Archive for the ‘It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 20, 2005

Category: George W. Bush, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The War on Stupid

So, here we are. The day of Bush’s inauguration.

A day or quiet protest for some.

Guardian – Protesters refuse to stand on ceremony: When President George Bush travels down Pennsylvania Avenue in his black limousine for today’s inaugural parade, he may detect a small ripple in the crowd as protesters symbolically turn their backs on his administration. That would be the stealth protesters of Turn Your Back on Bush, which plans to infiltrate the crowds of cheering Republicans along the parade route.

Ingrates! Haters of America! You’re the type that would spout rubbish like; “Ooooh, now Bush has his second term, he’s free to steal from his own people.”

You’re responsible for the world’s distorted view of Iraq! Why, even that nice Ms Rice appears confused.

*cough*

So what’s day-to-day life in Iraq really like? One thing I do know is that even dogs aren’t safe. Nor are families out for a drive (be warned that image 3 will break your fucking heart, but it’s not tragic, merely unfortunate). Even soldiers are in for a hard time.

Well, there is hope. Free elections are mere days away.

But, Baghdad Burning (a personal weblog from Iraq that is not sponsored by the CIA) notes that nobody really knows the candidates. They’re all in hiding for fear of being shot like these poor fellas.

Of course, this only counts if you’ve actually registered to vote (more here) and haven’t sold your ballot to pay for food (see Baghdad Buring post above).

But if you do get to vote, you’ll know that one clear and strong choice is the cuddly Mr Allawi who cares enough to execute suspected insurgents personally (a Jordanian government minister has since claimed that this shooting was confirmed by an American official).

And this was the purpose of going into Iraq, right? After all, we’ve stopped looking for WMD and there’s no evidence WMD were smuggled out of Iraq before the invasion.

Or perhaps it was for humanitarian reasons. To save these people from a brutal regime. I keep forgetting. No matter. I’m sure everyone who’s been killed or ‘abused’ or tortured in the name of freedom appreciates it.

(Diversionary ‘abuse’ linkdump… The charges in full. Soldiers: We were obeying orders. Blair: Shocking, but not typical.)

And I’m equally sure it’s doing a world of good.

Retiring Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage expresses some specific regrets
Wired – Rice Acknowledges Bad Iraq Decisions
The Age – Bush admits Iraq war helped extremists

So, here we are. The day of Bush’s inauguration.

CNN – Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Guardian – World fears new Bush era: Tony Blair, in an interview with the Guardian, expressed hope that Mr Bush’s second term would prove to be more consensual than the first. He said there had been an evolution in US policy, witnessed by him in successive conversations with Mr Bush. “Evolution comes from experience,” he said. Mr Blair said that, as part of a learning process that began with the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the US administration had reached the conclusion that “in the end, we can take security and military measures against terrorism but… the best prospect of peaceful coexistence lies in the spread of democracy and human rights”.

EarthTimes.og – Rice to repair and amend troubled relations with world powers

We can only assume this march of peace, freedom and democracy from the New Improved President will include a pre-emptive strike against Iran. And that the intelligence used to justify the strike will be as unbiased and reliable.

Guardian – Now US ponders attack on Iran
Steve Weissman – Target Iran. War with No End
BBC – Iran ‘will defend nuclear sites’
CNS – A Preemptive Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences
Scotsman – Iran Envoy Warns Bush Against Attacks

This morning on BBC Radio 4, I heard an American (did anyone catch his name?) arguing in favour of this because of Iran’s “possible intentions to pursue a nuclear capability programme” or some such nonsense. (How about that? Blair was right. Bush has learned a lesson or two!)

*sigh*

Look, just enjoy a recursive Hasslehoff, watch the latest JibJab movie and buy yourself a big red button of doom.

You’ll need to develop your sense of humour if you want to be able to deal with what’s coming.

UPDATE – Salon.com – The scandal sheet: Print it out, send it to Harry Reid, or just read it and weep. Here are 34 scandals from the first four years of George W. Bush’s presidency – every one of them worse than Whitewater.

Oh, and you can say anything you like on FOXNews about the inauguration… so long as it’s positive and fawning.








Well, isn’t that interesting? Richard Desmond appears to be trying to get on Tony’s good side by not running the images and instead reminding us what this fight is ‘really’ about… and that we could all get blowed up…

BBC – ‘Abuse’ pictures dominate papers: The Express is the only paper that does not feature images of alleged abuse on its front page. Instead the paper leads with a special investigation by two of its reporters trying to show “how easy it is for bombers to get into Britain”. It describes how they smuggled fake bombs across the Channel by boat, then took them to various places including the London Eye and Heathrow airport.

Normally, this is the kind of helpful stunt The Sun would pull.

For the record, I should note that I didn’t see a newspaper rack until late yesterday, but when I did I found that the Express also bigged-up the Omar Bakri Mohammed ‘story’. And today they continue the good work.

(Oh, and I haven’t seen a newspaper this morning, either… so I don’t know what the girl with the tits thinks.)

One would almost think that the Bakri matter was pushed/generated in expectation of the release of these pictures, in order to reach that fuzzy area in the back of people’s brains that still links the war in Iraq with the War on Terror… a link that in some small way is supposed to excuse these pictures.

In fact, while The Sun has run with the pictures today, they tie up the messy ends with the following neat little bow….

The Sun – Army’s shame: The country is asking one question today: How COULD the British Army let such terrible things happen? The truth is that only a few revolting individuals have allowed themselves to sink so low… The fine work of 99 per cent of our magnificent Army has been tarnished by a handful of morons. The Sun feels deep sympathy for the mistreated Iraqis, and we know our readers will too. The soldiers on trial must, if convicted, pay a heavy penalty. That is vital. We cannot afford to let the likes of Omar Bakri, the fanatical Muslim cleric, try to make mileage out of these events.

I’m sorry, but I feel the need to correct that middle sentence… The fine work of 100 per cent of our magnificent Army has been tarnished by a handful of morons that are in charge.

Blair! Hoon! Stop pretending to cry at the back there and pay attention! This concerns you.

The same strategists who worked so hard to link the invasion of Iraq with the War on Terror at home did equally fine work contributing to the mentality of our troops. Mix a getsomegetsomegetsome atitude with a false picture of the population you’re invading (Iraqis were responsible for 911, don’t you know), and you’re away.

Combine this with the practice of bagging/hooding that magically turns people into objects, and you have your very own recipe for disaster.

Of course, an incident like this happening so early in the war should have been a warning sign for someone senior along the way. Unless of course such a go-getter attitude was seen as a necessary evil. Or perhaps even a desirable attribute, given that someone would have to get tough sooner or later in order to track down those pesky WMDs. That never existed.

But what makes me angriest about this is that – while no-one is stupid enough to be quite as overt as Rumsfeld about it (though The Sun tries) – the same game to win hearts and minds that led to this is still being played in order to excuse it.

Related:
Iraq, Friendly Fire, Civilian Casualties, and a Total Lack Of Torture
Something Funny Happened On The Way To Abu Ghraib

UPDATE – Today’s topless totty has been moved to page 7. There, Ruthie (23, from Kent) is angered by photos of British troops abusing Iraqi prisoners and turns away from the camera to show a suitably respectful hint of nipple. She says: “Stories like this play right into the hands of our enemies. People who abuse prisoners should be punished.”

And by that she means pilloried.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 18, 2005

Category: Humanity, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The War on Stupid, Tony 'King Blair

Guardian – Court martial told of soldiers’ ‘appalling’ abuse: Three British soldiers carried out “shocking and appalling” physical and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners that was photographed by servicemen, a court martial heard today. Twenty-two photographs were released by a British military court in Germany where the court martial of the three accused Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldiers opened today. Among the disturbing images was a picture of two naked Iraqi men simulating anal sex with their thumbs raised up to the cameras. There was also a close-up picture of two Iraqis simulating oral sex.

Is it just me, or do these new pictures look disturbing familiar in theme and content?

Dear oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear… how could this have happened?

UPDATE – Not connected to the above in any way, shape or form. By the way, none of this is real because the images the Mirror published were fake.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 17, 2005

Category: George W. Bush, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The War on Stupid

I would regard this report very seriously if I were you… not least because Hersh also revealed much of the detail behind the Abu Ghraib scandal. (Which, I’m sure you’ll all be comforted to know, was entirely the fault of this one misguided man. Or perhaps these misguided men. And not anyone senior in the Bush administration.)

Of course, if your head is wired in such a way that George W Bush Can Do No Wrong, then this may for you be a good reason to disbelieve the following report. Not that it will matter to you. Recent history teaches us that those most in favour of war have the least exposure to it.

*cough*

Seymour Hersh – The Coming Wars – What the Pentagon can now do in secret: George W. Bush’s re-election was not his only victory last fall. The President and his national-security advisers have consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War national-security state. Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control – against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism – during his second term. The C.I.A. will continue to be downgraded, and the agency will increasingly serve, as one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon put it, as “facilitators” of policy emanating from President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. This process is well under way…. “This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah – we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”

CNN – Journalist: U.S. planning for possible attack on Iran: In an interview on the same program, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said the story was “riddled with inaccuracies”… “I don’t believe that some of the conclusions he’s drawing are based on fact,” Bartlett said.

I’ve read that sentence a number of times, turned it upside-down and even held it up to a mirror, but I still can’t find the denial.

A man scans the landscape and sees an army massing on the horizon. He sees what he thinks are around 50 tanks, 36 jets and roughly 10,000 troops. Of course, his numbers being wrong would mean that the report is “riddled with inaccuracies”… but there would still be an army massing on the horizon.

That whole thing about the reintroduction of the draft (with tell-tale signs going back way into last year) was so obviously a last-minute pre-election scare-tactic by the Demmycrats.

UPDATE – Guardian – Special forces ‘on the ground’ in Iran

UPDATE – Ohh, look! Some more good news (via Pugh Watch)…

BBC – Iraq ‘could become terror haven’: Iraq could become a breeding ground for terrorists, with survivors taking their experience to use around the world, a new US intelligence report warns.Veterans of jihad in Iraq could eventually replace the al-Qaeda hierarchy, the CIA’s National Intelligence Council says.

UPDATE – Here’s a list of items you cannot take to the Presidential Inauguration. Eggs and pretzels are not listed, but these could quite easily be covered under “any other items at the discretion of the security screeners that may pose a potential safety hazard.”

UPDATE – You may be interested to learn that instructions given to official performers in the parade include: “a warning not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements.”








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 10, 2005

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Reported here and elsewhere on Teh Interwebs. The comment that strikes me most in the former link is; “God has a plan for him.”

I assume that plan includes a winning smile.

Snopes has an entry on this, but they’re still trying to determine the authenticity of the story.

(Please note that the story as listed at Snopes.com has a fabbo feelgood opening and the gunman involved isn’t described as an insurgent but an ‘Iraq terrorist’…)








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 6, 2005

Category: George W. Bush, Humanity, It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!, The War on Stupid

OK, it’s shocking, it’s alarming…. but it Does. Not. Surprise. Me. At. All.

Guardian – Bush’s choice for top law job faces grilling on torture: Alberto Gonzales, currently his chief legal adviser, told Mr Bush in early 2002 that the White House was not bound by the Geneva conventions in dealing with al-Qaida and the Taliban. In August that year he helped orchestrate and approve a justice department memorandum arguing that interrogators could use techniques which the Red Cross has since described as “tantamount to torture”. His role will come under close scrutiny, but he is expected to survive. Republicans consolidated their hold on the Senate in November and some Democrats are uneasy about blocking the country’s first Hispanic attorney general.

Just let the powerlessness/gutlessness of the Democrats sink in for a bit before continuing…

New York Times – Newly Released Reports Show Early Concern on Prison Abuse: When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke last spring, officials characterized the abuse as the aberrant acts of a small group of low-ranking reservists, limited to a few weeks in late 2003. But thousands of pages in military reports and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the American Civil Liberties Union in the past few months have demonstrated that the abuse involved multiple service branches in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba, beginning in 2002 and continuing after Congress and the military had begun investigating Abu Ghraib.

ACLU – New Documents Suggest Government Reluctance to Investigate Guantanamo Abuses: Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union show that an FBI investigation into the use of “aggressive” interrogation techniques at Guantanamo was sharply scaled back, and that records related to the FBI’s investigation are still being withheld.

You can browse through and read those documents here:
Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request

DailyKos – What Bush Lackey Gonzales Wrought: Does it matter that Alberto Gonzales advised the President of the United States that he was not bound by the Geneva Conventions, any international treaties to which the U.S. was a signatory, or federal law when it came to “coercive interrogation” techniques? Of course it does. Here’s why…

Lots and lots of comments and extra info in that last link – do follow and dig. Oh and make time to share Something Funny Happened On The Way To Abu Ghraib.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 5, 2005

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Guardian – US plans permanent Guantanamo jails: The United States is preparing to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without trial, replacing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp with permanent prisons in the Cuban enclave and elsewhere, it was reported yesterday.

Via deficient brain:

Mike Whitney – The Guantanamo Gulag: The prison facility at Guantanamo Bay is the brightest star in the Bush firmament. It towers over the political landscape like a monument to human cruelty. That’s why the administration chose to slap it up in full view of the world. It’s their way of announcing that the fundamental rules of the game have changed.

And this latest news is surely meant to assure us that The New Rules Are Here To Stay.

(Oh, and for all those who hold some dim hope that we can halt this slide before it goes too far… sorry, but that boat sailed months ago. May God bless President Bush and his mandate.)

UPDATE – More linky goodness to be had over at Chasing Daisy.








Posted by Tim Ireland at January 4, 2005

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Knight Ridder – As Iraqis register to vote, Shiites enthusiastic while fear grips Sunnis: Block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood, Iraq’s election process is unfolding in starkly different ways. In areas populated by Shiites, who are the majority in Iraq, the process is going relatively smoothly. In contrast, intimidation and fear are rampant in some areas where Sunnis reside. The success of the registration drive – and the success of the parliamentary election itself – matters greatly. If enough Sunnis don’t register, the Shiite population is certain to dominate the election, leaving the minority Sunnis without a voice or incentive to support the government. After such an election, Iraq might be rocked by charges of minority disenfranchisement, weakening hopes for quelling violence and reducing sectarian strife.

SFGate – Bush considers election tweaks to assure Sunni representation in Iraq: The Bush administration is talking to Iraqi leaders about guaranteeing Sunni Arabs a certain number of ministries or high-level jobs in the future Iraqi government if, as is widely predicted, Sunni candidates fail to do well in Iraq’s elections.

AFP – Iraq battling more than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief: Iraq’s insurgency counts more than 200,000 active fighters and sympathisers, the country’s national intelligence chief told AFP, in the bleakest assessment to date of the armed revolt waged by Sunni Muslims. (link via deficient brain)

Independent – Three Britons killed in Baghdad car bomb attack: Three Britons were killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad yesterday on a day of bloody ambushes, bombs and suicide attacks across Iraq thought to be aimed at undermining the elections due later this month.

Reuters – Baghdad Governor Assassinated; Bombing Kills 10: The targeting of Governor Ali al-Haidri showed insurgents’ power to strike at the heart of Iraq’s governing class, raising fresh doubts whether Iraqi security forces can protect politicians and voters as the national ballot draws near.

You know, I get the strangest feeling that some Iraqis may emerge on the far side of January feeling that their democratically-elected leaders are somewhat lacking in legitimacy…

UPDATE – Back to Iraq 3.0 – Iraqi President (sorta) reverses himself on election timing: So maybe I’ll win that $5 bet I made with a colleague that they’ll delay the elections after all. I mean, I’ll admit that while there doesn’t appear to be any legal way to postpone the election, people may eventually bow to reality and just not hold them. I’m sure the Iraqi Bar Association would eventually recover. And the U.N. is used to being snubbed by now, I guess. Oh, hell. I’m just giving into despair. From my perspective on the ground, it seems like a really fool-hearty idea to hold an election when high-level officials are being assassinated, multiple car bombs are going of every day and U.S. troops — to say nothing of Iraqi civilians — are dying all the time. But hey, guys in the south say things are cool! And Sadr City has garbage pickup now. Admittedly, the south is a lot better off than the center and west of the country and garbage pickup is progress, but such forced silver-lining spotting seems bit like bailing sea water with a thimble while you’re on the Titanic.

UPDATE – Baghdad Burning – New Year and Elections: There are several problems. The first is the fact that, technically, we don’t know the candidates. We know the principal heads of the lists but we don’t know who exactly will be running. It really is confusing. They aren’t making the lists public because they are afraid the candidates will be assassinated.








Posted by Tim Ireland at December 23, 2004

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Washington Post – War Crimes: Thanks to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA – truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration’s whitewashers – led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld – have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.

At this point I would like ot remind you that even Nixon managed a second term, but….








Posted by Tim Ireland at December 22, 2004

Category: It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely!

Blair in Iraq
Please excuse me for restricting my comments to a single picture. I may add more links as the day goes on.

Bush insists: ‘Life in Iraq is better than under Saddam’
Blair pays surprise Baghdad visit
Reporter’s log: Blair in the Middle East
Rocket attack on U.S. base kills more than 20
Hell in the North
Military was building bunker to replace tent hit in deadly rocket attack
Mosul death toll rises to 26
56 Percent in Survey Say Iraq War Was a Mistake
Bush sees hope in Iraqi election
Bush vows to pursue Iraq mission

Ten more years?: And, against a backdrop of continuing carnage, The Independent has learned a cross-party group of MPs has returned from Iraq convinced British troops may have to be deployed there for at least another 10 years.

And so the fight of Good vs. Evil goes on…

Pentagon Interrogators ‘Impersonated’ FBI- E-Mails: Defense Department interrogators impersonated FBI agents at the Guantanamo Bay prison to avoid being held accountable when they used “torture techniques” on a prisoner held there in the U.S. war on terrorism, according to FBI e-mails made public on Monday. Another FBI e-mail made available in the same package said that President Bush had issued an executive order authorizing a series of harsh methods for interrogations. The White House said no such directive existed and Justice Department and FBI officials echoed the denial. The documents were made public by the American Civil Liberties Union which obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act.

FBI E-Mail Refers to Presidential Order Authorizing Inhumane Interrogation Techniques

FBI Agents Allege Abuse of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Washington Monthly comments here.

UPDATE – Oh, go on, then. One more picture for lunch.

UPDATE 2 – Back to Iraq 3.0 – Suicide bombing?!: I’m just stunned that insurgents were able to get inside and do this. This also makes the debate over whether the still-under-construction concrete dining facility was behind schedule moot. A concrete roof wouldn’t have made a whit of difference. This was an attack from inside. How was this allowed to happen?

ADDED BONUS – A picture of Donald Rumsfeld actually signing his name and a Christmas message from the White House (nsfw).








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