The State Department has extended a contract with controversial private security firm Blackwater, ABC News has learned. The contract was due to expire this month. Sources say the department has agreed to temporarily continue using the subsidiary known as Presidential Airways to provide helicopter transport for embassy employees around Iraq until a new contract with another security company, Dyncorp International, is fully implemented. Presidential Airways is an arm of U.S. Training Center, which is a subsidiary of the company Xe, formerly and still commonly known as Blackwater.
Dreams that the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime would see the end of torture and killings in Iraq have "all but faded to nothing", according to Amnesty International. More than 1,000 prisoners are still facing the death penalty, the human rights organisation said. The Amnesty said the country's "ramshackle justice system can barely cope with ordinary crimes never mind capital offences".
One of the first women to die in Iraq shot and "killed herself" after objecting to harsh "interrogation techniques.". The true stories of how American troops, killed in Iraq, actually died keep spilling out this week. On Tuesday, we explored the case of Kenny Stanton, Jr., murdered last month by our allies, the Iraqi police, though the military didn't make that known at the time. Now we learn that one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq "died by her own hand" after objecting to interrogation techniques used on prisoners.
She was Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Az., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a "non-hostile weapons discharge."
She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq so her death drew wide press attention. A "non-hostile weapons discharge" leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials "said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian."
An Iraqi journalist jailed after hurling his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be released next month after his sentence was reduced for good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday. Muntadhar al-Zeidi's act during Bush's last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world amid anger over the 2003 invasion.
Uruknet: The U.S. Military in Iraq says two U.S. soldiers have died from wounds suffered in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad. On Thursday, a series of car bombs in and around Baghdad that targeted mainly Iraqi security forces killed one person and wounded at least 11 others.
The US public largely opposes America's foreign wars and economic meddling. They need a voice in US foreign policy. The latest polling data is making this clear once again, as a majority of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, but the Obama administration is escalating the war, and his military commanders may ask for even more troops than the increase to 68,000 that the adminstration is planning by the end of this year.
Specifically, sociologists from four major research institutions investigated why so many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it became obvious that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
"Every American should be forced to read and learn this in order to know what was done in their names." It should be emphasized that yet again, it is not the Congress or the establishment media which is uncovering these abuses and forcing disclosure of government misconduct. Rather, it is the ACLU (with which I consult) that, along with other human rights organizations, has had to fill the void left by those failed institutions, using their own funds to pursue litigation to compel disclosure. Without their efforts, we would know vastly less than we know now about the crimes our government committed.  The 2004 CIA's Inspector General Report (.pdf)
URUKNET: The fatality Sunday was the 37th death of a member of the U.S. military in the Central Asian country since the beginning of August, a month that has seen a jump in attacks and violence as Afghanistan readied for its second-ever direct presidential election on Thursday. Southern Ledger: US military: American soldier killed in Iraq.
CIA officers have threatened detainees with power drills and guns during interrogation to scare them into giving up information, according to a new report. Sources familiar with the report told CNN that an edited version of the inspector-general's report would be made public on Monday. The report would be released following a federal judge's decision to uphold an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Years after the US attacks on Iraq, people in the Persian Gulf state are suffering form the consequences of radioactive contamination caused by the use of depleted uranium. Iraq's Environment Minister, Narmin Othman Hasan, said Monday that depleted Uranium (DU) weapons used by US-led troops against Iraq during the1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion still blight the country. Othman Hasan said the use of super-tough weapons by the US-led forces had a devastating impact on the nation and has become a serious environmental challenge since they have contaminated several parts of the country. Armor-piercing shells made of depleted uranium were first used in warfare by US-led troops during the1991 Persian Gulf War and then during the 2003 invasion, turning many parts of Iraq to radioactive toxic wastelands. Depleted uranium --a radioactive metal twice as dense as lead-- has been blamed for a number of health problems, from cancer to birth defects. DU remains radioactive for about 4.5 billion years.
A memo obtained by SPIEGEL indicates that cooperation between the CIA and private security firm Blackwater was deeper than previously known. SPIEGEL has uncovered further details about a plan to set up squads for targeted killings of suspected al-Qaida leadership in Afghanistan.
Wednesday’s bombings against key government buildings in the centre of Baghdad have dealt a significant blow to the claims of both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the country has been pacified and secured by the US military “surge” in 2007 and 2008.
Zachary FillinghamAt first glance, the truck bombings on Baghdad’s finance and foreign ministries resemble sectarian or Al Qaeda operations, however circumstances surrounding the bombing suggest that this is not the case. High levels of security around the bombing sights, the lack of any claims of responsibility, and the political nature of the targets all suggest that the attacks originated from within the Iraqi political establishment...
In the deadliest attack in Iraq this year, and the most audacious one in the capital for several more, truck and car bombs and mortar fire were directed against the main centres of power. The targets included the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, health and housing, as well as the Parliament and Cabinet buildings. Also hit was a checkpoint on the approach roads to the fortified Green Zone.
We have learned from an NBC News source that six years after the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, there have been no improvements to critical infrastructures in the country, including electricity and water. With NBC News under the firm corporate control of its defense contractor parent, General Electric, do not expect to see Brian Williams cover this story any time soon.
U.S. troops could be forced by Iraqi voters to withdraw a year ahead of schedule under a referendum the Iraqi government backed Monday.
As many as 12 soldiers killed themselves in July, the Army announced today, and the service remains on course to setting a record for suicides in a single year. Of the 12 deaths, eight were active-duty soldiers and four were National Guard or Army Reserve soldiers who were not on active duty at the time of their deaths. All 12 deaths are possible suicides and remain under investigation. Typically, about 90 percent of these investigations are ruled suicides, Army officials have said. The Army reported 140 suicides in 2008 and is on track to surpass that number this year.
US soldiers in Iraq have become the largest group in the country to be infected with the deadly A/H1N1 virus, which is rapidly spreading in Asian countries. Iraqi health officials reported on Wednesday that some 67 American soldiers have been diagnosed with swine flu, adding that 23 Iraqis and six other foreigners have tested positive for the deadly virus.
Ray McGovern: "It's there in black and white - The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy." The advantage of the Downing Street minutes is that it's a documentary piece of evidence of the kind that intelligence analysts or investigative reporters or people really lust after in terms of proving a case, and this does prove a case. You have to think back to 2002. Blair was in Crawford, Texas. He committed himself to do whatever Bush decided with respect to war. And then he got a little bit worried. You know, Bush was on the phone with him every other week or so, and Blair was hearing these braggadocio type things about what we're going to do to Saddam and why, and he wanted to check that out. And what better way to check it out than send his intelligence chief to meet with his opposite number, George Tenet, who at that time was head of the CIA and meeting with Bush six mornings a week with the president's daily brief? What better way than to send Sir Richard Dearlove over the Atlantic to meet with Tenet? Now, Tenet was reluctant to meet with him for obvious reasons, but Blair prevailed upon Bush to make Tenet meet with Dearlove. And once you get Tenet going—he's that big, garrulous fellow who likes to brag about all the secrets he knew—well, he really gave Dearlove an earful. The Downing Street memo Pt 2
Since the revelation earlier this week of allegations by two former employees of security firm Blackwater that its owner was complicit in murder in order to cover up the deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians, explosive charges have continued to emerge. Perhaps the most shocking of those charges — quoted by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Thursday from the employees’ sworn declarations — is that Blackwater was guilty of using child prostitutes at its compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and that owner Erik Prince knew of this activity and did nothing to stop it. The declarations describe Blackwater as “having young girls provide oral sex to Enterprise members in the ‘Blackwater Man Camp’ in exchange for one American dollar.” They add even though Prince frequently visited this camp, he “failed to stop the ongoing use of prostitutes, including child prostitutes, by his men.”
Unless the Dept. of Justice re-invokes their twice-invoked "state secrets privilege" claim in order to once again gag former FBI translator-turned-whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, her attorneys have notified the department by hand-delivered, sworn letter of declaration [PDF] this week, that she intends to give a public deposition, open to the media, in response to a subpoena this Saturday in Washington D.C. Here's what she's ssaid earlier: Bin Laden worked for US till 9/11: Sibel says that the US maintained 'intimate relations' with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, "all the way until that day of September 11." These 'intimate relations' included using Bin Laden for 'operations' in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, China. [...] This process involved using Turkey (with assistance from 'actors from Pakistan, and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia') as a proxy, which in turn used Bin Laden and the Taliban and others as a proxy terrorist army.
A series of allegations including murder, weapons smuggling and the deliberate slaughter of civilians have been levelled against the founder of Blackwater, the security company being investigated for shooting deaths in Iraq. In one of the statements, John Doe 2, who worked for Blackwater for four years, alleged that Mr Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe” and that his companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life”. The affidavits and motion have been posted on the website of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the Iraqi plaintiffs. CCR: Opposition to Motion to Dismiss in Consolidated Cases Against Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, Inc. et al.
The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God. Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.” PakAlertPress: Flashback 2007: Israel Warns World War III May be Biblical War of Gog and Magog: US President George W. Bush said a nuclear Iran would mean World War III. Israeli newscasts featured Gog & Magog maps of the likely alignment of nations in that potential conflict. Channel 2 and Channel 10 TV showed the world map, sketching the basic alignment of the two opposing axes in a coming world war, in a manner evoking associations of the Gog and Magog prophecy for many viewers. The prophecy of Gog and Magog refers to a great world war centered on the Holy Land and Jerusalem and first appears in the book of Yechezkel (Ezekiel). On one side were Israel, the United States, Britain, France and Germany. On the other were Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea. US President Bush said Wednesday during a press conference that Iran attaining nuclear weapons raises the risk of “World War III.”
An unusually blunt memo (concluding) that Iraqi forces suffer from entrenched deficiencies but are now able to protect the Iraqi government and that it is time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home.” As the old saying goes, ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,’” Reese wrote. “Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose.” As usual, committing truth horrified Reese’s superiors. Those (Reese’s) conclusions are not shared by the senior U.S. Commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno . . . A spokeswoman for Odierno said that "the memo did not reflect the official stance of the U.S. military and was not intended for a broad audience." Truth never is. On the situation in Iraq as on everything else, the American people get the mushroom treatment. That is how Brave New World works.
Two men who worked for Blackwater allege in a federal lawsuit that Blackwater founder Erik Prince or his agents murdered one or more people who were planning to provide information to federal authorities about criminal conduct by the company and its operatives in Iraq. In his sworn statement, he says he observed “multiple incidents of Blackwater personnel intentionally using unnecessary, excessive and unjustified deadly force.”
has learned from a knowledgeable contractor who served in Iraq and Afghanistan that a number of large U.S. defense contractors have been involved in questionable deals to land major contracts in countries that made up the “Coalition of the Willing” that invaded and occupied Iraq.
The mainstream media accepted without question the Pentagon's claim that it was beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by pulling out of the cities, but the reality is far different.
Amazingly, reports that Eric Holder is considering commencing an investigation into Bush-era torture crimes has created extreme consternation in multiple Beltway circles despite how narrow and limited those investigations would be. As I wrote last week, numerous reports indicate that Holder wants to replicate the Abu Ghraib travesty by investigating only low-level interrogators who exceeded the torture limits approved by John Yoo and George Bush, and not investigate the high-level policy makers who instituted the criminal torture regime or the DOJ lawyers who authorized it.
Perhaps the worst incident at Abu Ghraib involved a girl aged 12 or 13 who screamed for help to her brother in an upper cell while stripped naked and beaten. Iraqi journalist Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz, who heard the girl's screams, also witnessed an ill 15-year-old who was forced to run up and down with two heavy cans of water and beaten whenever he stopped. When he finally collapsed, guards stripped and poured cold water on him. Finally, a hooded man was brought in. When unhooded, the boy realized that the man was his father, who doubtless was being intimidated into confessing something upon sight of his brutalized son.
Eight people were killed and more than 60 wounded in a spate of bomb attacks in Baghdad and the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Tuesday, security and medical officials said.
Hundreds of people are believed to have sold kidneys and other organs through dealers in the capital, Baghdad, over the last year. Karim Hussein made the long journey from Amara, a province in the south of Iraq, to Baghdad because he was desperate for the $3,000 he would get from the sale of a kidney there.
Zaineb Alani is an Iraqi antiwar activist living in the U.S. In this speech delivered at the July 10-12 conference of the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations, she explains why the so-called "withdrawal" of U.S. forces from Iraq means anything but an end to the occupation.
Has it all come to this? The wars and invasions, the death and destruction, the exile and torture, the resistance and collapse? In a world of shrinking energy reserves, is Iraq finally fated to become what it was going to be anyway, even before the chaos and catastrophe set in: a giant gas pump for an energy-starved planet? Will it all end not with a bang, but with a gusher? The latest oil news out of that country offers at least a hint of Iraq's fate.
A deluge of timed explosive car bombs have assailed Baghdad. The deadliest was an organized orchestrated spate of bombs that targeted 8 churches (not 5 as reported in the media) - 8 houses of God, 7 in Baghdad and 1 in Mosul.
Soldier shouts abuse at Iraqi prisoners in video shown to Baha Mousa inquiry. Source: Press Association Link to this video. A British soldier screamed at hooded Iraqi prisoners, calling them "apes", and others made Iraqis cry out in an "orchestrated choir" and forced one detainee to dance "in the style of Michael Jackson", the public inquiry into the death in military custody of Baha Mousa heard today.
Iraq's U.S.-led invaders inflicted serious damage on Babylon, driving heavy machinery over sacred paths, bulldozing hilltops and digging trenches through one of the world's greatest archaeological sites, experts for UNESCO said Thursday. "The use of Babylon as a military base was a grave encroachment on this internationally known archaeological site," said a report which the U.N. cultural agency presented in Paris. UNESCO officials stressed that the damage didn't begin with the U.S. military's arrival nor fully end after it left. Archaeologists took away some of Babylon's finest treasures in the 19th century, Saddam Hussein embellished the site with his own structures, and looters returned when the Americans handed the site back to the Iraqis 21 months after the March 2003 invasion. BBC: US criticised for damage to Babylon (Video).
On Sunday he declared all troops were out of Iraq’s cities, but today top US commander in Iraq General Raymond Odierno conceded that “a small number” of US troops are still there, and “will remain in cities to train, advise, coordinate with Iraqi security forces, as well as enable them to move forward.”
Two years before the invasion of Iraq, oil executives and foreign policy advisers told the Bush administration that the United States would remain "a prisoner of its energy dilemma" as long as Saddam Hussein was in power. That April 2001 report, "Strategic Policy Challenges for the 21st Century," was prepared by the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy and the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations at the request of then-Vice President Dick Cheney. In retrospect, it appears that the report helped focus administration thinking on why it made geopolitical sense to oust Hussein, whose country sat on the world's second largest oil reserves. "Iraq remains a de-stabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East," the report said.
The corporate media is getting all giddy and affording blanket coverage to the story of Iraqis who are “regaining their sovereignty” as U.S. troops are pulled out from Iraqi cities. This is of course lurid and baseless propaganda - hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq stationed at the dozens of military bases that have been built across the country.
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