Saturday, September 05, 2009






A US soldier in Iraq posted the following to his blog (through amber lenses) August 27th:

Leaning up against the back of the building we discovered half of a rusted Russian heavy machine gun, and another piece of a Cold War era anti-aircraft gun. No big deal, except both weapons had been used against our company two years prior during the retaking of the city of Baqubah. Pretending this find meant the IPs were doing their job and taking dangerous weapons off the street and not that they were the average two-faced insurgents, we rounded the last corner of the compound and headed for the front gate. Thanks to the hand-tying status of forces agreement between Iraq and the United States, American soldiers are not allowed to operate in urban areas without having the Iraqi Police or Iraqi Army present. Exceptions apply, but they're few and far between. By the time our squad had regrouped around the front of the building, our IA escort forces from outside the city had exited their humvees and stood around smoking and joking with each other. They were dressed in USMC desert fatigues, military body armor, and commercial tactical vests. They were also carrying clean weapons outfitted with modern American optics and flashlights. Apparently, Iraqi Army Special Forces are fairly well funded. We passed them by and headed out the gate, since our absurdly strict platoon leader wasn't around to stop us. One lonely IP stood guard just outside the entrance to the station. He remained rooted to the ground while we moved past him and out into the neighborhood. We figured he'd count as our Iraqi escort if someone important came along. Crossing a small lot with a few scattered cars and trash piles, a pack of four or five dogs picked up our scent and barked to alert the area to our presence. We held up at the far side of the lot, less than a hundred meters from the IP station. A group of kids had been playing around in the street, but had scattered as soon as we left the station. In previous years, that was a bad sign. Kids scattered and plugged their ears before roadside bombs detonated. This time around, it's a different war. "War" is hardly the word to describe the current situation. Anyway, the unit we're replacing didn't spend a single second of their tour mingling with the locals around this particular IP station. It had been months since the last American foot patrol through their village. They peeked around corners and out from behind courtyard gates. Families weaving around rubble and small rivers of sewage eyeballed us suspiciously, rarely returning a wave. Two young boys crept closer, stopping about ten meters ahead of us. I motioned to them to come closer while Todd called to them in broken Arabic. Cautiously, the older of the two darted up to us. Todd pulled a pack of gum from his pants pocket and handed a piece to the boy, who looked confused but optimistic. Todd pulled out another piece for himself, and popped it in his mouth. The boy smiled and darted back to the safety of his house. When he stuck his head out a moment later, he was chewing happily and surrounded by a new group of local kids. I motioned again to them, and a younger boy came running up over the broken bricks and dirt littering the street. I handed him a little pack of Sweet Tarts as my squad started moving back to the police station. He accepted happily and ran back to the house. I turned and followed the squad out of the neighborhood and back through the guarded station entrance, offering the lone IP a wave as he closed the gate behind me. We walked up to the front of the building, wondering where our blundering platoon leader was. The Iraqi Army Special Forces soldiers were still lounging around, smoking cheap cigarettes in the scorching afternoon sun. Approaching them, they welcomed us with open arms and all sorts of broken English. Cigarettes were offered all around, we removed our helmets and gloves, and relaxed. The language barrier is always difficult to overcome, but through the few Arabic phrases I remember from my first deployment and creative sign language, we got to know each other. We examined each others rifles and pistols, resisted the pleas of the IA soldiers to trade watches and jokingly traded insults. An American private from Guam was played up as an Iraqi who forgot how to speak Arabic, and the sexual preference of all involved was questioned. Some things are funny to soldiers no matter their nationality.That blog post was written by Jordan Shay who was killed while serving in Iraq. Yesterday the US military issued the following announcement: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed and five wounded in a vehicle rollover accident in the Diyala province of northern Iraq Sept. 2. ICCC is currently down [they note a server crash and that they are working to get the site back up] but the announcement should bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4338. (It was 4336 on Sunday. ICCC was down yesterday and remains down today.) It appears the two killed were Todd Selge, 25-years-old, and Jordan Shay, 22-years-old. Frederick Melo (Pioneer Press) reports Selge was on his second tour of duty in Iraq and his wife Dellona Selge states, "He was definitely gung-ho about the military. He was going to get out. He wanted to finish up school and move back home and have a regular life." With her and their sons "ages 6 and 2." John R. Ellement (Boston Globe) reports Shay was also on his second tour of duty and had been engaged to marry. Marie Szaniszlo (Boston Herald) adds that his MySpace page has "a clock counting down how many days he had left in the Army".

July 31st, Jordan Shay wrote (on his Twitter accont), "I've been saying I'm ready to go, and I am, but it's amazing how fast the last two weeks have flown by." August 23rd, he noted "back in iraq for round two, probably won't fire a shot in anger all tour. sucks." In his last post at his blog, Shay observed, "We are respected in Baqubah. We are also feared. Our battalion has a fantastic opportunity to use these facts to our advantage and make a real difference before the withdrawal of all combat forces in the summer of next year. We made a difference in 2007, we could do it again in 2009. I fear we will not."

[. . . .]

Turning to the United States and what may be the only accountability for the crimes in Iraq. May 7th Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. Today, Green stood before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Kim Landers (Australia's ABC) quotes Judge Russell telling Green his actions were "horrifying and inexcusable." Not noted in any of the links in this snapshot (it comes from a friend present in the court), Steven Dale Green has dropped his efforts to appear waif-ish in a coltish Julia Roberts circa the 1990s manner. Green showed up a good twenty pounds heavier than he appeared when on trial, back when the defense emphasized his 'lanky' image by dressing him in oversized clothes. Having been found guilty last spring, there was apparently no concern that he appear frail anymore.

Italy's AGI reports, "Green was recognised as the leader of a group of five soldiers who committed the massacre on September 12 2006 at the Mahmudiyah check point in the south of Baghdad. The story inspired the 2007 masterpiece by Brian De Palma 'Redacted'." BBC adds, "Judge Thomas Russell confirmed Green would serve five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole." Deborah Yetter (Courier-Journal) explains, "Friday's federal court hearing was devoted mostly to discussion of technical issues related to Green's sentencing report, although it did not change Green's sentence. He was convicted in May of raping and murdering Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and murdering her parents, Kassem and Fakhriya, and her sister, Hadeel, 6, at their home outside Baghdad."

Green was tried in civilian court because he had already been discharged before the War Crimes were discovered. Following the gang-rape and murders, US soldiers attempted to set fire to Abeer's body to destroy the evidence and attempted to blame the crimes on "insurgents." In real time, when the bodies were discovered, the New York Times was among the outlets that ran with "insurgents." Green didn't decide he wanted to be in the military on his own. It was only after his most recent arrest -- after a long string of juvenile arrests -- while sitting in jail and fearing what sentence he would face, that Green decided the US Army was just the place he wanted to be. Had he been imprisoned instead or had the US military followed rules and guidelines, Green wouldn't have gotten in on a waiver. Somehow his history was supposed to translate into "He's the victim!!!!" As if he (and the others) didn't know rape was a crime, as if he (and the others) didn't know that murder was considered wrong. Green attempted to climb up on the cross again today. AP's Brett Barrouguere quotes the 'victim' Green insisting at today's hearing, "You can act like I'm a sociopath. You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever. If I had not joined the Army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything." Climb down the cross, drama queen. Your entire life was about leading up to a moment like that. You are a sociopath. You stalked a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while you were stationed at a checkpoint in her neighborhood. You made her uncomfortable and nervous, you stroked her face. She ran to her parents who made arrangements for her to go live with others just to get her away from you, the man the army put there to protect her and the rest of the neighborhood. You are one sick f**k and you deserve what you got. Green play drama queen and insist "you can act like I'm a sex offender" -- he took part in and organized a gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl. That's a sex offender. In fact, "sex offender" is a mild term for what Green is.

Steven D. Green made the decision to sign up for the US military. He was facing criminal punishment for his latest crimes, but he made the decision. Once in the military, despite his long history of arrests, he didn't see it as a chance to get a fresh start. He saw it as a passport for even more crimes. What he did was disgusting and vile and it is War Crimes and by doing that he disgraced himself and the US military. His refusal to take accountability today just demonstrates the realities all along which was Green did what he wanted and Green has no remorse. He sullied the name of the US military, he sullied the name of the US. As a member of the army, it was his job to follow the rules and the laws and he didn't do so. And, as a result, a retaliation kidnapping of US soldiers took place in the spring of 2006 and those soldiers were strung up and gutted. That should weigh heavily on Steven D. Green but there's no appearence that he's ever thought of anyone but himself. He wants to act as if the problem was the US military which requires that you then argue that anyone serving in Iraq could have and would have done what he did. That is not reality. He does not represent the average soldier and he needs to step down from the cross already.

AFP notes, "During closing arguments at his sentencing, Green was described alternately as 'criminal and perverse' and deserving of the death penalty, and as a 'broken warrior" whose life should be spared'." Brett Barrouquere (AP) has been covering the story for years now. He notes that Patrick Bouldin (defense) attempted to paint Green as the victim as well by annoucing that Green wanted to take responsibility "twice" before but that Assistant US Attorney Marisa Ford explained that was right before jury selection began and in the midst of jury selection. In other words, when confronted with the reality that he would be going to trial, Steven D. Green had a panic moment and attempted to make a deal with the prosecution. (The offer was twice rejected because the 'life in prison' offer included the defense wanting Green to have possible parole.) Steve Robrahn, Andrew Stern and Paul Simao (Reuters) quote US Brig Gen Rodney Johnson ("Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command") stating, "We sincerely hope that today's sentencing helps to bring the loved ones of this Iraqi family some semblance of closure and comfort after this horrific and senseless act."

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Friday, September 04, 2009







Yesterday a British corpse surfaced in Baghdad. A somber UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced the cameras to issue a statement. Via ITN News (video link):

Gordon Brown: It's with the deepest regret that the body passed to the British embassy today is now discovered to be that of Alec Maclachlan. My thoughts, and I believe the thoughts of the whole country, are with the Maclachlan family at this time of great grief. No family should have to endure what they have gone through. The loss through the hostage taking, then the period of silence and not knowing what was happening and now to find that their loved one is lost -- Our thoughts are also with the families of those people who are the other hostages. We are demanding of the hostage takers that they now give us information about the whereabouts of Alan McMenemy and return Peter Moore who we still believe to be alive as soon as is possible. We will pursue these hostage takers. There is no justification for what they've done. And we are working with the Iraqi government at every point to ensure that we get information to the relatives, we get the return of the others and, at the same time, we bring the hostage takers to justice. That is what every family should expect of us and that is what we are going to do.

May 29, 2007 the League of Righteousness kidnapped five British citizens in Baghdad. Three are known to be dead: Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan. Alan McMenemy is assumed dead (but that is not known) and Peter Moore is thought alive. Yesterday Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) explained, "The men were abducted by gunmen posing as policemen by a group calling itself League of the Righteous, a group of Shia militants. They were recently understood to have been seeking to enter mainstream politics in Iraq, but attempts to release the hostages through dialogue have proved fruitless." The Daily Mail noted that the League of the Righteous had earlier attempted to use the five hostages to broker a release of "nine Iraqi militants" at Camp Cropper (the leader and his brother were two and, again, they were released in June) and that this "is Britain's longest running hostage crisis since Terry Waite and John McCarthy who were held for nearly five years in Lebanon in the 1980s." Nouri is very close with the League and last week Eli Lake (Washington Times) reported that Ahmed Chalabi was as well.

Today Oliver August (Times of London) reports, "Mr MacLachlan, who is from Llanelli, south Wales, died from multiple gunshots in what appears to have been an execution. According to sources close to the investigation, the killing took place quite some time ago, possibly last year, given the partly decomposed state of the body." BBC News' Frank Gardner states, "When I last met the men's families, they were still hoping reports of more deaths were untrue." He's referring to the announcement a month and a half ago by the British government about their believing Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy were dead. The families remained hopeful due to the fact that there were no bodies.

The League of Righteous is now responsible for the murders of three British citizens and is assumed to be holding 2 more and they are also responsible for an attack on US forces in which 5 US soldiers (Brian S. Freeman, Jacob N. Fritz, Johnathan B. Chism, Shawn P. Falter and Johnathon M. Millican) were slaughtered. Because the League of Righteousness is Nouri's best buddy, the UK and the US apparently have decided to humor the organization. Deborah Haynes (Times of London) reported on the release by the US military of Laith al-Khazali (the ringleader of the group) and his brother. At the end of July BBC News' Humphrey Hawksley (link has video and text) filed this report:

Humphrey Hawksley: Alan [McMenemy] from Dunbarton, Alec [Maclachlan] from South Wales believed to be two more victims in this long running Iraq hostage tragedy. Security guards whose colleagues Jason Swindlehurst from Lancaster and Jason Creswell from Glasgow were shot dead, their bodies recovered last month. There's hope that Peter Moore, the IT specialist they were protecting, is still alive. This is the fortified Finance Ministry in central Baghdad from where the five men were kidnapped more than two years ago in May 2007 in a highly organized operation. Forty men wearing the uniforms of the Iraqi police drove up surrounded the building and took the hostages off to a secret location. For moths there was no news then, in November, there came a video from Jason Swindlehurst and, three months later, another from Peter Moore. He called for the release of nine Shia Iraqis being held by the Americans, release them so we can go, he said. And a year ago Alan asked the British government to try to get them home as soon as possible. The Foreign Office has adopted a low profile, softly-softly approach although the families did speak out from time to time hoping their voices might lead to the freedom of their loved ones. But nothing until last month. Thousands of suspected insurgents are being held in Iraq but are slowly being released. On June 7th, one of the nine referred to in Peter Moore's appeal was freed. Twelve days later, the two bodies were recovered. They'd been shot some time earlier. It's not know if there was a connection. The hope now is that somewhere in the dangerous world of Iraqi militias, Peter Moore is alive with a chance of being released. Humphrey Hawksley, BBC News.

Oliver August includes an interesting aside deep in his report, "The staggered return of the hostages is part of a quid-pro-quo deal brokered by the Iraqi Prime Minister, who met representatives of the kidnappers two months ago. The League of the Righteous has apparently renounced violence and is seeking to enter the open political process ahead of parliamentary elections next year." Nouri and his friends are so very close. Some say it was this close nature that allowed them to successfully kidnap 5 British citizens to begin with.

July 29th, the families of the hostages held a press conference. Haley Williams is the mother of Alec's child and she spoke at the press conference noting the British government's statements that Alec and Alan were thought to be dead.

Haley Williams: These reports are the worst possible news for us but we continue to hope that they cannot be true. But whatever Alec's condition, he no longer should remain in Iraq. We appeal to those holding him to please send him home to us. I speak to you as the mother of Alec's son. We are not the people holding your men but I do understand your feelings cause you're going through the same pain we are going through. If we had any influence over the release of your men we would release them to you but we don't. Please send him home because as a family we can't cope with this anymore."

Yesterday Martin Chulov (Guardian) reported:

The release of the third body had been widely anticipated since members of the Righteous League were hosted by the Iraqi prime minister, Nour al-Maliki, in July. The group, which has strong links to the Lebanese Hezbollah, has been campaigning for political legitimacy in the run-up to national elections in January.Britain has maintained a policy of not negotiating with the hostage takers and moves towards the release of the captives have been handled by Iraqi mediators, who have attempted to convince them that legitimacy will remain out of reach as long as they hold hostages.
In one positive sign, the group promised in August to lay down its weapons and join the political process. Over the past three months, up to 15 high-profile members of the Righteous League have been freed from American custody in Iraq.

Today the US military issued the following announcement: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed and five wounded in a vehicle rollover accident in the Diyala province of northern Iraq Sept. 2. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the website no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." ICCC is currently down [they note a server crash and that they are working to get the site back up] but the announcement should bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4338. (It was 4336 on Sunday.) We'll stay with today's reported violence.


Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured three people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing which resulted in five people wounded, a Baghdad sticky bombing targeting the Sahwa ("Awakenings" or "Sons Of Iraq") which resulted in eight people being injured (four were Sahwa), a Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, another Mosul roadside bombing which injured two people, a third Mosul roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer, a fourth Mosul roadside bombing which injured three people, a Babil car bombing and four other Babil bombings which claimed 4 lives and left sixty-five people wounded, a Baquba car bombing which wounded four people, a roadside bombing outside Karbala which claimed 2 lives and left three people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Tal Afar suicide bomber who invaded a home and killed the wife and husband and then detonated his bomb when the police showed up wounding seven of them and an Iraqi soldier. Reuters notes a Mussayab bombing at a mosque which claimed 4 lives and left twenty-four people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a Ramadi suicide bombing that left five people wounded (four were police).

July 28th was when the assault on Camp Ashraf by Nouri al-Maliki's 'troops' began. During Saddam's time, Iranian exiles were allowed safe harbor in Iraq. The exiles were leftists who were opposed to the religious fundamentalist leaders following the toppling of the Shah (the exiles did not favor the Shah). They utilized violence and are known as the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran or the MEK. They remained in Iraq in the 80s, the 90s and this decade. The European Union and England are among the organizations and countries that listed the MEK as a terrorist group -- past tense. The MEK has renounced violence and was removed from the terrorist listing. The US still has the MEK listed as a terrorist organization. There were efforts to remove it from that listing by Congress beginning in 2008; however, the previous administration wasn't interested in that or anything else to do with MEK. It is a hot button issue and it was ignored repeatedly by the Bush administration. This is one of the hot potatoes dropped into the current administration's lap.Repeating (for friends in the administration who have become whiners), Camp Ashraf is a hot potato that was dropped into the lap of the current administration. The outgoing administration made promises to Nouri and promises to Camp Ashraf. They also declared it protected under the Geneva Conventions.While it was a hot potato and unexpected, they were aware of how serious it was following the election. (To be clear, it was an obvious problem prior to the election and any observer could have known that. It was only after the election, during the weeks of information being passed on and relayed from outgoing to incoming, that they realized just how explosive it was due to a lot of empty promises made to both sides by the Bush administration. As that became clear, it was tasked to two people who were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. They carved it out and removed it from the State Dept -- long before Hillary was asked to be Secretary of State -- and were supposed to lead on the issue. They did not lead. That is among the reasons -- there are at least four primary ones -- that Vice President Joe Biden was recently put in charge of Iraq.)As happened with the Bush administration in the fall of 2008, Nouri promised that he had no intention of assaulting Camp Ashraf. (To its credit, the Bush administration strongly suspected Nouri was lying. They were right.)AP's Kim Gamel files an in-depth report on Camp Ashraf and notes the video of the US military (who protected Camp Ashraf prior to the start of 2009) near the camp as the assault begins, with bloodied camp residents pleading for help to US "soldiers [who] get into a white SUV and roll up their windows as the bloodied men plead for help."Well they bellowed, and they hollered And they threw each other down Down in this valley This cruel and lovely valley Oh it should have been an alley In some low down part of town As the lights came up There was no sun And brandy splattered all over the ground As this woman with her head held high Yelled love and why oh why You're killing me, oh follow me As I watched safe and clean From the frosted windows of my limousine -- "Memorial Day," written by Carly Simon, from her album Spy. [Spy features the classic "Never Been Gone" and it is among the songs she's redone for Never Been Gone, Carly's latest (and mainly acoustic) album which will be released October 27th. (The album also contains two new compositions.)] Gamel quotes an anonymous "senior US military official" stating, "We could not become decisively engaged with a situation that really is up to the sovereign Iraqi government to settle in a peaceful manner as they have assured us that they would do. Even in a situation that allowed engagement, we didn't have nearly the amount of forces present to jump in the middle of this fray."
So why is the US military still in Iraq? Why is a long 'withdrawal' of "combat" troops planned when that will only create more moments where the US military can't step forward and watches as an assault takes place. Which is one of the scenarios then-Senator Joe Biden tossed out during an April 2008 Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing he chaired. Another was that the US military remaining on the ground in Iraq would be utilized to prop up Nouri's government and attack Iraqi civilians. So why is the US not leaving immediately and quickly? Exactly how long will thug of the occupation Nouri be humored?

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009






Chris Hill is the US Ambassador to Iraq. Yesterday he appeared on WBUR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Jacki Lyden filled in for Ashbrook. Hill, as usual, showed up late ("shaking into town with the brakes complain" -- Joni Mitchell "Just Like This Train"). We'll start our excerpt moments after he joins the show in progress.

Jacki Lyden: I would like to point out what the most recent caller said: What makes us think that the millions of people who've been driven from their homes in Iraq will ever forgive us because we've made enemies with our bad foreign policy? And I do think it is a question that bears putting to you.

Chris Hill: Well, first of all, I agree with your sort of interim answer that uh there are a lot of nuances to this but uh in a way I also understand what the caller is saying. I mean this has been a very tough six years. I mean we're-we're into the seventh year of this very difficult period and to be sure I think a lot of Iraqis thought that it would go a lot better, thought that uh we would essentially bring America to them and that hasn't been the case. It's been -- it's been very tough. It's been very tough politically. It's been very tough to reconcile various sectarian communities. You know there are many Sunnis who feel that they are the big losers with the demise of Saddam Hussein -- even though they didn't like him he was a Sunni. And then frankly there are Shia who feel that they are winners but they always worry about what comes next. So it's a very nuanced picture but with respect to the view of the United States, that's also very complex there are a lot of Iraqis who feel that it has been such a tough time that, you know, why hasn't the US completely rebuilt this country? Well we have, as you suggested, spent billions of dollars but to just rebuild Iraq or to somehow turn it into something it never was would be costing trillions. So we have really tried to work with the Iraqi authorities, tried to stand up a uh market economy, try to get them to uh have uh a proper use of some their natural resources so they can bring in foreign investors and that sort of thing. So there's no question that progress is being made but it's very slow and it's very frustrating to a lot of people.

Jacki Lyden: I find that in Iraq and Iran too there's always and Steven I would be interested to see what you and David have to say about all of this, there is always that presence of people that you speak to that say I didn't know my own country we didn't know each other. But sometimes after a huge shift in leadership, however it comes about, whether it's deposing Saddam Hussein or revolution, that actors start to jockey for power and to even speak of the Iraqis can be tough because after all 66 million people there isn't monolithic opinion obviously. David?

David Ignatius: Well I-I-I would just like to take the moment to-to ask Ambassador Hill in these remaining months in which the US still has a significant troop presence in Iraq although not in the cities, how do you think we can use that leverage so as to leave behind solid political situation as possible? The hope at the time of the surge was that there would be a political reconciliation and yet I think many observers -- most observers would say that really hasn't happened. Ambassador, what tools can use in this remaining period when we're still there to try to make the outcome as good as possible?

Chris Hill: Well let me say, David, this issue of reconciliation is probably the name of the game. I mean if we can uh get some things uh squared away here politically I think Iraq can have a better future you know. Ironically it's the security situation that hits the headlines, the various hideous bombings that one sees but it's the it's the political situation that I think worries a lot of people because this idea of working together and trying to have some rules of the road for the political process is a bit of an elusive concept here. So to answer your question there are a couple of areas where I think the US can be very active and we are active One is on the internal boundaries the disputed internal boundaries and that's between the Kurdish areas in the sort of north and eastern part of the country and the rest of the country the more Arab parts and there are some really serious is agreements in some very key areas. A place called Kirkuk that actually has a lot of oil but there are 14 other features along that boundary. So we have been working really on a retail basis talking to the communities there but also talking to the Kurdish leadership up in Erbil and the leadership up here in uh Baghdad as well to see if we can find solutions. Now there are thoughts that somehow you can get some grand bargain in the process, you can you know sort out the oil, sort out all of these things and have it all come together. Unfortunately I think it's going to be a more retail business because it's local. Now the US forces have been very active here and I think this is where it's very important in the coming year. As you know, General [Ray] Odierno has been working with the Iraq National Police the Iraqi armed forces along with Kurdish counterparts to see if we can work out some joint-patrol and this sort of thing which I think could be extremely helpful. So I think we are trying to make use of this time during the last year. But I want to emphasize, you know, we have elections coming up and while uh Iraqis may have -- may have not totally embraced democracy they sure have embraced politics and so you know a lot of what is going on right now is various politicians are reaching out into other communities to try to put together a coalition they think can win for them in the parliamentary elections. That's kind of heartening stuff. So recently you had a sort of Shia -- Shia grouping put together. Those are mainly people mainly in the south but interestingly the Shia Prime Minister Maliki put a condition in there that he knew the others would not accept and so he's out there playing a sort of Dating Game with Kurdish partners and Sunni tribal partners so there's a lot of politics going on. That's the good news, the bad news is they sometimes you know don't get to the real homework of uh reconciliation in working some of these problems.

Jacki Lyden: Steven, you had, I think it was you. I saw a quote by I wish I could remember which Iraqi politicians said -- speaking to what the ambassador just said -- that sectarian politics are appealing, sectarian governments fail. Are people discussing that?

Steven Lee Myers: That was Ahmed Chalabi who many people will remember from his role supporting the invasion as part of the Iraqi National Congress. Uh, I-I think he's right and that this touches on what the ambassador just said, they need to translate the political process into governance. And I think that's one of the things we haven't seen very much of I mean there are pockets of stability, as I said before, but you don't really see on a national level the basics being done in terms of electricity or water or cleaning the streets and so forth. Going back to your previous question, I compare it to my previous time covering Russia, and the ambassador has seen this as well I assume in the Balkans, but what you have here is a country that's not just been through war but has been through a transformational period of moving from a dictatorship as Russia did after the Soviet Union collapsed to a new society and I think the violence here has prevented a lot of that still arduous transition from happening in terms of social values the economy the legal system. There's a lot that's involved in moving from dictatorship to democracy beyond just the elections themselves.

Jacki Lyden: We are going to take a few calls here in just a moment but Ambassador, I would like to ask you, based on your intelligence, who do you think is responsible for the August 19th bombings which was the worst in a very long time?

Chris Hill: Well I you know the investigations are very much continuing I'm not sure I want to sort of give you a running tab of an ongoing investigation but there are certain usual suspects here that we are obviously looking at very closely and one of course is this al Qaeda in Iraq -- so-called AQI. Now the government has some theories that it's more complex that you have possible ex-Ba'athist elements You know these are also Sunni who feel disenfranchised from the system but they're not sort of these extreme Wahhabists Sunnis that al Qaeda draws its ranks from. Yet there is you know talk in the analytical community whether they're Ba'athist in al Qaeda or AQI -- I want to stress this is al Qaeda in Iraq, a sort of franchised operation. And there's a lot of you know talk that perhaps they have some know -- tactical putting, you know, putting this thing together. It's really hard to say. What is clear though is that for many people in this country when those terrible bombings took place out came the fingers and pointing at each other. And to be sure there's a time for finger pointing, there's certainly a time to investigate and see what failures there were in the system. But there's also a times, as the United States, as we know very well in the wake of 9-11. There is a time to come together and one hope that that call will be better heard in Iraq. Because, uh, it's a very rough political climate here.

Steven Lee Myers is with the New York Times, David Ignatius with the Washington Post and Post Global. Hill gets credit for alluding to the lack of sense made in al-Maliki's charges of (secular) Ba'athists working with the religious zealots of al Qaeda in Iraq. But it's amazing to listen to him and compare his remarks to those made on Inside Iraq on Al Jazeera (see yesterday's snapshot) where the audience last Friday was informed of charges that Iran was possibly involved. The bombs or the materials are said to have come from Iran (true or not, who knows). And the broadcast did cover it. But Al Jazeera covered Mohammed Abdullah al-Shehwani who handled the intelligence and who quit his post after declaring that Iran was responsible for the Black Wednesday bombings and being greeted with Nouri al-Maliki's rage. (al-Shehwani has now left Iraq.) That's not really going to be addressed by Hill apparently. Even though all of it -- the charges and the counter-charges -- are nothing but speculation. The Washington Post has covered the charges in their reporting and David Ignatius addressed it last week in his column for the paper which included this: "But forensic evidence points to a possible Iranian role, according to an Iraqi intelligence source who is close to Shahwani. He said that signatures of the C-4 explosive residues that have been found at the bomb sites are similar to those of Iranian-made explosives that have been captured in Kut, Nasiriyah, Basra and other Iraqi cities since 2006."

The previous administration wanted war with Iran very badly (as opposed to the current administration which just wants it badly at this point). That doesn't mean that, year after year, Iran gets a pass. Syria's being raked over the coals currently for -- key point often left out -- sticking to the law. When the government of one country wants to extradite someone, they present evidence to the government the person is in. That's how it works. That may be confusing to some since Colin Powell and the Bush administration demanded Afghanistan turn over Osama bin Laden and stated that, at some point after he was turned over, the US would present evidence. That's not how the law works. But the Syrian government is being raked over the coals as Nouri creates an international incident and finger pointing at Saudia Arabia has taken place at well (and made it into US outlets) so the idea that Iran is off limits? No. It's not. And it also needs to be stated that even if there is Iranian involvement, if, that doesn't mean involvement of the Iranian government.

When you declare this country or that country off limits (out of fear that the US wants to go to war with it), it becomes very difficult to have an honest conversation about what is taking place in the world. The broadcast featured Jackie Lyden, Steven Lee Myers and David Ignatius discussing possible Shi'ite on Shi'ite violence and that should have raised more issues. Such as: Is al Qaeda in Iraq going to be the scapegoat forever? Weren't we repeatedly told that al Qaeda in Iraq had been diminished and was a tiny element? (Yes, we were told that, repeatedly in Senate hearings from various military brass.) And haven't we repeatedly been told that al Qaeda in Iraq operates in one region? Remember which region that is? Hint, it's not the centeral region or the northern region and it's not a region Baghdad's in.

To buy the 'conventional' theory being proposed by Nouri and worked by too many in the US press requires that you also declare al Qaeda in Iraq has increased its presence, has added tremendously to its membership and has now expanded into other regions of the country. Of course, how al Qaeda in Iraq would be waived through checkpoints is the stumper. If you've seen the security camera footage of the trucks, there's no way anyone remotely doing their job waived those two trucks through by accident. So the catch all scapegoat of al Qaeda in Iraq really doesn't fit the way Nouri would like it too. Nor is there a reason Shi'ite dominated security forces in Baghdad would waive through Sunnis even for cash.

A Shi'ite 'gang' would be the League of the Rightous which has claimed credit for the slaughter of 5 US service members. Their leader and his brother were in custody but were set free by the US military in June. They were turned over to Nouri who then set them free and started claiming that they were ready to take part in the political process. The group was ready, Nouri insisted through his spokesmodels. Of course, the group also claimed responsibility for the May 29, 2007 kidnappings in Baghdad of British citizens. Five of the two are known to be dead (Jason Swindlehurts and Jason Creswell). Two were assumed dead (Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy) and a fifth (Peter Moore) was hoped to be alive throughout the summer. Today there's a development in that long running story. Apparently to demonstrate that they now want to just be 'political,' the group has turned over another corpse to the Iraqi government. (When the US released the two brothers from custody in June, the group handed over the corpses of Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst.) CNN goes with caution saying it may be the corpse of a former British hostage. Catherine Philip (Times of London) reports the corpse is now in British custody, that UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband does not believe it is Peter Moore's body and quotes him stating, "We cannot yet definitievely confirm either that this is the remains of one of the hostages, or which one." Ben Livesey (Bloomberg News) notes that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a statement through his spokesperson that he was "deeply saddened" and that there would be "no stone unturned in the Government's efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages." Not stated is that Brown is on vacation (still) and apparently is not willing to actually interrupt his vacation to make a statement directly. No stone unturned? BBC News adds, "BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said it was believed the body belonged to one of the two men [Alec Maclachlan and Alan McMenemy] and, in that sense, the news would not come as a big surprise. Diplomats say the identity could be established within 24 hours, our correspondent added, and the body is expected to be flown back to the UK by the end of the week." Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) explains, "The men were abducted by gunmen posing as policemen by a group calling itself League of the Righteous, a group of Shia militants. They were recently understood to have been seeking to enter mainstream politics in Iraq, but attempts to release the hostages through dialogue have proved fruitless." The Daily Mail notes that the League of the Righteous had earlier attempted to use the five hostages to broker a release of "nine Iraqi militants" at Camp Cropper (the leader and his brother were two and, again, they were released in June) and that this "is Britain's longest running hostage crisis since Terry Waite and John McCarthy who were held for nearly five years in Lebanon in the 1980s." Nouri is very close with the League and last week Eli Lake (Washington Times) reported that Ahmed Chalabi was as well.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009







While Hoshyar Zebari may think it's fine and dandy for countries to turn people over to Iraq (without meeting extradition requirements), others would disagree and Iraq's 'justice' system remains a joke. Amnesty International continues its campaign to eliminate the death penalty worldwide. Today they note that over 1,000 people are on death row in Iraq with 150 of those having "exhausted all means of appeal or clemency and are at immediate risk of death. The majority of the condemned (some 750, including 12 women) are held by the Ministry of Justice, while serveral hundred are detained by the Interior Ministry. At least seven facing execution are held by the US military at Camp Cropper in Baghdad. Ten female death row prisoners have recently been transferred to the al-Kadhimiya Prison in Baghdad, which suggests that their executions may be imminent. One of these, 27-year-old Samar Sa'ad Abdullah, facing execution for mudred, has alleged that she was tortured into making a false confession, including with electric shocks and beatings with a cable. She reported received a trial lasting less than two days, where one of her lawyers was ordered out of the court by the trial judge. Amnesty has repeatedly expressed its concerns about trials conducted by criminal courts in Iraq, whose procedures fall short of international standards for fair trials."

CNN (link has text and video) spoke with Noor al-Deen Bahaa al-Deen, Iraq's Minister of Justice, about the report: "For us, there is no difference between men and women who commit crimes. A person who commits a crime should be punished. In general, this can't happen now or in a year or two, but I hope in the future, the death penalty would be abolished, because I am personally in favor of life sentences rather than the death penalty. [. . .] Even if I put in a request, this is a worthless request, because there is a law. As for abolishing the death sentence and replacing it with life imprisonment, that is an amendment of the law, and that has to happen through parliament. And parliament as the representative of the people decides if the punishment changes or doesn't." From CNN's video report:

Naamua Delaney: Six years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has one of the highest rates of execution in the world. That is according to Amnesty International which just released a report that 1,000 Iraqis are currently on death row, about a dozen of them women. Arwa Damon met one woman who could be executed soon despite her claims of innocence.Arwa Damon joins us now from Baghdad. Hello, Arwa.

Arwa Damon: Hi, Naamua. And what is especially disturbing about that Amnesty International report is it says that many of the death sentences that were handed down followed court proceedings that did not meet international standards. Additionally many of the alleged confessions were extracted under duress. This is something that we have heard countless times from a number of different organizations over the last few years. Samar Sa'ad Abdullah's case is one which tragically embodies all the shortcomings of the Iraqi judicial system. We first met Samar Sa'ad Abdullah in the spring of 2007 at the al-Kadhimiya women's prison in Baghdad. She'd already been on death row for two years and she was terrified.

Samar Sa'ad Abdullah: Give me life in prison. Even 20 years. I don't care. Anything but this.

Arwa Damon: Samar was sentenced to death by hanging for being an accessory to the murder of three members of her uncle's family. She maintains her innocence and there are disturbing questions about her conviction. But now Samar is in a place that brings death a step closer. On the other side of this door is the corridor that leads to the cells here at Baghdad's maximum security facility. There are more than 500 prisoners who have been brought here waiting to be executed. We are not allowed to film anything outside of this room. And this is where we meet Samar again. This time we're not allowed to film her face. She looks frail, pale, her eyes bloodshot.

Samar Sa'ad Abdullah: (Crying) My life is meaningless. I can't think about anything else.

Arwa Damon: Once her life had meaning and joy. She had a financee, Saif.

Samar Sa'ad Abdullah: I was so happy before when he asked for my hand in marriage.

Arwa Damon: But she says one day Saif took her to her wealthy uncle's house. He shot three members of her family, including her cousin. They'd grown up like sisters. And then she says Saif turned the gun on her.

Samar Sa'ad Abdullah: There was nothing that made me suspect that this was a guy who would kill. I still remember him pulling the gun on me and saying take me to your uncle's room. I am in prison and he is outside wandering in the street -- happy. And I am in prison.

Arwa Damon: Her parents swear she's innocent. They say the Iraqi police picked her up the next day after Saif dumped her in front of their house and disappeared. "We keep trying to tell her everything is going to be okay and not be afraid," Samar's mother sobs. At her trial, Samar said that she'd been tortured by police into confessing that she went to her uncle's house to steal.

Samar Sa'ad Abdullah: They kept beating me. Finally they made me sign a blank paper, they filled it out afterwards.

Arwa Damon: Under Iraqi law, the courts should have investigated her claim that she confessed under torture but the judges disregarded that. Human rights groups say Samar's case is one of many where justice has failed. In a report about Iraq's Central Criminal Court which tried Samar, Human Rights Watch said, "It is an institution that is seriously failing to meet international standards of due process and fair trials. Abuse in detention typically with the aim of extracting confessions appears common." Local organizations welcome the support

OWFI's Yanar Mohammed: As a human rights organization in Iraq, we find out that we need some backup from abroad to put pressure on our government to -- as a first step to stop the executions of these women who -- some of whom are innocent and we also need to see a new Iraq where execution is not a right for the state anymore..

At Amnesty International's blog, Neil Durkin observes:

OK, so 1,000 is a lot of people and yet that's how many are on death row in Iraq right now. It's a staggeringly large number and it's sort of taken the world by surprise. It's just not what people think of when they picture Iraq. Sectarian violence and horrible bombings, yes; courts sentencing people to death on a weekly basis, no. It's people like Samar Sa'ad 'Abdullah who we're talking about. She's a 27-year-old woman who's been found guilty of murder but only, she says, after she was viciously tortured (electric shocks, beatings with a cable) into making a false confession. If past examples are anything to go by, being beaten into making a phoney confession is common in Iraq, and meanwhile Samar's trial lasted a grand total of one and a bit days and one of her lawyers was even ordered out of the court by the trial judge.So Samar is now living (if that's the right word) in the shadow of the hangman, one of at least a dozen women on death row in Iraq and one of about 150 who've exhausted their appeals and are perilously close to execution. (Take action here, calling on the Iraqi authorities to halt Samar's execution and all others, and for a death penalty moratorium to be implemented in Iraq). Staying with numbers, a few years back we did some number crunching at Amnesty and worked out that there were about 20,000 people on death row in the world, with the largest number in Pakistan (about 7,000). The USA has about 3,500. The country that executes the most -- China, which kills thousands every year -- has an unknown number (massive secrecy) but may not have so many actually facing execution for the simple -- and very grim -- reason that killings are carried out quickly. So, from a figure of zero back in 2004 (rather ironically the American-led interim Iraqi government suspended Iraq's death penalty after Saddam's fall), Iraq five years later has one of world's biggest death rows and one of the planet's highest execution rates.

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Monday, August 31, 2009







Today a Shi'ite political party goes through the motions of choosing a leader. The story starts on Wednesday when Iraqi politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim died of lung cancer in Iran. Thursday a memorial was held in Tehran, Friday in Baghdad and Saturday he was buried in Najaf. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reported, "Hakim, carried in a plain wooden coffin, was buried in a public square next to his late brother Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr Hakim, whom he had succeeded as leader of the Council in 2003 after his sibling's assassination in a deadly car bombing. At the public ceremony, Hussein Hakim, a member of an affiliated charitable group, the Mihrab Matyr Foundation, read passages from Hakim's will, anointing Ammar Hakim, 38, as the Supreme Council's new chief." If you're scratching your head, it may be because of "Supreme Council" which is a Shi'ite political party Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was the head of: the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Or you might be scratching your head over the fact that a father willed a political party to his son? Yes, it is strange. Suadad al-Salhy and Tim Cocks (Reuters) report that, today, party elders nominated Ammar al-Hakim to lead the party -- the party his father already willed him -- and that it's "a choice that must now be voted on." Supposedly the advisory council votes on the nomination tomorrow.

Get to the top and slide back down
Get to the bottom and climb back up
Sell the vineyard
Call the lawyer
Get to the top and slide back down
Get to the bottom climb back up
-- "Snakes and Ladders," written by Joni Mitchell, recorded by Joni and Don Henley on her album Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm

Staying with Iraqi politics, snakes and ladders, AFP reports that out of concerns over traffic congestions, Nouri al-Maliki has banned convoys . . . unless it's his convoy, or convoys for Iraq's President or Speaker of Parliament. An Iraqi corresondent for McClatchy Newspapers (at Inside Iraq) states Nouri's only recommending the banning and goes on to explain, "The problem of these convoys is blocking roads. Sometimes we are obliged to wait for more than half an hour in intersections waiting for the convoy to arrive to and then pass. People are forced to wait and wait in order to allow 'the masters' pass. We have 275 parliament members, more than 30 ministers, three members of presidency council, three members of parliament presidency panel, the deputies of prime minister and ministers in addition to tens of parties' leaderships and prominent figures. Those people are accompanied by tens of vehicles and tens of soldiers who are armed to the teeth. Can you imagine life with all these convoys?"

In other snakes and ladders developments, today comes news on the national census in Iraq. Missy Ryan and Aseel Kami (Reuters) report that the national census -- long promised, long mandated, never implemented -- got kicked down the road again and Nouri's spokesmodel Ali al-Dabbagh announced the news today declaring that the census announced for October 2009 will be held in April 2010. Nouri has no time for the census but he's got plenty of time to scream "Ba'athists! Ba'athists!" Black Wednesday took place two Wednesdays ago and was when numbrous bombs went of in Baghdad with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs being two targets. Over 101 Iraqis died in the bombings and over 500 were injured. Nouri has accused Ba'athist in Syria. He had a for-show confession broadcast with the person (probably tortured into confessing) claiming to be responsible for the Ministry of Finance bombing -- that was the smaller of the two. The claim was more confessions would be broadcast that week. The week has passed. Where are those confessions, Nouri?

As Nouri's stamped his feet demanding Syria turn over to him a list of people, Syria's responded stating that Nouri needs to follow the law and if he has evidence, present it. The two then egnaged in a race to see who could withdraw their ambassadors first. BBC reports today that Turkey is attempting to mediate the situation as Nouri's upped the rhetoric now claiming that there are terrorists training camps in Syria. Does Nouri really want to go there? Don't we all remember the claims of terrorists training camps in Iraq? And how that never panned out. Nouri's latest claim is based on another for-show confession which broadcast Sunday. This person claimed he was trained in Syria to carry out attacks. Strangely, he doesn't appear to have confessed to any attacks.

Not content to be a screaming, raging fool in the region, Nouri's got bigger dreams. Xinhua reports that he's demanding the UN Security Council begin a tribunal to investigate the bombings. Is Nouri aware that demanding an international tribunal makes it appear he's even weaker than many already think he is?

Yesterday, Iran's Press TV reports, that country's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, had a face to face meeting with Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, during which al-Assad called Nouri's charges "unacceptable" and repeated the demand that evidence be presented before Syria extradite anyone. Ned Parker, Saif Hameed and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, shuttled between Baghdad and Damascus on Monday in an effort to contain the dispute between the two countries, who only renewed diplomatic relations three years ago." CNN quotes Burak Ozugergin, spokesperson for Turkey's Foreign Ministry, stating, "Our foregin minister's visit has the objective of reducing tensions between the two sides." On the topic of the bombing targeting the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, the Telegraph of the London reports that Iraqi officials are claiming the bomber was held by the US in Camp Bucca until three months ago. As usual, there's no evidence backing that up. If true, someone might need to explain how he apparently left Camp Bucca, headed to Syria and started training at the alleged terrorist camp. No, Nouri's paraonid rantings do not make much sense . . . ever.

In other get-it-together Thug Nouri news, Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports the Ministry of Defense believes that they have "19 MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters" in storage in Serbia. In storage . . .since 1989. Over 20 years. BBC explains, "At the moment Iraq's air force has no jet fighters, only helicopters, and it had been planning to buy 18 F-16 fighters from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin. It is not known if the discovery of the MiGs will change that." Only Frank James (NPR) seems to grasp that planes stored for 20 years are not only out of date, they're probably going to require a lot of work to get them ready to fly. James notes how they were put in storage in Serbia -- and in Iran -- because Saddam Hussein was hiding them. Strangely, the announcement has not led --at present -- to any outcries that Serbia was 'in bed' with the Butcher of Baghdad and hiding things from the international community which, by 2002, was very interested in what Iraq did and did not have.

Iraq did not have WMDs and the UN didn't think Iraq had them and Bully Boy Bush's declaration that the US would begin bombing forced the UN inspectors to leave Iraq immediately. That's reality and it's not in dispute at present unless your a piece of crap who sold the illegal war and can't get honest all this time later. Yeah, we're talking about the New York Times' John F. Burns. Burnsie was hoping to pollute young minds so Dexter Filkins' old buddy waddled onto a college campus. While there, when not eating, Burnsie made a big ass out of himself. Shelton Burch (K-State Collegian) reports,

It's something that the US government and a huge portion of the US press refused to recognize and it remains the lesson unlearned from the illegal war. Doubt it?In an event that lasted about three hours, Burns praised American values many times. There was a reception before and after Burns' speech, as well as a period in which audience members were able to directly question him.In the course of the speech, Burns, the longest serving war correspondent in The New York Times' history, talked about how America keeps the peace in other wars. This was a belief Burns' father, who served in the Royal airforce in World War II, taught him."That was true then, and it is true now," said Burns.In his speech, Burns compared the alliances between Britain and America during World War II to the alliance between the two now in the current Iraq War. Burns said this was a whole different war on a different scale than that of World War II. What makes this war different in Burns' eye is that America is the leader of a coalition that no longer really exists.

Burnsie's so full of crap he probably has to wear a onesie out in public. Dexy and Burnsie, the GoGo Boys of the Green Zone, did the most to make the Iraq War a long lasting one. There were no WMDs. There was no peace. There was no 'victory' around the corner. But those two War Whores repeatedly lied in print. Dexy wants credit for being more honest in his speeches but who gives a damn what he says in public to a small crowd. He did tremendous damage in print and if Americans had known how awful the illegal war was going, before 2003 ended, you would have had a serious pushback. But liars like Dexy and Burnsie strung the public along with lies, deceptions and half-truths about what was going on in Iraq. They have twice as much blood on their hands as Judith Miller. She may have helped get the US into Iraq but it was the War Whores like Dexy and John F. Burns that kept the US military there.And if you don't grasp that or how disgusting Burnsie is (or even, yeah, let's toss it in, why the paper moved him to London after all those GoGo Boy rumors in Iraq), check out Dave Bergmeier's "Journalist talks about challenges America faces in war time" (Abilene Reflector-Chronicle) which documents the simplistic Burnsie reducing all of Iraq to either Shi'ite or Sunni and most importantly:While Iraq may have been a war of choice, he also knows that dictator Saddam Hussein would have acquired weapons of mass destruction if he could and used violence against his own people. Burns said he does not count himself with the cadre of media members who believe the war in Iraq was a terrible mistake. Hussein, if he could, would have tried to acquire weapons of mass destruction. United Nations weapons inspectors were led to believe that Hussein had them and the dictator did nothing to try to diffuse that belief. Burns believed that he did have those weapons and he thought President George W. Bush did what he thought was right at the time.

Burnsie stood in public and LIED. He flat out LIED. "The dictator did nothing to try to diffuse that belief." Uh, Saddam allowed the inspectors in, you liar John F. Burns, you damn liar. The UN didn't buy the case for war as presented by the Bush administration. That's why there was no UN authorization for war. (After the invasion, which the UN did not autorize, there was a UN authorization for the occupation.) The inspectors weren't even allowed to finish inspections which Burns damn well knows but choose to lie about nearly seven years later. Bully Boy Bush gave Saddam a get-out-town-by-sundown macho b.s. warning and the UN inspectors got out of the country. John Burns is now not just frightening to look at with that ridiculous beard which appears embedded with food and food crumbs, he's an actual menace to any democracy as he lies and rewrites history. He should be ashamed.

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