"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Quiet of Destruction and Death

12/02/04 "ICH" -- It’s a late morning start today…as I’m waiting for Abu Talat, who calls to tell me he is snarled in traffic and will be late once again, huge explosions shake my hotel. Shortly thereafter mortars are exploding in the “green zone” as the loud warning sirens there begin to blare across Baghdad.

Automatic weapon fire cracks down the street.

The good news is that interim prime minister Ayad Allawi has announced a shortening of the curfew that most of Iraq is under. So now rather than having to be off the streets by 10:30pm, we can stay out until 11pm before we are shot on sight.

This past Sunday a small Iraqi Red Crescent aid convoy was allowed into Fallujah at 4:30pm. I interviewed a member of the convoy today. Speaking on condition of anonymity, (so I’ll call her Suthir), the first thing she said to me was, “I need another heart and eyes to bear it because my own are not enough to bear what I saw. Nothing justifies what was done to this city. I didn’t see a house or mosque that wasn’t destroyed.”

Suthir paused often to collect herself, but then as usual with those of us who have witnessed atrocities first hand, when she started to talk, she barely stopped to breath.

“There were families with nothing. I met a family with three daughters and two sons. One of their sons, Mustafa who was 16 years old, was killed by American snipers. Then their house was burned. They had nothing to eat. Just rice and cold water-dirty water…they put the rice in the dirty water, let it sit for one or two hours, then they ate the rice. Fatma, the 17 year-old daughter, said she was praying for God to take her soul because she couldn’t bear the horrors anymore.”

The families’ 12 year old boy told Suthir he used to want to be a doctor or a journalist. She paused then added, “He said that now he has no more dreams. He could no longer even sleep.”

“I’m sure the Americans committed bad things there, but who can discover and say this,” she said, “They didn’t allow us to go to the Julan area or any of the others where there was heavy fighting, and I’m sure that is where the horrible things took place.”

She told me the military took civilian cars and used them, parked in groups, to block the streets.

Suthir described a scene of complete destruction. She said not one mosque, house or school was undamaged, and said the situation was so desperate for the few families left in the city that people were literally starving to death, surviving as the aforementioned family was.

Rather than burying full bodies, residents of Fallujah are burying legs and arms, and sometimes just skeletons as dogs had eaten the rest of the body.

She said that even the schools in Fallujah had been bombed. Suthir also reported that the oldest teacher in Fallujah, a 90 year-old man, while praying in a mosque was shot in the head by a US sniper.

The US military has not given a date when the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Fallujah would be allowed to return to their city, but estimated it would be 2 months.

The Minister of Education announced today that schools will reopen in Fallujah next week.

“There was no reconstruction there,” Suthir added, “I just saw more bombs falling and black smoke. There is not a house or school undamaged there. I went to a part of the city that someone said was not bombed, but it was completely destroyed.”

“The Americans didn’t let us in the places where everyone said there was napalm used,” she said, “Julan and those places where the heaviest fighting was, nobody is allowed to go there.”

She said that there were many military checkpoints, but most of the soldiers she saw were not doing much.

“It was quiet, but this wasn’t the quiet of peace,” she told me, “It was the quiet of destruction and death.”

As helicopters rumble overhead, she added with frustration and anger, “The military is doing nothing to help people. Only the Iraqi Red Crescent is trying to help-but nobody can help the traumatized people, even the IRC.”

Later this afternoon, back in my room one of my Iraqi friends stops by. We talk work until the sun sets, so she stands to prepare to leave as she doesn’t like to be out after dark.

Pulling her jacket on she tells me, “You know, it is only getting worse here. Everyday is worse than the last day. Today will be better than tomorrow. Right now is better than the next hour. This is our life in Iraq now.”

Copyright: Dahr Jamail visit his website http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog

Gunning for Satan Resulted in Slaughtered Innocents

“The enemy has got a face,” a Marine lieutenant-colonel told an embedded reporter just before the invasion began. “He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him.”

And with that fair warning, 10,000 or so heavily armed avenging angels descended on a latter-day Sodom and reduced it to rubble. It was jihad with a yahoo, “a return to the simplicity of combat,” wrote Paul Wood of the BBC, “after the complexities of peacekeeping and an enemy that never shows itself.”

Who knew there was such a fine line between democracy and genocide? Destroying a city in order to save it is back in style, as long as a queasy public is spared raw footage of the details.

Yeah, NBC aired that video of the injured Iraqi in the mosque: Ka-blam! “He’s dead now!” But as usual, the war criminal was a low-level grunt; appalled higher-ups, their holy war momentarily interrupted, took refuge behind their love of the Geneva Conventions and the Iraqi people, and promised a full investigation.

What a weird war. We’re officially ashamed of what we’re doing and get indignant not so much at criticism of our actions as unvarnished documentation of them. NBC, for its part, took pains to apologize to the country for being unable to fit its troublesome footage into the big, reassuring picture of American compassion. And except for that aberration, mainstream journalists have mostly behaved themselves, only giving us news embedded in official context: 1,200 insurgents (and no civilians) dead, the January elections on track, a great victory for the forces of good.

Thanks to them, George Orwell still has our number. “The nationalist,” he wrote in 1945, “not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”

Actually, I think Orwell (who was quoted in an excellent piece by Linda S. Heard, writing recently for al-Jazeera), is only half right. We do disapprove of atrocities; Abu Ghraib, after all, was a PR nightmare. Public enthusiasm for war is a lot more iffy than it used to be. That makes “not even hearing about the atrocities” all the more crucial. It’s a lot easier to support our troops if we don’t know exactly what they’re doing.

So most of us are not going to read about children in Fallujah bleeding to death from shrapnel wounds because they can’t get medical attention. Nor will we hear about Abrams tanks firing randomly into residential neighborhoods or families huddled in their houses wondering where the next bomb or shell is going to hit.

We won’t know how badly the streets of Fallujah stink from rotting corpses, or that coalition mop-up operations included heaving bodies into the Euphrates. We won’t hear that at least 800 civilians (many women, many children) are dead from the latest onslaught, added to the 800 who died when we pounded the city last spring.

And that figure, a Red Cross estimate, is “extremely conservative,” independent journalist Dahr Jamail told Democracy Now. It “doesn’t take into account people buried under the rubble of homes, and other horrendous things that have happened there.” Officials expect the final toll to be “far, far higher.”

Nor are we likely to realize, as non-embedded news organizations are reporting, that a humanitarian crisis of daunting proportions is looming in Fallujah. Residents trapped in their houses have nothing to eat or drink. “There’s no water,” one resident told al-Jazeera. “People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there’s no proper food.”

OK, war isn’t pretty, but at least what’s left of Iraq when we finish our job will have a fresh, new democracy to enjoy, right? That’s the big picture we’re asked to believe in, the context that allows - demands - forgiveness for the occasional American war crime we learn about, and stops us from asking whether the entire game plan isn’t a war crime.

And besides, the other side fights dirty too. I’ll concede a ruthlessness to the insurgents that may well be equal to our own (though lacking tanks, bombers, fighter jets, attack helicopters, etc.), but I won’t concede them stupidity.

The embedded and approving Paul Wood described “the simplicity of combat” we were expecting and hoping for in Fallujah. But why would the enemy oblige us? Scott Ritter called the Fallujah operation “squeezing Jell-O.” As we were shelling civilians, taking out the hospital and leveling the city with Old Testament fury, the insurgents were regrouping and attacking targets in other parts of Iraq.

The sickening truth is that we may have destroyed a city the enemy had already conceded to us. We went gunning for Satan and wound up slaughtering the innocents.

Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer. Respond to this column at bkoehler@tribune.com or visit his Web site at commonwonders.com.

Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Treatment Allows Paralysed Korean Woman to Walk Again

KWANGJU, South Korea, A 37-year-old South Korean woman, paralysed 20 years ago as a result of a spinal injury, is walking again. Hers is the first recorded recovery of a spinal injury from the use of stem cells - her doctors used umbilical cord-blood stem cells.

The AFP reported that Hwang Mi-Soon shed tears as she took her first steps before a group of reporters Thursday, using the help of a walker. "This is already a miracle for me," Hwang said. "I never dreamed of getting to my feet again." She stood up out of her wheelchair and shuffled a few paces back and forth.

"We have glimpsed at a silver lining over the horizon," Chosun University medical school professor and researcher Song Chang-Hoon said. The new treatment has yet to be confirmed and duplicated, but may mark a new era in spinal cord injury treatment, he said. "We were all surprised at the fast improvements in the patient."

The AFP also reported that there is rarely any host immune rejection of umbilical cord-derived stem cells, unlike embryonic cells, which may actually form into tumors after being injected.

"It is just one case and we need more experiments, more data," another researcher, Oh Il-Hoon, said. "I believe experts in other countries have been conducting similar experiments and accumulating data before making the results public."

ACLU Challenges FBI on Antiterror Probes

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking information from the FBI on why bureau task forces set up to combat terrorism also looked into antiwar, animal rights, and environmental groups.

Dozens of organizations have been subjected to scrutiny, according to the ACLU, which planned to file Freedom of Information Act requests with the FBI today to try to find out why.

"We think it's clear that the public is interested in the possible return of FBI spying on political and religious groups," said Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal counsel.

The FBI denies singling out individuals or groups for surveillance or investigation based solely on activities protected by the Constitution's guarantees of free speech.

Officials say agents adhere strictly to Justice Department guidelines requiring evidence of criminal activity or indications that a person may know something about a crime.

"Any investigation conducted by the FBI is done under the attorney general's guidelines and in full compliance with the guidelines," FBI spokesman Bill Carter said.

There are terrorism task forces in 100 cities and with more than 3,700 members, including at least 2,000 FBI agents, state and local police, and other federal law enforcement officials. More than half of the task forces were formed after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The ACLU was seeking FBI files on a broad range of individuals and groups that have been interviewed, investigated, or subjected to searches by the task forces. The requests also seek information on how the task forces are funded, to determine whether they are rewarded with government money by labeling high numbers of cases as related to terrorism, Beeson said.

"What we're afraid is happening is that these cities and towns can get federal antiterrorism money by identifying local groups as threats in their areas," Beeson said.

The ACLU provided a list of examples, including the Quaker-affiliated American Friends Service Committee that had been monitored by Denver police and was listed as an "active case" by a local terrorism task force.

Others who contend they were improperly monitored or investigated include Rocky Mountain Animal Defense, the Washington-based Campaign for Labor Rights, and a number of peace and environmental activists.

The information requests were being filed with FBI headquarters in Washington, as well as field offices in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon, New York, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Beeson said. ACLU affiliates in California and New Jersey have previously filed lawsuits seeking similar information.

"We have to have probable cause to look at someone," said Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman of the FBI Boston division, who would not confirm or deny whether the local office's antiterrorism task force investigated antiwar, animal rights, or environmental groups. "We don't go out randomly and look at groups or individuals because of their association. We look at criminal groups, and there has to be a reason to do that."

If the FBI declines to turn over the information, the ACLU can sue in federal court.

Curt Anderson, Associated Press | December 2, 2004

David Abel of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

The Lessons of Watergate

For a beleaguered press still operating in the shadow of 9/11, the Watergate scandal and the subsequent tension between transparency and national security offers remarkably fresh insight.

The tension between power and the press, between spinning and searching for truth, between disinformation and information, is of course endemic to the human condition itself. And in trying times like these, when it occasionally looks like things are going to hell, it is strangely consoling to recall that actually others before us also have traveled on what must have seemed to be the road to perdition.

For example, 33 years ago, a President and his administration were prosecuting a difficult, unpopular war thousands of miles away on foreign soil, keenly attempting without great success to control the media's access to information, particularly of the unfavorable kind. Two newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, each began publishing a leaked, secret Defense Department history of the Vietnam War that dramatically revealed government deception and incompetence. The Nixon administration went into federal court against the two news organizations, separately, and, citing national security and charging treason, managed to halt publication of the "Pentagon Papers" until the U.S. Supreme Court, on June 30, 1971, sided with the First Amendment by a vote of 6-3.

While Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee was, among others, understandably exultant and relieved, he also recognized, as Bradlee later recalled in his memoir, A Good Life, that he had just stared into the abyss, "For the first time in the history of the American republic, newspapers had been restrained by the government from publishing a story – a black mark in the history of democracy... What the hell was going on in this country that this could happen?"

Certainly a common refrain among many journalists these days as well, but to finish the flashback, the Pentagon Papers episode obviously was just the beginning. Bradlee at the time did not know the answer to his own question, except that "the Cold War dominated our society, and... the Nixon-Agnew administration was playing hardball." While Vietnam wore on for a few more years, Richard Nixon seethed and the White House siege mentality worsened.

Two days before the historic Supreme Court case, the whistleblower who had leaked the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, espionage, theft of government property and the unauthorized possession of "documents and writing related to the national defense." The day after the high court decision, White House Special Counsel Charles Colson asked former CIA operative E. Howard Hunt whether "we should go down the line to nail the guy [Ellsberg] cold."

The Pentagon Papers obsession spawned the White House Special Investigations Unit, the infamous "Plumbers" unit, who, among other misadventures, weeks later broke into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office, looking for dirt. And the poisonous paranoia didn't stop there but extended to other burglaries, including the Democratic Party national headquarters at the Watergate complex, electronic surveillance, misuse of confidential tax return information against perceived political enemies, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and an astonishing array of other illegal government abuses of power, ultimately exposed, prosecuted and culminating in the only resignation of a sitting U.S. president.

The Pentagon Papers case and the Watergate scandal still represent U.S. history's high-water mark in the longstanding struggle between raw political power and democratic values, poignantly affirming the public's right to know about its government. They still represent the bleakest moments and the loftiest triumphs of journalism in contemporary America, an invaluable perspective today as we ponder the future and assess the tectonic damage to our long-cherished freedoms of speech and information in the past three, disquieting years in the wake of the devastating, unimaginable carnage of September 11, 2001.

Suddenly, despite living in the most powerful nation on earth, we all faced a shattering if all-too-familiar realization of our own human vulnerabilities, including the quite palpable fear for our own personal safety, indelibly seared into our collective consciousness. While the Vietnam and Watergate era was quite extraordinary, most Americans, including journalists, never had the sense that their physical wellbeing was potentially at risk. Juxtapose our pervasive sense of insecurity and the patriotic and visceral, survival-related instinct to do anything to thwart "terrorism," with a President and administration which assumed power with a well-documented predisposition to tightly manage and control information, and it is not difficult to understand the current, wholesale assault on openness and government accountability today.

Indeed, let us not forget the hard-wiring, lifelong sensibility that Watergate and the Nixonian animosity and adversarial culture toward the news media unavoidably had to have on three rising Republicans: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, was personally close to Nixon and was chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time of the resignation. Rumsfeld and Cheney not only served in the Nixon administration, but the two men were also in President Gerald R. Ford's White House, as successive chiefs of staff.

As defense secretary in the first Bush administration, Cheney was one of the architects of the controversial Persian Gulf War media restrictions, as Jacqueline Sharkey documented in a 1992 Center for Public Integrity report, Under Fire: US Military Restrictions on the Media from Grenada to the Persian Gulf. From the military and public relations debacle of Vietnam, Cheney and others in the Pentagon and White House recognized the usefulness of trying "to hide the true face of war by controlling the images of the conflict," including caskets at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. In the U.S. military conflicts in Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf during the 1980s and early 1990s, the media thus was constrained from the actual field of action, thereby substantially preventing those Vietnam-reminiscent pictures of body bags in American TV living rooms.

In the weeks and months prior to September 11, 2001, the secrecy obsession and aggressive control tactics by the new Bush administration had already become apparent. For example, instead of turning his gubernatorial papers over to the Texas State Library and Archives, as tradition would have it, Gov. Bush, in his last hours, tried to shelter his official records inside his father's presidential library at Texas A&M University, outside the jurisdiction of the strong Texas public information law. He was overruled by the state attorney general and they fortunately are accessible to the public.

In the summer of 2001, Vice President Cheney refused to release basic information about meetings he and other administration officials had held – on government time and property – with energy company executives to help formulate federal policies, a position on which he remains steadfastly adamant.

And a month before September 11, the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Associated Press reporter John Solomon's home telephone records. As Solomon, the AP deputy Washington bureau chief, told me, "The Justice Department has indicated to us that they were actually trying to stop the publication of a story that I was working on and tried to find out who I was talking to and cut off the flow of information. So it does get into the issue of prior restraint, along with First and Fourth Amendment issues."

As we all know too well, in the weeks immediately following September 11th, the Bush administration obtained passage of the USA Patriot Act, with no public debate or amendments, among other things, giving federal authorities more power to access email and telephone communications. The federal government detained hundreds of people indefinitely without releasing the most basic information about them. Attorney General John Ashcroft described the news blackout in Orwellian fashion, "It would be a violation of the privacy rights of individuals for me to create some kind of list." Usually open U.S. immigration proceedings were closed to the public, and separately, the Attorney General sent a chilling, unprecedented directive throughout the government, "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions..." And President Bush quietly signed Executive Order 13233, overriding the post-Watergate 1978 Presidential Records Act and sharply reducing public access to the papers of former presidents, including his father's.

In the war in Afghanistan, journalists were severely limited in their access to field of action. As the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press noted in its excellent report, Homeland Confidential, "In effect, most American broadcasters and newspaper reporters scratched out coverage from Pentagon briefings, a rare interview on a U.S. aircraft carrier or a humanitarian aid airlift, or from carefully selected military videos or from leaks . . . The truth is, the American media's vantage point for the war has never been at the frontlines with American troops."

Indeed, who can forget December 6, 2001, when Marines locked reporters and photographers in a warehouse to prevent them from covering American troops killed or injured north of Kandahar, Afghanistan? And while embedded reporters enjoyed far greater access – and danger – in Iraq, many news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have recently been introspective or even mildly apologetic for their over-reliance on official statements in the lead-up to the war.

But, meanwhile, it is hard to overstate the fear and paranoia of an entire, terrorized nation. Within six months of September 11th, in 300 separate instances, federal, state and local officials restricted access to government records by executive order, or proposed new laws to sharply curtail their availability, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More recently, sunshine activists are most alarmed about the Homeland Security Act, especially its Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) section. Former Miami Herald managing editor Pete Weitzel recently described it in The American Editor as a "black hole" for almost boundless censorship. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, called the move – which would create an entirely new level of secrecy and a system of binding nondisclosure agreements effectively muzzling millions of state and local officials and private contractors – "the single greatest rollback of FOIA in history."

The American people unfortunately are not as informed, concerned, or supportive about this deepening crisis as they ought to be. A national poll sponsored by the Chicago Tribune on First Amendment issues in late June found that roughly half of the public believe there should have been some kind of "press restraint" on coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal in Iraq – somewhat ironic considering that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, personally had implored CBS's 60 Minutes II to keep its exposé off the air in the name of national security, which the network actually did voluntarily until learning that investigative reporter Seymour Hersh would be publishing the story in The New Yorker. In general, according to Charles Madigan, editor of the Tribune's Perspective section, fifty or sixty percent of the public "would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, particularly when it has sexual content or is heard as unpatriotic."

This ambivalence in which at least half of the country equates draconian security and secrecy measures with their own safety is quite serious and very possibly insurmountable. Tom Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive in Washington wrote in National Security and Open Government, "The government has successfully framed the debate after 9/11 as terrorism fighters versus civil libertarians, as soldiers versus reporters, as hawks versus doves. In wartime, the poundage of the former will always outweigh the latter... We need to place openness where it belongs, not only at the center of our values, but also at the center of our strategy for security."

Both the Congressional September 11th investigation and the 9/11 Commission appointed by President Bush separately documented extensive "intelligence hoarding" and petty bureaucratic turf wars inside the government, excessive secrecy for all the wrong reasons and the dire consequences of not sharing information. But beyond that, the ignorance of the body politic was anything but blissful. The 9/11 Commission concluded, "We believe American and international public opinion might have been different – and so might the range of options for a president – had they [the American people] been informed of [the growing al Qaeda danger]."

It is a powerful message still substantially untold but essential to understanding and preserving freedom of the press as we know it. Indeed, the situation is so foreboding that the Associated Press has taken the unusual step of proposing an industry-wide lobby to "identify and oppose legislation that puts unreasonable restrictions on public information." AP stepped forward after seven national journalism groups and the National Freedom of Information Coalition had already joined to form the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government.

The Center for Public Integrity has found that nothing resonates more with the American people than the straight skinny itself about the powers that be. When the CPI obtained a secret draft of the Domestic Enhancement Security Act of 2003, better known as "Patriot II," it was posted in its 100-plus page entirety on the Web site, www.publicintegrity.org, over the objections of the Justice Department. Because of the public furor over some of its controversial provisions – including internal GOP frustration on Capitol Hill that the secretive Attorney General and his staff had kept them in the dark for nearly half a year – the draft bill was dead within months (although the Bush administration has been trying to push a few provisions separately).

Or, noticing that no one was terribly helpful or definitive about the awarding of billions of dollars in government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the CPI decided to go to work, filing 73 FOIAs and, when necessary, successfully suing the State Department and the Army for the contracts. Six months later, a report, Windfalls of War, revealed all of the major known contractors and contracts, and the fact that Vice President Cheney's former company, Halliburton, and its subsidiaries had gotten by far the most taxpayer money, some of them with no other bidders. Our approach now on any issue is to push back and appeal on any stonewalling that elevates our blood pressure. In other words, appeal early and often – it's the principle of the thing, and you just might win.

Besides educating the American people about the Vietnam War, the greatest result of courageous publication of the Pentagon Papers was the confidence it imbued in newsrooms all across America. Inside the Washington Post, years later Bradlee recalled, "a sense of mission and agreement on new goals, and how to attain them...After the Pentagon Papers, there would be no decision too difficult for us to overcome together."

And Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, who argued the government's case against the Post and the Times before the Supreme Court, later acknowledged in an op-ed what many had suspected all along, "I have never seen any trace of a threat to the national security from the Pentagon Papers' publication."

As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in the Pentagon Papers case, words we should all remember, "In the absence of governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government.

Charles Lewis, The Center for Public Integrity. Posted December 1, 2004.

Charles Lewis is the founder and executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization in Washington that does investigative reporting and research on public policy issues.

I Am Become Death - The Destroyer Of The Worlds

The crimson waters of the Euphrates are now emptying into the Persian Gulf the hopes and aspirations of innocent people whose lives were snuffed out on the orders of a man rewarded for his monumental crimes by his great nation.

Anwaar Hussain

11/30/04 "ICH" -- Known as the "city of mosques" for its more than 200 mosques, Fallujah is also known for refusing to add Saddam’s name to the call for prayers from its ancient minarets. It is located on the banks of river Euphrates, the largest river in Southwest Asia. The 1700 miles long Euphrates is linked with some of the most important events in olden history.

The city of Ur, found at its mouth, was the birthplace of Abraham. On its banks stood the city of Babylon. In the past, the army of Necho was defeated on its banks by Nebuchadnezzar. Cyrus the Younger and Crassus perished after crossing it. Alexander traversed it and continued his journey eastward. Presently, George Bush’s forces are crossing and re-crossing it making its waters redder each time with the blood of Fallujah’s citizens.

Fallujah has been laid waste. It has been bombed, re-bombed, its citizens gunned down, its structures devastated by powerful weapons. It is a hell on earth of crushed bodies, shattered buildings and the reek of death. In addition to the artillery and the warplanes dropping 500, 1000, and 2000-pound bombs, 70-ton Abrams Tanks and the murderous AC-130 Spectre gunship that can demolish a whole city block in less than a minute, the Marines had snipers crisscrossing the entire town firing at will at whatever moved outside the buildings. For those inside, the US troops were equipped with thermal sights capable of detecting body heat. Any such detection was eagerly assumed to indicate the presence of “insurgents” inviting a deadly salvo.

No body has an accurate idea of how many Iraqis—combatants and noncombatants—have been killed by the thousands of tons of explosives and bullets let loose upon the city. Mortuary teams collecting the dead rotting in the city streets are fighting the wandering dogs that are busy devouring their former masters. The hundreds buried beneath the rubble and debris will be dug out later. A US marine spokesman, Colonel Mike Regner, estimated 1,000 and 2,000 Iraqis dead. The world is awaiting the toll from more reliable sources with a wincing anticipation.

Eyewitnesses report human corpses littering the city’s streets, nibbled at by starving canines. Parents have been forced to watch their wounded children die and then bury their bodies in their gardens. An Iraqi journalist, reporting in the city for the BBC and Reuters, said: “I have seen some strange things recently, such as stray dogs snatching bites out of bodies lying on the streets. Meanwhile, people forage in their gardens looking for something to eat. Those that have survived this far are looking gaunt. The opposite is happening to the dead—left where they fell, they are now bloated and rotting...”

Some images that did manage to filter through the layers of American censorship include scenes of the devastated landscape of the city; the bloodied and fly-covered corpses of young Iraqi men lying in the streets or heaped in rows amidst the debris; a headless body; women and children escaping with the few possessions they have left; mortuary teams collecting the dead; and Fallujah infants being treated for horrific injuries in Baghdad hospitals. US general John Sattler declared: “We have liberated the city of Fallujah.”

The assault on Fallujah is a pure and simple Nazi-style collective punishment, not liberation. The city has been razed to the ground because its political, spiritual and tribal leaders, motivated by Iraqi patriotism and opposition to the presence of foreign troops in their country, organized a guerilla resistance to the US invasion.

The aim of the US assault is to make Fallujah a model to the rest of Iraq of what will happen to those thinking on similar lines. It is the leading thrust of an orgy of killing intended to crush and drive underground every voice of dissent and ensure that elections this coming January will throw up a weak-willed, pro-US toady regime. The American military is rumored to be planning similar attacks on scores of other Iraqi cities and towns.

Not a single major voice has been raised in the American media against the ongoing destruction of Fallujah. While much of the world recognizes something dreadful has occurred, the US press does not even bat an eyelash over the organized leveling of a city of 300,000 people. In none of the US media commentaries is there a single phrase of unease about the moral, or legal, questions involved in the attack on Fallujah. None have dared say it in as many words that the American military operation in the city is an unlawful act of aggression in an equally illegal, criminal, aggressive war.

The opposite is true in fact. Ralph Peters, the author of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace." a rabid Neocon mouthpiece and revered by the ruling Neocons, in his prominently placed November 4 New York Post article wrote: “We need to demonstrate that the US military cannot be deterred or defeated. If that means widespread destruction, we must accept the price. Most of Fallujah’s residents—those who wish to live in peace—have already fled. Those who remain have made their choice. We need to pursue the terrorists remorselessly...

“That means killing. While we strive to obey the internationally recognized laws of war (though our enemies do not), our goal should be to target the terrorists and insurgents so forcefully that few survive to raise their hands in surrender. We don’t need more complaints about our treatment of prisoners from the global forces of appeasement. We need terrorists dead in the dust. And the world needs to see their corpses...

“Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it. We need to demonstrate our strength of will to the world, to show that there is only one possible result when madmen take on America.”

Though the carnage carried out by Hitler’s regime was on a different scale than that now being committed by the Bush administration, there are striking parallels. For the first time since the Wehrmacht swept through Europe, the world is witnessing a major imperialist power launching an unjustifiable war, placing an entire people under military occupation and carrying out acts of collective and visible punishment against civilian populace. The US media’s wretched connivance in this deception is incredible, as incredible as the fact that this war, based on undeniable lies as it was, was sold to the American people as the gospel truth ordained by God.

To be honest, George Bush is not the first US president ordering the state’s machinery to pulverize nations and peoples abroad. Even a hurried analysis of the American’s government’s conduct in the last century makes for a most damning indictment. Out of the US’s past foreign policy woodwork, crawl out numerous invasions, bombings, overthrowing governments, suppressing movements for social change, assassinating political leaders, perverting elections, manipulating labor unions, manufacturing "news", selling blatant lies, death squads, torture, biological warfare, depleted uranium, drug trafficking, mercenaries ... you name it.

This terrorizing of nations and individuals by various US governments has been going on full bore since at least the late 1890s, when Americans obliterated a million Filipinos to keep them safe from the Spanish. 60 million Native Americans, the children of a lesser God, were exterminated by the orders of earlier administrations throughout the 19th century. The difference with past is that George Bush does it in the name of his God, a God far superior to any other and sanctioned fully by his coterie. Ironically, both George Bush and his nemesis, Osama Bin Laden, refer to God almost equal number of times in their public pronouncements.

The United States went into Afghanistan to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. They killed 10,000 innocent Afghans but could not find their man. They went into Iraq to discover and eliminate Saddam’s WMDs. They killed tens of thousands of Iraqis but found no WMD. They laid siege to the city of Fallujah to kill or capture Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. The city and its inhabitants have been blown to smithereens but there is no Zarqawi. Is it not only too convenient? Next when they want to attack Pakistan, or Iran, they simply have to say that Bin Laden is taking refuge there. Just like the next Iraqi city awaiting the fate of Fallujah will be the latest refuge of Zarqawi; the WMDs too could next fly to Syria or may be even Saudi Arabia. Is one imagining things here? Or is it that the US imperialism is indeed now riding full time on the back of gargantuan lies?

After granting George Bush a carte blanche to do what he likes the American citizens, of course, continue their daily lives oblivious to what is being done in their name. Between their work places and the nearest fast food joints, they just do not have enough time to check back on the activities of the man who is playing the Terminator in the name of God and in their name.

Those who do get to know a little are in a constant state of denial. One thing is sure though. Just like in post-war Germany where some even denied the holocaust. "We didn't know what was happening" is bound to become a cliché that will one day be used to ridicule Americans who claim ignorance of the atrocities committed by their administration in their name. Ironically, Khomeini died trying to get people to see America as "the great Satan,” It took George W. Bush and his cohorts just four years to do exactly that, and not just in the eyes of the Muslim world.

As America sinks deeper into the heart of darkness, its thinking citizens need to jolt themselves out of their apathy. With each passing day their beloved America is scaling ever greater heights of hideous glories. The man in charge, George W. Bush, is actually living the throes of his apocalyptic dream of “I am become death-the destroyer of the worlds”. He codenamed his destruction of Fallujah as “Operation Phantom Fury”. But as the falsehood dies and gives way to truth, as all lies must one day, it will be the Iraqi dead that will form a legion of phantoms and would throng around Americans in a macabre dance to haunt them for decades. The fury of those phantoms will be hair raising.

Fallujah will enter history as the place where US imperialism carried out an offense of heinous proportions this November, a monstrous crime far beyond any possible forgiveness. The crimson waters of the Euphrates are now emptying into the Persian Gulf the hopes and aspirations of innocent people whose lives were snuffed out on the orders of a man rewarded for his monumental crimes by his great nation.

The Euphrates flows on.

E-Mails Provide A Glimpse Into 'Iron Triangle'

Boeing Deal Is Example of Ties Among Military Services, Defense and Congress

"Everyone's nervous," Acting Undersecretary of Defense Michael W. Wynne warned in a confidential e-mail to Air Force Secretary James G. Roche on July 8, 2003.

It was two days before the Bush administration was to send its first detailed report to Congress about a controversial Air Force plan to lease refueling tankers from the Boeing Co., and a few days after a fierce backroom struggle over its language between critics of the plan and Air Force enthusiasts.

Wynne's anxiety, it turned out, was well-founded. Rather than solidifying congressional support, the report's release sparked more intense scrutiny of the most costly government lease in U.S. history, and ultimately helped end the government careers of some of those involved in preparing the report.

From a program initially seen by Boeing and the Air Force as a clever way to acquire a new tanker fleet without having to budget for it and buy the planes outright, the lease has now developed a reputation as the most significant military contracting abuse in 20 years, according to a letter sent to the Pentagon last month by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and two other committee members.

Three Boeing officials have resigned in connection with the controversy; two have pleaded guilty in federal court to ethics violations. Wynne has been unable to win confirmation as an undersecretary of defense, as a result of the "hold" placed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on most defense promotions to gain leverage in McCain's continuing battle for access to the Pentagon's internal communications about the deal. Air Force Gen. Gregory S. Martin, chief of the Air Force Materiel Command, withdrew from consideration for a more senior post after tussling publicly with McCain about the gravity of the ethics violations.

Roche and Marvin Sambur, his top acquisition manager, announced their resignations from the government two weeks ago, just before McCain splashed some acerbic and revealing internal Air Force e-mails (quoted portions of which appear in italics below) about the plan into the Congressional Record. Roche said he never intended to serve longer; Sambur said he stepped aside partly to help ease tensions with Congress, which blocked the leasing plan this summer.

The significance of the $30 billion tanker program to its supporters is reflected in the extreme language Roche and Sambur used in the e-mails to describe what they believed was at stake. The two were deeply invested in its success, and although it was principally an Air Force -- rather than a Defense Department -- initiative, they worried that any setback would be ruinous for them and others at the Pentagon.

I will not give your enemies the tools to bury us! Sambur told Roche on June 25, 2003, during a dispute over the wording of the report to Congress. Two weeks later, Roche accused dissenting government officials in an e-mail on July 8, 2003, of wanting me to sign a suicide note. BUT I WILL NOT. This whole drill has gotten out of hand!

Roche, a former executive at the Northrop Grumman Corp., is well-known for his take-no-prisoners political style. In one e-mail, he compared himself to World War II Navy Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey Jr., whose motto he quoted as: "Strike fast, strike hard, strike often."

Both Roche and Sambur, a former executive at ITT Defense with a similar style, have said the lease was a good deal because it allowed the Air Force to acquire the planes faster than if they were purchased. But the e-mails indicate they saw themselves as primarily allied with Boeing and its congressional supporters in the dispute, rather than others in the Bush administration who considered the deal a costly rip-off and violation of federal procurement rules.

Their missives, as a result, provide an unusual glimpse into part of what scholars described more than 20 years ago as the "Iron Triangle" -- the enduring alliance between the military services, the defense industry and their congressional advocates.
Roche and former Northrop executive Ralph Crosby were once rivals at the firm, said sources who know them both. When Crosby was appointed in August 2002 as the head of the U.S. office of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. -- the parent of Airbus, a fierce Boeing rival with its headquarters in France -- Roche sent an e-mail to William Bodie, his top public relations aide, saying: Well, well. we will have fun with Airbus.

Roche's hostility to Airbus was also reflected in an e-mail debate on April 16, 2003, between Wynne and Roche about inviting Crosby to lunch. Wynne opened the discussion by telling Roche and Sambur that he wanted Crosby to say how much a refueling tanker built by Airbus would cost.

Wynne explained: They came in a couple of weeks ago and offered to build the majority [of the tankers] here in America. . . . I am not sure where this will lead, but the benefits of competition may be revealing.

Roche replied: Mike, you must be out of your mind!!! Crosby has lots of baggage, as does Airbus. We won't be happy with your doing this.

Wynne replied with a reference to Pentagon rules against sole-source contracting: But where will the competition come from?

Roche replied by invoking U.S. anger over France's failure to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq: Neither you nor I can attend the Paris Air Show, we are getting into a possible flap over inviting the chief of the FAF [French Air Force] to a gathering next September, and you are inviting them to lunch? Hello? Within minutes of the invite, Crosby most likely used your call to butter his personal croissant in Paris, and EADS would then inform the [French presidential office] . . . in seconds. Be careful!

Airbus was not the leasing program's only enemy, according to Roche's and Sambur's e-mails. Sometimes top Pentagon officials, such as Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused problems by deviating from the Air Force orthodoxy that replacing the tankers was urgent.

Reacting to an interview with Myers published on April 9, 2002, in which Myers said that the existing tanker fleet was adequate for future needs, Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, told Roche: I don't think there was malice. . . . We just have to articulate the problem we are trying to fix.

In the summer of 2003, the Pentagon's office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E) also stoked Air Force pique by dissenting from its claim that leasing would essentially cost the same as buying the planes. In fact, said PA&E director Ken Krieg in a memo on June 20, 2003, to Wynne and others, lease costs would exceed purchase costs by $1.9 billion to $6 billion, depending on the accounting method used. He said the deal violated Pentagon procurement rules.

Roche sent Wynne -- the more junior official, according to Pentagon protocol -- an e-mail two days later, warning that the bureaucrats who opposed the 767 lease have come out of the woodwork to kill it. . . . Ken Krieg's memo . . . is a cheap shot, and I'm sure has already been delivered to enemies of the lease on the Hill. It was a process foul. And Ken needs to be made aware of that BY YOU!
Roche went on to say that PA&E was trying to set the Air Force up to be destroyed by Sen. McCain. . . . As you might imagine, I won't give them the chance, but I will make it clear who is responsible to Don [Rumsfeld]. I refuse to wear my flak jacket backwards to protect against friendly fire.

Wynne then sent Krieg an angry note, and Krieg responded by suggesting a face-to-face meeting with Roche to clear air. He explained in an e-mail that: I am trying to get the strategy to drive the deal; the deal and contract to set the numbers; the numbers [price] to be reopened . . . without a lot of hype.

Roche gave no ground in his reply: Kenny, I love you, and you know that. I think you have been had by some members of the famous PA&E staff. You never should have put what you put in writing. It will now be used against me and Don Rumsfeld.

Roche and Sambur also resented an effort by analysts at the Office of Management and Budget to insert into a July 10, 2003, Pentagon report to Congress a single paragraph confirming that leasing the refueling tankers could cost at least $1.9 billion more than buying them.

Sambur e-mailed Roche on July 8 of that year: What they are forcing us to say is that IF Congress gave us permission to PURCHASE under the same [terms] . . . then the lease is DUMB financially. Robin [Cleveland, a senior OMB official] wanted it in the text and Mike [Wynne] got her to accept it as a footnote.

Sambur added that he had spoken the previous week to Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.), whose district includes Boeing offices: Dicks told me to hold firm and not to go along with Robin.

Roche, apparently alarmed by Wynne's willingness to accept the insert, also sent an e-mail to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz's top political aide, warning that OMB's attempt to include the paragraph was a bureaucratic trick to make a fool out of Don [Rumsfeld] as well as the Air Force.

Roche also told Wynne in an e-mail: McCain and others who oppose the lease will leap to this number! Why is this so hard for you to see, Mike?

But Wynne defended his decision the following day: I believe that addressing this point in this fashion takes the teeth out of their criticism. This will not embarass at all the Secretary [of Defense]. . . .This followed one full week of negotiation to remove it from the text and get it to only footnote status. . . . I think you . . . are letting a minor math point get in front of a major policy win.

In the run-up to these discussions, OMB's Robin Cleveland had sent the résumé for her brother, Peter, then a law student, to Roche on May 9, 2003, saying: I would appreciate anything you can do to help with NG [Northrop Grumman]. Within an hour, Roche forwarded the e-mail to Stephen Yslas, a senior Northrop lawyer, at the firm's Los Angeles headquarters:
STEVE -- I know this guy. He is good. His sister (Robin)is in charge of defense and intell at OMB. . . . If Peter Cleveland looks good to you, PLS add my endorsement. Be well.

Roche then forwarded a copy of his e-mail to Cleveland, saying: Be well. Smile. Give tankers now (Oops, did I say that?. . .). Cleveland, for her part, congratulated her brother a week later on getting a job interview with Northrop, telling him in an e-mail: Hope it works before the tanker leasing issue get[s] fouled up.

Northrop in the end did not hire Cleveland's brother, and by July 8, the Air Force was less solicitous of her. Sambur on that day sent Roche an e-mail saying: It is worth a shot speaking to Robin, or are you like me in that you would rather take poison?

Cleveland declined to comment through OMB spokesman Chad Kolton. He said that after the e-mail exchange about the job was discovered and shared with Senate investigators two months ago, OMB Director Joshua B. Bolton sent it to the Justice Department to check for compliance with conflict-of-interest statutes; no result has been announced.

Various e-mails make clear that leasing enthusiasts repeatedly assured top Pentagon officials that the deal was cost-effective and untainted by scandal. Despite the internal budget critiques, a special assistant to the defense secretary, Richard Greco Jr. -- now the Navy comptroller -- said in a January 2003 memo to Wolfowitz that the price is essentially neutral to a buy.

After Boeing fired executive Darleen A. Druyun on Nov. 24, 2003, for violating its ethics rules -- but before she pleaded guilty in court to raising the tanker price as a gift to Boeing while serving as Sambur's principal deputy -- Sambur told Air Force Undersecretary Peter Teets that a thorough review of the Darlene situation had been completed, and . . . there was no way Darlene had had any influence on the leasing plan, according to an e-mail on Nov. 27, 2003, from Teets to Roche.

When asked about the controversy at a news conference last week, Rumsfeld laid most of the blame on Druyun and the fact that she had "very little adult supervision above, below or on the side" while she steered contracting benefits to Boeing. He added, "I'm told that when Secretary Roche and Assistant Secretary Sambur came in, they looked at that situation, were uncomfortable with it, and began taking authorities away from her and trying to reestablish a different arrangement.

"Obviously," Rumsfeld added, "there's something needs to be changed."

R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 2, 2004; Page A33

Abu Ghraib, Caribbean Style

Ever since the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, the Bush administration has claimed that the abuses depicted in those horrible photos were an isolated problem that was immediately fixed. The White House has repeatedly proclaimed its respect for the Geneva Conventions, international law and American statutes governing the treatment of prisoners.

An article in The Times on Tuesday by Neil A. Lewis showed how hollow those assurances are. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, where the United States warehouses men captured in Afghanistan, have been subject to unremitting abuse that is sometimes "tantamount to torture." This continued well after the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light, and it may still be going on.

The Red Cross said it first complained about Guantánamo in January 2003. It found mistreatment similar to that at Abu Ghraib, including beatings, prolonged isolation, sexual humiliation and prolonged "stress positions" for prisoners. But the Red Cross found a new, disturbing practice at Guantánamo: the use of medical personnel to help interrogators get information.

The Red Cross reported the same level of abuse in the spring of 2003. By this June, it said, the regime was "more refined and repressive." The Red Cross did say fearful Guantánamo prisoners complained less frequently in 2004 than in 2003 about female interrogators who exposed their breasts, kissed prisoners, touched them sexually and showed them pornography. But it's hard to see that as progress.

The administration's response to the Red Cross report was unsurprising. The military brushed off the Red Cross's complaints when they were made, just as it did at Abu Ghraib. Yesterday, Lawrence Di Rita, a spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld, said the Red Cross had "their point of view," which was not shared by the Bush administration. The Red Cross's point of view, however, is reflected in the Geneva Conventions and in American law. The recent debate over prisoner abuse has not been brought to the courts, but the Supreme Court has ruled that Mr. Bush cannot suspend due process for prisoners of his choosing.

The White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department clearly have no intention of addressing the abuse. Indeed, Mr. Bush has nominated one of the architects of the administration's prisoner policy, the White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, to be attorney general. The general who set up the system at Guantánamo is now in charge of prisons in Iraq.

Only Congress can hold the administration accountable and begin to repair the damage to American values and America's image caused by the mistreatment of prisoners. Republican and Democratic senators - like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin - have tried hard to investigate prisoner abuse. But Republican leaders have ignored the issue. Senator John Kerry never even raised it during the campaign.

Congress should demand that the Central Intelligence Agency stop stonewalling on the release of its inspector general's report on the role of intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib. During confirmation hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee should press Mr. Gonzales about why he signed off on two legal opinions that justified torture and claimed that Mr. Bush could suspend the Geneva Conventions whenever he liked. They should ask what he intends to do about fixing the problem.

Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, should resume his valuable hearings on prisoner abuse. Ideally, he would finally ask the Senate leadership to create a investigative committee with subpoena powers to impose accountability on high-ranking generals and civilian officials.

Published: December 1, 2004
NY Times

Iraq's Civilian Dead Get No Hearing in the United States

Evidence is mounting that America's war in Iraq has killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and perhaps well over 100,000. Yet this carnage is systematically ignored in the United States, where the media and government portray a war in which there are no civilian deaths, because there are no Iraqi civilians, only insurgents.

American behavior and self-perceptions reveal the ease with which a civilized country can engage in large-scale killing of civilians without public discussion. In late October, the British medical journal Lancet published a study of civilian deaths in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began. The sample survey documented an extra 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths compared to the death rate in the preceding year, when Saddam Hussein was still in power - and this estimate did not even count excess deaths in Fallujah, which was deemed too dangerous to include.

The study also noted that the majority of deaths resulted from violence, and that a high proportion of the violent deaths were due to U.S. aerial bombing. The epidemiologists acknowledged the uncertainties of these estimates, but presented enough data to warrant an urgent follow-up investigation and reconsideration by the Bush administration and the U.S. military of aerial bombing of Iraq's urban areas.

America's public reaction has been as remarkable as the Lancet study, for the reaction has been no reaction. On Oct. 29 the vaunted New York Times ran a single story of 770 words on page 8 of the paper. The Times reporter apparently did not interview a single Bush administration or U.S. military official. No follow-up stories or editorials appeared, and no Times reporters assessed the story on the ground. Coverage in other U.S. papers was similarly meager. The Washington Post, also on Oct. 29, carried a single 758-word story on page 16.

Recent reporting on the bombing of Fallujah has also been an exercise in self-denial. On Nov. 6, The New York Times wrote that "warplanes pounded rebel positions" in Fallujah, without noting that "rebel positions" were actually in civilian neighborhoods. Another story in The Times on Nov. 12, citing "military officials," dutifully reported: "Since the assault began on Monday, about 600 rebels have been killed, along with 18 American and 5 Iraqi soldiers." The issue of civilian deaths was not even raised.

Violence is only one reason for the increase in civilian deaths in Iraq. Children in urban war zones die in vast numbers from diarrhea, respiratory infections and other causes, owing to unsafe drinking water, lack of refrigerated foods, and acute shortages of blood and basic medicines in clinics and hospitals (that is, if civilians even dare to leave their houses for medical care). The Red Crescent and other relief agencies were unable to relieve Fallujah's civilian population.

On Nov. 14, the front page of The New York Times led with the following description: "Army tanks and fighting vehicles blasted their way into the last main rebel stronghold in Fallujah at sundown on Saturday after American warplanes and artillery prepared the way with a savage barrage on the district. Earlier in the afternoon, 10 separate plumes of smoke rose from Southern Fallujah, as it etched against the desert sky, and probably exclaimed catastrophe for the insurgents."

There is, once again, virtually no mention of the catastrophe for civilians etched against that desert sky. There is a hint, though, in a brief mention in the middle of the story of a father looking over his wounded sons in a hospital and declaring: "Now Americans are shooting randomly at anything that moves."

A few days later, a U.S. television film crew was in a bombed-out mosque with American marines. While the cameras were rolling, a marine turned to an unarmed and wounded Iraqi lying on the ground and shot the man in the head. (Reportedly, there were a few other such cases of outright murder.) But the American media more or less brushed aside this shocking incident, too. The Wall Street Journal actually wrote an editorial on Nov. 18 that criticized the critics, noting that whatever the U.S. did, its enemies in Iraq did worse, as if this excused American abuses.

It does not. The U.S. is killing massive numbers of Iraqi civilians, embittering the population and many in the Islamic world, and laying the ground for escalating violence and death. No number of slaughtered Iraqis will bring peace. The American fantasy of a final battle, in Fallujah or elsewhere, or the capture of some terrorist mastermind, perpetuates a cycle of bloodletting that puts the world in peril.

Worse still, American public opinion, media, and the recent election victory of the Bush administration have left the world's most powerful military without practical restraint.

Thursday, December 02, 2004
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. This commentary is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate