Bush Ads Ignore Iraq

….Bush’s first major advertisement blitz loudly evokes details from the 2001 terrorist attacks that left 3,000 people dead — including firefighters carrying a flag-covered stretcher out of smoldering New York rubble, sirens blaring in the background — it is mute on the campaign in Iraq.

In fact, the commercials mention the 2001 recession, corporate scandals, the popping of the technology-stock bubble, job losses, the need to improve schools and health care, but not one word about the US-led occupation.

I think this is because of the “Not My Fault” theme of George Bush’s campaign. Notice that every item he does mention in his ad has been blamed on someone else. The guy just cannot admit that he ever did anything wrong or accept responsibility for any failure. Since there isn’t any aspect of the Iraq invasion or occupation that is either going right or turned out anything like Bush said it would, it has to be ignored.

cross-posted at UnFairWitness

Brits freed from X-Ray allege torture

  • NY Times: Greg Powell, a lawyer for one of the freed men, Ruhal Ahmed, 21, from Tipton, said Thursday that Mr. Ahmed was on his way to meet his family. Mr. Powell said he had met his client in a London jail and found him in good health, but said the treatment by the Americans had amounted to “torture.”

    “What I have learned from him is, Guantánamo Bay is a kind of experiment in interrogation techniques and methods,” he said. “And they do have extremely interesting stories to tell about what went on there.”

  • USA Today: Dergoul was freed first Wednesday night. Max Clifford, spokesman for his family, said he would be taken to a private place to be reunited with his family.

    He said Dergoul was in a mentally fragile condition and was having difficulty walking.

    “Physically he is not in a very good condition,” said Clifford. Clifford said Dergoul had told his family he had been traveling in Afghanistan when he was captured and was in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”

  • Reuters: Speaking for two of the men, Gareth Peirce, a lawyer, said that the police had been “compounding two years of injustice”.

    Ms Peirce said she was concerned that her clients could suffer long-term trauma
    as a result of their experience. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Their story is an extraordinary one. They have emerged from an extraordinary and terrifying ordeal that would profoundly affect the strongest individual.”

LA Times: All four men who were arrested on their return to Britain from U.S. military detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were released Wednesday without charge, police said.

A fifth man, Jamal Harith, had not been arrested when the group arrived Tuesday at Northolt Royal Air Force Base west of London, and he was freed within hours. The four released Wednesday had been identified as Rhuhel Ahmed, Tarek Dergoul, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul.

Tony Blair will undoubtedly be expected to explain why these British citizens were allowed to languish for two years in Camp X-Ray when an interrogation of a few hours duration in Bitain was sufficient to convince prosecutors that they were not “security risks.” Over 600 prisoners remain in the American gulag in Cuba.

The European Parliament, which passed a resolution yesterday calling for the release of some 20 Europeans held in the Guantánamo Bay facility without charges, had this to say: ….relations with the United States were “invaluable and could be a force for good in the world,” but said President Bush’s decision to detain prisoners outside U.S. territory risked damaging those ties.

It said Washington’s fight against terrorism “cannot be waged at the expense of basic shared values, such as the respect for human rights and civil liberties – a situation that is currently happening at Guantanamo Bay.” (Guardian)

So low have the Americans sunk under this administration that they are lectured about human rights and civil liberties on the world stage. Pathetic.

cross-posted at UnFairWitness

Damned Liberal Media

From Editor & Publisher:

A new study of how the media has covered the issue of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), released today, concludes, “Many stories stenographically reported the incumbent administration’s perspectives on WMD, giving too little critical examination of the way officials framed the events, issues, threats and policy options.”

The other three main conclusions of the study conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) and the University of Maryland: Too few stories offered alternative perspectives to the “official line” on WMD surrounding the Iraq conflict; most journalists accepted the Bush administration linking the “war on terror” inextricably to the issue of WMD; and most media outlets represented WMD as a “monolithic menace” without distinguishing between types of weapons and between possible weapons programs and the existence of actual weapons.

Will the Bush-hating, Osama-loving press stop at nothing in its lust for appeasement?

I’m skimming the report [PDF], and it looks worth a read.

We Can at Least Agree to Despise Moderates, Right?

Left and Right are moribund designations, but so far as the policies of the self-identified go, I must disagree with Gus diZerega’s assertion that Leftists oppose the draft. Though most (not all) on the Left presumably oppose a military draft, many have a fondness for other forms of conscription. Of course, the Republican party favors both kinds, which brings up a more important point: The mainstream Right has either surrendered to or co-opted almost every bad Leftist idea in American history. Interventionist foreign policy, the welfare state, trade restrictions, the centralization of political authority, the militarization of law enforcement, the politicization of virtue… You name it, they push it.

That said, much of this forget-the-Right/befriend-the-Left drive has culture war overtones that do nothing but alienate potential allies. Professor Long has warned libertarians against the quodcumque ostendis mihi sic incredulus odi approach to Leftists; let’s extend this courtesy to conservatives, too.

Iraqi SOFA for The Troops

Spencer Ackerman, writing in Iraq’d, points out that according to the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), Americans are now the proud owners of the New Iraqi Army. Nathan Brown of George Washington University identified this situation first in his assessment of the TAL.

Ackerman highlights the reasoning behind Brown’s conclusion, and the impetus behind the inclusion of this ominous article in the TAL becomes clear:

What’s more, this provision was surely not put in the TAL because we covet Iraq’s military. As Brown notes, this is surely in the TAL as a way to make an end-run around the Governing Council’s refusal last month to negotiate an early basing arrangement for U.S. troops ahead of a sovereign government. Council members, you’ll recall, rightly worried that they didn’t possess the legitimacy necessary to conclude a deal with the U.S. on how our troops can operate in their country. Now, by linking the Iraqi forces to the “multinational” (read: U.S.) coalition forces, we’ve glommed on to their own army–and added an automatic wellspring of legitimacy: U.N. Security Council Resolution 1511, which authorizes a “multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq.” Note that subsection (C) authorizes the Transitional Government to negotiate what’s known as a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with us, determining what the rules of engagement are for our troops, and what legal protections they’ll enjoy–but our command of the Iraqi armed forces will last until that temporary government gives way to a permanent one, which will occur by December 31, 2005, if all goes according to plan. So while the Transitional Government negotiates a SOFA with us, we’ll be in control of its military. Now that’s what I call leverage!

The importance of the basing rights issue to the US shouldn’t be underestimated. Jim Lobe writes:

……statements made by Jay Garner this week in an interview with The National Journal suggest that the administration had its own reasons for the war. Asked how long U.S. troops might remain in Iraq, Garner replied, ”I hope they’re there a long time,” and then compared U.S. goals in Iraq to U.S. military bases in the Philippines between 1898 and 1992.

”One of the most important things we can do right now is start getting basing rights with (the Iraqi authorities),” he said. ”And I think we’ll have basing rights in the north and basing rights in the south … we’d want to keep at least a brigade.”

Garner added, ”Look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century: they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep a great presence in the Pacific. That’s what Iraq is for the next few decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the Middle East.”

While U.S. military strategists have hinted for some time that a major goal of war was to establish several bases in Iraq, particularly given the ongoing military withdrawal from Saudi Arabia, Garner is the first to state it so baldly. Until now, U.S. military chiefs have suggested they need to retain a military presence just to ensure stability for several years, after which they expect to draw down their forces.

If indeed Garner’s understanding represents the thinking of his former bosses, then the ongoing struggle within the administration over ceding control to the United Nations becomes more comprehensible. Ceding too much control, particularly before reaching an agreement establishing military bases will make permanent U.S. bases much less likely.

Considering the Saudi bases that proved to be so popular with Osama bin Laden that he attacked the US with passenger-laden airplanes to get rid of them because they were defiling the Holy Places of Islam, it is fair to wonder how the Shi`a will take the presence of American troops in ancient Mesopotamia, the location of their most holy shrines and shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala.

UPDATE: An alert reader points out “Don’t forget Baghdad, the site of the caliphate and the cultural center of the Islamic world from the 700s to the 1200s . One of Osama Bin Laden’s espoused goals is to reestablish the caliphate. What better focus to organize Islamists around than the occupation of the caliphate by the infidel? It is the Crusades all over again! Pulling out of Saudi, home of the holy cities, is fine. Moving next door and occupying the heart of Arabia and site of the caliphate itself doesn’t look too smart. More of a time-bomb than a ‘coaling station.'”

I’d been thinking mainly of the Shi`a reaction to the presence of Infidel troops in Iraq. As this reader points out, these troops will also offend OBL, a wahhabi Sunni.


Surviving Purgatory Pt I

They enlisted to defend our nation from attack. Now, they are encamped on the other side of the world as an occupation force with cloudy and confusing goals. Though they did sign on the dotted line voluntarily, with the coming of Bush and the neocons, like the proverbial horse, their job description seems to have been changed in midstream. Here’s Part I of day-to-day life at a hellhole aptly named Firebase Purgatory, Afghanistan:

    “Are we [here] to alter a way of life? To stop tribal warfare? Or are we stopping the enemy of our country?” Bergeron asked. It’s difficult to know whether they’re winning or losing, say Triple Deuce soldiers and officers.

    “How do you measure disruption?” Cunningham wondered. If coalition soldiers leave, the Taliban and al-Qaida will come back, says 1st Lt. David Hawk, Cunningham’s executive officer. “This country has historically harbored terrorists. There are a million places to hide … and no one to bother you.” In that sense, Purgatory’s an emerging template, the first of dozens of similar stabilization efforts around Afghanistan.

    “We’re a cog,” Hawk said, “in a machine that’s going to turn for the next 10 years.”
    … read more

In this accompanying article, the soldiers of Firebase Purgatory offer some tips on how to make life more tolerable until they can go home. One carries:

    In the left breast pocket of his shirt a complete packet of memories, including photographs of his mother, brother and sister, soil from the front yard of his boyhood home in Harrisburg, Pa., and even a little Bible his grandmother received when she graduated nursery school.

Another, on a more practical level:

    “You gotta bring baby wipes,” he added. “One, to bathe with. Two, for other ‘sanitary needs’ because the toilet paper in MREs is no good.”
    … read more