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Informed Consent: Juan Cole
The Iraq Stories Our Media Won't Tell
Many Ways The Iraq War Costs Us
The Battle of Najaf: August, 2004
General Zinni: The Pentagon Screwed Up
General Zinni: His New Book Criticizes Civilian
Leadership of Iraq War
Mejias Sentenced To A Year for "Desertion"
Just "White Trash" Guilty?: May 18, 2004
Seymour Hersch on the Prison Abuse Sandal: May 17,
ICRC Report on Abuse and Related Articles (including statements by MP's)
Sporadic Abuse in Iraq Prisons or Systematic Terror: War Crimes?
A Thoughtful Essay from a member of a Christian
Peacemaker Team in Iraq on the Prisoner Abuse Issue
The Stanford Prison Project: 1971
William Rivers Pitt on Iraq: May 6, 2004
May 7, 2004
Widow of Maine Soldier Criticizes Iraq War
Abu Ghraib Iraq's My Lai?
The Best Argument I've Read for Getting Out of Iraq:
from the American Conservative!
Generals and Admirals Tell Bush To Get the Troops Out Now
Paul Krugman Despairing Over the Mess in Iraq: April
Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners Probed
on Why Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq is a Big Mistake
Immediate Withdrawal from Iraq: April 23, 2004
American Soldier "Ashamed" of Service in Iraq: April 23, 2004
Lose Job Over Coffins Photo: April 22, 2004
General Electric and
Siemens Out of Iraq: April 22, 2004
Cluster Bombs in Falluja: April
Negroponte as Ambassador to
Iraq: April 18, 2004
John Pilger on
Iraq: April 17, 2004
Older Soldiers in
Iraq: July 18, 2004
Going Back to
Iraq, Families Speak Up: July 21, 2004
Troops Scale back Anbar
Patrols: July 24, 2004
Handover to New Transitional Government: July 26, 2004
18 April 2004
The Full Negroponte
From top to bottom, John Negroponte is the wrong
ambassador to Iraq.
By Matthew Yglesias
Iraq will once again become a sovereign nation on June 30, 2004, as power
is handed over to a yet to be determined group of individuals that will
act in the name of the Iraqi people. Still, it's going to be a mighty
funny sort of sovereignty.
The country will be patrolled by more than150,000 foreign military
personnel, overwhelmingly American, operating under the command of an
American general. Not only will the "sovereign" Iraq lack control over the
foreign troops in its midst, whatever Iraqi security forces can be
trained during the transitional period will also be controlled by the
Overseeing all of this will be an American "ambassador" who, in light of
the military situation, will have a lot more leverage over the host
government than your typical diplomat. Commensurate with this unorthodox
setup, the embassy will be by far America's largest, with more than 3,000
civilian employees stationed there. The administration announced Sunday
that the president would, as rumored, nominate a grossly unfit candidate,
current United Nations Ambassador John Negroponte.
According to The New York Times, the choice reflects a victory for
Secretary of State Colin Powell over the war's architects at the Pentagon.
This has proven to be of some solace to many liberals. In reality, though,
it should count as just one more reason for liberals to be skeptical
about Powell's merits.
Negroponte speaks no Arabic and has no background in the Middle East or
the Islamic world. What he does have is a good deal of experience with
counterinsurgency. Bad experience. Experience dating from the waning days
of the Vietnam War through the Reagan administration's policies in Central
America and consisting largely of propping up right-wing dictators,
violating human rights, and working to deceive the Congress and the
The post of ambassador to Honduras, which Negroponte held from 1981 to
1985, is not normally a crucial one in the grand scheme of U.S. foreign
policy. Negroponte's main task, however, was a rather vital one:
implementing the Reagan administration's illegal efforts to arm and train
Contra rebels, who would then cross the border into neighboring Nicaragua
to overthrow the Sandinista government there. As the CIA, which oversaw
the Contra operation, eventually admitted, the rebel force "engaged
in kidnapping, extortion, and robbery to fund its operations." Wishing to
avoid combat with the Nicaraguan army, it became, in essence, a terrorist
group, attacking civilian targets in an effort to disrupt Nicaragua's
economy and society.
Honduras was, at the time, a military dictatorship operating beneath a
civilian facade. Negroponte's policy was to use U.S. aid not to push the
country toward democracy but to further increase the strength of its
military. His predecessor had warned him that he ought to be concerned
about an increase in recent years in repression and human-rights
violations, but, to put it bluntly, he didn't care. Instead, he looked the
other way as the CIA trained the infamous Battalion 316, a project
of Honduran military intelligence responsible for widespread torture,
kidnapping, and extrajudicial killing.
Negroponte cannot, of course, be held personally responsible for every bad
action undertaken by U.S.-supported forces in Central America -- or even
only in Honduras -- during the 1980s. Surely, though, he bears a
responsibility for some of it. How much, exactly, we can't be sure --
because he refuses to even try to mount an honest defense on his
activities at the time. During his 2001 confirmation hearings for the U.N.
job, he told the Senate, "To this day, I do not believe that death squads
were operating in Honduras."
Perjury? Perhaps it all depends on what the meaning of "death squads" is,
but Battalion 316 seems to fit the bill. An inquiry (with names
redacted to protect sources) into CIA activity in Honduras concluded that
Negroponte was not only aware of human-rights abuses but actively sought
to cover them up:
[------] on November 22, 1983 that the Ambassador [Negroponte] was
particularly sensitive regarding the issue and was concerned that earlier
CIA reporting on the same topic might create a human rights problem for
Honduras. Based on the Ambassador's reported concerns [------] actively
discouraged [------] [------] from following up the information reported
by the [-------] source.
The defense, moreover, that Negroponte was somehow unaware of political
conditions in Honduras fails miserably as an effort at exoneration. To his
critics, he was complicit in human-rights violations. To his defenders, he
didn't know about them (in other words, he was an incompetent ambassador).
Either way, he's grossly unsuited for further service in the U.S.
government, especially for a job in which he would be overseeing
further counterinsurgency efforts supposedly undertaken in order to spread
the gospel of democracy to the Middle East.
So far, however, the prospect of a Negroponte appointment has been met
with deafening silence by the small army of liberal pundits who supported
the Iraq War on humanitarian grounds. Paul Berman, perhaps the leading war
supporter on the intellectual left, wrote long ago in the
Prospect of his ambiguous feelings toward the Bush administration:
But this is the same Bush who appointed John Negroponte to be ambassador
to the United Nations -- an ambassador who comes to his new post trailing
an abysmal record of official mendacity and a murky relation to the
darkest of deeds. At least, that is Negroponte's reputation among some of
us who constituted the Central America press corps back in the 1980s, when
he served as ambassador to Honduras. (The New York Review of Books
recently published a concise account of Negroponte's Central American
career, written by Stephen Kinzer of The New York Times.) At the
United Nations, we need right now someone who can summon the nations of
the world to a principled alliance for liberty and law. Bush has appointed
an ambassador whose every speech will make those words seem like lies. It
is as if, in his heart of hearts, Bush is a man given to Hollywood
jauntiness and a cult of dark adventure, but now and then a wise adviser
catches his attention, or a skillful writer hands him a well-considered
speech to read aloud, and then a second Bush suddenly speaks up, who turns
out to be a man of thoughtful principles.
The game is now up. I would never deny that the Bush White House employs a
talented group of speechwriters. The trouble is that the president doesn't
follow through on his high-toned rhetoric. It's true of his domestic
policy and it's true of his foreign policy as well. Prospect
Executive Editor Michael Tomasky speculated yesterday that perhaps
the president is simply too inept to follow through on his purported
idealism. Negroponte, however, is anything but incompetent. He just
Right now America's Iraq policy is operating under two clouds. Many
Americans doubt that the administration was honest in building its case
for war, and many Arabs doubt that the administration is sincere in its
commitment to building a democratic Iraq. To succeed, the president needs
to get out from under those clouds and build support both at home and
abroad for his policies. Can a worse way to accomplish this be imagined
than sending to Baghdad a diplomat with blood on his hands and a record of
lying to Congress? Perhaps it can -- but I really don't want to know what
Matthew Yglesias is a Prospect writing fellow. His column on
politics and the media appears every Tuesday.
Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect
19 April 2004
doctors report use of cluster bombs in Falluja; US
harrassment of patients
Baghdad, April 19--The word on the street in
Baghdad is that the the cessation of suicide car bombings is proof that
the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as one man states, "[CIA agents are]
too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted to cause by the bombings
is now upon them." True or not, it certainly doesn't bode well for the
occupiers' image in Iraq.
The night before last I was awakened by a very large explosion in central
Baghdad, followed promptly by three other smaller explosions. This
morning, I awoke to another large explosion, again followed by several
With so many journalists leaving Iraq, and the majority of those that
remain staying close to their hotels, it's becoming harder to come by
accurate information aboutevents occurring on the ground.
For those of us here, it has, needless to say, travel has become
increasing difficult because of the deteriorating security situation.
Aside from the usual bombs and sporadic gunfire that typifies daily (and
nightly) life in the capital of Iraq today, it continues to be relatively
quiet here, at least compared to other parts of Iraq. The feeling I get is
that most Iraqis here (aside from those directly fighting the military)
are in wait-and-see mode, their eyes on Najaf and Falluja.
But this belies the true story, that despite the lack of overt fighting in
central Baghdad, violence and tension are boiling beneath the surface. On
a recent visit to the Arabic Children's Hospital, Dr. Waad Edan Louis, the
Chief Visiting Doctor at the hospital, stated, "Before the invasion, we
had 300 patients per night. Now, we have 100 because the security is so
Meanwhile, at the Noman Hospital in Al-Adhamiya, a doctor I spoke with
there (who asked to remain nameless) stated, "We are treating an average
of one gunshot wound per day, which is something we never saw before the
occupation. This is due to the absence of law in Baghdad. The Iraqi Police
have weak weapons and nobody respects their authority."
He also stated that U.S. soldiers have come to the hospital asking for
information about resistance fighters. He said, "My policy is not to give
my patients to the Americans, or to provide them any information. I deny
information to the Americans for the sake of the patient. I don't care
what my patients have done outside the walls of the hospital. I do my job,
then let the patient go."
"Ten days ago this happened -- this occurred after people began to come in
from Falluja, even though most of them were children, women and elderly."
When asked if the U.S. military were bombing civilians in Falluja, he
stated, "Of course the Americans are bombing civilians, along with the
revolutionaries. One year ago there was no revolution in Falluja. But they
began searching homes and humiliating people, and this annoyed the people.
The people became angry and demonstrated, then the Americans shot the
demonstrators, and this started the revolution in Falluja. It is the same
in Sadr City."
He continued angrily, "Aggression against civilians has caused all of
this. Nothing happened for the first two months of the occupation. People
were happy to have Saddam gone. And now, we hope for the mercy of God if
the Americans invade Najaf."
Cluster bombs are reported to have been used commonly in Iraq both during
the invasion and the occupation.
Another doctor at Noman Hospital, who asked to remain anonymous, stated
that he saw the U.S. military dropping cluster bombs on the Al-Dora area
last December, "I've seen it all with my own eyes. The U.S. later removed
the unexploded bombs by soldiers picking up the bomblets and putting them
in their helmets."
He also believes that cluster bombs are currently being used in Falluja,
based on reports from field doctors presently working there, as well as
statements taken from wounded civilians of Falluja.
He also claimed that many of the Falluja victims he had treated had been
shot with 'dum-dum bullets', which are hollow point bullets that are
designed to inflict maximum internal damage. These are also referred to as
Nearing the end of the discussion, the first doctor stated, "The U.S.
induces aggression. If you don't attack me, I will never attack you. The
U.S. is stimulating the aggression of the Iraqi people!"
A doctor who asked to remain anonymous at Al-Karam Hospital in Baghdad
reported that another doctor from his hospital had just returned from
Najaf. She was unable to work there, she told Al-Karam, because Spanish
military forces had occupied its hospital. The roof of the Al-Sadr
Teaching hospital in Najaf overlooks their base, so soldiers have taken it
over for strategic purposes.
The doctor at Al-Karam Hospital stated, "The Americans don't care what
happens to Iraqis."
At Al-Kerh Hospital in Baghdad there is a similar story. One of the
managers at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated,
"U.S. soldiers are always coming here asking us for information about our
wounded, but we don't give them any information."
Hussein Kareem, the Assistant Administrator at the Mohammed Baker Hakim
Hospital in Sadr City, said that while no soldiers had occupied or visited
the hospital, U.S. soldiers shot one ambulance from his hospital, injuring
the driver. He also stated that during the first day of fighting in Sadr
City two weeks ago, he received 32 dead bodies, mostly of women and
children, and 90 wounded.
At Yarmouk Hospital, a lead doctor discussed the situation in Falluja.
He said that during the first days of the U.S. siege of Falluja, many of
the wounded were brought to his hospital. He continues, "The Americans
came here to question my patients, even though we tried to refer the
soldiers to a different hospital."
He is outraged by the situation in Falluja, which he calls a massacre,
"The Americans shot at some of our doctors who were traveling to Falluja
to provide aid. One of our doctors was injured when a missile struck his
vehicle. I have also been told by my doctors in Falluja that the Americans
are shooting ambulances there, as well as at the main hospital there."
He continued, "My doctors in Falluja have reported to me that the
Americans are using cluster bombs. Patients we've treated from there are
reporting the same."
It is argued that the use of cluster bombs is a war crime, at least in
spirit, if not technically. Cluster bombs contravene the international
treaty against land mines -- which the U.S. has refused to sign anyway --
because they leave unexploded ordnance where they are dropped, which then
has the same effect as land mines.
He continued, "One of my doctors in Falluja asked the Americans there if
he could remove a wounded patient from the city. The soldier wouldn't let
him move the victim, and said, OEWe have dead soldiers here too. This is a
war zone.' The doctor wasn't allowed to remove the wounded man, and he
died. So many doctors and ambulances have been turned back from
This same doctor reported that he saw American soldiers killing women and
children, as well as shooting ambulances in Falluja.
The doctor I spoke with expressed his outrage, "What freedom did America
bring us? Freedom of the machine gun? So I am free to take my gun and
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He
is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq.
You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations.
For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit
©2004 Dahr Jamail and The New Standard
The New York Times
22 April 2004
Violence in Iraq Forces 2 Big Contractors to Curb Work
By JAMES GLANZ
The insurgency in Iraq has driven two major contractors,
General Electric and Siemens, to suspend
most of their operations there, raising new doubts about the American-led
effort to rebuild the country as hostilities continue.
Spokesmen for the contractors declined to discuss their operations in
Iraq, citing security concerns, but the shutdowns were confirmed by
officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, the Coalition Provisional
Authority and other companies working directly with G.E. and Siemens in
"Between the G.E. lockdown and the inability to get materials moved up the
major supply routes, about everything is being affected in one way or
another," said Jim Hicks, a senior adviser for electricity at the
The suspensions and travel restrictions are delaying work on about two
dozen power plants as occupying forces press to meet an expected surge in
demand for electricity before the summer. Mr. Hicks said plants that had
been expected to produce power by late April or early May might not be
operating until June 1.
"While it's being affected, it's not shutting down," he said of the work.
"I think we're still in good shape as far as getting our equipment back up
before the summer really hits us."
Several government and company officials said reconstruction work had
rebounded recently after the intense violence of the past few weeks, but
experts said they were concerned the delays might affect ordinary Iraqis.
"What worries me is that, are the insurgents, the terrorists, are they
winning the battle this way?" asked Isam al Khafaji, an Iraqi who is
director of Iraq Revenue Watch, an initiative of the Open Society
Institute, an organization backed by the billionaire George Soros.
Electricity, he added, "is the most important sector for the Iraqis after
"This will be affecting, really, people's everyday lives," he said.
The Coalition Provisional Authority regards the rehabilitation of the
Iraq's water, sewage, transportation, oil and electrical infrastructure as
a linchpin in the effort to create a functioning democracy and convince
Iraqis of America's good will.
A spokeswoman for the authority said discussions involving security issues
with General Electric had led to an agreement that could result in a
resumption of operations. The spokeswoman said Siemens and the authority
were "working out their differences," but she said she had no information
about whether the company would resume work.
General Electric booked $450 million in orders in 2003 in Iraq, mostly for
subcontracts to the large primary contractors in Iraq, said Gary Sheffer,
a company spokesman.
Neither General Electric nor other companies working in Iraq would say how
many employees they had in the country, citing security concerns.
Mr. Sheffer said that the company intended to fulfill its contractual
obligations and was committed to rebuilding the country. "We are working
with our customers to mitigate the impacts of the security measures that
have been implemented recently," he wrote in an e-mail message.
Paula Davis, a Siemens spokeswoman, said her company also was committed to
the reconstruction but declined to provide further information on work in
Two companies with much larger contracts in Iraq, Bechtel and Halliburton,
said they had curtailed travel by their employees but were not considering
halting their work or pulling out of the country.
"While some travel has been temporarily limited to mission-critical tasks,
we are in constant communication with the military, and these restricted
movements and increased security measures will not impact getting supplies
to soldiers," said Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, which
delivers drinking water, food and fuel used by the American occupation
Halliburton said in a statement on Tuesday that three of four bodies found
near an attack on a fuel convoy in Iraq this month were its employees. A
captive Halliburton employee, Thomas Hamill, has been shown in a video
distributed by his captors.
A major private security provider in Iraq with access to intelligence
information said that Halliburton had "been slowed down in terms of the
number of routes and convoys they can run" and said the firm was having a
difficult time hiring truck drivers to work in Iraq. He estimated that the
overall number of Halliburton convoys was down by 35 percent.
Despite the delays, several government and private officials in Iraq
remained optimistic about the long term.
"Yes, you have to be careful, take prudent measures to reduce your risk,"
said Tom Wheelock, director of infrastructure programs for the United
States Agency for International Development, which oversees some $3
billion in rebuilding contracts. "And with that context, with those kinds
of guidelines, you can have success."
Admiral David J. Nash is the director of the Coalition Provisional
Authority's program management office, which is awarding $9 billion in new
rebuilding contracts. "What they all understand this to be is a gift from
the people of the United States to the people of Iraq," he said. "I think
He estimated that during the most intense days of the insurgency in early
April, about 25 percent of Iraqi workers hired for his office's projects
actually arrived for work. Last week, attendance was back up to about 50
percent, or an average of 3,517 workers, said Steven Susens, a spokesman
for the authority.
Several major companies said that despite the insurgency, they had been
able to continue with nearly all of their projects. In some cases, the
work continued within secure perimeters, where non-Iraqi workers remained
outside Baghdad until their companies decided that travel was safe. In
other cases, projects were left to Iraqi subcontractors, who communicated
with managers in Baghdad by phone and e-mail.
"We are still working in all the sectors in which we have active work
orders," said Howard Menaker, a spokesman for Bechtel, which has nearly $3
billion in contracts in Iraq. "Overall we think we will stay on schedule
and complete the contracts."
But the lockdowns by General Electric in particular have led to delays on
power projects that involved its huge turbine power generators, in some
cases forcing other companies to slow or stop work.
The delays are slowing work on a $50 million project to refurbish a large
power plant north of Baghdad, said Robert Spaulding, an operations vice
president for Fluor, a major contractor in Iraq.
About 70 Iraqis and a dozen non-Iraqi managers are taking apart three
General Electric turbines, but G.E. has declined to send technical
advisers and has been slow to ship new parts, Mr. Spaulding said. He said
he might be forced to seek technical help from other companies that have
experience with the G.E. units.
"Tell me what's different about having an American construction
superintendent at this site," Mr. Spaulding said, referring to his own
employees there, "but G.E. won't send an American tech guy?"
Copyright 2004 The New York Times
loses her job over coffins photo
Apr 22, 2004
Seattle Times staff reporter
Flag-draped coffins are shown inside a cargo plane April
7 at Kuwait International Airport, in a photograph
published Sunday. The photographer said she hoped the
image would help families understand the care with which
fallen soldiers are returned home.
A military contractor has fired Tami Silicio, a Kuwait-based
cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins of fallen
U.S. soldiers was published in Sunday's edition of The Seattle
Silicio was let go yesterday for violating U.S. government
and company regulations, said William Silva, president of Maytag
Aircraft, the contractor that employed Silicio at Kuwait
"I feel like I was hit in the chest with a steel bar and got
my wind knocked out. I have to admit I liked my job, and I liked
what I did," Silicio said.
Her photograph, taken earlier this month, shows more than 20
flag-draped coffins in a cargo plane about to depart from
Kuwait. Since 1991, the Pentagon has banned the media from
taking pictures of caskets being returned to the United States.
That policy has been a lightning rod for debate, and
Silicio's photograph was quickly posted on numerous Internet
sites and became the subject of many Web conversations. Times
Executive Editor Michael R. Fancher yesterday appeared on ABC's
"Good Morning America" news show with U.S. Rep. Mike Castle,
R-Del., who supported the Pentagon policy prohibiting such
Tami Silicio's photo fueled a debate over a U.S. policy
on casket images.
As a result of the broader coverage, The Times received
numerous e-mails and phone calls from across the country — most
of which supported the newspaper's decision.
Pentagon officials yesterday said the government's policy
defers to the sensitivities of bereaved families. "We've made
sure that all of the installations who are involved with the
transfer of remains were aware that we do not allow any media
coverage of any of the stops until (the casket) reaches its
final destination," said Cynthia Colin, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Maytag also fired David Landry, a co-worker who recently wed
Silicio said she never sought to put herself in the public
spotlight. Instead, she said, she hoped the publication of the
photo would help families of fallen soldiers understand the care
and devotion that civilians and military crews dedicate to the
task of returning the soldiers home.
"It wasn't my intent to lose my job or become famous or
anything," Silicio said.
The Times received Silicio's photograph from a stateside
friend, Amy Katz, who had previously worked with Silicio for a
different contractor in Kosovo. Silicio then gave The Times
permission to publish it, without compensation. It was paired
with an article about her work in Kuwait.
Silicio, 50, is from Edmonds and previously worked as an
events decorator in the Seattle area and as a truck driver in
Kosovo. Before the war started, she went to work for Maytag,
which contracts with the Air Mobility Command to provide
air-terminal and ground-handling services in Kuwait.
In Kuwait, Silicio pulled 12-hour night shifts alongside
military workers to help in the huge effort to resupply U.S.
troops. These workers also helped transport the remains of
soldiers back to the United States.
Her job put her in contact with soldiers who sometimes
accompanied the coffins to the airport. Having lost one of her
own sons to a brain tumor, Silicio said, she tried to offer
support to those grieving over a lost comrade.
"It kind of helps me to know what these mothers are going
through, and I try to watch over their children as they head
home," she said in an earlier interview.
Since Sunday, Silicio has hunkered down in Kuwait as her
employer and the military decided her fate.
Maytag's Silva said the decision to terminate Silicio's and
Landry's employment was made by the company. But he said the
U.S. military had identified "very specific concerns" about
their actions. Silva declined to detail those concerns.
"They were good workers, and we were sorry to lose them,"
Silva said. "They did a good job out in Kuwait and it was an
important job that they did."
Landry, in an e-mail to The Times, said he was proud of his
wife, and that they would soon return home to the States.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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