Saturday, May 22, 2004

Kindegarten in Alwiyah Summer 1953. Do you recognise yourself or a member of your family? Post a comment.  Posted by Hello

Friday, May 21, 2004

Abu Ghraib > the wider context (2) 

A selection of other people's thoughts on this running sore.

(1) The Village Voice

Behind Abu Ghraib, an Even Darker Question by Ted Gup

The Painful Lessons of Abu Ghraib (series)

She Held the Leash -G.I. Jane in the Torture Room by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Is This America? For Now, Maybe by Sydney H. Schanberg

The Doctrine of Atrocity : U.S. against "them"— a tradition of institutionalized brutality by Nicholas Turse

and for a bit of light relief on a serious topic, Gaza:

The Jesus Landing Pad : Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move by Rick Perlstein

(2) Counter punch

A Year in Review -Iraq from Saddam to Occupation By Alex Dawoody May 17, 2004

Puppets and Power in Iraq - Rumsfeld's Sovereignty Shell Game By Ron Jacobs May 17, 2004

Imperial Policing - Why Abu Ghraib Shouldn't Surprise Us By Doug Stokes May 18, 2004

Doubting the Shadows - Out of Iraq and Plato's Cave By Gary Corseri May 19, 2004

The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi By Andrew Cockburn May 20, 2004
Why the US Turned Against Their Former Golden Boy -- He was Preparing a Coup! What He Did as a Catspaw for Tehran: How He Nearly Bankrupted Jordan; the Billions He Stands to Make Out of the New Iraq

My Journey to Caxias - How the CIA Taught the Portuguese to Torture
By Christpher Reed May 21, 2004


Chalabi group was front for Iran By Knut Royce May 21, 2004

Thursday, May 20, 2004

King Feisal II  Posted by Hello

From "Mayada, The Daughter Of Iraq."

"The family (Mayada's family) was in Europe when they heard that General Abdul Karim Qasim, an army officer, had ordered a number of soldiers to surround the royal palace. Over loudspeakers, they ordered the family to step outside. It was only 7:45 in the morning, but soon afterward, the kitchen door at the back of the palace opened and the royals began to spill out. The officers shouted for the family to step toward the little garden at the side of the palace and stand next to huge mulberry tree. The royal family lined up, along with the servants. The very young king, confused, kept saluting the officers.

A captain by the name of Al-Obousi shot at the king, splitting his skull open. Everyone else then opened fire. After the massacre, the bodies of the family were dragged to a van, and a crowd began to loot the palace.

As the van passed through the palace gate, a man at the gate jumped into the van and stabbed all the dead bodies. The van was then stopped by a military jeep, whose soldiers took the bodies of the young king and the regent. Crowds had begun to gather, and to pacify the angry mob, the driver threw them the body of Faisal's regent, which was promptly stripped naked, dragged across Baghdad and hung from one of the balconies at the Al-Karhk Hotel. The crowd then cut off the hands, arms, feet, legs and genitals, ripped off his mouth, then dragged what remained of the body to the Ministry of Defense and hung it there. A young man from the crowd then took a dagger and ripped open his belly and several men in the crowd draped the regent's intestines around their necks, like necklaces, and danced in the streets. Finally, someone took the regent's body, splashed it with gasoline and set it on fire. The remains were thrown to in the river."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Abdul Zahra Othman Muhammad > Another good Iraqi bites the dust 

Washington Post 17 May 2004

reporters: Sewell Chan and special correspondents Bassam Sabti, Omar Fekeiki and Huda Lazim

Salim, whose given name was Abdul Zahra Othman Muhammad, was a newspaper editor and religious scholar from the southern city of Basra who agitated clandestinely against the government of Saddam Hussein, ousted in April 2003 by the U.S.-led invasion. He was jailed during Hussein's rule for his membership in the once-outlawed Islamic Dawa party, one of the most influential among several Shiite organizations.

Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni Muslim council member who was selected to serve the remaining two weeks of Salim's month-long term as president and through June 30, said, "We are determined, more than before, to fulfill the dreams of our lost colleagues.

"History will remember the criminals forever for their shameful actions," he said. "We must always remember our martyr, as well as everyone who was martyred before."

Council members also voiced frustration with the Americans for what they said was a failure to protect Iraqi political leaders or allow them more leeway to protect themselves. The killing increased pressure on U.S. officials to turn over more security responsibilities to Iraqi political parties, something they have been reluctant to do in a country deeply divided along sectarian and political lines.

Dan Senor, chief spokesman for the U.S. occupation authority, said the United States provides Iraqi council members with financial assistance, body armor, vehicles and training to ensure their security -- considerations that, he said, are "second to none."

Salim chose "to rely on cousins and nephews, which was his choice," Senor said. "And unfortunately, our records show that none of his personal security detail members ever participated in any of our training programs -- again, his choice."

From Mosul in the north to Basra, insurgents have been systematically killing Iraqi translators, municipal politicians, tribal sheiks and political leaders working with the occupation authority. The effect has been to isolate the authority from most Iraqis and the intelligence they could provide against the rising insurgency.

"If we had a real government, they would stop the Americans' behavior," said Shafaa Hamed, 41, who owns an electrical supply store in Baghdad's Kadhimiya neighborhood. "The Governing Council members are pawns, and Bremer moves them."


Can't wait till 1 July to see if the Iraqi Government is able act in a way that the Americans are not, rooting out the murderers, trying, convicting and imprisoning them and moving on to the essential task of putting the lid on this powder keg.

I am determined to go back to the country of my happiest memories before in a wheel-chair. If luck is with me my mother, who is 86 but comes from a long line of long-livers, will come with me. We will stand on the banks of the Tigres in the gathering dusk, waiting for the brightest stars imaginable, remembering the good old days, planning ways to find people we used to know all those years ago.

Last week I discovered an Assyrian site, earning that the owner of the Coronet Bookstore when we lived there, Aprim K. Pius, carried on running it till the 70s, but is dead. His elder brother, Mikhael Khammo Pius, a journalist and writer, is living in the U.S.

BBC News 

Four people have been arrested in connection with murder of American citizen Berg.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Yuck ! 

According to a British philospher - re Abu ghaib - we can't use our disgust as a moral guide. Well, that's alright then.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Can someone find Stefanowicz ? 

Key words:


Seymour Hersh tells us a CACI employee and his colleagues conducted most of the interrogations at Abu Ghraib in what, apparently, were known by the soldiers as "Wood Building" and the "Steel Building".

Major-general Geoffrey General Miller - of Guantanamo fame - has confirmed that Stefanowicz has been got out the "Reassigned to administrative duties". So, will he too be sweating blood in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? I jolly well hope so. He can tell us much about who said what to whom and who told who to do what. The poor patsies like ENGLAND and GRANER JR, could then be given short sentances for indiscipline, while the people who insigated and were responsible for the mess can have the book thrown at them.

Military Intelligence personnel assigned to Abu Ghraib apparently wore unmarked uniforms while on duty. "You couldn't tell them apart," a source familiar with the investigation said.

The Blurring of identities and organisations meant {..} it was impossible for the prisoners, or {..} military policemen {..} to know who was " doing what to whom", and who had the the authority to give orders.

Many of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib were classified as criminals.

It would seem obvious someone is going to have to own up to the details about whether the criminals and other categories of prisoners were held all together, and, if Coalition personnel knew who was who.

If we could please have the names of the detainees who have been released - if not those still inside - it would be possible for someone to work out more about what was going on. In particular, because of what we call in The British Isles "the monumental cock up" that was Abu Ghraib, whether some innocent men and women got the third degree by mistake. Despit,it is said, few released detainees having come forward to say they were innocent bystanders and abused as if they were deemed to be genuine suspects, it is important that all the facts come out and are pushed through the hostile media, especially in the Middle East to show that the U.S. recognises they have erred.

All these innocent parties have then to be well compensated.

some detail on Stefanowicz/Stephanowicz

American Forces Press Service, May 22, 2002

Laura Rozen in

quotes the Taguba Report, mentioning all four personnel:

...Pappas, Jordan, Stephanowicz, and Israel “were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib,”

recommending that immediate disciplinary action be taken against them.

Rumsfeld's role



Seymour Hersch, The Grey Zone: How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib, 24 May 2004 issue,

"...senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld’s testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, “Some people think you can bullshit anyone.”

In 2003 Rumsfeld approved application of secret operation - code name Copper Green, among other names - originally set up in for hunt for Al Qaeda and Taliban, to generate more intelligence about the insurgency in Iraq.

It seems Rumsfeld had a long standing ambition to take control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A., which is now settling old scores with the Defence Department by leaking the facts.

The original SAP, or SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAM (a way of saying very secret bespoke operation with "no traceability and no budget", which was totally hands-off), was set up to tackle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, post- 9/11, had ".. across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said." according to Hersh.

The now well-known rule of engagement under the SAP was:

"Grab whom you must. Do what you want."

Hersch gives all upper-eschalon participation, showing who knew what and when, right up to Bush the Younger. He agues that Cambone is the most vulnerable in the hierarchy.

Hersh's major point is the worry that the secret operations against Al Qaeda, other terrorists and the former Iraqi regime diehards will be jeopardised if there is a full investigation into Abu Ghraib as was done under Frank Church in 1975, which investigated C.I.A. activities in the preceeding 20 years.

Are we being anti-American here ? 

Probably, in some people's eyes. But let's face it, whereas there was no need to sanction, with SAPs, total emersion, way back in the 60s, in baths of shit, baptism-like, anyone suspected of being left-wing; or the dropping out of helicopters into the South Atlantic of sundry socialists (or Commies, as is your wont), down in the Pampas - where the buffalos roam and the Gauchos eat armadillo - for the sake of a bit of mouldy old salt petre and plentiful supplies of large T-bone steaks and crapulous burgers, here, now, with Al Qaeda we have a real problem that needs solving.

Bush the Younger, presumably aging by the minute, biting his mouth more and more in anxiety, no doubt praying more fervently, perhaps desperately sitting up at nights trying to find the right Biblical quote to go with his current predicament*, and, deep down, beginning to wish he'd stayed in the football business...propping up a bar somewhere in downtown Dallas pretending to be Frank Sinatra in some 50s film or other.

On the other hand, it might be worse as Brad Pitt's Character in "Fight Club says: "You could have your cock cut off and thrown out of a moving car." or had President Albert Gore - whichever is worst - still talking in a quasi-ecologese on interrelationships and so forth.

Looking on the bright side, if Gore had kept talking long enough, as was also Clinton's wont, Saddam might have died of bordedom, his two son's proving too incompetant to continue to run Iraq as the gangster state it was.

* What about this from the Andrew Davis adaptation of Trollope's "He knew he was right", recently aired on BBC TV ? Bella, the ugly sister, having wrested the effete cleric from her less ugly sister, asks him some innanity or other and he turns to her with:

" God will temper the winds to the shorn lamb."

I have no idea - don't ask. Well I think I might. It sounds so marvellous doesn't it? Don't even know if it is from the Bible. Must be, but I can't find it. Could be applied to almost any situation.

It could a way for Bush the Youger on his radio broadcast to say, perhaps in the dying days of his presidency : "I've learnt my lesson in hubris, in a Greeky folksy sort of way, and I promise to do the right thing in future." Or it could mean: "We'll stop being so nasty to all those Middle Easterners, and put and end to those unaccountable SAPs. We recognise our power and know we must not mishandle it." By that he wouldn't mean Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, Feith, Old Mother Reilly, Uncle Tom Cobbly 'n All, but covert ultra vires operations that besmirch the name of democracy and freedom.

It is all very well for armchair commentators to tell others how to do the job better, but it has been obvious from the start that it was going wrong. What is so amazing is for the Top Country to be unable to adapt to the situation in Iraq even with the resouces it has.



Glenn Kessler in Washington Post, Saturday, May 15, 2004

Powell Says Troops Would Leave Iraq if New Leaders Asked


This is just talk. An idiot could see this will not be possible until insurgents and Al Sadr are back in the box. To walk away before this would leave a de facto Shia fundamentalist state in the south and what would amount to mafia/warlordism in the Sunni triangle, while in Iraqi Kurdistan an autonomous state was well-established before Saddam's removal.

Even an amateur, armchair commentator can see that the soon-to-be Iraqi government will not be able to control the volatile elements even the Coalition is finding difficult to repress. The other two scenarios are:

1) Iraqi government using even more force

2) trying to use a mixture of force and negotiation

They would be more likely to get a result in (2) than (1), but there would be a tendancy to more chaos and intermittent demands that the central authority could not accept.

Peter Galbraith's, How to get out of Iraq is the way to go if the general feeling of Iraqis is "get out". By having substantial forces including USAAF in Kurdistan. There must be flaws in this argument, but it makes sense because

a) the Kurds like the Americans


b) from there they can protect greater Iraq fromn external threats.

If the Shia south decided to form a similar autonomous state to the Kurds, there would be a danger of undue Iranian influence, which the U.S. would be unhappy with.

The major part of Iraqi oil is in the south. Prof. Juan Coles says Sistani and fellow top Ayatollah are not keen on a Theocracy for the south. So Al Sadr is therefore only trying to make sure the Shia in a greater Iraq have their share of the political power the Shia feel they have always been denied. If he is not, and is simply doing the Iranians bidding (he is being supplied with money, arms and agent provocateurs from Terhan), then the Iraqi government to be will have to squash his Mahdi Army just as the Americans are trying to.

Logically, the new government will see the Americans more likely to succeed at this task and will therefore NOT ask the Coalition to walk away, lock, stock and barrel, in the immediate term of say between 18 months and three years.

memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East

Location: United Kingdom

expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.

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