Monday, June 2, 2008


Suicide car bomber kills 9 in northern Iraqi city

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer Mon Jun 2, 4:14 PM ET;_ylt=AmqAadGJ3H6oraaF2Vb5mOVX6GMA

BAGHDAD - A suicide car bomber targeted the provincial police headquarters in Mosul on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens, police said.

The attack underscored fears that Sunni insurgents are regrouping despite a U.S.-Iraqi offensive in the northern city.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but suicide operations are commonly associated with al-Qaida in Iraq — the main target of U.S.-Iraqi military operations to clear the city 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Salim Shakir said he was walking toward his house in the area when he was hit with shrapnel in the stomach and legs.

"We are shocked because we thought that the violent days had ended," the 47-year-old taxi driver said from his hospital bed. "This explosion shows that the insurgents are still active, and much is needed to stop them."


The Real News Network's Pepe Escobar reports 111 countries have banned cluster bombs, but the United States, Israel, China, Russia, Pakistan and India have not banned them.

This video
shows the devastation a cluster bomb can do and why many of them never explode and are left in areas where children playing can stumble across them and set them off.


As we have been doing for months, we keep bringing to the readers of my blog stories about Iraq war veterans that NEVER make it to the mainstream press anymore.

Dahr Jamail, the award-winning reporter and author of "Beyond the Green Zone," reports on a group of Iraq war veterans and what took place in Seattle over the Memorial Day weekend.

It is worth reading not only because the story is steeped in facts, but it clearly points out how the mainstream media has decided anything to do with Iraq is not worthy of their time or effort anymore.

We still have 160,000 troops in Iraq, but you would never know by watching the news, especially FOX NEWS, or reading your local newspaper.


"Enough Is Enough, It's Time to Get Out"

Inter Press ServiceBy Dahr Jamail

Click here to read story at original source with photo.

SEATTLE, Jun 2 (IPS) - Dozens of veterans from the U.S. occupation of Iraq converged in this west coast city over the weekend to share stories of atrocities being committed daily in Iraq, in a continuation of the "Winter Soldier" hearings held in Silver Spring, Maryland in March.

At the Seattle Town Hall, some 800 people gathered to hear the testimonies of veterans from Iraq. The event was sponsored by the Northwest Regional Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), and endorsed by dozens of local and regional anti-war groups like Veterans for Peace and Students for a Democratic Society.

"I watched Iraqi Police bring in someone to interrogate," Seth Manzel, a vehicle commander and machine gunner in the U.S. Army, told the audience. "There were four men on the was pummeling his kidneys with his fists, another was inserting a bottle up his rectum. It looked like a frat house gang-rape."

Manzel joined the army after 9/11 for economic reasons -- he'd just been laid off, and his wife had just had a baby. Manzel told another story of military medics he was with in Tal Afar who refused to treat an elderly man in their detention centre. Manzel described the old man as being jaundiced and lying on the ground, writhing in pain.

"The medics said the old man was just being lazy and they were not authorised to treat detainees," Manzel said.

Jan Critchfield worked as an army journalist while attached to the 1st Cavalry in Baghdad during 2004. "I was with a unit that shot at a man and wife near a checkpoint," Critchfield said, "She had been shot through her shinbone, and that was the first story I covered in Iraq."

Critchfield told the audience that his unspoken job in Iraq was to "counter the liberal media bias" about the occupation.

"Our target audience was in the U.S., and the emphasis was reporting on humanitarian aid missions the military conducted," Critchfield said. "I don't know how many stories I reported on chicken drops (distributing frozen chickens in a community). I don't know what else you can call that, other than propaganda. I would find the highest ranking person I could get, and quote them verbatim without fact checking anything they said."

Other veterans told of lax rules of engagement that led to the slaughter of innocent civilians in Iraq.
"We were told we'd be deploying to Iraq and that we needed to get ready to have little kids and women shoot at us," Sergio Kochergin, a former Marine who served two deployments in Iraq, told the audience. "It was an attempt to portray Iraqis as animals. We were supposed to do humanitarian work, but all we did was harass people, drive like crazy on the streets, pretending it was our city and we could do whatever we wanted to do."

As the other veterans on the panel nodded in agreement, Kochergin continued, "We were constantly told everybody there wants to kill you, everybody wants to get you. In the military, we had racism within every rank and it was ridiculous. It seemed like a joke, but that joke turned into destroying peoples' lives in Iraq."

"I was in Husaiba with a sniper platoon right on the Syrian border and we would basically go out on the town and search for people to shoot," Kochergin said. "The rules of engagement (ROE) got more lenient the longer we were there. So if anyone had a bag and a shovel, we were to shoot them. We were allowed to take our shots at anything that looked suspicious. And at that point in time, everything looked suspicious."

Kochergin added, "Later on, we had no ROE at all. If you see something that doesn't seem right, take them out." He concluded by saying, "Enough is enough, it's time to get out of there."
Doug Connor was a first lieutenant in the army and worked as a surgical nurse in Iraq. While there he worked as part of a combat support unit, and said most of the patients he treated were Iraqi civilians.

"There were so many people that needed treatment we couldn't take all of them," he said. "When a bombing happened and 45 patients were brought to us, it was always Americans treated first, then Kurds, then the Arabs."

Connor added quietly, "It got to the point where we started calling the Iraqi patients 'range balls' because, just like on the driving range (in golf), you don't care about losing them."

Channan Suarez Diaz was a navy hospital corpsman who returned from Iraq with a purple heart, among other medals. He served in Ramadi from September 2004 to February 2005 with a weapons company. He is now the Seattle Chapter president of IVAW.

"Our commanding officer wanted us to go through a route that another platoon did and was completely wiped out in an ambush," Diaz explained. "We refused. They canceled that mission and we didn't go. I don't think these are isolated incidents. I think this is happening every day in Iraq. The military doesn't want you to know about this, because it's kind of like lighting a fire in a prairie."

The first Winter Soldier event was organised in 1971 by Vietnam Veterans Against the War in response to a growing list of human rights violations occurring in Vietnam.>From Mar. 13-16, 2008, IVAW held a national conference titled "Winter Solider: Iraq and Afghanistan" outside Washington, DC. The four-day event brought together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.


IRAQ: Death Toll 'Above Highest Estimates'

By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*

BAQUBA, Jun 2 (IPS) - The real number of the dead is far higher than even the highest declared in death tolls, many Iraqis say.

A study by doctors from the Johns Hopkins School of Health in conjunction with Iraqi doctors from al-Mustanceriya University in Baghdad, published in the British medical journal The Lancet in October 2006, estimated the number of excess deaths as a result of the occupation at above 655,000.

Just Foreign Policy, an independent organisation "dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy" offered an updated total of 1,213,716 at the time of this writing. On Sep. 14, 2007, Opinion Research Business (ORB), an independent polling agency located in London, produced a figure of 1,220,580 deaths as a result of the invasion.

These estimates are above any official figures from Iraq, but they do consider the reported official figures. Iraqis believe that the authorities are hiding these figures. "The U.S. military benefits from hiding the real totals," said a political analyst who declined to give his name because of the atmosphere of fear within Iraq. "And the Iraqi government is a puppet of the Americans, so their figures are ridiculously low as well." The report published in The Lancet did not take into account many circumstances of death, say residents in Baquba, capital of Diyala province 40km north of capital Baghdad. "All people know that a large number of bodies are dropped into the Diyala river," said a local resident. "I was kidnapped and taken to a village called Huwaider, which is completely Shia and located on the Diyala River. Sunnis there are killed and dropped in the river by militiamen, but I was freed by the U.S Army.

"People in all the villages on the river have gotten used to seeing bodies floating in the river," he added. "I lived in Gatoon district, the volatile stronghold of the militants in Baquba," Yasir al-Azawi, a 37-year-old truck driver told IPS. "Everyday I saw vehicles dropping bodies in the river. Everyone in my district knows this truth; that the river contained an extraordinary number of bodies to the extent that living in that place became impossible. We left our home and moved to live in the north of Iraq." An officer at the directorate-general of police for Diyala province said the number of dead is impossible to calculate exactly. "When the new security plan began in Diyala, some of the arrested militants confessed that they were burying bodies," the officer said. "Some of them led us to the places where they buried the bodies. We found hundreds by digging in the areas that are a stronghold of the militants, and sometimes in the gardens of the houses they were living in, or in a place nearby."

An eyewitness at the Baquba morgue spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity. "I was looking for my relative who was kidnapped and then killed, and I saw an ambulance moving the dead who were killed by militants," he said, "I asked the driver about these bodies. He said that the Iraqi army found them in houses and in holes dug within the houses. I also saw a skeleton among the bodies."

Many believe that the number of the dead is higher than these studies reflect also because the lack of access to areas controlled by militias and other fighters prevents police and army personnel from finding and collecting bodies. "These militia strongholds have prevented access to police for over two years now," Ali Hussein, a local vegetable seller told IPS. "Dozens, and sometimes hundreds were kidnapped everyday and taken to the militants strongholds. People heard nothing about thousands of them. Even today, thousands of families know nothing about their loved ones because they were not found in the morgue."

A policeman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS that "we were moving the bodies from the main streets of the city through patrols. A body that may have been dropped in the street is a message for people. They dropped it purposely. But these are only a few; the bodies of most we believe were killed, were never found." "The morgue continues to receive bodies brought by the police or the ambulance," said an employee at the Baquba morgue. "We used to receive many daily. The capacity of the morgue was not enough, so they were buried after certain procedures like taking photos or waiting for the families to ask about them and to take them. Sometimes, at times of bombing and disastrous accidents, we were receiving hundreds of bodies." Other officials also offered bleak assessments.

"Hundreds of families come to the provincial office everyday to ask about their loved ones who were kidnapped; they do not know whether they are dead or alive," an employee at the governor's office told IPS. "Often the Iraqi army finds records of the dead from the militants through their confessions.

Every week there are new lists of names of those who were killed by the militants. People come to find out whether their loved ones are dead, in order to stop searching." New burial grounds are found often, and the dead are usually not recorded. Many residents told IPS that farmers commonly find bones in their fields.

(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq's Diyala province, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East) (END/2008)


Several soldiers who have returned from combat zones talk with the American News Project about what they say is the widespread practice of using "drop weapons" to cover up the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. We feature five veterans and current members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, plus retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary Solis, a Vietnam War veteran and legal scholar who taught "Law of War" at West Point. Watch the video from ANP below by clicking on this link: or go to this link:


On Tuesday,June 3,join the Center for Constitutional Rights for an exciting live webcast of the event "True Crimes: The Untold Story Behind the Devastation of Iraq." The event, which will take place at New York City's Town Hall, features bestselling author JEREMY SCAHILL, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer CHRIS HEDGES, journalist LAILA AL-ARIAN, and The New Yorker's SEYMOUR HERSH, as they go behind the headlines to tell the untold story of the occupation of Iraq, the daily plight of Iraqi civilians, and the ongoing role of private mercenaries in America's so-called "war on terror."The webcast will stream live on CCR'swebsite on Tuesday,June 3, 7p.m. EST.

Go herefor moredetails:


This is a complete list of confirmed deaths of US military personnel in Iraq during the month of May. Click on the name in "BLUE" and obtain information on hometown, where the GI died and cause of death.


Christian Cotner
Al Asad - Al Anbar Province
US: 3 UK: 0 Other: 0

Sergeant Frank J. Gasper
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Blake W. Evans
Al Jazeera Desert - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant 1st Class Jason F. Dene
Non-hostile - injury
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Private 1st Class Kyle Phillip Norris
Iskandariyah (died in Balad) - Babil
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Private Branden P. Haunert
Tikrit - Salah Ad Din
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Sergeant John K. Daggett
Halifax, Canada - Baghdad
Hostile - hostile fire - RPG attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Sergeant Victor M. Cota
Baghdad (Kadamiyah)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Corporal Jessica A. Ellis
Baghdad (northwest of)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist Joseph A. Ford
Al Asad - Anbar
Non-hostile - vehicle accident
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 0

Specialist Mary J. Jaenichen
Iskandariyah - Babil
Non-hostile - injury
US: 2 UK: 0 Other: 0

Private 1st Class Aaron J. Ward
Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Specialist Alex D. Gonzalez
Mosul - Ninewah
Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire, RPG
US: 1 UK: 0 Other: 2

Lieutenant Giorgi Margiev
Diyala Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Corporal Zura Gvenetadze
Diyala Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Private Corey L. Hicks
Baghdad (eastern part)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
US: 5 UK: 0 Other: 0

Lance Corporal Casey L. Casanova
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Corporal Miguel A. Guzman
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Lance Corporal James F. Kimple
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Sergeant Glen E. Martinez
Al Anbar Province
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Specialist Jeffrey F. Nichols
Baghdad (central)
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack (VBIED)
US: 19 UK: 0 Other: 2


NEW DELHI: The tale of massive fraud and embezzlement of millions of dollars by the US military in its operations in Iraq continues.

By Subodh Varma - TNN

Testifying before the US Congress Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on 22 May, Mary Ugone, deputy inspector general of accounts in the Pentagon said that an audit of $8.2 billion spending related to the Iraq war showed that $7.8 billion had been improperly spent.
Over 180,000 payments, mostly since the war started in 2003, were made by the defense department to contractors for everything from bottled water to vehicles to transportation services.

In her testimony, Ugone also revealed that $135 million were given to forces from three countries UK, South Korea and Poland to facilitate their participation in the war. This is the first time that the US has officially admitted paying its allies in the so-called Coalition of the Willing that invaded Iraq in March 2003.

In his opening statement, Henry Waxman, chairman of the committee, said that wounded soldiers are getting notices from the Pentagon to return signing bonuses with interest since they had not completed the full term. “There is something very wrong when our wounded troops have to fill out forms in triplicate for meal money while billions of dollars in cash are handed out in Iraq with no accountability,” he said.

In an earlier report released in November 2007, the Inspector General had concluded that the Defense Department couldn’t properly account for over $5 billion in taxpayer funds spent in support of the Iraq Security Forces. It said that thousands of weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were unaccounted for, and millions of dollars had been squandered on construction projects that did not exist.

Ugones testimony gave detailed examples of the bizarre manner in which US defense officials doled out huge amounts of money without recording where it was going. In one case a sum of $320 million was paid an Iraqi official for paying salaries with only an incompletely filled voucher signed by one official. Since no details of the spending plan were attached as required by Pentagon rules the auditors have no clue as to where the money went. This payment was made from assets seized from Iraq.

Auditors found that the Pentagon gave away $1.8 billion from seized Iraqi assets. There were 53 vouchers noting these payments but not even one adequately explained where the money went.

In another instance, two vouchers, one for $5 million and the other for $2.7 million showed payments to a vendor for goods and services provided except that there were no details of what goods or services were actually delivered.

Over $2.7 billion was spent on providing equipment and services to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The auditors found that $2 billion of this was not properly accounted for.

For example, 31 heavy tracked recovery vehicles costing $10.2 million were given to the ISF, but 18 of them could not be traced because identification numbers were not recorded.


Shocking Bush 'Pep Talk' to His War Cabinet on Iraq: 'We Are Going to Wipe Them out!'

By Tom Engelhardt, Tomdispatch.comPosted on June 1, 2008, Printed on June 1, 2008

Here's a memory for you. I was probably five or six and sitting with my father in a movie house off New York's Times Square -- one of the slightly seedy theaters of that dawn of the 1950s moment that tended to show double or triple feature B-westerns or war movies. We were catching some old oater which, as I recall, began with a stagecoach careening dramatically down the main street of a cow town.

A wounded man is slumped in the driver's seat, the horses running wild. Suddenly -- perhaps from the town's newspaper office -- a cowboy dressed in white and in a white Stetson rushes out, leaps on the team of horses, stops the stagecoach, and says to the driver: "Sam, Sam, who dun it to ya?" (or the equivalent). At just that moment, the camera catches a man, dressed all in black in a black hat -- and undoubtedly mustachioed -- skulking into the saloon.

My dad promptly turns to me and whispers: "He's the one. He did it."

Believe me, I'm awed. All I can say in wonder and protest is: "Dad, how can you know? How can you know?"

But, of course, he did know and, within a year or two, I certainly had the same simple code of good and evil, hero and villain, under my belt. It wasn't a mistake I was likely to make twice.

Above all, of course, you couldn't mistake the bad guys of those old films. They looked evil. If they were "natives," they also made no bones about what they were going to do to the white hats, or, in the case of Gunga Din (1939), the pith helmets. "Rise, our new-made brothers," the evil "guru" of that film tells his followers. "Rise and kill. Kill, lest you be killed yourselves. Kill for the love of killing. Kill for the love of Kali. Kill! Kill! Kill!"

"Wipe Them Out!"

Kill! Kill! Kill! That was just the sort of thing the native equivalent of the black hat was likely to say. Such villains -- for a modern reprise, see the latest cartoon superhero blockbuster, Iron Man -- were not only fanatical, but usually at the very edge of mad as well. And their language reflected that.

I was brought back with a start to just such evil-doers of my American screen childhood last week by a memoir from a once-upon-a-time insider of the Bush presidency. No, not former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, who swept into the headlines by accusing the President of using "propaganda" and the "complicit enablers" of the media to take the U.S. to war in 2002-2003. I'm thinking of another insider, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. He got next to no attention for a presidential outburst he recorded in his memoir, Wiser in Battle: A Soldier's Story, so bloodthirsty and cartoonish that it should have caught the attention of the nation -- and so eerily in character, given the last years of presidential behavior, that you know it has to be on the money.

Let me briefly set the scene, as Sanchez tells it on pages 349-350 of Wiser in Battle. It's April 6, 2004. L. Paul Bremer III, head of the occupation's Coalition Provisional Authority, as well as the President's colonial viceroy in Baghdad, and Gen. Sanchez were in Iraq in video teleconference with the President, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (Assumedly, the event was recorded and so revisitable by a note-taking Sanchez.) The first full-scale American offensive against the resistant Sunni city of Fallujah was just being launched, while, in Iraq's Shiite south, the U.S. military was preparing for a campaign against cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

According to Sanchez, Powell was talking tough that day: "We've got to smash somebody's ass quickly," the general reports him saying. "There has to be a total victory somewhere. We must have a brute demonstration of power." (And indeed, by the end of April, parts of Fallujah would be in ruins, as, by August, would expanses of the oldest parts of the holy Shiite city of Najaf. Sadr himself would, however, escape to fight another day; and, in order to declare Powell's "total victory," the U.S. military would have to return to Fallujah that November, after the U.S. presidential election, and reduce three-quarters of it to virtual rubble.) Bush then turned to the subject of al-Sadr: "At the end of this campaign al-Sadr must be gone," he insisted to his top advisors. "At a minimum, he will be arrested. It is essential he be wiped out."

Not long after that, the President "launched" what an evidently bewildered Sanchez politely describes as "a kind of confused pep talk regarding both Fallujah and our upcoming southern campaign [against the Mahdi Army]." Here then is that "pep talk." While you read it, try to imagine anything like it coming out of the mouth of any other American president, or anything not like it coming out of the mouth of any evil enemy leader in the films of the President's -- and my -- childhood:

"'Kick ass!' [Bush] said, echoing Colin Powell's tough talk. 'If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!'"

Keep in mind that the bloodlusty rhetoric of this "pep talk" wasn't meant to rev up Marines heading into battle. These were the President's well-embunkered top advisors in a strategy session on the eve of major military offensives in Iraq. Evidently, however, the President was intent on imitating George C. Scott playing General George Patton -- or perhaps even inadvertently channeling one of the evil villains of his onscreen childhood.

Click on link
to read the full and fascinating story.