Thursday, September 01, 2011


Okay, the Libyan War.

"U.S.-NATO escalate war crimes in Libya: Imperialists use ‘rebels’ to further plunder Africa" (Abayomi Azikiwe, Workers World):

Published Aug 31, 2011 9:49 PM

While the United States and the other NATO countries express their satisfaction over the destruction of the North African state of Libya that they are engineering, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the assault on Tripoli and other parts of the country since Aug. 20.

So-called rebel units operating under the banner of the Transitional National Council, after being transported into the capital of Tripoli, are engaging in widespread abuse that includes looting, the destruction of public property and the killing of government loyalists and civilians.

On Aug. 23, the Bab al-Aziziyah compound formerly inhabited by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family was bombed again by NATO forces. After severe damage to the massive structure and its surroundings, the TNC rebels entered the area. They were filmed by international media outlets breaking up and destroying everything in sight and later carting away ornaments, consumer goods, furniture and art work.

This orgy of destruction and theft was portrayed in the West as symbolic of the fall of the Libyan government. The compound had been bombed for months by U.S. and NATO warplanes. It was the scene of numerous assassination attempts against Gadhafi and other government officials.

The war has been characterized by large-scale air strikes since March 19. These criminal acts have been carried out jointly by NATO fighter jets, special forces and intelligence units from the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Qatar, as well as the Western-backed rebels.

Humanitarian crisis spreads

Since March 19, U.S. and NATO forces have executed more than 20,000 sorties over the country, resulting in at least 7,500 air strikes. This coupled with sabotage, theft and murder by the rebels, beginning on Feb. 17, has made the humanitarian situation in Libya and its neighbors reach critical proportions.

The country’s oil industry, factories, water supply systems, food storage facilities, communication installations and hospitals were targeted during the ongoing war, which has lasted more than six months. As a result the country has suffered growing shortages of medicines, food, technical supplies and potable water.

The Middle East North Africa Financial Network said the war has created the worst social conditions in Libya since the revolution of 1969. Ali Hamed, a supporter of the attacks against the government, nevertheless revealed that in Tripoli: “For nearly four days, we have no water, no electricity, no petrol. ... We worry especially about the water.” (, Aug. 29)

The article goes on to admit: “The few open stores here have mostly bare shelves. People stand in line for bread, pay greatly inflated prices for black-market fuel and scrounge for water to drink or bathe. They still hear daily bursts of gunfire.”

Many residents of the capital fear the city could be completely without water in a few days. Many neighborhoods in and around Tripoli already have no water or electricity. The sickness and deaths are reaching critical proportions.

The rebel forces were trained by NATO to seize the city, not run it. A TNC official said: “We don’t know the electricity problem, we don’t know the water problem, we don’t know the communication problem. In the next few days we will have answers.” (Guardian [Britain], Aug. 27)

One of the most gruesome scenes resulting from the NATO bombing and the TNC rebel onslaught on Tripoli was the discovery of hundreds of bodies at a hospital that had been attacked by the invading opposition forces.

The British air force played a major role in the bombing of Tripoli. The state-owned British Broadcasting Corp. reported on the mass deaths at the hospital: “More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found abandoned at a hospital in a district of the Libyan capital Tripoli that has seen fierce fighting. A BBC correspondent found corpses of men, women and children on beds and in the corridors of Abu Salim’s hospital. ...

“Our correspondent says the stench was appalling. People were trying to clean up some of the mess and return the hospital to normality, but that was an impossible task because of the sheer number of bodies, he adds.” (BBC, Aug. 26)

Reports are surfacing of other massacres throughout the country. The TNC forces and NATO are trying to blame the supporters of the Libyan government, but these claims remain largely unsubstantiated.

However, what is clear is the central role of the U.S. and NATO in the destruction of Libya, a country that had enjoyed the highest standard of living in Africa and had achieved tremendous gains in the technical and scientific fields over the last four decades. Today it has been tremendously set back by Western-imposed sanctions, a naval blockade, blanket bombings and media vilification.

Fighting continues for control of country

Although the TNC rebels and their NATO backers have been proclaiming victory over the government and people of Libya since Aug. 21, fighting still rages on throughout the country. In Tripoli, the security situation remains unsettled as loyalist forces remain in defensive postures against the rebel units.

The rebels are facing formidable resistance in their efforts to advance on the city of Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown. TNC officials said they were forced to retreat from positions near Sirte amid a barrage of rockets fired by the Libyan military operating in the region.

Even the BBC admitted that TNC chair Mustafa Abdul Jalil and other leaders are remaining in the east of the country due to continued resistance by loyalist forces in Tripoli and the west.

A British paper reported: “Guerrilla fighters from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya have been advancing towards [Sirte] in recent days, but have so far got only as far as the edge of Bin Jawad, a town around 100 miles away. Fawzi Bukatif, a rebel commander, said attempts to persuade the Sirte loyalists to surrender had so far been fruitless. ‘We are waiting for people in Sirte to come out and talk but we’ve got no answer up to now.’” (Telegraph, Aug. 29)

The Western-backed rebels are still unable to reopen the main highway between Tripoli and neighboring Tunisia — an essential supply route for oil and food.

The rebels have again called upon NATO to intensify its bombing operations over Sirte so they can advance toward the city.

In the port city of Misrata, which has seen heavy fighting for several months, there have been demonstrations against the TNC rebels over their appointment as security administrator of a former Libyan governmental official who defected from Gadhafi. The TNC is by no means a cohesive alliance. Without the backing of the U.S. and NATO, its poorly trained units would have been defeated early on.

Further evidence of the total reliance upon NATO by the TNC rebels was revealed when their chairman, Abdel Jalil, was quoted on August 29 from Qatar as saying, “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO.” Backing up this line of thinking, U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads the NATO joint operations command, told a news conference in Doha, “We believe the Gaddafi regime is near collapse, and we’re committed to seeing the operation through to its conclusion.” (Financial Times, August 29)

As fighting continues inside Libya, the United Nations Security Council, which is dominated by the same imperialist powers that have attacked and invaded the country, has drawn up plans to intervene with a so-called peacekeeping force. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made it clear that the role of the “peacekeepers” would be to disarm the Libyan people when he commented that the country was “awash with small arms.” The Gadhafi government had given out weapons to the people when the imperialist attack started, showing its confidence in their support.

African Union refuses to recognize rebels

Despite enormous pressure coming from the U.S. and NATO, the 54-member African Union has refused to recognize the rebel TNC forces as the legitimate rulers of Libya. Meeting at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the continental organization is still demanding that a government of national unity be established in Libya that would include loyalists from the Gadhafi government.

The AU since March 11 has called for a ceasefire, the removal of foreign forces from the country, a halt to the bombing by the U.S. and NATO and the holding of internationally supervised elections. The rebels have not been elected by anyone inside of Libya and therefore their presence in the capital is not considered legitimate by the AU.

The U.S.-NATO military alliance and the rebels have rejected all overtures by the AU to mediate in the Libya crisis.

Elaine usually notes the Libyan War but she's off tonight so I thought I'd grab it. I'm also dead tired.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Monday, September 1, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Alan Grayson wants credit (don't point out he didn't end the war), another prison break, Troy Yocum is days away from completing his hike, Vermont suffers due to the Iraq War and more.
Starting in the US where an Iraq War veteran is finishing an odyssey. Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. "Hike" because part of raising awareness is reaching out and Troy went around the country -- by foot -- reaching out. His hike began in April of 2010. Tamara Evans (WDRB) reports that this Saturday, September 3rd, around 1:00 pm, Troy's hike is set to end in Louisville where it all started ("He's expected to cross the finish line at the Louisville Slugger Museum between 1:00-1:30.") Troy notes it is 16 months and a week that he's been hiking across the country. During that time, he's met more people than he can count and raised serious attention to issues facing veterans while, at the same time, raising a half-million dollars to help veterans in need. Matt Frassica (Louisville Courier-Journal) reports that in the sixteen months, Troy has:
been interviewed by Diane Sawyer and taken the field with baseball teams like the Yankees and the Reds, thanks to help from sponsor Louisville Slugger.
In New York, the Yankees donated $10,000, and the CEO of Modell's Sporting Goods, Mitchell Modell, pledged $260,000 to the cause. Customers at Modell's and Party City retailers have the option to contribute at the cash register, and those sponsors will present Yocum with the resulting donations on Sept. 14 in New York.
Most importantly, for Yocum, his fundraising has allowed Wish Upon a Hero to help 60 military families, providing things like food and supplies for tornado survivors and a trip to space camp for the son of a soldier who died.
Brown University's Costs of War project estimates that the financial burden to the US of these wars is between $3.2trn and $4trn. So far, 1,752 US service personnel have been killed in Afghanistan and 4,474 in Iraq. The UK has lost 380 soldiers in Afghanistan and 179 in Iraq. The civilian death toll in Iraq has been estimated at anything between 120,000 and one million; the comparable figure in Afghanistan is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. So many lives lost and so many resources squandered - and for what? These sacrifices haven't made us feel any more secure.
And a real life cost of the war can be seen by the residents of Vermont currently. Tony Rutherford (Huntington News) reports, "Hurricane Irene has devastated Vermont; however, the National Guard has no helicopters in the state to help its citizens. The choppers, along with the men and women, are in Iraq." As the week began, Sam Hemingway (Burlington Free Press) noted, "Eight helicopters on loan from the Illinois National Guard were expected to arrive Tuesday night in Vermont to help the Vermont National Guard deliver food, medicine, water and other supplies to 13 Vermont towns cut off from the rest of the state in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene." Yesterday evening (5:56 p.m. EST), Governor Peter Shumlin's office was noting utility outages throughout the state. US Senator Patrick Leahy is from and represents the state of Vermont. His office has posted photos online of the flooding and damages to Vermont. Bernie Sanders is Vermont's other US Senator and he's currently in Vermont and has stated, "This is a devastating moment for Vermont." His office noted there were "12,000 power outages in the state" yesterday and that "Four teams from the Environmental Protection Agency, Vermont's Hazardous Materials team and Department of Environmental Conservation are visiting the hardest hit areas of the state to make preliminary environmental hazard assessments. Three of the teams are traeling by ground, one by air. The teams will be reviewing water and wastewater hazards. In particular, they will be looking for chemicals and other hazardous materials that have leaked, or are in danger of doing so."
Vermont could use the members of their National Guard and those helicopters. They don't belong in an illegal war, they belong in the US. Barack obama didn't just continue the illegal Iraq War he continued the 'new,' the 'novel' concept that a state's emergency forces, organized to protect a state, can instead be sent overseas and into combat. All of Barack's pathetic defenders better grasp that if their Christ-child truly was different from George W. Bush, the first thing he would have done would have been said "no more" to sending the Guard overseas. It's the "National Guard." It's not the "International Police Force."
On The NewsHour (PBS -- link has text, video and audio) tonight, the issue of waste and fraud were explored. Margaret Warner introduced the segment:
MARGARET WARNER: Now, waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money during a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a three-year investigation, a Congressionally mandated commission yesterday issued a blunt finding, that between $31 billion and $60 billion has been misspent on the two wars. That's up to one-quarter of the entire $206 billion outsourced to private contractors for everything from security to food preparation to reconstruction projects. The last 10 years have brought more than 260,000 such contractors to work in war zones, where they sometimes outnumbered soldiers. The panel urged quick action on 15 recommendations to tighten controls.
She discussed the findings with Commission on Wartime Contracting member Dov Zakheim. Excerpt:
MARGARET WARNER: Could that problem even be exasperated as the U.S. draws its troops down from Iraq in the next couple of years, or three years, Afghanistan, and, say, State Department or AID become even more dependent on private contractors for security, for example?
DOV ZAKHEIM: Absolutely.In fact, there are two ways that the problem is getting worse. One is the challenge of starting projects that the either the Iraqi government or the Afghan government cannot sustain. We built a power plant -- excuse me -- a water treatment plant in Iraq that has intermittent power and that is not being used. We built a prison that is not being used. The Iraqis don't want it. We have built schools in Afghanistan without teachers; health clinics, over 130 of them, in Iraq without the proper equipment and supplies. So you have got the problem that we're building stuff that won't be maintained. And, at the same time, if you rely on security contractors in places where there's corruption, where there's danger, where maybe the contractors themselves are a danger, then you have got a problem as well. And we have recommended that, instead of simply focusing on the narrow issue of whether this is something government can or cannot do, you focus on the risk involved. Then we will clearly identify places where we just shouldn't have contractors.
Yesterday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting released its final report.
The Commission reported that between $31 billion and $62 billion of the tax money spent on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan has been wasted. It also said that between $10 billion and $19 billion of what contractors billed and received was fraudulent. In fact, $360 million of our tax dollars went straight to... the Taliban.
Wow. Who could have imagined that?
Well... me.
When I saw that the Bush administration was doing nothing about fraud in Iraq, I revived a law going back to the Civil War that allowed whistleblowers to bring lawsuits in the name of the U.S. government. I filed case after case, which were promptly greeted by the Bush administration with gag orders -- gag orders that they kept in place for years. They didn't want any more bad news coming out of Iraq.
So I went on CNN, spoke to the New York Times and the Washington Post, and told America whatever I could say without violating those gag orders. And when the Bush administration finally let one case out from under those gag orders -- and declined to prosecute it -- I took that case to trial, and won a $14 million judgment. It was the third-largest judgment for whistleblowers in the 143-year history of that law.
Of course, if he hadn't stuck so close to Barack -- who was increasingly unpopular in Grayson's district by the end of 2009 and that only became more so in the lead up to the 2010 elections -- he might not have felt his only way to win was to destroy his opponent with some really bad commercials (I especially like the silence around the one where "liberal hero" Alan Grayson called his opponent a "draft dodger" -- right out of the Nixon playbook) and he might still be in Congress. Then again, if he were, he'd either have to speak out against the continued Iraq War or break the hearts of his fan club.
In Iraq, there's been another prison break, this time in Mosul. Bushra Jhui (AP) reports that 35 people ar said to have "tunneled their way out" with 21 being caught and 14 remaining at large. AFP provides this recent context, "Officials said on August 6 that four prisoners and a guard were killed in clashes at a prison in the central Iraqi city of Hilla, during which eight inmates escaped. Six Iraqi police and 11 inmates were killed in a Baghdad jail mutiny in May, while 12 suspected Al-Qaeda members escaped from prison in the southern city of Basra in mid-January. At least two of the Basra escapees have been recaptured." Alsumaria TV adds, "A similar incident occurred in Nineveh on April 3 as 23 prisoners escaped from Al Ghazalni prison in southern Mosul. On April 9 as well, 5 prisoners escaped a prison in Al Shifaa' region, eastern Mosul." Reuters notes it was "a temporary jail" and that the prisoners are said to have made their way out via "a sewage pipe." Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "A senior officer in the Mosul police department said the inmates had used metal plates and iron bars to dig nearly 150 feet out of the jail. He asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to discuss the escape." Aswat al-Iraq cites Abdul-Rahim al-Shimmary as stating the escapees "were charged according to the Iraqi Criminal Law's Article-4 - Terrorism."

Who was in charge of this facility?

The Ministry of the Interior -- one of three security ministries that Nouri's failed to appoint a minister too. Before December ended, Nouri was supposed to have named a full Cabinet -- all the ministers. Nearly nine months later, he still hasn't done that (Political Stalemate II). How many prison breaks will there be before Nouri's held accountable for refusing to do his job -- his Constitutionally mandated job?

At what point does his inaction result in leaving his reputation in permanent disarray?

It really is something that the Parliament hasn't moved for a vote of no confidence as Nouri has refused to do his job. And his refusal is really something when you consider how Nouri created the nine month Political Stalemate I to hold onto the job he now refuses to do.
What more does Nouri have to do to be run out of office? How about look the other way while foreign forces slaughter Iraqi children?
John Glaser: And you know what? An occupation can get really ugly. And what unfortunately ends up happing in an occupation is that people get so desensitized, they get used to the war, that they end up not paying attention to really serious things. I just posted a blog just before this interview about WikiLeaks cables that reveled a War Crime on the part of US soldiers in Iraq. In 2006, they raided a home and ended up killing a couple of guys, four women and three children -- on eof whom was three-years-old. All had hands tied behind their backs and shot in the head. That's a War Crime.
That's's John Glaser speaking to Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton. Tuesday's snapshot noted John Glaser's report on the latest WikiLeaks documents include a State Dept cable about US forces handcuffing. Glaser explained:
Mr. Faiz Hratt Khalaf, (aged 28), his wife Sumay'ya Abdul Razzaq Khuther (aged 24), their three children Hawra'a (aged 5) Aisha ( aged 3) and Husam (5 months old), Faiz's mother Ms. Turkiya Majeed Ali (aged 74), Faiz's sister (name unknown), Faiz's nieces Asma'a Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 5 years old), and Usama Yousif Ma'arouf (aged 3 years), and a visiting relative Ms. Iqtisad Hameed Mehdi (aged 23) were killed during the raid.

McClatchy Newspapers provides a photograph of some of the ded children wrapped in blankets after the assault. Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "The cable closely tracks what neighbors told reporters for Knight Ridder at the time. (McClatchy purchased Knight Ridder in spring 2006.) Those neighbors said the U.S. troops had approached the house at 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. In addition to exchanging gunfire with someone in the house, the American troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house." Schofield's repot notes that the US refused to reply to the United Nations and that "Iraq's government also hadn't been forthcoming." That's according to the UN's Philip Alston who maintains that he started a dialogue on March 17, 2006 and can track it up to 2010. In April 2006, Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister and has been ever since. So it would appear Nouri al-Maliki took part in the cover up.
The St. Petersburg Times editorial board calls for an inquiry, "A diplomatic cable includes evidence that U.S. troops in Iraq executed at least 10 civilians, including five children. The cable also suggests the incident was covered up. Although the U.S. military already has cleared American troops of any wrongdoing, the Obama administration has a duty to reopen the case. Ignoring the allegations or chalking the incident up to the fog of war is not an option if the United States wants to stand as a model to Iraq's nascent democracy."
Yesterday's snapshot included my distaste for Michael S. Schmidt's "Iraq War Marks First Month With No U.S. Military Deaths" which is in today's New York Times and also carried in today's Boston Globe (and I'm sure other papers as well). For how to cover that topic without being offensive (or insular) see Richard Allen Green's piece for CNN. And Jim Loney (Reuters) reviews the deaths of Iraqis in the 12 months since Barack Obama announced the end of "combat operations" in Iraq (announced August 31st) -- a period of time, Loney reports, that has seen "at least 2,400" Iraqis die.
Meanwhile will the US stay or leave at the end of the year? To get to the latest we have to remember 2008 and wonder when you're exposed as a liar, a known liar, why any outlet would publish you? From The Daily Caller:
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, "Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares -- and call them racists."
Here's the thing, Spencer Ackerman -- the fey 'Atackerman' -- he's White. He's encouraging false cries of racism to help his beloved Barck but he's not the one who has to live with the fall out from false cries of racism. He's not an African-American woman or man who will have to go into a court room and prove discrimination. His decision to cry racism falsely, to use it as a political tool, is beyond sad.
That he still works in the media would be a puzzler were it not for the fact that he works at what many see as a CIA-cut out, Wired. Best friends with all the snitches, even ones paid by the government. Spency wants to weigh in today. Thomas E. Ricks' better half wants you to know that Iraqi politicians want weapons, they do not want US soldiers.
How does Spence know that? It apparently came to him in the midst of last night's wet dream about Barack. Even if you eliminate the Kurds from the discussion -- can't imagine why you would when they have such influence in Iraq -- you've still got independents, liberals and Natioanl Alliance members who've spoken to the Arabic press. Ah, yes, Spencer, the great wise Spencer, can't read Arabic.
So Spence spits out what he casually pulls from US media. Or maybe he doesn't. Maybe it's a lie for the 2012 election? Now that we know he'll lie to get a candidate elected, lie to the people and encourage other journalists to do the same, why would we ever trust a word he says?
If you're foolish enough to trust the man fired by The New Republic (how bad do you have to be to be fired by The New Republic, come on), then that's on you.
But if you can read Arabic or you know someone who can, look at this Dar Addustour article. There were several like it at the star of this week in Iraqi publications. Who's in Iraq right now? Foreign forces? US troops. But, remember, Barack insists combat operations are over and that all combat troops pulled out of Iraq last year. In 2010.
Funny, that's not how the Iraqi press plays it. In the article, you see the US troops currently in Iraq being referred to as "combat troops." "Trainers" -- not "comba troops" -- is what Iraq wants now. And administration friends state that "trainers" also won't require a new SOFA. In fact, "trainers" might be able to be signed off on by Nouri alone. (Like he did the UN mandate in 2006 and 2007.) Nouri -- who is already painting the planned September 9th protest in Baghdad as a conspiracy to overthrow him -- is known for his paranoia. It's been his hallmark since 2006. And he didn't need to be paranoid to know that without US forces on the ground these last years, he wouldn't have hung on as prime minister. The puppet needs the occupation troops.
Logic and motive don't enter into Spencer's world unless it's a US presidential election and he needs to paint an enemey falsely as a racist -- then half-baked logic and twisted motives enter Spencer's world. But, hey, he can at least fleetingly wonder if Nouri might be playing people iwht public statements?
Might be?
Turning to the world of legal news, Robert Snell (Detroit News) reports, "A Sterling Heights man and others stole rental vehicles and sold them in Iraq after spiriting the rides across the U.S.-Canada border, federal investigators said Wednesday. Adnan Hana was arrested along with 12 other people this week, capping a nearly two-year investigation dubbed 'Operation Hot Wheels' by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement." Tresa Baldas (Detroit Free Press) adds, "According to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday, the international rental-car scam involved luxury sedans and SUVs valued at from $25,000 to more than $60,000. The defendants legitimately rented the vehicles -- including Dodge Journeys, Toyota Avalons, a Chevy Tahoe and an Infiniti -- from national rental agencies in Michigan, Ohio and California, the indictment said." Reuters notes, "Five of the vehicles the gang allegedly reported stolen were intercepted on shipping containers in Montreal bound for Iraq, authorities said." Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) reminds, "Two weeks ago, San Diego authorities announced the arrest of 60 people allegedly involved in a drug- and gun-smuggling operation centered at a social club in El Cajon for Chaldeans -- Iraqi Christians -- who have emigrated to eastern San Diego County."
the los angeles times
tony perry
the newshour
margaret warner