Saturday, June 7, 2008


This video from the The REAL NEWS NETWORK clearly shows how Iraqi politicians are totally opposed to President Bush's plan to establish permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.


The war in Iraq is now primarily about murder. There is very little killing. The savagery and brutality of the occupation is tearing apart those who have been deployed to Iraq.

What it means when the US goes to war

By Chris Hedges

Troops, when they battle insurgent forces, as in Iraq, or Gaza or Vietnam, are placed in "atrocity producing situations".

Being surrounded by a hostile population makes simple acts, such as going to a store to buy a can of soda, dangerous. The fear and stress push troops to view everyone around them as the enemy.

The hostility is compounded when the enemy, as in Iraq, is elusive, shadowy and hard to find.

The rage soldiers feel after a roadside bomb explodes, killing or maiming their comrades, is one that is easily directed, over time, to innocent civilians who are seen to support the insurgents.

Civilians and combatants, in the eyes of the beleaguered troops, merge into one entity. These civilians, who rarely interact with soldiers or marines, are to most of the occupation troops in Iraq nameless, faceless and easily turned into abstractions of hate.

They are dismissed as less than human. It is a short psychological leap, but a massive moral leap. It is a leap from killing - the shooting of someone who has the capacity to do you harm - to murder - the deadly assault against someone who cannot harm you

As news reports have just informed us, 115 American soldiers committed suicide in 2007. This is a 13% increase in suicides over 2006.

And the suicides, as they did in the Vietnam War years, will only rise as distraught veterans come home, unwrap the self-protective layers of cotton wool that keep them from feeling, and face the awful reality of what they did to innocents in Iraq American marines and soldiers have become socialized to atrocity.

The killing project is not described in these terms to a distant public. The politicians still speak in the abstract terms of glory, honor and heroism, in the necessity of improving the world, in lofty phrases of political and spiritual renewal. Those who kill large numbers of people always claim it as a virtue. The campaign to rid the world of terror is expressed within the confines of this rhetoric, as if once all terrorists are destroyed evil itself will vanish. The reality behind the myth, however, is very different.

The reality and the ideal tragically clash when soldiers and marines return home. These combat veterans are often alienated from the world around them, a world that still believes in the myth of war and the virtues of the nation. They confront the grave, existential crisis of all who go through combat and understand that we have no monopoly on virtue, that in war we become as barbaric and savage as those we oppose.

This is a profound crisis of faith. It shatters the myths, national and religious, that these young men and women were fed before they left for Iraq. In short, they uncover the lie they have been told. Their relationship with the nation will never be the same.

These veterans give us a true narrative of the war - one that exposes the vast enterprise of industrial slaughter unleashed in Iraq. They expose the lie.

War as betrayal "This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18-year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun," remembered Sergeant Geoffrey Millard, who served in Tikrit with the 42nd Infantry Division. "

And this car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that's a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts 200 rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father and two kids. The boy was aged four and the daughter was aged three. "

And they briefed this to the general," Millard said, "and they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, 'If these f---ing hajis learned to drive, this shit wouldn't happen'."

Millard and tens of thousands of other veterans suffer not only delayed reactions to stress but this crisis of faith. The God they knew, or thought they knew, failed them. The church or the synagogue or the mosque, which promised redemption by serving God and country, did not prepare them for the awful betrayal of this civic religion, for the capacity we all have for human atrocity, for the stories of heroism used to mask the reality of war. War is always about betrayal: betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics, and of troops by politicians.

This bitter knowledge of betrayal has seeped into the ranks of America's Iraq War veterans. It has unleashed a new wave of disillusioned veterans not seen since the Vietnam War. It has made it possible for us to begin, again, to see war's death mask and understand our complicity in evil. "And then, you know, my sort of sentiment of, 'What the f--- are we doing, that I felt that way in Iraq,'" said Sergeant Ben Flanders, who estimated that he ran hundreds of military convoys in Iraq.

"It's the sort of insanity of it and the fact that it reduces it. Well, I think war does anyway, but I felt like there was this enormous reduction in my compassion for people. The only thing that wound up mattering is myself and the guys that I was with. And everybody else be damned, whether you are an Iraqi - I'm sorry, I'm sorry you live here, I'm sorry this is a terrible situation, and I'm sorry that you have to deal with all of, you know, army vehicles running around and shooting, and these insurgents and all this stuff."

The Hobbesian world of Iraq described by Flanders is one where the ethic is kill or be killed. All nuance and distinction vanished for him. He fell, like most of the occupation troops, into a binary world of us and them, the good and the bad, those worthy of life and those unworthy of life. The vast majority of Iraqi civilians, caught in the middle of the clash among militias, death squads, criminal gangs, foreign fighters, kidnapping rings, terrorists, and heavily armed occupation troops, were just one more impediment that, if they happened to get in the way, had to be eradicated.

These Iraqis were no longer human. They were abstractions in human form. "The first briefing you get when you get off the plane in Kuwait, and you get off the plane and you're holding a duffel bag in each hand," Millard remembered. "You've got your weapon slung. You've got a web sack on your back. You're dying of heat. You're tired. You're jet-lagged. Your mind is just full of goop. And then you're scared on top of that, because, you know, you're in Kuwait, you're not in the States anymore ... So fear sets in, too. And they sit you into this little briefing room and you get this briefing about how, you know, you can't trust any of these f---ing hajis, because all these f---king hajis are going to kill you. And 'haji' is always used as a term of disrespect and usually with the F-word in front of it."

The press coverage of the war in Iraq rarely exposes the twisted pathology of this war. We see the war from the perspective of the troops or from the equally skewed perspective of the foreign reporters, holed up in hotels, hemmed in by drivers and translators and official security and military escorts. There are moments when war's face appears to these voyeurs and professional killers, perhaps from the back seat of a car where a small child, her brains oozing out of her head, lies dying, but mostly it remains hidden. And all our knowledge of the war in Iraq has to be viewed as lacking the sweep and depth that will come one day, perhaps years from now, when a small Iraqi boy reaches adulthood and unfolds for us the sad and tragic story of the invasion and bloody occupation of his nation. As the war sours, as it no longer fits into the mythical narrative of us as liberators and victors, it fades from view. The cable news shows that packaged and sold us the war have stopped covering it, trading the awful carnage of bomb blasts in Baghdad for the soap-opera sagas of Roger Clemens, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears in her eternal meltdown. Average monthly coverage of the war in Iraq on the ABC, NBC and CBS newscasts combined has been cut in half, falling from 388 minutes in 2003, to 274 in 2004, to 166 in 2005. And newspapers, including papers like the Boston Globe, have shut down their Baghdad bureaus. Deprived of a clear, heroic narrative, restricted and hemmed in by security concerns, they have walked away. Most reporters know that the invasion and the occupation have been a catastrophe. They know the Iraqis do not want us. They know about the cooked intelligence, spoon-fed to a compliant press by the Office of Special Plans and Lewis Libby's White House Iraq Group. They know about Curveball, the forged documents out of Niger, the outed Central Intelligence Agency operatives, and the bogus British intelligence dossiers that were taken from old magazine articles. They know the weapons of mass destruction were destroyed long before we arrived. They know that our military as well as our National Guard and reserve units are being degraded and decimated. They know this war is not about bringing democracy to Iraq, that all the cliches about staying the course and completing the mission are used to make sure the president and his allies do not pay a political price while in power for their blunders and their folly. The press knows all this, and if reporters had bothered to look they could have known it a long time ago. But the press, or at least most of it, has lost the passion, the outrage, and the sense of mission that once drove reporters to defy authority and tell the truth. The legions of the lost and damned War is the pornography of violence. It has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it "the lust of the eye" and warns believers against it. War allows us to engage in lusts and passions we keep hidden in the deepest, most private interiors of our fantasy lives. It allows us to destroy not only things and ideas but human beings. In that moment of wholesale destruction, we wield the power of the divine, the power to revoke another person's charter to live on this Earth. The frenzy of this destruction - and when unit discipline breaks down, or when there was no unit discipline to begin with, "frenzy" is the right word - sees armed bands crazed by the poisonous elixir that our power to bring about the obliteration of others delivers. All things, including human beings, become objects - objects either to gratify or destroy, or both. Almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that. Human beings are machine-gunned and bombed from the air, automatic grenade launchers pepper hovels and neighbors with high-powered explosive devices, and convoys race through Iraq like freight trains of death. These soldiers and marines have at their fingertips the heady ability to call in airstrikes and firepower that obliterate landscapes and villages in fiery infernos. They can instantly give or deprive human life, and with this power they become sick and demented. The moral universe is turned upside down. All human beings are used as objects. And no one walks away uninfected. War thrusts us into a vortex of pain and fleeting ecstasy. It thrusts us into a world where law is of little consequence, human life is cheap, and the gratification of the moment becomes the overriding desire that must be satiated, even at the cost of another's dignity or life. "A lot of guys really supported that whole concept that, you know, if they don't speak English and they have darker skin, they're not as human as us, so we can do what we want," said Specialist Josh Middleton, who served in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq. "And you know, 20-year-old kids are yelled at back and forth at Bragg, and we're picking up cigarette butts and getting yelled at every day for having a dirty weapon. But over here, it's like life and death. And 40-year-old Iraqi men look at us with fear and we can - do you know what I mean? - we have this power that you can't have. That's really liberating. Life is just knocked down to this primal level of, you know, you worry about where the next food's going to come from, the next sleep or the next patrol, and to stay alive. "It's like, you feel like, I don't know, if you're a caveman," he added. "Do you know what I mean? Just, you know, I mean, this is how life is supposed to be. Life and death, essentially. No TV. None of that bullshit." It takes little in wartime to turn ordinary men into killers. Most give themselves willingly to the seduction of unlimited power to destroy. All feel the peer pressure to conform. Few, once in battle, find the strength to resist. Physical courage is common on a battlefield. Moral courage, which these veterans have exhibited by telling us the truth about the war, is not. Military machines and state bureaucracies, which seek to make us obey, seek also to silence those who return from war and speak to its reality. They push aside these witnesses to hide from a public eager for stories of war that fit the mythic narrative of glory and heroism the essence of war, which is death. War, as these veterans explain, exposes the capacity for evil that lurks just below the surface within all of us. This is the truth these veterans, often with great pain, have had to face. American Historian Christopher Browning chronicled the willingness to kill in Ordinary Men, his study of Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland during World War II.

Click on link above to read the full story.


Women bombers show shifting tactics in Iraq

(AP)7 June 2008

IRBIL, Iraq - A girl strapped with explosives approaches an Iraqi army captain, who dies in the suicide blast.

A woman posing as a mother-to-be to disguise a bulging bomb belt strikes a wedding procession as part of a coordinated attack that kills nearly three dozen people.

The attacks last month were among the latest blows by female suicide bombers and further evidence of shifting insurgent tactics amid an overall drop in bloodshed around Iraq.

U.S. military figures show the number of female suicide attacks has risen from eight in 2007 to at least 16 so far this year not including a suicide bombing Friday near Ramadi that Iraqi police believe was carried out by a woman. That compares with a total of four in 2005 and 2006, according to the military.

Some female bombers appear motivated by revenge, like the woman who killed 15 people in Diyala province on Dec. 7. She was a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party whose two sons joined al-Qaeda in Iraq and were killed by Iraqi security forces.
But activists and U.S. commanders also believe al-Qaeda in Iraq is increasingly seeking to exploit women who are unable to deal with the grief of losing husbands, children and others to the violence.

Al-Qaeda is preying on those who don't have jobs, who don't have education and who are feeling despair,' said Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a conference this week on women's issues.

The use of women as suicide bombers is a relatively new phenomenon in Iraq, although it has been used by militants elsewhere, particularly in Sri Lanka.

Click on link above to read full story


Marine sniper charged in Iraqi deaths
Charges allege sniper killed them in 2007 during combat mission

The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - A Marine sniper has been charged with two counts of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting deaths of two civilians in Iraq.

Sgt. John Winnick II also has been charged with aggravated assault against two other civilians and failing to adhere to the military's rules of engagement.

Winnick's attorney, Gary Myers, said a hearing will be held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to court-martial the Marine.

The charges allege Winnick killed the civilians on June 17, 2007, during combat operations near Lake Tharthar in Iraq's western Anbar province. The charges also allege he fired at two others without first determining whether any of the civilians posed a threat, Myers said.

Winnick is a member of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Alvarez said. Winnick was working with the base's 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit at the time of the shootings.

The charges carry a maximum 40-year sentence and a dishonorable discharge.

The case against Winnick, whose hometown and age were not immediately released, comes on the heels of other cases in which Camp Pendleton Marines were charged with wrongdoing in Iraq, including the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha and the fatal shooting of a civilian in Hamdania.


Iraqi woman describes daughter's descent into suicide bombing

"God willing, she went to heaven," said the woman, whose son also was a suicide bomber in 2004. "She told me, 'Mom, I want to do it.' "

Story Highlights
U.S. military reports 19 female suicide bombers in Iraq this year, up from 8 in 2007
Authorities say al Qaeda in Iraq targets desperate women who seek revenge
Many women bombers have lost male relatives to the war, officials say
Iraqi and U.S. officials fear more women will turn themselves into bombs

By Arwa DamonCNN

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The mother's voice lacks emotion as she recalls how her daughter became a suicide bomber.

"She wanted to die in the name of God," she says on a videotape, her face peering out from under a dark brown head scarf.

"She told me she is sick of this life. ... So she spoke about the Americans. I told her, 'Where will you get Americans?' She said she will go after the Americans." Watch as the mother tells her story »

The daughter is one of 19 female suicide bombers this year, a number much higher than in previous years. According to the U.S. military, women carried out eight bombings in all of 2007.

In the February 13 attack, the daughter posed as a journalist with an English-speaking male accomplice, claiming that they had an interview with a prominent Iraqi tribal leader who works with U.S. forces.

Four guards protecting Sheikh Ifan al-Isawi were killed in the attack. Al-Isawi brought the mother in for questioning, and CNN obtained the video of the interrogation.

The latest bombing involving a female came Friday, when a man and woman targeted an Iraqi police checkpoint in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The explosion wounded three police and two civilians, said an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Authorities said that al Qaeda in Iraq actively is recruiting women and that increasing numbers of women are offering themselves up for missions. The officials said the women are desperate and hopeless. Most have pre-existing ties to the insurgency, and their main motive is revenge for a male family member killed by U.S. or Iraqi forces in the war, authorities said.

"We do see certain members of cells attempting to persuade women, specifically in many cases wives or those who have been killed as terrorists, to conduct suicide operations," said U.S. Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling, whose area of operations includes the volatile province of Diyala.

"Since October, there have been nine suicide bombers who were female, seven of whom were recruited in the last 90 days," Hertling said.

Hertling's troops in Diyala have launched operations targeting members of families of suspected female bombers trying to break up the rings that are recruiting the women and girls. The U.S. military said it has six females in custody who were would-be suicide bombers. The youngest is 14, one U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

Intelligence gathered from detainees indicates that al Qaeda in Iraq is looking for women with three main characteristics: those who are illiterate, are deeply religious or have financial struggles because most likely they've lost the male head of the household.


Six more U.S. soldiers died in Iraq as the Iraq war has taken a backseat to the ongoing political saturation coverage of the race for the White House in the United States.

The following is a list of U.S. casualties in Iraq with names, hometowns and cause of death.
To obtain more details click on the part in BLUE.


Latest Coalition Fatalities
06/06/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 3)
Sgt. Shane P. Duffy, 22, of Taunton, Mass...died June 4 in Tikrit, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Sharqat, Iraq, when their unit was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire and hand grenades. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion...

06/06/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 3)
Spc. Jonathan D. A. Emard, 20, of Mesquite, Texas...died June 4 in Tikrit, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Sharqat, Iraq, when their unit was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire and hand grenades. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion...

06/06/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 3)
Sgt. Cody R. Legg, 23, of Escondido, Ca...died June 4 in Tikrit, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Sharqat, Iraq, when their unit was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire and hand grenades. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion...

06/05/08 DoD Identifies Army Casaulty
Pfc. Joshua E. Waltenbaugh, 19, of Ford City, Pa., died June 3 in Taji, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related injury. He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

06/05/08 Georgian Soldier Killed in Iraq
A Georgian soldier was killed on a combat mission in Iraq on June 4, the Georgian Ministry of Defense said on Thursday. Squad commander Irakli Kordzaia, 28, was killed when a checkpoint in the province of Diyala came under repeat fire...

06/05/08 MNF: MND-C Soldier attacked by small arms fire
A Coalition force Soldier was killed by small arms fire June 4 during a patrol south of Baghdad. The Soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

06/05/08 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Quincy J. Green, 26, of El Paso, Texas, died June 2 in Tikrit, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.