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    09 April 2005


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    A large number Shia Nationalist rallied in Firdus Square (LINK1, LINK2)against the occupation formed Friday and grew into Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the fall of Iraq to foreign occupation. The movement was organized by Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, Sunni clerics urged their followers to join the protests in idea but not to support the Shia's highlighting the sharp divisions that are now aparent in Iraq. Sunni protests were held in Ramadi.

    [UDPATED: 12.55 am]
    Juan Cole points out this
    Thousands of Sunnis gathered in downtown Ramadi to protest, as well. The Association of Muslim Scholars declined to have their Sunni Arab followers join the Shiites at Firdaws Square, which points to continued sharp ethnic divisions that have made it difficult for Iraqi nationalists to unite against the American presence.

    Tens of thousands of Iraqis joined an anti-US protest in Firdus Square, where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled on 9 April 2003 as millions watched on TV.
    Chanting "No to America" and "No to the occupiers", they pulled down and burned effigies of Saddam Hussein, US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
    …protesters poured into Firdus Square for a rally called by radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

    They joined a group who had been in the square since Friday night.

    Many of the demonstrators had traveled hundreds of miles from Shia cities in southern Iraq to attend the rally. Others came from Baghdad's Sadr City slum, scene of a failed uprising by Mr Sadr's Mehdi Army fighters last year.

    Iraqi security forces blocked off a number of streets in central Baghdad, while US soldiers kept their distance.

    The protest was a peaceful one aimed at urging US troops to leave and demanding quicker trials for Saddam Hussein and his aides, a spokesman for Mr Sadr said.
    Sunni clerics from the Association of Muslim Scholars had asked their supporters to join the demonstration.

    Interestingly, it looks like Saddam did try to avoid occupoation by making promises "to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration…"

    via The Guardian

    The first approach appears to have been made last December through the CIA's former head of counter-terrorism, Vincent Cannistraro.

    "I was approached by someone representing Tahir al-Tikriti - the Iraqi intelligence chief also known as [General] Tahir Habbush - who said Saddam knew there was a campaign to link him to September 11 and prove he had weapons of mass destruction," said Mr Cannistraro. "The Iraqis were prepared to satisfy those concerns. I reported the conversation to senior levels of the state department and I was told to stand aside and they would handle it," he said. He later heard the Iraqi offer had been "killed" by the Bush administration.

    In the next three months, several more approaches from Iraq were made through third countries, US intelligence sources said. At one point, a meeting between CIA officials and Iraqi agents was arranged in Morocco but, according to the US sources, the Iraqi side did not show up.

    Iraqi intelligence was also offering privately to allow several thousand US troops into the country to take part in the search for banned weapons.

    Baghdad even proposed staging internationally-monitored elections within two years.

    I’m not saying that this was a reason not to go to war; the reason not to go to war was that we were lied to (by omission). But Saddam was bad and it is good that he is gone and I’d say that bushCo. knew that this line of thought would sustain positive support for the invasion well after the November 04 elections. I’m sure this was just a front by Saddam to stay in power but adds to the argument that diplomacy, caring a big stick, can or could have worked.

    08 April 2005

    friday fun

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    For you Kris: New Wal-Mart Scandal! DKos thread.

    Enviro types: Fire from Ice by Plutonium Page (Via Dkos)

    Europe loves Clinton and hates bushCo, as they should... (note: the So-Called Liberal Media in america won't cover this.)

    Stirling Newberry's latest and greatest work on the War and Peace economies... (cross-posted at the Agonist)

    The Neo-Con Reich may be ending???

    Richard Perel in front of the House Armed Service Committee:

    "There is reason to believe that we were sucked into an ill-conceived initial attack aimed at Saddam himself by double agents planted by the regime. And as we now know the estimate of Saddam's stockpile of weapons of mass destruction was substantially wrong."

    One of the dumbest things I've heard all week. Or scariest; if you believe him and think that our intelligence apparatus was fooled, after 911, by Iraqi spies! d say the real reason was to privatize Iraqi oil, and break-up OPEC. Hence Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank.

    05 April 2005


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    A third front opens on Tom DeLay, no problem...



    How much longer will this go on...

    Non-Abu Ghraib prison problems in Iraq

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    The weekend showed an instance of poor control of detention centers in Iraq.  Today it is reported that over the weekend there were clashes in this camp, Camp Bucca.  This is the largest of said centers in Iraq, containing 2/3 of all Iraqi detainees.  The camp that contained a 600 ft. escape tunnel last month.  The big points are that

    •  One, the jails are bloated to say the least.  They are an excellent target.

    •  Two, this was the work of Shia', remnants of the Sadrist uprisings which isn't alarming but could cause friction in the future.

    Which is a concern if you've read Juan Cole, or read the excellent post by Armando.  I think, despite the death toll stats last month, that we are bogged down, taking a lot of prisoners and skimping a lot of resources in either protecting the jail or protecting caring for the detainees.  

    I appear to have overlooked this:
    A suicide bomber driving a tractor blew himself up Monday near the gates of Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad, wounding five Iraqi civilians in the second attack on the prison in 48 hours, officials said.

    The attack came as military officials announced that a small riot broke out Friday at Camp Bucca, the other major American detainee camp in Iraq, south of Baghdad.

    Any mishandling of prisoners looks bad in world opinion.  Any mishandling of prisoners looks bad to the regional Shia' comunity.  All this in a region full of skeptics and ripe with newfound Shia' power.

    I think this may be a new development...

    [Links and Text]

    From Juan Cole:

    I asked Gen. Clark how the US attains a "soft landing" in Iraq. I pointed out that the conventional wisdom is that if we just stay the course we will eventually be able to put down the guerrilla insurgency and stand up an Iraqi force that can keep them down.

    But the problem is that if we over-stay our welcome, and if we do in fact weaken the Sunni guerrillas sufficiently, there is a danger that at that point the Shiites (no longer afraid of the Sunnis and by then very tired of our military presence) will just toss us out unceremoniously.

    And this:

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Prisoners at Iraq's largest detention facility protested the transfer of several detainees deemed "unruly" by authorities, throwing rocks and setting tents on fire in a disturbance that injured four guards and 12 detainees, the military said Monday.

    Friday's protest at Camp Bucca _ which holds about 6,000 prisoners, nearly two-thirds of all those in Iraq _ caused only minor injuries before being brought under control, authorities said. It was the third major incident at an Iraqi prison in three days.

    Murtadha al-Hajaj, an official at radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's office in the southern city of Umm Qasr, near Camp Bucca, said several al-Sadr supporters were wounded during the confrontation. He said they were protesting a lack of access to medical treatment and claimed U.S. guards opened fire, although he did not know if they wounded prisoners.

    U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill said he did not know if the guards opened fire, but he denied that any detainee was deprived of medical treatment.

    04 April 2005

    Another Delay

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    SENATOR JOHN CORNYN of Texas and, you guessed it, a righty just formaly said this on the senate floor:

    "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." [Senate Floor, 4/4/05]

    Cornyn has all but excused domestic terrorism. This should appall every one of you.

    Want context?
    ...it causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions. And no one, including those judges, including the judges on the United States Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects.

    And, Mr. President, I'm going to make clear that I object to some of the decision-making process that is occurring at the United States Supreme Court today and now. I believe that insofar as the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policy-maker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people, it has led to the increasing divisiveness and bitterness of our confirmation fights. That is a very current problem that this body faces today. It has generated a lack of respect for judges generally. I mean, why should people respect a judge for making a policy decision borne out of an ideological conviction any more than they would respect or deny themselves the opportunity to disagree if that decision were made by an elected representative?

    Of course the difference is that they can throw the rascal -- the rascal out -- and we are sometimes perceived as the rascal -- if they don't like the decisions that we make. But they can't vote against a judge because judges aren't elected. They serve for a lifetime on the federal bench. And, indeed, I believe this increasing politicalization of the judicial decision-making process at the highest levels of our judiciary have bred a lack of respect for some of the people that wear the robe. And that is a national tragedy.

    And finally, I - I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in -- engage in violence. Certainly without any justification but a concern that I have that I wanted to share.

    You know, it's ironic, if you look back, as we all have, being students of history in this body, all of us have been elected to other -- to other bodies and other offices and we're all familiar with the founding documents, the declaration of independence, the constitution itself, we're familiar with the federalist papers that were written in an effort to get the constitution ratified...


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