Breaking reports & Articles  [2004] - [2005] - [2006] - [2007] - [2008]


Read more about:   Our campaign to save Iraq's academics. Sign the petition online  |  Partial list of Iraqi academics murdered under US occupation   |   The Endangered Iraqi journalists: Partial list of media professionals who died in occupied Iraq   |  The Children of Iraq   |  Iraq: the largest humanitarian crisis on the planet   |  Iraqi refugees  |  Petition  The situation of Iraqi Healthworkers   |  Torture and Prison Abuse in Iraq   |  Iraqi Women Under Occupation   |  The looting of Iraq's Cultural Heritage   |  Comments on the Lancet Survey and other mortality studies   |   Big Oil's Occupation of Iraq   |  The Salvador Option and Death Squads   |  Israeli Involvement in the Occupation of Iraq   |  Military Bases   |  Voices of Resistance   |  Remembering Falluja   |  The use of WMD by the US army   |  The Events in Samarra   |  The Iraqi Constitution   |  The Illegal trial and verdict of Saddam Hussein   |  Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War   |  Statements and articles of the BRussells Tribunal on Lebanon   'New Middle East' Borders   |  Opinion Polls   |   The BRussells Tribunal PDF Dossiers   |   MAPS   |   Breaking reports & Articles   De zaak Bahar Kimyongur   And even more background information...   |  Support the Palestinian Youth & Children Relief Centre in Shatila refugee camp   |  | Relevant documents related to Iraq (Global Policy Forum)


* List of aviation shootdowns and accidents during the Iraq War (Wikipedia)

  2009  

 

Article:     U.S. Intelligence Budget: $75 Billion, 200,000 Operatives. Fusion Centers Will Have Access to Classified Military Intelligence (25 Sept 2009)

Article:     A 'fraud' bigger than Madoff (Independent, 16 Feb 2009)

Article:     Life in Iraq Has Become "Unbearable," Economist Stiglitz Says (13 Jan 2009)

Article:     Afghanistan, Iraq Among ‘Worst of the Worst’ for Lack of Freedom, Human Rights Group Says (13 Jan 2009)
 

2008

Article:     The US-Iraq Deal Doesn't Bode Well (Robert Dreyfuss 27 Nov 2008)  - SOFA

Article:     Three SOFA Versions - But What About The SFA? (26 Nov 2008) - SOFA

Article:    SOFA Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America (November 28, 2007) - This is the SOFA in English (November 2008) - This is the Strategic Framework and the SOFA in Arabic (October 2008)

Article:     Syria Aids American Hegemony over Iraq (03 Nov 2008)

Article:     Iraq in Hell (23 Oct 2008) - It explains just how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to dismantle the Iraqi state and economy while fueling sectarian civil war inside that country.

Article:     Who persecutes Christians in Iraq? (20 Oct 2008)

Article:     Iraq and world financial crisis (17 Oct 2008)

Article:     Excerpts From Draft U.S.-Iraqi "Security" Agreement (17 Oct 2008) - SOFA

Article:     Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia (15 Oct 2008)

Article:     PART III: Detention Has a Wide, Destructive Impact in Iraq - Forced Entry Into the Mind (14 Oct 2008)

Article:     PART II: Detention Has a Wide, Destructive Impact in Iraq - Society Undermined  (12 Oct 2008)

Article:     PART I: Detention Has a Wide, Destructive Impact in Iraq - Two Million May Be Affected  (10 Oct 2008)

Article:     Camp Bucca: Iraq's Guantánamo Bay (08 Oct 2008)

Article:     U.S. to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media (03 Oct 2008)

Article:     Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation (16 Sept 2008)

Article:     US-Iraqi agreement: leaked (full text) (02 Sept 2008)  - SOFA

Article:     What will the US foreign policy be tomorrow ? (Michel Collon, 02 Sept 2008)

Article:     Iraqi Political Prisoners and the Anti-War Movement (25 Aug 2008)

Article:     Lowest U.S. casualties not indication of better security conditions in Iraq (05 Aug 2008)

Article:     Washington’s new alibi for a criminal war: the “surge has worked” (26 June 2008)

Article:     How Psychologists Have Abetted the CIA - The Torture Trainers and the American Psychological Association (25 June 2007)

Article:     The Real State of Iraq Juan Cole (22 June 2008)

Article:     Domestic and Regional Politics Delay U.S.-Iraqi Security Agreement (19 June 2008) - SOFA

Article:     Iraqi Official: Security Pact Altered (18 June 2008) - SOFA

Article:     The Greatest Story Never Told: Finally, the US Mega-Bases in Iraq Make the News (15 June 2008)

Article:     As talks lag, Iraq ponders ordering U.S. troops out  (14 June 2008) - SOFA

Article:     In Debate Over Permanent Bases In Iraq, U.S. Seeks Authorization For War In Iran (11 June 2008) - SOFA 

Article:     U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say (09 June 2008) - SOFA

Article:     Backgrounder: U.S. Security Agreements and Iraq (04 June 2008) - SOFA

Article:     Iraqi artists and singers flee amid crackdown on forbidden culture (11 May 2008)

Article:     U.S. Congress to Iraq: Pay Our War Expenses With Your Oil Revenue (28 April 2008)

Article:     What the Iraq war is about (24 April 2008)

Article:     300,000 Vets Have Mental Problems, 320,000 Had Brain Injuries (17 April 2008)

Article:     The discovery and unearthing of the biggest mass grave committed by the militias in Mahmoudiya (16 April 2008)

Article:     US Financial Collapse Will End Bush/Cheney Iraq War (14 April 2008)

Article:     War and the "New Middle East": US Coalition Building and the Arab League (09 April 2008)

Article:     Iraq after the Surge: "The only sensible strategy is to withdraw rapidly but in good order." (06 April 2008)

Article:     The Battle of Baghdad (24 March 2008)

Article:     Iraq: Five Years of Genocide (22 March 2008)

Article:     Declaration of Principles: Future United States Commitment to Iraq (04 March 2008)  - SOFA

Article:     Peoples court condemns Israel for war crimes in Lebanon (28 Feb 2008)

Article:     The three trillion dollar war (Joseph Stiglitz, 22 Feb 2008)

Article:     Is Iran Winning the Iraq War? (21 Feb 2008)

Article:     The fall of the Dollar Empire (15 Feb 2008)

Article:     An unstable marriage (Jonathan Steele 25 Jan 2008)

Article:     Chalmers Johnson, How to Sink America (21 Jan 2008)

Article:     US Troops Will Be In Iraq for 10 More Years (Patrick Cockburn 21 Jan 2008)

Article:     HUSAYN AL-KURDI ON THE BA’ATH PARTY, KURDS, AND THE CIA (21 Jan 2008)

Article:     First we celebrate, then we bomb (Daily Kos, 20 Jan 2008)

Article:     U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq (WP, 17 Jan 2008)

Article:     Nationalists Stirring in Iraq (The Nation, 16 Jan 2008)

Article:     Will Anyone Pay for the Iraq War? (15 Jan 2008)

2007

 

Article:     Covering up the trail of dead Iraqis (Dahr Jamail, 28 Nov 2007)

Article:     2007 Is Deadliest Year for US in Iraq (06 Nov 2007)

Article:     Iraq: Millions Trapped in Their Own Country  (05 Nov 2007)

Article:     Envoys Resist Forced Iraq Duty (01 Nov 2007)

Article:     We tried to rebuild Iraq based on info in the 1994 Lonely Planet guide book (28 Oct 2007)

Article:     Surmounting Sectarianism in the Middle East: An Interview with Hisham Bustani (28 Oct 2007)

Article:     Ex-Commander Sanchez Says Iraq Effort Is ‘a Nightmare’ (22 Oct 2008)

Article:     Iraq whistleblower Dr Kelly was murdered to silence him, says MP (20 Oct 2007)

Article:     Invasion of Iraq was driven by oil, says Greenspan (Guardian, 17 Sep 2007)

Article:     The Illusion of Progress in Iraq (15 Sep 2007)

Article:     The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone (Alternet 30 Aug 2007)(28 Oct 2007)

Article:     Cancer in Iraq Vets Raises Possibility of Toxic Exposure (26 Aug 2007)

Article:     Allawi Pays $300k for Anti-Maliki US Campaign (24 Aug 2007)

Article:     U.S. use of Radiological weapons calls for an international tribunal (23 Aug 2007)

Article:     67,000 Detainees in Iraqi Prisons (11 Aug 2007)

Article:     British losses soar as they prepare to leave Basra city (10 Aug 2007)

Article:     UN Staff Oppose Proposed Iraq Resolution (09 Aug 2007)

Article:     30 % of Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing (06 Aug 2007) - Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations (28 Aug 2007)

Article:     Budget Office Analysis Says War Could Cost $1 Trillion (01 Aug 2007)

Article:     Iraqis in exile Celebrate Football Victory in Jordan (31 July 2007) - pictures and a video clip

Article:     A Little Easier to Occupy from the Air (31 July 2007)
Article:     Injured Iraq War Veterans Sue Bush’s VA Head for Poor Care, Cheating (23 July 2007)

Analysis:  Setting Priorities Straight in the Struggle: On Iran and the Iranian Role in the Arab Region (25 June 2007)

Article:     Artists, singers targeted (Al Jazeera, 17 June 2007)

Dossier:     Who is Robert Gates? (13-15 June 2007)

Article:     US signals permanent stay in Iraq (12 June 2007)

Article:     Iraqi Women Face Unemployment, Threats (30 May 2007)

PDF File:Prewar Intelligence Assessments About Postwar Iraq (24 May 2007) - Report Embarassing for Bush (25 May 2007)

Article:     UN Report on Human Rights in Iraq Draws US Denunciation (26 April 2007)

Article:     U.S. Officials Exclude Car Bombs in Touting Drop in Iraq Violence (26 April 2007)

Article:     Saudi King Slams ‘Illegitimate Occupation’ of Iraq (28 March 2007)

Article:     Iraq Minorities May Face Complete Eradication  (05 March 2007)

Article:     The redirection - by Seymour M. Hersh (05 March 2007)

Article:     How Much Embassy Is Too Much? (Washington Post, 02 March 2007)

Article:     'Exodus' of Iraq's ancient minorities (the Independent, 26 Feb 2007)

Article:     Mission Imperial (Guardian, 19 Feb 2007)

Article:     Bombs over Baghdad (TomDispatch, 07 Feb 2007)

Article:     Staticide in Iraq (Le Mondo Diplo, Feb 2007)

PDF File:Lockheed Stock and two smoking barrels (Jan 2007)

2006

Article:     The Strategy of Disintegration (December 2006)

Article:     Bush "Developing Illegal Bioterror Weapons" for Offensive Use (20 Dec 2006)

Article:     Iraqi Red Crescent: US Is Biggest Humanitarian Threat (16 Dec 2006)

Article:     Iraq: Not Civil War, Occupation (Sami Ramadani, 07 Dec 2006)

Article:     Iraq: One By One, They Tell the Truth (06 Dec 2006)

Article:     Annan: Iraq Crisis 'Much Worse' Than Civil War (04 Dec 2006)

Article:     Ten Fallacies about the Violence in Iraq (08 Nov 2006)

PDF File: 1,245 Secret CIA Flights Revealed by European Parliament (24 Nov 2006)

Article:     16,000 Single Mothers Serving in Iraq (24 Nov 2006)

Article:     The Way Out of War: A Blueprint for Leaving Iraq Now (08 Nov 2006)

Article:     How Hezbollah defeated Israel (12-13-14 Oct 2006)

Article:     Medics beg for help as Iraqis die needlessly (The Independent, 20 Oct 2006)

Article:     Unemployment and violence increase poverty (IRIN, 18 Oct 2006)

Article:     The Collapse of Iraq's Health Care Services (Counterpunch, 16 Oct 2006)

Article:     Army Chief Says British Troops Should Be Pulled Out of Iraq (October 13, 2006)

PDF File: Of War, Siege, and Lebanon: Women’s voices from the Middle East and South Asia (12 Oct 2006)

PDF File: Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cluster sample survey (The Lancet 11 Oct 2006)

 PDF File: War Crimes Committed by the US in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability (10 Oct 2006)

Article:     Twenty-One Reasons Iraq Is Not Working (October 5, 2006)

Article:     ‘Hurts Iraqis but won’t stop resistance’ (John Catalinotto 25 Sept 2006)

Article:     Lebanon: Destruction of civil infrastructure. (Amnesty International 23 Aug 2006)

Article:     The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil (Michel Chossudovsky, 26 July 2006)

Article:     250 Iraqi Oil Officials Killed (23 July 2006)

Article:     The height of humiliation ( Haifa Zangana, 22 June 2006)

Article:     A Safer Weapon, With Risks (May 18, 2006)

Article:     Dr. Khair El-Din Haseeb’s Presentation  at Georgetown University (28 April 2006)

Article:     Revisionism at its worst (16 April 2006)

Article:     Zarqawi-gate: More important than you think... (11 April 2006)  |  More about Zarqawi

Article:     With Iraqi Doctors Fleeing, Prognosis Is More Agony (11 April 2006) - 2,000 Iraqi physicians murdered since the invasion [PDF]

Article:     Saddam’s pilots hunted down by death squads (Sunday Times 09 April 2006)

Article:     America's war on the web (02 April 2006)   

Article:     Iraq Health Update 30 Mar 2006 (Medact)

Article:     Why Journalists Are Being Murdered In Iraq (16 March 2006)

Article:     US Military Airstrikes Significantly Increased in Iraq (March 14, 2006)

PDF File: The role of UK corporations in Iraq (13 March 2006)

Article:     Prisons and Torture in Iraq (13 March 2006)

Article:    Grounds for Impeachment (08 March 2006)

Article:      Intellectual Terrorism (08 March 2006)

PDF File: Amnesty International Report (06 March 2006)

Article:     Baghdad official who exposed executions flees (02 March 2006)

Article:     Militias and armed gangs rule streets of Iraq (01 March 2006)

Article:     Reporting Iraq: liberation's limits (Felicity Arbuthnot, 16 Feb 2006)

PDF File: In Their Own Words: Reading the Iraqi Insurgency (15 Feb 2006)

PDF File: Second Periodical Report of Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (Jan 2006)

Article:     US audit finds 'spectacular' waste of funds in Iraq (27 Jan 2006)

Article:     Iraq tops list of threatened minorities (20 Jan 2006)

Article:     Martin Wolf: The failure to calculate the costs of war (11 Jan 2006)

Article:     Iraq war could cost US over $2 trillion, says Nobel prize-winning economist (07 Jan 2006)

Article:     Billion Dollar Bunker: U.S. plans Baghdad embassy more secure than Pentagon (03 Jan 2006)

 

2005

 

Video:        Harold Pinter – Nobel Lecture (07 Dec 2005)

Article:     Corrosive Israeli Mossad in Iraqi Kurdistan (02 Dec 2005)

Article:     Death By Torture: US Media Ignores Hard Evidence  (02 Dec 2005)

Article:     Death Mask: The Deliberate Disintegration of Iraq (01 Dec 2005)

Article:     U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press (30 Nov 2005)

Article:     Up In The Air. Where is the Iraq war headed next? (28 Nov 2005)

Article:    Abuse of prisoners in Iraq widespread, officials say (28 Nov 2005)

Article:     15,000 hepatitis cases reported in Baghdad neighborhood (25 Nov 2005)

Article:     The Bush Plan to Bomb Al-Jazeera (24 Nov 2005)

PDF File: First Periodical Report of Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (11 Nov 2005)

PDF File: Hans von Sponeck: the Oil-for-Food  Programme 1998-2000 and  Beyond (08 Nov. 2005)

Call:           Call for UN Investigation of Killing of Defense Lawyer of Saddam Hussein (27 Oct. 2005)

Article:     U.S. troops obstruct reporting of Iraq (28 Sept. 2005)

Report:      New Accounts of Torture by U.S. Troops (Sept. 2005) HRW report

Article:     US import bullets from Israel as troops use 250,000 for every rebel killed (25 Sept. 2005)

Article:       It's imperialism, stupid - Noam Chomsky (04 July 2005)

Article:     Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq (26 June 2005)

Article:     Unveiling Iraq's teenage prostitutes (24 June 2005)

Article:     U.S. was big spender in days before Iraq handover (21 June 2005)

Article:     US Military expenditure (June 2005)

Article:     82 Iraqi MPs Demand Occupation Pullout (19 June 2005)

Article:     The Path of War Timeline (14 June 2005)

Article:     US War Crimes, An International Vow of Silence (10 June 2005)

Article:     The occupiers will lose in Iraq (10 June 2005)

Article:     Exit strategy: Civil war (10 June 2005)

Article:     BEFORE the US attacked Iraq- Facts EVERY war supporter should have known (03 June 2005)

Article:     Media Disinformation and the Nature of the Iraqi Resistance (27 May 2005)

Article:     Give Rumsfeld the Pinochet Treatment, Says US Amnesty Chief (26 May 2005)

Report:     Amnesty International Annual Report - Iraq (26 may 2005)

Article:     The unknown unknowns of the Abu Ghraib scandal (21 May 2005)

Article:     Of Nuclear Giants and Ethical Infants (18 May 2005)

Report:      The Dynamics of Occupation and Resistance in Iraq (Part 1: Patterns of Popular Discontent) (18 May 2005)    

Article:     Operation Matador: Learning the Neo-Words of Serial Wars (13 May 2005)

Article:     Iraq: how we were duped (14 May 2005)

Article:     The Destruction of Iraq’s Educational System under US Occupation (11 May 2005)

Report:      UNDP: Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004 (May 2005)

Article:     Iraqi's suffer “Tragic” Conditions: UN Report (12 May 2005)

Report:      The Provocateur State: Is the CIA Behind the Iraqi "Insurgents"--and Global Terrorism? (10 May 2005)

PDF File: Report Documents Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces - Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) (May 2005)

Article:     So, Mr Bremer, where did all the money go? (Guardian 10 May 2005)

Article:     The Obsession with Syria (ZMag 07 May 2005)

Article:     Iraqi Women Under US Occupation (6 May 2005)

Essay:       Fabricating Intelligence as a Justification for War (4 May 2005)

PDF FileHuman Rights Watch: Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees (Apr 2005)

Article:     New Iraqi President Favors Use of Militias Against Insurgents (19 Apr 2005)

Does the Resistance Target Civilians? According to US Intel, Not Really (16 Apr 2005)

U.S. start to recruit children for future combat duty  (15 Apr 2005)

Michael Meacher: America is usurping the democratic will in Iraq (05 Apr 2005)

Article:     Independent Media: Enemy Target (17 March 2005)

Article:     List of Prisoner Deaths in U.S. Custody (16 March 2005)

Article:     Pulitzer winner Hersh gives skeptical outlook on Iraq (09 March 2005)

Article:     Extreme Cinema Verite (14 March 2005)

Article:     The Oil-for-Slush Scandal (08 Feb 2005)

Article:     No Shame (04 Feb 2005)

Article:     Iraq Oil-For-Food Audit Finds No Widespread Abuse (04 Feb 2005)

Article:     CIA Corrects Itself on Arms  (01 Feb 2005)

Article:     Proof of Massive Anglo-American Media Lying Over Iraq (21 Jan 2005)

Article:     American Terror (21 Jan 2005)

Article:     Human rights not hollow words - An appeal to President George W. Bush (19 Jan 2005) - Amnesty International

Article:     Babylon: Civilization under Occupation (19 Jan 2005)

Article:     Experts say up to 30% of Iraq vets may need psychiatric care (17 Jan 2005)

Article:     Fallujah: city of Ghosts (11 Jan 2005)

Article:     Torture and International Human Rights (09 Jan 2005)

Article:     Iraq - Reporters without borders - Annual report 2004 (Jan 2005)

Article:     Army Doctors Implicated in Abuse (06 Jan 2005)

Article:     A Compendium of Abuse - The Year in Torture (04 Jan 2005)

Article:     Iraq battling more than 200,000 insurgents: intelligence chief  (03 Jan 2005)

Article:     Top Ten War Profiteers of 2004

Article:     Racism as Prelude to War Crimes (02 Jan 2005)

 

2004

 

PDF FileThe crime of war: from Nuremberg to Fallujah (31 Dec 2004)

Article:     Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966 (27 Dec 2004)

Article:     US to Take Bigger Bite of Iraq's Economic Pie  (24 Dec 2004)

PDF File: The Developing Iraqi Insurgency: Status at end-2004 (CSIS 22 Dec 2004)

PDF FileWhat can the U.S. do in Iraq? (22 Dec 2004) International Crisis Group

Article:     US Threatens UNDP over Arab Report (19 Dec 2004)

Article:     Red Cross neutrality jeopardised by US action in Iraq (15 Dec 2004)

Article:     Over 5,000 US Servicemen Have Deserted Iraqi War (10 Dec 2004)

Article:     Marines hunt down Fallujah's strays to head off rabies threat (10 Dec 2004)

Article:     What Oil-for-Food Scandal? (10 Dec 2004)

Article:     Human Rights Day 2004: US Guilty of War Crimes in Iraq (10 Dec 2004)

Article:     What happened to $20bn of Iraqi funds?  (09 Dec 2004)

PDF File: Casualties of War - Military Care for the Wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan (09 Dec 2004)

Article:     CIA chief predicts rising tide of attacks and unrest (08 Dec 2004)

Article:     Letter to Blair Seeks Iraqi Civilian Deaths Inquiry  (07 Dec 2004)

Article:     Amnesty International's appeals for Fallujah (07 Dec 2004)

Article:     In Iraq, the US does eliminate those who dare to count the dead (04 Dec 2004) - Naomi Klein

Article:     “This wasn’t a war, it was a massacre” (03 Dec 2004)

Article:     From Guernica to Fallujah (02 Dec 2004)

Report:      Emergency Working Group – Falluja Crisis (02 Dec 2004)

Article:     Iraq's Health Care Under the Occupation (01 Dec 2004) - comments on the Medact Report

PDF FileMedact Report: Enduring effects of war (30 Nov 2004)

Briefing:   Fallujah and its Aftermath  (Nov 2004) - Oxford Research Group

Article:     Setting the Conditions for War Crimes (30 Nov 2004)

Article:     I Am Become Death - The Destroyer Of The Worlds (30 Nov 2004)

Article:     U.S. Used Weapons of Mass Destruction (29 Nov 2004)

Article:     The crushing of Fallujah - James Petras  (19 Nov 2004)

Article:     Security Council States to blame for Oil-for-Food (18 Nov 2004)

PDF File: The Lloyd Report on Gulf War Illnesses (17 Nov 2004)

PDF File: Denial of Water to Iraqi Cities (10 Nov 2004) -

Article:     Iraq's new patent law: A declaration of war against farmers (Oct 2004)

PDF File: Iraq's new Patent law: Bremer order nr 81 (26 Apr 2004)

Article:     The Illegal Iraq Invasion. According to UN Charter, U.S. Constitution, Resolution 1441, and Nuremberg Charter

Article:     Was The Iraq War Legal, Or Illegal, Under International Law? (17 Sep 2004)

Article:     Rumsfeld's Dirty War on Terror - Parts 1 & 2 (13 Sep 2004) Seymour Hersh

Article:     From Vietnam to Fallujah (13 Sep 2004)

UNDP:       Baseline Food Security Analysis in Iraq (Sep 2004)

Article:     Iraqi prime minister Allawi is CIA source (06 Sep 2004)

Article:     Bush wants to shift $3.3 billion for Iraq security. Funds would be diverted from rebuilding projects (06 Sep 2004)

Article:     Depleted Uranium: the Trojan Horse of Nuclear War (01 Jul 2004)

PDF File: Bechtel's dry run. Iraqi's suffer water crisis (April 2004)

Article:     Phoenix Rising ($3 billion for a new paramilitary unit)  (01 Jan 2004)

Article:     Types of Terrorism and 9/11 (19 June 2003)

Article:     Who is Michael Ledeen? (08 May 2003)

 

BRussells Tribunal statements, appeals and dossiers

 

For decent information about Iraq under the sanctions regime and the start of the war: please consult www.irak.be

 

Children Pay Cost of Iraq's Chaos

Malnutrition Nearly Double What It Was Before Invasion

By Karl Vick

Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, November 21, 2004;

 

Acute malnutrition among young children in Iraq has nearly doubled since the United States led an invasion of the country 20 months ago, according to surveys by the United Nations, aid agencies and the interim Iraqi government.

 

After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year, according to a study conducted by Iraq's Health Ministry in cooperation with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the U.N. Development Program. The new figure translates to roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.

 

"These figures clearly indicate the downward trend," said Alexander Malyavin, a child health specialist with the UNICEF mission to Iraq.

The surveys suggest the silent human cost being paid across a country convulsed by instability and mismanagement. While attacks by insurgents have grown more violent and more frequent, deteriorating basic services take lives that many Iraqis said they had expected to improve under American stewardship.

 

Iraq's child malnutrition rate now roughly equals that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war. It is far higher than rates in Uganda and Haiti.

 

"The people are astonished," said Khalil M. Mehdi, who directs the Nutrition Research Institute at the Health Ministry. The institute has been involved with nutrition surveys for more than a decade; the latest one was conducted in April and May but has not been publicly released.

Mehdi and other analysts attributed the increase in malnutrition to dirty water and to unreliable supplies of the electricity needed to make it safe by boiling. In poorer areas, where people rely on kerosene to fuel their stoves, high prices and an economy crippled by unemployment aggravate poor health.

"Things have been worse for me since the war," said Kasim Said, a day laborer who was at Baghdad's main children's hospital to visit his ailing year-old son, Abdullah. The child, lying on a pillow with a Winnie the Pooh washcloth to keep the flies off his head, weighs just 11 pounds.

 

"During the previous regime, I used to work on the government projects. Now there are no projects," his father said.

When he finds work, he added, he can bring home $10 to $14 a day. If his wife is fortunate enough to find a can of Isomil, the nutritional supplement that doctors recommend, she pays $7 for it.

"But the lady in the next bed said she just paid $10," said Suad Ahmed, who sat cross-legged on a bed in the same ward, trying to console her skeletal 4-month-old granddaughter, Hiba, who suffers from chronic diarrhea.

 

Iraqi health officials like to surprise visitors by pointing out that the nutrition issue facing young Iraqis a generation ago was obesity. Malnutrition, they say, appeared in the early 1990s with U.N. trade sanctions championed by Washington to punish the government led by President Saddam Hussein for invading Kuwait in 1990.

 

International aid efforts and the U.N. oil-for-food program helped reduce the ruinous impact of sanctions, and the rate of acute malnutrition among the youngest Iraqis gradually dropped from a peak of 11 percent in 1996 to 4 percent in 2002. But the invasion in March 2003 and the widespread looting in its aftermath severely damaged the basic structures of governance in Iraq, and persistent violence across the country slowed the pace of reconstruction almost to a halt.

 

In its most recent assessment of five sectors of Iraq's reconstruction, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group, said health care was worsening at the quickest pace.

"Believe me, we thought a magic thing would happen" with the fall of Hussein and the start of the U.S.-led occupation, said an administrator at Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Pediatrics. "So we're surprised that nothing has been done. And people talk now about how the days of Saddam were very nice," the official said.

 

The administrator, who would not give his full name for publication, cited security concerns faced by Iraqi doctors, who are widely perceived as rich and well-connected and thus easy targets for thieves, extortionists and the merely envious or vengeful. So many have been assassinated, he said, that the Health Ministry recently mailed out offers to expedite weapon permits for doctors.

Violence has also driven away international aid agencies that brought expertise to Iraq following the U.S. invasion.

Since a truck bombing at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad killed more than 20 people last year, U.N. programs for Iraq have operated from neighboring Jordan. Doctors Without Borders, a group known for its high tolerance for risk and one of several that helped revive Iraq's Health Ministry in the weeks after the invasion, evacuated this fall.

 

CARE International closed down in October after the director of its large Iraq operation, Margaret Hassan, was kidnapped. She is now presumed to be dead. The huge Atlanta-based charity had remained active in Iraq through three wars, providing hospitals with supplies and sponsoring scores of projects to offer Iraqis clean drinking water.

By one count, 60 percent of rural residents and 20 percent of urban dwellers have access only to contaminated water. The country's sewer systems are in disarray.

 

"Even myself, I suffer from the quality of water," said Zina Yahya, 22, a nurse in a Baghdad maternity hospital. "If you put it in a glass, you can see it's turbid. I've heard of typhoid cases."

The nutrition surveys indicated that conditions are worst in Iraq's largely poor, overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim south, an area alternately subject to neglect and persecution during Hussein's rule. But doctors say malnutrition occurs wherever water is dirty, parents are poor and mothers have not been taught how to avoid disease.

"I don't eat well," said Yusra Jabbar, 20, clutching her swollen abdomen in a fly-specked ward of Baghdad's maternity hospital. Her mother said the water in their part of Sadr City, a Shiite slum on the capital's east side, is often contaminated. Her brother contracted jaundice.

"They tell me I have anemia," Jabbar said. Doctors said almost all the pregnant women in the hospital do.

"This is not surprising because since the war, there is lots of unemployment," Yahya said. "And without work, they don't have the money to obtain proper food.''

 

Iraqis say such conditions carry political implications. Baghdad residents often point out to reporters that after the 1991 Persian Gulf War left much of the capital a shambles, Hussein's government restored electricity and kerosene supplies in two months.

"Yes, there is a price for every war," said the official at the teaching hospital. "Yes, there are victims. But after that?

"Oh God, help us build Iraq again. For our children, not for us. For our kids," the official said.

 

Iraqi Children Pay Silent Cost of Occupation: Report

CAIRO, November 21 (IslamOnline.net) – Iraqi children are paying the silent cost of the US-led occupation with malnutrition rates exceeding by far those in the world’s poorest and disease-plagued countries, a leading US newspaper reported on Sunday, November 21.

Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children has nearly doubled since the US invaded the country 20 months ago, The Washington Post reported, citing a study by Iraq's health ministry in tandem with Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

“After the rate of acute malnutrition among children younger than 5 steadily declined to 4 percent two years ago, it shot up to 7.7 percent this year,” concluded the study.

“Iraq's child malnutrition rate now roughly equals that of Burundi, a central African nation torn by more than a decade of war. It is far higher than rates in Uganda and Haiti.”

The study further put at some 400,000 the number of Iraqi children suffering from “wasting”, a condition characterized by chronic diarrhea and dangerous deficiencies of protein.

The United Nations children's fund (UNICEF) had warned that the number of children who suffer from diarrhea, Iraq's number one killer of infants, has more than doubled under occupation.

Iraqi doctors attributed the increase in malnutrition to dirty water, unreliable supplies of the electricity needed to make it safe by boiling and a crippled economy.

The study said 60 percent of rural residents and 20 percent of urban dwellers have access only to contaminated water.

“I've heard of typhoid cases,” Zina Yahya, a nurse in a Baghdad maternity hospital, told the Post.

“Even myself, I suffer from the quality of water.”

“They tell me I have anemia,” added pregnant Yusra Jabbar, noting that doctors said almost all the pregnant women in the hospital do.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expected in May 2003 a cholera epidemic in southern Iraq, and warned that other infectious waterborne diseases could break out.

Disillusionment

There is, in effect, increasing disillusionment with the US and its “liberation” rhetoric after health care conditions and unemployment rates hit all-time low.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group, said health care was worsening at the quickest pace.

Deteriorating basic services take lives that many Iraqis said they had expected to improve under American stewardship.

“These figures clearly indicate the downward trend,” Alexander Malyavin, a child health specialist with the UNICEF mission to Iraq, told the American daily.

Kasim Said, a day laborer, was at Baghdad's main children's hospital to visit his ailing year-old son Abdullah, who weighs just 11 pounds.

“Things have been worse for me since the war,” he said.

“During the previous regime, I used to work on the government projects. Now there are no projects,” said the father.

The Post said after the 1991 Persian Gulf War left much of the capital a shambles, Saddam Hussein's government restored electricity and kerosene supplies in only two months.

“Believe me, we thought a magic thing would happen” with the fall of Saddam, said an administrator at Baghdad's Central Teaching Hospital for Pediatrics.

“So we're surprised that nothing has been done. And people talk now about how the days of Saddam were very nice.”


Emergency Working Group – Falluja Crisis
by tas on Thursday 02 December 2004 http://www.orpingtoncnd.org/content.php?article.8

DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE SECURITY ENVIRONMENT, INFORMATION ON THE IDENTITY AND LOCATION OF NGOS OPERATIONAL IN IRAQ WILL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL AND EXCLUDED FROM THIS REPORT.

The Emergency Working Group (EWG) comprises humanitarian organizations, UN agencies; NGOs, Red Cross/Red Crescent Organizations (RCO) and relevant IIG Ministries.

NUMBERS:

Latest IOM figures (26 Nov.): Internally Displaced Persons from Falluja

Location,Number of IDP families,Number of IDP individuals

Karma and Surroundings 3,600- 21,600
Habaniyah 4,000- 24,000
Amiriyah and Surroundings 20,000- 120,000
Saklawiya and Surroundings 2,000- 12,000
Nieamiya and Surroundings 3,500- 21,000
Heet 500- 3,000
Aana 500 -3,000
Rawa 500 -3,000
Hadeatha 500 -3,000
Total 35,100 -210,600

GENERAL SITUATION:

Falluja City
To date, only the IRCS has been granted access to Falluja, where it is delivering assistance from its provisional office near the city centre. Reports indicate that water and electricity supplies remain shut off, and PDS distributions have not yet resumed. The General Hospital is reportedly functioning but still occupied by MNF. NGO reports indicate that everyday between 8-12am, the MNF is allowing residents to go to Al Rawda Al Mohammadia Mosque to receive aid.

Around Falluja
Access to IDP locations remains sporadic due to insecurity and military operations. Some sites have received assistance, whereas others such as Nieamiya are reportedly difficult to access even by the MoH. Shortages in fresh food items and cooking fuel have also been reported. The temperature has dropped, underscoring an urgent need for winterization items and appropriate shelter.

ASSESSMENTS:

• NGO reports over 5800 families have been displaced to Baghdad, of which 2839 families have settled in the Abu Ghraib area, 110 families are living in tents near Al-Mustafa Mosque in the Baghdad University complex, and about 12 families are camping on the grounds of the Baghdad International Fair.
• It is reported the IIG has deployed a task force to Falluja to provide oversight of the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. Representatives from the ministries of Industry & Minerals, Municipalities & Public Works, Health, Trade, Electricity, Housing & Construction, and Displacement & Migration will soon be based inside the city to coordinate responses. The Prime Minister’s Office has also established a Core Coordinating Group to interface with the ministry teams.
• MNF reports that Falluja residents will likely be allowed to return in waves by neighbourhood as essential services are restored and areas are cleared of booby traps and IEDs. The IIG is apparently planning to take heads of households by bus into neighbourhoods first to make an initial assessment of their homes.
• The MoH has reportedly requested NGOs to assist IDP families in Habbaniyah with food, NFIs, and gas for generators in addition to requests for oxygen cylinders to Amiriyah Hospital.
• Unconfirmed reports of PHCCs in IDP locations continuing to experience shortages of drugs and medical supplies.
• The BBC quotes an RCO spokesperson reporting that up to 6000 people may have died during the fighting in Falluja.
• IOM partners have assessed the following needs and plan to respond upon IOM’s verification of partner capacities in coordination with other agencies:
o Karma: 1,985 IDP families in need of dry food, detergents, and winter clothes; 420 families in of blankets and mattresses.
o Saklawiya: 1,657 IDP families in need of dry food and infant formula; and 216 IDP families in need of baby food and blankets.
o Habaniyah: 1,325 IDP families in need of dry food, detergents, mattresses, cooking sets, blankets, and heaters; 487 families in need of winter clothes, blankets, and cooking stoves.
o Aana: 327 families in need of dry food, blankets, mattresses; and 106 families in need of heaters, cooking stoves, and cooking sets.
o Amiriya: 10,970 IDP families in need of canned food, detergents, mattresses, and heaters; and 5,620 IDP families in need of vegetable oil, cooking stoves, and cooking sets.
o Niemiya: 1,866 families in need of canned food, infant formula, and soap; 530 families in need of detergents, cooking sets, and heaters.
o Heet: 350 families in need of canned food, detergents, and mattresses; 96 families in need of blankets and mattresses.
o Haditha: 209 families in need of canned food and soap; 336 families in need of blankets and mattresses.
o Rawa: 120 families in need of infant formula; 255 families in need of detergents; 120 families in need of blankets and mattresses; and 135 families in need of cooking sets.

RESPONSES:

• MNF reports that Iraqi contractors have already been selected to clear away rubble, remove standing water, establish 10 water distribution points (each with a capacity of 20,000g), and operate the water treatment plant. No confirmation of when these activities will commence.
• The Ministry of Electricity reportedly has 5 repair teams working on the transmission lines and 10 distribution points inside Falluja, with the aim of restoring electricity by next week.
• The Ministry of Industry and Minerals reportedly delivered 8,000 blankets to IDPs in the surrounding areas on 24 November. No details available on the locations.
• It is reported that the Ministry of Trade has sent a number of food convoys into Falluja and the surrounding IDP sites. No confirmations to date on the quantities and locations, or whether the recently displaced population has been able to access these supplies.
• UNICEF reports that mobile water units have been delivered to Saklawiyah and Amiriyah and that they will be installed and operated by the Water Authorities.
• IOM implementing partner continues ongoing distributions of food and NFIs to a total of 2839 IDP families residing in the Abu Ghraib area of Baghdad.
• NGO distributed dry and intermediate food, health kits, and winterization items to IDP families in Al-Asady village between Amiriyah and Falluja on 27 November.
• NGOs distributed dry and intermediate food items to IDPs in Zedan, Zawba’a and Al-Khutheer village in Radwaniyah on 25 November.
• Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Ministry of Industry and Minerals is encouraging NGOs to access unspecified supplies from its warehouses for distribution to Falluja and the surrounding IDP areas.

ADVOCACY:

In response to UNAMI’s requests, feedback was received from the MNF on their plans for humanitarian interventions and reconstruction projects in Falluja, as described in the above bullets. Some information was also obtained on their plans for returnees to the city. Further details, including aerial maps of Falluja, have been requested from the MNF to facilitate the planning and coordination of humanitarian assistance.

UNAMI continues to raise the issue of access, with particular reference to the risks involved in national staff carrying agency ID cards or letters of authorization issued by the MNF while crossing checkpoints. In addition, UNAMI has also met with US Embassy representatives to discuss the importance of humanitarian space and the need to adhere to civil-military principles of liaison and coordination.

COORDINATION:

UNAMI has obtained information on the focal points and contact details of the IIG’s inter-ministerial committee on Falluja. This information will be shared with participants of the next EWG-Falluja meeting and provided upon request to interested agencies.

An NGO recently asked UNAMI to submit a request to the MNF for passage of their relief convoys across checkpoints in the Falluja area. The request was approved on the condition that the NGO staff carried a letter issued by the MNF, which had to be picked up from the International Zone. Given the volatile security environment for NGOs, this option is considered unacceptable so the issue will be followed up by UNAMI’s civil-military affairs section.

For specific issues or requests you would like forwarded to the MNF, please contact Michael Niedermayr, UNAMI Civil-Military Affairs Section (Tel: 077 619 727 or Email: niedermayr@un.org) who will then follow up individual cases. All information will be handled confidentially, and no information regarding your organization will be shared without your specific consent.


200 Children Die Every Day

Iraq's Health Care Under the Occupation

By GHALI HASSAN

Since the US military invasion and occupation of Iraq, Iraq's health care system has deteriorated as a result of deliberate destruction by the US administration. The most vulnerable victims of this destruction are the Iraqi children, particularly children under the age of five.

A detailed new study by the British-based charity organisation (Medact) that examines the impact of war on health, revealed cases of vaccine-preventable diseases were rising and relief and reconstruction work had been mismanaged. Gill Reeve, the deputy director of Medact who released the report said, "[t]he health of the Iraqi people has deteriorated since the 2003 invasion ... The 2003 war not only created the conditions for further health decline, but also damaged the ability of Iraqi society to reverse it".

A second report, to be released soon, revealed that acute malnutrition among Iraqi children between the ages of six months and 5 years has increased from 4% before the invasion to 7.7% since the US invasion of Iraq. In other words, despite the 13-years sanctions, Iraqi children were living much better (by 3.7%) under the regime of Saddam Hussein than under the Occupation.

The report, which was conducted by the Norway-based Institute of Applied International Studies, or Fafo, in cooperation with the Iraq's Central Office for Statistics and Information Technology, Iraq's Health Ministry, and the UN Development Program (UNDP), shows that about 400,000 Iraqi children are suffering from 'wasting' and 'emaciation' ­ conditions of chronic diarrhoea and protein deficiency.

A recent UNICEF report shows that, "[b]efore 1990 and the imposition of sanctions, Iraq had one of the highest standards of living in the Middle East". Now UNICEF reports, "at least 200 children are dying every day. They are dying from malnutrition, a lack of clean water and a lack of medical equipment and drugs to cure easily treatable diseases". The UNICEF report shows that, child mortality was not getting any better since the conflict started in 2003 and that the death rate among children was rising.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 6,880 deaths of children under the age of five every year in Iraq, with an under-fives mortality rate of 125 per 1,000 live births. Furthermore, the mortality rate of Iraqi women during pregnancy and childbirth has reached three times the rate reported during the period between 1989 and 2002, a study by the United Nations Population Fund reported.

A medical delegation from the American Friends Service Committee found that years of sanctions "have had their severest impact on families and children there, producing a generation of young people weakened by disease, isolated from the outside world and left to feed on feelings of bitterness and injustice". In its report, the delegation noted that, "the consequences of the sanctions fall most heavily on children. While adults can endure long periods of hardship and privation, children's physiological immaturity and vulnerability provide them with less resistance. They are put at greater risk and are less likely to survive persistent shortages" of food and health care.

Earlier report by the UN stated that before the first US war, "Iraq had an extensive national health care network. Primary care services were available to 97% of the urban population and 71% of the rural population". Every Iraqi citizen had the right to free health care provided by the government. In 1991, Iraq had 1,800 primary health centres, according to the UN children's agency UNICEF.

As a result of US war and sanctions, a decade later that number had fallen to 929, of which a third require serious rehabilitation, one of the most pressing needs to date.

The US-British sponsored sanctions and wars against the Iraqi people have killed more than 2 million Iraqi civilians, a third of them were children under the age of five. Iraq's health care and education systems were deliberately targeted for destruction.

Under the US-UN imposed sanctions, Iraq's public health care system has eroded at every level. Life-saving medical supplies such as chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, vaccines etc., are either banned or delayed under the dual-use policy. Medical equipments that Iraq was allowed to import were either blocked from delivery by US-Britain or the shipments were almost invariably incomplete and of unusable quality.

Using the usual mask of the UN, "the US had prevented the normal importation of indispensable items of equipment for more than a decade" wrote Tom Nagy of George Washington University. In his research on the effect of sanctions on Iraq's water and the health care system, Nagy found that the US "intentionally destroying whatever had remained of Iraq's water system within six months by using sanctions to prevent the import of a mere handful of items of equipment and chemicals" that are vital for the treatment of water.

During the US assault on Fallujah, US forces cut off water and electricity to the city of 300,000 people. US air strikes have destroyed hospitals and medical centres. The US took over the Fallujah General Hospital and converted to a military hospital, thus denying the citizens of Fallujah any health care service. On 09 November 2004, US warplanes attacked the Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the centre of the city and completely destroyed it. Thirty-five patients were killed, including five children under the ages of 10 years. According to Amnesty International, "20 Iraqi medical staff [doctors and nurses] and dozens of other civilians were killed when a missile hit a Fallujah clinic on 09 November 2004". The air strike also destroyed the hospital medical supplies warehouse. The destruction of Fallujah is a crime against humanity.

As of today, the exact number of civilians killed by the US assault on Fallujah is not known. According to an official in the Allawi's puppet "government", "more than 2085" Iraqis have been killed. US forces used internationally banned weapons such as napalm, phosphorous weapons and jet fuel, which makes the human body melt, to attack the city in violation of international law. Medact has also called on US forces to re-evaluate the use of these illegal weapons in populated areas, given the high rate of civilian casualties.

The Iraqi Red Crescent Society was prevented by US forces from entering the city to provide supplies to the wounded civilians, and called the health conditions in and around Fallujah "catastrophic". Eyewitnesses say most of the victims are civilians, including, women, children, and unarmed men between the ages of 14-60 years old, who were prevented from leaving the city before the US onslaught. Furthermore, many children have died as a result of starvation, dehydration and outbreaks of diarrhoeal infections. UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that the death of was "an unconscionable slaughter of innocents". "The killing of children is a crime and a moral outrage", Bellamy added.

Medact says: "The war is a continuing public health disaster that was predictable - and should have been preventable". It added that, "[e]xcess deaths and injuries and high levels of illness are the direct and indirect results of ongoing conflict". According to the Medact, Iraq had also experienced an alarming recurrence of previously well-controlled communicable diseases, including acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and typhoid, particularly among children.

The Medact study found that, "[o]ne in four people in Iraq were now dependent on food aid, and there were more children underweight or chronically malnourished than before the US invasion". The near disappearance of immunisation programmes had contributed to the recurrence of death and illness from preventable disease, and infant mortality rose due to a lack of access to skilled help in childbirth, as well as to violence, confirming the Fafo report.

The Fafo report paints a catastrophic picture of Iraq's health care under US Occupation. "It's in the level of some African countries", Jon Pedersen, deputy-managing director of the Norway-based Institute told The Associated Press. "Of course, no child should be malnourished, but when we're getting to levels of 7 to 8 percent, it's a clear sign of concern", he added.

Like the Fafo report, the Medact study specifically blames the US Occupation for the deteriorating conditions in Iraq's health and the tactics of the US-led occupying forces for exacerbating the country's health problems, particularly the decision to sideline the UN. Unreliable supplies of electricity have made it hard to boil water for safe drinking. The destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, including the sewage and water systems has exacerbated the problem and led to increase in outbreaks of virulent diseases such as hepatitis. More that 20% of urban residents and 60% of rural Iraqis don't have access to clean water, as a result of the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure. According to the Medact report: "twelve percent of Iraq's hospitals were damaged during the war and the country's two main public health laboratories were also destroyed".

In order to foster the sale Iraqi assets and resources, the US must render them useless first. The deliberate targeting of Iraq's health care system for destruction is part of the illegal armed conquest of Iraq. The objective is quite clear: the cheap sale of Iraqi assets and resources to US corporations.
The US is unable to provide all Iraqis with acceptable and equal health care. Health care in the US is worse than any of the developing countries, with appalling statistics. The US is one of the few countries in the world that does not provide universal health care for children and pregnant women. Infant mortality, low birth weight, and child deaths under five are ranked among the highest in the U.S. as compared to Western industrial nations and Japan.
According to Gill Reeve, of Medact: "Immediate action is needed to halt this health disaster". The best and lasting solution to the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq is for the US to stop the violence against the Iraqi people, withdraw its forces from Iraq, and restoration of Iraq's sovereignty. The current interim US-appointed "government" is illegitimate. Iraq's sovereignty should be restored to ensure the peaceful rehabilitation of Iraq's infrastructure and health care system.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail:
G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

Notes:

(1) Medact study:

http://www.medact.org/


Savidge: Protecting Iraq's oil supply

From Martin Savidge
CNN

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/03/21/otsc.irq.savidge/

BASRA, Iraq (CNN) --We are with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in southern Iraq. Obviously the focus of the effort here is the oil industry, the oil infrastructure. That is considered crucial. Not because of what many people have said, and criticized, that the United States wanted to grab oil. The military leaders say that is not the plan at all.

[The plan] is to get the oil -- which is so valuable to this nation and to so many other nations in the Persian Gulf region -- back into the hands of the Iraqi people. They say it has not been under their control; it has been under Saddam Hussein's control to make him richer.

So there was a very big push into southern Iraq for that purpose. We are at a facility just outside of Basra, which we cannot name because it still could come under attack from Iraqi artillery or Scud missiles. It is estimated that 14 percent of the entire world's oil supply flows through this region.

The Marines were very concerned in the days leading up [to] and planning the assault on this facility that it had been targeted for destruction. In other words, that it may have been booby-trapped or that there had been explosives laid.

There was a great deal of concern that if they did not race and get through with some element of surprise, that the whole thing could have been blown up.

That would have been an economic and ecological disaster. And had it gone up when the Marines were arriving, it could have meant a great loss of life.

The Marines got here in time. It had not been detonated. No Marines were injured or killed in the assault here. There was a brief firefight and about 50 people were taken into custody, including about 20 to 25 who are considered POWs, or prisoners of war.

One officer here said this was pretty much a crown jewel in the opening effort of the Gulf War, because now the revenues that will eventually come from this facility will help rebuild the nation after the war is over.

I should point out that the "shock and awe" in southern Iraq took place last night.

We were up moving into the attack positions with the ground forces as they were preparing to head into southern Iraq. They met some resistance up there at the Kuwaiti-Iraq border. Well, that was quickly resolved. They called in Tomahawk strikes and airstrikes that went on all night long.

There is a lookout there, a hill referred to as Safwan Hill, on the Iraqi side of the border. It was filled with Iraqi intelligence gathering. From that vantage point, they could look out over all of northern Kuwait.

It is now estimated the hill was hit so badly by missiles, artillery and by the Air Force, that they shaved a couple of feet off it. And anything that was up there that was left after all the explosions was then hit with napalm. And that pretty much put an end to any Iraqi operations up on that hill.

Then this morning they airlifted in U.S. military forces that now hold that vantage point. So, all last night there was an intense artillery, air and missile bombardment throughout the southern part of Iraq. And that is what paved the way for the ground forces to begin pushing in.

One of the interesting things to note that we saw as we came across the border and began moving into southern Iraq was the precision of those attacks.

You would find artillery pieces blown up. You would find tanks that were shattered. You would find armored personnel carriers that were destroyed and still burning at the side of the road.

You did not see, though, major buildings that had been damaged. You did not see damaged homes or any sign of collateral damage.

That may have happened, but there was not an overwhelming indication of that, which is remarkable given the light show we saw from the vantage point we had from the border.

EDITOR'S NOTE:This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.


Big spender: what happened to $20bn of Iraqi funds?
By Thomas Catan (Financial Times)
Published: December 9 2004 20:42 | Last updated: December 9 2004 20:42

Barely a month before the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority ended its rule over occupied Iraq, a little-known committee charged with approving the authority's spending met for the penultimate time in one of Saddam Hussein's Baghdad palaces.

By the time the meeting of the so-called Program Review Board broke up a few hours later, some $2bn had been approved for disbursement - part of what one US official describes as a last-minute "spending binge" by the provisional authority before it handed power to an Iraqi interim government.

The money was not from US taxpayers. It came out of Iraqi funds - the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales, government bank accounts frozen since the 1991 Gulf War and funds left over from the UN-administered "oil-for-food" programme that managed Iraqi oil sales before the US invasion.

From the same Iraqi funds the provisional authority, in the final two months of its existence, sent nearly $1.8bn in cash to the Kurdish regional government, over and above its regular financing to the region. The Kurds have refused to provide UN-mandated auditors with access to their records but have insisted they have not spent any of it. A spokesman for the Kurdish regional government said the payment was part of $4.5bn in funds it claims the UN owed the region as part of the now defunct oil-for-food programme. Behind the scenes, however, the Kurds have been in talks with several international banks to ship part of that money to Switzerland, guided by a Washington lobbying firm with close ties to the US Republican party.

No one has accused any of these parties of acting improperly. But the lack of transparency is fuelling questions over the payment to the Kurds, as well as dozens of others totalling billions of dollars made from Iraqi oil revenues during the CPA's rule.

Altogether, the CPA spent, or made commitments to spend, nearly $20bn in Iraqi money - a sum greater than the annual gross domestic product of Iraq. Evidence suggests the money was spent in a chaotic and haphazard way and that occupation officials routinely violated CPA procedures.

Next week a UN audit panel is set to give its verdict on how Iraq's money was spent. The CPA's inspector general is also finalising a report that is expected to be sharply critical of the stewardship of Iraqi funds.

Auditors have found that the lack of controls left funds open to fraud, loss or theft. Hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues may also have been squandered. The office of the CPA inspector-general is investigating at least 27 cases of alleged corruption by CPA officials. A person with knowledge of the investigations says there is evidence of fraud and abuse.

Paul Bremer, the former administrator of Iraq, did not respond to several interview requests. But before Mr Bremer left Baghdad at the end of June the CPA said, in written answers, that the Iraqi funds had been "expended in the interests of the Iraqi people" and in a transparent manner - conditions set by the UN when it authorised the provisional authority to spend Iraqi oil revenues.

Those contentions are being questioned by auditors and others. "I don't think we sustained our obligations," said one US official. "We just threw the money over the fence."

In its reconstruction of Iraq the CPA had two main sources of money to draw on. The first was an $18.4bn allocation from the US Congress. The second was the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), an account set up under UN resolution 1483 that concentrated billions of dollars in Iraqi assets dispersed worldwide. Also at the Americans' disposal were millions of dollars worth of cash, rugs, jewels and other loot seized by US soldiers from Baathist properties.

By the time it was dissolved on June 28 the CPA had spent or committed virtually all the funds that had passed through the development fund. By contrast, the authority had spent just $366m of the US funds on reconstruction, and earmarked around $5bn for projects. (The total amount spent has since risen to about $1.2bn.)

Part of the reason for the disparity is that the US funds were difficult to spend. Rules designed to ensure that money was not wasted or misused slowed the signing of contracts. CPA officials including Mr Bremer also complained that the Pentagon had taken control of US reconstruction funds and was reluctant to let them spend the money.

By contrast, the development fund was readily available for spending and could be controlled fro m Baghdad. Those charged with meeting Iraq's massive and urgent needs felt they had no option but to start spending freely from the Iraqi account.

"One of the advantages of the Iraqi accounts was that money could be delivered faster," says Walt Slocombe, the CPA's special adviser on security and defence until November 2003. "Bremer took the position under legal advice that he was in charge of the money - that he could spend it without rattling what he affectionately called 'the Washington squirrel cage'."

To handle the growing number of requests for funding from the Iraqi account the CPA established the Program Review Board. The review board was designed to ensure that spending was transparent and in the interests of the Iraqi people, as stipulated by the UN resolutions.

In the chaotic early days of the occupation, however, the review board often failed to observe its own rules. Meetings often failed to attract the eight voting members required to approve a project, but projects were often approved regardless. In other cases approval for projects was given outside formal meetings and not reflected in official minutes. An Iraqi representative was meant to sit in on meetings but turned up to just two of the 43 board meetings held in 2003.

By the standards applied to US money, projects funded with Iraqi money received cursory examination. According to figures from the Open Society Institute, funded by George Soros, the financier, 73 per cent of all contracts worth more than $5m were not competitively bid. "In 2003, [the review board] was a rubber stamp," says a US official.

Initially the review board's members approved relatively small projects relating to the country's day-to-day running in the aftermath of war: getting back-up generators, restoring oil pipelines and outfitting and training Iraqi police. Other projects appeared less urgent: $3,500 was set aside to pay actors, stagehands and producers at a Baghdad Theatre Festival.

As time went on, more and bigger projects came before the review board. Because of the delays in getting US money some multi-billion dollar projects were also being funded with Iraqi money. This was the case in a $1.4bn project to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure, granted to Halliburton, the US oil services company formerly headed by Dick Cheney, the US vice president, without competitive tender. The contract made Halliburton the largest single recipient of Iraqi funds.

"I know I spent some money from [the development fund] on it," says retired Rear Admiral David Oliver, the former chief financial officer for the CPA. "It purely was the matter that we'd run out of US money."

So many requests were made for changes to the sources of financing that, in January 2004, the review board's members wrote to Mr Bremer voicing their concern. The Iraqi finance minister objected that the UN-stipulated criteria were not being met.

The $2bn in projects approved by the board during its meeting on May 15 often replicated funds already assigned by the US Congress. The amount of Iraqi funds to be spent on security in the run-up to the handover of power was increased to $1bn, even though the US Congress had already assigned $3.2bn for that purpose. Similarly, the board assigned $315m in Iraqi funds to the electricity sector when the US Congress had already assigned $5.5bn to its reconstruction.

The minutes of the review board's final session two weeks later reflect deep unease among some members of the panel about the pace of spending. With Iraqi funds nearly depleted Yusaf Samiullah, the UK representative, urged the board to consider only proposals that were urgent or a matter of national security. He was overruled. However the board did overrule Mr Bremer's proposal that $10m be set aside for a museum to remember Saddam Hussein's victims.

It was not just the review board that had stepped up its spending. In June 2004, the CPA sent nearly $1.8bn in development fund money to the Iraqi ministries, more than double the monthly average that year. The CPA said the unusually large transfer would help to cover obligations following the transfer of authority. Just in case, it also set aside $800m from Iraqi funds to cover contracts after CPA officials had gone home.

Several audit panels were established shortly after the US invasion to oversee its spending of the Iraqi funds. But many billions of dollars were spent before they were up and running.

UN resolution 1483 established the International Advisory and Monitoring Panel (IAMB), made up of representatives from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the UN and the Arab Development Fund. But disagreements with the US over the panel's remit meant its chosen auditors, from accounting firm KPMG, did not start work in Iraq until a year later.

The CPA, for its part, named Stuart Bowen as its inspector-general. But he did not arrive in Iraq until February 2004, nine months after the authority began spending Iraqi funds.

With both sets of auditors now having managed to produce several reports, the picture that emerges is that inexperienced and overwhelmed CPA staff struggled to keep track of billions of dollars in spending.

Accounting systems were improvised and inadequate, both sets of auditors have found, leaving Iraqi funds open to fraud and abuse. Though neither set of auditors has yet concluded that any money is missing, they have found many troubling anomalies that are being investigated.

"There's a couple of cases where we were told that the CPA has the suspicion that one of their guys was taking money and they're doing their own investigation," says an IAMB official.

In the case of one $2.6m payment authorised by the CPA's senior adviser to the Ministry of Oil, IAMB auditors were unable to find a contract, evidence of tender procedures or evidence of any services rendered. In another case, a contract was entered into in spite of objections from the Iraqi representative to the review board. The contract was wrongly signed by a CPA senior adviser, and an advance payment of $3m made "without justification", the IAMB auditors said. "The contract was later cancelled and the adviser subsequently left the CPA," the IAMB report noted.

With multiple investigations probing allegations of corruption in the UN's oil-for-food programme during the last years of Saddam's regime, the IAMB has been reluctant to discuss with the US the touchy issue of its spending of Iraqi funds. But its audit reports obliquely refer to a series of incidents that raise questions about the conduct of some White House appointees in Iraq.

Many relate to the use of Iraqi funds by the health ministry - headed at the time by James Haveman, a CPA senior adviser appointed to the post by President George W. Bush. Mr Haveman - who was praised for having done a "superb job" by Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary - appears, from the auditors' report, personally to have controlled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi cash, granting contracts on his own authority, circumventing procurement rules and failing to keep adequate records.

Auditors found that Mr Haveman controlled the bank account that held the ministry's cash - nearly $5m at the time of the handover. The ministry's records wrongly recorded the asset as an expense. They also found that cheques were made out personally to Mr Haveman, instead of contractors.

Records of transfers made between the development fund and health ministry were out by $610,000; the ministry's trial balance was out by $1.3m. In three cases, contracts granted by the ministry were not publicly tendered. Millions of dollars in contracts were supported only by a letter from Mr Haveman. The ministry refused to explain the accounting discrepancies or provide auditors with any tender documents.

Mr Haveman declined to be interviewed about the discrepancies detailed by the auditors. He cast doubt on the quality of KPMG's audit report, saying in an e-mail that "to comment would give credence to it". He added: "We had a clear separation between myself and the funds expended and this was done as a matter of policy and integrity."

Many of those who worked with Mr Haveman expressed their admiration for his work, as well as scepticism that he would have sought to benefit from the large amounts of cash apparently passing through his hands. Auditors said it was likely that he and other CPA officials had "cut corners" and ignored regulations in an effort to get quick results.

The CPA's Mr Bowen has been even more critical of the way Iraqi money was handled. Iraq had no functioning banking system, so making local payments meant moving convoys of cash around the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars in cash was kept in a vault in a Baghdad palace. However investigators working for the inspector-general watched in surprise as a CPA official left the open vault unattended. When locked, the key was placed in an unsecured backpack.

The CPA did not keep a proper inventory of valuables seized by US soldiers from former regime officials, the inspector-general found, so it was unable to "ensure that non-cash assets would be available for the use and benefit of the Iraqi people". Mr Bowen also found that the CPA did not issue any standard operating procedures or develop an effective system to monitor or review contracts.

Files were often missing or incomplete, hindering the CPA's ability to "demonstrate the transparency required of . . . contracts using DFI funds", concluded Mr Bowen, a former lawyer for Mr Bush.

Charles Krohn, a former aide to David Nash, the retired US Navy admiral who was running the US reconstruction effort in Iraq, says: "When I was there, there was a general concern about the nature of the contracts to Halliburton and so on . The thought was that these were not tightly-constructed contractual devices and that the oversight wasn't really what it could be."

Under its own rules the CPA was required to hire an independent auditing firm to assist in the accounting of the Iraqi fund. But the firm appointed, at a cost of $1.4m, was not a certified public accountant but rather a consulting firm. It never carried out the job.

Those charged with the difficult and dangerous task of overseeing Iraq's reconstruction make no apologies for the way they spent Iraqi oil revenues. They say any accounting discrepancies must be seen in the context of the scale and urgency of the task they faced.

"The whole place was at a standstill - it was dying on its feet," says Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK special representative to Iraq. "Of course, from the point [of view] of democratic, and particularly American, accounting procedures, there were corners cut," he says. "They were cut in the interests of getting the Iraqi economy jump-started again."

With just 1,200 people working in dangerous conditions it was unrealistic to expect the CPA to uphold the standards of a fully-fledged civil service, Sir Jeremy says.

Others say the inspector-general and IAMB were inappropriately applying US contracting standards to the Iraqi system. "I, candidly, was not interested in having an army of auditors because I thought you had to slide into the Iraqi system as quickly as possible in order encourage them to take responsibility," says Mr Oliver.

In its written answers before its dissolution the CPA strongly denied breaching the UN resolutions governing how Iraqi funds could be spent. "Great care was taken to put in place management processes to ensure DFI funds were expended pursuant to the standards contained in [the resolutions] . . . The standards established by CPA will stand up to outside scrutiny," it predicted in June.

Additional reporting by Stephen Fidler and Demetri Sevastopulo


Letter in the London based Independent on Sunday 12th December

 

Iraq toll: at least 100,000  

 

You reported (“Polish hostage held in Iraq is released unharmed”, 21 November) the Foreign Secretary’s response to our study published in The Lancet of civilian deaths in Iraq. It is heartening that Jack Straw has addressed the topic in such detail. However, his response includes an apparent misreading of our results. Our study found that violence was widespread and up 58-fold after the Invasion that from 32 of the neighbourhoods we visited we estimated 98,000 excess deaths; and that from the sample of the most war-torn communities represented by 30 households in Fallujah more people had probably died than in all of the rest of the country combined. Fallujah is the only insight into those cities experiencing extreme violence (ie Ramadi, Tallafar, Fallujah, Najaf); all the others were passed over in our sample by random chance. If the Fallujah cluster is representative, there were about 200,000 excess deaths above the 98,000.  

 

Perhaps Fallujah is so unique that it represents only Fallujah, implying that it represents only 50-70,000 additional deaths. There is a tiny chance that the neighbourhood we visited in Fallujah was worse than the average experience, and only corresponds with a couple of tens of thousands of deaths. We also explain why, given study limitations, our estimate is likely to be low Therefore, when taken in total, we concluded that the civilian death toll was at least around 100,000 and probably higher, not between 8,000 and 194,000 as Mr Straw states. While far higher than the Iraq ministry of health surveillance estimates, on 17 August the minister himself described surveillance in Iraq as geographically incomplete, insensitive and missing most health events. We, the occupying nations, should aspire to acknowledge the dignity of every life lost, and to monitor trends and causes of deaths to better serve the Iraqis, and in doing so, sooner end this deadly occupation.

 

Les Roberts, Gilbert Burnham

Centre for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore

Richard Garfield School of Nursing, Columbia University, New York, USA 

Scanned by Tahrir Swift-AMW


Published on Friday, February 4, 2005 by the Inter Press Service

 

Iraq Oil-For-Food Audit Finds No Widespread Abuse

by Haider Rizvi

 

UNITED NATIONS - After spending months combing through thousands of documents and questioning scores of officials, the investigators of alleged irregularities in the U.N.-led Oil-for-Food program in Iraq acknowledge that they have so far failed to find a smoking gun. However, in an interim report released Thursday, they accused the world body of failing to abide by the rules to assure fairness, transparency and accountability.

"The findings do not make for pleasant reading," wrote Paul Volker, chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee, in the Wall Street Journal a day before releasing an interim report on the conduct of the Oil-for-Food program at a heavily attended news conference held outside the premises of the U.N. headquarters.

However, he added that the U.N. administration of the program appeared to be "free of systematic or widespread abuse".

The Oil-for-Food Program was initiated in 1996 to purchase and manage 46 billion dollars worth of humanitarian assistance by selling Iraqi oil. At that time, Iraq was facing sanctions as a punishment for invading neighboring Kuwait and for trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The program provided essential food and medicines to 60 percent of Iraq's 27 million people. It was ended in May 2003 after the Security Council lifted the sanctions following the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

Volker, a former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, sharply criticized a senior U.N. official who supervised the program in Iraq for several years before the first U.S. invasion of that country in 1993.

"Mr. Sevan placed himself in a grave and continuing conflict of interest situation that violated explicit U.N. rules," he said. "The evidence amply demonstrates that a tainted procurement process took place in 1996 when the program was just getting under way."

The Volker report says that Benan Sevan, a Cyprian national who has worked for the United Nations for about 40 years, repeatedly asked Iraqis for allocations of oil to the African Middle East Petroleum Company. Sevan's behavior was "ethically improper," Volker told reporters.

Sevan has repeatedly denied these charges and argues that he is being made a "scapegoat".

"He never took a penny," says Eric Lewis, Sevan's attorney. "In the current political climate, the IIC needs to find someone to blame. The IIC has turned its back on the due process. It has caved in to the pressure to those opposed to the mission of the U..N."

At U.N. headquarters, some wondered why Volker chose to write a column for the Wall Street Journal, explaining the findings of the committee's report a day before its actual release to the press as well as the Secretary-General. "We are surprised," said Fred Eckhard, Annan's chief spokesman.

For months, the Journal has been spearheading the media campaign against the U.N. regarding its conduct of the Oil-for-Food Program Volker has defended his actions by saying that he wanted it to be read by the public.

Many observers attribute the intense scrutiny of the program to a right-wing media campaign in the United States.

"Newspaper editors who play up the story are complicit in this ongoing virulent campaign against the U.N. by U.S. right-wing neo-conservatives," says Jim Paul, executive director of the U.S.-based Global Policy Forum.

A few hours after the release of the report, Republican Congressman Henry Hyde described the Volker's findings as "a matter of urgent concern," saying that he was "reluctant to conclude that the U.N. is damaged beyond repair, but these revelations certainly point to this direction."

Recently, a number of lawmakers in Washington demanded that U.N. officials suspected of involvement in the Oil-for-Food irregularities be handed over to U.S. investigators. One senator even went to the extent of demanding Annan's resignation. The U.S. Senate is conducting its own investigation into the program

In response to Volker's report, Annan issued a statement saying that he would take disciplinary action against Sevan and another official criticized in the report.

"Should any findings of the inquiry give rise to criminal charges, the United Nations will cooperate with national law enforcement authorities pursuing those charges," he said. "I will waive the diplomatic immunity of the staff member concerned."

Sevan, who has retired from active duty, is being kept on staff at a token salary to ensure his availability to the inquiry. He is currently residing in the United States on a diplomatic visa.

The Committee is scheduled to release its final report in June this year.

© 2005 IPS - Inter Press Service

 


Extreme Cinema Verite

GIs shoot Iraq battle footage and edit it into music videos filled with death and destruction. And they display their work as entertainment.

By Louise Roug
Times Staff Writer

March 14, 2005

BAQUBAH, Iraq — When Pfc. Chase McCollough went home on leave in November, he brought a movie made by fellow soldiers in Iraq. On his first night back at his parents' house in Texas, he showed the video to his fiancee, family and friends.

This is what they saw: a handful of American soldiers filmed through the green haze of night-vision goggles. Radio communication between two soldiers crackles in the background before it's drowned out by a heavy-metal soundtrack.

"Don't need your forgiveness," the song by the band Dope begins as images unfurl: armed soldiers posing in front of Bradley fighting vehicles, two women covered in black abayas walking along a dusty road, a blue-domed mosque, a poster of radical cleric Muqtada Sadr. Then, to the fast, hard beat of the music — "Die, don't need your resistance. Die, don't need your prayers" — charred, decapitated and bloody corpses fill the screen.

"It's like a trophy, something to keep," McCullough, 20, said back at his cramped living quarters at Camp Warhorse near Baqubah. "I was there. I did this."
 



Film cameras arrived at the front during World War II, but soldiers didn't really document their own combat experience until the Vietnam War. (The technology didn't lend itself to amateur moviemaking until the arrival of the smaller Super 8 cameras.)

Today, video cameras are lightweight and digital technology has cut out the need for processing. Having captured a firefight on video, a soldier can create a movie and distribute it via e-mail, uncensored by the military. With editing software such as Avid and access to Internet connections on military bases here, U.S. soldiers are creating fast-paced, MTV-style music videos using images from actual firefights and killings.

Troops often carry personal cameras and video equipment in battle. On occasion, official military camera crews, known as "Combat Camera" units, follow the troops on raids and patrol. Although the military uses that footage for training and public affairs, it also finds its way to personal computers and commercial websites.

The result: an abundance of photographs and video footage depicting mutilation, death and destruction that soldiers collect and trade like baseball cards.

"I have a lot of pictures of dead Iraqis — everybody does," said Spc. Jack Benson, 22, also stationed near Baqubah. He has collected five videos by other soldiers and is working on his own.

By adding music, soldiers create their own cinema verite of the conflict. Although many are humorous or patriotic, others are gory, like McCollough's favorite.

"It gets the point across," he said. "This isn't some jolly freakin' peacekeeping mission."

Commanders have discretion to establish regulations concerning photography on base, but common-sense rules apply, an Army spokesman said. Images that threaten operational security — such as pictures of military installations or equipment — are not allowed.

Before being deployed to Iraq, some Marines were told they could not take pictures of detainees, dead or wounded Iraqis or American casualties. But photographs and videos of dead and maimed Iraqis proliferate.

"It doesn't bother you so much taking pictures of the guy who was just shooting at you," McCullough said. He added that he hadn't seen any pictures of dead U.S. soldiers. "It's just a little too morbid, a little too close to home."

On the bases where Benson and McCullough live, the Army regularly searches soldiers' quarters for drugs, alcohol and pornography as part of what it calls health and safety inspections. But searching personal laptops would infringe on soldiers' privacy, said Capt. Douglas Moore, a judge advocate general officer with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Warhorse. Besides, if this brand of filmmaking breaks rules, they're of a different kind.

"It's in poor taste," Moore said, "kind of sick."
 



McCullough was surprised that his favorite video was disturbing to his loved ones back in Texas.

"You find out just how weird it is when you take it home," said McCullough, whose screensaver is far more benign, showing him on his wedding day.

Brandi McCullough, then his fiancee and now his wife, said she had walked in as he was showing the videos to friends who were "whooping and hollering."

The 18-year-old was shocked by images of "body parts missing, bombs going off and people getting shot."

"They're terrifying," she said by phone from Texas. "Chase never talked about anything over there, and I watch the news, but not all the time. I didn't realize there was that much" violence.

She also wondered why anyone would record it.

"I thought it was odd — a home video," she said. "People getting shot and someone sitting there with a camera."

McCullough said his father, a naval reserve captain, had told him, " 'You know, this isn't normal.'

"They were pretty shocked," he said. "They didn't realize this is what we see."

Daniel Nelson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, said he understood the disconnect.

"I'm not surprised about this — it's a new consciousness that we're beginning to see," he said, comparing the videos to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photographs. "What happens in this situation, the culture is endorsing something that would be prohibited in another context stateside."

What seems disrespectful or a trivialization is also a way for soldiers to distance themselves from the trauma, he said, which says: "I don't want to see what I've done or experienced as real."

The creation of videos resembles what Nelson has seen in his work with traumatized children and Vietnam veterans, he said.

"How do we create the story about our lives?" he asked. "Part of the healing process is for them to create a narrative, to organize an emotional story that allows them to get a handle on it."

Thomas Doherty, chairman of the film studies program at Brandeis University and author of "Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture and World War II," called the videos an authentic diary of the war.

"There's always the disconnect between the front-line soldier and the sheltered home front," he said. "It's a World War II ethos: You don't bring it home."

After watching the video, Doherty said, "Of course you're struck by the gruesomeness of the carnage, but it's a wide range of images."

He went on to praise "the contra-punctual editing — the beat of the tune and the flash of the images," calling it "a very slick piece of work."

"The MTV generation goes to war," he said. "They should enter it at Sundance."

In another video, made by members of the Florida National Guard, soldiers are shown kicking a wounded prisoner in the face and making the arm of a corpse appear to wave. The DVD, which is called "Ramadi Madness," includes sections with titles such as "Those Crafty Little Bastards" and "Another Day, Another Mission, Another Scumbag," came to light in early March after the American Civil Liberties Union obtained Army documents using the Freedom of Information Act.

James Ross, senior legal advisor for Human Rights Watch, called it "disturbing that soldiers are making videos like that." But he added, "It doesn't mean that it's necessarily a violation of the Geneva Convention."

The Geneva Convention instructs that remains of deceased shall be respected and not "exposed to public curiosity," Ross said. "It's not putting heads on spikes and things like that. To argue you can't photograph [a body] would be a bit of a stretch."

Several websites sell footage from the war.

"Militants fight in the streets of Baghdad, looting, lawlessness," is how clips are advertised on efootage.com. A Las Vegas-based company, Gotfootage.com, offers $50 and $100 clips that include older footage of Saddam Hussein, Jessica Lynch, aerial bombardment and "sooooo many bombs." The site also advertises video showing an Iraqi fuel truck being destroyed by U.S. bombs during the invasion in March 2003.

Another website advertises, "GrouchyMedia.com is the place to find those pump-you-up-to-kill-the-bad-guys videos everyone has been talking about."

Spc. Scott Schroder, a gunner with Task Force 2-63, wouldn't show what he described as the "evil, nasty kill-videos," to his family.

"That's cool with the guys," he said. "I don't think my mom would care to see any of these videos."

Another specialist, who wouldn't give his name, said the bloody videos disgusted him.

"I wouldn't watch them, and the people I work with wouldn't watch them," said the specialist, stationed at a base near Mosul in northern Iraq. "I don't think it's proper."

He compared the violent videos to those made by insurgents showing beheadings.

"You bring yourself down to their level," he said. "Why would you do that?"
 



A poster for the video game "Grand Theft Auto" is pinned to the door of McCullough's room at Camp Warhorse.

Watching the home videos gives him a different perspective on combat, he said. Details are missed in the heat of battle, and the military "could use it as a tool, kind of like how they do it with high school football."

His roommate, 30-year-old Sgt. Benjamin Bronkema from Lafayette, Ind., said he was surprised no one had tried to sell the movies yet.

"If I had a copy of it, and MTV called, I'd sell it," he said. The videos are no different than what's on screen at the cinema, showing glorified violence, he added.

"It's no more graphic than 'Saving Private Ryan,' " he said. "To us, it's no different than watching a movie."


Phoenix Rising

Tucked away in the Iraqi appropriation was $3 billion for a new paramilitary unit.
Vietnam similarities?

Robert Dreyfuss
January 1, 2004

With the 2004 electoral clock ticking amid growing public concern about U.S. casualties and chaos in Iraq, the Bush administration’s hawks are upping the ante militarily. To those familiar with the CIA’s Phoenix assassination program in Vietnam, Latin America’s death squads or Israel’s official policy of targeted murders of Palestinian activists, the results are likely to look chillingly familiar.

The Prospect has learned that part of a secret $3 billion in new funds—tucked away in the $87 billion Iraq appropriation that Congress approved in early November—will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. Experts say it could lead to a wave of extrajudicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baathists—up to 120,000 of the estimated 2.5 million former Baath Party members in Iraq.

“They’re clearly cooking up joint teams to do Phoenix-like things, like they did in Vietnam,” says Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counter terrorism. Ironically, he says, the U.S. forces in Iraq are working with key members of Saddam Hussein’s now-defunct intelligence agency to set the program in motion. “They’re setting up little teams of Seals and Special Forces with teams of Iraqis, working with people who were former senior Iraqi intelligence people, to do these things,” Cannistraro says.

The plan is part of a last-ditch effort to win the war before time runs out politically. Driving the effort are U.S. neoconservatives and their allies in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, who are clearly worried about America’s inability to put down the Iraqi insurgency with time to spare before November. They are concerned that President Bush’s political advisers will overrule the national-security team and persuade the president to pull the plug on Iraq. So, going for broke, they’ve decided to launch an intensified military effort combined with a radical new counterinsurgency program.

The hidden $3 billion will fund covert (“black”) operations disguised as an Air Force classified program. According to John Pike, an expert on classified military budgets at www.globalsecurity.org, the cash, spread over three years, is likely being funneled directly to the CIA, boosting that agency’s estimated $4 billion a year budget by fully 25 percent. Operations in Iraq will get the bulk of it, with some money going to Afghanistan. The number of CIA officers in Iraq, now 275, will increase significantly, supplemented by large numbers of the U.S. military’s elite counterinsurgency forces. A chunk of those secret funds, according to Mel Goodman, a former CIA analyst, will to go to restive tribal sheikhs, especially in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. “I assume there are CIA people going around with bags of cash,” says Goodman.

But the bulk of the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force. “The big money would be for standing up an Iraqi secret police to liquidate the resistance,” says Pike. “And it has to be politically loyal to the United States.”

Unable to quell the resistance to the U.S. occupation, the Pentagon is revamping its intelligence and special-operations task force in Iraq, a classified unit commanded by an Air Force brigadier general. It’s also pouring money into the creation of an Iraqi secret police staffed mainly by gunmen associated with members of the puppet Iraqi Governing Council. Those militiamen are linked to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (inc), the Kurdish peshmerga (“facing death”) forces and Shiite paramilitary units, especially those of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Technically illegal, these armed forces have been tolerated, even encouraged, by the Pentagon. Some of these militias openly patrol Baghdad and other cities, and in the south of Iraq, scores of Islamic-oriented paramilitary parties, with names like Revenge of God, are mobilized.

Because the militiamen who will make up the paramilitary force are largely from former Iraqi exile political groups, many have personal scores to settle. They will be armed with detailed lists, seized from government files, of Iraqi Baathists. Sporadic but persistent revenge killings against Hussein loyalists have already plagued Iraq. In Baghdad, Basra, and scores of smaller cities and towns, hundreds of former Iraqi officials and members of the Arab Baath Socialist Party have been gunned down, and the murderers have not been arrested or, in most cases, even pursued. Virtually signaling open season on ex-Baathists, Maj. Ian Poole, spokesman for the British forces controlling Basra, told The New York Times: “The fact is, these are former Baath Party officials. That makes it hard to protect them.”

Chalabi’s INC is promising to use its own intelligence teams to act forcefully against opponents of the United States. Chalabi, the darling of U.S. neoconservatives and the Pentagon’s choice to be Iraq’s first prime minister, is leading the charge for the “de-Baathification” of Iraq. When elements of the U.S. Army in Iraq seek to enlist the support of mid- and low-level Baath officials in trying to put a national bureaucracy back into place, Chalabi objects, often clashing with U.S. Army officers overseeing civil affairs.

Echoing Chalabi are various U.S. hawks and neo cons. “The Kurds and the Iraqi National Congress have excellent intelligence operations that we should allow them to exploit,” read a Wall Street Journal editorial. “Especially to conduct counterinsurgency in the Sunni Triangle.” More explicitly citing similar U.S. operations during the Vietnam War were Tom Donnelly, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Gary Schmitt, executive director of the Project for a New American Century. Schmitt wrote a paper calling for a counterinsurgency effort modeled on the so-called COORDS program in Vietnam, an umbrella effort that included the notorious Phoenix assassinations. And, over lunch at a Washington eatery, I asked a neoconservative strategist how to deal with Iraq. “It’s time for ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy,’” he said. “All those people shouting, ‘Down with America!’ and dancing in the street when Americans are attacked? We have to kill them.”

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is beginning to resemble Vietnam in more ways than one. American forces under attack are reportedly responding with indiscriminate fire, often killing combatants and innocents alike. Body counts are disputed, including one prominent instance in Samarra when U.S. forces claimed 54 Iraqi rebels killed but angry townspeople said that the dead numbered less than a dozen (and included women and children). Houses of suspected insurgents are being blown up. The wife and child of Izzat Ibrahim, a fugitive Iraqi official thought to be coordinating the insurgency, were seized and held hostage. The entire village of Auja, Hussein’s hometown near Tikrit, was surrounded by barbed wire and turned into a strategic hamlet, with ID cards issued by U.S. forces needed to enter and exit it.

In early November, the Pentagon civilians ordered the U.S. military in Iraq to launch a heavily armed offensive against suspected strongholds of the resistance, using fighter bombers, laser-guided missiles, gunships and helicopters against targets of questionable importance, such as empty factories and warehouses. “It’s an absolutely insane strategy,” says Bob Boorstin, who oversees national-security policy for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Until the offensive was launched, U.S. Army officers had been attempting, with uneven success, to rally local populations and adopt a hearts-and-minds approach. But in accordance with the neo cons’ policy of no more Mr. Nice Guy, the Pentagon ordered the aggressive new stance that took shape as Operation Ivy Cyclone and Operation Iron Hammer. “I was astounded by the warmth and fuzziness of our generals,” says Danielle Pletka, AEI vice president for foreign- and defense-policy studies, who just returned from a visit to Iraq. “Well, they got orders: ‘You need to fight, and fight hard.’ And it suddenly dawned on them that these were bad people, and maybe we need to go out and whomp the crap out of them.”

Yet “whomping” is hardly a strategy, and in Iraq the United States is clearly flailing, with a trial-and-error approach that seems haphazard and rudderless. Underlying the neocons’ worry is a nagging concern that Bush, who sided with the neo cons by launching the global war on terrorism and by going into Iraq, could abandon them for some form of cut-and-run strategy in order to protect his re-election efforts. Some say openly that the White House is “going wobbly,” while others, like the AEI’s Donnelly, believe in Bush’s steadfastness but admit to having second thoughts. “For a neocon like me, having a member of the Bush family carrying the banner is a bit unnerving,” says Donnelly, wryly.

But Boorstin, and many others in Washington, believe that Karl Rove, the White House’s political guru, is losing patience with the bungled situation in Iraq. “I have no doubt that Karl Rove is ready to cut and run,” says Boorstin. That sentiment is virtually seconded by Pletka, who maintains close contact with White House and Pentagon officials. “Some of the people around the president do want to cut and run,” she says, “but not his foreign-policy advisers.”

The latest offensives, combined with the counterinsurgency efforts, seem partly aimed at convincing Rove that there’s no choice but to continue to gamble that the Iraqi venture will pay off. “This is an unusual president,” says Richard Perle, an AEI fellow, member of the Defense Policy Board and perhaps the chief architect of U.S. Iraq policy. “He risked his presidency to do this in Iraq.” But Perle is worried that politics could trump policy. “I hope it doesn’t become a political issue, because that would encourage all of those who want us to fail, all of those arrayed against us,” he says. “If we were to retreat, I shudder to think of the wave of terrorism it would unleash.

Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Robert Dreyfuss, “Phoenix Rising,” The American Prospect vol. 15 no. 1, January 1, 2004.


U.S. was big spender in days before Iraq handover

 

The United States handed out nearly $20 billion of Iraq's funds, with a rush to spend billions in the final days before transferring power to the Iraqis nearly a year ago, a report said on Tuesday.

A report by Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record) of California, said in the week before the hand-over on June 28, 2004, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority ordered the urgent delivery of more than $4 billion in Iraqi funds from the U.S. Federal Reserve in New York.

One single shipment amounted to $2.4 billion -- the largest movement of cash in the bank's history, said Waxman.

Most of these funds came from frozen and seized assets and from the Development Fund for Iraq, which succeeded the U.N.'s oil-for-food program. After the U.S. invasion, the U.N. directed this money should be used by the CPA for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Cash was loaded onto giant pallets for shipment by plane to Iraq, and paid out to contractors who carried it away in duffel bags.

The report, released at a House of Representatives committee hearing, said despite the huge amount of money, there was little U.S. scrutiny in how these assets were managed.

"The disbursement of these funds was characterized by significant waste, fraud and abuse," said Waxman.

An audit by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said U.S. auditors could not account for nearly $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds and the United States had not provided adequate controls for this money.

"The CPA's management of Iraqi money was an important responsibility that, in my view, required more diligent accountability, pursuant to its assigned mandate, than we found," said chief inspector Stuart Bowen in testimony.

CASES OF ABUSE

Auditors found problems safeguarding funds including one instance where a CPA comptroller did not have access to a field safe as the key was located in an unsecured backpack.

Bowen's office has referred three criminal cases to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the past two weeks for misuse of funds. Bowen declined to provide details at the hearing.

In one e-mail released in Waxman's report with the subject line "Pocket Change," a CPA official stressed the need to get money flowing fast before the handover.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (news, bio, voting record) of Massachusetts, a Democrat, questioned why so much money had to be transferred so fast.

Senior defense official Joseph Benkert said an infusion of funds was needed to address a wide variety of needs before the new Iraqi government took over.

Part of the challenge in tracking how money was spent was the cash environment and lack of electronic transfers.

Contractors were told to turn up with big duffel bags to pick up their payments and some were paid from the back of pick-up trucks.

One picture shows grinning CPA officials standing in front of a pile of cash said to be worth $2 million to be paid to a security contractor.

Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record) of Connecticut, a Republican, said the photograph disturbed him. "It looks a little loose to me," he said, of the smiling officials.

"I share your concern," said Bowen.

Citing documents from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in New York, Waxman said the United States flew in nearly $12 billion overall in U.S. currency to Iraq from the United States between May 2003 and June 2004.

This money was used to pay for Iraqi salaries, fund Iraqi ministries and also to pay some U.S. contractors.

In total, more than 281 million individual bills, including more than 107 million $100 bills, were shipped to Iraq on giant pallets loaded onto C-130 planes, the report said.


Emergency Committee for Iraq

International Call for United Nations Investigation of Killing of Defense Lawyer in Trial of Saddam Hussein

 

Based on news reports suggesting that the men who murdered lawyer Sadoon al-Janabi may have been officials of the United States-supported Interim Iraqi government, calls have been made for a United Nations-led independent investigation of the killing.

 

On 21 October 2005, eyewitnesses told Al Arabiya TV that “Mr. Janabi’s abductors, dressed in suits and ties, identified themselves as officials of the Interior Ministry.” This Ministry of the Iraqi government is reported by the New York Times, to have faced repeated accusations in recent months that it has harbored Shiite death squads that hunt down members of the Sunni Arab community with links to Mr. Hussein’s years in power.

 

On 24 October 2005, the Iraqi Lawyers Union made a call for an independent UN investigation in public statements which also called for a boycott of the proceedings until an investigation determines responsibility for the killing. And in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, dated 24 October 2005, several senior statesmen supported this call stating that “[i]nvestigations by the interim government of Iraq and the United States will have no credibility.” The letter was by signed by Mr. Ahmed Ben Bella, former President of Algeria, Tun Dr. Mahathir Muhamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mr. Roland Dumas, former Foreign Minister of France, and Mr. Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States.


Martin Wolf: The failure to calculate the costs of war
By Martin Wolf
Published: January 10 2006 20:52 | Last updated: January 10 2006 20:52
Financial Times 11/1/2006, p. 15.

Before the Iraq war began, Lawrence Lindsey, then president George W. Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that the costs might reach $200bn. The White House promptly fired him. Mr Lindsey was indeed wrong. But his error lay in grossly underestimating the costs. The administration’s estimates of a cost of some $50-$60bn were a fantasy, as were Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and much else.

 

An analysis by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University and the Nobel-laureate Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University suggests that the administration underestimated the economic costs by considerably more than an order of magnitude.* To paraphrase erstwhile senator Everett Dirksen: “a $100bn error here, a $100bn error there and pretty soon you are talking real money”.

So far the government has spent $251bn in hard cash. But the costs continue. If the US begins to withdraw troops this year, but maintains a diminishing presence for the next five years, the additional cost will be at least $200bn, under what Profs Bilmes and Stiglitz call their “conservative” option. Under their “moderate” one, the cost reaches $271bn, because troops remain until 2015.

Additional costs must be added: medical treatment; cost of injuries; disability payments; cost of demobilisation; need for increased defence spending (partly because of higher recruitment costs in the aftermath of the war) and additional interest on debt. Such costs will be bigger, the longer and greater the troop presence. Under the conservative scenario, the total budgetary cost is estimated at $750bn. Under the moderate scenario, the cost is $1,184bn. To put this in context, the minimum budgetary cost is 10 times the world’s net annual official development assistance to all developing countries.

Now consider the wider costs to the US economy. In the conservative case, the adjustments add $187bn to the budgetary cost, even if the macroeconomic impact is ignored. In the moderate one, they add $305bn.

What are these economic costs? The difference between the wages reserves earn in their normal occupations and the lower wages they earn in service are a cost. While life is priceless, the government necessarily values lives in making its decisions. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s valuation of $6.1m, the authors conclude that the cost of fatalities will be at least $23bn. There are also ongoing economic costs from the terrible injuries. Finally, there is accelerated depreciation of military hardware.

So far, then, the economic cost comes out at a minimum of $839bn (excluding interest). This, alas, does not end the story. In one area, at least, further costs are evident: the jump in the price of oil. Mr Lindsey is reported to have said that “the best way to keep oil prices in check is a short, successful war on Iraq”. He was wrong. Oil production in Iraq has plummeted, from around 2.6m barrels a day before the war to 1.1m.

Before the war, the oil price was expected to remain at between $20 and $30 a barrel. In practice, it has been more than twice as high. The authors’ conservative assumption is that $5 of this is due to the war. Their moderate assumption is that the impact has been $10 a barrel. A $5 increase imposes a cost of $25bn a year on the US and a $10 increase one of $50bn.

Higher oil prices have wider macroeconomic effects. In the short to medium run, spending by the now poorer consumers tends to fall faster than spending by the now richer producers rises. Central banks concerned about inflation also adopt tighter monetary policies than they would otherwise do, while fiscal policy does not normally adjust swiftly to such changes. With a modest “income multiplier” of 1.5, the conservative estimate of the additional losses in output is $187bn over five years. With a multiplier of two and the higher price effect, these costs rise to $450bn.

The authors also add two differences between expenditures on the war in Iraq and likely alternatives: first, they are overwhelmingly abroad; second, they do not contribute directly to consumption, either now or in the future. With these costs taken into account, the total macroeconomic costs may add up to $750bn (see chart) and total costs to $1,850bn.

Critics will stress that both authors served under President Bill Clinton. In the current heated atmosphere of US politics that will be enough to discredit their analysis. It should not do so. Whether or not one believes the war was justified, one should still be concerned that a decision to go to war was taken in the absence of any intelligent analysis of the likely costs.

Nor can one argue that it was impossible to do such an analysis. As I pointed out in a questioning column on the war published almost three years ago (this page, February 4 2003), William Nordhaus of Yale had already prepared a superb analysis, which suggested that $100bn was the lowest imaginable cost and close to $2,000bn perfectly conceivable.

The present analysis also ignores a host of significant economic and non-economic effects. Among these are: costs borne by other countries, including those created by higher oil prices; costs consequent upon creating a link between Iraq and the jihadi movement that did not, on the evidence, previously exist; costs of increasing the income of some of the world’s least desirable regimes, above all, Iran’s; costs of throwing away the option to fight ground wars elsewhere or to fight in Iraq later on, under better conditions, better information and a better state of preparedness; costs of enraging many Muslims; costs to the effectiveness of the US military; costs of fragmenting the western alliance; the loss of Iraqi lives; the cost to US credibility of going to war on a false premise; and the cost to the US reputation of the torture scandals.

It is possible to argue that the benefits for Iraq, the Middle East and the world will outweigh all these costs. But that depends on the emergence, in Iraq, of a stable and peaceful democratic order. That has not yet been achieved.

Even those who supported the war must draw two lessons. First, the exercise of military power is far more expensive than many fondly hoped. Second, such policy decisions require a halfway decent analysis of the costs and possible consequences. The administration’s failure to do so was a blunder that will harm the US and the world for years to come.

* The Economic Costs of the Iraq War, www2.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/

martin.wolf@ft.com

US audit finds 'spectacular' waste of funds in Iraq

Millions lost in 'chaotic misuse,' while report says many reconstruction projects won't be finished.

| csmonitor.com  27 Jan 2006

"Spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars."

That is what The Australian says an audit by the the US Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction of the former Coalition Provisional Authority office in Hilla, Iraq, has uncovered. The newspaper says the report details bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets, a US soldier who gambled away thousands of dollars, and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

The findings come almost a year after Stuart Bowen, the Inspector-General, found that more than $9 billion of Iraq's oil revenues, which was disbursed in 2004 by the then US-led CPA, could not be accounted for.

The audit, released on Wednesday ... describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with US dollars and a "wild west" atmosphere where even multi-million-dollar contracts were paid for in cash ...

The huge sums in cash were paid out with little or no supervision and often without any paperwork, the reconstruction spending audit found. The report found problems with almost 2000 contracts worth $US88.1 million.

The New York Times reports that the new audit found problems "in an area that includes half the land mass in Iraq, with new findings in the southern and central provinces of Anbar, Karbala, Najaf, Wasit, Babil, and Qadisiya."

Some of the misuse details in the report: Agents from the inspector general's office found the living and working quarters of American officials "awash in stacks of $100 bills" known as bricks. In another case, a soldier gambled away $40,000 of reconstruction money when he accompanied the Iraq boxing team to the Philippines. One contractor received more than $100,000 to completely refurbish an Olympic pool but only polished the pumps. In a more tragic case, three people plunged to their deaths in a Hilla hospital elevator that had been rebuilt and improperly certified as safe.

"What's sad about it is that, considering the destruction in the country, with looting and so on, we needed every dollar for reconstruction," said Wayne White, a former State Department official whose responsibilities included Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and who is now at the Middle East Institute, a research organization. Instead, Mr. White said, large amounts of that money may have been wasted or stolen, with strong indications that the chaos in Hilla might have been repeated at other provisional authority outposts.

Others had a similar reaction. "It does not surprise me at all," said a Defense Department official who worked in Hilla and other parts of the country, who spoke anonymously because he said he feared retribution from the Bush administration. He predicted that similar problems would turn up in the major southern city of Basra and elsewhere in the dangerous desert wasteland of Anbar province. "It's a disaster," the official said of problems with contracting in Anbar.

The BBC reports that the audit said one reason for the accounting system's problems was that "US postwar planning was limited by a desire for secrecy."

There were no detailed, overt preparations for the reconstruction of Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion "to avoid the impression that the US government had already decided on [military] intervention", the report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said. Nevertheless, the US has allocated billions of dollars to rebuilding Iraq, and large amounts have been raised through the sale of Iraqi oil.

An editorial in the Miami Herald notes that "US comptroller David Walter estimated in 2005 that at least $1 billion has been wasted in inefficient spending in Iraq." The Herald writes that this latest report means it's time for Congress to act.

So far, at least four Americans have been arrested in a related investigation involving Iraq reconstruction projects in Hillah, and more arrests are expected. What's needed, however, is better oversight and accounting by a Congress that has been loath to look into irregularities in Iraq, whether it involves policy or the inexcusable mishandling of public funds.

Meanwhile the Times also reports that the Inspector General's office issued a separate audit Thursday showing that the American-financed reconstruction program in Iraq will not finish scores of projects. For example, only 49 of the 136 projects designed to improve Iraq's sanitation and water facilities will be completed, and only 300 of the 415 projects to improve electricity.

"We have gone beyond just the concept of the reconstruction gap and identified the specific impacts of how many projects in the electrical sector and the water sector will not be completed and the reasons why," said Jim Mitchell a spokesman for the [inspector general's] office. "We point out that the dramatic increase in security spending is a part of this as well," Mr. Mitchell said. "Those who planned the reconstruction did not understand at the time the hostile environment in which reconstruction would be taking place."

The Washington Times reports that the report's findings are a setback for the Bush administration, which had counted on "more robust rebuilding across Iraq to help deliver the country from a harsh dictatorship to a prosperous democracy."

Officials in Mr. Bowen's office say that if the projects are to be completed, Iraq will have to receive more money from donor nations, which have pledged but not fully delivered $13 billion; from the World Bank; and from oil proceeds. The problem is insurgents repeatedly attack Iraq's oil facilities and pipelines, especially one leading to Turkey, depriving Iraq of huge streams of revenue.

As the Inspector General was detailing misuse of funds in Iraq by US officials, the US was accusing the United Nations of misusing funds in its peacekeeping efforts. The Associated Press reports that a UN audit of $1 billion in peacekeeping procurement contracts spanning a six-year period found as much as $300 million of the total may have been wasted, US Ambassador John Bolton said on Thursday. Mr. Bolton said that the US contribution to the peacekeeping budget was 27 percent of the budget. If 30 percent of the budget was wasted, as the audit shows, "that means the entire contribution went to waste."

Also...
US Army: Band of brothers or band of thieves? (urknet.info, Iraq)


Medics beg for help as Iraqis die needlessly

*Half of all deaths preventable, say country's medics
*Reconstruction seen as disaster
*More than 2,000 doctors and nurses are killed
*18,000 more leave the nation
Even the most basic treatments are lacking

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

Published: 20 October 2006 - http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1904962.ece

 

The disintegration of Iraq's health service is leaving its civilians defenceless in the continuing violence that is rocking the country, Iraqi doctors warn today.

As many as half of the civilian deaths, calculated at 655,000 since the 2003 invasion, might have been avoided if proper medical care had been provided to the victims, they say.

In separate appeals, the doctors beg for help to stem the soaring death rate and ease the suffering of injured families and children. They say governments and the international medical community are ignoring their plight.

In the first 14 months after the 2003 invasion almost $20bn (£11bn) was spent on reconstruction by the British and American funds, including hundreds of millions on rebuilding and re-equipping the country's network of 180 hospitals and clinics.

But billions went missing because of a combination of criminal activity, corruption, and incompetence, leaving Iraqis without even the essentials for basic medical care.

The violence for which the Allied forces failed to plan has meant a $200m reconstruction project for building 142 primary care centres ran out of cash earlier this year with just 20 on course to be completed, an outcome the World Health Organisation described as "shocking".

In March, the campaign group Medact said 18,000 physicians had left the country since 2003, an estimated 250 of those that remained had been kidnapped and, in 2005 alone, 65 killed.

Medact also said "easily treatable conditions such as diarrhoea and respiratory illness caused 70 per cent of all child deaths", and that " of the 180 health clinics the US hoped to build by the end of 2005, only four have been completed and none opened".

Writing in the British Medical Journal today, Dr Basssim Al Sheibani and two colleagues from the Diwaniyah College of Medicine in Iraq says that, as the violence escalates, "the reality is we cannot provide any treatment for many of the victims."

"Emergency departments are staffed by doctors who do not have the proper experience or skills to manage emergency cases. Medical staff ... admit that more than half of those killed could have been saved if trained and experienced staff were available."

They say equipment, supplies and drugs are in many cases unobtainable. " Many emergency departments are no more than halls with beds, fluid suckers and oxygen bottles."

They add: "Our experience has taught us that poor emergency medicine services are more disastrous than the disaster itself. But despite the daily violence that is crushing Iraq, the international medical community is doing little more than looking on"

The shortages were graphically highlighted in a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary made by GuardianFilms, and broadcast in February. It revealed that children with diarrhoeal disease were dying of dehydration because hospitals lacked the right sized needles to inject them with fluids.

In Diwaniyah children's hospital, doctors were shown struggling to give drugs by ventilation to a two-day old girl, Zehara, who was born with underdeveloped lungs, because they had the wrong sized plastic mask. Masks costs pennies but, like all other equipment, are in short supply.

Zehara's father was dispatched on to the streets to try to buy Vitamin K on the black market, urgently needed for an injection. But it was too late - by the time he returned, she was dead and her twin brother also passed away shortly afterwards.

In a separate report yesterday, Peter Kandela, an Iraqi doctor who has practised as a GP in Surrey for 30 years, travelled through Jordan and Syria interviewing Iraqi medical staff who had escaped the violence.

"The current Iraqi brain drain is the worst the country has seen in its modern history," he writes

"In the new Iraq there is a price tag linked to your position and status. Those doctors who have stayed in the country know what they are worth in kidnapping terms and ensure their relatives have easy access to the necessary funds to secure their speedy release if they are taken."

He describes a kidney surgeon seized by a group of armed men, despite the presence of security guards who he had hired to protect himself, whose first act was to go through his contacts book for other potential victims. " They had the audacity to suggest that in return for receiving better treatment inn captivity I should recommend others for kidnapping", the surgeon said.

He was released unharmed after a ransom of $250,000 was paid by his wife.

In Baghdad where no one can escape violence, hospitals provided the last refuge. But they are now unsafe and Iraqis are avoiding them. Public hospitals in the city are controlled by Shiia - who have come under suspicion for allowing death squads to enter them to kill Sunnis.

Abu Nasr, the cousin of a man injured in a car bomb who was dragged from his hospital bed and riddled with bullets, told the Washington Post: "We would prefer now to die instead of going to the hospitals. I will never go back to one, never. The hospitals have become killing fields."

Medical notes

34,000 The number of Iraqi physicians registered before the 2003 war.

18,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians who have left since the 2003 invasion.

2,000 The estimated number of Iraqi physicians murdered since 2003.

250 The number of Iraqi physicians kidnapped.

34 The number of reconstructive surgeons in Iraq before the 2003 invasion.

20 The number who have either been murdered of fled. 72 per cent of Iraqis needing reconstructive surgery are suffering from gunshot or blast wounds.

164 The number of nurses murdered - 77 wounded.

$243,000,000 The amount of money set aside by US administration to build 142 private health clinics in post-invastion Iraq.

20 The number of such clinics built by April 2006.

$0 The amount of money left over.

$1bn The amount of money the US administration has spent on Iraq's healthcare system.

$8bn The amount of money needed over the next 4 years to fund the health care system

70 the percentage of deaths among children caused by "easily treatable conditions" such as diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses.

270,000 The number of children born after 2003 who have had no immunisations.

HEALTH INDICATORS:

68 per cent of Iraqis with no access to safe drinking water.

19 per cent of Iraqis with sewerage access.


With Iraqi Doctors Fleeing, Prognosis Is More Agony
JAMES PALMER
Apr 11, 2006
 

"This young patient is in a bad situation," says Mothannd Al-Kuraishi, a physician at the Ibn al-Betar Cardiac Hospital in central Baghdad, as he approaches the infant.

Batul, a 9-month-old girl, lay on a bed last Sunday in the hospital's pediatric ward, her chest heaving with the struggle to inhale oxygen from a mask covering her face. An intravenous drip is taped to her left wrist and a pair of electrodes is plastered to her chest; other tubes, cords and wires swirl around her diminutive body.

Asmara Ali, 30, dabs her daughter's forehead with a cold cloth while her husband and the little girl's father, Amer Abbas, 35, stoically stands beside Batul's bed, stroking her sweat-soaked head.

A monitor above the child displays a nearly flat yellow line. An occasional jump indicates her weak and irregular heartbeat.

The diagnosis is a rare congenital heart defect.

The prognosis is death.

"She probably won't live through the day," Al-Kuraishi, a cardiologist, says softly in English, in consideration of Batul's parents. "An expert surgeon could save her, but we no longer have any here."

Iraqi physicians are fleeing the country in droves because they increasingly are targeted for assassination and kidnapping by insurgents bent on disrupting everything important in the country. The Iraqi Medical Association estimates as many as 12,000 of the 34,000 doctors registered before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 have left the country in the past three years.

The IMA says assailants have murdered at least another 2,000 Iraqi physicians, and kidnapped roughly 250 others during that period.

The doctors are not alone. Iraqi professionals from all fields, including academics, lawyers and businessmen, also are being murdered for political reasons, or kidnapped and held for ransoms by criminal gangs. But the shortage of medical doctors in Iraq, particularly highly trained specialists, is devastating the population, government officials say.

"Iraq was once a leader in cardiology care in the Middle East, but now it seems we're 15 years behind," says Hilal Shawki, a 48-year-old Baghdad cardiologist who heads the scientific committee of the Iraqi Cardiothoracic Society.

The Ibn al-Betar hospital, the primary cardiac center in Iraq, has served more than 80,000 patients since opening in 1993, according to its director, Hussein Al-Hilli.

Today, however, Al-Hilli says the hospital struggles to meet demands.

Al-Hilli says 15 of Ibn al-Betar's most experienced physicians have left Iraq in the past three years. One of the hospital's promising young talents, Halic Nagi, was killed two months ago. So, now, many of Ibn al-Betar's 23 doctors live on the hospital's grounds and rarely leave their compound.

The doctors make about 7.5 million Iraqi dinars per year, roughly $5,100.

Before the 2003 war, surgeons were performing 60 to 80 operations each week, including eight open-heart surgeries. Today, Al-Hilli says the numbers have been cut by half.

Meanwhile, the waiting list for surgery at Ibn al-Betar can run as long as three years, depending upon the patient's status.

"In cardiology, all cases are emergencies," Al-Kuraishi says. "Treating the heart is not like treating a hernia -- it requires immediate attention."  

MORE DELAY

Thamer Al-Obaydi, 38, a Baghdad car salesman whose 17-year-old son was undergoing heart surgery last week at Ibn al-Betar, explains doctors prescribed the operation two years ago, but his son was placed toward the bottom of the waiting list because his condition was relatively stable.  

Al-Obaydi says the operation was further delayed in February after sectarian violence exploded across Iraq after the bombing of a Shi'a shrine in Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Though services are free at Ibn al-Betar, a government-financed hospital, those fortunate enough to receive examinations and treatment often must provide supplies such as intravenously administered saline solution.

"Patients are dying because we don't have the medicine and instruments to assist them," says Al-Kuraishi.

Tahar Abusada, 57, who suffers from angina, lay on his back with a catheter running through his lower abdomen last Sunday inside Ibn al-Betar. After waiting three months for this appointment, Abusada explains he had to purchase the contrast dye necessary to examine his arteries.

Iraqi physicians blame bureaucratic red tape and a simple lack of will for medicine and equipment deficiencies.

Amer Al-Kuzaie, a deputy health minister and physician, says the ministry struggled to fill deficits created during the last regime and looting after the U.S.-led invasion. Al-Kuzaie points to other new problems: medical needs in his country that he describes as being 10 times greater than before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion due to ongoing violence and instability, concerns about illicit spending that slow funding, and physical damage incurred during the invasion.

According to a U.S. army report dated April 14, 2003, 75 percent of al-Betar's structure was destroyed and the remainder damaged beyond repair, while anything of value was looted.

Ibn al-Betar once boasted a 200-bed capacity but now has no more than 60 to offer, forcing doctors to often refer patients to less adequate health facilities. The Iraq Reconstruction and Management Office is spending $750,000 to rebuild the hospital's cardio care unit, currently housed in the former employee cafeteria.  

HOPE ABROAD

Not surprisingly, many of Iraq's top young physicians are leaving the country. Akif Alousi, the IMA's foreign relations officer, says roughly 20 percent of the estimated 2,250 students annually graduating from Iraq's medical schools likely will work abroad.  

"We try to encourage young doctors to stay and work to help build for the future here, but it's hard to get them to see beyond the present," Alousi says.

"We were full of hope after the invasion, but now we feel we've been cheated," says Amjad Majed, a 27-year-old surgical resident in the emergency room of the Medical City Hospital in Baghdad, referring to him and his colleagues.

"Unfortunately, leaving the country is a dream for all of us."

Manaf Yassein, 28, a pediatrician at Medical City, says he hopes to work outside Iraq because he doesn't believe the Iraqi government or U.S. forces can stabilize the country.

"I would stay if it was guaranteed I could help people," says Yassein, a former Iraqi army officer who sustained a bullet wound in his right thigh while defending Baghdad's airport during the 2003 invasion.

Back at the pediatric ward in the Ibn al-Betar Cardiac Hospital, Asmara Ali asks physicians attending to Batul if it's possible to send the girl outside of the country to be treated by a specialist who possibly could prolong her life.

But by Thursday it was too late.

Batul's heart now peacefully rests after a hard-fought battle -- another silent casualty in Iraq's brutal and indiscriminate war.  

EDITOR'S NOTE: Many of the interviews in this story were conducted through a translator. James Palmer is a freelance journalist working in Baghdad. He may be reached at j_palmer@stratosnet.com.

http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/articleid/7098


Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing
GAO Estimates 30% of Arms Are Unaccounted For
 

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 6, 2007

The Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to a new government report, raising fears that some of those weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

The author of the report from the Government Accountability Office says U.S. military officials do not know what happened to 30 percent of the weapons the United States distributed to Iraqi forces from 2004 through early this year as part of an effort to train and equip the troops. The highest previous estimate of unaccounted-for weapons was 14,000, in a report issued last year by the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

The United States has spent $19.2 billion trying to develop Iraqi security forces since 2003, the GAO said, including at least $2.8 billion to buy and deliver equipment. But the GAO said weapons distribution was haphazard and rushed and failed to follow established procedures, particularly from 2004 to 2005, when security training was led by Gen. David H. Petraeus, who now commands all U.S. forces in Iraq.

The Pentagon did not dispute the GAO findings, saying it has launched its own investigation and indicating it is working to improve tracking. Although controls have been tightened since 2005, the inability of the United States to track weapons with tools such as serial numbers makes it nearly impossible for the U.S. military to know whether it is battling an enemy equipped by American taxpayers.

"They really have no idea where they are," said Rachel Stohl, a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information who has studied small-arms trade and received Pentagon briefings on the issue. "It likely means that the United States is unintentionally providing weapons to bad actors."

One senior Pentagon official acknowledged that some of the weapons probably are being used against U.S. forces. He cited the Iraqi brigade created at Fallujah that quickly dissolved in September 2004 and turned its weapons against the Americans.

Stohl said insurgents frequently use small-arms fire to force military convoys to move in a particular direction -- often toward roadside bombs. She noted that the Bush administration frequently complains that Iran and Syria are supplying insurgents but has paid little attention to whether U.S. military errors inadvertently play a role. "We know there is seepage and very little is being done to address the problem," she said.

Stohl noted that U.S. forces, focused on a fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction after Baghdad fell, did not secure massive weapons caches. The failure to track small arms given to Iraqi forces repeats that pattern of neglect, she added.

The GAO is studying the financing and weapons sources of insurgent groups, but that report will not be made public. "All of that information is classified," said Joseph A. Christoff, the GAO's director of international affairs and trade.

In an unusual move, the train-and-equip program for Iraqi forces is being managed by the Pentagon. Normally, the traditional security assistance programs are operated by the State Department, the GAO reported. The Defense Department said this change permitted greater flexibility, but as of last month it was unable to tell the GAO what accountability procedures, if any, apply to arms distributed to Iraqi forces, the report said.

Iraqi security forces were virtually nonexistent in early 2004, and in June of that year Petraeus was brought in to build them up. No central record of distributed equipment was kept for a year and a half, until December 2005, and even now the records are on a spreadsheet that requires three computer screens lined up side by side to view a single row, Christoff said.

The GAO found that the military was consistently unable to collect supporting documents to "confirm when the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, and the Iraqi units receiving the equipment." The agency also said there were "numerous mistakes due to incorrect manual entries" in the records that were maintained.

The GAO reached the estimate of 190,000 missing arms -- 110,000 AK-47s and 80,000 pistols -- by comparing the property records of the Multi-National Security Transition Command for Iraq against records Petraeus maintained of the arms and equipment he had ordered. Petraeus's figures were compared with classified data and other records to ensure that they were accurate enough to compare against the property books.

In all cases, the gaps between the two records were enormous. Petraeus reported that about 185,000 AK-47 rifles, 170,000 pistols, 215,000 pieces of body armor and 140,000 helmets were issued to Iraqi security forces from June 2004 through September 2005. But the property books contained records for 75,000 AK-47 rifles, 90,000 pistols, 80,000 pieces of body armor and 25,000 helmets.

A military commander involved in the program at the time, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the report, acknowledged in an e-mail, "We did issue some items, including weapons, body armor, etc. to new Iraqi units that were literally going into battle."

But, the commander argued, "there was, frankly, not much of a choice early on: We had very little staff and could have held the weapons until every piece of the logistical and property accountability system was in place, or we could issue them, in bulk on some occasions, to the U.S. elements supporting Iraqi units who were needed in the battles of Najaf, Fallujah, Mosul, Samarra, etc."

The GAO plans to look for similar problems in the training of Afghan security forces.

During the Bosnian conflict, the United States provided about $100 million in defense equipment to the Bosnian Federation Army, and the GAO found no problems in accounting for those weapons.

Much of the equipment provided to Iraqi troops, including the AK-47s, originates from countries in the former Soviet bloc. In a report last year, Amnesty International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European security forces in Bosnia.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/05/AR2007080501299_pf.html


U.S. to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media

(03 Oct 2008)

The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to "engage and inspire" the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

The new contracts -- awarded last week to four companies -- will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls "information/psychological operations" in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.

The military's role in the war of ideas has been fundamentally transformed in recent years, the result of both the Pentagon's outsized resources and a counterinsurgency doctrine in which information control is considered key to success. Uniformed communications specialists and contractors are now an integral part of U.S. military operations from Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and beyond.

Iraq, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on such contracts, has been the proving ground for the transformation. "The tools they're using, the means, the robustness of this activity has just skyrocketed since 2003. In the past, a lot of this stuff was just some guy's dreams," said a senior U.S. military official, one of several who discussed the sensitive defense program on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon still sometimes feels it is playing catch-up in a propaganda market dominated by al-Qaeda, whose media operations include sophisticated Web sites and professionally produced videos and audios featuring Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. "We're being out-communicated by a guy in a cave," Secretary Robert M. Gates often remarks.

But Defense Department officials think their own products have become increasingly imaginative and competitive. Military and contractor-produced media campaigns, spotlighting killings by insurgents, "helped in developing attitudes" that led Iraqis to reject al-Qaeda in Iraq over the past two years, an official said. Now that the insurgency is in disarray, he said, the same tools "could potentially be helpful" in diminishing the influence of neighboring Iran.

U.S.-produced public service broadcasts and billboards have touted improvements in government services, promoted political reconciliation, praised the Iraqi military and encouraged Iraqi citizens to report criminal activity. When national euphoria broke out last year after an Iraqi singer won a talent contest in Lebanon, the U.S. military considered producing an Iraqi version of "American Idol" to help build nonsectarian nationalism. The idea was shelved as too expensive, an official said, but "we're trying to think out of the box on" reconciliation.

One official described how part of the program works: "There's a video piece produced by a contractor . . . showing a family being attacked by a group of bad guys, and their daughter being taken off. The message is: You've got to stand up against the enemy." The professionally produced vignette, he said, "is offered for airing on various [television] stations in Iraq. . . . They don't know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything."

"If you asked most Iraqis," he said, "they would say, 'It came from the government, our own government.' "

The Pentagon's solicitation for bids on the contracts noted that media items produced "may or may not be non-attributable to coalition forces." "If they thought we were doing it, it would not be as effective," another official said of the Iraqis. "In the Middle East, they are so afraid they're going to be Westernized . . . that you have to be careful when you're trying to provide information to the population."

The Army's counterinsurgency manual, which Gen. David H. Petraeus co-wrote in 2006, describes information operations in detail, citing them among the "critical" military activities "that do not involve killing insurgents." Petraeus, who became the top U.S. commander in Iraq early last year, led a "surge" in combat troops and information warfare.

Some of the new doctrine emerged from Petraeus's own early experience in Iraq. As commander of the 101st Airborne Division in northern Nineveh province in 2003, he ensured that war-ravaged radio and television stations were brought rapidly back on line. At his urging, the first TV programs included "Nineveh Talent Search" and a radio call-in show hosted by his Arabic interpreter, Sadi Othman, a Palestinian American.

Othman, a former New York cabdriver employed by Reston-based SOS International, remained at Petraeus's side during the general's subsequent Iraq deployments; the company refers to him as a senior adviser to Petraeus.

SOSi has been one of the most prominent communications contractors working in Iraq, winning a two-year $200 million contract in 2006 to "assist in gathering information, conducting analysis and providing timely solutions and advice regarding cultural, religious, political, economic and public perceptions."

"We definitely believe this is a growth area in the DOD," said Julian Setian, SOSi's chief operating officer. "We are seeing more and more requests for professional assistance in media-related strategic communications efforts, specifically in gauging of perceptions in foreign media with regard to U.S. operations."

The four companies that will share in the new contract are SOSi, the Washington-based Lincoln Group, Alexandria-based MPRI and Leonie Industries, a Los Angeles contractor. All specialize in strategic communications and have done previous defense work.

Defense officials maintained that strict rules are enforced against disseminating false information. "Our enemies have the luxury of not having to tell the truth," Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman told a congressional hearing last month. "We pay an extremely high price if we ever even make a slight error in putting out the facts."

Contractors require security clearances, and proof that their teams possess sufficient linguistic abilities and knowledge of Iraqi culture. The Iraqi government has little input on U.S. operations, although U.S. officials say they have encouraged Iraqis to be more aggressive in molding public support.

The Pentagon is sensitive to criticism that it has sometimes blurred the lines between public-affairs activities and unattributed propaganda. As information operations in Iraq expanded, some senior officers warned that they risked a return to psychological and deception operations discredited during the Vietnam War.

In 2006, the Pentagon's inspector general found that media work that the Lincoln Group did in Iraq was improperly supervised but legal. The contractor had prepared news items considered favorable to the U.S. military and paid to place them in the Iraqi media without attribution. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters that his initial reaction to the anonymous pay-to-publish program was "Gee, that's not what we ought to be doing."

On Aug. 21, the day before bids on the new contract were closed, the solicitation was reissued to replace repeated references to information and psychological operations with the term "media services."

Senior military officials said that current media placement is done through Iraqi middlemen and that broadcast time is usually paid. But they said they knew of no recent instance of payment to place unattributed newspaper articles. The officials maintained that news items are now a minor part of the operation, which they said is focused on public service promotions and media monitoring.

But a lengthy list of "deliverables" under the new contract proposal includes "print columns, press statements, press releases, response-to-query, speeches and . . . opinion editorials"; radio broadcasts "in excess of 300 news stories" monthly and 150 each on sports and economic themes; and 30- and 60-minute broadcast documentary and entertainment series.

Contractors will also develop and maintain Web sites; assess news articles in the Iraqi, U.S. and international media; and determine ways to counter coverage deemed negative, according to the contract solicitation the government posted in May. Polls and focus groups will be used to monitor Iraqi attitudes under a separate three-year contract totaling up to $45 million.

While U.S. law prohibits the use of government money to direct propaganda at U.S. audiences, the "statement of work" included in the proposal, written by the U.S. Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, notes the need to "communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, International, and U.S. audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of [U.S. and Iraqi government] core themes and messages."

Lawmakers have often challenged the propriety of the military's information operations, even when they take place outside the United States. The Pentagon itself has frequently lamented the need to undertake duties beyond combat and peacekeeping, and Gates has publicly questioned the "creeping militarization" of tasks civilians traditionally perform.

In 2006, President Bush put the State Department in charge of the administration's worldwide "strategic communications," but the size of the military's efforts dwarf those of the diplomats. State estimates it will spend $5.6 million on public diplomacy in Iraq in fiscal 2008. A provision in the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization Bill has called for a "close examination" of the State and defense communications programs "to better formulate a comprehensive strategy."

Some inside the military itself have questioned the effectiveness of the defense program. "I'm not a huge fan" of information operations, one military official said, adding that Iraqi opinions -- as for most people -- are formed more by what they experience than by what they read in a newspaper, hear on the radio or see on billboards.

"A lot of money is being thrown around," he said, "and I'm not sure it's all paying off as much as we think it is."

By Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus
Washington Post

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/10/03/ST2008100301216.html


 250 Iraqi Oil Officials Killed

23 Jul 2006 09:55 GMT 250 Iraqi Oil Officials, Workers Killed Since US-led War

AMMAN -(Dow Jones)- More than 250 oil ministry officials, workers and oil security have been assassinated since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, an Iraqi oil ministry spokesman said Sunday. "The ministry has lost 100 of its senior officials, engineers, experts and technicians, as well as 150 personnel from its oil protection force," Assem Jihad told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone. He said among the assassinated officials was the head of the fuel distribution company, Hussein al-Fattal, and the deputy of the ministry's inspector general, Zuhair Hadi. He also said two senior oil ministry officials were kidnapped recently. They were Muthanna al-Badri head of the State Company for Oil Projects and Adel Kazaz, head of the North Oil Company. Iraq has also seen the assassination of hundreds of university professors, scientists, teachers and physicians over the last three years. It is not known yet who is behind this assassination campaign.

-By Hassan Hafidh, Dow Jones Newswires; + 962 777 612 111; hafidh8@hotmail.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires 07-23-06 0555ET
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