Saturday, March 15, 2008


The are many stories which are not getting told anymore by the press in the United States who have placed Iraq on the back burner.

One story going untold is how Iraqi teenagers now live in poverty and trauma as their dreams have been destroyed by the occupation of Iraq by the United States military.

This Reuters feature tells of the plight of Iraqi teenagers. Their dreams are now only a dream and their lives have been ruined by the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Feature: Trauma, poverty shred young Iraqis' dreams

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD, March 14 (Reuters) - As a teenager, Mazin Tahir dreamt that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq would bring new freedoms and democracy with the fall of Saddam Hussein.

As a young adult, his hopes have been replaced by despair after five years of unremitting violence.

"It's sad, or funny. The Iraqi dream has turned into a nightmare," said Tahir, who was 15 when the Americans came.

"When I was young I dreamt of getting rid of the dictatorship and replacing it with democracy. Saddam has gone but Iraq is in worse shape. There are killings every day, politicians are like thieves ... it's like a curse from God."

Tahir had his life before him when the invasion started and his heart was full of hope. Now, like many others who grew from teens to adults during the occupation, he just wants to get out.
Fatma Abdul-Mahdi was 17 at the time of the invasion.

"When Saddam was ousted I thought the doors of happiness would be opened, I thought I could stop wearing second-hand clothes and I could be like the girls I was watching on TV," the 22-year-old said.

Fatma now works as a teacher in the southern oil hub of Basra but, like so many of her peers, she says her life is worse and her family is poorer after five years of instability and hardship.

"I still wear second-hand clothes. If I could find a job, even in Sudan or Somalia, I would flee Iraq as soon as possible. I wish I had never been born in Iraq," she said.

Psychiatrists fear that young Iraqis, so badly disillusioned after their teenage hopes and dreams were dashed, might turn to more drastic measures than just seeking to leave.


Haider Abdul-Muhsin, a psychiatrist at Baghdad's Ibn Rushid hospital, said that disillusionment -- and poverty -- force many teenagers and young adults to leave school and university early.
Bitter and without direction, young people then become easy targets for exploitation by militants whose violence has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis since the invasion began.
"That is the start of their suffering. They leave because they think their studies will not guarantee them a bright future," Abdul-Muhsin told Reuters.
"Some of them are then exploited by armed groups into conducting violent acts. Teenagers are an easy target," he said.

Young Iraqi adults suffer in other ways, too, when they see the way their peers live in richer, more stable Arab states and in the West. Security fears mean it is hard to keep up social networks and there are few entertainment options.

While no statistics are available, he says he is seeing far more patients now than before 2003.
"Mostly their families come to my clinic complaining that they suffer from insomnia, or they are taking drugs or they have psychiatric problems," Abdul-Muhsin said.

Of course, the pain is even more acute for the many thousands of Iraqis who have lost family members in the violence.

Sabreen Jawad, a 21-year-old Sunni Arab, left school after her father, a member of Saddam's elite Republican Guard, was killed during the invasion.
"Can you imagine my feelings? A girl my age adores her father, he was always pampering me," she said.

"From having a social life and luxury and servants we became a displaced family," she said. Her family fled to Syria before returning to Baghdad recently.
Abdul-Muhsin said many young Iraqis have become reserved and introspective while the more resilient take a pragmatic approach to what has happened.

Nooreldin Ibrahim, from the ethnically and religiously mixed city of Baquba north of Baghdad, was also 15 and in high school when U.S.-led forces invaded.
He, too, had dreams of liberties unthinkable under Saddam, like mixing freely with girls. Those dreams started to fade after about a year when shops slowly began to close as Baquba became a hotbed of insurgent and sectarian fighting.

Now studying for an Arts degree in Baghdad, he says he has come to terms with the constant interruptions to his studies since universities became frequent targets for attacks.

"One day we'll study and then we'll have to stay home for 10 days. I love football so that means I am able to play my favourite sport," he said.

"I don't have any more dreams now, just finish my studies and become a civil servant," he said.


The United States military and the Iraqi Army, such as it is, are making plans to attack Mosul, a city of 3.8 million people.

Red Crescent, the humanitarian organization in Iraq, says if the U.S. and Iraqi troops go ahead with an attack on Mosul there will be an unprecedented number of Iraqi civilians displaced during the attack.

The reason given by the U.S. military for an attack on Mosul is because it is expected many insurgents and terrorists live inside the city.

There are already about three million Iraqi refugees in neighboring states and more than two million others are displaced as a result of ongoing U.S. military operations and sectarian strife.

Red Crescent warns of a new wave of Iraqi refugees

By Salem Areef

Azzaman, March 15, 2008

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society is warning of a massive exodus if U.S. and Iraqi troops go ahead with plans to attack Mosul, the country’s second largest city with nearly 3.8 million people.

The northern city which is the capital of the Province of Nineveh has turned into a major stronghold for forces resisting U.S. occupation and elements of the al-Qadeda organization.

Tensions are high and violence has gripped the city in the past few months with at least one hundred houses destroyed and hundreds of people killed or injured.

Certain quarters are so violent that neither U.S. troops nor Iraqi forces are capable of entering.

But the society said it feared a joint attack in which units of Kurdish militias are to take part will lead to one of the largest waves of internally displace people the country has seen since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Hard pressed ethnic and religious minorities in the city have been leaving either to the Kurdish north or neighboring Syria.

Mosul is a predominantly Sunni Arab city and residents are apparently unhappy with the role U.S. occupation troops have given to Kurdish militia fighters.

The Arabs see Kurdish involvement in areas which have traditionally not been part of Iraqi Kurdistan with suspicious eyes.

Kurdish militias are now present in most villages and towns which are administratively part of Mosul as the center of Nineveh Province.

Some of these areas hold huge oil reserves like Ain Zala.


The Department of Defense (DoD) has FINALLY released a list of American soldiers and Marines killed in the past few days in Iraq. What the DoD hasn't confirmed is a list of five soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and are still carried by the DoD as "unconfirmed" even though in some cases it has been almost two years since they were killed. We have their names and it follows this report of confirmed deaths by the DoD of soldiers and Marines this week in Iraq.


Latest Coalition Fatality: Mar 15, 2008
03/15/08 MNF:MND-B Soldier killed by small-arms fire (Baghdad)
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier was killed at approximately 3:30 p.m. March 15 after being attacked by small-arms fire in southwestern Baghdad in combat operations. The Soldier was shot by a terrorist at approximately 2:30 p.m....

03/15/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (5 of 5)
Sgt. 1st. Class Shawn M. Suzch, 32, of Hilltown, PN...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division... died March 10 in Baghdad...of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.

03/15/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 5)
Staff Sgt. Ernesto G. Cimarrusti, 25, of Douglas, AZ...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division... died March 10 in Baghdad...of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.

03/15/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 5)
Staff Sgt. David D. Julian, 31, of Evanston, WY...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division... died March 10 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.
03/15/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 5)

Cpl. Robert T. McDavid, 29, of Starkville, MS...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division... died March 10 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.
03/15/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 5)

Cpl. Scott A. McIntosh, 26, of Houston, Texas...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division... died March 10 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device.

03/14/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Pfc. Tenzin L. Samten, 33, of Prescott, Ariz., who was assigned to the 7th Special Troops Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division... died March 12 in Tallil, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle was hit by indirect fire.

03/14/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. Dustin C. Jackson, 21, of Arlington, Texas, who was assigned to the 350th Adjutant General Company, Grand Prairie, Texas.... died March 12 in Tallil, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle was hit by indirect fire.

03/14/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Staff Sgt. Juantrea T. Bradley, 28, of Greenville, N.C...assigned to the 7th Special Troops Battalion, 7th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division... died March 12 in Tallil, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their vehicle was hit by indirect fire.

03/14/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Laurent J. West, 32, of Raleigh, N.C., died March 11 near Kishkishkia, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment...

Post Iraq Deaths Not Confirmed By the DoD
Wasielewsk, Anthony Raymond
Cassidy, Gerald J.
Richards, Jack D.
Salerno III, Raymond A.
Smith, John "Bill"
01-Oct-2005Note: The soldiers listed above died from wounds received in Iraq, however, the DoD has not included their deaths in their official count.


The most disgusting thing about all of this is not what these brave warriors talked about, but the fact the mainstream media in the United States chose to not even cover the event. No wonder only 28 percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center knew that almost 4,000 Americans have been KILLED in Iraq.

Nobody cares. Not President Bush. Not Vice President Cheney, Not Fox News and their ilk and now it appears three-fourths of the people of the United States haven't even a passing interest in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What a sad, sad commentary on the United States of America.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) hold press conference in Washington, DC


This month, for four days in Washington, DC, beginning on March 13, there will be a second Winter Soldier gathering – 37 years after the first. Organized by the protest group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), US veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan since the 9/11 attack on New York will testify about their experiences.

They will present photographs and videos, recorded with mobile phones and digital cameras, to back up their allegations – of brutality, torture and murder.The veterans are not against the military and seek not to indict it – instead they seek to shine a light on the bigger picture: that the Abu Ghraib prison regime and the Haditha massacre of innocent Iraqis are not isolated incidents perpetrated by “bad seeds” as the military suggests, but evidence of an endemic problem. They will say they were tasked to do terrible things and point the finger up the chain of command, which ignores, diminishes or covers up routine abuse and atrocities. (From the London Sunday Times, see full article in context link below)

Kelly Dougherty is the Executive Director of IVAW. She served as a Military Police Officer in Iraq, she will testify about her experiences working at check points in occupied Iraq. She will also discuss leading the IVAW organization through exponential growth in the last year.

Captain Luis Montalvan is the highest-ranking IVAW member. He served in the US Army for 17-years and will be testifying about accountability and corruption in the US military. CPT Montalvan is from Brooklyn, New York. Jason Hurd was born in Kingsport, TN and enlisted in the US Army in 1997 at 17. In 2004 he deployed to central Baghdad with Bristol, Tennessee’s Troop F 2/278th Regimental Combat Team after a 5-month long train-up. He served as a medic in Baghdad. He will testify about the practice of shooting civilians from convoys, as well as the abduction of young male Iraqis. He is the president of IVAW’s Ashevile, NC chapter.

Selena Coppa is a Military Intelligence Sergeant in the US Army and a mother. She will be testifying at Winter Solider about the breakdown of the military in recent years due to mismanagement in Iraq and beyond. She is in charge of active duty outreach and blogs from


Adam Kokesh was a United States Marine serving in Falluja, Iraq and in this video he says the "rules of engagement" were changed in Iraq more often than you change your underwear.

Even though Kokesh and other Marines were supposed to follow the little card with the printed "rules of engagement," they were constantly changing the "rules" to the situation on the ground in Iraq.

In this video, you can see and hear Kokesh describe several incidents he was involved in during his tour in Iraq:

The testimony was part of the Iraq Veterans Against the War press conference which has been going on for three days in Washington, D.C. More than 800 Iraq Veterans Against the War attended the event.


The dirty secret the American public never hears about is how one-third of the women in the United States military have been sexually harassed.

The Associated Press and New York Times detail the sexual harassment cases in a story that should be must reading for every woman considering a career in the United States military.

Military Women Report Harassment


WASHINGTON (AP) -- One-third of women in the military and 6 percent of men said they were sexually harassed, according to the latest Pentagon survey on the issue.

The figure for women was worse than the previous finding several years ago but better than a similar survey taken in 1995, the Defense Department said in a report Friday.

A separate report on sexual assaults showed that fewer cases were reported among military personnel -- 2,688 cases reported last year by people in uniform compared with 2,947 reported the year before. But officials said they haven't been collecting the data long enough to determine whether a downward trend in assaults was developing.

Both reports are mandated by Congress. The finding on sexual harassment was from the Defense Manpower Data Center, which is to report every four years and in for the latest report surveyed more than 23,000 people in 2006. The one on sexual assaults is taken from reports of actual incidents reported in 2007.

Officials said that overall, the survey showed both men and women polled think the climate on sexual relations is better in the military than it is in the nation as a whole. And the survey found that a majority of those surveyed believe the military's training on sexual harassment is effective.

Among the findings:
--In 2006, 34 percent of women surveyed said they had been sexually harassed.

Rachel Lipari, senior scientist with the data center, said that included a wide range of problems from crude and offensive behavior -- ''your basic locker room talk'' -- to unwanted sexual attention, ''which is being repeatedly asked for dates even though you said no or ask to enter into a sexual relationship even though you said no, and then your classic sexual coercion, your classic quid pro quo.''

The 34 percent figure for women who reported harassment compared with 24 percent in 2002 and 46 percent in 1995.

--About 5 percent of women said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact, ranging from unwanted touching, attempted sexual intercourse and completed sexual intercourse. That compared with 2.7 percent in 2002 and 6.2 percent in 1995.

Officials say the huge dip in problems reported in 2002 might have been an anomaly. The survey was taken only months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil, and Lipari said officials believe 9-11 had an effect on how people responded to the survey.

Click on link above to read full Associate Press/New York Times investigative report.


There is so much the Winter Soldiers, or Iraq Veterans Against the War, have been talking about at a press conference held in Washington the past three days, but the mainstream media, as one might expect, has ash canned any reference to these brave warriors and their stories.

Here in this one video, a former member of the United States Army describes what the vague "rules of engagement" were for himself and his platoon in an urban area of Iraq.


The Iraq Veterans Against the War are winding up their three-day press conference in Washington on Saturday. Their testimony as to what they saw and were involved in as GIs of the United States Army in Iraq is chilling.

In this video you will see two former Privates describe how they indiscriminately killed Iraqi civilians.

Winter Soldiers: Clifton Hicks and Steven Casey
Hicks and Casey: Indiscriminate killings in Iraq
Saturday March 15th, 2008

Go also to to see another gripping video titled "Rules of Engagement." Warning: Due to heavy traffic there may be a delay in viewing this video.


Iraq War veteran, Captain Luis Montalvan, describes how the American public is misled by a unit called "the robust information cell" formed by General David Petraeus, who is in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq, to pump out only "feel good" information to the press who are stuck inside the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Winter Soldier: Captain Luis Montalvan
Captain Luis Montalvan on the media, propaganda and uncovering the whole story in Iraq

The video is part of the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IAVA) You may have trouble accessing this page due to the inordinate amount of heavy volume.


The Iraq War has always stirred controversy among Americans and it is no different with active duty and veterans of the Iraq war.

This week the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) have been holding hearings in Washington where they have been relating stories about the atrocities they saw committed to Iraqi civilians when they were deployed to Iraq. The video of their testimony can be seen here:

On the other side of the Iraq war fence is a group called Vets for Freedom who have launched a 22-city tour to tell citizens of the heroism they have seen in Iraq.

Whether it is the Iraq Veterans Against the War or the Vets for Freedom, the sad part is the mainstream media in the United States has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to what each veterans group is attempting to accomplish.

Veterans groups offer different views of conflict

By Leo Shane III, Stars and StripesMideast edition, Saturday, March 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — A pair of veterans groups on opposite sides of the country this week are offering drastically different views of the war in Iraq and the future of U.S. troops there.
In Washington on Thursday, Iraq Veterans Against the War launched its four-day Winter Soldier event, which organizers promise will show evidence of systemic war crimes, war profiteering and mismanaged strategy that has cost troops’ lives.

In San Diego on Friday, Vets for Freedom launched a month- long, 22-city tour to highlight stories of heroism from Iraq, and to encourage communities to continue their support of the mission overseas.

Both groups say they hope their efforts will help educate the public about the truth surrounding U.S. operations there.

IVAW, which claims about 800 veterans of operations in Iraq, named its event after the 1971 summit held by Vietnam veterans pushing for an end to that war.

Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the group, called current operations in the Middle East a similar “unjust and illegal occupation” by the United States.
“As we enter the sixth year in Iraq, the voices of veterans and servicemembers must be heard,” said Dougherty, who served as a military police officer in Iraq in 2004. “We represent a legacy of servicemembers speaking out against policies that hurt our country and our military.”
Organizers said that as part of the event they will make public photos, videos and documents of deteriorating conditions in Iraq and possible war crimes committed by U.S. troops under orders. That information has been corroborated through interviews with speakers’ fellow troops and via military documents, they said.

Jason Hurd, an Army medic who served in Iraq in 2005, said his unit was routinely instructed to fire on Iraqi cars, buses and civilians to keep them away from explosive ordnance disposal teams, even if they posed no real threat to the U.S. bomb squads.

“My unit began firing randomly at civilians who were outside our 50-meter bubble,” he said. “They’d come back bragging about how they fired into the grills of cars and watched radiator fluid explode all over the place. And that kind of behavior was encouraged.”

Organizers at Vets for Freedom, which claims 11,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as members, called the IVAW event full of lies and “propaganda for the enemy.”

They said their tour was planned because too often stories of positive work in Iraq — schools being built, neighborhoods becoming safer — aren’t well-covered.
“This is really something that hasn’t been done yet,” said Pete Hegseth, an Army National Guardsman and executive director of the group. “We want to bring these stories of sacrifice directly to the American people, and emphasize to them that their military is committed to completing the mission.”

The bus tour will feature a handful of Silver and Bronze Star recipients from Iraq operations appearing with local veterans from each city in hometown TV interviews, town hall meetings and debates on college campuses.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, whose battalion captured Saddam Hussein in 2003, said many civilians he speaks with about Iraq are surprised to hear the positive news from his travels and contacts there.

“Ninety-nine percent of our military want to stay and want to succeed in Iraq, but people don’t always hear that,” he said.

“No one cares for the Iraqi and Afghan people like we do, because we’ve served side-by-side with them. And we see that a better future is possible for them.”
Vets for Freedom organizers hope the tour will encourage citizens to push lawmakers away from plans for a rapid drawdown of forces overseas.

IVAW is asking citizens to support an immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and reparations for Iraqi citizens harmed by the U.S. occupation.Veterans groups offer different views of conflict By Leo Shane III, Stars and StripesMideast edition, Saturday, March 15, 2008