17.6.06

U.S. Lays Waste to Another Iraqi City

AlterNet: War on Iraq: U.S. Lays Waste to Another Iraqi City:

Fearful residents are now pouring out of Ramadi after the U.S. military has been assaulting the city for months with tactics like cutting water, electricity and medical aid, imposing curfews, and attacking by means of snipers and random air strikes. This time, Iraqis there are right to fear the worst -- an all-out attack on the city, similar to what was done to nearby Fallujah.

It has always been just a matter of time before the U.S. military would finally get around to destroying Ramadi, the capital city of al-Anbar province. After all, Ramadi is not far from Fallujah, and so similar to Fallujah both tribally and in their disdain towards the idea of being occupied, that many people in Ramadi even refer to Fallujah as 'Ramadi.' I know many people from Ramadi who lost relatives and friends during both U.S. assaults on Fallujah, and the level of anti-American sentiment has always been high there.

By now, we all know the scene when the U.S. military in Iraq decides to attack an entire city ... we've seen this standard operating procedure repeated, to one degree or another, in Haditha, Al-Qa'im, Samarra, parts of Baghdad, Balad, Najaf and Fallujah twice ... so far. The city is sealed for weeks if not months, water and electricity are cut, medical aid is cut, curfews imposed, mobility impaired, air strikes utilized, then the real attack begins. Now in Ramadi, the real attack has begun.

Warplanes are streaking the sky as bombings increase, loudspeakers aimed into the city warn civilians of a 'fierce impending attack,' (even though it has already begun), and thousands of families remain trapped in their homes, just like in Fallujah during both attacks on that city. Again, many who remain in the city cannot afford to leave because they are so poor, or they lack transportation, or they want to guard their home because it is all they have left.

VIDEO: US Soldier On Killing Civilians

JUS One News - VIDEO: US Soldier On Killing Civilians

Jimmy Massey, US Marine and Iraq War Vet Speaks Out

Aljazeera airs al-Baghdadi audiotape

Aljazeera.Net - Aljazeera airs al-Baghdadi audiotape:

In an audiotape broadcast by Aljazeera, a purportedly major figure in the Iraqi uprising has said the killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, will strengthen fighters' determination.

Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the head of the Mujahidin Shura Council - which consists of five anti-US and anti-government groups including al-Qaeda in Iraq - described al-Zarqawi's death as a 'great loss'.

The tape aired on Friday appears to be an attempt to rally support for the Sunni fighters. 'This is a message to the enemies of God, the Crusaders, the rejectionists and the renegades,' the voice says, referring to the US-led forces, the Shias, and the Sunnis in the Iraqi government.

'The martyrdom of the leader [al-Zarqawi] will not change the arena of confrontation. Rather, it will become fiercer and stronger,' al-Baghdadi says. Al-Zarqawi was killed when by a US air strike on the house in Baquba where he was meeting his advisers on June 7.

'This leader [al-Zarqawi] has laid the foundations and his great loss will not lead to weakness. He will remain a symbol for all the mujahideen, who will take strength from his steadfastness,' he says.

Bush War VI -- Coming to a Theatre Near You...

TheHometownChannel.com - News - U.S. Official: 'All Options' On Table If North Korea Tests Missile:
The U.S. ambassador to Japan said that if North Korea conducts a missile test, 'all options are on the table.'

However, Ambassador Thomas Schieffer said he hopes the North Koreans 'will not take this provocative action.'

He said doing so 'will only isolate the North Koreans further from the rest of the international community.'

There's mounting speculation that North Korea could soon test a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States.

16.6.06

US opens probe into detainee deaths in northern Iraq province

JURIST - Paper Chase: US opens probe into detainee deaths in northern Iraq province:

The US military on Friday said that the Army's Criminal Investigation Command will conduct an investigation into the deaths of three detainees in US custody in the Salahaddin province of Iraq, located north of Baghdad. The investigation into deaths, which occurred on or around May 9, results from reported suspicions from soldiers.

Pentagon reports chronicle mistreatment of Iraqi, Afghan detainees

JURIST - Paper Chase: Pentagon reports chronicle mistreatment of Iraqi, Afghan detainees:

US Department of Defense documents released Friday chronicle multiple mistreatments of Iraqi and Afghan prisoners by US personnel in 2003 and 2004 but stop short of labeling the mistreatment illegal, describing it instead as 'wrong.' Over 1000 pages of US military documents handed over to the ACLU pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request include two internal military reports which had previously been known but the contents of which had been classified: that of Gen. Richard Formica on the operation of special forces in Iraq, submitted in November 2004 and later released to members of Congress, and a report by Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby on detainees in Afghanistan, undertaken in May 2004. The released copies of the reports were heavily redacted, but show concern over practices such as stripping detainees, depriving them of sleep, assailing them with loud music, withholding food other than bread and water in some cases for up to 17 days, and altering their environmental conditions, suggesting they were kept too hot or too cold. The Formica report expressly concluded that some Iraqi detainees were not being treated in accordance 'with the spirit of the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions.' No US personnel were specifically punished for misconduct in the wake of that investigation.

The Filthy Gang of 42

These are the filthy bastards who claim to be members of the Democratic Party, voting with the facists today to extend the occupation of Iraq until the 'end of time':

Bean
Berman
Berry
Bishop (GA)
Boren
Boswell
Boucher
Cardoza
Case
Chandler
Cooper
Costa
Costello
Cramer
Cuellar
Davis (TN)
Edwards
Etheridge
Gordon
Green, Gene
Herseth
Higgins
Holden
Kind
Larsen (WA)
Lipinski
Lynch
Marshall
Matheson
McCarthy
McIntyre
Melancon
Moore (KS)
Peterson (MN)
Ross
Salazar
Smith (WA)
Snyder
Spratt
Taylor (MS)
Thompson (MS)

14.6.06

Editors Of Expelled Gitmo Reporters Criticize Move

Editors Of Expelled Gitmo Reporters Criticize Move:

Top editors from two of the newspapers whose reporters were expelled from Guantanamo Bay today criticized the Pentagon for the action, calling it 'bad public policy' and a 'panicked move.'

Tom Fiedler, executive editor of the Miami Herald, and Rick Thames, editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, said the decision to expel the Herald's Carol Rosenberg and the Observer's Michael Gordon, along with Carol Williams of the Los Angeles Times, was a clear denial of press access.

'My argument would always be that it is in the interest of the Department of Defense to be as transparent as possible,' Fiedler told E&P Wednesday. 'Given the controversy that has surrounded the detention facility since its inception, if the government has nothing to hide there, it ought to allow free and broad access to the news media there. Particularly given the suicides on Saturday.'

Thames echoed that view in statement e-mailed to E&P today. 'The Pentagon appears to have panicked when it discovered it couldn't manipulate a first-class reporter, so it shoved him and all other press out,' the statement said. 'Michael Gordon was invited by the commander to report on the base for six days, and he was doing that in a very professional manner. His stories helped the world understand the actual circumstances our soldiers faced in managing a very difficult situation. It's unfortunate that the military couldn't see the value of that.'

12.6.06

EU panel says CIA 'directly responsible' for illegal detentions, rendition in Europe

JURIST - Paper Chase: EU panel says CIA 'directly responsible' for illegal detentions, rendition in Europe:

A European Parliament committee approved a report Monday that supports allegations that the US Central Intelligence Agency was 'directly responsible for the illegal seizure, removal, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects' in Europe. The report, organized by committee rapporteur Giovanni Claudio Fava , passed by a vote of 25 members in favor of the text, 14 against, and seven abstentions. Almost 200 amendments were debated before the final version was approved, including one that called for governments of the European Union to take a greater stand in supporting the closure of the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Fava reported to the committee in April that the CIA used extraordinary rendition to kidnap terror suspects in Europe and transfer them to countries known to use torture and has operated over 1,000 secret flights in European territory.

US volte-face on Guantanamo deaths

Aljazeera.Net - US volte-face on Guantanamo deaths:
US contentions that the suicides of three Guantanamo Bay prisoners were a PR stunt or an act of warfare have drawn international criticism and forced Washington to distance itself from the statements.

"We would not say that it was a PR stunt," Sean McCormack, the US state department spokesman, told reporters on Monday.

"We have serious concerns anytime anybody takes their own life."

Colleen Graffy, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy, had earlier said that the deaths "certainly (are) a good PR move to draw attention".

And US Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris said he believed the suicides were an "act of asymmetric warfare against us" rather than an act of desperation.

The pair's comments also prompted newspapers and rights groups to lash out at the United States for detaining hundreds at the prison camp.

"Cold and odious"

France's Le Monde newspaper condemned Graffy's comments, saying that they "illustrate the gulf which separates American authorities from the rest of the world on this sinister question".

Britain's Guardian newspaper called Harris' remarks "cold and odious".

"It is entirely in keeping with the clinical illegality of America's treatment of terror suspects since 2001," the left-leaning newspaper said.

The three men - two Saudis and one Yemeni - hanged themselves after being held at the prison camp for about four years without charge.

About 460 men accused of links to Afghanistan's Taliban or the al-Qaeda network are still being held.

Most have been behind bars for more than four years without charge.

"Entirely inappropriate"

Amnesty International said Graffy's comment "shows a chilling disregard for human life" and said it was "deeply concerned' by Harris' remark.

"The commander's statement is entirely inappropriate and is part of a pattern of official commentary on the presumed guilt of detainees who have never had an opportunity to challenge their detentions in a court of law," said Rob Freer, an Amnesty official.

The international Red Cross said it hoped to bring forward a scheduled visit to the camp because of the suicides of three inmates, but it stressed it was not an investigation.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said it was shocked by the American officials' statements.

"These comments are shameful and revolting," said Sidiki Kaba, the federation's president, adding that the men must have been in deep despair to commit suicide, which is forbidden by Islam.

Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said the officials had spoken "with utter insensitivity to world opinion" in an editorial headlined: "From the high moral ground to the gutter."

Spain's El Mundo newspaper called the comments "gruesome".

Bush Gets Zarqawi 'Bounce' in Poll: Downward

Bush Gets Zarqawi 'Bounce' in Poll: Downward:

In a result that will surprise some, but not all, the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did not seem to help President Bush's ratings in the latest CBS poll. If anything, it may have hurt, as more Americans expressed the fear that his death would actually produce more of a terrorist threat, not less.

The president's approval rating sank to 33% from 35% last month.

Half of those polled think the level of violence in Iraq will be unchanged by Zarqawi's death, while 30% say it will lead to more attacks against U.S. forces -- and just 16% saying less.

And 61% say Zarqawi's death won't have any impact on the terrorist threat against the United States, while 22% say it will increase that threat, with just 13% feeling it will decrease the risk of terrorism.

Saudis Allege Torture in Guantanamo Deaths

Khilafah.com - Saudis Allege Torture in Guantanamo Deaths:

The reported suicides of two Saudi detainees at Guantanamo Bay intensified Saudi anger at the camp, drawing questions Sunday about whether the men really killed themselves or were driven to it by torture.

The detention of more than 130 Saudis at the U.S. jail has long grated on people in the kingdom, and there was marked skepticism that the prisoners committed suicide.

'The families don't believe it, and of course I don't believe it either,' said Kateb al Shimri, a lawyer who represents relatives of Saudis held at Guantanamo.

'A crime was committed here and the U.S. authorities are responsible,' al Shimri said, echoing the general sentiment heard in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Al Shimri said he planned to sue the U.S. government for compensation on behalf of the relatives of the deceased.

The kingdom's semiofficial human rights organization called for an independent investigation into the deaths of the two Saudis, who were identified Sunday by Saudi officials as Mani bin Shaman bin Turki al Habradi and Yasser Talal Abdullah Yahya al Zahrani.

11.6.06

So is Iraq free now?

Khaleej Times Online - So is Iraq free now?:

Zarqawi and his men spent most of their time killing Iraqi Shia civilians. The majority of attacks on US occupation forces in Iraq are conducted by former members of Saddam Hussein’s military, special forces, Baath Party, and other small underground nationalist groups like Nasserites and anti-Saddam nationalists.

So Zarwaqi’s death may mean a lessening of murderous attacks on Shia civilians, but is unlikely to take the heat of US-British occupation forces. In fact, his death might even promote better Sunni-Shia relations, allowing for the emergence of a more independent-minded Iraqi government that could increasingly reject Washington’s near-total ‘guidance.’

The first small but significant hints of such independence emerged in recent weeks when the new Baghdad government openly complained about the slaughter of Iraqi civilians by US troops.

The Iraqi resistance is fragmented into more than a score of shadowy groups. No single leader has yet emerged. Now that Zarqawi is gone, the US will need to find another demonic figure with which to keep selling the war to Americans at home and to US troops in Iraq, 75 per cent of whom still amazingly believe Saddam Hussein launched the 9/11 attacks.

Assassinating Zarqawi will give Bush a short-lived bump in the polls. But in the longer run, killing him was perhaps not such a great idea. For the US, Zarqawi was far more useful alive. Iraqis, however, will be universally better off.

Details of Attack on Zarqawi Raise New Questions

Details of Attack on Zarqawi Raise New Questions:

U.S. officials changed their story for the third time on the dead at the house besides Zarqawi. First official reports included the death of a child along with two women and other men. Then that was changed to definitely no child. On Saturday, at a briefing in Baghdad, Caldwell confirmed that one of the six people who died in the bombing was a girl around five or six years old.

The New York Times noted on Saturday that other mysteries remained: 'Some of the emerging details raised new questions, such as how and why the Iraqi police arrived at the scene of the airstrike before the American commandos who had surrounded the house, and what they did once they arrived. American troops have sometimes stepped aside for Iraqi soldiers or police officers to enter a mosque or other building, but never at places as sensitive as the presumed hiding place of Mr. Zarqawi.