Thursday, June 5, 2008


IRAQ: Animals Too Struggle for Survival

By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*

FALLUJAH, Jun 5 (IPS) - Amidst the huge and growing death toll, it has been easy to forget that animals, in their own way, are finding it hard to survive in Iraq."Like human beings, animals find it very hard to stay alive now," Dr. Sammy Hashim, a veterinarian who lives and works west of Baghdad, between Fallujah and the capital city, told IPS. "Naturally, no one cares for the poor animals when nobody seems to care even for human beings under the occupation."

Dr. Hashim said animals cannot get basic needs. "Good drinking water, good feed, vet care and medicines are all unavailable in Iraq since the U.S. occupation of the country began in the spring of 2003. When we complain to the government, they laugh at us, saying humans are first priority." Farmers seem to have lost hope for the future of their animals. "We treat animals like our own children," Hamdiya Alwan, 50-year-old widow of a farmer in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad told IPS. "We were brought up to treat animals in the best way possible, but now it is getting very hard. "It costs a lot to keep a cow or a few sheep with prices of feed so high, and agriculture in such bad shape. Of the six cows and 30 heads of sheep that we had before my husband was killed in 2004, I only have one cow and four heads of sheep now." Chicken farm owners have their own agonies. "It was good business, and a real support during the times of the sanctions (the UN-imposed economic sanctions on Iraq 1990-2003)," Hajji Jassim from the Saqlawiya area near Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad told IPS. "The support (subsidies) we got from our legitimate (previous) government was reflected in the prices of chicken meat."

Click on link above for complete story.


While the mainstream media now focuses on who will be the running mate for Barack Obama and John McCain, there is still a war going on in Iraq and we have the latest information on casualties and violence across Iraq.

War News for Thursday, June 05, 2008

Click on "BLUE" for more information.

David Woodard walked on crutches Tuesday for the first time in more than a month. A quarter-sized piece of shrapnel struck Woodard in the shin, destroying a 3- to 4-inch section of his right leg April 28 when a roadside bomb blast penetrated his Humvee in Baghdad. He and three other soldiers, along with an interpreter, were traveling to a main security checkpoint to relieve a platoon patrolling there. The other passengers were unhurt. “It [the bomb] went off on my side of the truck,” said Woodard, who led a platoon of 40 men in a section of Baghdad bordering Sauder City. Woodard was a member of Chaos Company, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division. Woodard since has undergone 11 to 12 surgeries – he’s lost count – and is recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He speaks matter-of-factly about his sacrifice.

The International Herald Tribune reports that he died in a land mine explosion.MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Coalition force Soldier from small arms fire south of Baghdad on Wednesday, June 4th. No other details were released.

Xinhuanet is reporting the deaths of two U.S. coalition soldiers in a helicopter crash near Kandahar, Afghanistan on Thursday, June 5th. No other details were released.

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November. The terms of the impending deal, details of which have been leaked to The Independent, are likely to have an explosive political effect in Iraq. Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law.....Mideast weather roundup:

Reported Security incidents:Baghdad:#1: Around 9am, a roadside bomb targeted an army patrol at Rashid camp street (east Baghdad).One soldier was killed .

#2: Around 1pm, a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol in Jihad neighborhood near Mohammad Rasool Allah mosque. No casualties reported.

#3: Police found two dead bodies in Baghdad today: 1 was found in Tobchi neighborhood (northwest Baghdad)in Karkh bank while 1 was found in Fudhailiyah neighborhood(east Baghdad)in Risafa bank.

Diyala Prv:#1: Georgia's Defense Ministry says a soldier has died in a land mine explosion in Iraq. The ministry says the incident occurred Wednesday as 22-year-old Sgt. Irakly Kordzaya was on patrol with his unit in the province of Diyala, north of Baghdad. It was unclear whether he stepped on the mine or if it was remotely detonated.

#2: Three civilians were wounded on Thursday in an improvised explosive device blast targeting a civilian car in south of Baaquba, a police source said. "An improvised explosive device, planted on the road in al-Nahr al-Kabier village in Bahraz district, south of Baaquba, went off this morning, injuring three civilians," the source, who asked to be unnamed, Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq.

#3: Three civilians were injured on Thursday by mortar shells in northeast of Baaquba, a police source said. "Five mortar shells hit al-Khadraa neighborhood in Jalawlaa, Khaniqeen district, northeast of Baaquba, wounding three civilians," Lieutenant Nehad Ali told Aswat al-Iraq

Voices of Iraq.Baquba:#1: A Suspected al-Qaeda gunmen was killed on Thursday by unknown armed in the city of Baaquba, said a police source.

Shirqat:#1: Iraqi army and U.S.-backed neighbourhood patrols backed by U.S. military killed seven militants, including two foreign fighters, in clashes in Shirqat, 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, said Captain Khalid al-Sahan, leader of the Shirqat neighbourhood patrols.Kirkuk:#1: A roadside bomb exploded near Sumer hotel downtown Kirkuk city. Seven people were injured.

Kurdistan:#1: A Turkish TV station is quoting a senior military commander as saying that Turkey and Iran have carried out coordinated strikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. CNN-Turk television reports that Gen. Ilker Basbug has confirmed for the first time that the two countries share intelligence against the rebels. He said the two countries plan to launch more coordinated operations against the rebel group in the future.

Al Anbar Prv:Fallujah:#1: Iraqi security forces killed a gunman and arrested two others in an operation against al Qaeda hideouts in north Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police Captain Ahmed Jasim said.


Senate committee: Bush knew Iraq claims weren't true

Nancy A. Youssef and Mark Seibel McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: June 05, 2008 02:17:52 PM

WASHINGTON— A long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report made public Thursday concludes that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made public statements to promote an invasion of Iraq that they knew at the time were not supported by available intelligence.

A companion report found that a special office set up by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld undertook "sensitive intelligence activities" that were inappropriate "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department."

“Before taking the country to war, this administration owed it to the American people to give them a 100 percent accurate picture of the threat we faced. Unfortunately, our Committee has concluded that the administration made significant claims that were not supported by the intelligence,” said committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D- W. Va.

It's long been known that the administration's claims in the runup to the Iraq war, from Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al Qaida to whether Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program, were incorrect, and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suggested the problems were faulty intelligence.

"We had the intelligence that we had fully vetted, but it was wrong," she said. "We certainly regret that and we've taken measures to fix it."

But the Senate report, the first official examination of whether the president and vice president knew that their claims were incorrect at the time that they made them, reached a different conclusion.

“There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate," Rockefeller said in a statement.
But Rockefeller called the administration’s statements delibrate, writing: "There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate."
The report was approved with on a 10-5 vote. Three Republican members of the committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Christopher Bond of Missouri and Richard Burr of North Carolina, denounced the report as "inconclusive, misleading and incomplete." Two Republicans, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snow of Maine, voted with the Democrats.
The report examined five speeches by Bush, Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell between August 2002 and February 2003 and dissected key statements. It also looked at statements by other administration leaders during that time. The report found that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet often made declarative statements about the reasons to go to war even though the intelligence community was largely split on key issues.
In some cases, the administration made statements that were not backed up at all, the report found.
"Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information," the report concluded.
Among the reports conclusions:
Claims by President Bush that Iraq and al Qaida had a partnership "were not substantiated by the intelligence."
The president and vice president misrepresented what was known about Iraq’s chemical weapons capabiliies.
Rumsfeld misrepresented what the intelligence community knew when he said Iraq's weapons productions facilities were buried deeply underground.
Cheney's claim that the intelligence community had confirmed that lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 was not true.
The report did not examine statements by senators, who often echoed the administration's statements because committee staffers said the administration's statements had a greater impact. Instead, committee staffers said that the Senate had learned from its mistakes and now has special groups dedicated to specific controversial topics such as Iran and China.
The Senate now is "wary of wholesale acceptance" of the intelligence community and of statements made by intelligence officials, said a committee staffer who asked to remain unnamed so that he could speak more freely.


Revealed: Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control

Bush wants 50 military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and legal immunity for all American soldiers and contractors

By Patrick CockburnThursday, 5 June 2008

A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

Click on link to read complete story.


Rumors of War: Is Bush Gearing Up to Attack Iran?

By Conn Hallinan, PortsidePosted on June 5, 2008, Printed on June 5, 2008

The May 8 letter from U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to George W. Bush received virtually no media coverage, in spite of the fact that it warned the president that an attack on Iran without Congressional approval would be grounds for impeachment. Rumor has it several senators have been briefed about the possibility of war with Iran.

Something is afoot.

Just what is not clear, but over the past several months, several moves by the White House strongly suggest that the Bush administration will attack Iran sometime in the near future. According to the Asia Times, "a former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community" said an air attack will target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force garrisons. Not even the White House is bonkers enough to put troops on the ground amid 65 million Iranians.

There is a certain disconnect to all this, particularly given December's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concluding that Iran had abandoned its program to build a nuclear weapon. The NIE is the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence services. At the time, the report seemed to shelve any possibility of war with Iran.

However, shortly after the intelligence estimate on Iran was released, the old "into Iraq gang" went to work undermining it.

According to Newsweek, during his Middle East tour in January, Bush "all but disowned the document" to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A "senior administration official" told the magazine, "He [Bush] told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views."

Neither do they reflect the views of Vice President Dick Cheney or Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

In an interview with ABC during his recent 10-day visit to the region, Cheney downplayed the NIE: "We don't know whether or not they've [the Iranians have] restarted." Cheney also said Iran was seeking to build missiles capable of reaching the United States sometime in the next decade.

Click on link above for complete story


This blogger has been saying for months how the media has abandoned coverage of the Iraq war. We watched as the cable news stations went from one tabloid-type story to another in an effort to report on "anything" other than Iraq.

As the primaries started to heat up, we could see the cable news media switching from tabloid news to round-the-clock coverage of the primaries with "talking heads" talking and talking and talking and never really saying anything of importance.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were shoved not only off the front pages but off the news sections of every major newspaper in the United States.

As for FOX NEWS, CNN and MSNBC, the three cable "news" stations "spiked" any story having to do with Iraq even though we have 160,000 troops in Iraq and 30,000 in Afghanistan.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were put on the back burner and still remain there as I write this.

We have held to a theory for a long, long time that the reason the wars no longer get coverage is because there is no vested interest in the wars by a vast majority of the public. How many people actually have a loved one serving in the military? Very, very few.

And to add to the burying of Iraq and Afghanistan war news, you have a media made up of young reporters and editors who NEVER served in the military and have very little interest in anything to do with the United States military---even the military that are caught in two wars.

Now there is a story that has come out which backs up everything I have been saying about how the media has abandoned the wars. Below you can read most of it and for the full account click on the link I provide.

Commentary by BILL CORCORAN, editor of CORKSPHERE.

How the Media Abandoned Iraq

By Sherry Ricchiardi, American Journalism ReviewPosted on June 4, 2008, Printed on June 5, 2008

Armando Acuna, public editor of the Sacramento Bee, turned a Sunday column into a public flogging for both his editors and the nation's news media. They had allowed the third-longest war in American history to slip off the radar screen, and he had the numbers to prove it.

The public also got a scolding for its meager interest in a controversial conflict that is costing taxpayers about $12.5 billion a month, or nearly $5,000 a second, according to some calculations. In his March 30 commentary, Acuna noted: "There's enough shame … for everyone to share."

He had watched stories about Iraq move from 1A to the inside pages of his newspaper, if they ran at all. He understood the editors' frustration over how to handle the mind-numbing cycles of violence and complex issues surrounding Operation Iraqi Freedom. "People feel powerless about this war," he said in an interview in April.

Acuna knew the Sacramento Bee was not alone.

For long stretches over the past 12 months, Iraq virtually disappeared from the front pages of the nation's newspapers and from the nightly network newscasts. The American press and the American people had lost interest in the war.

The decline in coverage of Iraq has been staggering.

During the first 10 weeks of 2007, Iraq accounted for 23 percent of the newshole fornetwork TV news. In 2008, it plummeted to 3 percent during that period. On cable networks it fell from 24 percent to 1 percent, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The numbers also were dismal for the country's dailies. By Acuna's count, during the first three months of this year, front-page stories about Iraq in the Bee were down 70 percent from the same time last year. Articles about Iraq once topped the list for reader feedback. By mid-2007, "Their interest just dropped off; it was noticeable to me," says the public editor.

A daily tracking of 65 newspapers by the Associated Press confirms a dip in page-one play throughout the country. In September 2007, the AP found 457 Iraq-related stories (154 by the AP) on front pages, many related to a progress report delivered to Congress by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Over the succeeding months, that number fell to as low as 49.

A spike in March 2008 was largely due to a rash of stories keyed to the conflict's fifth anniversary, according to AP Senior Managing Editor Mike Silverman.

During the early stages of shock and awe, Americans were glued to the news as Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad and sweat-soaked Marines bivouacked in his luxurious palaces.

It was a huge story when President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, and declared major combat operations were over.

By March 2008, a striking reversal had taken place. Only 28 percent of Americans knew that 4,000 military personnel had been killed in the conflict, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Eight months earlier, 54 percent could cite the correct casualty rate.

TV news was a vivid indicator of the declining interest. The three broadcast networks' nightly newscasts devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004. That leveled off to 2,000 annually. By late 2007, it was half that, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the nightly news (

"In broadcast, there's a sense that the appetite for Iraq coverage has grown thin. The big issue is how many people stick with it. It is not less of a story," said Jeffrey Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes," during the Reva and David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting in late April at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. The number of Iraq-related stories aired on "60 Minutes" has been consistent over the past two years. The total from April 2007 through March 2008 was 15, one fewer than during the same period the year before.

Despite the pile of evidence of waning coverage, news managers interviewed for this story consistently maintained there was no conscious decision to back off. "I wasn't hearing that in our newsroom," says Margaret Sullivan, editor of the Buffalo News. Yet numbers show that attention to the war plummeted at the Buffalo paper as it did at other news outlets.

Why the dramatic drop-off? Gatekeepers offer a variety of reasons, from the enormous danger for journalists on the ground in Iraq (see "Obstructed View," April/May 2007) to plunging newsroom budgets and shrinking news space. Competing megastories on the home front like the presidential primaries and the sagging economy figure into the equation. So does the exorbitant cost of keeping correspondents in Baghdad.

No one questioned the importance of a grueling war gone sour or the looming consequences for the United States and the Middle East. Instead, newsroom managers talked about the realities of life in a rapidly changing media market, including smaller newsholes and, for many, a laser-beam focus on local issues and events.

Click on this link to read the full story on how the media abandoned coverage of the war.