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So... what's eating you today?

UN reports "vast" levels of hunger for Iraq's children. The World Food Programme is reporting that a "dismal shortage of cash" is jeopardizing the health of over 3 million Iraqis, over half of them children. The organization cites "a growing negative impact on the most vulnerable". Last year, a survey indicated that over 27 percent of all Iraqi children under the age of five were chronically malnourished. This was before reports came out, indicating that food rations have been cut off, and reports of food prices escalating sharply. Some Iraqis have resorted to selling their blood for money to make ends meet. Approximately 400,000 Iraqi children now suffer from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein. Iraq now has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world, just ahead of Afghanistan.
posted by insomnia_lj on May 9, 2006 - 55 comments

 

This isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.

CIA warned White House -- no WMD programs in Iraq. A retired senior CIA official interviewed by 60 Minutes claims that the White House ignored intelligence from Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri in the run-up to the invasion. CIA Director George Tenet delivered the information to President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials in September 2002, according to the CIA official. A few days later the administration said it was no longer interested. "...we said 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change.' " The interview airs on CBS, Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
posted by insomnia_lj on Apr 22, 2006 - 59 comments

New York Times to release Bush/Blair memo.

New York Times to release Bush/Blair memo tomorrow. The memo, which was mentioned previously, but never publically disclosed, confirms that George W. Bush and Tony Blair were determined to invade Iraq, regardless of UN approval, and despite what both leaders told their citizens. More troubling, the memo also indicates that Bush may have conspired to assassinate Saddam Hussein, which appears to violate Sec. 5g of Executive Order 11905, which states that "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination." This executive order was considered the law of the land even after 9/11, when Bob Barr proposed legislation H.R. 19, which was never enacted into law.
posted by insomnia_lj on Mar 26, 2006 - 74 comments

British soldiers filmed beating Iraqis.

British soldiers filmed beating Iraqis. A British tabloid has released footage showing British troops beating Iraqi rioters. The video, available in realplayer format or Windows Media format, was apparently taken by a British corporal, and shows at least eight British soldiers dragging four young rioters inside a British army compound, where they were repeatedly beaten with batons, boots and fists, and kicked in the genitals. Arab television and the BBC have since aired the footage.
posted by insomnia_lj on Feb 13, 2006 - 72 comments

A bridge too Farsi?!

Moqtada Sadr promises to help defend Iran. The Iraqi Shi'ite leader promised to defend Iran -- presumably in Iraq -- if Iran is attacked by the US. Moqtada Sadr is the commander of the Mahdi Army, which fought US troops for weeks in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf, threatening to unite poor, discontented Iraqi Shi'ites in common cause with Sunni insurgents. Sadr and his followers are known to have close ideological and logistical links to clerics inside Iran. In the event of a conflict with Iraq, their assistance to the Iranians could greatly increase instability within Iraq, possibly assisting elements of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force in infiltrating Iraq, and orchestrating attacks upon American interests.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 24, 2006 - 72 comments

Iraq - All oil, no gas.

Iraq - All oil, no gas. A consortium of 34 Turkish companies have joined together to stop all exports of petrol / refined oil products to Iraq, because Iraq's government owes them over $1 billion that they have so far been unable to pay. Iraq's largest refinery was forced to shut down in December, after its truck drivers walked off the job due to insurgent threats. They reopened ten days later, only to shut down again after an insurgent swarm attack killed and wounded more drivers. The refinery has once more ceased activity, as their reserves of refined fuel are full and there is no way to get them to their customers. Iraq's diesel-driven power plants are undersupplied too, leading to worsening outages.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 22, 2006 - 37 comments

We don't not make deals with terrorists.

We don't not make deals with terrorists. Yesterday, the Guardian reported: "Kidnappers threatened to kill the abducted US journalist Jill Carroll unless the Bush administration ordered the release of Iraqi women prisoners within 72 hours, according to a report on al-Jazeera television yesterday." Today, the BBC reports "Iraq's ministry of justice has told the BBC that six of the eight women being held by coalition forces in Iraq have been released early. The six were freed because there was insufficient evidence to charge them, a justice ministry spokesman said." Cause, meet effect. Effect, this is cause.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 18, 2006 - 48 comments

Fables of the reconstruction.

Fables of the reconstruction. The Bush administration does not intend to seek any further funding for Iraqi reconstruction, leaving only $3.5 billion left to spend out of the $18.4 billion the US budgeted. Approximately half of all reconstruction costs spent so far -- $7.5 billion -- have been eaten up by increased costs due to the insurgency. All remaining reconstruction costs will depend entirely upon foriegn contributions and Iraq's oil industry. But will foriegn aid come through if its too dangerous to work there? Can Iraq's oil industry pay for reconstruction when its output has been in a tailspin for well over a year, falling from 2.8 million barrels a day in May 2004, to 1.82 million barrels per day in January 2005, to 1.2 million barrels a day by November. and ending the year with a low of 1.1 million barrels a day in December? As for the Iraqi infrastructure left to be rebuilt, water and sanitation is still poor in most areas, and electricity production, which looked promising last summer after imports from Iran and Turkey, has deteriorated again, falling to only 3700 megawatts in November 2005, essentially at the same level produced in May 2004.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 2, 2006 - 26 comments

Al-Jazeera bites back.

Al-Jazeera bites back. In 2003, following US pressure on the Emir of Qatar and claims of a secret meeting of House, Senate, Pentagon, and intelligence leaders who authorized the use of "all possible pressure" to silence the station, al-Jazeera fired its general manager, stopped referring to Iraqi insurgents as "the resistance", and banned the airing of hostage executions and the death of US soldiers. Today, following recent reports of George W. Bush planning an attack against al-Jazeera HQ in Qatar, and the US bribing of Iraqi reporters and news sources, al-Jazeera seems to have changed that policy by airing the video of 10 US Marines being killed in an improvised explosive device attack. (NSFW. Windows Media. Right click this link to save the video, or this link to stream it.) Is this change indicative of larger changes in Arab public opinion, or has the Emir of Qatar decided to push back?
posted by insomnia_lj on Dec 3, 2005 - 113 comments

Pentagon bribery scandal -- Iraqi journalists bought out.

Pentagon bribery scandal -- Iraqi journalists bought out. Officials in Washington have admitted that the US military has bribed Iraqi journalists with under-the-table payoffs of up to $200 a month -- twice the average Iraqi monthly income -- for producing upbeat newspaper, radio and television reports about the war in Iraq. This follows a similar report yesterday that the military secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of pro-American articles written by the US Information Operations Task Force in Baghdad. A Pentagon spokesman described the report as "troubling". "This article raises some questions as to whether or not some of the practices that are described in there are consistent with the principles of this department."
posted by insomnia_lj on Dec 1, 2005 - 62 comments

Is the Blair government creating another dodgy dossier?

Is the Blair government creating another dodgy dossier? Following Tony Blair's recent outburst accusing the Iranian government of supporting attacks on British troops, a team are being dispatched to Iraq on a hunting expedition, in the hope of proving him right. Meanwhile, a prominent neo-con who served as the Iraq desk officer for the Office of Special Plans is telling the British that only the threat of force will tame Tehran. Sound familiar?!
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 9, 2005 - 75 comments

"Mom, you're not going to like this."

"Mom, you're not going to like this." A mother of a U.S. soldier tells her son about the latest Iraq torture admissions, only to be told that his unit routinely beat and abused Iraqis. "...suppose you visit an Imam and you want him to call off IED attacks in his neighborhood. If you just go in and ask him politely, he'll tell you he'll try to help; but, he won't . . . But, if you go to that same guy and beat him up thoroughly, then ask him to knock off the attacks, he'll respect you and he'll try to help. . . ." The mother reports that her son was "under the impression that the conduct was in line with military policy."
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 6, 2005 - 172 comments

Bush administration threatens veto against Geneva Convention.

Bush administration threatens veto against Geneva Convention. After hearing about the latest torture scandal in Iraq, Republican Armed Services Committee Senators John McCain, John W. Warner, and Lindsey Graham are seeking an amendment to a defense bill which would require the military to abide by the Geneva Convention... but the Bush administration is reportedly opposed to any such legislation, and have threatened to veto it. To make matters worse, many prominent Congressional Republicans are also opposed to abiding by the Geneva Convention, to the point that overturning such a veto is far from assured.
posted by insomnia_lj on Sep 26, 2005 - 63 comments

The world's biggest thief?

The world's biggest thief? A warrant has been issued against former Iraqi Interim Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan for defrauding Iraq of over $1 billion. In January, I posted to MeFi about Shaalan's possible involvement in a $300 million fraud scheme and the murder of two American arms merchants. What is more troubling, however, is that the U.S. government may have turned a blind eye to this massive defrauding of the Iraqi people. Prior to his role as Defense Minister, Shaalan ran a real estate agency in Britain and had no prior military qualifications. For this reason, Juan Cole believes it likely that Shaalan was a CIA agent, while Ahmed Chalabi accused Sha'alan of spying for Saddam. Meanwhile, the insurgents accused Shaalan of conspiring with the Bush administration to scrap Iraq's heavy weaponry. What does seem clear is that he apparently tried to buy broken Soviet-era armored vehicles and 28-year-old, second-hand Polish helicopters too old to fly at a premium, while pocketing lucrative kickbacks. Which begs the question -- if the U.S. government really wanted a strong, independent Iraqi military, then why doesn't it give Iraq the heavy arms they'll need to defend themselves?
posted by insomnia_lj on Sep 20, 2005 - 17 comments

The poet has checked out.

The poet has checked out. Thomas Strickland died on August 15, 2005, in Al Mahmudiyah, Iraq, after several harrowing ordeals. He left behind his journal and numerous war poems, such as "Cheers to suicide! So Where's my Martini?" and "Terrer be a Cancer Today", parts one and two. Could he be the Wilfred Owen of the Iraq War?
"Humanity, I think, is what fills the little gaps between all the broken shit, all the breaking, and all the plans, schematics, graphics and orders. Its the sand slipping out of grasping fingers. Its our instinct without progress as a motivator. It's who we are when we concentrate on being more than doing."
posted by insomnia_lj on Aug 26, 2005 - 30 comments

Where's Raed's brother?

Where's Raed's brother? Iraqi weblogger Khalid Jarrar has been abducted by the mukhabarat -- Iraq's secret police. Khalid Jarrar was seized at his college in Iraq shortly after his mother, Faiza, toured the U.S., calling for a timetable for U.S. withdrawl. So, why is it that arrests of Iranian webloggers made international news, but Iraqi webloggers from prominent families can be "disappeared" without a single major news organization reporting on it?
posted by insomnia_lj on Jul 19, 2005 - 15 comments

Judge orders Abu Ghraib videos, pictures released.

Judge orders Abu Ghraib videos, pictures released.... and all hell's gonna break loose.

To quote Sy Hersh:
"The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It's going to come out."
posted by insomnia_lj on Jun 3, 2005 - 203 comments

"And the 'Soldier Kicking Asshat of the Month' award goes to..."

"And the 'Soldier Kicking Asshat of the Month' award goes to..." Rep. Duncan Hunter (R - San Diego), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who stripped a bipartisan-approved amendment out of the defense budget which would have given America's 1.1 million reservists the ability to pay $75 a month / $233 per family for healthcare insurance. Hunter claimed that the extra cost would blow the DoD's budget. The cost? About $770 million a year over five years... approximately .0018% of the yearly defense budget, or about 2/3rds the cost of a single stealth bomber.
posted by insomnia_lj on May 27, 2005 - 31 comments

Norwegian peacekeepers make better music videos.

A clever satirical video (Windows media) made by Norwegian peacekeepers in Kosovo triggers an international incident.
"Somalia, Grenada, or rescuing Kuwait-a... We screwed ya, Rwanda. Wish we coulda helped ya... Iraqi embargo. That's where we got hustled... Down in Kosovo, we'll kick some ass and then we'll see how it goes. And then we really don't know... Good luck to Kosovo"
posted by insomnia_lj on May 23, 2005 - 28 comments

How to destroy an American soldier.

How to destroy an American soldier. Imagine you're a Marine, just two months back from your first tour of duty in Iraq. Imagine you've gone through a hellish experience that left you isolated, profoundly depressed, and struggling with addiction. The Marine Corps knows you have an untreated mental disorder, but you're still supposed to go back to Iraq next year for a second tour of duty. Now imagine that you have just discovered you may have to go back to Iraq again this year, too. "If I do get chosen that'll mean by 2007 (assuming I'm still alive ha ha) I'll have made 3 fucking trips to that country. Which in return will end up making me a bitter angry salty fucker. . . If I have to go I'm gonna fuck some shit up . . . your whole mentality just shifts cause of that fear. I wish you all who don't have to deal with a life like that could jump into my head for a second you'd wanna go fucking nuts too! ha ha ha ha LET'S GO EAT SOME BABIES AND SHOOT SOME ROO'S"
posted by insomnia_lj on May 18, 2005 - 120 comments

Join the Army for just fifteen months!

Join the Army for just fifteen months! Visit exciting foriegn lands! Now with "ultra-lite" benefits!
(Warning: Requires an additional two years of service in the Army Reserve / National Guard, may contain additional deployments overseas, stop-loss, 4 1/2 years in the inactive reserve, and possible devil's bargains.)
posted by insomnia_lj on May 12, 2005 - 113 comments

Damning leak for Blair / Bush!

Damning leak for Blair / Bush! A leaked transcript of a senior British government meeting indicates that the Bush administration viewed war with Iraq as "inevitable" as of July 2002, even though the rationale for war was "thin" and that "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." It further states that the desire to bring about regime change was "not a legal base for military action", and that the only legitimate reason to declare war was with UNSCOM approval. Most disturbingly, it indicates that there were "strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change."
posted by insomnia_lj on May 1, 2005 - 139 comments

Blair government attacks the BBC, while attempting to "plant" the news.

Blair government attacks the BBC, while attempting to "fix" the news. In the aftermath of the Hutton Report fallout, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott reopened the war of words between Labour and the BBC by accusing the BBC of slanting their news coverage of the war in Iraq. Apparently, an Iraqi friend of Prescott's, Shanaz Ibrahim, was refused a (unscheduled) interview. What Prescott fails to mention, however, is that Ms. Ibrahim has lived in London for over 30 years, and is married to Abdul-Latif Rashid, the brother-in-law of Iraq's president. So... where have all the *real* Iraqis gone, anyway?
posted by insomnia_lj on Apr 27, 2005 - 18 comments

Britain's new opposition party?!

Britain's new opposition party?! Despite outraising and outspending all other parties, Britain's conservative Tory party is falling in the polls to P.M. Tony Blair's "New Labour" party. This collapse seems likely to increase; just days after conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch indicated his love of cheap labour, his paper "The Sun" is endorsing Blair. What isn't being pointed out, though, is that the Liberal Democrats are gaining former Labour voters just as fast as Labour is gaining conservative voters. A British public opinion site indicates that 43% of its visitors support LibDem policies, while the Guardian's unofficial "poll-u-like" shows 45% support for the LibDems, even though The Guardian has encouraged its readers to "hold their nose" and vote for Blair. Given that prior election polls in Britain have been off by as much as 19%, could there be a major shift here?
posted by insomnia_lj on Apr 21, 2005 - 32 comments

ACLU seeks Sanchez perjury investigation.

ACLU seeks Sanchez perjury investigation. As a followup to yesterday's post, the ACLU has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Gonzales, requesting an investigation of Gen. Ricardo Sanchez for perjury before Congress. Sanchez is accused of lying about approving guidelines for the use of abusive interrogation techniques at Abu Ghraib prison. Now, many of you might think that Gonzales might refuse this request and be done with it. However, the ACLU has the right to request a writ of mandamus, which would compel Gonzales to initiate an investigation. If Sanchez is investigated, will he be pressured to reveal the identity of those in the Pentagon / Bush administration (Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, Cambone?!) who knew about and possibly ordered these policies?
posted by insomnia_lj on Mar 31, 2005 - 28 comments

Brian Eno's next big thing?!

Brian Eno's next big thing?! Politics, it appears. Brian Eno, an outspoken opponent of Tony Blair's administration in Britain, has started up http://www.libdemthistime.org, encouraging prominent Brits to show their support for the Liberal Democrats. If that isn't enough, he's helping bankroll the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq to run against Tony Blair in his constituency, in the hope of unseating him. Could Labour win and Tony lose?
posted by insomnia_lj on Mar 29, 2005 - 47 comments

We're all to blame.

We're all to blame. In January 2002, Scott Ritter called Iraq a "phantom threat" and warned us of Ahmed Chalabi's "dubious motivations" for fomenting a war based on phony intel. Now Ritter is saying that we're all responsible for Iraq, because we, as a public, bought into the unproven argument that Iraq had WMDs. In that light, how should we view the Iranian situation? Is it fair for the US to use its power to insist upon arguably hypocritical terms for a fellow signatary to the Non Proliferation Treaty? Doesn't Iran have legitimate rights for nuclear development? Shouldn't we demand proof of a nuclear weapons program before we even consider starting a conflict our military believes would most certainly escalate? The Bush administration says that "there's NO DOUBT that Iran continues a nuclear program"... an obvious lie. There is no proof of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Period.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 27, 2005 - 100 comments

Did the Interim Iraqi Defense Minister have these two Americans murdered for $300 million?

Did the Interim Iraqi Defense Minister have these two Americans murdered for $300 million? In the middle of a election that will decide who controls Iraq, Interim Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan has announced that Ahmad Chalabi -- a rival candidate -- will be arrested on 13-year-old charges. But why now? Shaalan says Chalabi "wanted to malign the reputation of the defense ministry". How?
1> Shaalan claims Chalabi released documents accusing Shaalan of being a former member of the Mokhaberat, Saddam's intelligence service. (Shaalan claims political fraud, with the intent of silencing his claims against the Iranians.)
2> Chalabi claims that Shaalan flew $300 million in U.S. currency to a shady businessman in Lebanon, bypassing financial controls, the public bidding process, and Iraqi government oversight.
So, how does this tie in with Stoffel and Wemple? Stoffel recently alerted senior U.S. officials that the Iraqi Defense Ministry was involved in a kickback scheme involving a shady businessman in Lebanon and a multimillion-dollar arms deal. Late last year, Stoffel, a prominent Republican donor and arms dealer, met with aides to Sen. Santorum, R-Pa. Santorum wrote Donald Rumsfeld on Stoffel's behalf, asking him to raise the issue with Shaalan. Stoffel was later invited by the Coalition to arbitrate a solution with the Lebanese businessman. After several days, the arbitrator told the businessman to pay Stoffel -- a debt which is still unpaid. Upon leaving the base, Stoffel and Wemple were attacked and killed nearby. A video from a previously unknown terrorist group claimed responsibility, but one expert suggests that the video may be "manufactured". A reporter recently granted an interview with an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman was forbidden to ask "dangerous" questions about the contract. Stoffel and Wemple are survived by their wives and five children.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 22, 2005 - 26 comments

Britain's Abu Ghraib. (NSFW, but soon to be seen everywhere.)

Britain's Abu Ghraib. (NSFW, but soon to be seen everywhere.) With Iraqi elections just days away and the next British elections scheduled tenatively for May, pictures have been released of British soldiers torturing and abusing prisoners in a style shockingly similar to Abu Ghraib. Soldiers are already being charged. Their defense? "I was just following orders..."
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 19, 2005 - 35 comments

Dog day in Iraq.

Dog day in Iraq. PFC Connor, a Marine mascot previously mentioned in this post, was hunted down and killed just 24 hours before his planned departure from Iraq. "We found you at six weeks old. Not much more than five pounds, you lived on potted meat and long life milk. It was all we had. You grew into a little puppy, an Iraqi dog with an Irish name from Boon Dock Saints. For all the times you ran away . . . you ran to me as fast as you could when I whistled for you. It was those times that I loved you the most."
"I'm wondering why they created this policy. Were dogs barking and attracting insurgents? Were they playing fetch and accidentally bringing home IEDs instead of their stick? Does Rumsfeld just hate puppies?
"No, no, and possibly."
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 18, 2005 - 44 comments

The journal of an American soldier.

The journal of an American soldier. Although it's typically my policy not to reveal the identity of people I know in Iraq, I am making an exception in this case. The journal above belongs to Michael Smith, a LiveJournal friend of mine who died in Iraq on Tuesday when an RPG hit his Humvee. Mike was 24 years old and leaves behind family, friends, and a newlywed wife, who he married in Korea shortly before he deployed to Iraq. As is tradition on LiveJournal, his last journal entry has become a memorial of sorts.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 13, 2005 - 75 comments

It's a dog's life in today's army.

A dog's (or cat's) life. It's very common in Iraq for soldiers to adopt local dogs and cats as mascots, such as "PFC Conner". Unfortunately, there are new policies in place to kill local dogs and cats for health reasons. Often, even mascots are destroyed, damaging morale in the process. Military Mascots is a small organization that is helping to bring mascots back to the U.S. for safety, but this can cost over $1000 per mascot for shots, boarding, fees, and the plane ride back home. It's their hope to save dozens of mascots before they are killed, but Military Mascots may be running out of time.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jan 3, 2005 - 74 comments

The new voice of the Iraqi uprising...

The new voice of the Iraqi uprising speaks English and knows about propaganda. That said, the music is a bit over the top. Remember that South Park episode, where both Chef and the lead mutant turkey cover themselves in warpaint and give a "Braveheart" speech to their followers prior to battle? It's kinda like that. But hey, it feels good!
posted by insomnia_lj on Dec 15, 2004 - 29 comments

Logistical issues threaten to undermine Iraqi elections.

Logistical issues threaten to undermine Iraqi elections. "I just can't see how we can hold these elections," an American consultant working with Iraqi election planners said on the condition of anonymity." I found out about this story, btw, from someone working on the elections in Baghdad. They write: "We've got a leak. Someone, an American, is talking to the press. And ___ is *pissed*. It's a good article, though... er, even though I'm not commenting on it. Or expressing an opinion. But if you've got any interest in these elections, you should read it."
They also cited several of the problems they are having: "Because our meal times are regulated by (KBR), it only allows us about five hours a day . . . with our Iraqi counterparts. Iraqis bolt for home at around 3 PM to avoid being shot in the head or blown up . . . After a mortar attack, car bomb, or any other security related exercise, the US military shuts down the Iraqna mobile phone network . . . We have become the focal point for . . . everything that the Iraqi staff cannot handle . . . which includes getting people (and) equipment into the building, getting water (and) lunch for day laborers, preventing mass resignations due to salary disputes, replacing windows broken by car bombs, removing trash, cleaning toilets, fixing locks, moving (and unpacking) boxes . . . It makes it difficult to get our actual jobs done, although I have forgotten what those are."

posted by insomnia_lj on Dec 13, 2004 - 6 comments

If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted.

One soldier's opinion. "If you voted for Bush, didn't vote, or voted no on gay marriage, I hope you get drafted. I hope they stick you in my unit, and you go with me to Iraq when my unit goes back in September. I will laugh when you see what soldiers in that country face on a daily basis. I hope you work with gay soldiers too. I did. One of them saved my life. Think he shouldn't have the right to get married? Fuck you. He fought just as hard as I did and on most days, did his job better than me. Don't tell me gays don't have the same rights you do. Think the war in Iraq is a good thing? I'll donate my M-16 to you and you can go in my place."
posted by insomnia_lj on Nov 5, 2004 - 53 comments

Iraq success story! 87% of Iraqis look forward to voting!

Iraq success story! 87% of Iraqis look forward to voting!... but not for Allawi! How about Abdel Aziz Hakim instead? He's the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and former leader of his own Iranian-trained and armed paramilitary army. Hakim was once part of Da'wa, an organization that bombed the US embassy in Kuwait in '83 and gave birth to Hezbollah. In the '90s, Da'wa and SCIRI seperated ideologically, with claims that SCIRI were Iranian lackeys. SCIRI now claims to have gone political, and although they enforce Sharia standards in Basra, they now claim to be pro-democracy and opposed to an Islamic state. Many secular Iraqis don't trust Hakim's motives or his close ties to Iran, however.
"(The U.S. occupation) is primarily responsible for (the death of my brother) and the blood that is shed all over Iraq every day. Iraq must not remain occupied and the occupation must leave so that we can build Iraq as God wants us to do."
- Abdel Aziz Hakim
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 22, 2004 - 12 comments

US military accuses Reuters of lying.

US military accuses Reuters of lying. Reuters had a camera crew on hand to see people digging a man, a woman, and four children out of a house in Falluja, and have video footage of this up on their site. The US military denies this ever happened, and have released a statement saying that "intelligence sources indicate a known Zarqawi propagandist is passing false reports to the media." Incredible...
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 20, 2004 - 34 comments

Hans Blix speaks.

Hans Blix speaks. (RealPlayer) Hans Blix gave a recent interview with BBC Radio 4 in which he indicates that UN weapons inspectors were on the verge of private interviews with witnesses to the destruction of Iraq's WMD stockpiles shortly before the Bush administration forced inspectors to leave.
"I think that it would have been desireable for us to have more time. . . I think that the Iraqis were actually beginning to try to do cooperation of substance, and they were almost frantic to do so. . ." In his report to the UN on March 7th, 2003 Blix said UN inspectors were on the verge of inspecting a site where much of Iraq's WMDs were disposed and that "The investigation of the destruction site could, in the best case, allow the determination of the number of bombs destroyed at that site." Did the Bush administration "rush to war" in order to prevent the fatal undermining of their justification for war?
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 12, 2004 - 48 comments

Disinformation, Iraqi style.

"Iraqi blogger" indulges in disinformation. "Sam" of http://hammorabi.blogspot.com has graphic pictures on his site of children killed by Zarqawi terrorists in Baghdad on Thursday. Horrible and tragic, indeed. Even more tragic, however, is that a Reuters camera crew filmed their identical twins, who died that same day after a US airstrike in Fallujah. Is "Sam" a victim of US disinformation, or is "Sam" a practicioner? Could "Sam" be an uncle, perhaps?!
posted by insomnia_lj on Oct 2, 2004 - 27 comments

Another Day in Baghdad.

Yesterday, Mazen al-Tomasi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya, was broadcasting live from the scene of a carbombed Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which had attracted a crowd of locals. While making his report, a sudden noise came from behind Mazen.
Two Apache helicopters flew in overhead, and one of them started attacking the crowd, with their guns. The crowd, which included several small children, tried to run away. A helicopter launched a missile...
Mazen al-Tomasi was struck by shrapnel from the blast on live television. His cameraman, Seif Fouad, fell down from the force of the explosion. Mazen's blood spattered across the camera's lens and the screams of the dying and injured were heard. Mazen screamed to Seif for help: "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die."
Seif grabbed Mazen and started to pull him out of harm's way. Suddenly, another missile was launched, and Seif was hit by shrapnel in the leg and abdomen. Seif, seriously wounded, watched his friend Mazen die soon afterwards. Twelve were killed, 61 wounded in the attack.
A US military spokesman said the helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd, and that they fired to prevent looters from stripping the vehicle. That said, the vehicle was burning too badly to be stripped, and the television footage showed no evidence of any shooting from the ground, or indeed, any armed Iraqis whatsoever. The full video of this is was seen by millions of Arabs and is apparently something that Reuters has the rights to -- Saif works for Reuters -- but something tells me that it will never make the evening news.
posted by insomnia_lj on Sep 13, 2004 - 66 comments

Peace breaks out. War surrenders!

Peace breaks out. War surrenders! Grand Ayatollah Sistani has returned to Iraq, and is leading a nationwide march to the holy city of Najaf to peacefully resolve the conflict. Moqtada al-Sadr's people have called upon their supporters to join the march too. Will Sadr and his Mahdi Army walk away free men? Double secret probation, maybe?!
posted by insomnia_lj on Aug 25, 2004 - 4 comments

Save The Children calls on release of Iraqi children from jails.

Save The Children calls on release of Iraqi children from jails. This apparently in response to recent media reports on the abuse of children in Iraqi prisons. And it's not just Save the Children who is concerned, but UNICEF, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross. Infact, Congress has called for a special briefing tomorrow from the Pentagon on "confidential reports" from the Red Cross on prison conditions in Iraq. The Pentagon is closing the briefing to the public, however, and apparently thinks that even Congress shouldn't know the details of how we treat prisoners.
"It's something of a stretch of policy and procedures to give them to the Congress," Rumsfeld spokesman Larry Di Rita said.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jul 8, 2004 - 18 comments

Thousandth U.S. soldier dies in War on Terror.

Over a thousand U.S. soldiers have died in the War on Terror. As of today, 872 soldiers have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 129 in Operation Enduring Freedom. Time for a moment of silence, perhaps, before sharing your reflections on the subject.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jul 7, 2004 - 51 comments

Is Bremer running scared?

Is Bremer running scared? Chris Neidrich was one of those who died on Sunday when a carefully planned ambush by seven vehicles attacked a Blackwater security convoy headed to Baghdad Airport, killing four and wounding three. Neidrich also guarded Bremer's motorcade.
The day after the attack on Bremer, the following security bulletin was released:
Effective immediately and until further notice, all CPA ground movement to/from Baghdad International Airport is prohibited. Exceptions for mission critical movements may be requested from Force Protection at DSN.
Is the U.S. military incapable of securing 2 1/2 miles of road from the Green Zone to Baghdad Airport, or has a political decision been made to not guard the road, thereby reducing the risk of military casualties. In other words, is Bremer scared, or is Bush?
posted by insomnia_lj on Jun 8, 2004 - 19 comments

The other shoe drops.

The other shoe drops. The L.A. Times releases details from Major General Antonio M. Taguba's findings into prisoner abuse in Iraq, including evidence that convinced him that a U.S. soldier had sex with an Iraqi female.

(Can we all agree that she didn't ask for it...?)
posted by insomnia_lj on May 4, 2004 - 106 comments

The ubiquitous Nick Popaditch.

The ubiquitous Nick Popaditch. A year ago, Staff Sgt. Nick Popaditch was in Baghdad's Al-Firdaws Square, celebrating with a cigar shortly before his tank toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein.
A year later in Falluja, cameras were there again, capturing the scene shortly after his tank was hit by an RPG near Fallujah. Staff Sgt. Popaditch lost his right eye as a result of his injuries. Meanwhile, Al-Firdaws Square was being closed to the Iraqi public, after posters of Muqtada Al-Sadr were plastered on the statue which replaced that of Saddam Hussein.
posted by insomnia_lj on Apr 10, 2004 - 7 comments

Sabra. Shatila. Falluja.

Sabra. Shatila. Falluja? At least 280 people killed. 400 more wounded. Many more buried in the rubble. A city with 300,000 civilians and no food. No water. Nowhere to bury the dead. No place to run. No end in sight. Only one camera crew is currently in Falluja. These are the pictures that are being broadcast across the entire Arab world. So... which is worse? Is it justifiable? An act of liberation? A horrific mistake? Or is it a war crime?!
posted by insomnia_lj on Apr 8, 2004 - 68 comments

Iraq or bust!

Iraq or bust! Usama Alshaibi, an Iraqi-American filmmaker whose flight from Saddam's Iraq and experiences in the U.S. were recently featured in Studs Terkel's latest book, is returning to Iraq after over 20 years to film a documentary, and is using his weblog and website to raise funds for the trip. Contributors will be given a producer credit, so this might be your big chance to make it on IMDB someday.
posted by insomnia_lj on Dec 31, 2003 - 1 comment

President confirms link between Saddam Hussein and terrorism!

President confirms denies confirms link between Iraq and terrorism! " The regime of Saddam Hussein cultivated ties to terror while it built weapons of mass destruction."

In other news, we're at war with Eastasia. We've always been at war with Eastasia... Food rations have jumped by 10%! Doubleplusgood!
posted by insomnia_lj on Sep 23, 2003 - 39 comments

Uday & Qusay's death - a failure?!

Uday & Qusay's death - a failure?! Salam Pax thinks the U.S. "wasted a chance to show Iraqis they really are doing something". Robert Fisk asked in yesterday's press conference "Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces" justified efforts to try to take them alive. The military had time, the element of surprise, special forces troops, and nonlethal weapons -- so why did they attack with rockets and TOW missiles? Where is Saddam? Could we have learned more about Iraq's WMD programs? Is it better for the Bush administration to not have some questions answered?
posted by insomnia_lj on Jul 24, 2003 - 108 comments

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