Saturday, December 06, 2003

Getting Stuffed

... And in the same article Erik cites in the last post, a White House official diliberately deceived American press into reporting that Bush was still in Crawford, Tx. Prooving not only the intent to insure his security but that the White House is not above spreading disinformation to the American media. Ben Franklin was right; turkey should have been our national bird. Much easier to cook up and serve with the stuffing that's always in such good supply in Washington.

Turkey shoot

According to WaPo, Bush wasn't serving that turkey to the troops in the ubiquitous photo of his stopover at the Baghdad airbase. He grabbed a tray containing a decorative turkey and held it for a photo op.

Words fail....

Thursday, December 04, 2003

US army denies killing sisters | US army denies killing sisters (November 29, 2003)

It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.

I read these two articles, at Al Jazeera and News Interactive, and was firmly tempted to close the browser windows displaying them and go in search of antidotal cartoons. I don’t want to be a party to the spreading of such worrisome disinformation. I don’t believe that US troops would shoot two young girls in a field. Seriously, I don’t believe it’s true.

As ugly as it is to see this kind of death, and to contemplate the accusation that our troops did such a thing, I think we need to look this war in the face and force ourselves not to blink. The cause of peace is not well served by averted eyes or timid hearts. We are confronted with evil, and we must battle it with lucid purpose.

So here it is, sisters aged 15 and 12, dead while gathering wood in a field. Is there anything you can do? Pray for them, pray for peace, vote against Bush. Our people shoudn't even be there, being accused of atrocities.

Who's counting?

A comment from reader Brian Churchill:

I am a retired US Air Force master sergeant who's been opposed to this war since last fall, because I didn't believe that Iraq presented a clear and present danger to the US, and that any military action needed to be approved by the UN Security Council as in the First Gulf War. I also told anyone who would listen in my circle of friends that, based on the history of the region, the occupation would be troubled.

Sadly, I was right. I've found "All That Arises" to be a strong voice for truth in a war that's being spun by cable news in the same way that William Randolph Hearst manipulated the public in the Spanish-American War in the search for profits and sales 105 years ago. I decided to forward my recent research on suspicious US military deaths in Iraq to you, as it may be of interest or assistance to the blog readership.

I've been doing research on the deaths that are being reported as non-combat or accidental, using the CNN database that's updated regularly at this CNN site. I found the number of traffic deaths to be quite high considering the circumstances, i.e., low traffic; large, sturdy vehicles; strictly enforced safety rules; wear of body armor, etc. Also, at least one new widow was reportedly contacted by her dead husband's comrades and told that he died from an attack that caused a crash, not a non-combat vehicle accident as the Army declared.

I also noted that there's a large number of poorly explained deaths--drownings, falls from buildings, troops just not waking up one morning, persons killed working on vehicles or hit by dump trucks, and the most ominous of all - non-hostile gunshot wounds. These can't be firing range or training accidents, because they're described differently. I've counted 47 deaths through Dec 1 classified as accidents that I, as a former military man, consider suspicious, i.e., it's really combat in the case of many traffic accidents. I suspect that many deaths were classified as accidents to try to keep the combat death toll down after May 1, as the Administration was hoping that the occupation would take hold within a few months at most and the numbers wouldn't be too high.

I've also counted 49 possible suicides in 7 months, while the military has grudgingly admitted to 14-17 so far. According to the World Almanac, there should be about 27 suicides a year in a group of 145,000 Americans of that age and gender makeup. Clearly the suicide rate is many times normal.

Considering that the military is insisting on unit rotation instead of individual rotation, as in Vietnam, since unit cohesion was deemed to be very important, it's clear that all is not well with the Army of One. I'd also add that many of the one-vehicle accidents, if they're not from hostile action, could be suicides as well, as state troopers will tell you that a certain percentage of one-vehicle rollovers or crashes are really suicides. Also, deaths by means other than self-inflicted gunshot wounds save face for relatives and friends, and eliminate complications with life insurance policies.

Thanks again for your articles, and keep up the good work.

Brian Churchill
USAF Retired (1976-1996)

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Back to Iraq

Christopher Allbritton, a seasoned reporter who blogged from the Middle East on a freelance basis before it was trendy, is contemplating going back to Iraq to give us the straight skinny on life as it is "on the ground." (God, I hate that phrase now that I've heard it from Rummie and Condi and their ilk.)

Anyhoo, give him a click and, if you wish, a dollar or a dime. He's a fine writer and we need to know, with clarity, whazzup over there. There are, of course, other bloggers who are good sources, as well as good coverage from the Middle East press, but Chris is an incisive analyst who's giving up his day job to bring us an upclose view of the reality and effect of our imperial doings. Log on, check him out.

Stop the Looting

I believe that the Bush Administration is riding roughshod over the American economy and civil liberties, with unprecedented cynicism and moral indifference. Do you agree? Oppose the omnibus spending bill, on which Congress is about to vote: Stop the Looting

A dollar and two dimes

For eight months, the cost in American dollars of one euro hovered between $1.10 and $1.18, but two days ago, for the first time, the cost penetrated the $1.20 barrier. As I type this, BBC radio has announced a new high cost of the euro against the dollar: $1.22.

As I've said before, I'm no economist, but it cannot bode well for the US economy that its currency is declining in value, even if it may mean in the short run that Americans may find foreign-produced goods pricier and hence be more likely to buy domestic products. The inevitable inflation, the commensurate rise in interest rates (affecting mortgage payments on adjustable-rate mortgages, affecting monthly minimum payments on credit card debt and so forth), and the lower purchasing power of a dollar will beat back the recent economic "recovery."

This may come to pass quite soon. I can only hope.

Update: "Put simply, the dollar is in dire distress."

This is getting old

Once again, again, the news reportage of the war in Iraq is inaccurately slanted in favor of the invaders/occupiers. Two weeks ago it was the false report that two US soldiers' throats were cut; two days ago it was the onesided account of the "ambush" of the cash-carrying convoy in which the Army reported that 46 (later revised to 54) attackers were killed. Locals and hospital officials disputed the latter story, and the Army later revised the former, but in neither case was the revision given the prominence of the first report, and in some cases no revision was reported at all.

After all of the falsehoods this Administration and the military have spread over the years, it's astounding that reporters--even those of "reputable" papers and wire services--continue to spread it further. Are we talking conspiracy, incompetence, sloth or all three?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

And still counting...

It's ten p.m., PST, in the USA as I post this. It's already tomorrow (Wednesday morning) in Iraq, so they've begun another day of killing there. The numbers of US military casualties and deaths that I rely on and insert into my protest signs are drawn from this website, and as of this moment show 2 deaths and 24 woundeds, in the first two days of December.

We've now launched into another month of killing American and allied soldiers and civilians, and Iraqi insurgents and bystanders.

Would somebody out there be kind enough to send a comment explaining why?

Update on "Body Counts" post

Yup, as I suggested, according to this account of the attack in which many Iraqis were killed, the Army's strategy is to shoot indiscriminately (to "spray," and to perform "reconaissance by fire") in order to suppress locals' support for the insurgents.

The source of this account (a "combat leader") is unattributed, so its authenticity is unknown, but at least it's an unknown that I know is unknown, not one of Rumsfeld's prize-winning "unknown unknowns."

Monday, December 01, 2003

The Uncompassionate Conservative

A great column. Molly Ivins has President Bush down cold.

What we're dealing with here is a man in such serious denial it would be pathetic if it weren't damaging so many lives.

Everybody spins a little, but this is ridiculous!

Same poll, same figures, but here are the differing headlines (with correlative "spin" on their accompanying stories) announcing the results of an Oxford International poll (which all stories pronounce as definitive and thorough):

79% of Iraqis do not trust US-led coalition--Middle East Online.

Iraqis welcome Saddam's fall--BBC News

Iraqis Do Not Trust US-Led Forces--Reuters UK

Poll: Most Iraqis distrustul of US-Led Coalition--China Daily

Iraqi Public Opinion Poll Finds Overwhelming Support for Democratic Future--Michael Drudge, VOA (Voice of America) News.

Okay, so there's nothing new about "spin." But gosh-all-rootie, when you read these articles, and the score of others that Google News reveals when you insert "Oxford International Poll" in its search engine, you'd think the stories, which reported, merely, a list of numbers next to a list of questions, were of utterly different events.

In this day of quick news, quick everything, we've handed over to ministerial monkeys, paid by huge vested interests, the creation of reality. Don't get me started on this subject, but for God's sake, my buddies, from now on, do at least this: Read the poll, not the report about the poll. Not too much to ask of an informed citizen, right?

Body counts?

Early in our invasion of Iraq, a Pentagon official announced, "We don't do body counts," a reference to the practice during the Vietnam War, where Army officers would report the number of dead enemy soldiers (often an inflated, imaginary figure) as the measure of success of a battle. And indeed, until recently, no such figures have been announced for US operations in Iraq, relating to deaths of either armed resistance or unarmed civilians.
With yesterday's battle, however, we now have a tally, 54, revised upward from 46 .

This bodes poorly for the Iraqis on two counts: First, if body counts now become a practice, any Iraqi in the vicinity of an attack becomes a target, to induce headlines which read, "Two US soldiers die in attack, fifteen Iraqis killed." This, it might be reasoned by the Pentagon, will make more palatable our losses. Second, these escalated attacks against Iraqis may be a means by which the Army seeks to discourage insurgents, by wreaking such havoc on the nearby civilians that the latter turn on the insurgents out of fear of American reprisal. This is another tactic fromt the Vietnam era.

It didn't work then, and it won't work now, but look out for such tactics and announcements in upcoming dispatches from the front. If they occurred to me, they have surely occurred to Rumsfeld.

A Prisoner Of Panic After 9/11

Yahoo! News - A Prisoner Of Panic After 9/11

Hard to believe this could happen in the America I grew up in.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Iraq's oil may not be retrievable? Unbelievable!

Apparently, the damage to the Iraq's oilfields by defective pumping in the past could be exacerbated by our efforts to pull oil out hastily now, leaving the fields watery and hence depleted.
Ouch! Cheney's gotta be freaked!

Maybe now they'll bring our boys home. Nothing to fight about anymore.