Friday, February 22, 2008


The Bush Administration and their propaganda branch, FOX NEWS, have been shouting from the rooftops about the success of "the surge," but Iraqi citizens have a completely different view of "surge."

Suicide bombings and violence continue all across Iraq in stark contrast to the claims of the Bush Administration and Fox News.

Many of the killings have taken place in the heavily guarded area of Baghdad, and they are increasing on a daily basis.

In Tatters Beneath a Surge of Claims

Inter Press Service

Analysis by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

BAGHDAD, Feb 22 (IPS) - What the U.S. has been calling the success of a "surge", many Iraqis see as evidence of catastrophe. Where U.S. forces point to peace and calm, local Iraqis find an eerie silence

And when U.S. forces speak of a reduction in violence, many Iraqis simply do not know what they are talking about.

Hundreds died in a series of explosions in Baghdad last month. This was despite the strongest ever security measures taken by the U.S. military, riding the "surge" in security forces and their activities.

The death toll is high, according to the website provides reliable numbers of Iraqi civilian and security deaths.

In January this year 485 civilians were killed, according to the website. It says the number is based on news reports, and that "actual totals for Iraqi deaths are higher than the numbers recorded on this site."

The average month in 2005, before the "surge" was launched, saw 568 civilian deaths. In January 2006, the month before the "surge" began, 590 civilians died.

Many of the killings have taken place in the most well guarded areas of Baghdad. And they have continued this month.

"Two car bombs exploded in Jadriya, killing so many people, the day the American Secretary of Defence (Robert Gates) was visiting Baghdad last week," a captain from the Karrada district police in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS.

"Another car bomb killed eight people and injured 20 Thursday (last week) in the Muraidy market of Sadr City, east of Baghdad.

Click on this link Inter Press Service to read complete story.


Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich , a United States Marine squad leader, “apparently admits in an unaired segment of the CBS "60 Minutes" program that he did, in fact, order his men to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’” on November 19, 2005 when 24 Iraqi men, women and children were killed in Hadithah, Iraq.

CBS wants to quash a subpoena by military prosecutors requesting the unused footage claiming it would make the news gathering organization into an investigative arm of the government.

Wuterich is scheduled to be court-martialed March 3.

CBS seeks to quash subpoena for Hadithah interview

By Chelsea J. Carter - The Associated PressPosted : Friday Feb 22, 2008 7:23:43 EST

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Military prosecutors say unaired footage of a CBS “60 Minutes” interview given by a Marine squad leader contain admissions of crimes in an attack that killed 24 Iraqi men, women and children in 2005.

Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich “apparently admits in an unaired segment that he did, in fact, order his men to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’” Capt. Nicholas Gannon said in response to a motion filed by CBS seeking to quash a subpoena seeking the footage.

CBS is set to ask a judge Friday to throw out the subpoena during a pre-trial hearing for Wuterich, who faces voluntary manslaughter and other charges in the Nov. 19, 2005, deaths in Hadithah, Iraq.

In its motion, CBS said the subpoena would be “unreasonable and oppressive,” and turn a news organization into an investigative arm of the government.

“This fishing expedition is particularly inappropriate given the numerous other sources of information concerning the events underlying this court-martial,” according to the motion obtained by The Associated Press.

The subpoena stems from an interview aired March 15, 2007, on “60 Minutes” entitled “The Killings at Haditha.”

In that interview, Wuterich recounted to CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley his recollection of the events that led to the deaths.

The deaths occurred after a roadside bomb hit a Marine convoy, killing the driver of a Humvee and wounding two other Marines. Wuterich and a squad member, Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, allegedly shot five men by a car at the scene. Wuterich then ordered his squad into several houses, where they cleared rooms with grenades and gunfire, killing unarmed civilians in the process.

The manslaughter charge against Wuterich, 27, of Meriden, Conn., includes specifications of a personal role in at least nine killings, naming seven victims plus one or more unknown people, and the allegation that he ordered a lance corporal to kill someone.

In the CBS motion, attorneys Lee Levine and Seth D. Berlin contend there have been multiple government investigations into the Hadithah incident, and numerous witnesses provided statements to investigators.

California has one of the nation’s most protective statutes shielding journalists from prosecutors’ inquiries. The law generally allows journalists to decline to divulge unpublished material to state authorities, but the protection does not extend to federal courts, which include military courts.

CBS says testimony is available from eyewitnesses, including members of Wuterich’s squad who are not being prosecuted.

But prosecutors, who have previously said squad members are “far from cooperative,” say it is apparent to them from Pelley’s narration that Wuterich made admissions in unaired footage.

In the response, Gannon writes that Pelley’s questions and his narration are apparently based on information Wuterich must have provided during the interview.

The network had no comment on the subpoena or the pending hearing, said Sandra Genelius, a spokeswoman for CBS News.

Four enlisted Marines were initially charged with murder in the case and four officers were charged with failing to investigate the deaths. Charges against four of the men have been dropped, and none will face murder charges.

Still facing court-martial are Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, who is charged with dereliction of duty and violation of a lawful order on allegations that he mishandled the aftermath of the Hadithah shootings; and 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, of Springboro, Ohio, on charges of making false official statements, obstruction of justice and attempting to fraudulently separate from the Marine Corps.
Wuterich is scheduled to be court-martialed March 3.


You don't read about it or hear about it on television or radio, but the unemployment situation in Iraq is at epidemic levels.

The Coalition Provisional Authority was supposed to arrange for jobs for Iraqi citizens after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, but it never came to pass.

Many Iraqi citizens have moved from town to town and city to city looking for work, but the reconstructions projects have been stalled and little work is available.

A good number of the younger Iraqi men have joined the Iraqi security forces where they can at least earn a paycheck, but there is little or no enthusiasm for cracking down on insurgents and militias.

Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, is without water and electricity for the better part of each day, and although many of the stores have reopened shopkeepers report there is little traffic because Iraqi citizens can't find jobs and consequently don't have the money to shop.

Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE,, the blog for the untold stories about Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unemployment Too Becomes an Epidemic

Inter Press ServiceBy Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, Feb 21 (IPS) - For a few, salaries have soared. For the rest, unemployment has.

Many Iraqi workers enjoyed huge salary increases following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. But unemployment rose more sharply under policies introduced by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

CPA head L. Paul Bremer decommissioned the Iraqi military, leading to overnight unemployment for hundreds of thousands of military personnel. And that was not all. The ministries of culture and information also saw drastic layoffs, some through privatisation.
Almost a year into the occupation, defence ministry employees, many of them ex-military, started to receive monthly payments of about 100 dollars as "donation of emergency".

"This payment does not meet 10 percent of the monthly needs of many families," ex-soldier in the previous Iraq army Muhsin Aboud told IPS in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad. "It's unfair to leave us without jobs."

Still, the unemployed are lucky. Many employees of the abolished offices were accused of being terrorists, and imprisoned.

"One day, a group of American soldiers stormed into my house while I and my family were sleeping," Abd al-Joburi, an officer in Iraq's former military told IPS. "They tied my hands and put a plastic bag on my head and forced me to lie with my face down. It was because I'm an ex-officer, and Sunni."

Al-Joburi was imprisoned for nine months after the raid that took place in March of last year. "Nobody asked whether my family have any salary or income. Since I was released, I have not had a job."

Now, the sectarian practices of politicians and the government are adding to unemployment for whole sections of people, particularly Sunni Muslims.

"I applied for a job in the directorate-general of police of Diyala province four times," a former intelligence officer told IPS. "All of my applications were rejected. All the Shia ex-officers' applications were accepted, regardless of their experience and specialisation. Now they are officers in the police and army."

The ex-officer added, "I am now working as a grocer."

Violence has made unemployment even worse; it has led large numbers of people to quit the jobs they had. Most people in Baquba are today either forced to stay at home, or to leave the city, and if they can, the country.

"I closed my restaurant," said a local businessman in Baquba. "Two militants came and killed the owner of the shop next to my restaurant. We had no choice."

"The owners of prominent shops, restaurants, car shops, rich people, heads of the offices, owners of buildings, traders, businessmen…all of them became targets of the militants," said a resident, who like many others, did not wish to give his name. "As a result, all of them quit. Just think how many people could be employed in all these fields."

Meanwhile, reconstruction and rehabilitation projects that could have employed some people have come to a standstill.

"I dismissed more than 50 employees in my company because of the stoppage of work," a manager with the Dolphin company for general contractors told IPS. "Work has stopped for more than two years."

The owner of a plastic pipes factory said threats forced him to close his factory. "I received a message asking me to pay 50,000 dollars, or I would be killed."

Unemployment in Iraq has been between 60-70 percent over the last two years, according to the government in Baghdad. This is nearly twice what it was in the period of the sanctions in the 1990s.

Most worrying is what is happening in the food business. The Diyala Food Company, the largest in the province, closed last year.

"A group of militants came to kidnap the owner's son," former employee Aziz Khamis told IPS. "The son and two of his bodyguards were killed, and the father was wounded. This big company has closed its doors, and thousands of employees are now stuck at home."

The reasons for losing jobs are endless. "I was fired for being a member of the Ba'ath party," Nasir Uwayid told IPS. "After a period of occupation, low ranking members were allowed to get their jobs again, but heads of offices who were members of the party were forced to retire or leave the city."

And sectarian displacement has brought its own unemployment. Tens of thousands of people have left their homes and jobs in Baquba because of the sectarian violence. Many have tried to start again in other cities, but few have been successful.

In 2002 Baquba had a population estimated at 280,000; in 2003, Diyala province had a population of roughly 1.2 million. Baquba is roughly 70 percent Sunni, while Diyala province is about 90 percent Sunni.

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq's Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)