Saturday, August 15, 2009









IN 2008?






Starting with US military suicides which are increasing by the DoD's own figures. The June figures for the army were released July 9th and they were "no confirmed suicides and nine potential suicides." Yesterday, the Defense Department released the July figures and noted that "four of the nine potential suicides [for June] have been confirmed and five remain under investigation." For July they are investigating eight possible suicides. They also state, "There have been 96 reported active-duty Army suicides during the period Jan. 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009. Of these, 62 have been confirmed, and 34 are pending determination of manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 79 suicides among active-duty soldiers. During July 2009, among reserve component soldiers not an active duty, there were four potential suicides. During the period Jan. 1, 2009 -- July 31, 2009, among that same group, there have been 17 confirmed suicides and 28 potential suicides; the potential suicides are currently under investigation to determine the manner of death. For the same period in 2008, there were 32 suicides among reserve soldiers not on active duty."

Independent journalist Dahr Jamail (at CounterCurrents) observes, "Soldiers are returning from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed mentally, spiritually, and psychologically, to a general population that is, mostly, willfully ignorant of the occupations and the soldiers participating in them. Troops face a Department of Veterans Affairs that is either unwilling or unable to help them with their physical and psychological wounds and they are left to fend for themselves. It is a perfect storm of denial, neglect, violence, rage, suffering, and death." Dahr's latest book was released last month month and is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. July 31st on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, a caller, Pamela, phoned to discuss a family member in the service who took his own life:

Yes. Good morning, how are you? Thank you for taking my call. I am responding to a comment I heard earlier and it really just like shot me in my heart. And the comment was that the suicide rates [in the US military] are skyrocketing and how this has to be addressed. And I literally like I said stopped dead in my tracks. I . . . lost my brother in service due to suicide. He was home on a leave and, uh, about to be, pardon me, to go back and to serve and, uh, was, uh -- the difficulty in getting the mental health services I believe that he needed -- I mean he was married with two children -- was most, most difficult and delayed and a long wait and this and that. And then the unfathomable happened and, uh, when I, uh, at times decided to share how he died rather than just say he died in the war and I would say he died by suicide the remark I would hear unfortunately was, "Oh my goodness, he didn't die a hero then." And-and I continually hear this and I guess I want to make a statement that how someone dies, um, should not be -- that -- that is not a definition of how they lived their lives. And here was a good man who gave and did so much for the community and yet because of how he died -- which you know is a mental illness health related, etc. etc. -- he is now being defined as -- not -- as a zero. And not being defined. And I think you know this-this suicide issue is getting way out of control and for every person that dies by suicide there are at least six to ten people that are horribly effected as well to the point where their mental health also, uh, you know, begins to fall apart and the whole mental health, how to get help, starts all over again. And I should say that the support groups for those that lose a loved one by suicide are now separated from regular grief groups and while attending one and sharing how my loved one died, people were going around the room, people said to me, "Oh my God, why is she here?" I've been asked to leave meetings because -- grief support meetings -- because of how my brother died and I don't think that's fair or correct or right and, um, so the issue goes far beyond the pain of losing a loved one and is extremely complicated. And, um, I wanted to share all that. And if ever anybody hears of someone that dies of a suicide please just say "I'm sorry for your loss" and ask about the person. And don't say anything cruel or unkind because, again, how one lives their entire life for 38 years should not be defined by a, you know, a irrational moment that effects -- that became a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

A caller named Mary also explained some of the stressors she sees (she's married to a service member) on that program (and there's transcripts of both calls in the July 31st snapshot). Moving to today's broadcast of The Diane Rehm Show. The second hour found Diane discussing the international news with Aljazaeera's Abderrahim Foukara, CNN's Elise Labott and McClatchy Newspapers' Warren P. Strobel. We'll come in on the Iran section where Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal -- the three American citizens being held by Iran -- come up.

Diane Rehm: And Elise what is the fate of the Newsweek journalist who strayed apparently into Iran?

Elise Labott: Well you have a couple of detainees. You have a Newsweek journalist, Maziar Bahari, whose been working in Iran, who's been licensed by the Iranian government to work and whose coverage frankly of the regime hasn't been all that critical and he's been caught up in this post-election crisis. He's-he's one of forty -- more than forty journalists that are being tried as part of hundreds of opposition leaders -- some of the most well respected people of the country like Shirin Ebadi, noted Nobel laureate. And there's been a large campaign by Newsweek to-to free him. And then you have three American hikers --

Diane Rehm: Hikers. Right.

Elise Labott: Three American hikers that were hiking in northern Iraq in the Kurdish area in the mountains and it seems as if they strayed into uh, strayed into Iran and were detained by the authorities. And after a kind of week or so of no news whatsoever, the Iranians finally confirmed that they do have them, they are in custody, there's been no consular access, no visits to them at all. What US officials are saying is it's prob -- they don't think that Iran is irrational in these situations and that eventually it will probably shake out like it did in 2007 when Iran picked up these three British -- several British soldiers, held them, milked them for all they were worth and then when the costs -- international outrage and costs of them were too high, they had this ceremony and let them go. So they kind of think that after these hikers, they find out that they've satisfied themselves that they really didn't pose any risks -- the Iraqi government now is getting involved saying, 'They were really just guests of our country and they strayed in, please let them go' -- that eventually, as they did with Roxana Saberi journalist, they will let them go.

Warren P. Strobel: Yeah I think that's probably the case You did have one sort of hardline -- I think it was a member of Parliament, I hope I'm not wrong on that -- say --

Elise Labott: No, it was a member of Parliament, yeah.

Warren P. Strobel: -- that the only reason these three people could have strayed across the border is because they are part of a Western plot to keep things unhinged in Iran. But by and large, I think Elise is probably right that they will be released.

Elise Labott: They just couldn't --

Warren P. Strobel: The costs are too high.

Elise Labott: -- have done it at a worse time. I mean there should be some sort of a warning on your passport not to go into these countries.

Diane Rehm: Yes, you bet. You bet.

Abderrahim Foukara: Yes, I mean regardless of this ball being kicked back and forth between the Iranian government and the United States government as to the nature of what actually happened when those hikers went into Iranian territory, I mean in these situations you inevitably have a new card to play if you're the Iranian government when it comes to negotiations. It just puts one added step on the road to negotiations between the Iranian government and the US government instead of cutting straight to the chase and talking about pressure regarding the nuclear issue, now the US government has this extra hurdle of the three hikers to actually clear before they can talk about any other substance.

Diane Rehm: And speaking of hurdles a new wave of violence in Iraq this week, Warren Strobel?

Warren P. Strobel: Yes, indeed. I think yesterday there was two suicide bombings in the Mosul area targeted against an ethnic minority -- religious minority called the Yazzidis, 21 people killed. That's the latest on a string of these ever since US combat troops left the cities June 30th.

Diane Rehm: So since last Friday, we've had 150 people killed.

Warren P. Strobel: It's, it's a lot. And it's -- though actually, you talk to American commanders they think -- they predicted even worse once -- in other words, it's terrible, I'm not trying to minimize it in any sense of the word but there was a concern that there would be an even larger wave of violence.

Diane Rehm: So how is the Iraqi security handling this?

Warren P. Strobel: You know they -- they're doing better. You had this memo from the American colonel (Timothy Reese) that was published in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago saying the Iraqi security forces were just barely good enough and it's time for us to leave. Iraq is still very unstable and the big concern now is the fault line between the Kurdish areas and the Arab areas and the concern about a full scale ethnic conflict there which we have not seen yet, thank God, but it's a possibility.

Elise Labott: And also there-there, as Warren said, there really trying to fuel an already existing tension between the Arab and the Kurdish government in the north but also up until recently when we've seen these bombings in the north the bombing campaign has really been directed at the Shia and to -- and the bombings have just been horrific, they've been on food lines, you know, school buses, hospitals, funerals, really aimed at the Shia and trying to drag them back into a sectarian war. And the Shia by and large have been very patient. Their spiritual leaders like Grand Ayatollah Sistani have uh told them listen 'No retaliation, renounce violence' and this -- by and large they've been patient but I think people are waiting to see how long that patience will last and whether we'll see the militias come again.

It's really interesting how the media continues to congratulate the Shi'ite dominant population on not publicly going on a violence tear. I don't recall, do you, when the Iraqi Christians have been under attack -- pick any time, it never ends -- any congratulations to them for not responding with violence. What a sad media which repeatedly strokes the Shi'ites as so wonderful for not breaking the law. The same media, it should be noted, which treated the genocide as a civil war. One group controlled the Iraqi government, the Shias. One group had all the power, the Shias. But back then, 2007, it was a civil war -- they covered up for what the dominant group was doing to eradicate a minority. Now they praise that same group for 'restraint.' And what's so amazing is that Elise got close to reality for a moment and then decided to walk it back, "And also there-there, as Warren said, there really trying to fuel an already existing tension between the Arab and the Kurdish government in the north but also up until recently when we've seen these bombings in the north the bombing campaign has really been directed at the Shia". As everyone has yet again rushed to stroke and fawn over the dominant population in Iraq, no one's considered what's going on. Disputed areas erupt in violence? Disputed areas under Kurdish control?

This could very well be a Shi'ite effort to destabalize the area in order to weaken any claim the Kurds may have on the territory. We saw that before. Repeatedly. We saw it with the attacks on Iraqi Christians from the summer of 2008 through November 2008. And we saw, if we paid attention, that the ones blamed originally were the Kurdish peshmerga. The Shi'ites started a whisper campaign that the always-eager-to-please press ran with. But the peshmerga wasn't responsible for the attacks nor would it ever make sense for them to be responsible for the attacks on Iraqi Christians. It was the Shi'ites in that region with indicators that they were being fed/fueled from elsewhere in Iraq.

The Yazidis are not Shi'ite. If they were Shi'ite, they'd be part of the dominant culture and not a minority. More importantly, as per usual, the press can only see the big attacks. There have been attacks for the last two weeks. And those attacks have included attacks, again, on Iraqi Christians in that region. It's interesting how the press only seems to give a damn when the victims are Shia. It's interesting that they then pretend they give a damn because of the violence when the reality appears to be that Shia thugs controlling the government get press appeasement. Out of fear? I have no idea. I only know that Shia thugs have conducted genocide and not been called out by our allegedly free press and now when violence is being conducted in nothern Iraq against Yazidis, Iraqi Christians, Kurds and a host of others, the press can only see Shi'ite victims. It's very strange and very telling. Notice how Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) covers the hundreds of deaths: "Kurdish villages, with mixed populations of Sunnis and Shiites, were targeted heavily. Nearly 3,000 kilogrammes of explosives went off near a small coffee shop in the forgotten village of Khazna, where poor labourers were killed." And the Shia are not monolythic. Frequently here we refer to the Shi'ite thugs (or the Sunni ones). We're referring to the government and militias. (Which are often the same thing for the Shi'ites.) And within the Shi'ite thug grouping, you have various divisions that can and do go to war with one another. A point that the Western media forgets as it renders the division it's helped to create (Shia v. Sunni) as a hard line that easily divides and which finds only one of two groupings.

Last Friday, Abderrahim Foukara hosted a discussion on the United States exiting Iraq on Aljazeera's Inside Iraq (link is video). The panelists were Thomas E. Ricks, Rend al-Rahim and Scott Carpenter. Rahim is an Iraqi and an American and she was the US ambassador to Iraq immediately after the Iraq War. Rahim was a very loyal supporter of George W. Bush and she got in some attacks on Joe Biden. Not a surprise. Rahim was among the exiles agitating for the illegal war. Long gone are the days when she could sit with Laura Bush at State of the Union addresses. Carpenter is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Abderrahim Foukara: Tom, is President Obama in a pickle now having promised that -- during his campaign -- that he would end the war and withdraw US military forces from that country at a time when, on the ground, the situation seems to be somewhat deteriorating?

Thomas E. Ricks: I think it is deteriorating. I think security will worsen throughout this year and probably into next year. The fewer American troops you have, the less influence you have. The American troops have been pulled out of the easier parts first. Later, when the troop numbers start coming down -- they really haven't come down much at all, we're really at the same level the Bush administration had for most of the last six years -- when you start pulling troops out of the difficult areas that are less secure or where Iraqi forces are considered less reliable, I think you're going to see even more violence, more of an unraveling of the security situation.

Ricks went on to note that Barack "threw out a major campaign promise," noting that Barack promised to take a brigade of troops out a month from the time he took office and "if that were the case, he would have taken out 40,000 troops already. He hasn't. So he's thrown away a major promise and he's paid no political cost for that." Of Barack's alleged 'withdrawal' plan (it's not withdrawal and it's George W. Bush's plan), Ricks it wasn't the first one he'd covered, it was "the sixth one."

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Thursday, August 13, 2009











Today two bombers launched an assault outside of Mosul. Jamal al-Badrani Yara Bayoumy and Tim Pearce (Reuters) report that they "detonated vests packed with explosives" at a Sinjar cafe. Iran's Press TV describes it as "a popular coffee shop in an outdoor market". BBC News counts 21 dead and thrity injured and notes a curfew has been imposed on Sinjar. Al Jazeera states the village's "inhabitants are from the minority Yazidi sect". CNN reminds the Yazidis were targeted in August 2007 when over "400 people died and at least 300 were injured" from "suicide truck bombers". Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) explains the official word: The bombings are an attempt to decrease confidence in Nouri al-Maliki prior to the elections currently scheduled for January. We're all supposed to buy that crap when the only thing more amazing is that US and Iraqi officials manage to say it with a straight face.
Point of fact for the Iraqi officials and US officials, we're not as stupid as you think we are. You do not start assaults in August to influence elections in January. Especially not in Iraq. If you want to influence elections scheduled for January, you start no sooner than the end of November and you do that, as anyone who knows one damn thing about revolutions or rebellions, because to start sooner is to risk being caught and derailed. So starting in August risks the entire operation being shut down in October and giving the impression that Nouri's god-like. "Oh look, we had bombings, but Nouri, bless Nouri, he stopped them! I'm voting for Nouri!!!!" You don't do it and everyone knows that. The United Nations did not come out six months ahead of the elections held at the start of this year and state violence is going to start spiking! No. They waited until the immediate time before which is roughly six to eight weeks ahead of an election. That's whn you can influence an election with violence and not have to worry that you'll be caught and your entire operation shut down before the campaigning even begins.
What's the reason for the violence? No one knows at this point. But apparently they've exhausted phoney targets to blame so now they're pretending to be interested in "why." What may be happening, what MAY be happening, is that we may be seeing dry runs, tests for areas of weakness prior to a wave of violence intended to influence elections. That's a possibility especially since the targets largely remain out of Baghdad. (Baghdad is seeing and has seen violence. Including some mass fatalities from bombings; however, the bulk of the most recent of the deadliest attacks have been outside of Baghdad. Some -- though apparently not all -- the Bremer walls in Baghdad are supposed to be coming down and that could be another reason for not attacking Baghdad as heavily. Wait until those walls come down to launch a spectacular attack.) The resistance could be attempting to locate soft spots, weak ones, and measuring response time with the hopes of attacking the most vulnerable areas immediately prior to the elections. That's just a possibility and it could be 100% wrong. No one knows. But it makes no sense for a 'wave of violence proves Nouri's unable to secure the country' to be launched in August if elections are taking place in January.

In other reported violence today, Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 Baghdad roadside bombings which clained 1 life and left eight people injured, 1 bicycle bombing which claimed 2 lives and left thirteen injured, four home bombings in Mosul, a Baquba suicide bomber who took his/her own life (no one else reported dead or injured).

Adam Ashton and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "Tempers are cool in Iraq despite a string of bombings that's killed more than 125 people in the past two weeks, fueling hopes that the attacks won't trigger retalitory killings, at least for now." See that's what real reporters can do. As opposed to Rod Norland's "Shiites in Iraq Show Restraint as Sunnis Keep Attacking" (New York Times) which apparently operates under the belief "Real Journalists Take Sides and Hand Out Gold Stars." As Elaine noted Tuesday night of Nordland's article, "Now here's reality, 2006 the genocide began and the New York Times didn't tell you about it. They underplayed it. It continued through 2007. They covered it a little better but didn't use 'ethnic cleansing,' let alone genocide. But catch any of those reporters when they're giving their speeches in this country and listen as they explain to you that ethnic cleansing took place. They just won't put that in the paper. Tomorrow Rod Norland and the paper attack Sunnis. The same Sunnis they refused to defend during the genocide." Equally true is that the New York Times is saying, "Good Shi'ite thugs armed by Nouri" (that's who is being congratulated by the paper, not the average Shi'ite in Iraq) "for not responding." How the hell does Rod Nordland know what's going on? Mass graves turn up in a month is he going to retract? Hell no, they never do. He doesn't know what the hell is going on but anyone reading that garbage this morning grasps that the paper trying to re-sell the illegal war is in bed with Nouri.
Shane Bauer (Mother Jones) offers some reality on the leaders of Sahwa aka "Awakenings" aka "Sons Of Iraq". The US military created insta-sheiks, tossing around CERP funds:

Eifan is a beneficiary of what some American personnel call the "make-a-sheikh" program, a semiofficial, little discussed policy that since late 2006 has bankrolled Sunni sheikhs who are, in theory, committed to defending American interests in Iraq. The program was a major part of the Awakening, which the Pentagon has touted as a turning point in reducing violence and creating the conditions for an American withdrawal. It was also a reinstitution of a strategy started by Saddam Hussein, who picked out tribal leaders he could manipulate through patronage schemes. The US military didn't give the sheikhs straight-up bribes, which would have raised eyebrows in Washington. Instead, it handed out reconstruction contracts. Sometimes issued at three or four times market value, the contracts have been the grease in the wheels of the Awakening in Anbar--the almost entirely Sunni province in western Iraq where Fallujah is located.
The US military has never admitted to arming militias in Iraq--or giving anything more than $350 a month to Anbari tribesmen to fight alongside Americans against Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda. But reconstruction payments, sometimes handed out in shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills, have left plenty of extra for the sheikhs to "help themselves as far as security goes," as one Marine officer describes it, or "buy guns," as Eifan's uncle, Sheikh Talib Hasnawi, puts it.
[. . .]
Most of these kinds of projects are funded through the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which allows batallion commanders to hand out reconstruction contracts worth up to $500,000 without approval from their superiors or Washington. CERP was founded in 2003 by then-Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer, who took its initial funding from a pool of seized Iraqi assets. Over the next five years, the program disbursed more than $3.5 billion in American taxpayer dollars. A Pentagon manual called "Money as a Weapon System" broadly defines CERP's purpose as providing "urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction." The guideline has been interpreted liberally: CERP recently funded the development of a $33 million Baghdad International Airport "Economic Zone" with two hotels, a remodeled VIP wing, and a $900,000 mural depicting an "economic theme."
CERP regulations explicitly prohibit the use of cash for giving goods, services, or funds to armed groups, including "civil defense forces" and "infrastructure protection forces"--Pentagonspeak for militias. But Sam Parker, an Iraq programs officer at the United States Institute of Peace, says it's "no real secret" among the military in Iraq that CERP contracts are inflated to pay off sheikhs and their armies. Austin Long, an analyst with the Rand Corporation who has been studying the Awakening, says it is not unusual for contracts to go to sheikhs who, like Eifan, had little or no construction experience before the 2003 invasion. "Contracts are inflated because they are only secondarily about the goods and services received," explains Parker. "It's very problematic. You are rewarding the guys with the guns."
Shane Bauer is one of the three Americans currently in Iran. Sara Shourd and Joshua Fattal are the other two. They allegedly were hiking in northern Iraq and allegedly wandered into Iran. New England Cable News (link has text and TV) notes that the three have been moved to Tehran. The three were discussed on the second hour of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, last Friday (noted in that day's snapshot):

Diane Rehm: And what about the three Americans who were arrested for apparently crossing the border from Iraq into Iran, Nancy?

Nancy Youssef: That's right, that's right. These are three hikers in Iraq in Kurdistan who somehow crossed the border and we learned this week and again there's a question of what their fate is and what-what --

Diane Rehm: But they were warned. That's what bothers me. They were warned by Iraqis that they were getting close to the border.

James Kitfield: Can we -- can we put out an all points bulletin now: "Please American hikers don't go into the Kurdistan mountains near the border with Iran because that's not helpful. It's not helpful to you and it's not helpful to our diplomacy with Iran."?

Susan Glasser: And it's not helpful to Iraq which is so trying to change its image and saying that this is a place you can come to and this is a safe place and trying to revamp it's image and, um, this does not help it.

Diane Rehm: So what happens next or is there some ongoing communication, Susan?

Susan Glasser: Well, I think, unlike in dealing with North Korea, there is a much more established, you know, track record of Americans being able to engage with Iran through back channels. Europeans, of course, several countries actually have relations with Iran. So, you know, there's a much more filled out relationship that's ongoing even in times of stress than with North Korea for example. One question and I didn't see what the follow up was, I think these hikers actually were still being kept in Iranian Kurdistan which probably bodes well for their fate. You know, if they're trucked all the way to Tehran --

Diane Rehm: I see.

Susan Glasser: -- and they're put on trial as spies and that sort of thing, then they're going to -- you might need another President Clinton mission at that point to get them out. If it remains at that level, I think you're dealing with something, once the Iranians verify these do indeed seem to be semi-clueless students who were language students in the region in Syria, at least, a couple of them were. So perhaps they can still be handled at the level of clueless interlopers.

James Kitfield: History suggest they'll use them as pawns in whatever game in whatever diplomatic game they decide to play with us and eventually let them go. What-what I will say about this is interesting to me right now is that the clocks that are ticking on the Iran issue are almost out of sync. We -- Obama has set for next month, as a deadline for Iran to-to-to respond to his offer of engagement. A lot of people are saying we should have a tactical policy because you don't want to be engaging with a regime that's lost significant legitimacy because of these elections. On the other hand, the Israelis who are trying to sort of push them to peace negotiations are saying "You have got to at least put a deadline on your dealings with Iran and your sanctions because we think they're going to get the bomb sometime in the next year to sixteen months." So it's very difficult right now this-this problem, these internal problems with Iran, although interesting have really sort of skewed the diplomatic schedule that Obama has set for Iran and it's difficult to know how you put it back in sync.

By Susan Glasser's judgment last Friday, if they were moved to Tehran, things changed. They have now been moved to Tehran.

Will the US be moving out Iraq anytime soon? Over 130,000 US troops remain in Iraq, still more than were in Iraq at the start of 2007. T.J. Buonomo (Foreign Policy In Focus) explores the potential possibilities:

Under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), President Barack Obama is currently bound to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. Three factors, however, make it probable that the president will attempt to renegotiate the terms of the agreement as it approaches its conclusion: Iraqi security forces will continue to be logistically dependent on the U.S. military. The United States will be increasingly dependent on oil from Iraq and the wider region. And the American left will be unable to exert significant electoral pressure on the legislative or executive branch, given the U.S. foreign policy establishment's calculation of the strategic consequences of a complete withdrawal.
Given their continued dependency on the U.S. government and despite their resentment of the occupation, Iraqi leaders might be inclined to agree to a SOFA extension. This would likely entail, at a minimum, continued close air support and logistical assistance to Iraqi Security Forces, as well as a continued advisory mission within the Iraqi defense and interior ministries. It would probably also include continued access to airfields in Iraq to serve as a deterrent against Iran. The Senate would not likely require ratification of a SOFA extension, given its prior decision to accept the Bush administration's claim that the SOFA isn't a treaty and therefore doesn't require Senate approval. A less conspicuous U.S. military mission of perhaps fewer than 50,000 troops would also generate less public opposition, thereby reducing pressure on the Senate to exercise such oversight.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009









Today is the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, marked the occassion with a speech noting the importance then and now of the Geneva Conventions. We'll note this section on International Humanitarian Law which applies to many regions including Iraq:

So what are some of the ongoing challenges to IHL? The first relates to the conduct of hostilities. I referred earlier to the changing nature of armed conflict and the increasingly blurred lines between combatants and civilians. Civilians have progressively become more involved in activities closely related to actual combat. At the same time, combatants do not always clearly distinguish themselves from civilians, neither wearing uniforms nor openly carrying arms. They mingle with the civilian population. Civilians are also used as human shields. To add to the confusion, in some conflicts, traditional military functions have been outsourced to private contractors or other civilians working for State armed forces or for organised armed groups. These trends are, if anything, likely to increase in the years ahead. The result of this, in a nutshell, is that civilians are more likely to be targeted – either mistakenly or arbitrarily. Military personnel are also at increased risk: since they cannot properly identify their adversary, they are vulnerable to attack by individuals who to all appearances are civilians. IHL stipulates that those involved in fighting must make a basic distinction between combatants on the one hand, who may lawfully be attacked, and civilians on the other hand, who are protected against attack unless and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities. The problem is that neither the Geneva Conventions nor their Additional Protocols spell out what precisely constitutes "direct participation in hostilities". To put it bluntly, this lack of clarity has been costing lives. This is simply unjustifiable. In an effort to help remedy this situation, the ICRC worked for six years with a group of more than 50 international legal experts from military, academic, governmental and non-governmental backgrounds. The end result of this long and intense process, published just two months ago, was a substantial guidance document. This document serves to shed light firstly on who is considered a civilian for the purpose of conducting hostilities, what conduct amounts to direct participation in hostilities, and which particular rules and principles govern the loss of civilian protection against direct attack. Without changing existing law, the ICRC's Interpretative Guidance document provides our recommendations on how IHL relating to the notion of direct participation in hostilities should be interpreted in contemporary armed conflict. It constitutes much more than an academic exercise. The aim is that these recommendations will enjoy practical application where it matters, in the midst of armed conflict, and better protect the victims of those conflicts. Direct participation in hostilities is not the only concept relating to the conduct of hostilities that could benefit from further clarification. Differences exist over the interpretation of other key notions such as "military objective", the "principle of proportionality" and "precaution". The debate has been prompted in part by the growing number of military operations conducted in densely populated urban areas, often using heavy or highly explosive weapons, which have devastating humanitarian consequences for civilian populations. The media images of death, injury and destruction -- of terrible suffering -- in such situations of conflict in different parts of the world are surely all too familiar to everyone here today. Another key issue here is the increasingly asymmetric nature of modern armed conflicts. Differences between belligerents, especially in terms of technological and military capacities have become ever more pronounced. Compliance with the rules of IHL may be perceived as beneficial to one side of the conflict only, while detrimental to the other. At worst, a militarily weak party -- faced with a much more powerful opponent -- will contravene fundamental rules of IHL in an attempt to even out the imbalance. If one side repeatedly breaks the rules, there is a risk that the situation quickly deteriorates into a free-for-all. Such a downward spiral would defy the fundamental purpose of IHL -- to alleviate suffering in times of war. We must explore every avenue to prevent this from happening. I would also like to briefly address the humanitarian and legal challenges related to the protection of internally displaced people. In terms of numbers, this is perhaps one of the most daunting humanitarian challenges arising in armed conflicts around the world today, from Colombia to Sri Lanka and from Pakistan to Sudan. This problem not only affects the many millions of IDPs, but also countless host families and resident communities.
Violations of IHL are the most common causes of internal displacement in armed conflict. Preventing violations is therefore, logically, the best means of preventing displacement from occurring in the first place. On the other hand, people are sometimes forcibly prevented from fleeing when they wish to do so. During displacement, IDPs are often exposed to further abuses and have wide-ranging subsistence needs. Even when IDPs want to return to their place of origin, or settle elsewhere, they are often faced with obstacles. Their property may have been destroyed or taken by others, the land might be occupied or unusable after the hostilities, or returnees may fear reprisals if they return. As part of the civilian population, IDPs are protected as civilians in armed conflicts. If parties to conflicts respected the basic rules of IHL, much of the displacement and suffering caused to IDPs could be prevented. Nevertheless, there are some aspects of IHL concerning displacement that could be clarified or improved. These include in particular questions of freedom of movement, the need to preserve family unity, the prohibition of forced return or forced resettlement, and the right to voluntary return.

The Iraq War has created the largest humanitarian crisis. No number fudging necessary, the largest. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates the at risk population residing in Iraq to be 3,140,345. That includes the 2,647,251 Internally Displaced Persons and the 230,000 Stateless Persons (such as the Palestinians trapped on Iraq's border with Syria). Outside of Iraq, the at risk Iraqi population is 4,797,979 which includes the 1,903,519 external refugees. These at risk populations are at risk due to the Iraq War. Syria and Jordan continue to house the largest numbers of Iraqi refugees. The most recent estimates (January 2009 -- and based on registration which a number of refugees avoid for various reasons) places 1,200,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria, 450,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Gulf States, 58,000 in Iran, 50,000 in Lebanon, 40,000 in Egypt and 7,000 in Turkey.

In all those numbers, it's easy to lose track of the individuals. Philip Jacobson (Huffington Post) reports on Iraqi refugee Ahlam Ahmed Mahmoud's journey. She was featured in Deborah Campbell's 2008 "Exodus: Where will Iraq go next?" (Harper's Magazine) which found her in Syria assisting other Iraqis. Campbell was visiting her in May of 2008 when Mahmoud was rounded up by Syrian police, told she would have to spy for Syira on journalists, refused to do so and locked away in a prison for over five months. After finally being release, Mahmoud arrived in Chicago and Iraqi refugees who had made it to the United States (a very small number -- Western nations have done an appalling job in granting asylum to Iraqi refugees) expected that the "fixer" Mahmoud would again be able to assist them and help them navigate the complicated and confusing system. Mahmoud attempted to beg off but ended up starting Iraqi Mutual Aid Society with Beth Ann Toupin. That's the bare bones of her story, Philip Jacobson sketches it out in detail (and with skill) so make the time to read his article. Last month, Mary Owen (Chicago Tribune) reported that Chicago's Edgewater and Rogers Park house approximately 3,000 Iraqis.

Meanwhile the New York Times continues to INSULTINGLY describe Mudhafer al-Husaini as "a former translator with" the paper. This attitude is why the bulk of stringers the paper had early on, hated, HATED, the paper. It's why most of them moved as quickly as possible to work for other outlets. And at other outlets, they got bylines a lot quicker. But Muhafer al-Husaini got bylines (slowly) at the New York Times and it's a little insulting to readers of the paper and a lot insulting to the work Mudhafer al-Husaini did. In June of 2008, Alissa J. Rubin and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Baghdad Blast Kills Four Americans," January of this year Sam Dagher and Mudhafer al-Husaini wrote "Bomber at Iraqi Shrine Kills 40, Including 16 Iranian Pilgrims," November of last year Katherine Zoepf and Mudhafer al-Husaini make the front page with their "Militants Turn to Small Bombs in Iraq Attacks" -- we can go and on. I know bylines -- even if the paper doesn't. And bylines aren't given out of kindness. Anyone who thinks that doesn't grasp the egos on most reporters. Mudhafer al-Husaini earned his many bylines. He is a journalist. Don't insult him by referring to him as a translator. (Nothing wrong with being a translator. I have many friends who are. But, at the paper, he was a 'media worker' who became a journalist. Give him his earned credit for being a journalist.) Mudhafar al-Husseini was granted asylum in the US and he reports on the last months at the Committee to Protect Journalists:

I now live in Tucson , Arizona , a quiet city and a good place to start over and get a wider view of America . I am one of many Iraqis who have come to Tucson . When I talk to fellow Iraqi immigrants, they are also surprised to find such a quiet city in America , but most say that this city is a good fit for them. There are others who are not satisfied with it, and I think that is because they're jobless, which is the same problem in many parts of the U.S. now.
I was astonished by several things I never imagined about life in America . Life is very serious and practical here, and people don't have much time to talk on the street, in markets, or even in public places. It seems everyone is busy with his or her own business and daily concerns. Sometimes I feel that it's good this way, and other times I hate it because in Baghdad you would never feel alone or neglected. People in Baghdad would stay up late and forget about their long workday by hanging out with friends or going out. The day would go until midnight, or even beyond. Many things have changed since the invasion, and the deterioration of the security situation has kept most Iraqis indoors.
I was also surprised that most Americans know nothing about the reality of the war in Iraq . I sometimes find it hard to explain, because Iraq is a complicated place. I think it's the history, the civilization, and the old sand of that country that makes it harder than others to be understood. These aspects were not considered at all before the war. You have to study Iraqi history well and get to know the culture more before dealing with the people on a long-term basis.

This afternoon Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports on Iraqi refugees in the US and finds in New York what is going on across the country -- Iraqi refugees struggle to find work, depend on assistance to pay bills and worry about the meager government benefits running out (which they do -- they run out very quickly). Uday al-Ghanimi and his wife and their three children live in New York and all but Uday speak of a desire to go back to Iraq. Lumping "special visas" and those granted asylum, Semple is reporting that the US has only taken in 45,000 Iraqi refugees since the start of the illegal war. For context, that's 5,000 less than Lebanon is currently officially housing. That's shameful -- both due to the riches of the United States (yes, even in this economic crisis) and for the US government's responsibility in starting the illegal war.

Not all Iraqi refugees are Christians but they make a large percentage of the refugee population (especially considering their percentage in the overall Iraqi population). AINA reports US House Rep Jan Schakowsky has released an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the issue of Iraq's refugees. The [PDF format warning] August 7th letter reads:

I am writing to you today to urge you to develop a comprehensive strategy for the protection of ethno-religious minorities in Iraq. As you are aware, Iraqi minorities continue to face persistent persecution and danger. In particular, I am extremely concerned about the ongoing ethno-religious cleansing of Iraq's Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christian community.
Iraqi Christians have faced relentless persecution, threats, and violence since the commencement of United States operations in Iraq, and the danger has accelerated dramatically since 2004. In fact, 2008 represented one of the most devastating years for Iraqi ethno-religious minorities, especially the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians. Because of the ongoing crisis facing minority groups, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has now formally designated Iraq a 'Country of Particular Concern.'
Despite this ongoing crisis, the United States has consistently failed to develop a comprehensive policy to address this serious situation. However, I believe that we now have an opportunity to encourage widespread recognition of this crisis and work together to find a solution. Any successful diplomatic policy must consider security, development, and governance dimensions, and must recognize the centrality of the Nineveh Plains to the future of these people. It must also include the full implementation of Article 125 of the Iraqi constitution.
I strongly urge you to develop a meaningful policy outlining concrete steps that the U.S. can take towards a sustainable solution. As you begin this process, I would encourage you to meet with representatives of the Assyrian community to discuss the situation.

Please note that Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, has been designated as the point person on Iraq. This designation came about after Barack's unannounced go to on the region proved to be a failure. (That person was not Hillary. Hillary was never the point-person on Iraq.) Nineveh was in the news on Monday with the twin truck bombings attacking the Shabak community. Article 125 of Iraq's Constitution deals with local administration [PDF format warning, click here] and states, "This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, political, cultural and educational rights of the variou snationalities, such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law." Meanwhile Stockholm News notes Sveriges Radio reporting "Christian Iraqi refugees have been sent back to Iraq. This has raised upset reactions both from within Sweden and from foreign human rights experts." In Syria, Susan Irvine (Financial Times of London) reports on Iraqi refugees, "Besma didn't rush to tell me about Iraq and the war, and I was reticent to ask. But over time she told me about the early days of 'shock and awe'. Communications were down, and the area where her mother lived was being heavily bombed. Besma persuaded a neighbor to drive her through Baghdad -- an incredibly dangerous journey -- to check on her. They got as far as the river, but the bridges were blown up. She told me about the first time she looked out of her window and saw Americans 'coming down the street in their big Hummers as if they owned the place'. She told me how her brother was murdered in the sectarian violence that followed. Her mother -- 'thanks be to God' -- was unharmed."

At the end of last month, the UNHCR issued a report entitled "Surviving in the city" focusing on cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and dealing with the needs of "large populations of urban refugees." Among the problems faced, "the majority of Iraqis do not have any immediate prospect of finding a solution to their plight. Most of them consider that current conditions in Iraq prevent them from repatriating, while a significant number state that they have no intention of returning there under any circumstances." From page 49 (report is not PDF format, for any thinking that detail was forgotten):

A Jordanian scholar who was interviewed in the course of this review commented that "the decision to flee from your own country is always easier to make than the decision to return." This observation is certainly supported by the case of the Iraqi refugees, many of whom left their homes at short notice, threatened by escalating violence in their homeland and the very real threat that they would be targeted for attack because of their religious identity, their profession or their relative prosperity.
At the time of their sudden departure, the refugees hoped that the crisis would not persist very long, and that withing a reasonable amount of time they would be able to return to Iraq, reclaim their property and resume their previous life. But as time has passed, those expectations have faded and the refugees are left with few choices with regard to their future.
The majority do not want to repatriate now or in the near future. Only some of the refugees can expect to be admitted to a third country by means of resettlement. And those who remain in their countries of asylum have no opportunity to benefit from the solution of local integration have very limited prospect for self-reliance and are confronted with the prospect of a steady decline in their standard of living. In the words of an elderly refugee man living in the Syrian city of Aleppo "when we left Iraq, we simply didn't know that we would end up like this."

Today the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released their [PDF format warning] 2nd Quarter report "Humanitarian Funding Update" which shows huge shortfalls for all countries in terms of the monies needed for assistance. For Iraq, the UN was calling for $650 million and has seen $276 million in contributions this year leading to a shortfall of $374 million.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Iraqi press under attack, NYT continues to ignore that fact"
"Amnesty International issues statement on Danny Fitzsimons"
"Bob Somerby makes some sense but . . ."
"Carly Simon and 'It's not like him'"
"Can Swans Commentary shut down? Please"
"The Idiot and Elitist Barbara Erhenreich"
"Nancy Pelosi, the new Senator McCarthy"
"Tim Wise, zip it and sit it"
"Melissa Harris Lacewell: Stupid and a bad liar"
"NYT not in the news business"
"Some people shouldn't write letters"
"Faded star power"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009








Today the US Dept of Defense announced a death in Iraq and i.d.ed the fallen, Spc Richard A. Walters Jr. who died in yesterday from "injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident." Currently, the link is not working. If it's still not working when the snapshot goes up, we'll note the passing in tomorrow's snapshot as well. We just said that DoD identified the fallen and that they announced the death. See a problem? MNF is supposed to announce the deaths. DoD is supposed to identify them (after the immediate family has been notified). So what happened? MNF 'forgot' to announce the death. That's the second time in two weeks that they've missed their key function. They're nothing but a press relations crew and one of their duties is to announce deaths. The DoD is only supposed to (later) provide the name. MNF gets away with this because the press has never once protested. The announcement brings to 4331 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

From Friday through Monday, there were reports of 124 deaths and 624 injured from violence. Natalia Antelava (BBC News) analyzes these developments and postulates that instead of death tolls, "Looking at the nature of the attacks might provide better insight. As the US generals prepared for the June withdrawal of their troops from Iraqi cities, US military officials argued that the attacks had become much less organised and sophisticated. However, less than two months after the pull-out, this seems to be changing. The latest bombings resemble the well co-ordinated, well planned strikes of the earlier years of heightened violence." Antelava is correct and the only thing to add to that is that maybe newspaper headlines which read "Afghanistan bombs more deadly" can also be seen as a taunt in Iraq? How do you even measure that? Considering the differing landscapes and everything else and what is that sort of headline anyway, some war mongering reporting's notion of fantasy football? Equally true is that reporters have rarely grasped the ebb and flow of the Iraq attacks. Or maybe they just didn't care to detect a pattern? When's the next big attack coming? Press reports suggest one was just prevented. BBC News reports Kuwait is claiming that they have stopped a plan to attack a US military base in Iraq and arrested 6 of their own citizens who have "confessed to the crimes after they were arrested."

Whether the arrests and confessions are valid, violence didn't stop in Iraq today.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which left four people wounded, a Baghdad car bombing which left nine people wounded, three Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed 3 lives and left ten injured ("police said that this figure was a preliminary") and a Falluja roadside bombing which left four people wounded. Reuters notes 2 Baghdad car bombings which claimed 8 lives and left thirty people injured.

That's today. In the future? Adam Entous (Reuters) reports on the Pentagon briefing by Geoff Morrell today where he stated, "But we are very nervous, continue to be, about the overall Arab-Kurdish tensions. [. . .] We are going to remain vigilant. A certain number of U.S. forces are required in that country . . . in no small measure to try to assist . . . the Arabs and the Kurds solve some of these problems while we are still there." Kat covered the Kurdish issue last night, "AFP reports today that Maj Gen Jamal Taher Bakr, who is the police chief of Kirkuk, says 'It would be better' when asked if US troops should stay until 2012 or 2013. Remember that Kirkuk is disputed. In the country's constitution (ratified in 2005), it says a referendum will be held following a census and that will determine Kirkuk's fate. It's an oil-rich region and the central government wants it and so does the Kurdistan region. This was supposed to have been decided long, long ago. Instead of deciding, the issue has been a can that everyone's played kick the can with. It's not surprising that the issue alarms the police chief or any resident of Kirkuk and I'm not making fun of them or even saying, 'You're wrong!' I am saying that the longer the issue is put off, the worse it gets." Kirkuk is disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad, both of which want it to be part of their region. Among those outside players attempting to influence events is the government of Turkey which fears Kurdish power and self-rule due to its own internal issues. Complicating the matter further are the PKK which is a labeled a terrorist organization by the US, England, the European Union, Turkey and many others. These are Kurdish fighters who support Kurdish independence within Turkey. They have set up bases in the mountains of northern Iraq to stage attacks. Jane Arraf (Christian Science Montior) reports that the foreign ministers of Iraq and Turkey -- Hoshyar Zebari and Ahmet Davutoglu -- held a press conference in Baghdad today where they revealed an offer of water for Iraq were it to crack down on the PKK. The water issue is an important one to Iraq. Anthony DiPaloa and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reported last week that the country was set to "have its worst harvest in a decade this year as an extended drought cuts its water supply, forcing the third-biggest OPEC producer to increase grain imports as oil revenue drops."

Will Nouri attack the PKK? Very likely. July 28th, he launched an attack on the residents of Camp Ashraf. With more on that, this is from Amnesty International:

Thirty-six Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq remain at risk of being forcibly returned to Iran where they could face torture or execution. The 36 have been detained since Iraqi security forces stormed the camp, about 60km north of Baghdad, on 28 July. At least eight Camp Ashraf residents were killed and many more injured during the raid. Most of the 36 are reported to have been beaten and tortured. At least seven are said to need urgent medical care. Camp Ashraf is home to about 3,500 members of the People's Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), an Iranian opposition group which has been based in Iraq since 1986. Following the raid, the 36 were taken to a police station inside the camp. They were held there for an hour and are reported to have been tortured and beaten before being transferred to a police station in the town of al-Khalis, about 25 km south of Camp Ashraf. According to reports, the detainees were told to sign documents written in Arabic by those detaining them, but refused to do so. They have also sought access to lawyers, so far unsuccessfully. Of the seven reported to need medical treatment, Mehraban Balai sustained a gunshot injury to his leg and a broken arm after being beaten by Iraqi security forces. Habib Ghorab is said to suffer from internal bleeding and Ezat Latifi has serious chest pain. He is thought to have been run over by one of the military vehicles used by Iraqi forces in seizing control of the camp. The PMOI established itself in Iraq in 1986 (during the Iran-Iraq war, 1980-88), at the invitation of the then President Saddam Hussein. In 1988, from its base at Camp Ashraf, the PMOI attempted to invade Iran. The Iranian authorities summarily executed hundreds, if not thousands, of PMOI detainees in an event known in Iran as the "prison massacres". For a number of years it was listed as a "terrorist organization" by several Western governments. Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the PMOI members disarmed and were accorded "protected persons" status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. This lapsed in 2009, when the Iraqi government started to exercise control over Iraq's internal affairs in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a security pact agreed by the governments of Iraq and the USA in November 2008 and which entered into force on 1 January this year. US forces in Iraq provided effective protection for Camp Ashraf until mid-2009, after which they completed their withdrawal to their bases from all Iraqi towns and cities. After they disarmed, the PMOI announced that they had renounced violence. There is no evidence that the PMOI has continued to engage in armed opposition to the Iranian government, though people associated with the PMOI still face human rights violations in Iran. Since mid-2008 the Iraqi government has repeatedly indicated that it wants to close Camp Ashraf, and that residents should leave Iraq or face being forcibly expelled from the country. Amnesty International has urged the authorities not to forcibly return any Camp Ashraf resident or other Iranians to Iran, where they would be at risk of torture and other serious human rights violations. The organization has called upon the Iraqi authorities to investigate all allegations of torture and beatings, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The organization has also called on the authorities to provide appropriate medical care to the 36 detainees and to release them unless they are to be promptly charged with a recognizable offence and brought to trial according to international standards for fair trial.

Read More
Iraq: Concern for detained Camp Ashraf residents (Public statement, 4 August 2009) Eight reported killed as Iraqi forces attack Iranian residents of Camp Ashraf (News, 29 July 2009)

Iran's Press TV reports today that protestors gathered in Diyalah Province in a 'brave and dangerous' demonstration (that's sarcasm) to support the decision of Nouri al-Maliki to expell the residents of Camp Ashraf. In any country, the most pathetic thing is the lackeys who feel the need to pimp the government line. (As true in Iraq as it is in the US -- whether it comes from Barry O's astroturf friends or Bully Boy Bush's 'freedom rallies'.) Gordon Lubold (Christian Science Monitor) notes the human rights lawyers calling on the US government to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents sent "Documents Show Iraq, U.S. in Breach of Obligations to Protect Camp Ashraf Residents" to the public e-mail account (Betty noted it last night):

In a news briefing today at the National Press Club, international and U.S. lawyers of residents of Camp Ashraf presented documents of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Iraqi government during the July 28 attack on Camp Ashraf. They also made public the agreements signed between the U.S. government and every resident of the Camp Ashraf for their protection. Camp Ashraf is home to members of the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Its residents had signed an agreement with the Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2004, according to which the US agreed to protect them until their final disposition."The official U.S. government response to the events at Ashraf is that all issues concerning the Camp are now matters for the Iraqis to determine, as an exercise of their sovereignty. But that is a red herring: no one contests the sovereignty of the State of Iraq over Ashraf. Sovereignty does not provide an excuse for violating the human rights of the residents. Nor does it justify inaction on the part of the United States," said Steven Schneebaum, Counsel for U.S. families of Ashraf residents.He stressed: "The U.S. was the recipient of binding commitments by the Government of Iraq to treat the Ashraf residents humanely, and we know that has not happened. Moreover, it was the United States with whom each person at Ashraf reached agreement that protection would be provided until final decisions about their disposition have been made. And the United States remains bound also by principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law that make standing by during an armed attack on defenseless civilians unacceptable, and that impose an obligation to intervene to save innocent lives."Francois Serres, Executive Director of the International Committee of Jurists in Defense of Ashraf, which represents 8,500 lawyers and jurists in Europe and North America, added, "This [assault] is a manifest of crime against humanity by the Iraqi forces, attacking, with US-supplied weapons and armored vehicles, unarmed residents of Ashraf. The Iraqi government cannot be trusted in protecting the residents of Ashraf. The U.S. must undertake efforts to protect them until international protection is afforded to the residents." "We will pursue this matter before the International Criminal Court and courts in France and Belgium. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is fully responsible for these atrocities and he will be held to account," he added. Zahra Amanpour, a human rights activist with the U.S. Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents also spoke at the news briefing. Ms. Amanpour, whose aunt is in Ashraf, said: "Why are the Department of State and the White House stone-walling us, the families of Camp Ashraf residents? Thirty-five people have been on a hunger strike outside the White House for 13 days, and we still don't have any reply by the administration."Claude Salhani (Washington Times) reports on the press conference and notes, "French lawyer Francois Serres said at a news conference in Washington that he would be taking legal action against Mr. al-Maliki in European courts as well as in the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Other lawsuits would be filed in U.S. courts against the U.S."

"They gave me a gun" he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory --
Propaganda -- piss on 'em.
There's a war zone inside me --
I can feel things exploding --
I can't even hear the f**king music playing
For the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
[. . .]
"They went you -- they need you --
They train you to kill --
To be a pin on some map --
Some vicarous thrill --
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of -- the beat of black wings."
-- "The Beat of Black Wings," words and music by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm.

Danny Fitzsimons served in the British military for eight years and was stationed in Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is in the news for his time in Iraq as a British contractor, or mercenary, accused of being the shooter in a Sunday Green Zone incident in which 1 British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and 1 Australian contractor, Darren Hoare, died and one Iraqi, Arkhan Madhi, was injured. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) reports today that Fitzsimons' parents, Eric and Beverly, and stepmother, Liz, state their son, now potentially facing the death penalty in Iraq's 'justice' system, has PTSD: "We are seeking funding in order to get a fair trial for Daniel, who served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq and left the Army suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This situation is every parent's worst nightmare. We have been unable to speak directly to Daniel and are currently in contract with the Foreign Office, Fair Trials Abroad and our local MP, Jim Dobbin." Eric and Liz Fitzsimons speak to the BBC (link has video):

Liz Fitzsimons: You see, when he came out of the army because the army had always been his life, it was then at a real crossroads in his life and where some people might be able to cope, unfortunately, Daniel didn't cope well because he did enjoy army life. It was all he ever wanted, he loved it. And you come out and you live Middleton, which is where he ended up, and he couldn't find a path that suited him, he couldn't find a job although he tried very hard. And a testament to Daniel is that he joined a gym and kept himself -- Daniel likes routine. Daniel goes to the gym every day almost, I would suggest, every day, goes jogging he's a very clean young man. You know, he's not sort of gone wayward and just gone to the dogs kind of thing. And he met a girl, like you want your children to do, but then he wanted the normal life and he wanted the money that would go with a normal life. How does he do that when he can't find a job? And unfortunately becoming a security --

Eric Fitzsimons: He went back into doing security.

Liz Fitzimons: -- person in Iraq. [. . .] Oh, awful. Awful. The situation in Iraq isn't good, is it? We all know it's not good. But he would be out in convoys I believe their main job is to escort to --

Eric Fitzsimons: Oil [workers? Second word isn't clear.]

Liz Fitzsimons : Yes but they do escort people to jobs. And they do ride shotgun basically. They ride around --

Eric Fitzsimons: He's told us quite a lot of --

Liz Fitzsimons: Yeah.

Eric Fitsimons: -- tales

Liz Fitzsimons: He saw some awful things. The person in the cab next to him was blown up.

Eric Fitzsimons: Yeah.

Liz Fitzsimons: Next to him. At the same he had a bullet in his foot.

Eric Fitzsimons: Bullet in his foot, yeah, he's seen all sorts of IEDs you know, sorts of explosions at the side of the road. Loads and loads of them. And seen lots and lots of his friends killed.

They're asked about whether or not they attempted to talk Danny out of being a mercenary ("mercenary" is the term Eric Fitzsimons uses) and his father notes that they had conversations with him going back many years but he is a grown up who makes his own decisions. They express their sympathies for the families of the two men who were killed. "We're not saying that Daniel doesn't have to face what he's done," Liz Fitzsimons explains. "He does. He does have to face that. And we know he does. But what we want is for it to be fair and unfortunately where he is now, we don't think it will be."

While Danny Fitzsimons' family is unable to speak to him, Oliver August (Times of London) reports his paper has been able to and that Fitzsimons states the incident was self-defense: "I got into a fight with two colleagues and they had me pinned down. I received a real beating. They beat me and that's when I reached for my weapon. I was drunk and it happened very quickly."

The early morning shooting followed the consumption of alcohol. Oliver August teams with Deborah Haynes to note that "private security guards [in Iraq] always carry weapons, even when drinking" and they note the various bars to be found in the Green Zone including the now closed "CIA Bar" and the "FBI Bar." Fitzsimons worked for ArmorGroup and Haynes gives an overview of the company here. August reports that "the investigators told the judge that they have all the evidence they need to proceed with a trial. The Foreign Office is checking options on how to help Mr Fitzsimons but there appears to be little chance that he could be handed over to British officials or stand trial in UK for the alleged murder of a British and an Australian security guard also on contract with ArmorGroup." Martin Chulov (Guardian) was not present in the Iraqi court yesterday but he quotes Maj Gen Abdul-Kareem Khalaf stating Fitzsimons "made admissions." Take it with a grain of salt and remember all the distortions Iraqi government officials made of what the shoe tosser had supposedly stated. Jamie Walker and Sarah Elks (The Australian) note, "Aged in his 20s, the Briton is set to become the first foreign security contractor to face Iraqi justice; he could receive the death penalty if he is found guilty of gunning down Mr Hoare and Mr McGuigan." The New Statesman explains, "Last night British Embassy staff were trying to secure access to Fitzsimons. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is looking into how it can help but there appears to be little chance that he will stand trial in Britain."

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"PBS uses the scissors to censor Minority Rights Group International"
"British contractor, said to suffer from PTSD, said he acted in self-defense"
"24 banks closed in 2008, 72 in 2009 thus far"
"Telemarketer Barack"
"Camp Ashraf"
"sandbag and hesco left behind and abandoned"
"Quick impressions"
"The youth will lead the way?"
"Bob Fertik is an idiot (and apparently a racist)"
"It's a Punk Ass life for Tolu Olurunda"

Monday, August 10, 2009





This is no time for jokes or trivial banter. The stakes are getting higher by the nanosecond. As tensions are inflamed at health care town hall meetings across the country, a dangerous trend of Hitler comparisons, Stalin comparisons, and all-around dictator comparisons to President Barack Obama is taking shape. The most probing question at this juncture might be uncomfortable to some, but it must be asked: Do conservative, hard-right demagogues, whose hatred for President Obama has hardly ever been subdued, secretly hope for--and are hard at work toward--the assassination of the nation's first Black president.



Chilling Image of Bush
Bush Hitler Comparison
Now tell us this photo doesn't evoke images of Nazi Germany in the 1930s! Here's Bush apparently giving an unabashed "Seig Heil!", while in the background a US flag hangs vertically suspended, as the Nazi flag was displayed..

Bush's Biggest Rally - a White Supremacist Triumph?
Bush Hitler Comparison

It is chilling that the largest rally Bush has been able to stage was pulled off in the heart of NeoNazi territory in Butler County, Ohio. Not only does Ohio lead the Midwest in the number of white-supremacist groups, according to a 2001 study, but Butler County in particular has a grim recent history of being a white supremacist stronghold. Bush's rally was held in a stark, post-industrial-park site called "Voice of America Park" in West Chester, Butler County Ohio, just 25 miles from Hamilton, where for a time, the Aryan Nations had their national "clubhouse." It is disturbing indeed that Bush's team felt certain they would be able raise the largest number of rally attendees in his entire campaign here in hate group country.

Bush Mocks Kerry (and the American People) for Being Duped into an Illegal War
Bush Hitler Comparison

Actually, this quote describing Hitler's tactics sums Bush's manipulations up nicely: "Naturally, the common people don't want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a facist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country." - Herman Goering speaking at the Nuremberg trials after WWII (thanks Howard Stern - who has this on page one of his site)

Bush Ignores Plea from Anti-Defamation League to Remove 'Offensive, Demeaning and Inappropriate' Hitler Video
Bush Hitler Comparison "The Anti-Defamation League today expressed disappointment that Nazi images are still prominently featured in a video on the official re-election campaign Web site of President [sic] George W. Bush. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement: We are disappointed that the Bush-Cheney campaign has not removed Nazi images, including Adolf Hitler, from the President's re-election Web site. The campaign's rehashing of what had appeared on the site, which was removed after outcry from ADL and others, is inappropriate and offensive. Using images of Hitler and terminology from the Nazi regime in campaign attacks is offensive and demeaning to the memory of the six million and others who died in the Holocaust. ...We urge the Bush-Cheney campaign to immediately remove the Hitler imagery from the video."

CHILLING DEJA VU: The Original Bush-Hitler Comparison (You'll See why the GOP is Frantically Trying to Redirect the Parallel!)
Bush Hitler Comparison

"When this essay comparing Hitler's rise to power with Bush, and the tactics of the present GOP with the 1930s Nazis and Stalin's communist regime was first published in July, 2001, the author was the recipient of a flood of hate mail and even a couple of death threats from militant rightwingers. But the comparison hit home: the article has been been circulating all over the world, reprinted in at least five languages. Unlike the lame, even bizarre comparisons rightwingers try to make between Clinton, Dean, et al. and Hitler, the similarity between Bush's regime and the rise of the Nazis is REAL and has evoked a shock of recognition in readers - or, as the title says, a "Chilling Deja Vu."

Nazi Justification for Torture Was Just Like Bush's
Bush Hitler Comparison

Here is one more important comparison between the Busheviks and the Nazis. Digby blogs, "It's interesting that the crack lawyers who devised this new immunity from war crimes evoked the Nuremberg defense. Aside from the obvious fact that the Nuremberg defense failed spectacularly, it is also interesting because one of the war crimes the Nuremberg defendents, which included the SS, SA and the Gestapo as well as individuals, were tried and convicted of were using what they believed to be a legally prescribed interrogation method they called 'the third degree.' I'm sure you've all heard of it."

Bush Brownshirts Terrorize Gallery Owner for Abu Ghraib Painting
Bush Hitler Comparison

This is so much like 1930s Germany when Hitler's thugs (known as the "Brown Shirts") roamed at large, physically assaulting any Nazi dissenters or vandalizing their property. "Lori Haigh began receiving threatening phone calls soon after she displayed Guy Colwell's painting 'The Abuse', depicting Abu Ghraib, in the front window of her gallery. A few days later garbage was strewn outside the building, which was also splattered with eggs. Although Haigh removed the picture from the front window the harassment continued, with about 200 hostile voicemail and email messages, including six death threats, during the next week. Last week a man wearing a fisherman's cap and a fatigue jacket walked into the gallery, pretended to look at the pictures and then suddenly walked up to Haigh and spat in her face. Two days later another man knocked on the front door of building and then punched her in the face, knocking her out and breaking her nose."

Will Bush's Baghdad = Hitler's Stalingrad?
Bush Hitler Comparison

Daily Brew writes, "Hitler's biggest blunder was, of course, invading Russia... The war with England wasn't yet won, but Hitler's hubris was sufficient that he went against the advice of his generals. In a very similar manner, Bush ignored the advice of scores of military and civilian planners to attack Iraq, when the war against al Qaeda was not quite over... [After invading Afghanistan,] the United States and coalition partners were mostly successful in putting al Qaeda on the defensive. This balance began to change when the military and intelligence resources devoted to Afghanistan were redirected towards Iraq in the winter and spring of 2003. While the initial attack in Iraq proceeded with stunning speed, in the aftermath, the United States found itself bogged down as an occupying force at an enormous cost in both men and materials. Al Qaeda was able to regroup and retrench, and the results are now evident in the blood of Spanish citizens."

McAuliffe Demands GOP Chair Gillespie Repudiate Comparison of Senate Democrats to Nazis
Bush Hitler Comparison

"Terry McAuliffe said he would be personally monitoring the Republican National Committee's website anxiously waiting for Chairman Ed Gillespie to repudiate comments made by a right wing columnist comparing Senate Democrats to Nazis. Gillespie recently took to the airwaves to express outrage over an ad posted at the web site that used images of Adolph Hitler. Despite giving the ad more play on the RNC web site than it had in its entire existence on MoveOn's site, Gillespie called it: 'the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.' National Review writer Timothy Carney in a column on Friday, compared Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to Nazis and Senator Orrin Hatch to Neville Chamberlain... The Nazi charge stems from a decision by Hatch and the Republican leadership to allow the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate Republican theft of Democratic documents for more than a year."

Are Parallels to Nazi Germany Crazy? Harley Sorenson of the San Francisco Chronicle Doesn't Think So
Bush Hitler Comparison

"'Dear Mr. Sorensen -- My father was a Nazi soldier and he realized during the war what he and most of his generation was led into. I have learned from him that a nation can be guilty and that we must stop the arrogance of the powers at the very beginning. To me, America is becoming truly scary and the parallels to the development in Germany of the thirties (although the reason behind it are totally different) are sickening. Thank you for writing about this development. The world is waiting for signs of opposition in the Unilateral States of America!' [This] is typical of a half dozen or so I've received over the past year from people with intimate knowledge of Nazi Germany. I respect experience, so I'm inclined to believe what these people are telling me. Perhaps their memories help explain the attitude of Germans toward the Bush administration these days. They've been there, they've done that. They know what a corrupt government smells like."

Read the 'Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' for Frightening Parallels to Bush
Bush Hitler Comparison recommends "William L. Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, easily one of the most frightening books I ever read... the parallels a reader can draw between Adolph Schicklegruber Hitler and George Warmonger Bush aren't just mentioned - they leap off the pages like GOP 'protesters' at a Florida vote recount. Shirer was there. He interviewed Hitler more than once, along with many of the major Nazi officials. He also knew high ranking officials of the various governments of Europe, and could read many of the major newspapers in their native languages. Ergo, he was an intelligent man who could not only notice, but interpret, what the events of his day portended... So please - it's your country too. Read up on what Hitler did to his nation, and note what Bush is doing to yours - then work on your Republican brother-in-law who's still looking for a real job. There's everything to gain - and even more to lose."

Where Were Nazi-Comparison Critics When Pat Robertson Attacked Liberals?
Bush Hitler Comparison

In 1993, Pat Robertson declared: "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It's the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history." As Bryan Oberle writes, "It's hard to imagine any clear-thinking adult insisting that those nasty old liberals are worse than Nazis. That the defenseless, oppressed evangelical minorities' fate is worse than the European Jews during the Holocaust. It's the sort of statement that gets you jailed in Germany." We demand that Ed Gillespie, the ADL, and the AJC condemn Pat Robertson!

'I'm Afraid of a Reign Far More Barbaric than the Nazis'
Bush Hitler Comparison

SL grew up in the shadow of Hitler. "Why have I drawn a parallel between the Nazis and the present administration? Just one small reason -the phrase 'Never forget'... Anyone who compares the history of Hitler's rise to power and the progression of recent events in the US cannot avoid the parallels. It's incontrovertible. Is Bush another Hitler? Maybe not, but with each incriminating event, the parallel grows -it certainly cannot be dismissed... Just as Hitler used American tactics to plan and execute his reign, it looks as if Karl Rove is reading Hitler's playbook to plan world domination - and that is the stated intent of both. From the Reichstag fire to the landing at Nuremberg to the motto of 'Gott Mit Uns' to the unprovoked invasion and occupation of Iraq to the insistence that peace was the ultimate goal, the line is unbroken and unwavering. I'm afraid now, that what may still come to pass is a reign far more savage and barbaric than that of the Nazis."

BuzzFlash Challenges GOP's Attack on Moveon
Bush Hitler Comparison

"We are wondering where [GOP Chair Ed] Gillespie was when Republican supporters were running ads in SD linking pussycat Tom Daschle to Saddam Hussein. We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when the Bush Cartel circulated rumors in the 2000 SC primary that John McCain had a black child and was a traitor during his captivity in Vietnam. We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when the Bush Cartel openly lied America into war. We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when the White House outed a CIA operative specializing in WMD. We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when Bush's religious comrades-in-arms said America had 9/11 coming to it. We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when de facto lead policy strategist for the Bush White House, Grover Norquist, compared the estate tax to the Holocaust? We are wondering where Mr. Gillespie was when every Republican leader with a nickel in his pocket was comparing Bill Clinton to Satan...well, the list just doesn't stop, does it?"

Drudge Attacks Bush-Hitler Satire
Bush Hitler Comparison

The Busheviks are terrified of the enormous grassroots power of Moveon, so they are doing everything they can to destroy it. Now Matt Drudge is attacking Moveon because one of the "Bush in 30 Seconds" finalists - Symbolman of - previously produced a satirical comparison of Bush and Hitler. This Bush-Hitler comparison stuff is REALLY driving rightwingers insane - because it cuts so close to the truth.

The Bush-Hitler Comparison: The First Warning Bell Was Rung Right Here at Months Before 9/11!
Bush Hitler Comparison

Cheryl Seal writes: "When this essay comparing Hitler's rise to power with Bush, and the tactics of the present GOP with the 1930s Nazis and Stalin's communist regime was first published in July, 2001, I was the recipient of a flood of hate mail and even a couple of death threats from militant rightwingers. But the comparison hit home: the article has been been circulating all over the world, reprinted in at least five languages. Unlike the lame, even bizarre comparisons rightwingers try to make between Clinton, Dean, et al. and Hitler, the similarity between Bush's regime and the rise of the Nazis is REAL and undeniable and has evoked a shock of recognition in readers - a chilling deja vu - that has been steadily growing."

That Pesky Bush-Hitler Thing
Bush Hitler Comparison

Marc Ash satirizes, "Here we go again. Another bone-head with a Bush-Hitler analogy... Just because his grandfather Prescott Bush financed Hitler's rise to power, do they think that means George W. Bush has Nazi tendencies? That's absurd... And who are these bloody Europeans who keep comparing Bush to Hitler? Take that German Justice Minister, Herta Daubler-Gmelin, who compared Bush's dealings on Iraq to those of Hitler. That really takes the cake, now doesn't it? What do the Germans know of Hitler anyway? Why should they feel empowered to warn the world of such impending dangers? Why couldn't they just shut-up and help us kill the Iraqis? The worst has to be Newsweek's Poland bureau. The story they published titled 'The Bush Family and Nazis' was completely out of left field. Who cares that the story states 'The Bush family reaped the benefits of slave labor in the Auschwitz concentration camp'?"

'My Moveon Ad Ticked Off The RNC'
Bush Hitler Comparison

Todd Mattson writes, "I think my ad was one of them that ticked off the RNC and boy does that make my day. Thing is, I didn't really state that Bush is Hitler, nor do I believe that. I do, however, know that he has said some rather scary stuff, and his administration is hell bent on turning America into a police state. Here's the copy from my ad... 'There ought to be limits to freedom.' - George W. Bush... 'If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.' - George W. Bush... Don't let George W. Bush run roughshod over our constitutional freedoms.' So George, if you don't want to be compared to Hitler, then quit saying crap like that, learn what patriotism REALLY means and quit mixing up nationalism with it, and call off Ashcroft and his anti-freedom dogs. Otherwise, we Americans are going to get the idea that you have other motives in addition to being the most corrupt president ever."

Rightwing NH Paper Demands Dean Denounce Bush-Nazi Ad
Bush Hitler Comparison

The Manchester (NH) Union Leader is infamous for its right-wing extremism. Now they are viciously attacking Moveon and Howard Dean. "How out of touch are the radicals at the now famous left-wing Web site While the majority of Americans say they support the War on Terror, the war in Iraq, President Bush, and President Bush's tax cuts, the crackpots at are sponsoring political ads that compare Bush to Hitler. has provided the tinder that fueled the fire under Howard Dean's campaign. These people helped make Dean the front-runner in the Democratic primary, and they think President Bush is comparable to Hitler. The absurdity of the comparison ought to be self-evident. That so many left-wingers see it as plausible does more than call into question their sanity." Hey Union Leader: we challenge you to debate the question: "Is Bush in 2004 Like Hitler in 1939?" You're not afraid to debate, are you?

NewsMax Attacks Again (Yawn)
Bush Hitler Comparison

Rightwing zine NewsMax attacked for the umpteenth time, this time because we denounced GOP censorship of a "Bush in 30 seconds" ad proposed by a Moveon member. The ad compared two remarks by Hitler to those of Bush. As always, we received a few letters from NewsMax's "enlightened" readers. Hey NewsMax - do you ever read the letters from your own readers? If our readers were so clueless, we'd immediately shut down our site and get a life! Of course, we're sure the NewsMax letter-writers would welcome informed replies from readers - so don't be bashful!

GOP Demands Censorship of Moveon Ad Comparing Bush with Hitler
Bush Hitler Comparison

Once again, the comparison of Bush with Hitler strikes terror in the hearts of Republicans - because they know how close it cuts to the truth. A proposed TV ad submitted by a Moveon member had RNC chair Ed Gillespie spitting bullets. According to Drudge, Moveon removed the ad from its contest - one more victory for GOP censorship, bringing us ever closer to a Nazi dictatorship.
Image: Pictures Of Hitler
Voice: (In German)
Subtitle: We have taken new measures to protect our homeland,
Image: Pictures Of Hitler
Voice: (In German)
Subtitle: I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator,
Image: Pictures Of Hitler
Voice: (In German)
Subtitle: God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them,
Image: Pictures of President Bush
Voice: (In German)
Subtitle: and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.
Background: Cheering German Crowd.

Bush-Nazi Charges Sting Because Bush's Policies Resemble Hitler's
Bush Hitler Comparison

"Blood ties and shallow images were not what Sen. Byrd's comparisons between Bush and Goering were about: they were about Bush's actual behavior. Like Senator Byrd, tens of millions of Americans are deeply worried that this administration has waged an unprecedented assault on American civil rights and liberties. It has shredded the Constitution and the natural environment as none other in US history. Its unprovoked attacks on Iraq have prompted thoughtful comparisons to the unprovoked Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Its illegal detainment center at Guantanamo and its cavalier use of the drug war, the prison system and the powers arrogated through the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security apparatus have brought the US to the brink of dictatorship. Given the horrific reality of what the GOP is now doing to America and the world, we should be profoundly thankful that the public is uneasy. If Team Bush objects to being compared with the Nazi elite, perhaps it should act less like it."

Senator Byrd, Major Media Spread Coverage of Bush-Nazi Nexus
Bush Hitler Comparison

Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis write: "US Senator Robert Byrd, on the floor of Congress, on October 17, has explicitly compared the Bush media operation to that run by Herman Goering, mastermind of the Nazi putsch against the German people. On the same day, the Associated Press ran a national story linking Prescott Bush to Adolf Hitler. The lead read: 'President Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power, government documents show.' That night, CNN ran a 'streamer' on the bottom of its all-news programming confirming that 'declassified documents show Prescott Bush connections to Nazi finance'... Given the horrific reality of what the GOP is now doing to America and the world, we should be profoundly thankful that the public is uneasy. If Team Bush objects to being compared with the Nazi elite, perhaps it should act less like it.'"

Seige Heil: the Bush-Rove-Schwarzenegger Nazi Nexus and the Destabilization of California
Bush Hitler Comparison

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman write, "George W. Bush's grandfather helped finance the Nazi Party. Karl Rove's grandfather allegedly helped run the Nazi Party, and helped build the Birkenau Death Camp. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Austrian father volunteered for the infamous Nazi SA and became a ranking officer. Together, they have destabilized California and are on the brink of bringing it a new Reich. With the Schwarzenegger candidacy they have laid siege to America's largest state, lining it up for the 2004 election. The Bush family ties to the Nazi party are well known. In their 1994 Secret War Against the Jews, Mark Aarons and John Loftus use official US documents to establish that George Herbert Walker, George W. Bush's maternal great-grandfather, was one of Hitler's most important early backers. He funneled money to the rising young fascist through the Union Banking Corporation." [ note: We haven't seen anything to confirm the allegations about Karl Rove's grandfather]

Bush-Cheney '04 Ad Designer Apparently Attended the Mussolini-Hitler Academy of Propaganda
Bush Hitler Comparison

Sure, the proto-fascist character of Bush's residency is blatantly obvious, but he wouldn't actually use it to sell his 2004 campaign, right? Think again. Check out this campaign picture that was embedded in the most recent Bush-Cheney '04 email message. It is truly disturbing.

A Kind of Fascism - 'Inverted Totalitarianism' - Is Replacing Our Democracy
Bush Hitler Comparison

Professor Sheldon Wolin writes, "Like previous forms of totalitarianism, the Bush administration boasts a reckless unilateralism that believes the United States can demand unquestioning support, on terms it dictates; ignores treaties and violates international law at will; invades other countries without provocation; and incarcerates persons indefinitely without charging them with a crime or allowing access to counsel. The drive toward total power can take different forms, as Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union suggest. The American system is evolving its own form: 'inverted totalitarianism.' This has no official doctrine of racism or extermination camps but, as described above, it displays similar contempt for restraints... Inverted totalitarianism exploits political apathy and encourages divisiveness. The turnout for a Nazi plebiscite was typically 90 percent or higher; in a good election year in the United States, participation is about 50 percent."

Germany in 1933: The Easy Slide into Fascism
Bush Hitler Comparison

Bernard Weiner writes: "A goodly number of folks wonder if they're living in America in 2003 or Germany in 1933. All this emphasis on nationalism, the militarization of society, identifying The Leader as the nation, a constant state of fear and anxiety heightened by the authorities, repressive laws that shred constitutional guarantees of due process, wars of aggression launched on weaker nations, the desire to assume global hegemony, the merging of corporate and governmental interests, vast mass-media propaganda campaigns...a timid opposition that barely contests the administration's reckless adventurism abroad and police-state policies at home... Of course, America in 2003 and Germany seventy years earlier are not the same, and Bush certainly is not Adolf Hitler. But there are enough disquieting similarities in the two periods at least to see what we can learn -- cautionary tales, as it were."

Ritter Says Bush's Crackdown on Civil Liberties and Iraq War are Hitlerian
Bush Hitler Comparison

"Scott Ritter, a former United Nations weapons inspector, has compared the invasion of Iraq to Hitler's invasion of Poland," reports the UK Telegraph. Ritter says he believes 130 Americans [now 145] have died "for a lie", adding: "I see no difference between the invasion of Iraq and the invasion of Poland in 1939." Ritter cites Bush and Hitler's false claims of self defense as the excuses for launching their invasions. He also adds, chillingly, that both used "terrorist attacks" on national landmarks (the Reichstag in Germany, the WTC and Pentagon in the US) as the pretext for cracking down on civil liberties, thereby setting the stage for dictatorship.

Reporter Michael Wolff Meets Bush's 'Hitler Youth'
Bush Hitler Comparison

After days of useless Centcom briefings in Doha, Qatar, NY Magazine's Michael Wolff asked General Vincent Brooks: "Why are we here? Why should we stay? What's the value of what we're learning at this million dollar press centre?" Amazingly, Wolff's fellow reporters applauded. But not the Busheviks: "The next person to buttonhole me was the Centcom uber-civilian, a thirty-ish Republican operative. He was more full-metal-jacket in his approach (although he was a civilian he was, inexplicably, in uniform - making him, I suppose a sort of para-military figure): 'I have a brother who is in a Hummer at the front, so don't talk to me about too much f***ing air-conditioning.' And: 'A lot of people don't like you.' And then: 'Don't f*** with things you don't understand.' And too: 'This is f***ing war, a**hole.' And finally: 'No more questions for you.'" When he told reporters about the run-in, one replied: "You've met the Hitler youth." And then Rush got hold of the question...

Operation American Slavery: Film Exec Fired for Comparing Bush's America to Hitler's Germany
Bush Hitler Comparison

Zap2It reports, "The executive producer of a CBS miniseries about Adolf Hitler's rise to power has been fired after giving an interview in which he compared the current mood of Americans to that of the Germans who helped Hitler rise to power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gernon was fired Sunday (April 6) from Alliance Atlantis, the production company making 'Hitler: The Rise of Evil' for CBS... 'Hitler' has caused controversy ever since CBS announced its intentions last summer. In an interview with TV Guide about the four-hour film, scheduled for May, Gernon compares many Americans' acceptance of a war in Iraq to the fearful climate in post-World War I Germany, of which Hitler took advantage to become its ruler. 'It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war,' Gernon said in the interview. 'I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now.' "

Another Bush-Hitler Parallel: Forging Evidence to Justify Conquest
Bush Hitler Comparison

Rightwinger Paul Craig Roberts writes, "Will Bush be impeached? Will he be called a war criminal? These are not hyperbolic questions. Mr. Bush has permitted a small cadre of neoconservatives to isolate him from world opinion, putting him at odds with the UN and America's allies... The administration's use of forged evidence opens Mr. Bush to unflattering comparisons that his enemies will not hesitate to make. They will point out that it was Adolf Hitler's strategy to fabricate evidence in order to justify his invasion of a helpless country. He used S.S. troops dressed in Polish uniforms to fake an attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on Aug. 31, 1939. Following the faked attack, Hitler announced: 'This night for the first time Polish regular soldiers fired on our own territory.' As German troops poured into Poland, Hitler declared: 'The Polish state has refused the peaceful settlement of relations which I desired, and has appealed to arms.'"

Bush Wants to Remake the World - Like Hitler and Tojo
Bush Hitler Comparison

Robert Steinback writes, "Pre-Dubya America placed its faith in peacefully exporting the ideals of democracy, liberty, capitalism and self-determination, concepts that inspired lovers of freedom the world over to accept the risks of challenging oppressors. Now... the US in Iraq will be an invading army bent on reshaping a foreign land to suit our own purposes. Hawkish syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer ... argues that post-Sept. 11 America should use its military power to reshape troublesome parts of the world: 'A de-Saddamized Iraq ... would provide friendly basing not just for the outward projection of American power but also for the outward projection of democratic and modernizing ideas'...: 'It's about reforming the Arab world ... We haven't attempted it so far. The attempt will begin with Iraq.' This is the same reasoning used by such notables as Adolf Hitler and General Tojo, who used military invasion to reform Europe and the Pacific to suit their own purposes."

Bush Takes the Theory of 'Permanent Revolution' Beyond the Dreams of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao
Bush Hitler Comparison

Ted Rall writes "Bush's biggest cribbing from the Hitler playbook is 'permanent revolution.' Developed by socialist theorist Leon Trotsky in 1915 and applied by [totalitarians like] Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung, permanent revolution is the pinnacle of the art of mass distraction - one continually changes the subject of debate by striving for new goals that are always just beyond reach. The idea is diabolically simple: by the time people start grumbling about the problems [you've created, you're causing new difficulties with your next revolution.] Opposition takes time to materialize; taking the nation from one crisis to the next neutralizes your enemies by focusing them against initiatives you've already abandoned... In a blizzard of legislative and regulatory activity, virtually everything on the right-wing wish list is now being proposed... The more legislation he throws at the wall, the more he'll get passed - and the more people will forget that his is an illegal regime."

Was the Bush-Hitler Comparison Unfair? Hardly
Bush Hitler Comparison

Martin Kettle writes, "The sudden depths to which relations between the Bush administration and Europe's most important nation have plunged this week are a remarkable testament to the way that the rightwing Republican government in Washington now does things. But this is not a traditional American administration. It believes, according to the new White House national security strategy document it published at the weekend, that this is a world where there is just 'a single sustainable model for national success.' And that model is certainly not the German one. What is striking about the former German justice minister's famous remarks is not how ill-judged they were, but how restrained.... the point that Daubler-Gmelin actually made was not such an unreasonable one. Bush, she argued, 'wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used.' And Bismarck too, she might have added."

Bush Provocateurs Think They Can Suppress Bush-Hitler Comparisons By Inciting Ire against Daubler-Gmelin
Bush Hitler Comparison

There's nothing sadder than a person trying to make the truth go away by punishing the person who points it out. That's exactly what Bush and his rightwing Christian coalition pals in Germany are trying to do by creating a ridiculously out of control "incident" over Herta Daubler-Gmelin's comparison between Bush and Hitler's methods. All this infantile performance is proving is that her statements hit way too close to home. Now, by trying to cut off the head of the messenger, Bush is merely calling the world's attention to the comparison and making them pause and reflect and, quite likely, conclude" "By God, she's right!"

Bush v. Hitler: Is the Comparison Fair?
Bush Hitler Comparison

Before the German election, German justice minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used." Her comparison of Bush to Hitler set off a firestorm in the US. Is it a fair comparison? Debate and discuss with members of

Chilling Deja Vu: Was the First to Publicize the Parallel Between Bush and Hitler - Long Before 9/11
Bush Hitler Comparison

Sometimes it really sucks to be right. Back in April of 2001 in a commentary, Cheryl Seal presented a well-researched comparison between Bush and Adolph Hitler, and between Bush and Joseph Stalin and suggested that Bush and the "new" GOP were headed in the same disastrous direction. She even made it a point to mention the infamous Reichstag fire. Now over a year later, the rest of the world, including German justice minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, are feeling the "Big Chill." Here is our article as it appeared in reprint at another site, which added a poignantly dark cartoon and preface.

German Justice Minister Compares Bush's Tactics to Hitler's
Bush Hitler Comparison

German justice minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin says Bush's Iraq saber-rattling is wagging the dog. "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used." Bush is outraged - because Daeubler-Gmelin has said out loud what everyone in Germany (and the world) believes. Daeubler-Gmelin denied comparing the two men, but did not deny comparing their tactics. "I didn't compare the persons Bush and Hitler, but their methods," she said. The Germans have learned the tragic lessons of history. Will Americans rise up in opposition to Bush's imperialism, or will we follow Bush into mass murder and destruction like "Good Germans" - as demanded by Bush's propaganda and the corporate media?

Like Bush, Hitler Once Had 90% 'Approval' - Thanks to Media Propaganda
Bush Hitler Comparison

On 8-20-1934, the NY Times reported that "89.9% of the German voters endorsed in yesterday's plebiscite Chancellor Hitler's assumption of greater power than has ever been possessed by any other ruler in modern times. The German people were asked to vote whether they approved the consolidation of the offices of President and Chancellor in a single Leader-Chancellor personified by Adolf Hitler... The endorsement gives Chancellor Hitler, who four years ago was not even a German citizen, dictatorial powers unequaled in any other country, and probably unequaled in history since the days of Genghis Khan. He has more power than Joseph Stalin in Russia, who has a party machine to reckon with; more power than Premier Mussolini of Italy who shares his prerogative with the titular ruler; more than any American President ever dreamed of" - until George W. Bush.

Bush-Powell Policy Towards Iraq Is 'Hitlerian'
Bush Hitler Comparison

Chris Floyd writes, "The Bush Regime crossed another moral Rubicon last week, carrying the once-great republic they have usurped deeper into the blood-soaked mire of international criminality. The move commit[s] the USA to a policy of Hitlerian military aggression... The Bush Regime still 'reserves its options' to do anything necessary, including military invasion, to effect a 'regime change.' Bush himself has already acknowledged that nuclear force is among those 'options.' ... The US now openly claims the right to launch an all-out attack on any nation in the world whose regime it doesn't like - even if that nation is not engaged in active military aggression or terrorism - and even if the mere threat of aggression has been defused by UN monitoring. No provocation necessary. No legality required. Just a thuggish elite raining death on the world, for profit and power, sowing hatred for the once-great nation they have hijacked - and ensuring more death and terror for its people."



Bombings rock Iraq today with mass fatalities in Baghdad and just outside Mosul. Ernesto Londono and Qais Mizher (Washington Post) report that Khazna, outside Mosul, houses a population of approximately 500, at least 35 of which died today, with many being Shabaks. The reporters label them Shi'ites which is what most Shabak's self-identify as; however, the Shabaks have affinities with Kurds as a result of campaigns against them during Saddam Hussein's reign including the Al-Anfal Campaign. The United Nations funded Aswat al-Iraq reported in November last year on the Shabak protest in Ninewa ("hundreds of Shabak people") "calling to incorporate them into the Kurdistan region on the basis that they are Kurds, not Arabs." Shabaks live in over 30 villages in northern Iraq and practice a religion which blends Islam, Christianity and other faiths. Londono and Mizher note comments from Sunni officials (blaming the Kurds for the bombings) which may strike some as rather insulting since the Sunnis have been accused of committing genocide against the Shabaks -- Sunni groups in the region have claimed credit for multiple beheadings of Shabaks and threats aimed at them (leading some Shabaks to become external refugees). Sam Dagher (New York Times) labels this bombing "the most devastating attack" today: "a pair of large flatbed trucks packed with bombs exploded simultaneously shortly after dawn". Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) states of the bombs, "They left huge craters and levelled 35 homes. More than 130 people were injured, out of a village population of 3,000." Mujahid Mohammed (AFP) quotes nurse and eye witness Falah Ridha stating, "Eleven people in my family were killed when their house collapsed. All of them woke up after the first bomb, but the second bomb was very close to my house, it was like an earthquake. No one else escaped, just me." Jamal al-Badrani, Mohammed Abbas, Muhanad Mohammed, Waleed Ibrahim, Yara Bayoumy and Jon Boyle (Reuters) quote survivor Umm Qasim asking, "What have we done for terrorists to kill innocents in their sleep?" The reporters note she was "covered in blood . . . holding her wounded son. The bodies of four relatives, including her husband and sister, lay nearby." England's ITN adds, "Police say the death toll could rise further because people are buried under the rubble of their own homes." BBC News has a photo essay of the aftermath. UK's Channel 4 News (link has text and video) notes today's violence is "raising fears of a return to sectarian violence."

Jonathan Rugman: The plains beneath the Kurdish mountains are becoming Iraq's most dangerous region. Two truck bombs exploding east of the city of Mosul today, destroying scores of homes. 30 dead and over 150 wounded. This crater destroying an entire Shi'ite village. All this after a similar attack on local Shi'ites killed 37 only last Friday. The pattern emerging here is one of minorities being deliberately targeted in the north of Iraq. A foretaste perhaps of a long feared Kurdish-Arab civil war.

Mark Kattuner (Minority Rights Group International): Well I think through most of Iraq, including from Baghdad, the Americans have withdrawn from patrolling the cities. But in Mosul they're still patrolling in cooperation with the Iraqi army because they realize just how dangerous the situation is. The city is still contested. In particular, the land all around it in the Nineveh Plain is contested between Kurds and Arabs. And therefore everything that's happened in the last month hasn't happened just because the Americans have left. It's happened while they are still there. And it shows that they are incapable of protecting the minority communities on the ground.

AGI states the population is "mainly . . . Shia Muslims" with Shabaks a secondary population and they state the target most likely was a mosque. The village was not only area rocked by bombings. Ann Barker (Australian Network News) notes, "In Baghdad two car bombs targeting labourers killed 16 people and wounded 81 in another Shi'ite area in the city's southwest." Sam Dagher (New York Times) notes two of the Baghdad bombings "struck lines of workers who had gathered to look for jobs as day laborers, one in the Amil district, the other in Shurta al-Rabiaa, both of which are mainly Shiite areas." with the first blast claiming 7 lives and leaving forty-six injured and the second blast claiming 9 lives and leaving thrity-five injured. Eye withness Jabir Abid tells Laith Hammoudi and Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers), "A big ball of fire went up in the air, and there was a very big bang. Suddenly, I couldn't see anything because a black cloud of smoke covered everything." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) notes that in addition to those two Baghdad car bombings, Baghdad was rocked by seven roadside bombings resulting 2 deaths and nineteen people injured, while a Baghdad sticky bombing on a mini bus resulted in 1 death (the driver) and three injuries, a third Baghdad car bombing claimed 2 lives and wounded eighteen and a Tikrit bombing claimed the lives of 2 "little brothers" while 2 police officers were shot dead in Mosul. Reuters adds a Mosul home invasion resulted in the death of 1 woman and a man being wounded.

Today's violence follows weekend reports of 8 deaths and seventeen injured in violence and, as noted already, Friday's Mosul bombing which claimed at least 38 lives and left two-hundred and seventy-six people injured while other reported violence on Friday resulted in 15 deaths and 58. Adding all of the deaths reported on Friday and since together results in 124 dead and 624 injured. Interestingly, today's fatalities is approximately the same number as Friday's and the wounded toll on both days is also similar. BBC News reports, "The BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baghdad says the Iraqi government is keen to show its troops are fully in control and capable of doing their job without the help of US forces." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) refers to Nouri speaking to "a gathering of Iraqi security commanders" today and repeating his b.s. about the "coming election" (scheduled for January); however, I've got two reporters telling me on the phones that Nouri was speaking live on Iraqi state television, hence to the Iraqi people and not just to security commander. Arraf does a good job of describing the Shabak's (better than I did above) and she also notes that the Sunni Arab governor is blaming the pesh merga for the attacks if only in a 'they failed' kind of way which, naturally, leads him to just happen to suggest/insist that the Iraqi military should control the area. This is a disputed region and, again, the Shabaks have publicly demonstrated to be part of the Kurdistan Region. Apparently the Shabaks aren't people, they are a political football (or cannon fodder) to be used to win territory. While some attempt to use the violence to secure land, Ali Sheikholeslami (Bloomberg News) notes that there has been "no immediate statement of responsibility for the blasts". Minority Rights Group International issues a statement on the violence which quotes Mark Lattimer (noted earlier in the snapshot) stating, "The bombings of minority communities near Mosul and Kirkuk are more than just an expression of religious hatred. They are a deliberate attempt to grab control over contested territory in northern Iraq by puhsing out the minorities who live there." CNN reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry, via their spokesperson, is going with the blanket culprit: al Qaeda in Iraq.

Yesterday an Australian contractor (Darren Hoare) and a British contractor (Paul McGuigan) were shot dead in the Green Zone and, in the incident, an unidentified Iraq was injured with British contractor Danny Fitzsimons arrested in the shootings. The two deaths and the wounded Iraqi are included in the earlier count of deaths and injuries in the last four days, FYI. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) speaks with a spokesperson for Iraq's Internation Ministry, Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who "said Fitzsimons got into a dispute with colleagues as they were drinking. 'They got into an argument and he started shooting his colleagues,' Khalaf said." The Minneapolis Star-Tribune features a news round up which quotes an Iraqi military spoksesperson, Qassim al-Moussawi, insisting the incident "started as a squabble. The subject is facing a premeditated murder charge." Oliver August (Times of London) reports that British contractor "fled the scene with a pistol, was held after a shootout and handed to Iraqi police." (He was held by US troops who turned him over to the Iraqi police.) August speaks with an unnamed witnesses who sketches out the contractors all drinking and getting into a skirmish which turned increasing violent. At some point, August says 4:00 a.m., the not so surprising feature to a drunken, aggressive squabble among armed people took place: Fitzsimons pulled out a gun and waived it around. Iraqis have mentioned execution. Jay Price (Raleigh News & Observer) adds, "According to AP, the gunman could be the first Westerner tried for murder under Iraqi law since an agreement that took effect Jan. 1 between the U.S. and Iraq ending the immunity Western contractors had enjoyed since not long after the war began in 2003." August files a report where he focuses just on the drinking and the skirmish and contains more details from eye witnesses with Fitzsimons allegedly waiving the pistol and others attempting to disarm him when, apparently, the shooting began. August adds, "Consular officials from the British Embassy have visited Mr Fitzsimmons, as well as a second British national, believed to be another ArmorGroup employee, who was being held there but not considered a suspect and has now been released." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) offers a commentary which includes, "It is also a huge embarrassment for Britain at a time when Gordon Brown is still waiting for the Iraqi parliament to ratify a new security agreement between the two countries -- somethign that should have happened by the end of May but is unlikely to take place until autumn at the earliest. The arrest comes at a time when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is trying to secure the release of three remaining British hostages in Iraq, two of whom are thought to be dead." We'll drop back to the August 6th snapshot for background on the British hostages:

Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell, Alec Maclachlan, Alan McMenemy and Peter Moore, all British citizens, were kidnapped in Baghdad May 29, 2007. Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell were dead when their bodies were turned over to the British authorities after the two leaders of the group bragging about having done the kidnappings were released from US custody. (The same group, and why the brothers had been imprisoned originally by the US, bragged about their actions in assaulting a US base and killing 5 American soldiers.) The British government considers Alec and Alan to be dead (the families remain hopeful) and it is thought (by the British government) that Peter Moore is alive. The group taking credit for the kidnappings and for the deaths of 5 US soldiers is alternately called the Righteous League or the League of Righteous by the press. The press? They got press this week, see Monday's snapshot, because Nouri met with them to bring them back into the government. As noted in the Tuesday snapshot, the press spin that the group has given up violence is false. Their spokesperson says they will not attack Iraqis but that they will continue to go after US service members.

Now, for the 5 US soldiers killed by the Righteous League (they've claimed credit for the assualt) we'll drop back to the June 9th snapshot:

This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."

So we should all be on the same page: The League of Righteous has claimed credit for the deaths of 5 US soldiers and credit for kidnapping 5 British citizens, at least 2 of whom are known to be dead. In addition, British outlets noted last month that the Iraqi government appeared to be involved in the kidnappings (see the July 31st snapshot if you're late on this story). Gareth Porter (Asia Times) is reporting that recent developments demonstrate how Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation and US-installed thug, has long been working with the League of Righteous:

The history of the new agreement confirms what was evident from existing information: the League of the Righteous was actually the underground wing of the Mahdi Army all along, and the Sadrist insurgents were secretly working closely with the Maliki regime against the Americans and the British - even as it was at war with armed elements within the regime.
The contradictory nature of the relationship between Maliki and the Sadrists reflects the tensions between pro-Sadrist elements within the regime - including Maliki's Da'wa Party - and the anti-Sadrist elements led by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
The relationship between Maliki and the US was also marked by contradictions. Even though he was ostensibly cooperating with the US against the Sadrists in 2007 and 2008, the Maliki regime was also cooperating secretly with the Sadrist forces against the Americans. And Maliki - with the encouragement of Iran -- was working on a strategy for achieving the complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq through diplomatic means, which he did not reveal to the Americans until summer 2008.

What Gareth Porter is reporting is something news outlets in England and the US should be digging into because, if true, it's a huge slap in the face to both countries.

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