Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 17, 2005

Your News, Views and Visions

Open thread and a link to the elder one

Posted by b on April 17, 2005 at 17:16 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Riverbend in an interview with BuzzFlash

BuzzFlash: A study in the British journal, "The Lancet," which was largely ignored by the American press, indicated that possibly more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the American invasion. Do you think this might be accurate?

Riverbend: I'm sure more than 100,000 people have died in the last two years. Everyone literally knows more than one person who died -- often a relative or a friend. We have people dying of bombs, dying under torture, dying of malnutrition, a lack of shelter, missiles, attacks, abductions, etc. We have illnesses emerging that Iraqis hadn't even heard of in the past -- cancer rates have gone up drastically and in some areas we hear about cholera or typhoid. It's difficult to know just how many people have died because the Ministry of Health was given explicit instructions about not keeping tabs.

BuzzFlash: The Bush White House and their representatives keep saying it was all worth it to get rid of Saddam Hussein. We think there might have been other ways of getting rid of Saddam Hussein besides wrecking a nation and taking over its oil. What do you think?

Riverbend: I think this wasn't about the welfare of Iraqi people and ridding them of a dictator. I think this has been about the US strategically placing itself in a Middle Eastern 'hot spot' -- in the middle of Turkey, Iran, Syria and the Gulf countries -- to wreak havoc and promote instability in the area, and have direct access to the oil, of course.

Democracy has to come from within and it has to be a request of the people -- not of expatriates who have alliances with the CIA and British intelligence. People have to want something enough to rise up and change it. They have to be ready for democracy and willing to accept its responsibility. The US could have promoted democracy in Iraq peacefully, but then they wouldn't have permanent bases in the country, would they?

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2005 17:25 utc | 1

An important article by Naomi Klein in The Nation: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Last summer, in the lull of the August media doze, the Bush Administration's doctrine of preventive war took a major leap forward. On August 5, 2004, the White House created the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, headed by former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual. Its mandate is to draw up elaborate "post-conflict" plans for up to twenty-five countries that are not, as of yet, in conflict. According to Pascual, it will also be able to coordinate three full-scale reconstruction operations in different countries "at the same time," each lasting "five to seven years."

Fittingly, a government devoted to perpetual pre-emptive deconstruction now has a standing office of perpetual pre-emptive reconstruction.

Gone are the days of waiting for wars to break out and then drawing up ad hoc plans to pick up the pieces. In close cooperation with the National Intelligence Council, Pascual's office keeps "high risk" countries on a "watch list" and assembles rapid-response teams ready to engage in prewar planning and to "mobilize and deploy quickly" after a conflict has gone down. The teams are made up of private companies, nongovernmental organizations and members of think tanks--some, Pascual told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in October, will have "pre-completed" contracts to rebuild countries that are not yet broken. Doing this paperwork in advance could "cut off three to six months in your response time."
...
As in other reconstruction sites, from Haiti to Iraq, tsunami relief has little to do with recovering what was lost. Although hotels and industry have already started reconstructing on the coast, in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India, governments have passed laws preventing families from rebuilding their oceanfront homes. Hundreds of thousands of people are being forcibly relocated inland, to military style barracks in Aceh and prefab concrete boxes in Thailand. The coast is not being rebuilt as it was--dotted with fishing villages and beaches strewn with handmade nets. Instead, governments, corporations and foreign donors are teaming up to rebuild it as they would like it to be: the beaches as playgrounds for tourists, the oceans as watery mines for corporate fishing fleets, both serviced by privatized airports and highways built on borrowed money.

In January Condoleezza Rice sparked a small controversy by describing the tsunami as "a wonderful opportunity" that "has paid great dividends for us." Many were horrified at the idea of treating a massive human tragedy as a chance to seek advantage. But, if anything, Rice was understating the case. A group calling itself Thailand Tsunami Survivors and Supporters says that for "businessmen-politicians, the tsunami was the answer to their prayers, since it literally wiped these coastal areas clean of the communities which had previously stood in the way of their plans for resorts, hotels, casinos and shrimp farms. To them, all these coastal areas are now open land!"

Disaster, it seems, is the new terra nullius.

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2005 17:38 utc | 2

sorry, but i'm losing thread of the threads but there was something that deanander was mentioning the other day in terms of 'time' & of 'space' & 'speed'

& i wanted to refer posters to a tough & interesting book by one of our own :

Hassan, R., The Chronoscopic Society: Globalization, Time and Knowledge in the Network Economy, Peter Lang, New York, 2003

it is both an interesting read & offers some insights that i imagine are valuable for us

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 17 2005 18:13 utc | 3

Faiza (A Family In Baghdad) has a new post up about an American sponsored Iraqi women conference.

The man spoke about the necessity of adopting the Free Economy in Iraq for the coming phase, not giving the unbounded control of the country's wealth to the state, because then it will be rich and strong, and become a dictatorship. He said that oil is a wealth, but would be like a curse on people, if governments took hold of its investment. He said that we are supposed to forget the government in our future life, we shouldn't need it, nor expect it to clean our houses or do our laundry, for we shall be doing this ourselves… some of the women laughed, one of them asked: What is this silly talk? What government would clean houses and wash cloths?
We laughed, and Iraqi Kurd, who was the session's chairwoman shouted, asking for quiet… then the discussions begun…
The Kurdish Iraqi woman took hold of the microphone, giving us no chance to talk, then looking around according to her mood to choose the speakers; she would almost stand on the woman's head until she would finish her question. If the question was a silly one, she would be patient, but if it was a difficult one, she would say: That's enough, time is short!
The questions begun with easy ones, then became difficult, then violent…
A woman asked: very well, we suffered from the administrational corruption in the time of Saddam, and after the war new, corrupt leaderships came, steeling a lot of the people's money. How do you demand that we hand over the income of oil to the private sector? How shall we trust their impartiality?
A second woman rose up, saying: free Economy means very rich classes, and very poor classes in the future. This is a frightening vision of Iraq, and what is going to happen.
A third woman said: where would the income of the Iraqis come from, if the wealth was to be in the hands of private companies, and free economy? Aren't we supposed to write a new constitution, containing good laws to protect the people, elect a good government, and divide the wealth justly among citizens?

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2005 19:34 utc | 4

300 million dollars of oil income disappears in Iraq every day

Foreign fighters small part of insurgency

The U.S. military is detaining hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq representing 25 countries, a senior U.S. military official said Friday in Baghdad.

Still, the vast majority of insurgents are Iraqis.

"We've got, oh, roughly 10,800 -- give or take -- prisoners. I think there are like 357, 358, something like that, third-country nationals, some of whom have been in Iraq for many, many years," the senior official said. Almost half are from Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the official said; there are roughly 50 from each of the three countries.

The Iranian fighters are likely Shi'ites but are fighting alongside the largely Sunni insurgency, joining up with Ansar al Islam/Ansar al Sunnah in northern Iraq, the official said.

"None of these (Iranian fighters), I would say, are state sponsored by any stretch of the imagination," the official said.


Stolen arms equipment surfacing in Iraq

...When it comes to buying run-of-the-mill equipment and spare parts that were obviously looted in the past, the U.S. military appears to have adopted some version of a don't-ask, don't-tell policy concerning where the materials originated. The materials, after all, are now being sold openly in street markets. So the Americans appear resigned to buying the equipment back rather than seizing it....

So sometimes the U.S. Army is actually funding the Iraqi resistance.


Morale difficulties and internal feuding among U.S. troops in Mosul


Tribute to Marla Ruzicka: An American activist who dared to help Iraqi victims

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 17 2005 21:17 utc | 5

Thanks Nugget,

so what will the US do with some 10,000-15,000 prisoners? Are there courts to handle them? Keep them until they die? Do they even know who these prisoners are?

Posted by: b | Apr 17 2005 21:43 utc | 6

I'll get back to you later b, just dropping off a tale that speaks much of the reliability and integrity of the 'new security forces' and their myriad spokespersons:

The embarrassing case of the disappearing incident : Iraqi forces say no sign of hostages in besieged town

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 18 2005 7:33 utc | 7

For certain folks, it's kinda like Christmas every day. But then, I guess that was the whole point of the war. And most people don't even notice. Pity!

Posted by: Ben | Apr 18 2005 7:42 utc | 8

@Rgiap-

Does bk. you recommended discuss new concept of the self that's emerging in the young who grew up w/these new unwired infinitely linked technologies?

At first, when I observed those who had to run off to get online, have their cell phones always w/them etc, or they would suffer anxiety or even panic attacks, I thght. I was witnessing a new addiction. Now I realize I'm witnessing a new identity.

Those of us who grew up in the pre-electronically interconnected age, saw ourselves as discrete subjects. That's no longer the case. W/this generation their selves are impaired & not completed unless they're wired into the globe.

Is this discussed in that bk. or any other you might recommend?

Posted by: jj | Apr 18 2005 8:26 utc | 9

"giving the unbounded control of the country's wealth to the state, because then it will be rich and strong, and become a dictatorship"
It's as I said last week. These guys are traitors, simple as that. And they should be denounced as such, everywhere.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Apr 18 2005 10:23 utc | 10

morale difficulties in Mosul,

There is of course always tension between line troops and the REMF's (rear eshalon mother fuckers) and when these tensions become aculturated the mission at hand is easily diminished. As time goes on this happens and the inititative is lost to infighting, as the line troops feel they're getting it from both ends, so they give it all up and just try to muddle through (stay alive&get out). Drugs are probably be next, to get out, if for a while, while not.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 18 2005 10:29 utc | 11

@anna

the drugs will come (where is all that Afghan Heroin going to)?

Business Week: In Iraq, Security in Name Only
The new police force is largely untrained, frequently unreliable, and all too ready to abuse civilians. How can U.S. troops hand over control?

Posted by: b | Apr 18 2005 10:32 utc | 12

Bolton nomination for UN

WaPo: Bolton Often Blocked Information, Officials Say

John R. Bolton -- who is seeking confirmation as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- often blocked then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and, on one occasion, his successor, Condoleezza Rice, from receiving information vital to U.S. strategies on Iran, according to current and former officials who have worked with Bolton.
...
Two officials described a memo that had been prepared for Powell at the end of October 2003, ahead of a critical international meeting on Iran, informing him that the United States was losing support for efforts to have the U.N. Security Council investigate Iran's nuclear program. Bolton allegedly argued that it would be premature to throw in the towel. "When Armitage's staff asked for information about what other countries were thinking, Bolton said that information couldn't be collected," according to one official with firsthand knowledge of the exchange.
...
Bolton's time at the State Department under Rice has been brief. But authoritative officials said Bolton let her go on her first European trip without knowing about the growing opposition there to Bolton's campaign to oust the head of the U.N. nuclear agency. "She went off without knowing the details of what everybody else was saying about how they were not going to join the campaign," according to a senior official.
...
In February 2003, Bolton reportedly accused the young career official, Rexon Ryu, of concealing information and of insubordination when he failed to produce a copy of a cable he had written about the work of U.N. inspectors in Iraq. Ryu's immediate superiors investigated the charge and found it baseless. But Bolton wanted Ryu removed from his duties, officials said.

Just weeks before the incident, Ryu had been among a small number of State Department officials who accompanied Powell to CIA headquarters to review the presentation Powell would give to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's alleged weapons programs. Officials said Ryu had been instrumental in getting the most controversial allegations out of Powell's speech.

That should be enough to get him kicked out of any serious job.

Posted by: b | Apr 18 2005 11:48 utc | 13

Are miracles possible?

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Apr 18 2005 13:41 utc | 14

Last thing Blair needs is a fight for his own seat ...

Actually, that'd be damn near a perfect outcome, wouldn't it? A Labour victory, with Blair losing his seat. Not going to happen, but a nice thought.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 18 2005 13:56 utc | 15

..

@Rgiap-

Does bk. you recommended discuss new concept of the self that's emerging in the young who grew up w/these new unwired infinitely linked technologies?

At first, when I observed those who had to run off to get online, have their cell phones always w/them etc, or they would suffer anxiety or even panic attacks, I thght. I was witnessing a new addiction. Now I realize I'm witnessing a new identity.

Those of us who grew up in the pre-electronically interconnected age, saw ourselves as discrete subjects. That's no longer the case. W/this generation their selves are impaired & not completed unless they're wired into the globe.

Is this discussed in that bk. or any other you might recommend?

Posted by: jj | April 18, 2005 04:26 AM | #

fascinating subject; will try & find an article that dicusses this & link.

Posted by: han_shan | Apr 18 2005 16:43 utc | 16

Youth and communication: My girls 17 year old living with seems somehow at loss when loosing his technical communication access.

(An excellent way to disciplin him is cutting of his internet access and phone, so he only has the mobile phone which he has to pay himself).

But I see a lot of pros in that. He has friends all around the world he can talk to daily and he will visit some this summer. Some have visited us from Spain. He can find answers to questions online within minutes, that would have taken me weeks (ordering books through a public library).

There is much for flexibility meeting other kids when all have a mibile (which they have). Unfortunaly the art of writing letters is lost to him.

Thanks for any pointers to material about this.

Posted by: b | Apr 18 2005 17:10 utc | 17

Let's see what the French have to say about oil prices:

Record Oil prices: the IFP analysis

...No disturbance of physical supplies has been observed: Iraq retains an export volume at least equal to that of the beginning of 2004, the volume of Russian production is not affected by the repercussions of the Yukos case, the internal situation in Saudi Arabia remains stable, and the diplomatic tensions concerning the Iranian nuclear situation are not increasing. The American gas market enjoyed sufficiently high stock levels to maintain the price of gas close to $7/MBtu. The world oil demand continues to grow steadily each year by roughly 1.8 Mb/d, but this is less than over the last 12 months, pointing to the first signs of a price reaction. However, saturation of OPEC's capacities, against the backdrop of a continuously weak dollar, will not allow the OPEC basket price to return to its unofficial objective of $40. The risk premium tied to geopolitical factors is tending to decrease, but the market could still react nervously if anything unexpected occurs: the price of a barrel of crude (WTI) should range between $45 and $65 for spot deliveries, and between $45 and $50 for deliveries for 2010/2011.

Posted by: Greco | Apr 18 2005 17:17 utc | 18

Greco - let me one up you with even more "optimistic" Frenchmen:

Reuters (in French) PARIS (Reuters) - the oil barrel could cost 380 dollars in ten years, that is to say nearly eight times more than today, suggests the investment bank Ixis-CIB in a study published Monday.

"By analogy with the oil crises of the years 1970, it does not seem to us unreasonable to envisage a price of 380 dollars per barrel for oil in 2015", write the authors of this study, economists Patrick Artus and Moncef Kaabi. They judge on the contrary "very conservative" and "completely unreasonable" assumptions that the price of the barrel of crude, which oscillates today around 50 dollars, could return between 30 and 40 dollars in the ten years to come.

Currently, the world oil consumption (84,3 million barrels per day) remains lower than the known maximum capacities of production (87 mb/d). By extrapolating the current evolution of world oil consumption, the economists of Ixis-CIB estimate that it will reach 108 mb/d million in 2015 and will then be 8% higher than production, estimated at 100 mb/d.

Several factors explain according to them this evolution:
- a weak increase in output resulting from a continued decrease in new crude oil reserves discoveries;
- an increase in oil consumption at a higher rhythm than that of the world GDP, in particular with the prospect for a significant rise of the demand form China;
- the relatively slow development of alternative energy sources. "Within a ten-year horizon, one can consider that fossile fuels substitute energies (return of the nuclear power, hydrogen...) will not have developed much", Patrick Artus and Moncef Kaabi write. "the world will thus still depend on the usual forms of energy."

According to econometric calculations' that they quote, the elasticity of oil demand to price will be very weak: a rise of 25% of the oil price would involve only one reduction of 1% of demand. "to reduce by 8% in 2015 the world demand for oil, it would thus be necessary to have between 2005 to 2015 a multiplication by 6,9 of the real price of oil", they add. Which gives, taking account of an annual inflation of 2,5% in the United States, "a nominal price of oil of 380 dollars per barrel in 2015".

Posted by: Jérôme | Apr 18 2005 19:14 utc | 19

Riverbend on the Hostage Crises that was none.

Posted by: b | Apr 18 2005 19:54 utc | 20

CJ,
wasn't it Anne Coulter who announced that the neo-cons were betraying the people? It's as if everything these folks say is a kind of koan, and when we can't figure it out: WHACK!

Posted by: citizen | Apr 18 2005 20:02 utc | 21

Sign on car driving in front of me a few moments ago:
"Vegetarian - old Indian word for bad hunter"

Posted by: jj | Apr 18 2005 20:23 utc | 22

@ Jérôme,

Ha, ha, ha!

I like these guys!

Posted by: Greco | Apr 18 2005 20:38 utc | 23

En route from San Jose to Phoenix, I was told by a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) screener about a ban on lighters (cough) starting April 14th, but the book allowance has been cut from 4 to 2. I had been tagged for a pat-down, a perfectly reasonable thing considering whatsinmybag. The agent was reasonable and amicable and I knew the drill. When he pulled a cigarette lighter out of my bag he mentioned the forthcoming ban, how you could carry four packs of matches and the whole idea was to prevent quickly lighting explosives (like that idiot with evil shoes). When he pulled out two books he mentioned that right now you can only have four books and on the 14th you can only have two. He didn't have any explanation for this, and I can't even fathom the purpose.

http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2005/04/books_banned_on.html>Books are now Contraband in US Airspace?

At least, "too many" books. So the message is what -- people with fast reading skills are dangerous? People who like to read are dangerous? People who plan ahead (for long boring stopovers and late flights) are dangerous?

Or is this just more of the Red Queen psy-ops technique -- random "Off With Their Heads" and making up arbitrary ever changing rules until the public is thoroughly cowed and meek?

reminds me of a http://wtop.com/index.php?nid=116&sid=506148>news article I read recently:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Security at U.S. airports is no better under federal control than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks, a key House member says two government reports will conclude. The Government Accountability Office _ the investigative arm of Congress _ and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general are expected to soon release their findings on the performance of Transportation Security Administration screeners.

But I am sure we will all be much safer if people are allowed to carry only 2, not 4 books onto a plane. I think I will bring Quicksilver and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell... :-) just to see if they feel like imposing a page limit as well.

It can be very itchy, living in a culture/age of such superlative stupidity.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 19 2005 1:10 utc | 24

From China Business Weekly: without apparent irony section, subhead "Club provides single men, women opportunities to gather, chat, and play games."

Guo says his idea [for a 'salon' in Shanghai] stemmed from the books he read about the lifestyles of Shanghai's revolutionary minded intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s [ ...] In those days. China's young people were idealistic and full of purpose. Guo says, "They had style". [... ] "Once they [his customers] are here, they are educated and become a desirable group of consumers that many [advertisers] are interested in."

Posted by: citizen k | Apr 19 2005 1:18 utc | 25

Oh gawd http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/0418-04.htm>the World Bank is at it again -- so helpful, so thoughtful, so dedicated to, er, financing overcapitalised get-rich-quick schemes in the name of "aiding the poor," and then standing around looking puzzled when the environment is wrecked and more poverty and suffering inevitably result. The World Bank is the guy who drops by your orchard at harvest time, notes you sweating and struggling with a splintered old ladder held together with duct tape, and offers you a nice shiny new chain saw on the installment plan -- 'cos it's so much easier when you have the right tool.

I really have to go do something else :-) 'night all.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 19 2005 4:47 utc | 26

US attacks key UN anti-poverty goal as 'aid trap'

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 6:29 utc | 27

New revelations about prison http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=30&ItemID=7667 >"abuse" and it coes on.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 19 2005 8:57 utc | 28

Violence is 'off the chart' in area on Iraq border

"We're facing a well-developed, mature insurgency with the support of the local population" of about 100,000 townspeople, Reed says. "There is no Iraqi security force here. They are not effective. There are no police. They are dead or doing something else."

In stark contrast to the inroads multinational forces have made in such hot spots as Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul, Marines in Husaybah have been forced to hunker down in defensive positions. Their base, Camp Gannon, is named for Capt. Rick Gannon who died April 17, 2004, while leading an effort to rescue two sniper squads trapped on a rooftop in the city. Five Marines died that day in a fight against about 100 insurgents.

Unable for safety reasons to patrol the city on foot and in vehicles, troops are limited in their ability to gain important street-level intelligence. So the Marines primarily mount counterattacks on insurgents and criminals who fire into the camp...

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 9:35 utc | 29

@Nugget

- see its only a sign that the insurgents are loosing.
WaPo

U.S. commanders said they interpreted the attack here as a desperate attempt by insurgents to reenergize the conflict. "I think they're losing, so they're looking at the big attacks to gain some momentum back," said Marine Capt. Frank Diorio, commander of India Company at Camp Gannon, the Marine base near the city of Qaim on the border with Syria. "I give them credit it for it; they're looking for a big score. We're going to see this a lot more. But now we know so we can address it."

From that US Today article
In October, U.S. forces closed a border gate to constrict the flow into Iraq of foreign jihadis. But with trade shut down, merchants began to convert their shops into bombmaking studios, Reed says.
That problem looks really difficult to solve. Now here is a very far off idea: Reopen the boarder.

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2005 9:44 utc | 30

The Taliban have already lost of course: Taleban Militia Launch Clandestine Radio Station

KANDAHAR, 19 April 2005 — Afghanistan’s Taleban guerrillas launched a clandestine radio station yesterday, broadcasting anti-government commentaries from a mobile transmitter.

Called “Shariat Shagh”, or Voice of Shariat, after the station the Taleban ran while in power, the broadcast can be heard in five southern provinces, including the former regime’s old power base of Kandahar.

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2005 9:52 utc | 31

So now every US base in Iraq has to hunker down further, extend it's defences against this sort of attack and waste more manpower on self-defence. Not only that, but the NCOs were quite clear that they got lucky with where the bombs exploded.

"They were definitely close enough to cause a lot of damage," he said. "It was where they detonated it: It was a miracle. If I had to pick a place for them to detonate a firetruck full of explosives, if I had to pick one, I would have picked that place."

Don't listen to the officers, listen to the NCOs.

I guess the next milestone for the insurgency is to overrun one of these bases and take POWs. I'm interested to see how that is going to be cast as a sign of their imminent failure.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 19 2005 10:05 utc | 32

I guess the next milestone for the insurgency is to overrun one of these bases and take POWs. I'm interested to see how that is going to be cast as a sign of their imminent failure.

At this state they will not take POWs (what to do with them?) `m afraid . Maybe female soldiers will be excepted but they will go for all out killing.

Posted by: b | Apr 19 2005 10:20 utc | 33

No, they need POWs for publicity. Dead soldiers don't make for coverage in the US, but not even the corporate media could ignore a dozen grunts as hostages. Don't forget that the insurgents are watching the US coverage of this stuff on their TVs.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 19 2005 10:27 utc | 34

Correct b, the Iraqi resistance is so desperate now that it's reduced to controlling vast swathes of territory, controlling major roads around Baghdad, bombing the capitol every day, assassinating key police and military officials daily and bombing oil pipelines with monotonous regularity. Doubtless today's bombing of an Iraqi army recruiting centre in Baghdad is just another frantic last roll of the dice.


Incidentally, you asked about U.S. prisoners. According to a recent report in a British tabloid newspaper the U.S. is pressing on with plans to build a number of 'supermax' style prisons in Iraq.

The article you commented on that cited some 350-ish 'foreign' prisoners in U.S. custody (some of whom had been living in Iraq for many, many years) out of some 10,800 prisoners the U.S. is holding overall doesn't give any ratio of 'charged' prisoners. In fact none of the prisoners in U.S. custody has been charged and processed at all. There is a nominal legal procedure that should see prisoners arrested, charged and processed before the courts and on occasion a U.S. military spokesman will be found referring to this, such as after eleven detainees escaped from Camp Bucca at Umm Qasr last weekend and upon their recapture a U.S. military officer solemnly pronounced that they would be charged with 'escaping from lawful custody'and face additional punishment for this when they (eventually) appeared before a court.

I do not doubt that some of the prisoners have been taken in the course of firefights and foiled ambushes, that others may have been found carrying or storing weapons (at checkpoints, during houseraids et cetera). Others have been disturbed and detained as they planted bombs or set up attacks so nobody is arguing that all the prisoners have not been actively fighting the occupation. Having said that, it is a fact that of the 10,800 prisoners thousands of them ARE perhaps innocent of any crime or wrongdoing whatsoever apart, perhaps, from the 'thoughtcrime' of opposing the occupation. The forcing of all males aged between 16 and 55 to remain in Falluja when it was being attacked (a rule that was so rigidly opposed that fathers, sons, brothers et cetera were forced back into the city as they tried to flee with their families), not only ensured a higher death count in Fallujah but also resulted in thousands of males being arrested in the aftermath of the attack many of whom are now in custody. Whole male populations have been taken from some small villages and males fitting into some loose category of 'military age' are often taken en masse during raids on suburbs, small town neighborhoods et cetera. Snap 'sealing off' operations in many areas similarly see all males fitting this 'military age' criteria being taken. Other targeted arrests include family members of suspects (presumably under some 'if he's bad they're all bad' rule), family members of suspects held as hostages, political activists working publicly on behalf of organizations opposing the occupation, members of the same tribe as wanted individuals and, bizarrely, relations of people shot to death by the U.S. military in disputed circumstances (although perhaps not so bizarrely, as if it can be later established that family of the deceased are 'a bad lot' by virtue of their having spent time in custody then less weight can be attached to their evidence). In short there are thousands of Iraqis being held under what can only be described as indefinite internment without trial. Again, nobody is arguing that all of those in custody have not been waging armed struggle against the U.S. forces. But even those who were and against whom presumably some evidence exists have not been processed. Doubtless they fully understand their situation. However, there are thousands of prisoners for whom no evidence can possibly exist because they were not, at the time of their arrests, any part of the Iraqi resistance. Nor were they prior to their arrests and the only reason I qualifed their non-resistance status at the time of their arrests is that there is every reason to suppose that in the light of their experiences they WILL be a part of the Iraqi resistance as soon as they are released. The arrests are presumably intended to to keep communities cowed as well as to generate media 'success' stories in much the same way as 'body count' tales are intended to. Some arrests are certainly of persons that the U.S. military would consider the 'right people', actual active fighters. But the fate of the thousands of innocent detainees receives little attention outside of Iraq. There are protests and demonstrations in the country daily. It would appear that such prisoners are now 'bargaining chips' and are being held as hostages of a sort with a view, perhaps, to having certain categories of prisoners released as a 'concession' at some stage in the future. This is, of course, illegal, both under what passes for law in Iraq at present and under international law. Mass round-ups and community punishment, the threat of arrest for guilt by association and the suppression of legitimate political activity are all maybe viewed as 'positive results' by the architects of the current arrest policy. There seems to be no understanding of - or perhaps there is indifference to - the anger and resentment such arrests arouse and from a purely military point of view I would question the wisdom of incarcerating thousands of innocent people who are growing angrier by the day in among men who are accomplished bomb makers, weapons experts and intelligence operatives and who between them know the entire country like the backs of their hands. It doesn't take a Von Clausewitz to spot the military possibilities of such an admixture but perhaps there is an intention to generate a protracted conflict and thereby 'have to stay'. In addition, if they are thinking long-term, then the possibility of inserting informers into the prison population carries promise of later infiltration of resistance structures. As-Sadr's people are receiving almost daily assurances that members of the Mehdi Army will be released any day now. 'Amnesty' or release without charge is evidently something that can be done, with political will or connections. The fact that the U.S. military is holding out on processing prisoners and is in fact adding to their numbers on a daily basis is rarely if ever questioned by those who argue that 'their boys have to do what it takes'. 'Their boys' have imprisoned thousands and thousands of innocent people and it is a nonsense to talk of any kind of hearts and minds approach in one breath while ignoring the continued perpetration of thousands of injustices that cause much grief and hardship to families all over Iraq. With each passing day the prisons are taking on more and more the character of P.O.W. camps replete with prisoners' committees and internal lectures and training discussions on military matters conducted by the prisoners themselves. For how long the thousands of innocents can refrain from eavesdropping and then sharing their newly acquired information with their visitors remains to be seen. Something should be done about the scandal of uncharged prisoners, sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 10:43 utc | 35

Yup, all the tools of the colonial power intent on fuelling violent resistance against themselves.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 19 2005 10:49 utc | 36

When George met Salam

Salam Pax, the 'Baghdad Blogger' whose father later became a minister with the puppet Iraqi government, is in full on invasion supporting mode in this encounter with George Galloway.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 10:57 utc | 37

Iceberg collision forces redraw of Antarctic maps

An iceberg that collided with Antarctica has broken a piece of the continent off, forcing maps of the bottom of the world to be redrawn, European scientists said today.

The iceberg, named B-15A, is whopping 71 miles (115 kilometers) long. Scientists predicted an imminent collision back in January. Instead, the iceberg ran aground and stalled out. Then it broke free last month. Now it has finally collided with the continent's Drygalski ice tongue and smacked a city sized chunk of it into the ocean.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 11:04 utc | 38

@ Colman

And now Iraq's getting the kind of people who never learned from Frongoch or Long Kesh either.....

British army intelligence unit to quit Ulster for Iraq

Meanwhile, some of the musings of intelligent, decent, God-fearing, civilized American men come to light:

"I say electrocute the mothers, whaddya say?"

"How about we pound the shit out of 'em first with batons?"

"Hmmm, not a lot of room in them interrogation rooms to swing a baton, how about we just slam a telephone directory into their heads in there?"

"But punching them is still O.K. isn't it?"

"Oh sure, we ain't gonna stop punching them, everybody loves that one too much to think of dropping it."

"What if they become aggressive?"

"What? No chance of that. We don't want to risk one of them handing one of US a slap. Hell no, we'll wear 'em out first by putting 'em in stress positions for long periods then they'll be absolutely worn out and helpless when we're punching 'em, electrocuting 'em, beating 'em with batons and slamming 'phone books into their heads."

"Sounds good."

"O.K., well that's that sorted out, are you coming along to the prayer service?"

"I'll be right along, I'm just finishing this note to a bunch of High Schools kids back home telling them about all the good stuff we're doing for the Iraqi people, you know, the trillion new schools, zillions of vaccinations, a bazillion new water treatment plants good news circular that we're supposed to send from a different area of Iraq to the media back home every week."

"Praise the Lord! Well don't be too long about it because there's naked female G.I. mud wrestling right after the prayer service and then right after that we're gonna set the dogs loose on some prisoners."

"Praise the Lord!"

'Wish lists' of harsh tactics against Iraq prisoners cited 2 cases of abuse following e-mails

Washington -- Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated "wish lists" of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on prisoners in August 2003, including tactics such as low-voltage electrocution and blows with phone books -- suggestions that some soldiers believed spawned abuse and illegal interrogations.

The discussions, which took place in e-mails between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then commander of U. S. troops in Iraq. Two specific cases of abuse in Iraq occurred soon after.

Army investigative documents released Monday, as well as court records and files, suggest the tactics were used on two prisoners: One died during an interrogation in November 2003 while stuffed into a sleeping bag, and another was badly beaten by inexperienced interrogators using a police baton in September 2003. The documents indicate confusion over what tactics were legal in Iraq, a belief that most prisoners were not covered by Geneva Conventions protections and alleged abuse by interrogators who had tacit approval to "turn it up a notch."

...At the 4th Infantry Division's prison in Tikrit, the e-mail caused top intelligence officials to develop a list including open-hand strikes, closed- fist strikes, using claustrophobic techniques and a number of coercive techniques such as striking with phone books, low-voltage electrocution and inducing muscle fatigue. The list was sent back to Baghdad on Aug. 17....

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 19 2005 11:50 utc | 39

If there are any physicists in attendance, we are addressing a serious scientific question HERE

Could use you help.

Posted by: Groucho | Apr 19 2005 16:00 utc | 40

Ratzinger.

Posted by: beq | Apr 19 2005 17:00 utc | 41

unreal. hitler youth member moves up.

Posted by: b real | Apr 19 2005 17:06 utc | 42

Oopsy-do...

GM plunges into $1bn quarterly loss

Who wouldda thunk? Certainly not Jerome. Doubtless, it has nothing to do w/the fact that millions of American jobs have been destroyed so that where I live car sales are off At Least 50%. Nor anything to do w/their failure to produce a hybrid to compete w/Toyota's Prius.... Beyond that, how much of this is manipulated to provide an excuse to gut medical care & pensions, which is Numero Uno on the Pirates agenda?

Posted by: jj | Apr 20 2005 5:15 utc | 43

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