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Jury convicts Blackwater guards in 2007 Iraq deaths

Seven years after American security contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqis by firing machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle, a jury in Washington on Wednesday convicted all four Blackwater Worldwide guards charged in the incident on at least some of the charges.
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Oct 22, 2014 - 26 comments

“ 'Nothing of significance’ is what I was ordered to say,”

"The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West."

- The Secret Casualties of Iraq's Abandoned Chemical Weapons (SLNYT) [more inside]
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering on Oct 15, 2014 - 59 comments

The zeal these young men have for killing surprises me.

"Many Marines I talk to are skeptical of the aims used to justify the war - fighting terrorism, getting weapons of mass destruction (which they never see). Quite a few accept that this war was probably fought for oil." 'The Killer Elite', Evan Wright's coverage of a US Marine Corps Battalion in the 2003 Iraq War (later developed into the book and TV series Generation Kill). [more inside]
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Sep 25, 2014 - 69 comments

Alone on the Hill

Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Lee's story is how little credit she or her constituents receive for what they got right. Even though a majority now considers the war most understood the AUMF to authorize to be a mistake; even though it has been used to justify military interventions that no one conceived of on September 14, 2001; even though there's no proof that any war-making of the last 13 years has have made us safer; even though many more Americans have died in wars of choice than have been killed in terrorist attacks; even though Lee and many of her constituents were amenable to capturing or killing the 9/11 perpetrators, not pacifists intent on ruling out any use of force; despite all of that, Representative Lee is still thought of as a fringe peacenik representing naive East Bay hippies who could never be trusted to guide U.S. foreign policy. And the people who utterly failed to anticipate the trajectory of the War on Terrorism? Even those who later voted for a war in Iraq that turned out to be among the most catastrophic in U.S. history are considered sober, trustworthy experts.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Sep 23, 2014 - 109 comments

From Camera As Torture Device To Camera As Restorer Of Humanity

"There is not one person in prison in Iraq who has not been subjected to some kind of abuse." "I want people to consider, what if that happened to your family member?" [more inside]
posted by blankdawn on Sep 22, 2014 - 9 comments

Surviving an ISIS Massacre

Ali Hussein Kadhim, the only known survivor out of hundreds of an ISIS massacre outside of Tikrit in Iraq, tells his story. Ali, a Shi'a, was saved only by the kindness of people in the Sunni neighborhood around him. TW (violence): First video in link is an interview with Ali and includes footage of soldiers being shot.
posted by zug on Sep 4, 2014 - 12 comments

A new and terrifying state has been born.

Patrick Cockburn a Middle East correspondent since 1979 has a couple of new articles:
Isis consolidates and The Underrated Saudi Connection, Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed.
posted by adamvasco on Aug 26, 2014 - 384 comments

Isis claims to have beheaded an American journalist missing in Syria

Video has emerged showing the beheading of journalist James Foley. James Foley has been reportedly beheaded by Isis in retaliation for US airstrikes in Iraq. He was working in Syria when he was reported missing in 2012. [more inside]
posted by lpcxa0 on Aug 19, 2014 - 266 comments

Humans of New York World Tour: Iraq and beyond

If you visit the Humans of New York website or on the Facebook page now and in the next few months, you'll find portraits and stories from beyond New York. Brandon Stanton and HONY will be going on a "world tour," to be part of the UN's Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group effort to raise awareness for the eight international Millennium Development Goals with a target date of 2015 . Currently, HONY is "suddenly a war report form Iraq". [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 9, 2014 - 13 comments

From Above

How the US Stumbled into the Drone Era [WSJ] As ubiquitous as Predators, Reapers, Global Hawks and their ilk may now seem, the U.S. actually stumbled into the drone era. Washington got into the business of using drones for counterterrorism well before 9/11—not out of any steely strategic design or master plan but out of bureaucratic frustration, bickering and a series of only half-intentional decisions.
posted by modernnomad on Jul 29, 2014 - 6 comments

What if Homer Simpson smoked weed? It's not that crazy to imagine.

For the last few weeks, the Twitter account @Homer_Marijuana has been publishing a bizarre piece of long-form fan fiction about The Simpsons, family, America's wars in the Middle East, and marijuana, vast amounts of all sorts of marijuana. Now, 5,015 tweets later, Marijuana Simpson has concluded, and is available to read on an easier-to-follow Scribd document.
posted by Small Dollar on Jul 9, 2014 - 28 comments

The wistful specter of what might've been if only he'd been listened to

From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia . Previously and Previously
posted by lalochezia on Jul 1, 2014 - 11 comments

Isis declares caliphate in Iraq and Syria

The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 30, 2014 - 161 comments

Blackwater threatened to kill State Department investigator

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 (Previously on Metafilter), the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq”. Embassy officials ordered the investigators to leave Iraq immediately, and no charges were ever pressed. [more inside]
posted by anemone of the state on Jun 29, 2014 - 65 comments

But they hadn't destroyed it.

On Tuesday, a group of Islamic militants that were thrown out of al-Qaeda for being too violent took over Iraq's second largest city. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated as ISIS) kicked the Iraqi Army out of Mosul, a wealthy city in northwestern Iraq. Today, ISIS secured another northern city, Tikrit. It currently controls an area "the size of Belgium," according to Jason Lyall, a Yale University political scientist who studies insurgencies. [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 11, 2014 - 215 comments

War fatigue

The young men and women enlisting in the armed forces now were in pre-school on 9/11. "As a nation we have internalized our longest military conflict; it has suffused the social, political, and cultural body. The war is not something the nation is doing; it's simply something that is." Vox on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, from Jessica Lynch to Bowe Bergdahl. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 8, 2014 - 91 comments

" V.A. has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity"

This morning, the Veterans Affairs Chief Eric Shinseki tendered his resignation, following the release of an independent review detailing corruption in the reporting of wait times and scheduling practices, along with alleged patient deaths in the Phoenix Health Care system. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on May 30, 2014 - 115 comments

40 Maps of the Middle East

Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on May 6, 2014 - 8 comments

What We Left Behind

What We Left Behind: a return of sectarian violence, and a nation worried for its future.
posted by semmi on Apr 29, 2014 - 25 comments

Drop Dropbox

On April 9th, Dropbox announced that Condoleezza Rice will be joining their Board of Directors. Some folks aren't happy about that decision.
posted by Fuzzypumper on Apr 12, 2014 - 131 comments

"I am honor-bound to protect you, brother."

The Interpreters We Left Behind. "As our troops pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we're abandoning fixers and translators to the dangerous countrymen who view them as traitors. Asylum in the U.S. could be their last hope. If only we'd let them in."
posted by homunculus on Mar 27, 2014 - 26 comments

STRENGTH YOUR BLOOD AND SHADOW

At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
posted by timshel on Feb 4, 2014 - 11 comments

July 30, 762 to February 13, 1258

In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual and cultural legacies the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally), a dynasty, an empire, a city, and a library all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 13, 2013 - 39 comments

Can't Put a Lid On It

What Combat Feels Like, Presented in the Style of a Graphic Novel. An animated film based on a true story by Iraq veteran Colby Buzzell (previously).
posted by cenoxo on Nov 19, 2013 - 23 comments

Do Iraqi-Jewish Treasures belong in Iraq or Elsewhere?

On Oct. 11, provided the government shutdown doesn’t interfere, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., will open an exhibit titled “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage.” On display will be some of the rarest of the materials that were salvaged from the flooded basement of the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s dreaded intelligence service. All told, the collection contains an estimated 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents that once belonged to the Jews of Baghdad, who, until they began to flee for Israel in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, constituted one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back more than 2,500 years. - In the chaos of the 2003 war, remnants of a once-thriving Jewish past were saved (or stolen?) by America. Where do they belong? [more inside]
posted by beisny on Oct 7, 2013 - 75 comments

Bradley Manning found guilty of Espionage Act violations

Bradley Manning cleared of 'aiding the enemy' but guilty of most other charges. "Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, faces a possible maximum sentence of more than 130 years in military jail after he was convicted of most charges on which he stood trial." Transcripts from Bradley Manning's Trial. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Jul 30, 2013 - 225 comments

broken .

"Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit." [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Jun 30, 2013 - 46 comments

How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber

How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber. "Army medic Nicholas Walker returned home from Iraq after 250 combat missions, traumatized and broken. His friends and family couldn’t help him. Therapy couldn’t help him. Heroin couldn’t help him. Pulling bank heists helped him." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jun 10, 2013 - 32 comments

Other than Honorable

"A Gazette investigation shows an increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans, are being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war."
"Disposable: Surge in discharges includes wounded soldiers"
"Left Behind: No break for the wounded"
"Locked Away: Army struggles with wounded soldiers"
posted by andoatnp on Jun 2, 2013 - 26 comments

Parkour in the Middle-East

Meet the Iranian Parkour Girls, the Gaza Parkour Team (while bombs fall) and the first Iraqi Parkour team.
posted by elgilito on May 21, 2013 - 23 comments

WSJ's Middle East Real Time blog

Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's new Middle East Real Time blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world. Previous non-paywalled WSJ Real Time blogs include Korea, China, Canada, India, Brussels, Emerging Europe, Japan.
posted by mediareport on May 9, 2013 - 16 comments

Crossing the "Red Line"?

Syria Options Go From Bad To Worse
As reports have surfaced of possible use of sarin gas in the Syrian civil war, calls by long-time proponents of U.S. intervention on behalf of the anti-Assad rebels have grown to a fever pitch. These same voices, both at home and abroad, have evoked the administration’s previously stated “red line” on use of chemical weapons. But even assuming that reports of WMD usage in Syria turn out to be true, the Obama Administration’s position may be far more nuanced than previously thought.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 2, 2013 - 289 comments

COIN 101

A short photo essay documenting a marine's experience of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Iraq. via.
posted by exogenous on Apr 30, 2013 - 20 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

Riverbend returns

Baghdad Burning, a blog written by an Iraqi woman during the course of the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, has had its first update since 2007. [more inside]
posted by the duck by the oboe on Apr 11, 2013 - 39 comments

"There will be plenty of time to edit and stylize it later."

His Horse Was Named Death: The Iraq War Diary of 1st LT Tim McLaughlin, USMC [more inside]
posted by timsteil on Mar 19, 2013 - 25 comments

Iraq: 10 Years After Invasion

Iraq: 10 Years After Invasion. "The United States invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003 on the false pretext that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. The mass destruction of the invasion, occupation, and civil war followed, and amplified the societal and health disintegration caused by the previous decade of sanctions. Iraqi lives and communities remain war-devastated ten years on. American military and contractor families struggle with the loss of loved ones as well as the emotional and economic burdens of living with long-term injuries and illnesses. Total US federal spending associated with the Iraq war has been $1.7 trillion through FY2013. In addition, future health and disability payments for veterans will total $590 billion and interest accrued to pay for the war will add up to $3.9 trillion." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Mar 19, 2013 - 223 comments

She Who Tells a Story

I feel creatively emboldened to personally say something on the subjects that I am documenting. In terms of how it is produced, intellectually I am more excited than I have been in years. I am envisioning so many more possibilities for the work ... I feel for first time empowered on my own terms. We are calling our own shots and have created somewhat of our own institution.
An interview with the six-woman Middle Eastern documentary photography collective Rawiya, whose name means "female narrator" in Arabic. [more inside]
posted by nangar on Mar 13, 2013 - 2 comments

How the Bush administration sold the Iraq war

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Zinni, sitting right next to Cheney’s lectern, says he “literally bolted” when he heard the vice president’s comments. “In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD [weapons of mass destruction], through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.” Rachel Maddow hosts Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War, a documentary special, based on the eponymous book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, that will air Monday, February 18 on MSNBC at 9 p.m.
posted by shivohum on Feb 18, 2013 - 218 comments

Will oil companies provide Kurdistan its de facto statehood?

Iraq, Kurds, Turks and oil - A tortuous triangle The governments of Turkey, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan play a dangerous game [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 2, 2013 - 9 comments

"I watched the entire street turn hot and black with smoke and then, after a few minutes, stared up at the hole in the roof and saw thousands of small gray ashes—pieces of paper, books, newspapers—floating down from the sky."

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here is a project initiated by San Francisco bookseller and poet Beau Beausoleil that began as a response to the 2007 bombing [previously on MeFi] of the Baghdad bookselling center Al-Mutanabbi Street. After the attack the authorities made an effort to revive the area but recently the government has begun to make life difficult for the booksellers and intends to turn the street into an animal market. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project consists of book art created by 260 artists and authors from all over the world, but also includes essays, exhibitions and readings, some of which have been put online as videos. You can see a lot of artists' books online at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts and the Centre for Fine Print Research (1, 2, 3). The history of the project was told in a recent essay in World Literature Today by Persis M. Karim.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 29, 2012 - 5 comments

Decontaminating Halabja

Halabja chemical weapons: A chance to find the men who armed Saddam? "Nearly 25 years ago, Iraqi forces killed thousands of their own civilians using chemical weapons on the Kurdish town of Halabja. Now steps are about to be taken to discover which country - and possibly which factory - supplied some of the chemicals." Via BBC
posted by marienbad on Dec 4, 2012 - 24 comments

"As long as you're breathing, life is worth living."

Six years ago, US Army Captain Ivan Castro was severely wounded in a mortar attack in Iraq that left him permanently and completely blinded. Today, he's one of only three blind active duty Army officers, and the very first to serve in the US Army Special Forces. Thirteen months and 36 surgeries after the attack, Castro ran the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:14 and the Army Ten Miler in 1:25. And he's still going: In the last 15 months, he's completed 14 marathons. Why? "Because I still can. Because people need to see what's possible." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 13, 2012 - 17 comments

De-listing of the MEK

The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran, is an Iranian dissident group that has been formally designated for the last 15 years by the US State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization". When the Bush administration sought to justify its attack on Iraq in 2003 by accusing Saddam Hussein of being a sponsor of "international terrorism", one of its prime examples was Iraq's "sheltering" of the MEK. Its inclusion on the terrorist list has meant that it is a felony to provide any "material support" to that group. Now, in the with the support of A-list American politicians who have been handsomely compensated for their efforts, the MEK are being delisted. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 24, 2012 - 41 comments

Do the work Indiana Jones couldn't be bothered with

Between 1922 and 1934 archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum embarked on a large scale excavation of the Mesopotamian city of Ur, one of the world's earliest cities. That excavation generated a huge mass of documents (lettres, field notes, dig report etc.) and now you can help to digitally transcribe them.
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 23, 2012 - 18 comments

Overcoming student debt by working in war zone

"If I had felt any unease that I was potentially exploiting a horrible situation for personal gain, it was short-lived. The next four months were the most stressful, difficult, and dangerous of my life until that point, and probably—hopefully—ever. ... On December 31, 2004, I achieved a couple of significant milestones: I made my final student loan payment, and I had a positive net worth for the first time in my adult life. Mortars, rockets, and car bombs aside, that was pretty satisfying."
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 15, 2012 - 34 comments

Now I’m home and I’m blind and I’m broke/What is next?

"Hell Broke Luce" -- a surreal anti-war video from Tom Waits for his powerful song based on the harrowing story of Lance Corporal Jeff Lucey, a 23-year old Iraq war Marine veteran who committed suicide in 2004. From Waits' 22d album Bad As Me (2011, AntiRecords) [more inside]
posted by spitbull on Aug 14, 2012 - 25 comments

How to kill a rational peasant

How to kill a rational peasant: America's dangerous love affair with counterinsurgency. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jun 17, 2012 - 66 comments

It was a good war. (For some.)

Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., repeatedly lobbied Tony Blair to invade Iraq. In the days leading up to the invasion, Tony Blair's Director of Communications wrote that "(Blair) took a call from Murdoch who was pressing on timings, saying how News International would support us, etc. Both TB and I felt it was prompted by Washington, and another example of their over-crude diplomacy. Murdoch was pushing all the Republican buttons, how the longer we waited the harder it got." The phone call in question took place just days before a crucial vote on Iraq, and was one of three personal calls from Murdoch that Blair received in that week alone. Blair recently testified, admitting an "unhealthy" level of closeness with Murdoch, oftentimes communicating more with him than with his own ministers. In the first 19 days following the invasion of Iraq, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News averaged 3.3 million viewers, a 236% increase from the weeks preceding the war. Huge increases in newspaper sales were seen throughout his global media empire, with advertising revenue soaring to record levels. That empire now faces serious calls for it to be broken up.
posted by markkraft on Jun 16, 2012 - 62 comments

You might want to have your surprised face handy.

Curveball comes clean: "My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime's oppression." ... When it is put to him "we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie", he simply replies: "Yes."
posted by unSane on Apr 2, 2012 - 82 comments

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