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    14 May 2004
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    ~More Dirt on the Torture~

    Was the torture at Abu Ghraib prison intended by our government? Who was there? Well one person who was appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Department of Justice in 2003 to deal with the prison system in Baghdad and Iraq was Lane McCotter. In the announcement they Bio there picks, and have this to say about McCotter:

    “Lane McCotter - Lane McCotter is a retired lieutenant colonel and military police officer with an extensive background in corrections. He was the warden of the U.S. military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. He is also a former cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Corrections Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a masters degree in Criminology. He is a graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College.”


    At the New Mexico Department of Corrections (1987-91):

    “McCotter's tenure in this state ended with some controversy. In October 1988, a court-appointed prison monitor accused state prison officials of erasing a portion of a videotape of a prison disturbance to cover up acts of brutality against inmates.”

    “McCotter accused the prison monitor of ‘fabricating atrocities.’ He stood by his warden, Robert Tansey, and his staff, saying he believed the tape erasure was accidental.”

    They didn’t mention his work with the Utah Department of Corrections (1992-97):

    “In March 1997 prisoner Michael Valent in Utah State Prison died from a blood clot after being held in a restraint chair for 16 hours: ‘His feet were secured with metal shackles and the seat had a hole to allow him to defecate and urinate without moving.’”


    Dan Frosch of the Nation casts more light on the case in a recent piece:

    “In 1997 a 29-year-old schizophrenic inmate named Michael Valent was stripped naked and strapped to a restraining chair by Utah prison staff because he refused to take a pillowcase off his head. Shortly after he was released some sixteen hours later, Valent collapsed and died from a blood clot that blocked an artery to his heart”

    “The chilling incident made national news not only because it happened to be videotaped but also because Valent's family successfully sued the State of Utah and forced it to stop using the device. Director of the Utah Department of Corrections, Lane McCotter, who was named in the suit and defended use of the chair, resigned in the ensuing firestorm.”


    What is a restraint chair?

    It is, according to an Amnesty International report in 1998, a steel-framed restraint chair that “has resulted in some of the most severe abuses of prisoners and in intake areas of jails.” The report describes the process where “[t]he prisoner is immobilized by four-point restraints which secure the arms, legs, shoulders and chest.”

    The report also notes that at this same prison:

    "An inmate with a history of self-mutilation was shackled to a steel board on a cell floor in four-point metal restraints for 12 weeks in 1995. He was removed from the board on average four times a week to shower. At other times he was left to defecate while lying on the board. He was released from the board only following a court order."



    13 May 2004
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    I recieved this:

    I can’t believe all this hasn’t made the news!!

    Message on Iraq

    As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing)

    Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
    Over 400,000 kids have up to date immunizations.
    Over 1500 schools have been renovated and ridded of the weapons that were stored there so education can occur.

    The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off loaded from ships faster.
    ~likely to help with oil also

    School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.

    The country had it's first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.

    The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.

    100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed compared to 35% before the war.

    Elections are taking place in every major city and city councils are in place.
    Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
    Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.

    Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
    Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
    Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.

    Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.

    An interim constitution has been signed.

    Girls are allowed to attend school for the first time ever in Iraq.

    Text books that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.
    Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there I have met many many people from Iraq that want us there and in a bad way.

    They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So if you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things
    Ray Reynolds, SFC
    Iowa Army National Guard
    234th Signal Battalion
    Footnote- If you run into some nice screaming liberal media types, let them know there is an educated Republican in Virginia that knows the truth, but more importantly, ask why they wouldn't cover the whole story??
    Thanks for your time, and have a great day!!
    Thomas F---- (Geoff's Cousin)

    I asked if he knew Ray and got:

    Nah - friend of a friend of a friend.
    Smart guy though.

    What's shaking down there!!??


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    So I wrote this:

    My cousin Thomas claims to have received this from a “friend of a friend of a friend.” The truth is this e-mail has been floating around the net for some time now; in fact, I’ve been waiting for someone to send it to me.

    This was created to cater to those people who live in a Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, fantasy world. Let me wake-up these right-wing, cut ‘n paste, unenlightened, close-minded, conservative republican shills and get rid of this excellent piece of creative writing once and for all. I’ll start with the author, who I believe is a real soldier:

    Ray Reynolds, SFC
    Iowa Army National Guard
    234th Signal Battalion

    He is in fact real and an exceptional patriot; he is a soldier, as well as a firefighter in Iowa. He reported for active duty with his battalion on Saturday, March 15th, 2003.


    The Iowa Army National Guard’s 234th Signal Battalion is scheduled to Return Home May 6, 2004.


    First sentence:

    “As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened.”

    But supposedly makes a later statement when confronted by a “nice screaming liberal”:

    “I wrote it while at home because I felt that too many people were exploiting the violence in Iraq to sell papers and gain votes. Sometimes the silent majority need to be awakened to respond to the bad things in our world. I am passionate about our President's decision and support this rebuilding whole heartedly I am a fire fighter in Denison, Iowa and to verify, call Mike McKinnon of the Denison Iowa fire department.”

    Hmmmmmmmm. . .

    Now to the body of his fairytale:

    > “Over 400,000 kids have up to date immunizations.”

    I hope this was written on a leave of duty because if in May of 2004 only 400,000 kids had up to date immunizations in Iraq that would be a disaster. In fact, to help Mr. Reynolds, Sergei Danilochkin writes:
    “Some 3.5 million Iraqi children were vaccinated this week in a campaign organized by Iraq's Health Ministry, the United Nations Children's Fund, and the World Health Organization.”
    (. . . )
    “Thousands of medical personnel have been working in Iraq for the last three days to vaccinate children against the most common preventable diseases. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has supplied 25 million doses of vaccines to Iraq to help prevent the spread of polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, and tuberculosis -- considered the main killers of children in developing countries. This week's campaign was the third of its kind in Iraq and will be followed by three more through the end of the year. There are some 4.2 million children in Iraq under the age of five, but officials say it is impossible to reach every one of them during each vaccination round.”

    > “Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.”
    But according to the Christian Science Monitor’s Ilene R. Prusher:
    “There are many things about life here that have gotten worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime six months ago, and Iraqis find them easy to spot: much less electricity, for example, and far more crime. And then there are things that are almost impossible to see, unless you're a man like Steve Palmer, a water and waste-management engineer. Only then would you know that Baghdad's water is 25 percent more polluted than it was before the war. You would realize that an injection of sewage into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers makes the flow of water to the south so dirty that long-forgotten diseases are reemerging.”


    > “School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.”

    But UNICEF reported in April of 2004 that:

    “In mid-May 2003, an assessment by Save the Children, a UK-based NGO, of three Baghdad schools found attendance to be less than 50 percent” . . . “School attendance had increased by the first week of June to approximately 75 percent.”

    And then continues Quoting:

    " ‘We don't have specific information on what is happening now, but when violence increases parents keep children at home, we know this goes on and anecdotal reports tell us this,’ "

    “‘In the long term when children are not in school they become vulnerable. For example, they are out on the streets and exposed to unexploded ordnance and abuse and trauma associated with it,’ she stressed, adding that the disruption in education would affect the child's development and employment opportunities . . . communities in Iraq had already suffered from a lack of education due to previous wars and although significant gains were made in school attendance after the recent war, to oust Saddam, much ground had been lost.”

    ”UNICEF states that in many cities across Iraq, children are unable to lead a normal life. "They are not just unable to attend school and get decent health care and clean water, but far too often they are paying the ultimate price," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "The ongoing instability and fighting is hitting children the hardest," she added.”

    The first sentences in this particular piece states that “Attendance at school has always been high in Iraq as primary education was made compulsory by Saddam Hussein. Under his rule some 82 percent of children were being educated”


    > “The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.”

    As of February 2004 a Kuwaiti Investment House reports that “power output exceeded pre-war levels for the first time during the month of October. Output reached a peak load of 4,518MW on October 6.”

    So if lets say pre-war levels were approximately 3000MW then 6000MW would be 2 times the noted level. This is a level set for May of 2004 by USAID back in February. I hope that it is well above this level by now.


    > “100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed compared to 35% before the war.”

    The Washington post on March 5th this year:
    “‘We are dealing with a crisis,’ said Abdulwadood Talibi, director general of the State Company for Drugs and Medical Supplies, which is in charge of ordering all goods for the 240 public hospitals and 1,200 health centers in Iraq.”
    “There are shortages of basic items such as cough syrup and also of critical items such as diabetes medications, anti-cancer drugs, intravenous lines, tuberculosis test kits and ventilators, say doctors and nurses at Iskan, the Medical City Center, Yarmouk Hospital and other facilities.”
    “The U.S.-led occupation is preparing to hand over administration of the health care sector to the Iraqi government, perhaps in a few weeks. The Health Ministry will be among the first to have operational independence. Health Minister Khudair Fadhil Abbas said about 90 percent of the hospitals and clinics have been brought back to the same poor conditions as before the war but that the others will take more time to reach even that low level.”
    “Iraq's hospitals were once the envy of the Middle East. Wealthy businessmen used to fly their relatives in for everything from heart transplants to plastic surgery, and Iraqi specialists traveled the world lecturing about their research. But medical care deteriorated under the economic sanctions imposed after the Persian Gulf War in 1991. . . ”
    “Doctors, nurses and Iraqi officials said some things have improved since the war -- especially the infrastructure of some hospitals and clinics that have been rebuilt. But in other respects, conditions are worse.”

    Larry Johnson of the Seattle Post also notes that the use of depleted uranium in ammo used by the liberation forces of 1991 has prompted a “rise in cancer, primarily in southern Iraq.”
    He quotes a Basra hospital employee,
    “‘I worked here in this hospital in 1980 and never saw much cancer, but after 1991, I started to see many more cancer cases. . . ‘She said that because the incubation period for cancer is about five years, the effects of the latest war should start showing up in 2008. ‘I think the number of cancer cases will be as much as 10 times or more higher.’
    Johnson continues writing:
    “On a tour through one of the wards, Hassan points out a little girl with leukemia, one of the most common cancers around Basra. The girl is the second child in her family to get leukemia. A brother died from it recently. In another bed, a 10-month-old boy with bone cancer has a huge swollen area across his chest. He twists in pain and whimpers. Everywhere in the ward there are children with leukemia, bone cancer and tumors.”

    And finally.
    > “The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.”
    NO! NO! NO! Basic Math! Bad Conservative!
    This is impossible, and if it were true oil would not cost $40+ a barrel. In August of 2003 the invasion/occupation forces and their highly paid mercenary army had just began to pump oil from the oil-rich northern fields.
    Iraq “has largely kept up production of 2.5 million barrels a day and exports of 1.8 million bpd despite the ongoing violence between the U.S. military and insurgent forces.” (May 12 2004)

    So if this guy claims that there was a 2 billion barrel export and the rate of 2.5 million barrel’s per day is correct then they would have to keep this rate up for 800 days, over two years.
    Iraq did not make this export last August and will not this August.
    That is why this “hasn’t made the news!!”

    Thanks for your time, and have a great day!!

    12 May 2004
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    Great news from the mid-east!!! Iraq beat Saudi Arabia for a birth in the upcoming olympics. Although I believe it is a stunt by the Bush-Saud connection.

    just kidding, Congrats!!


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    As many of you know, I am currently in the apolitical position of Army public affairs specialist in Afghanistan. I only recently arrived, after waiting for 2.5 months at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but that's another issue. I'm writing you all today because I'm going to take many of you up on your offers and rudely ask a favor of those who made no offer.

    When I first mentioned on my blog, Nitpicker, that I was going to be deployed, a large number of you asked how you could help me, what I would need for Afghanistan. The truth is, there's not much. However, I just went on my first mission with a civil affairs group and found a way you might be able to help me out.

    It seems that the children of Afghanistan want nothing more than they want a pen.

    It was explained to me that the villages through which I traveled (near Kandahar, where I'm based) are so poor that a pen is like a scholarship to these children. They desperately want to learn but, without a pen, they simply won't. It's a long story. I won't bore you with it. Trust me, though, when I say that it would be a big deal if even a few of you could put up the call for pens for me. Anyone interested in helping out could either send some directly to me or go to these sites and send them, where you can find them for as cheap as $.89 a dozen.

    You can send them to me at this address:

    Terry L. Welch
    105th MPAD
    Kandahar Public Affairs Office
    APO AE 09355

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    Just because I can, here is a link to the Nick Berg video. I would like to express my sorrow for Mr. Berg and his family and friends. This is a dark day for the world. . .


    thanks to thememoryhole.org (the hole has been slow recently due to large net traffic)

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    Bush Education Ad: Going Positive, Selectively

    Bush ad claims "dramatic results" in Texas schools, but fails to mention data-manipulation scandal.



    Bush released an ad May 12 claiming "dramatic results" from his Texas school reforms and touting his "No Child Left Behind" law as "the most significant education reforms in 35 years."

    But some of those Texas claims were scaled back last year after school officials were shown to be fudging the numbers to disguise high drop-out rates. And many state officials are complaining that Bush's policies impose expensive new requirements without a large enough increase in federal aid to pay for them.


    After weeks of misleading ads attacking Kerry's record on taxes and military spending, the Bush campaign finally had something nice to say.

    Bush Cheney '04 Ad

    "Key To Success"

    Bush: I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message.

    Announcer: As governor, George Bush enacted reforms that produced dramatic results.
    As president, he signed the most significant education reforms in 35 years.
    Because accountability and high standards are the keys to quality schools, the president's reforms give parents the tools needed to measure a child's progress.
    Today public schools require raised standards, well-qualified teachers, accountability to parents.
    Because no child in America should be left behind.

    The ad shows Bush hugging a school child, and paints a glowing picture of the federal education reforms he pushed through two years ago. It accurately summarizes the main points of his No Child Left Behind Act, saying "public schools require raised standards, well-qualified teachers, accountability to parents."

    The act is indeed giving parents new tools for holding public schools accountable and measuring progress. Already, detailed data on schools in many states are available on the Internet, for example.

    Dramatic Results?

    But when the ad claims that Bush's Texas reforms "produced dramatic results" it omits a key fact: those results were inflated to some extent by school officials who reported false information about drop-out rates to improve their statistics.

    In Houston, investigators found 3,000 students who should have been listed as dropouts but weren't. A local television station, KHOU-TV, called citywide dropout statistics a "lesson in lies." The station found one former student working at a Wendy's fast-food restaurant after her public high school reported that she had left to attend private school. The Washington Post later found another high school that reported an unbelievably low 0.3 percent dropuout rate when in fact up to half its students failed to graduate. The CBS program "60 Minutes II" reported that Houston's entire school system reported a city-wide dropout rate of 1.5 percent when the true dropout rate was somewhere between 25 and 50 percent, according to educators and experts checked by CBS News.

    It's true that drop-out rates were not the only statistics used to measure progress, but the scandal happened in Houston -- where Bush's Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige had been superintendent. That has raised questions about how well reforms really worked in Texas, and also about whether school officials nationally will manipulate statistics to look good under the new standards imposed by the No Child Left Behind law.

    The Question of Money

    Also left unmentioned in the Bush ad is the question of money. As we've pointed out before, federal aid to education has increased sharply under Bush. Funding for the Department of Education rose 58% during Bush's first three years, a bigger increase than during the previous eight years under Clinton.

    But many say even that increase is not enough, considering the demands the law imposes on schools. Funding is still $7 billion a year under what was envisioned in the authorizing legislation for No Child Left Behind, according to the National Education Association.

    And it isn't just Democrats and the teachers unions saying it. In Republican-dominated Utah, the superintendent of the state's largest school district estimated it would cost $182 million over the next 10 years to implement all the provisions of No Child Left Behind, compared to the $2.2 million per year it now receives in federal aid. And in Republican-dominated Ohio, a study for the state department of education estimated the cost of compliance with the law to be $149 million per year.

    Even one former Bush administration official is now lamenting the lack of resources. Susan B. Neuman was the U.S. Department of Education's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education until January 2003. She recently told a meeting of the International Reading Association in Reno, Nev., that she worries that the most vulnerable children are still being left behind, despite the law that she helped implement:

    Neuman: In [the most disadvantaged schools] in America, even the most earnest teacher has often given up because they lack every available resource that could possibly make a difference. . . When we say all children can achieve and then not give them the additional resources . . . we are creating a fantasy.

    Neuman has now returned to the University of Michigan, where she is a professor of education.


    Michael Dobbs, " Education 'Miracle' Has a Math Problem : Bush Critics Cite Disputed Houston Data," Washington Post 8 Nov 2003.

    Dan Rather "The Texas Miracle; Texas schools cooking the books?" CBS: 60 Minutes II , 7 Jan 2004.

    Michael Dobbs, "More States Are Fighting 'No Child Left Behind' Law: Complex Provisions, Funding Gaps In Bush Education Initiative Cited," Washington Post 19 Feb 2004.

    William Driscoll and Howard Fleeter, " Projected Costs of Implementing the Federal 'No Child Left Behind Act' In Ohio" Ohio Department of Education, 12 Dec 2003.

    Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, "Reading Experts Offer Insights Into State, Federal Policies," Education Week 12 May 2004.

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    Our new govt (I hope after Nov.) is taking shape, although I would like to see this man as VP. McCain is a great man and a true American hero.

    "Democratic challenger John Kerry said Wednesday his first choice as defense secretary would be Republican Sen. John McCain as he criticized the Bush administration for failed policies in Iraq."

    From Rueters on May 12th

    “I have any number of people that I would make secretary of Defense, beginning with our good friend John McCain,” Kerry said.

    11 May 2004
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    More news of our militaries misfortunes. According to Reuters and Andrea Shalal-Esa, on Tuesday May 11th she wrote:

    "A Senate hearing into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was told on Tuesday that Lt. Gen. William Boykin, an evangelical Christian under review for saying his God was superior to that of the Muslims..."

    Boykin who is "under investigation for anti-Islamic remarks has been linked by U.S. officials to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, which experts warned could touch off new outrage overseas."


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    I was asked about this last statement:

    Muqtada al-Sadr's militia had been careful not to
    attack US troops and it had been largely excluded from
    Najaf. On April 3, Bush gave the order for Muqtada's
    arrest, which provoked a massive Shiite uprising
    throughout the South and created the chaotic
    conditions that allowed Muqtada's militia to take over
    the shrine and city center. Muqtada had not done
    anything to provoke such a precipitous move against
    him,and Bush was remiss in not preparing for a
    blow-up if he insisted on moving in this way against
    ?????? this isn't true, is it? I thought he had done some pretty bad things.

    my reply:

    I think that the arrest of a Sadr aid in late march and a warrant for his (Sadr's) death or capture (forced upon Spanish troops that quickly abandoned the quagmire(?) as you may recall see below) forced Sadr to act in defense, hence the insurgency that is now winning back Iraq.


    from the "Dario Malaga" Madrid, Spain on May 11th

    Spanish text:

    "El ministro de Defensa, José Bono, reveló ayer que a las tropas españolas en Irak se les pidió “entregar vivo o muerto” a “determinado líder religioso”, en referencia al radical chií Moqtada Al Sadr, algo a lo que el mando español se negó. De hecho, los máximos responsables militares españoles en el país árabe enviaron a comienzos de abril un informe al mando norteamericano en el que advertían que un mayor acoso a los fieles de Al Sadr desencadenaría un agravamiento de la situación."

    trans to English:

    "The minister of Defense, Jose Bond, revealed yesterday that he asked the Spanish troops in Iraq "to give to them alive or dead" a "certain religious leader", in reference to Moqtada Al Sadr, something to which the Spanish control refused. In fact, the Spanish military people in charge in the Arab country sent at the beginning of April a report to the North American control in which they noticed that greater a harassment to the faithfuls of Sadr would trigger a aggravation of the situation." (not a perfect trans.)

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    Rush's big drug-addicted mouth

    Friends and Family,

    The torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has been universally decried by both Democrats and Republicans as inhumane, and the fall out has dramatically increased the danger to our troops. But according to
    Rush Limbaugh, what happened was no worse than what we college students do every day.

    Tell Rush Limbaugh to apologize for using students to excuse torture:


    Last week Limbaugh told his estimated 20 million listeners that the torture was exactly like “a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men”, and that it was “no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation [an Ivy league secret society] …ever heard of blowing off steam!?!?”

    Limbaugh is trying to use us, students and some students in fraternities, to trivialize these atrocities. Campus pranks and voluntary initiation rituals bear no resemblance to the illegal acts of sexual torture we have seen coming out of Iraq. We will not be used as part of Rush’s political game.

    This is not a joke. As John Warner, the Republican chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said, these events will seriously hurt “the conduct of the war against terrorism, and place in jeopardy
    the men and women of the armed forces wherever they are serving in the world.” Limbaugh’s reckless comments, broadcast across the globe, will only serve to make that danger worse. I think that the decapitation of Nick Berg proves this.

    Limbaugh must apologize on air for his comments. Fraternities do not violate international law by raping and torturing political prisoners, and what happened in Iraq was not “blowing off steam.”

    Limbaugh is not used to accountability. It's about time he found out what it feels like.

    Join the call at:



    Geoff Miller

    ~ american Entropy ~

    Dedicated to the disruption and discrediting of Neoconservative Ideals and the Religious Right.


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    My favorite thing is to dispute what the right and Bush say, but Juan Cole beat me to it. . .


    "BUSH: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for your leadership. You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror. You are doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense. And our nation owes you a debt of gratitude . . . "

    Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership has brought the country to the brink of international disaster. It was his leadership that allowed dozens of Iraqi prisoners (the Red Cross estimates 90% of all prisoners held by the US were innocent) to be tortured, some tortured to death. His determination to create spaces of extra-judicial status contributed centrally to the practice of torture at Abu Ghuraib. Rumsfeld is personally responsible for most of the things that have gone wrong in Iraq. His one good enterprise, the war in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda, now appears to have been undertaken with great reluctance, half-heartedly, and to have been abandoned as soon as possible, all so he could plunge the US into the Iraq quagmire. He even stole $700 million from a Congressional appropriation for Afghanistan and spent it on Iraq. The sums involved dwarf even the Iran-contra scandal.

    "The United States has a vital national interest in the success of free institutions in Iraq as the alternative to tyranny and terrorist violence in the Middle East . . . "

    I've decided that what he means by "free institutions in Iraq" is actually a laissez-faire economic system where workers cannot unionize and a small class of robber barons can ride roughshod over everyone else. It is, in short, a mirror image of Texas robber baron capitalism. If democracy were at issue, Bush wouldn't have sent Jay Garner to turn Iraq over to corrupt expatriate Ahmad Chalabi. (It was only Tony Blair who saved us at least from that).

    "BUSH: Like other generations of Americans, we have accepted a difficult and historic task. We have made clear commitments before the world, and America will keep those commitments . . . In and around Fallujah, U.S. Marines are maintaining pressure on Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters and other militants. We're keeping that pressure on to ensure that Fallujah ceases to be an enemy sanctuary . . . "

    There are no Saddam loyalists in Fallujah and no or only a miniscule number of foreign fighters. It is time for the President to simply admit that a lot of ordinary Iraqis don't like being occupied by the Americans, and that often the brutality of the occupation has pushed them to take up arms against it.

    "BUSH: And our forces are also helping to ensure the delivery of humanitarian supplies to families that suffer as a result of the chaos in certain communities created by the terrorists and those who want to halt the advance of freedom . . . "

    Not so long ago, Bush's policy in Fallujah was to besiege and starve the city. US troops prevented civilian aid convoys from getting through. Even some members of the American-appointed Interim Governing Council made it public that they thought the siege was being conducted in ways that contravened the Geneva Conventions, involving collective punishment against innocent civilians.

    "In Najaf, a major Shiite population center, in the holy site, our military is systematically dismantling an illegal militia that has attempted to incite violence and seize control . . . "

    Muqtada al-Sadr's militia had been careful not to attack US troops and it had been largely excluded from Najaf. On April 3, Bush gave the order for Muqtada's arrest, which provoked a massive Shiite uprising throughout the South and created the chaotic conditions that allowed Muqtada's militia to take over the shrine and city center. Muqtada had not done anything to provoke such a precipitous move against him, and Bush was remiss in not preparing for a blow-up if he insisted on moving in this way against him.

    At the moment, the main US plan for curbing Muqtada's militia is to depend on another militant Shiite militia, the Badr Corps of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Bush has coddled this Iran-backed movement and its Iran-trained militia. The US has not taken a strong stand against sectarian militias. Rather, it has simply tried to exclude the ones that are not bosom buddies with corrupt expatriate and American proxy, Ahmad Chalabi.

    "Elements of this militia have been ejected from the Najaf governor's office and a legitimate governor has been appointed . . . "

    No one in Najaf, least of all Grand Ayatollah Sistani, believes that it is within the gift of the Americans to appoint a "legitimate" governor of Najaf! Sistani views the American Occupation as essentially illegal. If Bush had held proper elections in Najaf, instead of appointing a series of corrupt incompentents, maybe things wouldn't have deteriorated to this extent to begin with.

    "Our second great commitment in Iraq is to transfer sovereignty to an Iraqi government as quickly as possible. Decades of oppression destroyed every free institution in Iraq, but not the desire to live in freedom. Like any proud country, the Iraqi people want their independence. The Iraqi people need to know that our coalition is fully committed to their independence and we're fully committed to their national dignity. This is the reason the June 30th transfer of sovereignty is vital . . . "

    This "transfer of sovereignty" is just a publicity stunt without substance. The caretaker government to be appointed for this summer is just a set of appointees. They won't have been elected by anyone in Iraq and we won't be sure that they even represent any Iraqis. If general elections had been allowed to go forward, that might have produced a legitimate government. This one is just another dreary subcommittee of the Occupation Authority.

    "The United Nations' special envoy, Mr. Brahimi, is now back in Iraq consulting with diverse groups of Iraqis. In the next few weeks, important decisions will be made on the makeup of the interim government . . . "

    Can you imagine how difficult you have made Brahimi's job, with the Fallujah and Najaf sieges (neither of them growing out of military necessity), and now with these sadomasochistic porn shots?

    "Third, because America's committed to the equality and dignity of all people, there will be a full accounting for the cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees. Conduct that has come to light is an insult to the Iraqi people and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency . . . "

    A full accounting should start with us calling it what it is. It is torture, not just abuse. By the time you sic German shepherds on naked shivering prisoners to take a chunk out of their legs or you are sticking broomsticks up their rectums, that isn't abuse, Mr. President. It is t o r t u r e.

    "One basic difference between democracies and dictatorships is that free countries confront such abuses openly and directly. In January, shortly after reports of abuse became known to our military, an investigation was launched. "

    In other words, Rumsfeld sat on this for months in hopes it wouldn't come out, and thinking in his own mind it wasn't a big thing. And now that it is out, a few privates are going to be hung out to dry while Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cambone and Boykin, who set the tone that allowed all this to happen, do not have to take any responsibility or suffer any accountability at all.

    "Millions of Iraqis are grateful for the chance they have been given to live in freedom, a chance made possible by the courage and sacrifice of the United States military. "

    Military occupation by a foreign power is not freedom, which is why a large majority of Iraqis wants the US military out right now. Being guinea pigs for pet Republican experiments like a flat tax or economic "shock therapy" and a fire sale on all Iraqi assets-- no Iraqis think this is "freedom." Everyone recognizes our debt to the brave men and women of the US military for bringing the genocidal Saddam regime to justice (however much we might debate whether there were better means to accomplish that goal than military action). But the policies of your administration in the aftermath have been a huge disaster, and it is wrong of you now to wrap yourself in their uniforms and make them share the blame for poor civilian leadership.

    "We have great respect for the people of Iraq and for all Arab peoples, respect for their culture and for the history and for the contribution they can make to the world. "

    This statement is poorly crafted, even if the intention may have been a good one. It makes it sound like the Arabs, for all their culture and history, haven't yet made "the contribution" to the world that they could if only they fell under American tutelage. In fact, of course, the Arabs' contributions to the world have been crucial, from algebra to the lateen sail, from Sufi spirituality to key discoveries in astronomy.

    "We believe that democracy will allow these gifts to flourish, that freedom is the answer to hopelessness and terror, that a free Iraq will lead the way to a new and better Middle East and that a free Iraq will make our country more secure . . . "

    So far American-ruled Iraq has been the biggest black eye for democracy since the Reichstag fire. And, the photographs now circulating of prisoner torture are the biggest recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and other anti-American terrorism that Bin Laden could ever have hoped for. The US occupation of Iraq has been so incompetently handled that it has made all Americans less secure by an order of magnitude.


    Unfortunately that isn't true, either. This is only the beginning, and not of anything good.

    Well said Juan!!


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