insult of suggesting the gravely disabling symptoms of Gulf veterans are imaginary they have refused full pensions to many. For, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the current House of Commons briefing paper on DU hazards says 'it is judged that any radiation effects from possible exposures are extremely unlikely to be a contributory factor to the illnesses currently being experienced by some Gulf war veterans.' Note how over a quarter of a million sick and dying US and UK vets are called 'some'.
 
The Way Ahead
 
Britain and America not only used DU in this year's Iraq war, they dramatically increased its use-from a minimum of 320 tons in the previous war to at minimum of 1500 tons in this one. And this time the use of DU wasn't limited to anti-tank weapons-as it had largely been in the previous Gulf war-but was extended to the guided missiles, large bunker busters and big 2000-pound bombs used in Iraq's cities. This means that Iraq's cities have been blanketed in lethal particles-any one of which can cause cancer or deform a child. In addition, the use of DU in huge bombs which throw the deadly particles higher and wider in huge plumes of smoke means that billions of deadly particles have been carried high into the air-again and again and again as the bombs rained down-ready to be swept worldwide by the winds.
 
The Royal Society has suggested the solution is massive decontamination in Iraq. That could only scratch the surface. For decontamination is hugely expensive and, though it may reduce the risks in some of the worst areas, it cannot fully remove them. For DU is too widespread on land and water. How do you clean up every nook and cranny of a city the size of Baghdad? How can they decontaminate a whole country in which microscopic particles, which cannot be detected with a normal geiger counter, are spread from border to border? And how can they clean up all the countries downwind of Iraq-and, indeed, the world?
 
So there are only two things we can do to mitigate this crime against humanity. The first is to provide the best possible medical care for the people of Iraq, for our returning troops and for those who served in the last Gulf war and, through that, minimize their suffering. The second is to relegate war, and the production and sale of weapons, to the scrap heap of history-along with slavery and genocide. Then, and only then, will this crime against humanity be expunged, and the tragic deaths from this war truly bring freedom to the people of Iraq, and of the world.

Source: http://www.rense.com/general64/du.htm

Related news:

UK Soldiers Arrested on Charges of Sexually Abusing Afghan Children

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Karzai expressed 'disgust' at 'the rise in recent incidents of immoral nature among foreign soldiers'

Two British soldiers fighting in Afghanistan were arrested on charges of sexually abusing two Afghan children as young as ten years old and filming the abuse. The films, which were showed off to comrades, reportedly depict the two soldiers as they encouraged a young Afghan boy and girl to touch them through their clothing. The British army would not release information on the names of the soldiers or their unit, but the Ministry of Defense said it took such claims “seriously” and the Royal Military Police said they were investigating.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said: “The government of Afghanistan is immensely disgusted by the rise in recent incidents of immoral nature among foreign soldiers that clearly undermine public confidence and the Afghan people’s cooperation with foreign troops.” The arrests have been made less than a week after an internet video surfaced of U.S. Marines urinating on dead Afghan bodies, an incident which the U.S. authorities also claimed it to be investigating. Local Afghans were quoted as saying “such things happen all the time, and people talk about it but media hardly report them.”

The public outrage in the West is of course negligible compared to what it would be if Taliban fighters were recorded pissing on the corpses of U.S. Marines or sexually assaulting American or British children. Nevertheless, the current counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan is supposedly about “winning hearts and minds.”

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/01/18/uk-soldiers-arrested-on-charges-of-sexually-abusing-afghan-children/

Marine To Serve No Time in Iraqi Killings Case

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In the mother of all plea bargains, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who was charged with leading the US Marines’ massacre of 24 civilians in the Iraqi city of Haditha, plead guilty to a single count of “dereliction of duty.” His “sentence,” such as it is, will amount to a demotion to the rank of private and a pay cut related to his loss of rank. He will serve no jail time. The announcement has angered a number of Iraqis, particularly the relatives of the slain, who say the verdict is an insult. Khalid Salman, a lawyer for the relatives of the victims, and a cousin of one of the slain, condemned the decision. “This is not a traffic felony,” he said. Even skeptical Iraqis weren’t prepared for this total dismissal. Saleem al-Jubouri, the head of the Iraqi parliament’s human rights committee, had already issued a condemnation on the assumption that Wuterich would face a three-month jail sentence, the maximum for the soldier’s plea bargain.

Source: http://news.antiwar.com/2012/01/24/haditha-massacre-sentence-riles-iraqis-seen-as-insult/

Afghan Soldier 'Killed French Troops Over US Abuse Video'

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An Afghan soldier who shot dead four French troops has said he did it because of a recent video showing US Marines urinating on the dead bodies of Taliban insurgents, security sources told AFP. The attack on the soldiers, who were unarmed, came on Friday at a base in eastern Afghanistan and left 15 other French troops wounded, eight of them seriously.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reacted angrily, threatening to pull his forces out of Afghanistan ahead of the 2014 deadline for all US-led coalition combat troops, and dispatched Defence Minister Gerard Longuet to Kabul. That started a round of claim and counter claim over who was responsible for the attack, with Longuet saying he was told the killer was a Taliban infiltrator in the ranks of the Afghan army.

The Taliban, usually quick to claim coalition deaths, said they were still investigating and suggested some of the many attacks by Afghan soldiers on their foreign counterparts were prompted by anger towards the "invading enemy". Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in a statement after a meeting with Longuet, failed to echo his accusation against the Taliban and also played down the idea of Afghan resentment of foreign troops.

"The attack against French forces by an Afghan army soldier does not represent the anger of Afghan people but it is just an isolated and individual action," he said. The story emerging from the interrogation of the soldier arrested for the killings -- named as 21-year-old Abdul Mansour -- would support Karzai's interpretation. "During the initial interrogations by French soldiers, he told them he did it because of the video in which American soldiers were urinating on bodies," an Afghan army officer told AFP.

That report was backed by an intelligence source and another with access to information from the Afghan ministry of defence, both of whom requested anonymity. The intelligence source said the soldier told interrogators he had no direct contacts with the Taliban. The Afghan soldier had also referred to a video showing British soldiers allegedly abusing Afghan children, the ministry of defence source said.

Less than a week after news of the US Marines video broke, British military police arrested two servicemen over allegations that they abused an Afghan boy and a girl, both aged about 10, and filmed the incidents. The US video, posted online this month, showed four US soldiers urinating on three bloodied corpses, and one of the men, apparently aware he was being filmed, saying: "Have a great day, buddy," referring to one of the dead.

The images conjured up previous abuses committed by US troops during the decade-long war against Taliban insurgents and top US officials scrambled to condemn the soldiers. Told that AFP was about to run reports of the Afghan soldier's alleged confession, a spokesman for the US embassy in Kabul, Gavin Sundwall, said: "Our deepest condolences go out to France and the families of the soldiers who lost their lives in this tragic incident."

The actions in the video "violate the core values of both our societies", he added. The bodies of the four French soldiers were flown back to Paris late Sunday, accompanied by French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet. Sarkozy sent his defence minister to Afghanistan after the attack to evaluate ways to improve the security of the French troops who are training up the Afghan army. A spokesperson for the British embassy in Kabul said an investigation into the allegations against the British troops was under way and therefore the embassy could not comment on the Afghan soldier's claim.

The US, Britain and France are the main contributors to the coalition forces of some 130,000 troops who have been fighting a 10-year insurgency by hardline Islamist Taliban forces ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jGCkN0tD3sFPkeYOsgc8b3RNMiGw?docId=CNG.f4b3121d53c9061ef3bd59387255abe5.7a1

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post as usual. Keep up the good work. Tell the truth, unlike the MSM.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also agree. Nice job. We don't get to see enough info about these kinds of things when its about America but we get hounded with these kinds of news when its about America's enemies. So what you are doing here is reverse propaganda and its good. I also agree that you are an American patriot despite some of your extreme views regarding Russia and such.

    ReplyDelete

Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will therefore be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis. To limit clutter in the comments section, I kindly ask all participants of this blog to please keep comments coherent and strictly relevant to the featured topic of discussion. Moreover, please realize that when there are several anonymous visitors posting comments simultaneously, it becomes very confusing (not to mention extremely annoying) trying to figure out who is who and who said what. If you are here to engage in conversation, make an observation, express an idea or just attack me, I ask you to at least use a moniker to identify yourself... or else, I will not post your comments, especially if they are, in my opinion, nonsense. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.