Friday, April 25, 2008


Ignoring Uptick In Iraq Violence, Lieberman And Graham Accuse War Critics Of ‘A Crisis Of Credibility’

Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) accuse critics of the Iraq war of facing “a crisis of credibility” because they “confidently predicted the failure of the surge.” But in their effort to argue that anti-war critics have “been proven decidedly wrong,” Lieberman and Graham undermine their own credibility on the issue by ignoring recent developments in the war-torn country.

As proof of the surge’s success, the two hawkish senators cite statistics that they say show “dramatic improvements in security”:
No one can deny the dramatic improvements in security in Iraq achieved by Gen. Petraeus, the brave troops under his command, and the Iraqi Security Forces. From June 2007 through February 2008, deaths from ethno-sectarian violence in Baghdad have fallen approximately 90%. American casualties have also fallen sharply, down by 70%.

The fact that Lieberman and Graham only cite statistics through February — even though numbers for March 2008 are available — undercuts their argument. Perhaps they ignored March because there was “a 25 or 30 percent increase in the number of civilian casualties” from February to March:

Overall, Iraqi deaths rose from a low of 568 in December and 541 in January to roughly 721 in February to more than 1,082 in March, according to statistics compiled by Iraq’s ministries of health, interior, and defense and confirmed by Smith. The vast majority were civilians.

“There was somewhere on the order of a 25 or 30 percent increase in the number of civilian casualties when you consider March compared to February,” Smith said, although “the numbers are still nowhere near what they had been last summer.”
Lieberman and Graham also claim that “the critics in Washington have been proven wrong” about political progress in Iraq, citing the passage of “de-Baathification, amnesty, the budget and provincial elections” legislation by the Iraqi government. But this too is not an honest assessment of what has occurred in Iraq. In a report to be released today, the experts who advised the original Iraq Study Group call political progress “superficial“:
A new assessment of U.S. policy in Iraq by the same experts who advised the original Iraq Study Group concludes that political progress is “so slow, halting and superficial” and political fragmentation “so pronounced” that the United States is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago.

Before accusing their political opponents of “a crisis of credibility,” Lieberman and Graham should make sure their arguments don’t undermine their own credibility.

UpdateThe AP reports today that "internal strife" in Iraq has been "underscored by a rise in ethno-sectarian violence between Iraqis in March, the first such monthly increase since last July."


TV's Response to Pentagon Propaganda? Never Happened

Posted April 24, 2008 11:31 AM (EST)
Click on link to see video.

Last week, it was a mudslinging debate hosted by ABC. This week, it's revelations of pro-war propaganda on nearly every major television news outlet.

The quest for quality journalism and for the truth about the fast sell on the Iraq war just hit a new low. And today, in the ensuing days, our loyal Bush lapdog news outlets are either dismissing the damning revelation or pretending it never happened.

Sunday's New York Times' article exposing a secret Bush administration campaign to infiltrate the media with pro-Iraq war "analysts" is enraging and is likely illegal. Trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of casualties later, we learn that the drum beat to war was led by a choir lip-synching the Pentagon's talking points.

And no one - not the network officials, not the military analysts, and certainly not the White House - can walk away from this scheme with clean hands. Of course, propaganda has always played a role in the government's wartime strategy. But the extent to which the American people were duped into trusting military officials in the build-up and ongoing pursuit of the Iraq war -- aided and abetted by the largest news outlets -- is as devious as it gets.

We need more than an empty reprimand of these propaganda pundits. Congress must investigate the Pentagon's "hidden hand" in driving war coverage, and the defense contractors, military analysts and national news media who went along for the ride.

The Department of Justice must launch an investigation to determine if the Pentagon broke the laws prohibiting government sponsored covert propaganda. But don't hold your breath. As Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said in a Capitol Hill hearing this week, Bush-appointed DoJ officials are so MIA on government accountability, they should all be "on the side of milk containers".

This is not a partisan issue. Democrats, Republicans and everyone else are the victims. Public interest groups have launched an effort to pressure our lawmakers to act; to send a resounding message that the American people will no longer tolerate government lies, half-truths, and manipulations in the media.

Many of the network officials interviewed by the Times "acknowledged only a limited understanding of their analysts' interactions with the administration" and said analysts were not expected to disclose their financial conflicts before being broadcast as an expert.

Shame on the media for their irresponsible and shoddy reporting, for their unwillingness to vet sources, and for being compliant lapdogs when we needed snarling watchdogs.
Welcome to a familiar refrain. America's media system is dominated by a handful of giant corporations obsessed with making money, and terrified of upsetting the apple cart. Problem is, critical, accountable journalism questions authority, stirs the pot, and almost always spills more than a few apples. It even scares away a coveted advertisers and pisses off politicians who would otherwise hand over policy favors, earmarks and tax breaks worth millions.

Every time you see the media fail to inform and enlighten - a failure you can witness every time you turn on your TV or radio - don't get mad, join the ranks of Americans who are realizing that the fight for media reform is perhaps the most important political fight of our time. A fight who's outcome will determine whether our nation will continue its Orwellian slide into propaganda and falsehood, or become the enlightened democracy we so desperately want to live in.

Correction: The video refers to CNN's Rick Sanchez as a morning host. His show appears evenings.


Most of the TV military analysts have ties to the defense industry and this video explores exactly who the military are that appear on cable news and how they have raked in a lot money "selling the war" to the American public.


The citizens of America should be outraged over the fact the Bush Administration and the Pentagon along with the three cable news networks have been lying to them for over five years with phony "military analysts" appearing all over TV when the New York Times has now revealed ALL of the "TV military analysts" are on the payroll of defense contractors or work as lobbyists for the defense industry.

The cable news stations are unfazed by the revelation the TV military analysts are "hired guns" working for defense contractors as witnessed how FOX NEWS' Brit Hume earlier this week feature TWICE former General Robert Scales on his "Special Report" show when it has been revealed by the NY Times that Scales has ties to the defense industry through an organization called Colgen, Inc.

Scales' online Fox News bio states that "General Scales is the president of Colgen, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in issues relating to land power, war gaming and strategic leadership." According to its website, Colgen "[a]ssists the landpower Services in creating future warfighting doctrine and operational concepts" and "[t]ranslates these concepts into useful strategies and actions for industry, the media, and the congressional and executive branches of government." Colgen also "provides products targeted to these marketing elements including: media commentary, congressional testimony, advice to the executive branch, published works, seminars and conferences."

Colgen's "growing list of satisfied clients" includes defense contractors such as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, as well as multiple elements of the Department of Defense, such as the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.

Pentagon Propaganda: So Much Worse Than We Thought

By John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, PR WatchPosted on April 25, 2008, Printed on April 25, 2008

David Barstow of the New York Times has written the first installment in what is already a stunning exposé of the Bush Administration's most powerful propaganda weapon used to sell and manage the war on Iraq: the embedding of military propagandists directly into the TV networks as on-air commentators.

We and others have long criticized the
widespread TV network practice of hiring former military officials to serve as analysts, but even in our most cynical moments we did not anticipate how bad it was. Barstow has painstakingly documented how these analysts, most of them military industry consultants and lobbyists, were directly chosen, managed, coordinated and given their talking points by the Pentagon's ministers of propaganda.

Thanks to the two-year investigation by the New York Times, we today know that Victoria Clarke, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, launched the Pentagon military analyst program in early 2002. These supposedly independent military analysts were in fact a coordinated team of pro-war propagandists, personally recruited by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and acting under Clarke's tutelage and development.

One former participant, NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard, has called the effort "psyops on steroids." As Barstow reports, "Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as 'message force multipliers' or 'surrogates' who could be counted on to deliver administration 'themes and messages' to millions of Americans 'in the form of their own opinions.' … Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war."

Clarke and her senior aide, Brent T. Krueger, eventually signed up more than 75 retired military officers who penned newspaper op/ed columns and appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts. The Pentagon held weekly meetings with the military analysts, which continued as of April 20, 2008, when the New York Times ran Barstow's story.

The program proved so successful that it was expanded to issues besides the Iraq War. "Other branches of the
administration also began to make use of the analysts. Mr. Gonzales, then the attorney general, met with them soon after news leaked that the government was wiretapping terrorism suspects in the United States without warrants, Pentagon records show.

When David H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007, one of his early acts was to meet with the analysts."
Barstow spent two years digging, using the Freedom of Information Act and attorneys to force the Bush Administration to release some 8,000 pages of documents now under lock and key at the New York Times. This treasure trove should result in additional stories, giving them a sort of "Pentagon Papers" of Iraq war propaganda.

Click on link above to finish reading this story.


Baghdad violence disrupting everyday life
Clashes between Iraqi, US forces and militiamen kill 13 as UK freezes troop withdrawals
Friday April 25th, 2008

View The Real News Network video here:

The headmistress of a girls' school in Sadr City was forced to send her students home because of an upturn in violence in the Baghdad neighborhood on Thursday. As fighting rages on in the Iraqi capital, Britain announced it would halt the withdrawal of its 4,500 troops from the Basra area because of clashes with Shiite militias.

Transcript:VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: At least 13 people were killed in Baghdad on Thursday in ongoing fighting between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi- and US-led forces. The threatening upturn in violence prompted the headmistress of a local school in Sadr City to send her female students home.

BATOOL RASHEED, SCHOOLGIRL (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We cannot complete our studies. We hope that the prime minister listens to our voices, and works towards a solution. Services are so bad. We wake up and sleep to bangs and explosions that makes us absent minded and unable to focus on our studies.NKWETA: Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, held closed-door meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Britain announced on Thursday it would put a freeze on troop withdrawals from Iraq, due to an upsurge in fighting with Shiite militias. Around 4,500 British troops are based in Iraq, most of them at an airport camp near the southern city of Basra. Britain suspended plans to withdraw about 1,500 troops this spring after fighting broke out last month between Iraqi forces and Shiite militiamen. Britain's Defense Secretary, Des Browne, on Thursday acknowledged Iraqi soldiers being trained by British troops are months away from being ready to deploy.

DISCLAIMER:Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Baghdad, Apr 25, (VOI) – 14 people were killed, 75 others were wounded, while security forces arrested five persons in violent acts that took place throughout Iraq during the last 24 hours, security source said on Friday.

In Baghdad, a medical source from Sadr city, eastern Baghdad, said that "the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City received during the past few hours nine corpses and 39 wounded people while the al-Shahid al-Sadr hospital received two killed and 35 others wounded."

"The number of deaths is most likely to rise due to the serious condition of some of the wounded," he said, adding the two main hospitals in Sadr City and other nearby hospitals are acting in a limited pace due to the continued bombardment.Sadr City, a stronghold of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militias, has been witnessing armed clashes since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced last month the commencement of a security operation codenamed Saulat al-Forsan (Knights' Assault) in the port city of Basra, Iraq's second largest province and an oil-hub, 590 km south of Baghdad, which he said targeted "outlaws".


The situation in Iraq just got even worse---if that could be humanely possible. It is now being reported by AP that the US is paying Iraq for Iraqis who have been killed but supposedly are working in the Iraqi security forces.

WASHINGTON - Iraq's government has kept thousands of dead, injured or absent policemen and soldiers on the payroll as a way to compensate or care for their families, an audit found.
The practice is just one example of why there are no reliable numbers on how many Iraqi forces are on the job at any given time, says the report being made public Friday by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

Dead kept on Iraqi military payroll U.S. audit also finds discrepancies in how troops are counted The Associated Press

"There are continuing uncertainties about the true number ... who are present for duty at any one time,'' Bowen said of Iraqi policemen, soldiers, border guards and other forces.
Bowen said another part of the problem is that Iraqi ministries lack automated accounting systems needed to keep good data.

"I would not call it a damning report. I would say it's reflective of the difficulty of assessing troop strength ... and, more importantly, capabilities,'' Bowen said in an interview Thursday.

Bowen had been asked to assess last month's Defense Department report on Iraq, one in a series of quarterly documents required by Congress to measure progress toward military and political security there.

The $20 billion U.S. program to train Iraqis to provide their own security is key to when U.S. troops levels can be reduced in Iraq. And the problem of assessing the Iraqi forces is not new.
Iraqi forces short on officers Bowen noted that efforts have been made to improve the quarterly report's data on the number of Iraqis forces that have been authorized, trained, are being paid and are on duty.


The war in Iraq rages on with more US deaths. On Thursday 3 US soldiers were killed along with 42 Iraqis. Another 38 Iraqis were wouded.

At least 42 Iraqis were killed and 38 more were wounded in the latest attacks. Three American soldiers were killed as well, but in separate accidents. Also, Britain is canceling its drawdown of troops for the time being.

Two American soldiers were killed and one was wounded during a vehicular accident in Salah ad Din. One Iraqi interpreter was also wounded. Another American soldier was killed in a separate accident in Kuwait. Meanwhile, the MNF denied capturing former Vice President Izzat al-Douri.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced that all political factions will soon be returning to the government. The groups, both Shi'ite and Sunni, walked out last year. One of the groups is connected to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but reconciliation is unlikely unless al-Maliki hold up his end of a cease-fire between Iraqi forces and al-Sadr's Mahdi army. Instead, al-Maliki says he will continue with his crackdown. Meanwhile, Shi'ite lawmakers are warning that al-Sadr is considering disconnecting the Mahdi army from it's political wing and declaring an end to the cease-fire.

In Baghdad, three dumped bodies were found. Three people were killed and 15 were wounded during a market bombing in Mansour; three Iraqi soldiers were injured in a separate bombing. Iraqi and U.S. forces killed nine suspects in Husseiniyah. As many as seven others were killed in air strikes across the city. Three people were injured in a bomb blast in west Baghdad.

Two more were injured during a bombing in Shabb. Sixteen Katyusha rockets were confiscated. Mortars struck the Polish Embassy, injuring a security guard. A car bomb at the entrance to the Green Zone killed one person and wounded three others. An IED was found in Zayouna and disposed of. A bomb at the Ghadeer Bridge killed one and wounded six others.

Mortars in Karrada left no casualties. Two people were injured when mortars fell in Adhamiya. Also, Iraqi and U.S. forces raided a hospital in Rashad, where they arrested staff and patients; four suspects were killed during the operation.

Two policemen and a civilian were killed during a roadside bombing in Kirkuk.

In Mosul, one civilian was killed and three people were wounded when a roadside bomb blasted them. One policeman was shot and killed. Also, eight suspects were captured.

Iraqi forces arrested a Sadrist cleric in Basra.
In Samarra, reconstruction of the Askariya Mosque is uniting both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
Three suspects were detained near Arbil.

In Karbala, three suspects were arrested.

U.S. forces killed six suspects near Lake Thar Thar.

A roadside bomb in Khalis killed an Iraqi security officer and wounded two others.
Three public servants driving an ambulance were arrested in Fallujah.

In Wajihiyah the district commissioner and his driver were injured during and armed attack.
Also, Turkish troops reported firing upon a group of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels attempting to cross into Turkey. The PKK said that intense clashes took place, with losses on the Turkish forces side.


The rebel cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to focus all of his attention on fighting US forces in Iraq rather than seek political reconciliation with the struggling Iraqi government.

Al-Sadr shift: away from politics and favoring fight
By HAMZA HENDAWI and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writers Thu Apr 24, 9:37 PM ET

BAGHDAD - Muqtada al-Sadr is considering setting aside his political ambitions and restarting a full-scale fight against U.S.-led forces — a worrisome shift that may reflect Iranian influence on the young cleric and could open the way for a shadow state protected by his powerful Mahdi Army.
A possible breakaway path — described to The Associated Press by Shiite lawmakers and politicians — would represent the ultimate backlash to the Iraqi government's pressure on al-Sadr to renounce and disband his Shiite militia.
By snubbing the give-and-take of politics, al-Sadr would have a freer hand to carve out a kind of parallel state with its own militia and social services along the lines of Hezbollah in Lebanon, a Shiite group founded with Iran's help in the 1980s.
It also would carry potentially disastrous security implications as the Pentagon trims its troops strength and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally shows progress on national reconciliation.


The US Defense Secretary blames Iran for the killing of US troops in Iraq as the Bush administration steps up rhetoric against Tehran.

"What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and women inside Iraq,'' Robert Gates told a press conference on Wednesday.

The Defense Secretary denied the reports that senior US military officials including General Raymond T. Odierno, General David Petraeus and Admiral William Fallon are at odds over Iran, saying they have no disagreement about the need to confront Iran "over its conduct in Iraq". "General Odierno and General Petraeus and Admiral Fallon were all in exactly the same position when it came to their views of Iranian interference inside Iraq,'' Gates claimed.

The United States accuses Iran of supporting insurgents inside Iraq. Tehran, however, dismisses the allegations saying Washington has failed to provide any concert evidence to prove its claims.