Nothing symbolizes more acutely the dark matrix of corporate hegemony, war, lies, unaccountability, torture and secrecy than the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq 8 years ago.
This weekend, as the U.S. Executive Branch (without Congressional approval) began bombarding yet another oil rich predominantly Muslim country, Los Angeles joined other cities in protest to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a “supreme international crime” according to principles laid out by the International Tribunal at Nuremberg after World War II.
As I did last year, I documented the event in video. This year the most compelling speaker was Mike Prysner, an Iraq War Vet and co-founder of March Forward!, a anti-war veterans group. Here is a recording I made of his speech at the rally, edited with time lapse video of the protest march:
The AP reported that “hundreds” of people marched, but the time lapse sequences seem to indicate more. Looks like at least a few thousand to me.
Meanwhile, in D.C., Daniel Ellsberg and about 100 others were arrested in protests outside the White House.
Now that popular uprisings have forced Tunisia‘s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak from power, tyrants throughout the Arab World are on the defensive: Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is facing a third day of clashes between his police and protesters calling for change; in Algeria, a pro-democracy alliance vows weekly protests of the government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has responded by pulling the plug on the internet and a mass deletion of Facebook accounts; King Abdullah of Jordan has been pushed by protests to replace his Prime Minister and widen public freedoms; in Saudi Arabia, the first political party has emerged, as King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz’ forces arrest protesters; Omar “Darfur” al-Bashir of Sudan has violently cracked down on peaceful protesters; Iraq‘s Nouri al-Maliki has announced he won’t run for a third term; Iran‘s Green movement is calling for protests despite a government ban; and the Sultan of Oman had to cancel his travel plans. Syria and Morocco seem, for the moment, immune.
Update: Historian Juan Cole is closely following developments and links to relavant videos here.
Update: The image has been slightly updated, reflecting critical discussion in comments.
This weekend Wikileaks released the Iraq War Logs – 40,000 “Significant Incident Reports” from the period of 2004-2009 that together tell the most detailed story of the war in Iraq during that time.
As was the case with the Afghan War Logs, a number of news media outlets received advanced access to the documents and extensive competing coverage can be found in the The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Der Spiegel, and last and least, The New York Times, which decided to lead with a hit piece on the personality of the founder of Wikileaks, rather than on what the war logs themselves reveal. CNN played the same game. (Not suprising, of course, from an institutions that were essential to enabling the war itself.)
Like Afghan War wikileak, there is so much to read, so video summaries can be useful: The Guardian has a short video on prevalence of “Frago 242″, which is a “fragmentary order” not to investigate torture, and some of the consequences thereof. Al Jazeera presents an hour long special here. And here is good highlight reel from U.K. Channel 4′s current affairs program, “Dispatches“:
The U.N.’s chief torture investigator thinks there is torture to investigate, and reminds Obama of his legal obligation to do so. Dig through the logs yourself here.
In 2003, acting as W. Bush’s “National Security Advisor”, Condoleeza Rice was one of the most vocal and mendacious fear mongers pushing for the “pre-emptive” invasion of Iraq:
We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon…. we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.
Around the same time, Rice also chaired the White House meetings in which “combined interrogation techniques”, i.e. torture, were approved:
Then-National Security Advisor Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns — shared by Powell — that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: “This is your baby. Go do it.”
Thus did Rice help to unleash a shameful decade of war and torture. At least a hundred thousand people, perhaps as many as a million and a half, died as a result of the war that she enabled, not to mention the untold numbers of wounded and displaced; Torture is now as American as apple pie, to the enduring shame of us all.
But that doesn’t stop President “Look Forward, Not Backward” from inviting the war criminal to advise him.
And it doesn’t stop corporate shill and professional “moderate” sycophant John Stewart from playing patty-cake with her on the Daily Show, helping the should-be-disgraced Rice reinvent herself and promote her new autobiography.
See also here.
“Ha Ha!” “Good Shooting!” “It is their own fault for bringing children into a battle.”
This is what “spreading democracy” looks like – slaughtering journalists and children from apache helicopters, and then slaughtering the people who come to help the wounded. And laughing about it!
All while following standard operating procedure.
More info here, or on wikileaks. MSM discussion here. Greenwald writes about the Pentagon’s opposition to wikileaks here and about this particular video here and here. Amy Goodman interviews the wikileaks co-founder here.
The current Iraq War, which has now dragged on into its 7th year, was justified by the U.S. government and mainstream news media on the basis of a series of demonstrable lies either made up or extracted by torture from people accused of terrorism by the Bush Administration.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands (perhaps a million) of people have been killed in the course of what the International Tribunal at Nuremberg would have considered “the supreme international crime“.
The 7th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion was commemorated this Saturday by modest popular protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. I attended and documented the Los Angeles event in the following video:
The L.A. march was organized by the A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition and was led by disabled Vietnam Veteran Ron Kovic (author of “Born on the 4th of July“), who was accompanied by a color guard of terror war veterans carrying the flags of war profiteering corporations.
And here is a nice essay on the anniversary by Andy Worthington.
Images of Zahra Muhammad, Inas Hamed, and Miriam Yasir.
The ancient city of Fallujah has suffered much since U.S. forces invaded and occupied it in 2003.
In April of that year locals gathered in front of a school to protest the lingering occupation, whereupon the U.S. forces opened fire on the crowd, killing 17 and wounding 70. Two days later, U.S. forces opened fire on another crowd that had gathered to protest the first massacre, and killed two more.
An insurgency against the occupation emerged in Fallujah, for some reason, and in April 2004 the insurgents ambushed a convoy of Blackwater mercenaries. The mercenaries were killed and their burned bodies were dragged through the streets and hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates.
The Empire’s responded with a series of exponentially brutal reconquistas called Viligant Resolve and Phantom fury, in which the U.S. deployed snipers and white phosphorus on the people of Fallujah – a war crime within a war crime within a war crime.
Now, 6 years later, women are being warned by local officials not to reproduce because of the sharp rise in birth defects, possibly – just possibly – the result of toxic weapons used by the invading forces.
The Guardian has video here, and a piece about the difficulty of precisely determining the causes of the birth defects here. The BBC covers the story here.
Now that Yemen has been added to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s list of military targets, the United States is bombing and shooting people in 5 predominately Muslim countries. Greenwald elaborates here:
…if you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we’re fighting five different wars in Muslim countries — or, to use the NYT‘s jargon, “five fronts” in the “Terror War” (Obama yesterday specifically mentioned Somalia and Yemen as places where, euphemistically, “we will continue to use every element of our national power”). Add to those five fronts the “crippling” sanctions on Iran many Democratic Party luminaries are now advocating, combined with the chest-besting threats from our Middle East client state that the next wars they fight against Muslims will be even “harsher” than the prior ones, and it’s almost easier to count the Muslim countries we’re not attacking or threatening than to count the ones we are.
The U.S. strike on Yemen, which included raids by Yemeni forces and which witnesses say killed as many an 120 civilians, including women and children, was in order to preempt “an imminent attack against a U.S. asset”.
To hear an extended interview with someone who seems to know a lot about the internal politics of Yemen, go here. A transcript of this interview is here. Time magazine takes a look at developments in Yemen here, with some photos here.
In the wake of the 9-11 attacks, Barbara Lee received death threats and charges of treason for being the only person in Congress to refuse to grant, as she put it, “a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the Sept. 11 events – anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation’s long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit.”
“In granting these overly broad powers,” she continued, “the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration. I could not support such a grant of war-making authority to the president; I believe it would put more innocent lives at risk.”
The exercise of those broad powers have indeed ended many innocent lives and are still quite operational – the current President appealed to them when he announced his latest plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan:
“Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al-Qaeda and those who harbored them – an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to 0. The vote in the House was 420 to 1.”
Lee was that lone voice in opposition to the blank check for Bush and his successors, and is still in office and sticking to her (opposition to) guns – she opposed Obama’s first Afghanistan troop “surge” and is now opposing this latest one as well – even going so far as to sponsor a bill to cut off funding for the war.
Congratulations, Rep. Barbara Lee, TWGP’s Undersung HeroTM of the month!