Please visit the new home of Majikthise at

128 posts categorized "Iraq"

May 19, 2009

Obama and Iraq

Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker:

On Iraq, Obama has persuaded the American people that he is ending the war, when in fact what he is doing is attempting to manage a responsible transition that reduces American combat activity considerably but leaves large numbers of American forces in the country to promote Iraqi stability and protect American interests.

That's pretty accurate, except for the part about managing a responsible transition. As long as large numbers of American troops remain in Iraq to protect American interests and "promote stability," there's no transition at all. That's what the troops are supposedly doing right now, before the promised end of the war. I'm all for declaring victory and going home, as long as we actually go home. Re-branding occupation as victory is neither transformative nor responsible.

August 06, 2008

More details about the forgery Habbush and the case for war

Louis Bayard details Ron Suskind's claim that George Tenet ordered CIA officials Rob Richer and John Maguire to forge a letter from Iraqi security chief Habbush to Saddam Hussein.

The letter was a fictional smoking gun tying Iraq to 9/11.

It's generally accepted that the Habbush letter is a forgery.

The question remains, who forged it? Juan Cole suspects that Habbush forged the letter himself and that the CIA "authenticated" it in bad faith through its asset Ayad Allawi--whom journalist Con Coughlin contacted to vouchsafe the letter's authenticity after it was leaked to him.

What's novel and remarkable is that Suskind got Richer and Maguire to claim on the record that George Tenet ordered them to forge it.

Suskind believes the White House ordered the forgery in response to Joe Wilson's 2003 op-ed debunking many of the administration's lies about Saddam Hussein's alleged attempts to obtain uranium from Niger.

August 01, 2008

Get Your War On (video)

Via Raw Story.

July 31, 2008

KBR's faulty wiring blamed for deaths of at least 16 soldiers in Iraq

A congressional report released yesterday blames faulty electrical work by contractor KBR for the deaths of at least 16 American troops in Iraq:

The denials leave an accountability problem that may ultimately lead to the Pentagon officials in charge of overseeing KBR.

"Who is to blame for this?" Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the ranking Republican on the committee, asked Bruni. "Was it the army? Was it the soldier responsible for taking the shower?"

"The responsibility lies with the army," Bruni said after initially dodging the question.

The army, meanwhile, remains uncertain how many soldiers have actually been electrocuted.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, said last month that 13 soldiers had been electrocuted. Last week the Pentagon said the number was 16. Now the oversight committee says it has documents indicating 19 deaths.

At the hearing, Jeffrey Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command, said that the Pentagon is still in the process of investigating the electrocutions. Parsons also noted that Pentagon auditors lack "sufficient skill sets or expertise to perform adequate oversight of electrical work being performed by KBR." [Washington Independent]

KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton until last year, recently won yet another contract for Iraq reconstruction.

July 29, 2008

Color of Change demands investigation into death of soldier likely murdered in Iraq

The Color of Change is circulating an online petition calling upon the House Oversight Committee to hold a hearing into the death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson, whose violent death in Iraq was falsely deemed a suicide:

Dear Congressman Waxman:

I'm calling on you, as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to conduct a hearing into the death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson. Despite overwhelming evidence that Pfc. Johnson was brutally murdered in Iraq three years ago, the US Army continues to call her death a suicide — refusing to investigate the case and prosecute the perpetrators of this terrible crime.

Congress should not allow the US Army to ignore powerful physical evidence from investigators, withhold requested information and force family members through years of denials and delays. Worse, it appears that the LaVena Johnson case is not unique, and there is a pattern of the Army calling rape-murders suicide and covering up the crimes. This is a disgrace.

I'm standing with the family of LaVena Johnson and requesting that you immediately conduct a hearing into the cause of her death and the US Army's handling of this case and others like it.


[Click here to add your name.]

July 25, 2008

CBS edited McCain interview to cover candidate's confusion about Iraq

John McCain claimed in an interview with CBS that the surge caused the Sunni Awakening. This is incorrect. The Sunni Awakening happened before the surge. CBS spliced in an answer to a different question, apparently to conceal the fact that their subject had no idea what he was talking about.

The CBS Evening News spliced together three different clips to erase McCain's false assertion that the 2007 surge caused the 2006 Anbar Awakening. Media Matters reports today that CBS also omitted a second false assertion by McCain that Iraq was the first major conflict since 9/11.

McCain is running on foreign policy, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. CBS is covering for him and the New York Times is covering for CBS.

June 11, 2008

$23 billion gag order

BBC reporters think they know where 23 billion missing and misspent Iraq war dollars went, but they can't tell us:

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.

The BBC's Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding.

A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies. [BBC]

The story doesn't go into detail about the nature gag order. I assume it applies to the individuals involved in cases under adjudication, not to the BBC reporters directly.

A lot of war profiteering scandals come to light through whistle blower lawsuits.

Last year, I interviewed an attorney who specializes in representing whistle blowers. He told me that it's not unusual for gag orders to be imposed in these types of cases.

In fact, whistle blower lawsuits are automatically sealed for a couple of weeks after they are filed in order to give the DOJ a chance to decide whether to pursue the matter.

It's not clear whether that's the type of gag order covering the 70 cases the BBC alludes to, above. 

The story says there's one gag order for all these cases. If that wording is literally accurate, and a single gag order covers 70 cases, then the whistle blower in question might have brought a very big case indeed.

May 05, 2008

Bernie Kerik focused on busting Baghdad brothels

I always wondered what former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik did as a security consultant in Iraq...

Iraqi vice, according to General Ricardo Sanchez, who recalls that Kerik was more interested in raids to "liberate" prostitutes in Baghdad's brothels than in training the Iraqi police.

In other Iraq news, plans are afoot to construct a $700 million zone of influence around the US Embassy in Baghdad. A massive "American-style" amusement park and zoo is already under construction. 

May 02, 2008

Thousands of dockworkers protest war in Iraq

Bravo, dockworkers:

Yesterday, more than 25,000 dockworkers in 29 West Coast ports stayed off the job in order to protest the Iraq war, according to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America,” Bob McEllrath, the union’s president, said in a statement. “We’re supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it’s time to end the war in Iraq.”

The organized labor working for peace. I hope this is a sign of things to come.

April 16, 2008

AP photographer Bilal Hussein reportedly set free

Free Bilal Hussein Committee just sent out the following announcement by email:

News just came in that our dear colleague Bilal Hussein is free at last!! Hemos recibido la noticia que nuestro querido colega Bilal Hussein esta libre al fin!!

The AP confirms that the 36-year-old photojournalist was released to his colleagues in Iraq last night. The U.S. military accused Hussein of collaborating with insurgents.

An Iraqi court exonerated Hussein earlier this month of terrorism charges against him . The United States issued a statement this week saying that Hussein was no longer considered a threat.