Monday 31 March 2003

Truth is the First Victim of War

The Devil's Dictionary

by Uri Avnery

Yet some more thoughts about the war.

The Coalition.
No name could be more appropriate to the cooperation between the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq.

In "The Devil's Dictionary" of the American humorist Ambrose Bierce, published some 100 years ago, "coalition" is defined as (I quote from memory) the cooperation between two thieves who have their hands so deep in each others pockets that they cannot rob a third person separately.

The problem of the Brits and the Americans is that they are possessed by an unquenchable thirst for reconstructing.

They dream about it day and night. They cannot think and speak about anything else.

Trouble is, in order to rebuild something one has to demolish it first. No destruction, no reconstruction.

Therefore the British, together with the Americans, are occupied with destroying Iraq systematically. Missile and bombs, tanks and artillery, ships and infantry--everything is employed in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the country.

The main objective of the urge for reconstruction is, of course, Baghdad. A city of five million people, miles upon miles of buildings and streets, which can be reconstructed after their demolition. If Baghdad becomes indeed the site of Stalingrad-style street fighting, house after house, street after street, there will be indeed a lot to reconstruct.

The New Mongols.
The appetite for rebuilding separates the new conquerors from their predecessors, the Mongols, who conquered Baghdad in 1258, killed the Caliph (who had already surrendered) and destroyed the city completely, after butchering all the inhabitants, men, women and babies.

They did not bring with them reconstruction crews, but laid waste to Iraq. The irrigation canals that had been built throughout thousands of years of civilization were devastated. The event has gone down in history as one of the biggest disasters ever to befall the Arab world.

By the way, two years later the Muslims annihilated the Mongol army in the battle of Ein-Jalud (today's kibbutz Ein-Harod), a major chapter in Palestininian history. That was the end of the Mongols in the Middle East, but the region never recovered from the Mongol devastation to this very day.

Demolish and profit.
Apart from the idealist aim of helping the Iraqi people, there is also a more material side to reconstruction. It will be huge business. The big American corporations--some of which are connected with the paladins of the Bush administration--are already quarreling about the spoils. They will, of course, allow no foreigners to come into this. To quote an American saying: "To the victors belong the spoils".

A rather obnoxious sight: even before the Iraqi towns are destroyed, corporate giants are dividing among themselves the profits of their rebuilding.

The unquenchable idealism of the Anglo-Americans finds its expression also in the drive for humanitarian aid. This is becoming quite an obsession. Humanitarian aid must be brought to the Iraqi people, whether they want it or not.

The inhabitants of Basra do not want the promised aid? Ha, we'll see about that. We shall bomb them, starve them--until they open their gates and allow the humanitarian aid in. After all, one cannot aid people as long as the city is controlled by the evil Saddam, cursed be his name, whose only aim is to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching his people.

The coalition could, of course, drop food and water - instead of bombs - from the air. One could also arrange for a short cease-fire, so as to bring the humanitarian aid into the besieged city. But that has been forbidden by Donald Rumsfeld, another great humanitarian. So there is really no alternative but to bomb them until they are ripe for aid.

Full story...

Opening Pandora's Box

Well, the world has gotten itself into quite the mess hasn't it? Global crisis doesn't quite do justice to the current situation. In my old Army parlance, we are in the midst of what we used to call a cluster#$%^&^. FUBAR to the max and then some. It doesn't really matter how we opened Pandora's box, we must now deal with the aftermath. Pandora was a figure in Greek mythology who had a box which, when opened, unleashed chaos and anarchy upon those who were foolish enough to open it. As to where the current global situation will end, I have no idea. It's all on the table though. Everything from a North Korean first strike, economic collapse, a regional war in the Middle East involving Turkey, Syria, Iraq, the coalition, Iran and Israel is no longer an academic doomer fantasy. Assuming Iraq uses the weapons of mass destruction we know they have, since the western democracies gave them to him, modern life as we know it will end. Assuming Iraq was able to buy nukes and weaponized biological agents from the collapsing Soviet Union, we will be faced with the worst of both worlds. If he has them, and uses them, we will face a military disaster unique in our American history. And if he doesn't, we will suffer a political disaster also unique in our American history. As things stand now, we are involved in a snake pit of religious and nationalist passion exploding across the Arab world.

I must confess that I have a very ambivalent attitude to the war in Iraq. On a personal level, my niece is the tip of the spear. She is assigned to the 3rd to the 7th, 3rd Infantry division. This is the army unit in linear descent to Custer's 7th cavalry from the little bighorn. Her job is to fly a Kiowa recon helicopter thirty feet above the ground at 100 miles per hour searching out all those Iraq tanks that were supposed to surrender. Unfortunately, rumors of an Iraq collapse have been greatly exaggerated. It seems the command structure believed their own propaganda and the results have been savage fire fights instead of flowers. We are now involved in a fight to the death with a ruthless and vicious enemy. We are now reliving the allied advance into Germany in 1945, complete with true believer SS troops executing surrendering soldiers, murdering civilians, using car bombs and other methods of asymmetrical warfare. We will win eventually, but it will be a much more savage fight than our leadership thought. There is nothing like actually being in the military to give some perspective to leaders who are eager to deploy it.

The political aspects of this war are heading south rather rapidly. I would say the political aftermath is going to be very bad, assuming we avoid a general regional war. WW3 will start the second weapons of mass destruction are used. The current global reality will not long survive their use in my opinion. The psychological, economic and political aftermath of their use will simply end the illusions the people of the world have labored under. We are in uncharted territory here. I have spent the last week or so watching antiwar protesters unleash chaos upon the streets of Portland. Squads of riot police are a common site in the downtown area now. We are on the edge of social anarchy and there is a sense of unreality to it all. Life as we know it tries to continue, but it's struggling. Aside from everything else we now have a potential global flu epidemic wreaking havoc. I never thought I would live to see such days unfold on the earth; yet, I have the feeling we haven't seen anything yet.

Although economics seems almost irrelevant, even here we see the effects. The Japanese government has openly stated they will do whatever it takes, in other words manipulate, the NIKKEI 225 to keep it from collapsing the banking system. Wall Streets 800 point "rally" must be viewed through the prism of official manipulation. No one should be under the impression we have anything resembling a free market anymore. The markets will not be allowed to collapse. Of course, the economic reality means such a collapse is inevitable. The so called plunge protection team may postpone, delay and slow the collapse, but they cannot change the fundamental economic reality. Official market manipulation will only make the inevitable collapse more vicious and long lasting. Sometimes when you have a case of nausea the best thing to do is vomit until your stomach is empty. That's not going to happen. We will continue to ignore the vast mountain of individual and corporate debt, the massive trade deficit, the 7 trillion dollar government deficit, the collapsing job market, the declining retail sales, the declining consumer confidence: we will ignore it all until they finally slap us in the face with a two by four. The Iraq war is simply speeding the process along is all.

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Liars, Scoundrels and Traitors

by Henry Makow, PhD

Donald Rumsfeld lied Friday (March 28) when a reporter asked if the US was misleading the public about its casualties in Iraq.

Rumsfeld feigned indignation. Looking straight into the camera, he said something like: "That's a terrible thing to suggest. We always tell the truth."

The official US death toll at the time was about 30. Does he seriously expect us to believe that after only 30 deaths, the U.S. would postpone the assault on Baghdad and bring in an additional 120,000 soldiers?

The Iraqi ambassador to Moscow claimed March 28 that over 500 Americans died in the last 24 hours alone. (
In An-Nasiriya alone last Sunday (March 23) as many as two-dozen US soldiers were killed and over 60 wounded, the largest one day loses since the Vietnam War. According to MSNBC:

"'Each unit takes its turn being sacrificed,' said Sgt. Chris Merkle, 31, from Irvine, Ca, 'everybody gets torn apart the same way.' (The report continues:) Nasiriyah ... became a killing field ... with a pair of grisly disasters for U.S. troops. An Army convoy that made a wrong turn drove into an Iraqi ambush that left 12 soldiers dead or captured. In a separate incident, at least nine Marines died in the fighting." (

Sound to me like Rumsfeld was lying. A stench of lies emanates from Bush, Blair and their minions.

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UK soldiers sent home from Iraq 'for refusing to fight'

Two British soldiers have been sent home from the Gulf for refusing to fight in a war involving the deaths of civilians, according to a solicitor who advises troops.

Justin Hugheston-Roberts says the soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, based in Colchester, Essex, told their commanding officers they would not take part in the military action.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts, chairman of Forces Law, said they could be thrown out of the Army or have to face a court martial. It is understood they are a private and an air technician.

Mr Hugheston-Roberts said his organisation, which links service personnel with specialist solicitors across the country, had been approached by a number of people serving in the current conflict.

He said: "We had a number of enquiries from services personnel saying we want to leave now. I am acting for a client who was returned from theatre a matter of a couple of weeks ago.

"In previous conflicts we have had all personnel from all aspects of the military contact the network and find out how they can get out of the services. Normally this is just prior to the conflict."

He said he could not comment further on his client who has been returned from the Gulf, but said the case was "completely dissimilar" to that of the two soldiers.

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Defence said: "We have no evidence that anybody has been sent back for refusing to fight.

Full story...

Search for smoking gun draws a blank

US and Britain's case for war undermined by special forces' failure to find illegal arms at 10 suspected sites

Britain and the United States suffered a fresh blow last night when their main justification for war was undermined by reports that special forces have failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

As Tony Blair launched a charm offensive to persuade the Arab world to understand his decision to go to war, senior officials in Washington said that intelligence information about weapons of mass destruction at 10 sites had proved to be unfounded.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that tests had proved negative at all "urgent" sites in the western desert. "All the searches have turned up negative," a staff officer told thenewspaper. "The munitions that have been found have all been conventional."

Special operations forces from the US, Britain and Australia are understood to have seized the sites which were believed by US central command to house chemical warheads, Scud missiles and eight-wheeled transporter-erector launchers, known as TELs.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, attempted to play down the findings. He told ABC's This Week that banned weapons were not in areas controlled by allied forces.

"We know where they are, they are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north of that," he said.

But the failure to uncover weapons at sites identified by intelligence will be a severe blow to Tony Blair and George Bush, who attacked Iraq on the basis that Saddam Hussein has the weapons.

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How the world got bushwhacked

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear ­ kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervour ­ with the cry of grave national emergency. Always, there has been some terrible evil at home, or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it."

No, these are not the words of an Iraqi defector lashing out at the Saddam Hussein regime nor from someone making a case for political asylum.

Far from it. These words were actually uttered in 1957 by no less an authority than the celebrated American, General Douglas MacArthur, in describing the policies of the United States Government in the post-World War II era.

And MacArthur should have known. Not only was he the commander of Allied troops in the Pacific during World War II, but he also supervised the postwar occupation of Japan and led United Nations forces during the Korean War.

But, has anything changed? The General could easily have been describing the U.S. Government of today.

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. has been trying to convince the world community since last year that Iraq poses a major threat to world peace and has to be disarmed by the use of military force.

No matter that there was hardly anything by way of evidence to support the claim, the Bush administration was adamant that Iraq possessed what it described as weapons of mass destruction and was a part of "an axis of evil."

The military strikes at Iraq started last Wednesday but the planning has been a long time in the making...yes, even before any resolution was brought before the United Nations Security Council. President Bush, in his State of the Union address last year, couldn't have been any clearer:

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror... The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

What President Bush did that night was to create the link between Iraq and terrorist groups, even as the American public was still traumatised by the events of September 11, 2001.

Full story...

Ministers Ordered to Knife Cook

Tony Blair yesterday ordered senior ministers to nail war rebel Robin Cook.

The PM is furious at Mr Cook's latest attack on the conflict, in which he called for British troops to be pulled out of Iraq.

In an article for our sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, the ex-Foreign Secretary said: "I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war.

"I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed."

Later, Mr Cook appeared to water down his comments, claiming in a Radio 4 interview that he wanted Britain to "see the job through".

He added: "I am not in favour of abandoning the battlefield and that is not my position.

"There can be no question at this stage of letting Saddam off the hook."

But he added Mr Blair should recognise what the consequences of a siege of Baghdad would be.

He warned of a "very serious risk of humanitarian tragedy".

Mr Cook's outspoken remarks, particularly those in the Sunday Mirror, stunned Downing Street and triggered a brutal response.

Full story...


CNN/CIA The Enemy Within

The Masters of Deception

by voxfux

The chilling reality of our time is that our biggest enemies are within.

CNN is one such enemy.

The New World Order crusaders know that it is better to control people and nations with the scientific application of fear and lies rather than the more unpredictable and expensive methodology of bullets and bombs.

So forty years ago, the CIA’s, “Operation Mockingbird,” went into full swing. The goal of the program was simply to control all mechanisms of opinion - the print news, the public opinion polls and the television news media. Their thinking was, if you control what people think, you’ve won the war before it has even begun.

And they have been frighteningly successful at achieving their goal - Since the 1950’s all major news and polling organizations have, to one degree or another, been absorbed into the sphere of control of the intelligence agencies. Now, the hard truth, which is simply too fantastic for most people to believe much less even comprehend in the first place is that the major news media is in actuality, mind controlling, opinion forming, population control mechanisms, and little else.

CNN is such a mind control machine.

CNN Being wholly a government propaganda machine, an organ of the CIA, and indeed as claimed by many in the right as well as left, extraordinarily influenced to the point of near subservience to a Zionist political agenda (more so than any discernible American agenda),

CNN is in charge of faking out the American people and tricking us into thinking there is support for the government, Bush and the war. CNN, Fox and the other government propaganda channels are clear warnings of what these New World Order types have in store for us - lies, war, death, slick 3D graphics, fraudulent polls, fraudulent elections, ominous theme music and dumb newsreaders.

CNN - the masters of the televisual lie.

And so now, the reptilian newsreaders with hairdos and tanning cream at CIA-CNN issue the latest fraudulent poll - 70% of the people support the president. This poll is a lie. It is a fake poll. The polling organizations, Time, Gallop, USA Today, CNN and all the rest of the CIA front companies posing as legitimate news organizations are all controlled by the CIA who themselves answer to the billionaire bankers and industrialists. The function of these fraudulent polls is to get people to conform with what they are tricked into believing that “everyone else” is conforming to. The polls are designed to create your attitudes, not reflect them. It’s called, “push polling,” and it works.

Not in a million years do 70% of the people support the president. People in the big cities have never met anyone who supports this jerk in the White House, yet there is this myth perpetrated by the media that there are these giant pockets of people (presumably hillbillies and rednecks) somewhere (presumably in the “heartland” of America) who are the ones who comprise this overwhelming 70% majority of Bush supporters. But when you look at the map, there just isn’t that many people in the, “hillbilly belt,” to comprise this mythical 70%. And so what does that mean? It means folks that you’re being lied to on a scale you never even imagined possible. That is the biggest scam and biggest secret of today - That there could be such an all encompassing hoax, pulled off right before our eyes - is real. But it is.

The American media is so fraudulent - the communist Chinese or Soviets never dreamed of forcing such preposterous lies down the throats of their people. No Soviet ministry of propaganda ever had the vast resources that the new lie masters have. The Red Chinese never had the prowess to so completely obliterate the truth in real time and retransmit it as utter lies to such a well conditioned and eagerly awaiting obedient sheep-like television viewing audience.

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The Maid and the Ogre

by Israel Shamir

A dreadful monster assaults the city, kills its brave defenders, and advances to devour the citizens. At the last moment, a young maiden demurely walks forward to meet the monster. Her very sight, the sight of feminine innocence, vulnerability, spirituality, certainty of the right cause, stops the ogre in its tracks. The beast suffers her to tie her belt to his mighty neck and walks away, tamed. It is the story of St Genevieve and of other beautiful and virtuous saints; a part and parcel of human heritage, and the subject of many gorgeous tapestries and paintings.

Courageous and noble maidens are still with us. They stopped the US Army trains with soldiers during Vietnam War, and they stopped Russian tanks in Prague 1968 and in Moscow 1991. Drivers of French, Russian, American and German tanks and trains knew: even a monster stops when a girl placidly places herself on his way. It is a biological law that we all are subject to.

Rachel Corrie was murdered by a monster from another tale. This young American girl, an ISM activist, tried to stop with her fragile body a Zionist bulldozer from ruining Palestinian homes. She could not imagine that the driver will look at her and calmly ride his ten-ton steel machine over her body, and back. Nothing in her life prepared her to the encounter with a monster born and bred in the Zionist labs, a monster that is totally alien and hostile to humans. She wrote to her parents: ‘no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it, tank-shell holes in the walls of their homes and the towers of an occupying army surveying the [Palestinian children] constantly from the near horizons’.

Full story...

The Brutal Murder of Rachel Corrie in Words and Pictures

Those who talk crude, think crude

A good politican has grace. Bush and Rumsfeld have none at all

by Roy Hattersley

An occasional light has gone out of my life. I first met Daniel Patrick Moynihan - senator, ambassador, special counsel to one president and assistant secretary of labour to another - back in 1971. And between then and his death last week I doubt if we saw each other more than twice a year. But in his company my spirits always soared. Towards the end of his life - when he had become obsessed with the failings of the "liberal establishment" - I thought of him as the rainmaker. He came to town with obviously bogus theories, but left after making everyone who had met him feel better for his acquaintance. The drift across the political spectrum from left to right was the one thing in his whole life that he did slowly. For most of his uniquely successful political career he behaved with a reckless gaiety which I found irresistible.

Early in my time at the Foreign Office, I sat in the appropriately named waiting room in the State Department impatient to pay court to Henry Kissinger. Every 10 minutes a young man in a mohair suit apologised for the delay. Then Pat Moynihan bounded in and admitted that he had caused my inconvenience. "I am," he said dancing with delight, "the first ambassador ever to receive an official reprimand before the nomination has been approved by the Senate." Moynihan did not share the administration's view on Palestine. The idea of not saying so never entered his head.

Pat Moynihan talked too much, worked too hard and, for part of his life, drank too heavily. He had a theory about everything. The last time we met, he would only talk about the restoration of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue and the relationship between architecture and politics. The subject fascinated him. I went with him to the Plaza Hotel in New York when he unveiled the plaque which designated the building a historic monument. His speech compared its heavy elegance with the "new brutalism of monopoly capitalism" by which it was surrounded.

The Plaza speech caused remarkably little offence. The attribute by which Moynihan won forgiveness for conduct which would have ruined another politician was the quality which Americans call grace. It is a characteristic which is wholly absent from the administration of President George Bush. I suspect that Moynihan was in favour of the war in Iraq. Like so many of John F Kennedy's New Frontiersmen, he was a foreign policy hawk. But, had he been called upon to defend American policy, the world would have been spared the crude brutality of the Donald Rumsfeld approach.

Whatever the subject in which the secretary of defence "majored" when he was a college wrestling champion, it was certainly not subtlety and intellectual sophistication. His lack of grace should not only be a matter of concern to intellectual snobs. Politicians who talk like Rumsfeld think in the same way. And politicians who think like that are dangerous. The result is policy based on the mindless certainty that might is right and that the one remaining superpower is entitled to rule the world.

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Are we witnessing the madness of Tony Blair?

by Matthew Parris

Most of us have experienced the discomfort of watching a friend go off the rails. At first his oddities are dismissed as eccentricities. An absurd assertion, a lunatic conviction, a sudden enthusiasm or unreasonable fear, are explained as perhaps due to tiredness, or stress, or natural volatility. We do not want to face the truth that our friend has cracked up. Finally we can deny it no longer — and then it seems so obvious: the explanation, in retrospect, of so much we struggled to reconcile.

Sometimes the realisation comes fast and suddenly. It did for me at university when my Arab fellow student Ahmed, who for months had been warning me of the conspiracies of which he suspected we might be victims, pulled me into his room to show me the death-ray he could see shining through his window. It was somebody’s porch-light. Likewise, the madness of King George III, which came in spells, was undeniable when it came. At other times the realisation is a slow, sad dawning of the obvious. Sometimes it is a friend about whom we worry. Sometimes it is a prime minister.

I will accept the charge of discourtesy, but not of flippancy, when I ask whether Tony Blair may now have become, in a serious sense of that word, unhinged.

Genius and madness are often allied, and nowhere is this truer than in political leadership. Great leaders need self-belief in unnatural measure. Simple fraudsters are rumbled early, but great leaders share with great confidence tricksters a capacity to be more than persuaded, but inhabited, by their cause. Almost inevitably, an inspirational leader spends important parts of his life certain of the uncertain, convinced of the undemonstrable.

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Sergeant's suicidal act of war has struck fear into Allied hearts

In Baghdad, blood and bandages for the innocent
By Robert Fisk in the Baghdad suburb of Shu'ale

click here to visit his website Sergeant Ali Jaffar Moussa Hamadi al-Nomani was the first Iraqi combatant known to stage a suicide attack. Not even during the uprising against British rule did an Iraqi kill himself to destroy his enemies.

Nomani was also a Shia Muslim – a member of the same sect the Americans faithfully believed to be their secret ally in their invasion of Iraq. Even the Iraqi government initially wondered how to deal with his extraordinary action, caught between its desire to dissociate themselves from an event that might remind the world of Osama bin Laden and its determination to threaten the Americans with more such attacks.

The details of the 50-year-old sergeant's life are few but intriguing. He was a soldier in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and volunteered to fight in the 1991 Gulf War, called the "Mother of All Battles" by President Saddam Hussein, who believes he was the victor. Then, though he was overage for further fighting, Nomani volunteered to fight the Anglo-American invasion. And so it was, without telling his commander and in his own car, he drove into the US Marine checkpoint outside Najaf.

President Saddam awarded him the Military Medal (1st Class) and the "Mother of All Battles" medal. The dead man left five children, a widow and a place in the 2,000-year history of Iraqi resistance to invasions. A US spokesman said that the attack "looks and feels like terrorism", although, since Nomani was attacking an occupation army and his target was a military one, no Arab would ever believe this.

Within hours of his death, Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Iraqi Vice-President, was talking like a Palestinian or Hizbollah leader, emphasising the inequality of arms between the Iraqis and the Americans.

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Wounded British soldiers condemn US 'cowboy' pilot

British soldiers injured when a US "tankbuster" aircraft attacked their convoy, killing one of their comrades, hit out angrily at the "cowboy" pilot today.

Troops wounded in Friday's attack accused the A-10 Thunderbolt pilot of "incompetence and negligence" while others privately called for a manslaughter prosecution.

The comments came as America's most senior military official vowed to make it his quest to stop future "friendly fire" tragedies.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologised for the deadly error by the A-10 in southern Iraq.

He told BBC1's Breakfast With Frost: "It's the absolute saddest tragedy that any of us can experience.

"I don't think we have to live with situations like that, and one of my jobs has to be to ensure that we get the resources and the technical means to ensure that in the future this never, never happens again. And that will be my quest."

But the crews of the two British forward reconnaissance Scimitars which were attacked by the A-10 could not contain their anger.

Lance Corporal of Horse Steven Gerrard, speaking from his bed on the RFA Argus in the Gulf, said: "I can command my vehicle. I can keep it from being attacked. What I have not been trained to do is look over my shoulder to see whether an American is shooting at me."

LCoH Gerrard, the commander of the leading vehicle, described to Patrick Barkham of The Times how the deadly A-10 attack began.

The pilot made two swoops. "I will never forget that noise as long as I live. It is a noise I never want to hear again," he said.

Full story...

Gaby Rado

Am I the only one who thinks that this death smells of something else... One doesn't tend to just fall of buildings spontaneously and Mr Rado did not come across as someone who was about to top himself. Maybe he found something out that certain parties didn't want to have released. Either way it's really dodgy that ITN has lost two journalists in less than a week...

Channel 4 News foreign correspondent who reported with humanity and humility on pivotal moments in world affairs

by Jon Snow

The Channel 4 News foreign affairs specialist Gaby Rado, who has died in Iraq aged 48, was a rare kind of foreign correspondent. From Bosnia to Afghanistan, from Bucharest to Jericho, he brought a dependable, engaged and humane quality to his reports that eschewed the flash or the immodest. Despite witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Ceausescu, and the liberation of Kosovo, he never played the conquering hero. His reports from northern Iraq, his last as recently as Friday, were informative, strong on context, and interspersed with revealing interviews with those who were preparing to people Iraq's developing northern war front.
Rado was born in the Hungarian capital Budapest. By the time he was eight, his parents had fled with him to Britain. Perhaps those troubled beginnings in a country repressed by its Soviet masters informed his fascination with the eastern bloc.

Educated at King's College Wimbledon, he read English at Christ's College, Cambridge. His life as a journalist started on the Kentish Times in 1976.

His career as a TV correspondent was to bring his parents great pride; his mother used to photograph his reports to camera off the TV screen and put the pictures up around her kitchen.

Gaby joined Channel 4 News as a writer in 1985 having learned his TV news trade at the BBC. Within three years he had become a reporter, and found himself almost immediately charged with covering the disintegration of the Berlin Wall. Russia, Yugloslavia, Israel, Afghanistan, and ultimately Iraq followed. Gaby's reporting tracked the new world disorder that chased so hard behind the collapse of communism.

It was while covering post-cold war Russia, as C4 News's Moscow correspondent that he and his first wife Carol suffered the terrible loss, in a swimming accident, of their four-year-old son Nicky, which imbued his journalism with ever greater intensity. For most of the 1990s he reported Yugoslavia's break-up, bringing a particular humanity to his reports, so many of which centred on the suffering of refugees in huge numbers, and the inter-ethnic slaughter which none of our generation had ever seen the like of in Europe before.

Gaby had an extraordinary track record. In March 1993 he was alone in uncovering how all the mosques in the Bosnian town of Bijelina had been dynamited in one night by a Serb paramilitary group. In March 1997 he was the only foreign reporter at the Albanian uprising in the south of the country which led within weeks to the overthrow of the government. And he was among the first correspondents to report the outbreak of war on Afghanistan in 2001.

Full story...

Are Independent Journalists Being 'Executed' By the Bush Administration?
US threatens to eliminate independent war journalists

Once more into the swamp

Saddam learned a lesson in 1991, the U.S. and Britain did not ... now their forces are tied down fighting a guerrilla war in Iraq

by Eric Margolis

The opening weeks of the Second Oil War against Iraq - a.k.a. Operation Iraq Freedom - produced the advertised "shock and awe" all right, but it came in Washington rather than bombarded Baghdad.

The immediate uprisings against Great Satan Saddam, the quick, almost effortless "liberation" of Iraq, and the joyous reception by grateful Iraqis promised by the neo-conservatives who misled America into this increasingly ugly war have been exposed as a farrago of lies or distortions.

Iraqis, quite clearly, do not want to be "liberated" - even many who have long opposed Saddam's brutal regime. To the contrary, the American-British invasion appears to have ignited genuine national resistance among 17 million Arab Iraqis, just as the 1941 German invasion of the USSR rallied Russians and Ukrainians behind Stalin's hated regime.

So far, regular Iraqi army units, militia groups and guerrillas have been delaying and harassing the northward advance of U.S. forces by assaulting their overextended supply lines, then retreating into cities and towns. Any 18th century general worth his snuff would tell you never leave enemy garrisons athwart your communications (supply lines). Napoleon said lines of communications were the most important factor in war, a lesson U.S. forces are painfully relearning in Iraq.

So 100,000 more American troops are being rushed to Iraq, meaning almost half of the U.S. Army will be stuck in Mesopotamia at a time when North Korea is threatening war. And this before U.S. forces have even clashed with Iraq's Republican Guards.

Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted British forces have been forced to lay siege to Basra, Iraq's second city - a "humanitarian" operation he laughably claimed. Some reports claimed that British shelling had destroyed Basra's water and electricity systems. The nasty, bloody urban warfare the Americans and Brits sought to avoid at all costs is now confronting them.

Full story...

Sunday 30 March 2003

Dignity isn't all that Blair may be losing

George Bush has humiliated his most compliant and loyal ally, writes Jonathan Freedland in London.

Tony Blair could still get his Churchill moment. Basra might fall, Baghdad could follow, with the British and Americans finally winning their long-promised tears-and-cheers welcome from grateful Iraqis. Blair would be vindicated as surely as Winston Churchill was 60 years ago.

If that happens, the prime minister will carry all before him. Opponents will be lumped in with the anti-war crowd: nay-sayers who lack the PM's wisdom and vision. For Tony Blair, victory in Iraq will mean victory everywhere.

But this week another scenario emerged. We are not there yet, but in the past few days we have glimpsed an alternative future - one in which this ill-thought out and badly planned war claims the prime ministership of Blair as yet another of its unintended victims.

These first 10 days have disproved two of his core, pre-war arguments: that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and that his people would instantly see foreign invasion as liberation. If, heaven forbid, Baghdad had let loose a chemical warhead or two, it would have confirmed everything Blair and George Bush had said: that Saddam has these vile weapons and is prepared to use them.

But this war has been neither hard enough nor easy enough to prove Blair right: instead it is turning out to be a slog that shows he and the military planners read Iraq wrong.

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US arms trader to run Iraq

Here's what it's all about, Zionism and money. Simple.

Ex-general who will lead reconstruction heads firm behind Patriot missiles

Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee humanitarian relief and reconstruction in postwar Iraq, is president of an arms company that provides crucial technical support to missile systems vital to the US invasion of the country.

Garner's business background is causing serious concerns at the United Nations and among aid agencies, who are already opposed to US administration of Iraq if it comes outside UN authority, and who say appointment of an American linked to the arms trade is the 'worst case scenario' for running the country after the war.

Garner is president of Virginia-based SY Coleman, a subsidiary of defence electronics group L-3 Communications, which provides technical services and advice on the Patriot missile system being used in Iraq. Patriot was made famous in the 1991 Gulf war when it was used to protect Israeli and Saudi targets from attack by Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles. Garner was involved in the system's deployment in Israel.

SY Coleman has also worked on the Arrow missile defence system, deployed in Israel, and is involved in the US national missile defence programme. Garner joined SY Technologies, taken over last year by L-3, in 1997, after leaving the US army.

Defence analyst David Armstrong of the Washington-based National Security News Service says: 'It seems inappropriate for somebody to step into a humanitarian and administrative role from a company with a role in providing equipment which, albeit defensive, is vital to the success of the US operation.'

Phil Bloomer of Oxfam said 'The worst case scenario would be to put in charge of the reconstruction someone from the US or UK linked to the arms or oil industries.'

According to its website, SY Coleman provides technical services such as missile system engineering and target system design for a wide range of US military programmes, and also makes some components. It also provides operational services such as battle management and 'warfighter support'.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it was a Patriot missile that was involved when a British Tornado was hit last week.

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Hundreds Protest BBC's Coverage Of Iraq War

Even Auntie can't hide from the truth... Did you hear this on News24? I haven't....

Hundreds of anti-war demonstrators gathered at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcasting complex, 4.8km west of their traditional protest ground in Hyde Park, to voice dissatisfaction against the BBC's biased reports on the war in Iraq.

The protesters arrived from different rallying points in London just after 2pm Saturday, chanting "BBC, Tony Blair...How many lies did you tell today?"

Their leaders shouted through the megaphones about a number of events recently reported by the BBC but subsequently dismissed as unsubstantiated -- among them the fall of Um Qasr, columns of Republican guards moving south and the discovery of a chemical weapons centre.

The number converging on the BBC's central complex in the suburb of White City was nowhere near the normal turn-out at recent anti-war rallies here.

But the placard-carrying protesters represented the usual cross-section of ordinary men and women, school children, and the increasingly vociferous Muslim community.

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Thank you, President Bush

Leading Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho gives praise to President Bush for the wisdom of his leadership which has united the world in opposition.

Thank you, great leader George W. Bush.

Thank you for showing everyone what a danger Saddam Hussein represents. Many of us might otherwise have forgotten that he had used chemical weapons against his own people, against the Kurds and against the Iranians. Hussein is a bloodthirsty dictator and one of the clearest expressions of evil in today's world.

But this is not my only reason for thanking you. During the first months of 2003, you have shown the world a great many other important things and, therefore, deserve my gratitude.

So, remembering a poem I learned as a child, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for showing everyone that the Turkish people and their Parliament are not for sale, not even for 26 billion dollars.

Thank you for revealing to the world the gulf that exists between the decisions made by those in power and the wishes of the people. Thank you for making it clear that neither Jos¿ Mar¿a Aznar nor Tony Blair give the slightest weight to or show the slightest respect for the votes they received. Aznar is perfectly capable of ignoring the fact that 90% of Spaniards are against the war, and Blair is unmoved by the largest public demonstration to take place in England in the last thirty years.

Thank you for making it necessary for Tony Blair to go to the British Parliament with a fabricated dossier written by a student ten years ago, and present this as 'damning evidence collected by the British Secret Service'.

Thank you for allowing Colin Powell to make a complete fool of himself by showing the UN Security Council photos which, one week later, were publicly challenged by Hans Blix, the Inspector responsible for disarming Iraq.

Thank you for adopting your current position and thus ensuring that, at the plenary session, the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin's anti-war speech was greeted with applause - something, as far as I know, that has only happened once before in the history of the UN, following a speech by Nelson Mandela.

Thank you too, because, after all your efforts to promote war, the normally divided Arab nations, at their meeting in Cairo during the last week in February, were, for the first time, unanimous in their condemnation of any invasion.

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In Baghdad, blood and bandages for the innocent

By Robert Fisk in the Baghdad suburb of Shu'ale

click here to visit his website The piece of metal is only a foot high, but the numbers on it hold the clue to the latest atrocity in Baghdad.

At least 62 civilians had died by yesterday afternoon, and the coding on that hunk of metal contains the identity of the culprit. The Americans and British were doing their best yesterday to suggest that an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile destroyed those dozens of lives, adding that they were "still investigating" the carnage. But the coding is in Western style, not in Arabic. And many of the survivors heard the plane.

In the Al-Noor hospital yesterday morning, there were appalling scenes of pain and suffering. A two-year-old girl, Saida Jaffar, swaddled in bandages, a tube into her nose, another into her stomach. All I could see of her was her forehead, two small eyes and a chin. Beside her, blood and flies covered a heap of old bandages and swabs. Not far away, lying on a dirty bed, was three-year-old Mohamed Amaid, his face, stomach, hands and feet all tied tightly in bandages. A great black mass of congealed blood lay at the bottom of his bed.

This is a hospital without computers, with only the most primitive of X-ray machines. But the missile was guided by computers and that vital shard of fuselage was computer-coded. It can be easily verified and checked by the Americans – if they choose to do so. It reads: 30003-704ASB 7492. The letter "B" is scratched and could be an "H". This is believed to be the serial number. It is followed by a further code which arms manufacturers usually refer to as the weapon's "Lot" number. It reads: MFR 96214 09.

The piece of metal bearing the codings was retrieved only minutes after the missile exploded on Friday evening, by an old man whose home is only 100 yards from the 6ft crater. Even the Iraqi authorities do not know that it exists. The missile sprayed hunks of metal through the crowds – mainly women and children – and through the cheap brick walls of local homes, amputating limbs and heads. Three brothers, the eldest 21 and the youngest 12, for example, were cut down inside the living room of their brick hut on the main road opposite the market. Two doors away, two sisters were killed in an identical manner. "We have never seen anything like these wounds before," Dr Ahmed, an anaesthetist at the Al-Noor hospital told me later. "These people have been punctured by dozens of bits of metal." He was right. One old man I visited in a hospital ward had 24 holes in the back of his legs and buttocks, some as big as pound coins. An X-ray photograph handed to me by one of his doctors clearly showed at least 35 slivers of metal still embedded in his body

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A Harder Road to Victory

The worst nightmare is coming true.

The war to get rid of Saddam Hussein is dragging on with no prospect of an early end.

Casualties of both troops and civilians are mounting.

The push to Baghdad has become bogged down. And when the Allies reach it, they must not only face the Republican Guard but almost certainly fighting street-by-street. With no idea where Saddam is.

Yesterday there was the first suicide bombing, which killed several American soldiers. While across the Arab world anger is reaching fever pitch against the USA and Britain.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. US defence chief Donald Rumsfeld - and the British Cabinet, as Robin Cook reveals today - were convinced it would be over quickly.

Even Mr Rumsfeld and President Bush must by now realise what a grotesque miscalculation they made.

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Bring Our Lads Home

Let's send Rumsfeld and his hawks to war instead

by Robin Cook

This was meant to be a quick, easy war. Shortly before I resigned a Cabinet colleague told me not to worry about the political fall-out.

The war would be finished long before polling day for the May local elections.

I just hope those who expected a quick victory are proved right. I have already had my fill of this bloody and unnecessary war. I want our troops home and I want them home before more of them are killed.

It is OK for Bush to say the war will go on for as long as it takes. He is sitting pretty in the comfort of Camp David protected by scores of security men to keep him safe.

It is easy to show you are resolute when you are not one of the poor guys stuck in a sandstorm peering around for snipers.

This week British forces have shown bravery under attack and determination in atrocious weather conditions. They are too disciplined to say it, but they must have asked each other how British forces ended up exposed by the mistakes of US politicians.

We were told the Iraqi army would be so joyful to be attacked that it would not fight. A close colleague of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld predicted the march to Baghdad would be "a cakewalk".

Full story...

Saturday 29 March 2003

Bilderberg To Meet In Versailles

If we're all conspiracy "kooks" and the world leaders are all Saints, why the hell is Bilderberg secret? If what they discuss is so mundane then surely there shouldn't be any problem discussing it openly... If it looks like a Cabal, and it smells like a Cabal, and it acts like a Cabal - then calling it an innocent "meeting" just ain't gonna cut it. Especially not with people like Henry Kissinger on the steering committee.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The world’s financial and political elite plan to hold their annual secret meeting at a posh French resort near the Palace of Versailles.

Bilderberg will hold its annual secret meeting at the luxurious Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles, France May 15-18. The meeting dovetails with the Group of Seven meeting of finance ministers in Paris the day after Bilderberg concludes, on May 19 in Paris. Paris is only a 20-minute drive from Versailles.

International financiers and political leaders from Europe and North America will be conducting public business behind closed doors at the palatial resort. Banker David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger and high officials of the government and congressional leaders will participate, all pledging absolute secrecy.

Members of the Rothschild family from Europe and Britain will attend, along with high government officials.

Jim Hoagland will attend for the Washington Post and keep his pledge of secrecy. Publisher Donald Graham normally attends although he missed last year’s session in Chantilly, Va. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and NBC, CBS and ABC have also been represented at Bilderberg meetings, binding themselves to a promise of secrecy.

Taxpayers will pay the travel cost for U.S. officials and lawmakers. It is against federal law for administration officials to hold secret meetings with non-officials to plan public policy. American officials will again ignore this law.

Central to the agenda will be planning post-war Iraq. France and Germany had extensive business relationships with pre-war Iraq and opposed the U.S. invasion. But what to do with Iraq’s oil will be debated.

Full story...

Does the West understand how this hated war is altering the Arab world?

Al-Jazeera has changed everything - the agenda is no longer dominated by Western news outlets or state-controlled media

by Fergal Keane

This is the incoherent account of an incoherent week. It started in Ruwayshid, in Jordan, near the Iraqi border. It continued amid the hundreds of reporters imprisoned in the luxury hotels of Amman and ended up here in Cairo. I've just come from a huge demonstration against the war. It took place after Friday prayers at the Al-Azhar mosque.

So the voices of my week have a competing music: the anger of the Arab street and the whingeing of the correspondents forced to follow the war on cable television. If there is a pattern, it is one familiar to all who report on war and its consequences. Long, long periods of tedium and waiting, interspersed with short bursts of frantic activity. So regard the following as the snapshots of life on the war's edge.

We are close to it but we do not feel the bombs trembling the ground or the cries of the wounded. It is a strange feeling. I sense that all around me a new history is being written, wrenched from the hearts of people across this region. But try to capture it on film and you falter. Yes there are the crowds with their banners, the cries of "Death to America" and "Down with Bush and Blair". But the story we cannot reach is happening as a kind of internal, very personal revolution. I caught a glimpse of it at the Abu Sayef café in Ruwayshid. It was the first night of Donald Rumsfeld's "shock and awe". Baghdad was being bombed and Al-Jazeera was carrying the spectacle live. The bombing began in the time it took us to drive from our house on the outskirts of town to the café.

The Abu Sayef is usually a relentlessly cheerful spot. The owners are classic border traders. They know exactly who is in town and why. They listen a lot and – when the mood takes them – they reveal a little. So if you want to know who has just crossed from Iraq today, or who is heading back up the road, the Abu Sayef is the place to be. Drink tea or very sweet coffee and be patient. Some useful nugget of intelligence will usually come your way.

The taxi drivers who ply the main Amman-Baghdad use it as their last watering hole before the border. When we walked in last Wednesday night the place was packed. Locals, drivers and foreign journalists stood crowded around the big television set near the charcoal grill. The missiles were pounding official buildings five hours up the road. I don't know if Al-Jazeera pointed out what was being hit, but the locals weren't impressed. They saw flames and smoke and heard the powerful detonations. They were, literally, rendered speechless by the effect.

I looked around me and saw several of the Jordanian men with tears in their eyes. One of them, a man I'd been talking football with the day before, took me by the arm. He spoke quietly, without malice: "Why are your governments doing this to us? Why?" I did my journalistic best to occupy the middle ground. I tried to explain how the war was seen in official circles in London and Washington, but there wasn't any point. It was time to just listen, to let the man have his say.

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Pedophiles Exploit the Besieged Children of Basra

I really don't know what to make of Joe sometimes, his reports make it sound like he's got some sort of shady background and although his analysis is often thoght-provoking I'm never sure how much of it to believe. He seems to take a keen interest in matters relating to rape and stuff in the military, don't forget it was him that brought us the alternative theory surrounding the deaths of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Anyway, make your own mind up about it, this is what freedom of speech is all about. I usually post new stuff from Joe as a matter of course... If anyone has more information about him please do send it to me...

by Joe Vialls

American media lure young Iraqi children out of the city with Food and candy already paid for by the Government of Iraq

The term “Pedophilia” is normally used to indicate the direct sexual abuse of an innocent child, but in reality has a far wider interpretation. Pedophilia means the intentional exploitation and/or abuse of an innocent child or children, for any reason that is detrimental to their individual or collective physical or mental health.

Though direct sexual abuse is obviously a traumatic and criminal act, it is certainly no more traumatic and no less criminal than deliberately luring children away from their mothers and fathers, in order to provide propaganda images for the American public of “grateful” Iraqi children accepting “gifts” from hordes of heavily-armed invading mercenaries.

This nightmare scenario outside the City of Basra turns to pure obscenity when you realize that the stage was set months earlier by the American Administration, which used its muscle to illegally “suspend” the United Nations Iraq “Oil for Food and Medicine” program. As will be explained later, the “grateful” Iraqi children already owned the food “gifts” handed over by the invading mercenaries, which had been purchased in advance by the Government of Iraq, but deliberately blocked by America at their points of entry into Iraq.

While this forward intervention proves a deliberate premeditated [and predictable] intent on the part of the US Administration to “starve out” the Iraqi population in the manner of a Middle Age siege, it also bears the unmistakable signature of the babbling shrinks and psychs at the Department of Psychological Warfare.

Among other things, this department studies and develops specialist cross-cultural strategies designed to psychologically undermine any targeted ethnic or religious group, at home or abroad. Where Arab, and in particular Arab-Muslim groups are concerned, one of the easiest psychological buttons to press is that which diminishes the head of the family, i.e. the father, in the eyes of his wife and children.

The American 82nd Airborne recently provided several crude examples of this button being pressed while on duty in Afghanistan. In their politically driven witch-hunt for “terrorists”, these men entered small houses in all of the villages they encountered, then “patted down” the father for weapons at gunpoint. After that, while still holding the father at gunpoint, the soldiers patted down his wife and children. Because the father was physically unable to defend his family against this unthinkable assault by the infidels, he was shamed for eternity, or at least until he can track down the offending American soldiers and kill them personally. His family honor depends on it.

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Iraqi War Disinformation And Myths Dropping Like Flies

The Uprising That Wasn't, Mythical Chemical Weapons and Other 'Breaking News'

The real war pauses occasionally. The information war goes on 24 hours a day. Every opportunity, every scrap of information, has been deployed to reassure British and American public opinion that the war is being won, and won painlessly.

Rumours and half-truths have been seized on and presented as facts with enormous propaganda power. As the tide of war, and of information, moves on, to recall what was true and what was not has often been difficult.

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Protesters continue march against war

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the world have today once again taken to the streets to protest against the war in Iraq.

In Greece thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Athens chanting "we'll stop the war" and splashing red paint on the front windows of a McDonalds restaurant. The crowd of some 15,000 protesters then marched to the US embassy.

Authorities have tightened security at potential targets in the Greek capital after a spate of arson attacks against US banks and other businesses since the war began.

In the southern German city of Stuttgart thousands of demonstrators encircled the US military's European Command, linking hands in a human chain amid a new round of nationwide protests against the war in Iraq.

About 6,000 people formed a three-mile chain around the facility's perimeter, which stayed in place for five minutes. They were watched over by several hundred police officers, but no incidents were reported.

Meanwhile in Cape Town, South Africa, thousands of anti-war protesters chanting slogans and burning American flags demanded US, British and Spanish ambassadors be expelled from the country.

Lawmakers, activists, trade union members and religious groups joined the march of more than 10,000 protesters to the US Consulate, the South African Press Association reported.

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Even if he wins the war, Blair has been humiliated

It may not be time to write the PM's obituary, but he has had a truly disastrous week

by Jonathan Freedland

Tony Blair could still get his Churchill moment. Basra might fall, Baghdad could follow, with the British and Americans finally winning their long-promised tears-and-cheers welcome from a grateful Iraqi nation - and Blair would be vindicated as surely as Winston Churchill was six decades ago.

If that happens, the prime minister will carry all before him. "The doom-mongers got it wrong once again," he will say, allowing himself a wry smile. "They lost heart because the first days of war were difficult; they forgot that Kosovo and Afghanistan had their dark days too. But we stuck with it and we were proved right." Any doubters on future plans - domestic or foreign - will be swept aside. Opponents will be lumped in with the anti-war crowd: naysayers who lack the PM's wisdom and vision. For Tony Blair, victory in Iraq will mean victory everywhere.

But this week another scenario hoved into view. We are not there yet, not by any means, but in the past few days we have glimpsed an alternative future - one in which this ill-thought out and badly planned war claims the prime ministership of Tony Blair as yet another of its unintended victims.

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Blair's Massive Blunder

by Paul Routledge

The families of Sapper Luke Allsopp and Staff Sgt Simon Cullingworth have not only lost their loved ones.

They have learned a cruel lesson in reality from this dreadful war: Tony Blair will lie when it suits him.

Without any corroborating evidence, the Prime Minister announced that these brave soldiers had been "executed" by Saddam Hussein's troops.

This was hard to bear for the families. It suggested they had been murdered Mafia-style, rather than falling in battle.

Every soldier's relatives know they run mortal risks. They do so in the best traditions of the British military. Loss of life in war is inevitable.

So when the men's colonel in 33 Engineer regiment told them Luke and Simon died in combat while sweeping for mines they were naturally furious with the Government.

How can Tony Blair sink so low as to make political capital out of their deaths, parading on a platform at Camp David with George Dubya Bush?

It is one thing to lie, as the Prime Minister does routinely, about the rough and tumble of politics. Crime figures. Hospital waiting lists. The numbers of asylum seekers.

Such fibs are a staple diet of of public life. They rarely impact on ordinary people trying to get on with their lives.

This is different. These are close family. They have suffered a grievous loss. Blair gets on his hind legs in Parliament to convey his condolences to the bereaved.

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Allied Generals Draw Up New Battle Plan

Rumsfeld tactics fail as chief admits: 'This is not what we war-gamed for'

It has all begun to go horribly wrong for Donald Rumsfeld. The White House's No1 hawk dreamed of a swift, hi-tech precision war. Smart bombs and Special Forces would triumphantly sweep all before them.

Basra would revolt, Baghdad would follow. Saddam would be his. But, nine days in, it hasn't quite turned out like that.

And yesterday, as US Defence chief Donald Rumsfeld's grand design for a quick victory lay in tatters, the coalition's top brass were frantically redrawing battle plans. The rethink came as the US army's most senior ground commander admitted they had underestimated Iraqi tactics and the fierce levels of resistance.

Lt General William Wallace said: "The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against, because of the paramilitary forces.

"We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight."

General Wallace, head of US 5th Corps, said he was aware of pressure for a quick victory, but admitted it will take longer than planned.

He said: "We've got to take this pause. We're still fighting the enemy every night. We're doing things to keep him operating at a higher tempo than the one we're at."

The general confessed he was stunned by Iraqi tactics.

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Bombing of phone system another little degradation

by Robert Fisk

click here to visit his website It's difficult to weep about a telephone exchange. True, the destruction of the local phone system in Baghdad is a miserable experience for tens of thousands of Iraqi families who want to keep in contact with their relatives during the long dark hours of bombing. But the shattered exchanges and umbilical wires and broken concrete of the Mimoun International Communications Centre scarcely equals the exposed bones and intestines and torn flesh of the civilian wounded of Baghdad.

The point, of course, is that it represents another of those little degradations which we (as in "we, the West") routinely undertake when things aren't going our way in a war. Obviously, "we" hoped it wouldn't come to this. The Anglo-American armies wanted to maintain the infrastructure of Baghdad for themselves – after they had "liberated" the city under a hail of roses from its rejoicing people – because they would need working phone lines on their arrival.

But after a night of massive explosions across the city, dawn yesterday brought the realisation that communications had been sacrificed. The huge Rashid telecommunications centre was struck by a cruise missile which penetrated the basement of the building. The exchange in Karada, where Baghdadis pay their phone bills, was ripped open. No more. Because "we" have decided to destroy the phones and all those "command and control" systems that may be included, dual use, into the network.

So yesterday, most Baghdadis had to drive across town to see each other; there was more traffic on the roads than at any time since the start of the war. Down, too, went Baghdad's internet system. Iraqi television, a pale shadow of itself since the Americans bombed the studios on Wednesday night, can be watched only between an increasing number of power cuts.

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BBC complains of Pentagon lies

The BBC has become so concerned at false and misleading information being put out on the war against Iraq that it has stressed to its journalists that they must clearly attribute military sources.

According to the Guardian, BBC news chiefs met to discuss the problem after the broadcaster carried several reports later shown to be inaccurate. The misleading reports were all favourable to the US/UK forces and so their exposure has undermined the BBC’s claims to be providing unbiased coverage.

On Sunday March 23, British military sources claimed to have taken the port of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq. Three days later, they were still fighting to quell resistance.

The BBC then ran headlines with reports of the discovering of a chemical weapons factory in An Najaf, which was later dropped.

On Tuesday, March 25, the British news was filled with reports of an uprising under way in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city. Claims of the “popular uprising” were first made by British military forces, but were later found to be untrue.

On Wednesday, March 26, the British military were cited reporting that “up to 120 tanks” were leaving Basra. The convoy was later found to be just three-strong.

Numerous other examples can be cited, including the continuous downplaying of the extent of popular opposition to the US/UK invasion and the particularly cynical claim that the Iraqi regime was responsible for the missile attack on a Baghdad market that killed 17 civilians.

A BBC spokeswoman confirmed that a meeting had been held to discuss recent events.

Full story...

Friday 28 March 2003

Conflict sapping forces' morale

Here on the frontline this conflict is taking its toll on morale.

I can see the signs in the US marines I am with outside Nasiriyah.

Quite a few of the troops have said to me that this isn't what they were expecting.

They have had a tiring week of guerrilla-style fighting and it continues.

They are frustrated that their political masters gave the American public the impression that it would be easier than it's turned out to be.

But, also that they should have given them more expectation about Iraqi resistance like this.

They don't want to admit they can't deal with it, but I think there is definitely a sense that it is not the kind of fighting that they were really trained for.

One Marine told me: "I've had enough of being fired at from all directions, I just want to go home".

I thought it quite a surprising thing to say.

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Coalition may use WMD

Iraq's information minister said Friday that coalition forces -- not Iraqis -- might resort to weapons of mass destruction out of frustration and defeat.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf disputed U.S. reports that Iraq might be planning to use chemical weapons or nerve agents because U.S. forces found 3,000 chemical protective suits and nerve agent antidote injectors.

"The Iraqi soldier is prepared and supplied with the latest including a gas mask," he said. "[The U.S. knows] that soldiers in war should be prepared for any situation that might arise ... and the masks are part of this."

Al-Sahaf said U.S. forces could use weapons of mass destruction "because of frustrations and their defeat and the resistance that will increase day by day."

Britain's Defense Ministry denied al-Sahaf's claim. "We have enough conventional weapons in theater but even if the going got tough we'd never make first use of weapons of mass destruction," a spokesman told CNN.

"We've said before that if Iraq made first use of weapons of mass destruction we'd consider using them too. We don't have them in theater at the moment but we could get them there pretty quickly."

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Wake-up call

A re-post from September 2002, very relevant though...

If the US and Iraq do go to war, there can only be one winner, can't there? Maybe not. This summer, in a huge rehearsal of just such a conflict - and with retired Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper playing Saddam - the US lost.

At the height of the summer, as talk of invading Iraq built in Washington like a dark, billowing storm, the US armed forces staged a rehearsal using over 13,000 troops, countless computers and $250m. Officially, America won and a rogue state was liberated from an evil dictator.

What really happened is quite another story, one that has set alarm bells ringing throughout America's defence establishment and raised questions over the US military's readiness for an Iraqi invasion. In fact, this war game was won by Saddam Hussein, or at least by the retired marine playing the Iraqi dictator's part, Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper.

In the first few days of the exercise, using surprise and unorthodox tactics, the wily 64-year-old Vietnam veteran sank most of the US expeditionary fleet in the Persian Gulf, bringing the US assault to a halt.

What happened next will be familiar to anyone who ever played soldiers in the playground. Faced with an abrupt and embarrassing end to the most expensive and sophisticated military exercise in US history, the Pentagon top brass simply pretended the whole thing had not happened. They ordered their dead troops back to life and "refloated" the sunken fleet. Then they instructed the enemy forces to look the other way as their marines performed amphibious landings. Eventually, Van Riper got so fed up with all this cheating that he refused to play any more. Instead, he sat on the sidelines making abrasive remarks until the three-week war game - grandiosely entitled Millennium Challenge - staggered to a star-spangled conclusion on August 15, with a US "victory".

If the Pentagon thought it could keep its mishap quiet, it underestimated Van Riper. A classic marine - straight-talking and fearless, with a purple heart from Vietnam to prove it - his retirement means he no longer has to put up with the bureaucratic niceties of the defence department. So he blew the whistle.

His driving concern, he tells the Guardian, is that when the real fighting starts, American troops will be sent into battle with a set of half-baked tactics that have not been put to the test.

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What Is Really Happening In Iraq?

The Americans and their faithful allies, the British, are committing war crimes, attacking a sovereign state outside the auspices of the UNO. Since there have been civilian casualties, these are war crimes by definition.

But aren't they helping the people by freeing Iraq? Freeing Iraq, under whose authority? How do you explain the fact that the Shi'ite south, which was supposed to welcome the "liberators" with open arms, has not risen up against the regime?

They're too frightened.

That is not the impression the TV crews are getting. They started by interviewing people in ths streets, asking them what they thought of Saddam Hussein. Every one of them said "Good, Saddam Good!" or "Saddam like God" or some such. The reporters started to say that in a dictatorship everyone was forced to say that but then they stopped making the interviews because everyone was saying the same thing.

But that was in Baghdad.

No, it was in the Shi'ite south, you know, those guys who are supposed to hate Saddam. Further north the support for him is just the same.

But the Americans want to give them a democracy.

What if they don't want a democracy based on the western model ? Look at the map, read it. How many countries in that area have western-style democracies? If there was a free election today, Saddam Hussein would be elected, if he's alive.

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Will The Iraq War Spark World War III?

World War III, which has been described as a war on terror, has turned into a war on countries that are trying to assert their independence on the international scene, from Afghanistan to Iraq. This war also turned into an effort to reshape the Middle East in a way that serves America's interests, and this involves ousting regimes which roles have ended, thus creating a world division that will consume the American victory over Saddam Hussein's regime and creates fallouts that already began to appear on the horizon of international relations.

The conservative U.S. administration will not be able to absorb the negative consequences of the Iraq war, as well as those of the war on Palestine, unless American troops withdraw after installing a provisional government with the mission of holding democratic elections. Moreover, the UN should be entrusted with handling the Iraqi situation, and must be supported to implement its resolutions throughout the Middle East, which involves creating a Palestinian state and ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as removing weapons of mass destruction from the entire region.

Arab readings of the American efforts vary. Some support it and regard it as a savior from tyrannical regimes, while others see it as a form of imperialism seeking to assert America's own interests. The problem with the latter perception is that it is fiery and fails to provide a rational vision for the conditions of war and peace.

On the other hand, should the imperialistic trend prevail, we will witness a proliferation of civil wars and increased turmoil, after the main American interests, mainly the oil, have been protected, prompting the war to spread to other countries. Such state of affairs will bring about a new Sykes-Picot agreement, partitioning the Arab countries into 'mini-states,' starting with Iraq, which would be divided along ethnic and sectarian grounds.

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Grief of fiancé as her hero is killed

Why isn't Blair on the front-line? Why aren't Bush, or Cheney or Rumsfeld or any of their kids on the front-line? Because they expect everyone else to die for them, typical really. Words cannot express how much sympathy I feel for Ms. Williams, I know how it feels to loose someone you love and it's unbelievably hard. That's why words also cannot express the loathing and pure contempt I feel for Bush and Blair. They are evil, corrupt, cowards who hide behind their military because their view of the world is so warped and narrow that they just don't seem to care that real people are dying. Lives are being destroyed just so those bastards can get rich. They use the loyalty of troops to further their nefarious ends and this condemns them to hell, I hope they sleep well at night.

Bride-to-be Rebecca Williams was planning her wedding when she learned her fiancé, Llandudno soldier Llywelyn Evans, had died in the Kuwaiti desert.

They had arranged a mortgage, bought their first home, started decorating and even chosen new furniture.

The plan was for 24-year-old "Welly" to leave the army next year and settle down with the girl he had courted since he was a teenager.

Then army officials informed his family in Conwy Road, Llandudno, that their son had died when a helicopter carrying 12 British and American servicemen crashed last week south of the Kuwait border.

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Bombs Pound Baghdad, Iraqis Still Defiant

Bombs and missiles crashed into Baghdad again on Friday as the United States kept up a relentless bombardment, but a defiant Iraq promised "living hell" for the Americans and their British allies.

U.S. and British leaders told their people the war to topple President Saddam Hussein would be won whatever the difficulties, but acknowledged it might take time.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said overnight raids on the capital had killed seven civilians and wounded 92. He accused U.S. forces of bombing the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Najaf, killing 26 civilians and wounding 60.

Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed said on Thursday U.S. and British forces might encircle Baghdad in five to 10 days. "But they have to come into the city eventually...God willing, Baghdad will be impregnable," he declared.

A U.S. officer said earlier that U.S. forces had battled around 1,500 Iraqis overnight near Najaf, 100 miles south of the capital, but had no word on casualties.

Reuters reporter Luke Baker, near Najaf, said U.S. forces had used tanks and heavy artillery. "The battle raged for a few hours. It finished about 3 a.m. (7 p.m. EST Thursday)," Baker said.

Sahaf said Iraqi forces had destroyed 33 tanks and armored vehicles and killed four invaders in the area on Thursday.

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Al-Jazeera tells the truth about war

My station is a threat to American media control - and they know it

by Faisal Bodi

Last month, when it became clear that the US-led drive to war was irreversible, I - like many other British journalists - relocated to Qatar for a ringside seat. But I am an Islamist journalist, so while the others bedded down at the £1m media centre at US central command in As-Sayliyah, I found a more humble berth in the capital Doha, working for the internet arm of al-Jazeera.

And yet, only a week into the war, I find myself working for the most sought-after news resource in the world. On March 23, the night the channel screened the first footage of captured US PoW's, al-Jazeera was the most searched item on the internet portal, Lycos, registering three times as many hits as the next item.

I do not mean to brag - people are turning to us simply because the western media coverage has been so poor. For although Doha is just a 15-minute drive from central command, the view of events from here could not be more different. Of all the major global networks, al-Jazeera has been alone in proceeding from the premise that this war should be viewed as an illegal enterprise. It has broadcast the horror of the bombing campaign, the blown-out brains, the blood-spattered pavements, the screaming infants and the corpses. Its team of on-the-ground, unembedded correspondents has provided a corrective to the official line that the campaign is, barring occasional resistance, going to plan.

Last Tuesday, while western channels were celebrating a Basra "uprising" which none of them could have witnessed since they don't have reporters in the city, our correspondent in the Sheraton there returned a rather flat verdict of "uneventful" - a view confirmed shortly afterwards by a spokesman for the opposition Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. By reporting propaganda as fact, the mainstream media had simply mirrored the Blair/Bush fantasy that the people who have been starved by UN sanctions and deformed by depleted uranium since 1991 will greet them as saviours.

Only hours before the Basra non-event, one of Iraq's most esteemed Shia authorities, Ayatollah Sistani, had dented coalition hopes of a southern uprising by reiterating a fatwa calling on all Muslims to resist the US-led forces. This real, and highly significant, event went unreported in the west.

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Al Jazeera TV wins award for battling censorship

Raw, devastating realities that expose the truth about Basra

by Robert Fisk

click here to visit his website Two British soldiers lie dead on a Basra roadway, a small Iraqi girl – victim of an Anglo American air strike – is brought to hospital with her intestines spilling out of her stomach, a terribly wounded woman screams in agony as doctors try to take off her black dress.

An Iraqi general, surrounded by hundreds of his armed troops, stands in central Basra and announces that Iraq's second city remains firmly in Iraqi hands. The unedited al-Jazeera videotape – filmed over the past 36 hours and newly arrived in Baghdad – is raw, painful, devastating.

It is also proof that Basra – reportedly "captured'' and "secured'' by British troops last week – is indeed under the control of Saddam Hussein's forces. Despite claims by British officers that some form of uprising has broken out in Basra, cars and buses continue to move through the streets while Iraqis queue patiently for gas bottles as they are unloaded from a government truck.

A remarkable part of the tape shows fireballs blooming over western Basra and the explosion of incoming – and presumably British – shells. The short sequence of the dead British soldiers – over which Tony Blair voiced such horror yesterday – is little different from dozens of similar clips of dead Iraqi soldiers shown on British television over the past 12 years, pictures which never drew any condemnation from the Prime Minister.

The two Britons, still in uniform, are lying on a roadway, arms and legs apart, one of them apparently hit in the head, the other shot in the chest and abdomen.

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Thursday 27 March 2003

Iraq war: suspected war criminal at the side of Bush?

A criminal here, an idiot there, and soon you're talking about a real US administration...

The poison gas attack carried out in the northern Iraqi city of Halabja which killed several thousand Kurdish civilians in March 1988 has been continually used by US president Bush and other leading representatives of the American government to justify a change of government in Iraq. There is now extensive evidence that the person responsible for this atrocity is actively participating in the current war against Iraq—and he is fighting on the side of the US.

Nizar Al-Khazraji, was the head of the Iraqi army between 1987 and 1990. On Sunday March 16, he disappeared from Denmark where he had been living in exile for the past four years. According to reports in the Danish newspaper BT, he was picked up close to his home by CIA agents, transported to the German city of Hamburg, and then flown in a military plane to Saudi Arabia. All of this is alleged to have taken place with his agreement.

Last weekend the Washington Post reported Iraqi exile sources as saying that Al-Khazraji was now in Qatar, the operational headquarters of US Central Command, along with another former Iraqi general, Najib Sahli. Sahli is also the subject of a war crime investigation in Denmark over the use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. They are both thought to be imparting their knowledge of the Iraqi army to the US military.

Al-Khazraji was being held under house arrest in Denmark and investigated for his role in war crimes. He has been accused of ordering the poison gas attack on Halabja and also being responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds. Al-Khazraji denies the charges but there is no doubt that he was the commanding officer of Iraqi forces during a period of intense Iraqi military action against the Kurds.

He fell into disfavour in Iraq and left the country in 1995 . Four years later he moved to Denmark which refused to agree on terms of political exile but at the same time tolerated his presence in the country under circumstances where it was evident he could not be sent back to Iraq.

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Former Pentagon official Richard Perle resigns as key Rumsfeld adviser

What does he care, he's got his war...

Richard Perle, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official, resigned Thursday as chairman of the Defense Policy Board that is a key advisory arm for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In a brief written statement, Rumsfeld thanked Perle for his service and made no mention of why Perle resigned. He said he had asked Perle to remain as a member of the board.

"He has been an excellent chairman and has led the Defense Policy Board during an important time in our history," Rumsfeld said. "I should add that I have known Richard Perle for many years and know him to be a man of integrity and honor."

Perle was an assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. He took the advisory board chairman's post early in Rumsfeld's tenure.

Perle became embroiled in a recent controversy stemming from a New Yorker magazine article that said he had lunch in January with controversial Saudi-born businessman Adnan Khashoggi and a Saudi industrialist.

The industrialist, Harb Saleh Zuhair, was interested in investing in a venture capital firm, Trireme Partners, of which Perle is a managing partner. Nothing ever came of the lunch in Marseilles; no investment was made. But the New Yorker story, written by Seymour M. Hersh, suggested that Perle, a longtime critic of the Saudi regime, was inappropriately mixing business and politics.

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Wave of fury sweeps Middle East

Fuelled by graphic television pictures of wounded Iraqi civilians and text messages on mobile phones, a tidal wave of fury against Britain and America is sweeping the Arab world.

In Jordan, traditionally the most moderate and tolerant of Arab countries, people are leaving work early and paying obsessive attention to al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite channel.

Its coverage of civilian casualties inflicted by the air raids on Baghdad has struck a particular chord. Pictures shown on Tuesday night of a wounded child have made an indelible impact.

"The whole British and American aggression against Iraq is evil, but the thing I can't get out of my head is the picture of the little boy who died in Baghdad," said Khalid Ramadan, 48, an engineer in the Jordanian capital, Amman. "The picture of that child resembles the bloody hands of Bush and Blair."

Newspapers are echoing these sentiments across the Arab world. The Algerian daily, el-Kha, said young men were rushing to volunteer to defend Iraq. Beside a front-page picture of Saddam Hussein, el-Kha carried the headline: "The American and British forces become bogged down in Iraq."

Technology has fuelled the passage of emotive messages about Iraq's plight. In Jordan, text messages are being constantly transmitted. In the space of yesterday morning alone, one Jordanian journalist received three messages.

One sent under the name "Baghdad" read: "I don't ask you for bread or guns. I only ask for your grief, because I am burning."

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