31.1.05

Quoted on the Beeb

First, thank you Ladybird for making me aware of it. I'm extremely proud, excited, and humbled to be quoted by Paul Mason on Jeremey Paxman's Newsnight last night on the BBC! Wicked. Thank you again Paul Mason! Below are a couple screen shots...and Here's a little audio recording of the entire segment that included Kurdo, Zeyad, some Islamist site (never heard of them), and the "conciliatory" me. It's funny because after I read Robert Fisk I'm usually very angry, upset, and not conciliatory by any stretch of the imagination because he speaks so much truth. I think I became conciliatory because I was indeed moved by the images of people voting. But let's see if these elections will change the level of violence. I know for a fact they will not change the strength of the resistance to occupation. In fact, I would say people came out to vote in order to give nonviolent methods to get rid of the occupation a chance. Also, these elections will not be representative of all Iraqis. In fact, they can be considered a sham and it's not a stretch. But I hope the mere action of voting will empower more Iraqis to work for justice and peace. Because as the saying goes, without justice there will be no peace.

Unfortunately, they didn't mention my blog's name. Perhaps because it's Maslawi slang? Oh well! I would have it no other way though! They did quote something quite appropriate. So that made up for it. One of my main messages in this blog is to make people aware it's not only very possible to be Anti-Occupation and Anti-Saddam at the same time, it is probably very much the mainstream-thinking in Iraq after all the terrible mistakes made. Excuse me if this is too much tooting of my horn, but I've stuck to my beliefs strongly for this long and I want to enjoy this slight moment! Here's what they quoted:

Still, let us hope for the best...even with all the American designs on Iraq, its oil, and the strategic influence of having 14 permanent bases inside Iraq.

And I'm both proud to be Iraqi and proud of Iraq today. Let us move forward together with pace. [Let's not allow or tolerate the injustices described above.]-[they edited this out, referring to the Robert Fisk report I had in the post] Let's demand for a more humane future for Iraq. Let us see the end of American occupation and the beginning of self-determination. I hope.


Here are some screen shots and the audio, don't forget:


Paul Mason the producer of the blog segment for Newsnight


Notice the crippled person walking and my quote, "...even with all the American designs on Iraq, its oil, and the strategic influence of having 14 permanent bases inside Iraq."


Notice the American tank and my quote, "Let us move forward together with pace."


Notice the tank again and my quote, "Let's demand for a more humane future for Iraq."

I think it's a bit of an eerie juxtaposition. This is how I see it. Until the occupation ends Iraq will be crippled on the path of self-determination. We will not be able to completely move forward with pace (and peace) nor have a more humane future until the tanks leave. Now watch Newsnight before it goes away tomorrow!

A little overboard, I know. But it feels nice to have one's voice heard.

oUT,
liminal

BBC Newsnight's Iraqi Blog Monitor Segment by Paul Mason, 31 January 2005

update: Self praise does not suit me. In fact, yuck...I was excited when it happened , now I would prefer to erase this post. Truthfully, I rock. But more truthfully, there are perhaps 50 bloggers who should be quoted on the BBC before I am. So, I am humbled by the attention. -lim

Zarqawi appears to vote



The ever elusive Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi appears at a polling place in Baghdad as an anthropomorphized donkey with the simple wish to vote. Yet he was turned away because he is a Jordanian national. After election officials realized they had just let the most feared terrorist in the world (besides Osama Bin Laden) slip from their grasp, American planes bombed deserted polling centers in his current suspected hideout, Ramadi, as collective punishment for allowing Zarqawi to galavant freely among what many residents describe as a "ghost town".

Iraq needs light to count the ballots!!!



In a vision of either romantic dedication or unfortunate irony, this election official is bound to ruin his eyes reading such small markings by candle light. If you want to save this man's eyes and secure a small part of Iraq's future, give more light to Iraq. Trading electricity for "democracy" wasn't part of the plan, I hope. I cannot wait until the day that I can take the quotation marks off democracy.

slideshow of Iraq Elections
i'm beat. i need a break from all things internet. lets see...in 6 days there will be preliminary results. in 10 days, there will be final results. lets hope the violence does not increase. let us hope that the current martial law can be lifted. this is no way for any person to live. giving iraqis freedom by taking it away, is like liberating us by killing us. it's the same basic logic. it's kind of like racist legislation like the patriotic act, too...in order for you to have freedom, we have to take your liberty away. so let us hope alberto gonzales does NOT get appointed as attorney general. that would be a sad sad day for everybody. and i thought ashcroft was miserable...all right, i'm going to try to sleep tonight, unlike last. -lim
30.1.05

Robert Fisk reports from Baghdad for the London Independent

These are Robert Fisk's articles from yesterday's Independent.

This election will change the world. But not in the way the Americans
imagined - Robert Fisk: 29 January 2005


One man's belief in the triumph of good over evile should give us all hope

And I post all of the one from today. Also, there'll be another on the way.

We'll go on cheering 'democracy' - and Iraqis will go on dying 30 January 2005

In Baghdad yesterday, they were supposed to be preparing for an election. But they were preparing for war.

The American Bradley armoured vehicles on the streets, the US foot patrols, the old Russian personnel carriers that Saddam Hussein bought on the cheap from the Soviet Union - now dressed up in the dull camouflage paint of the "new" Iraqi army - the hooded and masked policemen; they don't look like the prelude to an experiment in democracy. They are waiting for the rivers of blood of which the insurgents have warned. But there will be democracy in Iraq.

The mortars rained down yesterday morning on the Green Zone where the US and British embassies are located. A "thumpety-thump-thump" brought the American Apache choppers over the surrounding highways in less than 30 seconds, but the insurgents had disappeared. Then a fierce gun battle broke out in the centre of Baghdad between Americans and insurgents. Too late again, the gunmen got away. Fantasy attacks before a fantasy election. Many Iraqis do not know the names of the candidates, let alone their policies. But there will be democracy in Iraq.

The media boys and girls will be expected to play along with this. "Transition of power," says the hourly logo on CNN's live coverage of the election, though the poll is for a parliament to write a constitution and the men who will form a majority within it will have no power.

They have no control over their oil, no authority over the streets of Baghdad, let alone the rest of the country, no workable army or loyal police force. Their only power is that of the American military and its 150,000 soldiers whom we could see at the main Baghdad intersections yesterday.

The big television networks have been given a list of five polling stations where they will be "allowed" to film. Close inspection of the list shows that four of the five are in Shia Muslim areas - where the polling will probably be high - and one in an upmarket Sunni area where it will be moderate. Every working-class Sunni polling station will be out of bounds to the press. I wonder if the television lads will tell us that today when they show voters "flocking" to the polls.


In the Karada district, we found three truckloads of youths yesterday, all brandishing Iraqi flags, all - like the unemployed who have been sticking posters to Baghdad's walls - paid by the government to "advertise" the election. And there was a cameraman from Iraqi state television, which is controlled by Iyad Allawi's "interim" government.

The "real" story is outside Baghdad, in the tens of thousands of square miles outside the government's control and outside the sight of independent journalists, especially in the four Sunni Muslim provinces which are the heart of Iraq's insurrection.

Right up to election hour, US jets were continuing to bomb "terrorist targets", the latest in the city of Ramadi - which, though Messrs Bush and Blair do not say so - is now in the hands of the insurgents as surely as Fallujah was before the Americans destroyed it.

Every month since Mr Allawi, the former CIA agent, was appointed premier by the US government, American air strikes on Iraq have been increasing exponentially. There are no "embedded" reporters on the giant American air base at Qatar or aboard the US carriers in the Gulf from which these ever-increasing and ever more lethal sorties are being flown. They go unrecorded, unreported, part of the "fantasy" war which is all too real to the victims but hidden from us journalists as we cower in Baghdad.

The reality is that much of Iraq has become a free-fire zone - for reference, see under "Vietnam" - and the Americans are conducting this secret war as efficiently and as ruthlessly as they conducted their earlier bombing campaign against Iraq between 1991 and 2003, an air raid a day, or two raids, or three. Then they were attacking Saddam's "military targets" in Iraq. Now they are attacking "foreign terrorist targets" or "anti-Iraqi forces". I especially like this one since the foreigners involved in this violence happen in reality to be Americans who are mostly attacking Iraqis.


And not only in Sunni areas. Just this month, for example, US aircraft fired missiles at a students' dormitory at the University of Erbil in the Kurdish north of the country. Among the wounded Kurds was a survivor of Saddam's gassing of Halabja - one of the reasons Mr Bush and Mr Blair supposedly invaded this wretched place. No explanations from the Americans.

So why were they bombing Kurds? To warn them that they will not be given independence? Or to stop them feuding over the city of Mosul, which "new" Iraq wants to keep inside the national territory, not surrender to some future "Kurdistan"?

Yes, I know how it's all going to be played out. Iraqis bravely vote despite the bloodcurdling threats of the enemies of democracy. At last, the American and British policies have reached fruition - a real and functioning democracy will be in place so we can leave soon. Or next year. Or in a decade or so. Merely to hold these elections - an act of folly in the eyes of so many Iraqis - will be a "success".

The Shias will vote en masse, the Sunnis will largely abstain. Shia Muslim power will be enshrined for the first time in an Arab country. And then the manipulation will begin and the claims of fraud and the admissions that the elections might be "flawed" in some areas.

But we'll go on saying "democracy" and "freedom" over and over again, the insurgency will continue and grow even more violent, and the Iraqis will go on dying. But there will be democracy in Iraq.


He highlights everything that frightens me so powerfully. Still, let us hope for the best...even with all the American designs on Iraq, its oil, and the strategic influence of having 14 permanent bases inside Iraq.

And I'm both proud to be Iraqi and proud of Iraq today. Let us move forward together with pace. Let's not allow or tolerate the injustices described above. Let's demand for a more humane future for Iraq. Let us see the end of American occupation and the beginning of self-determination. I hope.

Liminal
Great, just great Norm. Thanks! Saturday Night Live Skit on Condelezza Rice Hearings
This is hilarious. Please watch. Coulter needs to read her history along with a lot of others on the right.
Ann Coulter Revisionist History of Vietnam on the CBC

Professor Juan Cole summarizes all my concerns

My confusion is brought to an abrupt halt thanks to Professor Cole. Well, not really...but he summarizes many of my concerns for Iraq at the moment and explains the events that led up to this election day. Thankfully he points out that the UN ration cards could have been used last May to have elections in a much more safe environment. But they weren't because of the political decision of the Bush administration for the elections in Iraq to be scheduled to not interfere with the American elections. Anyway please read this latest entry of Professor Cole to understand more about these elections and the future ramifications of them for Iraq and America. I, too, am simply nauseated by the coverage of American news outlets. It's made out to be an exercise in self-help or validation for all the death and misery that has been put directly upon Iraq and America. It is, however, completely understandable that people are tremendously enthusiastic about being able to go through this exercise...even under such draconian lock-down. The next couple months will go a long way to explain what will happen in Iraq. Let us all hope for the best.

lim.

Informed Comment
This just in...
I had two cousins that actually went and voted. They're happy about it, too. I'm just glad they're ok. My oh my...
It's wonderful to hear Zeyad's words. I cannot agree with him more. If turnout is what he feels it is, then I too will be surprised and happy...I guess. Lets wait and see more about the real figures and not rely on a "word-of-mouth estimate". I hope we get real figures, though. I'm very skeptical and I am just really confused at the moment. Can you tell? I'm going to absorb some TV now.

BYE! Liminal

The turnout in Iraq was really like nothing that I had expected. I was glued in front of tv for most of the day. My mother was in tears watching the scenes from all over the country. Iraqis had voted for peace and for a better future, despite the surrounding madness. I sincerely hope this small step would be the start of much bolder ones, and that the minority which insists on enslaving the majority of Iraqis would soon realise that all that they have accomplished till now is in vain.

Confusion surrounds Iraq poll turnout

Apparently 72% of total registered voters turning out is a WRONG number. I was going to say. How the...?

Confusion surrounds turnout statistics in Iraq's election, with the country's election commission backtracking on a statement that 72% had voted and top politicians insisting the turnout was high.


When I was hearing these numbers I was thinking, is my family the only one that didn't vote? How can this be? So this number is a "word-of-mouth estimate" actually. How can somebody give "word-of-mouth estimates" of this poll? That is one of the most ridiculous things I've heard in a while.

Confusion surrounds Iraq poll turnout
Hassan Atef, photographer for Reuters, reports the donkey turn-out is high.



You know why I'm happy my family didn't vote? Simple. Because there were attacks on polling stations near their home. I finally slept. Everybody is fine. So, more later as I gauge the feelings about the elections online and via the satellite.
I was just listening to bbc and this is what i hear as they interview people live as they are in line to vote. A small but significant translational error follows:

bbc dude: "Who are you going to vote for?

iraqi dude: Ayad Allawi.

bbc dude: Why are you voting for Allawi?

iraqi dude: Yaani, zain, kh'osh rijaal...[I mean, he's a good guy]

translator: He can control the government, the country...


Notice how the Iraqi dude didn't say a damn thing about "control[ing] the government, the country"...So, does Allawi's party have "special" translators giving scripted answers? Or does the translator not speak Arabic? WTF!

Anyway, like I said before...whatever.

out
I cannot tell you how happy I am that my family did not go to vote.

'I'm very proud and happy this morning,' [Ghazi Al-Yawir] said as he voted in Baghdad's Green Zone.

sorry, but i was aware there were not supposed to be polling locations within the green zone. that's f'd up. you've got to be kidding me.

Draconian Elections Commence

Blogger just ate my post. Grrrr...

I'm already in a frazzled and in an over-aware state.

I'm very confused about these state-of-emergency elections. Nobody can drive, dusk to dawn curfews...why erase one police state only to replace it with another? Chris Allbritton takes the words right out of my mouth. He's doing some live-blogging at the moment of the situation. Check him out.

In my disappearing post I was saying how I should check out arabic satellite tv to see what it all looks like, but he reports that they're only allowing five cameras in all of the polling stations (6,000 places). I mean, come on...

What a joke. These elections really are flawed, aren't they? This is how democracy is supposed to take root? Police state elections. Riiiggggggght, sure...

I fear these elections are only going to create more chaos and enmity within the local, confused populace. It certainly sets a bad example as to how democracy is supposed to work. But a whole lot of whatever...is all I can say at this point.

Let's hope nothing serious happens. But my gut gives me this eerie eerie feeling from far far away. And frankly, I'm horrified at what the possible ramifications of having this election like this will have on the future. For instance, what if Iraqis DON'T like the constitution that is formed? No matter if the elections were legitimate or not...what if this is the case? It could lead to something cataclysmic. And because things are already so unimaginably screwed up...and because I couldn't have dreamt up a worse situation to hold elections in...I've grown used to thinking about the worst possible scenario these days. Add an attack on Iran, and the freaks in D.C. have their armageddon. Knowledgable people around me are throwing predictions around, like: if the US attacks Iran, Iran attacks Saudi Arabia (and who else?) and sinks some ships in the gulf, halting any oil getting out of the region, bringing the entire global economy to a stand-still and crashing the dollar. And remember, Iran is not going to be a push-over like the dilapidated Iraqi army...even if they don't have nukes. But lets just assume they won't have them because the US would never attack a country with a nuclear weapon. As the North Korean case has proven...Anyway, something similar to this scenario could transpire and that freaks me out. I think the neocon "crazies" theory goes that they can attack Iran from the air and the people will then overthrow the mullahs. I don't buy it. It's complete bullshit if you ask me. And if these completely mad bastards are willing to risk it, they're inviting hell to dinner. You know that saying, "Don't shit where you eat?" Well, America is eating in Iraq right now. Until they leave the table, they'd be very poorly advised to shit on it any more than they already have. But I sincerely doubt the Bush administration will be leaving the table any time soon. I hope my gut is wrong...very wrong, in fact. I really do. Please let it be wrong, please...I need some sleep.

Peace on Iraq and Iraqis...
OUt,
Lim.
29.1.05
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: Humanizing Globalization? An interview in audio and lecture in text.
3 part BBC documentary series: The Congo
a sunni and a shia
"I am an Iraqi woman..."
sometimes i wonder what universe this guy lives in.

US and allies 'kill most Iraqis'

Proof that it is a brutal occupation for Iraqis:

Coalition and Iraqi troops may be responsible for killing 60% more non-combatants in Iraq than the insurgents, the BBC has learned.

The civilian death toll for the last six months is contained in confidential records obtained by Panorama.

More than 2,000 civilians were killed by the authorities, while insurgent attacks accounted for 1,200 deaths.

Conflict-related civilian deaths in Iraq.
July 2004 to January 2005:

* 3,274 civilians killed in total
* 2,041 by coalition and Iraqi security forces
* 1,233 by insurgents
* 12,657 civilians wounded in total
* 8,542 by coalition and Iraqi security forces
* 4,115 by insurgents


BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | US and allies 'kill most Iraqis'
make comments. i mean, if you're cool you'll...um, yyea, um...

28.1.05
newspapers[via Ladybird]
Unconvinced Alberto Gonzales should not be the new Attorney General? Well watch this, then decide. [via Laura Rozen]

Leb'naan Pictures

View slideshow

The effect of the war and occupation on Iraqi Christians

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a fellow Iraqi Christian, describes in detail how the plight of Iraqi Christians has considerably worsened since the invasion of Iraq. I don't talk about it as much as I should. But being a Christian Iraqi that has a large amount of family still inside Iraq has been exceedingly difficult because it seems like the whole world is against us, pushing us out of our natural home. I missed this article of Ghaith's unfortunately, but I'll post it here for good measure. I promise to try to speak specifically to the matter in the future. But first and foremost I consider myself Iraqi and uncompromising in my concern for Iraq and its future. So, I urge all Iraqis--inside and outside of Iraq that feel that voting is in their best interest--to vote. Personally, because I feel like these elections will be hardly representative of ALL of Iraq and because the nearest polling place is so far away, I will not vote. Most of my family in Iraq will not vote. But I understand that there needs to be the beginning of learning how to participate in democratic elections, even if they are not democratic. And for this reason, if you feel so strongly about these elections that you must put your life at risk to vote (if you are inside Iraq), then I highly respect your wishes. As for those people outside of Iraq that are familiar with the democratic process that have decided to vote, I also respect your feelings...but frankly and for the most obvious reasons, they are not as important to me as those people whose lives are currently in constant danger simply because they are living the hell that has become Iraq. Therefore my own wishes for Iraq are not as important as somebody that is living inside Iraq and plans to stay there to sweat and bleed for Iraq's future. And I realize there are extreme exceptions like many who have left that were tortured and abused by Saddam's thugs who are understandably crying for joy at the prospect of participating in these elections. But what about those running Abu Ghraib now? Just because Saddam is not there anymore does not mean Iraqis should stop demanding justice. It is unacceptable how things have been handled and continue to be handled in this brutal occupation. It is one where the losses have been terrible on all sides. And yes, I've had a cousin kidnapped (and thankfully returned safely) and I've had friends go to Iraq that are Marines. I try to see as many perspectives regarding the invasion/occupation as possible. It is mentally exhausting, but necessary if I'm to feel right about myself and eventually live a normal life. And my life in the past couple years has been everything but normal. I'm almost there though. Anyway...to get back to the point.

There was a time shortly after the invasion, even as I was so angry and upset that it had taken place, when I dreamed of sweating and bleeding for Iraq and its future while staying inside Iraq. But exactly because of what Ghaith so eloquently describes in the following article, it is a dream that remains barely out of reach. Complicating things even further are the fact that I am an American that is still vociferously against this war and occupation. I hope the dream doesn't remain out of reach for much longer. Because I am still waiting to help Iraq in the hands-on manner inside Iraq when the time is right. Until then you will find me online and behind the scenes. Here is Ghaith now:


Bleeding the weak

Without political power or tribal muscle, Iraq's Christians have become ideal victims for gangsters and extremists. Many are now fleeing the country, says Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Monday January 3, 2005
The Guardian

Yaqub Moussa sits in his liquor shop in Baghdad. One hand is hidden under the counter holding a black pistol, the other taps nervously on the surface. "People from the Hawza [the Shiite religious authority] come here every month; they take $100 from me every time. If I don't pay they say they will burn my shop because I am breaking the sharia Islamic law."

He looks at a teenage boy wearing a baseball hat and standing a few feet away from him. "Once I told them, 'I don't have any money and can't pay any more.' Next day my son was kidnapped and I had to pay them $500 to release him. This time I am going to kill anyone who touches my son."

What started as a campaign by religious extremists to impose sharia law in Baghdad and Iraq's other main cities, by attacking liquor shops, hairdressing parlours and music stores, has turned into a very lucrative mafia-style protection business.

Yaqub Moussa's shop is in Karrada, a prosperous neighbourhood of Baghdad, where Christians, Jews and Shiite Muslims have lived for centuries in an atmosphere of harmony. Fifty years ago the Jews were the first to feel religious tolerance dry up; most left for the new state of Israel in the 50s. Today, it is Christians who are feeling the pressure, which is forcing many of them to consider leaving too.

A few streets away from Moussa's establishment, in front of another liquor shop whose window frontage is completely covered by protective metal sheeting, stands a man with a badly tailored brown suit, a white shirt and a thin, neatly trimmed beard. Keeping his back to the shop, he scans the street.

Inside, another man, also in a badly tailored brown suit, but with a thicker beard and a big ring on his finger, stands in front of the counter questioning the son of the owner. "Where is your father?" he asks, in the tone of voice that used to be employed by Saddam's security police. "Call him, we have to talk to him."

"He is out, can I take a message?"

The frightened son is taken outside for a further talking-to, before the two men leave in a big white government SUV.

"They are from the security service of the Dawa party [one of the strongest Shiite religious parties]," the young man explains. "They come here every few weeks and we pay them. They are nice to us, they don't threaten to use force, but we know if we don't pay this place will be bombed the next day."

Christians in Iraq are divided into more than a dozen ethnicities and sects. Of the ethnic groups that exist within the country's borders today, the Chaldeans and the Syriacs are considered to be the oldest inhabitants. Joined by Assyrians, Armenians and Arab Christians they make up around 1.5% of the population, centred in Baghdad and the northern regions around Mosul, Dohuk and Kirkuk. Most of these groups are then divided between the Orthodox eastern church and the Roman Catholic church, but even the Presbyterian protestants have followers in Iraq.

Throughout Iraq's modern history, there has been little or no direct religious oppression of Christians, according to Father Bashar Wardeh, a priest in the Catholic Chaldean church in Baghdad and a teacher at the Babel Liturgical college. He argues that, unlike the Shiites and the Kurds, who opposed the ethnic-sectarian policies of the Ba'athist regime militarily and politically, the Christians never had political ambitions and so were tolerated by the regime.

Things started to change after the American led war of March 2003 that toppled the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein. As chaos replaced dictatorship and oppression in Iraqi society, currents of religious fundamentalism - whether in the form of extreme Sunni Wahhabi militancy aimed at annihilating the "infidel", or attempts by Shiite clergy to impose a sharia ethical code - have been proving stronger than secularism. In this anarchic atmosphere, tribe, sect and ethnicity have become the natural shelters for people who feel that the state is unable to provide security for its citizens. As the Christians have no strong political or tribal weight, they have come to be perceived as the weakest element in the society.

"The Christian man will know who attacked him," says Father Wardeh, "but because there is no law to protect him and no tribe to go and take revenge for him, he will thank God for the loss and keep going."

In the office of one Christian political party - which agreed to an interview on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from Islamist extremists - more than a dozen young Christian men have been brought from their villages in the north to protect a party official. He sits in a dilapidated room in a former Ba'ath party office. "With the disappearance of the state, the tribal and ethnic elements became the major forces, which leads to government in which every post is awarded on a sectarian basis," he says. "The Christian citizen knows that the only way to participate in the process of rebuilding the country is to be adopted by this political party or that."

Many Christians find themselves obliged to affiliate with Islamic religious parties or tribes to get a degree of protection. After having a car crash, for instance, Sami Mansour, 57, a Christian taxi driver, sought the help of a local Shiite tribal council to solve the dispute. "When the other driver realised I was a Christian, he demanded not only that I should pay for the car repair but also that I should pay the tribal fine," he says. "I then went to a tribal council which agreed to talk on my behalf as one of their 'sons' and the other driver withdrew his claims."

Christians have seen their numbers falling dramatically in the past two years. In fact, they have been leaving Iraq in numbers since the mid-1990s. With the heavy impact of United Nations sanctions against the Ba'ath regime in power at that time, thousands of Iraqis began to flee. The Christians felt this pressure doubly: partly from the sanctions and partly from the resulting "Islamisation" of society. But a new wave of emigration has taken place in recent months, especially after a bombing campaign that began in August, targeting churches in Baghdad and Mosul.

In his house in a poor neighbourhood in eastern Baghdad, empty apart from couple of sofas and a plastic picnic table and chairs, Moris Illyas sits with his family to have their last Sunday meal in Iraq.

"There is no security here, a Muslim child can insult a Christian man and no one of us can say anything," Illyas says. He points to his 12-year-old daughter: "I stopped her from going to school. I used to take her to the school, wait outside for hours and then take her back. I can't stand that pressure any more."

Fear of verbal and physical intimidation caused his wife, Jaclin Shamir, to begin wearing hijab, covering her hair whenever she leaves the house to give her the look of a Muslim woman. "I have had to change my whole life. I now wear a scarf most of the time." Holding a golden crucifix in her hands, she says, "I hide this under my clothes now. It's like living in Rome in the early days of Christianity."

According to many priests, the numbers of churchgoers has fallen by more than half, and Sunday evening mass has had to be shifted to the afternoon because of security fears. Midnight Christmas masses were cancelled this year.

But Father Wardeh, whose church in eastern Baghdad is among those bombed, has refused to barricade the building with concrete blast walls or sandbags. "This is a house of God, and God shall protect it," he said as he watched the church's only guard patrolling the yard, an old man with a rusted Kalashnikov.
More Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now:

He is absolutely committed -- I don't know whether he thinks he’s doing God's will or what his father didn't do, or whether it's some mandate from -- you know, I just don’t know, but George Bush thinks this is the right thing. He is going to continue doing what he has been doing in Iraq. He's going to expand it, I think, if he can. I think that the number of body bags that come back will make no difference to him. The body bags are rolling in. It makes no difference to him, because he will see it as a price he has to pay to put America where he thinks it should be. So, he's inured in a very strange way to people like me, to the politicians, most of them who are too cowardly anyway to do much. So, the day-to-day anxiety that all of us have, and believe me, though he got 58 million votes, many of people who voted for him weren’t voting for continued warfare, but I think that's what we're going to have.


Democracy Now! | Seymour Hersh: "We've Been Taken Over by a Cult"
Seymour Hersh on Jon Stewart's Daily Show 01/25/05: Talking about Iran, Iraq, and the BS diplomacy being talked about by the Bush "crazies" now. And I have a question for Iraqis and Iraqi bloggers: What do you think will happen to Iraq if the neocons attack Iran? It's worth pondering.
Arguments for war have fallen apart
The Independent of London asks key questions.
27.1.05
Salam's election edition video diary in .ram format.
Un der t he category of barely bright ideas: Is it the smartest thing--for Iraq's future--to have most of the polling centers at schools? My father just was exclaiming as he was watching television of the Arabic kind, "they're blowing up all the schools!" And they know for a fact that violence is going to hit polling centers. So, WHY? Why do it this way?

Here's a webcam up at the Cedars in Leb'naaaan! And here's one of the Jounieh-Beirut highway that I miss driving a million km/h on.
It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on the following degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, "This is not enough."

One should search throughout his whole life how best to follow the Way. And he should study, setting his mind to work without putting things off. Within this is the Way.
independent
video
guilty
9,200 court martials?
editorial
26.1.05
Neocon Feith quits. It's worthy of noting. Who's next?

Pentagon Iraq war architect to quit

The danger of alienating the Sunni

Ghaith reports in the Guardian about a very dangerous position America has taken in regard to Iraqi Sunnah population. Also, a related article is Professor Kadhim's "Held by claws" in Al-Ahram Weekly online.

'The US is behaving as if every Sunni is a terrorist'

For centuries they have comprised the ruling class, but since the fall of Saddam everything has changed for Iraq's Sunni Arabs. This weekend's elections are likely only to reinforce their disaffection.

Food shortages in Iraq

Food Shortages Hit Iraqis

By Abed-latif al-Mawsawi
Azzaman, 2005-01-16

Besides security concerns, Iraqis now have to grabble with a shortage of basic foods.

The quality and quantity of state-supplied food rations has worsened recently and many Iraqis say they now receive less food than during the days of former President Saddam Hussein.

Iraqis have depended on monthly rations since the Saddam Hussein era, under a system meant to lessen the impact of the 1990-2003 U.N.-imposed sanctions that helped destroy the economy.

The Trade Ministry has acknowledged that supplies of basic items are low but blames logistics and lack of security for the shortages.

Prices of bread, the mainstay for millions of families, have skyrocketed recently to levels unseen before.

A loaf of bread in Baghdad is now sold for 100 dinars from 25 a year ago.

To allay fears of further shortages, Trade Minister Mohammed al-Joubori re-affirmed government’s commitment to continue supplying Iraqi families with subsidized food rations.

“We have no problem with tea and the contracts we have signed are sufficient for five months,” he said in a statement faxed to the newspaper.

He said 14,000 tons of ghee were on their way to the country from neighboring Syria and Jordan.

“I do not think there will be a shortage of legumes with 5,000 tones expected to arrive by the end of the month,” he said.

Joubori attributed the shortages to logistics, saying “long convoys” of trucks packed with food items were queuing on border posts.

Insurgents attack trucks plying Iraqi highways. As a result transport prices have surged at a time many drivers are reluctant to work for the government.

The climb in prices of bread is also partly due to acute fuel and power shortages as most bakeries in the country either rely on electricity or kerosene.

Many Iraqis did not get their monthly allocations of sugar rations of 2.5 kilograms per person.

“The Ministry (of Trade) will try to make up for the shortage of sugar this month,” Joubori promised.

The monthly food rations are vital for millions of Iraqis. Without them many will starve in Iraq."

Reading from...

Reading from the sleeve of The Record of the Paper:



On May 26, 2004, the New York Times issued an apology for its coverage of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The paper conceded that it had not investigated its WMD sources thoroughly, and, as a result, had printed articles that inaccurately assessed Iraqi WMD capabilities. In short, the Times failed to provide what most reader expect from the US newspaper of record: journalistic accuracy and integrity about important matters of US foreign policy.

But the Times' coverage of Iraq was worse than they were willing to concede. For example, in over seventy editorials on Iraq prior to the invasion, the editorial page never discussed or even mentioned international law or the UN Charter in the context of the Bush administration's threatened invasion of Iraq. In fact, for at least the past fifty years the editorial policy of the Times--from its coverage of the 1954 Geneva Accords on Vietnam to Iraq today--has failed to incorporate international law into its coverage of US foreign policy. This lapse, as the authors demonstrate, has had profound implications for the quality of the Times' journalism and the function of the press in a country supposedly governed by the rule of law.

In this meticulously researched study, Howard Friel and Richard Falk reveal how the Times has consistently misreported major US foreign policy issues, including the bombing of North Vietnam in response to the Tonkin Gulf and Pleiku incidents in 1964-65, the Reagan administration's policy toward the Sandinista government of Nicaragua in the 1980s, the 2002 military coup that briefly overthrew Hugo Chavez, Venezuala's elected president, and the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In their analysis of the Times' coverage of Iraq, the author's analyze the specious legal and policy arguments given to support the invasion, the claims of Iraqi WMD, the Times' use of Ahmed Chalabi as an Iraqi WMD source dating back to 1998, the US cluster-bombing of Baghdad and the Iraqi town of Hilla, and a lengthy New York Times Magazine cover story that appeared to advocate the abuse and inhumane treatment of detainees that was published just as the Abu Ghraib story was breaking.

Friel and Falk's eloquent and damning book concludes by proposing an alternative editorial policy that incorporates international law into the Times' coverage of US foreign policy, which, they argue, would improve the news and editorial products at the Times while aligning its editorial mission with the defense of constitutionalism and the rule of law in the United States.


An introduction to the book as I prepare to take you inside what I deem to be the most interesting parts.

Once again, it was written and researched by Howard Friel, founder and president of Differentiated Information, Inc. (www.diffinfo.net), and author of Dogs of War: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and The Right-Wing Campaign Against International Law & Richard Falk, the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University. Dr. Falk has also written Unlocking the Middle East and The Great Terror War.

Baghdad Burning, the Book

River, thank you. You're simply the greatest out there.



Everybody please buy her book immediately. Available on Feminist Press. (via Keld)

Baghdad Burning, Feminist Press
24.1.05
At times of great trouble or disaster, one word will suffice. At times of happiness, too, one word will be enough. And when meeting or talking to others, one word will do. One should think well and then speak. This is clear and firm, and one should learn it with no doubts. It is a matter of putting forth one's whole effort and having the correct attitude previously. This is very difficult to explain but is something that everyone should work on in his heart. If a person has not learned this in his heart, it is not likely that he will understand it.

Iraqi Candidate Speaks to the BBC

I CAN'T TELL ANYONE I'M A CANDIDATE
Posted by Zeina Baghdad, 24 January

As a candidate in the election, I can't do that much. I'm afraid to give you my full name because if people opposed to the election find out they may come to the house and kill us. I can't tell strangers that I am running in the election. Our party, the National Democratic Party, has more than 300 members and about 30 candidates in the election, half of whom are women.

Conditions in Baghdad at the moment are very poor. There is little electricity or gas, we have to queue for hours to get just a little bit of gas for our cars. As you know, in Baghdad there are daily bombs and many people are being killed.

You see posters of the candidates for the main parties all over Baghdad. You can even run into some of these publicly declared candidates at private meetings, but they have heavy security. You never see them on the streets, meeting voters and campaigning in the normal way. It's just not safe.

It is hard to be a candidate in this election. I do go out and meet people, but most of them are relations or friends or colleagues, one way or another. I hope nothing terrible happens on election day. People are praying it will go smoothly.

I think it will also be hard for people who want to vote. People will be afraid to go to the polling stations, and given the difficulty of campaigning, people just don't know who they are voting for. But I and all my family will be voting - I think we can vote near where we live in the centre of Baghdad. I'm desperate to vote. I want a better future for my country and this will help.

I also think that Sunni Muslims in Iraq will change their minds and vote. They want to but are being intimidated. If they don't vote, they will not be represented at the centre of power and this in itself will cause problems. Unity, against the killers and bombers, is the key for Iraq as a whole.

As for the US soldiers, for the time being it is good that they stay. Without them the situation would be terrible. But, long term, they must leave.

I am a housewife at the moment, but I used to be a librarian. If I am elected, my priority will be to change the situation of children in our society. At the moment few have schools, or anywhere to go to play safely. That's my main election promise - to work to improve life for children.
23.1.05

The Age of Thinning Accountability

Definitely in the department of WTF:

Next it's going to be, "The robot did it!" Are there any laws governing the use of robots on the battlefield?

BBC NEWS | Americas | 'Robot soldiers' bound for Iraq

A fresh beginning...

For many months now my writing outside of the blog has been in a dismal state. I cannot go on like this! I believe it's partly to do with the nature of blogging; or it's rather the nature of how I tend to blog...spontaneously like an email. I would like my blog to give back more to me and others if I plan to continue. So, I've decided to make a few changes to how I do things. I hope it will be for the better. I'll be tweaking it until I feel it's just right. In other words, I'm getting my act together in a serious way and I'm going to be trying out some new things.

In the short term I've decided to take a look at a few books in detail in a new post feature called Reading from...

I'm going to do a re-review of Gillo Pontecorvo's 1966 film, The Battle of Algiers. I've recently purchased the Criterion Collection edition of this film. After sporting my bootleg version for a few years and reviewing it in a Manny Farber style last year, I think this new version with all the goodies in two additional DVDs is going to provide for a much more interesting review. Some of the additional material is 1) A 37 minute documentary narrated by Edward Said 2) a documentary that includes interviews with the director, cinematographer, composer, editor, actors, and film historians 3) Five Directors: a short documentary with acclaimed directors Spike Lee, Mira Nair, Julian Schnabel, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone on the film's influence, style, and importance 4) √Čtats d'armes: a documentary excerpt featuring senior French military officers recalling the use of torture and execution to combat the rebellion 5) The Battle of Algiers: A Case Study: Richard A. Clarke who is famous for speaking out against the Bush administration as former national counterterrorism coordinator and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror is featured in this short documentary where he discusses the films's relevance with Michael A. Sheehan, former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, in a conversation moderated by Christopher E. Isham, chief of investigative projects for ABC News 6) Gillo Pontecorvo's Return to Algiers: the filmmaker revisits the Algerian people after three decades of independence. There's more, but that's a few of the other things I'll be writing about.

Also, I'll be doing a review of Abbas Kiarostami's film Ten. If you're not familiar with him, he's one of the most acclaimed Iranian directors. Kiarostami is famous for Taste of Cherry and Through the Olive Trees. In Ten he explores the nature of the Iranian woman's intricate sexual and social politics with a digital dashboard camera capturing video of eavesdropped conversations with various female passengers. The result is a fascinating collage displaying the complexities of modern Iran through the female lens. I'll do my best considering I'm a lowly male. [update: I might review Taste of Cherry in addition, since Ten is so sparse and conceptual.]


My Reading from... segment will begin by addressing the classic books of the martial arts of Asia. I'll do the Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, and others I've yet to decide on. Perhaps I'll just begin with typing out my favorite entries. Sometimes I'll offer some commentary, sometimes not. These books are centuries old, so you can read along with me if you click the links to the left.

And finally, for the political part of the fresh beginning...I'll be reading from The Record of the Paper: How the New York Times Misreports US Foreign Policy. This is a fascinating look at the NY Times. A newspaper I blame heavily on going a long way to justify the war on Iraq because of its famous role of being the paper of record. It was written and researched by Howard Friel [founder and president of Differentiated Information, Inc. (www.diffinfo.net), and is the author of Dogs of War: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page and the Right-Wing Campaign Against International Law] and Richard Falk [the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University. He's also written Unlocking the Middle East and The Great Terror War]. It's exhaustively researched and eloquently damning. I'll be putting up excerpts and then commenting on them with emotional and factual detail.

I hope this exercise in restraint and focus will carry me out of this terrible writer's block. I'll do some emotional ranting, too. But it will be less of a feature and more sharp than before...again, I hope!

If not, at least it will be both interesting for you (I hope! ;) and I.

I feel good about curbing my criticism of the Bush administration (most of the time), and focusing on how sick the NY Times paradigm makes me feel. I'll have ample chance to lay-into disgruntled, delusional, passive and patronizing leftists, too. Muah ha ha haaaaa!!!

The small irony of having to slam the Times in this fashion is that I really appreciate the work of some of its reporters and editorialists, like Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman, and especially Nicholas Kristof...all thoughtful lefties. I've got a big soft spot in my heart for Nick (hahaha, inside joke). But I really think it's a dangerous newspaper that needs to change to reflect reality if American foreign policy is to be represented in news print with any sort of integrity. Otherwise, it is just serving the neocon idealogues in the Bush administration more than it is serving the greater portion of liberal-thinking Americans.

Anyway, yada yada...

I'll slip away now, watch Ten again, and cook up something tasty.

Much peace everybody!

Lim.

Zeyad has put up some very useful maps!

Continuing with the cartographic theme...
I told you I love maps ;) !

Distribution of Major Ethno-religious Groups

Violence in Iraq since April 9, 2003

Iraqi tribal Genealogy

1920 Iraqi Rebellion against the British

Situation South of Baghdad

Now go visit Zeyad and tell him how much you love him!

And if you wish, just put drag the map to your desktop to get a bigger version. I've scaled them down using html so they fit on the page better. Enjoy meditating on the information!

Healing Iraq

Reuters AlertNet - Water flows again in thousands of Baghdad homes

The water is back!

Reuters AlertNet - Water flows again in thousands of Baghdad homes

Un Regard Moderne - The best way to be informed

I'm growing sick of all news media. Something fresh and animated...



Un Regard Moderne - Edition du lundi 17 janvier 2005

Proof that an Iraqi's life is not worth the same as an American's in the eyes of the occupier

You won't find this anywhere in an American newspaper. 3 years for shooting an innocent woman in the head...

In America you could be executed for shooting somebody in the head. Ask George...He knows a little bit about executing prisoners in his time as governor of Texas. And unjust policies that move away from the more civilized world's trend for abolition of capital punishment are the Prez' bread and butter.

"In a statement, the military said Specialist Charley Hooser of the 1st Cavalry Division was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of making a false statement. 

'The convictions stem from an incident on November 24, when Hooser killed an interpreter, shooting her in the head,' the military said late on Saturday.

'Later that day, he made an official statement with the intent to deceive, denying involvement in the death of the civilian interpreter"

A killer joke

On the day of the incident, Dajani and 28-year-old Luma, whose full name was not disclosed, were in a room at an American base, joking about killing someone, the soldiers testified at the court martial hearing.

Dajani handed a handgun to Hooser, who thought it had been cleared and pulled the trigger as he held it to the young woman's head. The two GIs then lied to investigators, claiming that Luma had shot herself.

The woman had worked as a translator for The Washington Post daily before taking a job with the military.

Several US soldiers have been sentenced or are awaiting court martial in Iraq for their role in the killing of Iraqis. The scandal over abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail by US troops has also sparked widespread outrage. 


Aljazeera.Net - US soldiers slapped on the wrist for Iraqi woman's killing
More hot wind from Thomas. I'm sorry but there was never a Plan A for Iraq.

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Divided We Stand

No Water For Baghdad

A reuters story that Imad Khadduri made me aware of...

Just when the people of Baghdad thought things couldn't get much worse, they did.

For five days, most of the city – particularly the western districts – has been without water.

Added to a lack of electricity – the national grid is off more than it's on – a crumbling mobile phone network, endless lines to get fuel and a daily dose of bombs and mortars, it has made it next to impossible to even think about the coming election.

"This is everyone's biggest problem," said Alaadin Saad, 32, a father of two who lives in the southwest district of Saidiya.

"We haven't had water for nearly a week. We used up all our reserves and now I haven't had a shower for three days."

Iraq's national election, just nine days away and expected to bring its own set of problems amid fears of a surge in violence, has taken a back seat to the need to find a water source in a country that is mostly desert but also has two of the world's major rivers.

There has been no explanation for the crisis, which has provoked such anger and frustration that one Iraqi called a news agency demanding that something be done.

Insurgents are suspected of attacking water mains outside the city several days ago, cutting off supplies, but the U.S. military had no immediate information on such an attack.

In the absence of hard information, rumor and speculation often run riot in Iraq.

Some Baghdad residents say the Iraqi government and U.S. military have cut off the water on purpose to frustrate people and prompt them to vote in the Jan. 30 election.

Others take the water shortage as yet another sign that the U.S. occupation has brought them nothing but problems.

"Nothing works – there's no power, no water, no fuel, no phone service. It's a disaster," said Namidh, a security guard who said his family had been without water for a week.

A spokesman for the public works ministry had no explanation for the crisis and referred callers to the mayor's office. No one was reachable at Baghdad city hall as yesterday was an important Muslim feast day.

In some areas there is absolutely no water; in others, there is a trickle for a few hours a day.

The crisis has left many families unable to cook, wash or bathe.

Some have taken to digging wells in the back garden in the hope of striking water. Those who get lucky are now supplying the neighborhood. "People are lined up all day to get water from our well," said Badia Yaseen, a driver.

A police source said around 300 people were taken to the hospital in west Baghdad this week with stomach problems or similar ailments and complaining of having been poisoned.

But officials at Yarmouk hospital, one of Baghdad's main clinics, said they had had no major increase in patients suffering from water-borne diseases such as cholera. Other hospitals were not immediately reachable for comment.

A Health Ministry official played down fears of a cholera outbreak but said disease could rise if the water crisis is not resolved soon. "There will be health problems if we don't sort this out," he said.


Give Iraq WATER...spend some of those billions of dollars ear-marked to make corporations like Halliburton rich to save some lives...

And to think, I was complaining about expensive phone calls from Jordan a year ago.

Latest crisis for Baghdad: No water for last five days | Reuters

Britain's Abu Ghraib "Moment" Continues

The Independent Sunday reveals more reality. Accountability is still a word in the vocabulary of the British, though.

Muhanned Dhahir Abdullah claims he was forced to lean over an open toilet and then kicked and punched. He alleges he was also hooded, forced to drink urine, soaked with hot water and fluorescent chemicals, made to clean out latrines with his bare hands, and told to "dance like Michael Jackson".


I get this odd feeling. Orientalism is operating at a highly functional level inside Iraq. The denial is as thick as the Ambrosia custard being eaten inside many British homes. And outside Iraq...yea, I get this odd feeling that nobody will really really believe an Iraqi if he or she tells somebody s/he was tortured unless he or she has the pictures to prove it. But if you reverse the situation...the Iraqi would always be guilty...even if there were no pictures. This feeling makes me want to puke.

At least 20 soldiers implicated in further Iraqi abuse claims
22.1.05

I love maps. Thanks Keld!

”The Founding Fathers were very clever in the way they designed our government -- three branches, with checks and balances on each,” Callan said.

”These can't be 'outsourced'. None of the three branches should delegate its rights and responsibilities to any other branch. If that happens over a long period, we'll find ourselves with a king instead of a president.”
Why does this make so much sense to me?

The Independent Online Edition > The Benefit of Helping Others

"Vote for who?"

We just spoke to my family in Baghdad and it appears as though nobody will be voting. In fact, we outside of Iraq are scared shitless about anybody in my family going to the polls. And "Vote for who?" was repeated on the phone as if it wouldn't make much of a difference if they voted or not.

As much as I want these elections to mean something real and substantive to Iraq and Iraqis--namely my family there--I don't believe it will mean a damn thing. Funny how my family living through this madness shapes my opinion in these matters. They reflect the same sentiments of River in her latest post, too. And so, it appears as though these elections will only increase the amount of violence. We are all bracing for a very difficult time.

WHY DIDN'T THEY HOLD ELECTIONS A YEAR AGO?!

Morons.

Out, lim.

Former-Stooge Gucci Revolutionary VS Stooge former-Baathist that Slipped out of Control

Juan Cole updates the Chalabi v. Shalaan situation with lots of good links describing the micro-politics of the future-stooges of Iraq

"Ili yishoof il mawt, yirdha bil iskhooneh"

I would like to say Happy Eid...

But my friends in Baghdad do not seem to think so. What is this crazy #$%@ that River says about SIX DAYS with NO WATER? It is SO DAMN FRUSTRATING BEING IRAQI & AMERICAN...seeing so much being so wrong, and boiling with anger at the completely psycho idealougues in this administration for inflicting this "liberation" on Iraq.

I wonder what an American would do if they didn't have water for 6 days.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...

Happy Eid anyway to my Muslim brothers and sisters. We'll overcome this together and in time.

"Ili yishoof il mawt, yirdha bil iskhooneh"...And this is what I was afraid of when I spoke about being scared of Iraqis lowering their expectations. It's true...and it's maddening.

Baghdad Burning

21.1.05


Jon Stewart's Daily Show 01/13/05

For my Japanese friends...

...and speaking of Anaconda Rice.

CherryVega's Tokyo Streets slideshow

A taste of fashion and visions of urban delectibles in the Tokyo Streets by Cherry Vega

A Peace with Teeth: Transcript of remarks between Boxer and Rice

VS

America's new top diplomat, Condi "Mushroom Cloud" Rice, has an exchange with a true American, Senator Barbara Boxer. Senator Boxer has been a favorite of mine for some time. She appears to be the only senator to have enough spine to speak out against the blind diplomacy America engages in. The transcript below speaks volumes.

SEN. BOXER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Rice, for agreeing to stay as long as it takes, because some of us do have a lot of questions.

And, Senator Lugar, you are a very fair chairman, and I wanted to say to the new members also welcome -- and you'll enjoy this committee, because we have such a great chairman and such a terrific ranking member, and we really do a lot of things in a bipartisan way, unlike other committees. And I think you're going to enjoy your time here.

Dr. Rice, before I get to my formal remarks, you no doubt will be confirmed -- that's at least what we think. And if you're going to become the voice of diplomacy -- this is just a helpful point -- when Senator Voinovich mentioned the issue of tsunami relief, you said -- your first words were, "The tsunami was a wonderful opportunity for us." Now, the tsunami was one of the worst tragedies of our lifetime -- one of the worst -- and it's going to have a 10-year impact on rebuilding that area. I was very disappointed in your statement. I think you blew the opportunity. You mention it as part of one sentence. And I would hope to work with you on this, because children are suffering, we're worried they're going to get in the sex trade. This thing is a disaster, a true natural disaster and a human disaster of great proportions, and I hope that the State Department will take a huge lead under your leadership in helping those folks in the long range.

Well, Mr. Chairman, again I thank you. I am -- Dr. Rice, I was glad you mentioned Martin Luther King -- it was very appropriate, given everything. And he also said, Martin Luther King, quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." And one of the things that matters most to my people in California and the people in America is this war in Iraq.

Now, it took you to page three of your testimony to mention the word "Iraq." You said very little really about it, and only in the questioning have we been able to get into some areas. Perhaps you agree with President Bush, who said all that's been resolved. I'm quoting today's Post: "Bush said in an interview last week with the Washington Post that the '04 election was a moment of accountability for the decisions he made in Iraq." But today's Washington Post/ABC poll found that 58 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation, to 40 percent who approve -- and only 44 percent said the war was worth fighting.

So in your statement it takes you to page three to mention the word "Iraq." Then you mention it in the context of elections -- which is fine -- but you never even mention indirectly the 1,366 American troops that have died, or the 10,372 who have been wounded -- many mentally, as a report that I read over the weekend that maybe a third will come home and need help because of what they saw -- it's been so traumatic to them. And 25 percent of those dead are from my home state. And this from a war that was based on what everyone now says, including your own administration, were falsehoods about WMDs, weapons of mass destruction. And I've had tens of thousands of people from all over the country say that they disagree -- although they respect the president -- they disagree that this administration and the people in it shouldn't be held accountable. I don't know if you saw the movie, "The Fog of War" -- war is a nightmare, you know that. Colin Powell I think was the most eloquent I've heard on it, because he's seen it himself -- he's been there and done it. And I don't want to have you in a circumstance where you're writing something years later about the fog of war. And I'm fearful if we don't see some changes here we're going to have trouble.

And I think the way we should start is by trying to set the record straight on some of the things you said going into this war. Now, since 9/11 we've been engaged in a just fight against terror. And I, like Senator Feingold and everyone here who was in the Senate at the time, voted to go after Osama bin Laden and to go after the Taliban, and to defeat al Qaeda. And you say they have left territory -- that's not true. Your own documents show that al Qaeda has expanded from 45 countries in '01 to more than 60 countries today.

Well, with you in the lead role, Dr. Rice, we went into Iraq. I want to read you a paragraph that best expresses my views, and ask my staff if they would hold this up -- and I believe the views of millions of Californians and Americans. It was written by one of the world's experts on terrorism, Peter Bergen, five months ago. He wrote: "What we have done in Iraq is what bin Laden could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams: We invaded an oil-rich Muslim nation in the heart of the Middle East, the very type of imperial adventure bin Laden has long predicted was the U.S.'s long-term goal in the region. We deposed the secular socialist Saddam, whom bin Laden has long despised, ignited Sunni and Shi'a fundamentalist fervor in Iraq, and have now provoked a defensive jihad that has galvanized jihad- minded Muslims around the world. It's hard to imagine a set of policies better designed to sabotage the war on terror." This conclusion was reiterated last Thursday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank, which released a report saying that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of professionalized terrorists.

That's your own administration's CIA. NIC chairman Robert Hutchings said Iraq is, quote, "a magnet for international terrorist activity."

And this was not the case in '01. And I have great proof of it, including a State Department document that lists every country -- could you hold that up? -- in which al Qaeda operated prior to 9/11. And you can see the countries; no mention of Iraq. And this booklet was signed off on by the president of the United States, George W. Bush. It was put out by George Bush's State Department, and he signed it. There was no al Qaeda activity there -- no cells.

Now, the war was sold to the American people, as Chief of Staff to President Bush Andy Card said, like a "new product." Those were his words. Remember, he said, "You don't roll out a new product in the summer." Now, you rolled out the idea and then you had to convince the people, as you made your case with the president.

And I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth. And I don't say it lightly, and I'm going to go into the documents that show your statements and the facts at the time.

Now, I don't want the families of those 1,366 troops that were killed or the 10,372 that were wounded to believe for a minute that their lives and their bodies were given in vain, because when your commander-in-chief asks you to sacrifice yourself for your country, it is the most noble thing you can do to answer that call.

I am giving their families, as we all are here, all the support they want and need. But I also will not shrink from questioning a war that was not built on the truth.

Now, perhaps the most well-known statement you've made was the one about Saddam Hussein launching a nuclear weapon on America with the image of, quote, quoting you, "a mushroom cloud." That image had to frighten every American into believing that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of annihilating them if he was not stopped. And I will be placing into the record a number of such statements you made which have not been consistent with the facts.

As the nominee for secretary of State, you must answer to the American people, and you are doing that now through this confirmation process. And I continue to stand in awe of our founders, who understood that ultimately those of us in the highest positions of our government must be held accountable to the people we serve.

So I want to show you some statements that you made regarding the nuclear threat and the ability of Saddam to attack us. Now, September 5th -- let me get to the right package here. On July 30th, 2003, you were asked by PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill if you continued to stand by the claims you made about Saddam's nuclear program in the days and months leading up to the war.

In what appears to be an effort to downplay the nuclear-weapons scare tactics you used before the war, your answer was, and I quote, "It was a case that said he was trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year." So that's what you said to the American people on television -- "Nobody ever said it was going to be the next year."

Well, that wasn't true, because nine months before you said this to the American people, what had George Bush said, President Bush, at his speech at the Cincinnati Museum Center? "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."

So the president tells the people there could be a weapon. Nine months later you said no one ever said he could have a weapon in a year, when in fact the president said it.

And here's the real kicker. On October 10th, '04, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, three months ago, you were asked about CIA Director Tenet's remark that prior to the war he had, quote, "made it clear to the White House that he thought the nuclear-weapons program was much weaker than the program to develop other WMDs. Your response was this: "The intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear program; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year."

So here you are, first contradicting the president and then contradicting yourself. So it's hard to even ask you a question about this, because you are on the record basically taking two sides of an issue. And this does not serve the American people.

If it served your purpose to downplay the threat of nuclear weapons, you said, "No one said he's going to have it in a year." But then later, when you thought that perhaps you were on more solid ground with the American people because at the time the war was probably popular, or more popular, you'd say, "We thought he was going to have a weapon within a year."

And this is -- the question is, this is a pattern here of what I see from you on this issue, on the issue of the aluminum tubes, on the issue of whether al Qaeda was actually involved in Iraq, which you've said many times. And in my rounds -- I don't have any questions on this round, because I'm just laying this out; I do have questions on further rounds about similar contradictions. It's very troubling.

You know, if you were rolling out a new product like a can opener, who would care about what we said? But this product is a war, and people are dead and dying, and people are now saying they're not going to go back because of what they experienced there. And it's very serious.

And as much as I want to look ahead -- and we will work together on a myriad of issues -- it's hard for me to let go of this war, because people are still dying. And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.

And you don't seem to be willing to, A, admit a mistake, or give any indication of what you're going to do to forcefully involve others. As a matter of fact, you've said more misstatements; that the territory of the terrorists has been shrinking when your own administration says it's now expanded to 60 countries. So I am deeply troubled.

MS. RICE: Senator, may I respond?

SEN. LUGAR: Yes, let me just say that I appreciate the importance of Senator Boxer's statement. That's why we allowed the statement to continue for several more minutes of time.

SEN. BOXER: I'm sorry, I lost track of time.

SEN. LUGAR: But clearly you ought to have the right to respond. Then, at that point, we're going to have a recess. But will you please give your response?

MS. RICE: Yes. Senator, I am more than aware of the stakes that we face in Iraq, and I was more than aware of the stakes of going to war in Iraq. I mourn and honor -- I mourn the dead and honor their service, because we have asked American men and women in uniform to do the hardest thing, which is to go and defend freedom and give others an opportunity to build a free society, which will make us safer.

Senator, I have to say that I have never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character. And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity.

The fact is that we did face a very difficult intelligence challenge in trying to understand what Saddam Hussein had in terms of weapons of mass destruction. We knew something about him. We knew that he had -- we had gone to war with him twice in the past, in 1991 and in 1998.

We knew that he continued to shoot at American aircraft in the no-fly zone as we tried to enforce the resolutions of U.N. Security -- that the U.N. Security Council had passed. We knew that he continued to threaten his neighbors. We knew that he was an implacable enemy of the United States who did cavort with terrorists.

We knew that he was the world's most dangerous man in the world's most dangerous region. And we knew that in terms of weapons of mass destruction, he had sought them before, tried to build them before, that he had an undetected biological weapons program that we didn't learn of until 1995, that he was closer to a nuclear weapon in 1991 than anybody thought. And we knew, most importantly, that he had used weapons of mass destruction.

That was the context that frankly made us awfully suspicious when he refused to account for his weapons-of-mass-destruction programs despite repeated Security Council resolutions and despite the fact that he was given one last chance to comply with Resolution 1441.

Now, there were lots of data points about his weapons-of-mass- destruction progra MS. Some were right and some were not. But what was right was that there was an unbreakable link between Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. That is something that Charlie Duelfer, in his report of the Iraq survey group, has made very clear, that Saddam Hussein intended to continue his weapons-of-mass- destruction activities, that he had laboratories that were run by his security services. I could go on and on.

But Senator Boxer, we went to war not because of aluminum tubes. We went to war because this was the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a man against whom we had gone to war before, who threatened his neighbors, who threatened our interests, who was one of the world's most brutal dictators. And it was high time to get rid of him, and I'm glad that we're rid of him.

Now, as to the statement about territory and the terrorist groups, I was referring to the fact that the al Qaeda organization of Osama bin Laden, which once trained openly in Afghanistan, which once ran with impunity in places like Pakistan, can no longer count on hospitable territory from which to carry out their activities.

In the places where they are, they're being sought and run down and arrested and pursued in ways that they never were before. So we can have a semantic discussion about what it means to take or lose territory, but I don't think it's a matter of misstatement to say that the loss of Afghanistan, the loss of the northwest frontier of Pakistan, the loss of running with impunity in places like Saudi Arabia, the fact that now intelligence networks and law enforcement networks pursue them worldwide, means that they have lost territory where they can operate with impunity.

SEN. BOXER: Mr. Chairman, I'm going to take 30 seconds, with your permission. First of all, Charles Duelfer said, and I quote -- here it is; I ask unanimous consent to place in the record Charlie Duelfer's report --

SEN. LUGAR: It will be placed in the record.

SEN. BOXER: -- in which he says, "Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to '91, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years."

Here's the point. You and I could sit here and go back and forth and present our arguments, and maybe somebody watching a debate would pick one or the other, depending on their own views. But I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in the facts. So when I ask you these questions, I'm going to show you your words, not my words.

And, if I might say, again you said you're aware of the stakes in Iraq; we sent our beautiful people -- and thank you, thank you so much for your comments about them -- to defend freedom. You sent them in there because of weapons of mass destruction. Later, the mission changed when there were none. I have your quotes on it. I have the president's quotes on it.

And everybody admits it but you that that was the reason for the war. And then, once we're in there, now it moves to a different mission, which is great. We all want to give democracy and freedom everywhere we can possibly do it. But let's not rewrite history. It's too soon to do that.

MS. RICE: Senator Boxer, I would refer you to the president's speech before the American Enterprise Institute in February, prior to the war, in which he talked about the fact that, yes, there was the threat of weapons of mass destruction, but he also talked to the strategic threat that Saddam Hussein was to the region.

Saddam Hussein was a threat, yes, because he was trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And, yes, we thought that he had stockpiles which he did not have. We had problems with the intelligence. We are all, as a collective polity of the United States, trying to deal with ways to get better intelligence.

But it wasn't just weapons of mass destruction. He was also a place -- his territory was a place where terrorists were welcomed, where he paid suicide bombers to bomb Israel, where he had used Scuds against Israel in the past.

And so we knew what his intentions were in the region; where he had attacked his neighbors before and, in fact, tried to annex Kuwait; where we had gone to war against him twice in the past. It was the total picture, Senator, not just weapons of mass destruction, that caused us to decide that, post-September 11th, it was finally time to deal with Saddam Hussein.

SEN. BOXER: Well, you should read what we voted on when we voted to support the war, which I did not, but most of my colleagues did. It was WMD, period. That was the reason and the causation for that, you know, particular vote.

But, again, I just feel you quote President Bush when it suits you but you contradicted him when he said, "Yes, Saddam could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." You go on television nine months later and said, "Nobody ever said it was" --

MS. RICE: Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty. No one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war.

SEN. BOXER: Well, if you can't admit to this mistake, I hope that you'll --

MS. RICE: Senator, we can have this discussion in any way that you would like. But I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity. Thank you very much.

SEN. BOXER: I'm not. I'm just quoting what you said. You contradicted the president and you contradicted yourself.

MS. RICE: Senator, I'm happy to continue the discussion, but I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly.

SEN. LUGAR: http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifLet me intervene at this point. Now we've had four hours of good hearing, and we thank all members for their constancy. We're going to recess, and I'm going to suggest we come back at 2:30. Is that convenient for you, Dr. Rice?

MS. RICE: Perfect.

SEN. LUGAR: Very well. We recess until 2:30.


Transcript of remarks between Boxer and Rice

When describing in February 2003 what ends the U.S. seeks with Iraq, Condi responds "It has to be a peace with teeth." Sounds like Saddam's rule to me. And sorry Ms. Secretary, since when did you have any integrity to impugn upon?

Professor Cole goes pictoral

An interactive pictoral guide of links displaying the hypocracy of American "democracy" !!! It's a helpful way to see exactly how democracy has been eroded in the past 4 years. American democracy has been hijacked by a group of zealot idealogues. They've taken over this country and they've scared the world. So, fight for your rights.

Bush has sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution. He won't. But Congress can. It should insist that the sunset provisions of the so-called "Patriot Act" (which should be called the "Abrogation of the Constitution Act") be allowed to expire in 2005 and that the extremely dangerous "Patriot Act II" be completely defeated. Republicans who care about the Constitution should join Democrats who care about the Constitution in putting a stake through the heart of this abomination. A noble 200-year-old experiment in civil liberties and democracy, for which US troops are giving their lives, must not be ended by a single act of terrorism and a clique of authoritarians in Washington.

Bush's speech was about bringing liberty to the rest of the world. Let's see if he can first do something to restore to the American public the liberties we enjoyed, as free men and women, until 2001. Let's see if he can bring US government policies back into alignment with the Geneva Conventions and other international law on human rights, to which the US is signatory. Only then would he have earned the right to even think about trying to extend liberty to others. As of now, folks, your library records can be viewed at will by agents of the US government, and the librarian is forbidden to reveal to anyone that the government looked at these documents. Not only is a warrant not required, but even the invasion of your privacy is top secret and you will never know about it. Can anyone even prove that the 19 hijackers of 9/11 ever checked a book out of a US library? The Republic may not be able to withstand four more years of this.


Indeed, it may not.

Informed Comment
20.1.05
Fisk may have surprised some in the audience when he said: 'The critics of the war have not been vindicated. I never believed the British and American governments would lie to us to much. I never believed that the insurrection would so quickly gather pace and be so disastrous to the occupation, and I never believed the occupation would be so flawed and so brutal.'


Blair's champion draws angry response with account of the war and its aftermath: Independent
19.1.05

Electoral commission's chief in northern city flees

Salem Aref reports the head of commission preparing for elections in Mosul has fled after reports of embezzlement surfaced. He (and others?) stole 252 million Iraqi dinars apparently. Bastards like that sucking Iraq dry seem more and more to be a part of some sick strategy. Will this amazing city with around 2 million people be free enough and feel safe enough to vote come 30 January? I doubt it. But American "officials" are saying that the vote will happen in Fallujah, so if their logic was sound at all...it would be able to happen in Mosul. Unfortunately, logic escapes every inch of Iraq at the moment. I'm learning relatively quickly that there is no logic in occupation.

Why weren't elections held a year ago? They're using the same method (UN food ration cards) that was rejected by Bremer as a means of auto-registering (--for male voters only). Iraqi women won't have this oppression after being so free for so long. Yes, Iraqi women--I repeat--Iraqi women were more free under Saddam than they are now. Anyway, elections could have easily been held in better conditions one year ago. And had they spent an iota of the money they promised to spend on creating jobs and essential services, we wouldn't be in the great mess we are in today.

Could one understand the frustration of ordinary Iraqis because of so many mistakes that were made by the CPA/IGC? And has Allawi and this sham of an interim government delivered on any of their promises? Some say Allawi's the best of the worst. I'd probably agree with that...but still, what seems wrong with the picture of him and other (even worse) blood-sucking sketchy exiles scraping endlessly for power?

Electoral commission's chief in northern city flees: Azzaman in English

ps: speaking of bleeding Iraq dry...

American soldier blogger dies in Iraq

I think this is important, so I'm cross-posting it from Iraq Blog Count.



Dear all,

To be quite honest, I don't really know how to approach this matter entirely. I learned about this soldier's blog randomly at Mark Kraft's blog when surfing around yesterday. I realize I am rather critical of American designs and methods in Iraq. But it is only because I care about both Iraq and America. I see both headed for a terrible future and I don't like it all. I am a firm believer that if the truth is not confronted head-on in this specific matter that reconciliation will be impossible after all the dust settles. And quite frankly, will the dust ever settle? I still have a strong faith it will. But I'm not all that happy these days.

Anyway, here is Mike's (aka wolfmoon98) last post. It is so sad given both the gravity of the title of his blog "too f---ing scared to create" and this last post dated 3 January 2005.

regrets, i've had a few

so i've been thinking a lot lately.

that time at the college... nope...

those countless times in the car... nope...

the party? you guessed it... NOPE

i know i've always said i don't regret anything i've done in my life, but i think i found one.
--------------------------------------------
it's time to call my dad. it's his birthday today
--------------------------------------------
beauty and the beast is such a great movie
--------------------------------------------
i need a day off

that is all...

missing you

and all of you too

-Mike


He also mentions some telling facts and perspective about his experience in Iraq.



well, here is a longer one than normal

well.. i know i haven't been updating much, or really talking about my time here, so i'm going to have a run down of some things.

1. don't ask me if i've killed anyone. i don't like this question. just know i've done what i've had to, to survive, and this doesn't mean i have or haven't.

2. this is a run down of whats happened to me personally since i've been here.

a. been the victim of 3 roadside bombs (IED's) but haven't been injured in any of them.
b. been in 8 firefights. i was shot in one of them, but it only went through my cargo pocket, didn't hit my body.
c. been mortared more times than i can count. our unit is the most heavily mortared unit since the start of the war. but we've had no casulties from them, except for some vehicle damage.
d. i've been in more iraqi homes than i can count, and the people seem nice, some of the time. i've had lunch with one family, and i've detained another.

that is about all i can think of right now. if i think of more, i'll update.

3. if any of you are thinking about sending care packages, i have thought of something you can throw in there that would make me very very happy. Cloves. Djarum Blacks to be precise. Lots and lots.... actually, not lots, since they are expensive. but one or 2 packs would go a long way. thank you all in advance.

also, i've become somewhat of a star wars nut, so any little trinket would tickle my pickle.

well, just know that i'm alive, and i'm thinking of all of you. i miss you all so much

love
-Mike



(sigh) I believe it is time to reflect more. I wish Mike's family all the peace in the world. This must be an excruciatingly difficult time for them. On behalf of Iraq blog count, I offer my sincerest condolences. I wish there was some way I could express the mixed-up emotions I feel about accidentally running into Mike's blog in this manner.

Please, please support the truth coming out about Iraq by any means necessary. Please give an encouraging word to all individuals, strangers or not, who risk their lives in Iraq. To say that I feel mildly awkward about being the one bringing such news to you is an understatement.

Peace and Grace,

Liminal

too f---ing scared to create

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