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US to pour Billion into middle east over uprisings


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#51 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 03:06 PM

And this folks, is why Obama is nothing more than an extension of the neoconservative agenda of A New American Century. Or Imperialism for the sake of large multi-national corp. and the further distruction of free will.

#52 seany

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:36 AM

FWIW - I applaud your efforts/passion. I was appalled and angry years ago. 9/11 is my birthday and it pissed me off that the government would use that as a BS excuse to continue a failed international policy/empire agenda that led to 9/11 to begin with (sorry - I don't buy the "inside job" theory, but won't rule out complicity). I voted for Nader. I alienated a lot of friends and family telling then that they were ignorant for buying into the 9/11 lies, "terror threats," the Patriot Act, etc. I railed against Bush et al. While not ideal, I voted for Obama in hopes of change - but maybe that change is bigger than any one man. I'll consider voting Paul this year, but I think it is foolish to think that he can make a huge difference even if he were to make it. There needs to be a bottom up revolution and I just don't think the energy is there. Until there is, I'm a little tired of tilting at windmills that others won't acknowledge are there. It doesn't mean I don't care, but I'd prefer to spend my time doing stuff that might make a difference NOW - in other peoples life (i.e. my charity work) and in trying to be more balanced in my own life. I'll continue to pick and support battles, but I have no desire to make it my daily passion anymore. The deck is stacked and there's not enough people that care. I've screamed enough in the past and people won't listen. and then when they think they're listening you end up with a Tea Party that is just another facade. :undecided:

#53 china cat

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:34 AM

the neoconservative agenda of A New American Century


from their website:

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
[indent=1] [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=2]

#54 seany

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 05:46 AM

from their website:

Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:

• we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

• we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

arrogant fucking bastards. i know i'm supposed to love everybody, but i can't love evil.


And, per my post above, this is 1998 news. Yes these assholes still exist and still exert control. But I was all uppity over this stuff back in 1999 and 2001 and 2003 and 2005 and 2007.... Nobody listened.

Sorry - after a decade of tilting at obvious bogeymen that could be taken down if anyone gave a shit, I've given up and move on to things that I can directly control. Last year I raised money to build a bathroom in Mexico for a school of 90 kids that had no running water or bathroom facility - they had to shit in buckets. Their lives are better for that effort. This year I'm working on a clean water benefit for Haiti, among other things.

So, my question is: is your time better spent debating 9/11 conspiracies and the failings of our government, or doing direct charity work that might actually help somebody? Think about it...

#55 china cat

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 08:27 AM

So, my question is: is your time better spent debating 9/11 conspiracies and the failings of our government, or doing direct charity work that might actually help somebody? Think about it...


So, my question is: will you post that same question in every other thread of less importance on the GOTV board: "is your time better spent ______ or doing charity work that might actually help somebody?"


And I respectfully disagree with your post, sean. education is important. how did you or i or dave or anyone else learn about the project fora new american century? by educating ourselves, by first hearing it from someone else? people can't do anything if they're not aware of the issues. and most people aren't aware of these issues. if more people knew, more would have the knowledge to do something about it (and don't down play the "sleeper-effect" -- planting a seed has value). i introduced my brother to some questions about the govt--he's now an activist, i am teaching my daughter about our food supply--she posts things on her fb to her friends. she also started a group on facebook sharing a documentary about alternative nutritional cures for cancer- now with 120 members. we educate one person at a time.


I understand the point of your post, I really do but it comes off a bit like the activist working to feed starving children who chastises the activist working on a political campaign(children on their deathbeds are more important than elections). There is so much to do: environment, animal rights, foster children, child abuse, sex trafficking, starvation, global genocide, trade policies, our food supply, education, calling attention to govt. wrong doing... all/any of this starts with awareness. and we need people to care about and take up all of these issues. I just today watched a documentary about a man who travels the country asking people to stop shopping - his life's work is to reduce consumption across america. and he does that while women are beaten, children are homeless, drug addicts die.... would his time be better spent feeding and finding homes for kids? i don't know but his message had an impact on me, and i'll be sharing it with 25 students in the fall....

don't down play someone else's effort--someone who is trying to inform (in order to make change) in his or her own way. Instead of spending his time here posting farting jokes, or who should have won top chef masters, or celebrity nonsense, or posting who she's going to make-out with at strange creek :shocked:, he's trying to inform about an issue that matters to him, an issue he wants to also matter to us. And maybe he is doing other things in his community? you don't know. people can do multiple things. look at what you are doing and still find time to post here.

and, in reality, it's probably safe to say each of us could better use our time serving others rather than posting anything we post here. anyone watching jersey shore could be using that time to write a letter to his/her representative, anyone who goes to music fests for a weekend could be using that time working in a homeless shelter....

#56 china cat

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 08:35 AM

And, per my post above, this is 1998 news. Yes these assholes still exist and still exert control. But I was all uppity over this stuff back in 1999 and 2001 and 2003 and 2005 and 2007.... Nobody listened.

Sorry - after a decade of tilting at obvious bogeymen that could be taken down if anyone gave a shit, I've given up


say nothing about them anymore thus ensure nobody will ever give a shit. be glad dave has taken up the torch when you grew tired and moved on to other issues. :rose:

#57 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:29 PM

CC has it. The most important step in producing real change is education. Once people are educated about these issues, it becomes easier to mobilize them into helping be the change. I choose to spread the word about the underlying problem within our govt. for a reason. All of the other items on the list; homeless, starving, uneducated, violence, child abuse, etc..etc.. are all products of our environment. That environment is imposed by this large, corporate government that WE fund to carry out these evil acts in the name of good and democracy. If we can stop that, think of all the funds/energy available to cure these other symptoms.

Getting to the root cause has to be priority number 1.

Would the people of the United States backed its governments call to war in Iraq if they knew that we secretly sold Saddam Hussein the weaponry he used against his own people and to invade Kuwait? Who profited from propping this man up and then beating hiim down when he stepped on "their" toes? Why weren't we told the truth about operation dessert storm?

Would the people have backed a war in Iraq in 2003 if they knew there were no WMDs AND that any old weapons depots that existed were depots of weapons sold to Saddam by Bush Sr.'s White House?
So much money goes into all of this and whos getting the pay off?

It certainly isnt the estimated 1.5 million killed in Iraq since 2003. Or the god only knows how many killed since the dessert storm operation and the 10 years of sanctions that murdered men, women and children alike throughout that time frame.

If this type of thing doesn't matter, then nothing does.

#58 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:42 PM

FWIW - I applaud your efforts/passion. I was appalled and angry years ago. 9/11 is my birthday and it pissed me off that the government would use that as a BS excuse to continue a failed international policy/empire agenda that led to 9/11 to begin with (sorry - I don't buy the "inside job" theory, but won't rule out complicity). I voted for Nader. I alienated a lot of friends and family telling then that they were ignorant for buying into the 9/11 lies, "terror threats," the Patriot Act, etc. I railed against Bush et al. While not ideal, I voted for Obama in hopes of change - but maybe that change is bigger than any one man. I'll consider voting Paul this year, but I think it is foolish to think that he can make a huge difference even if he were to make it. There needs to be a bottom up revolution and I just don't think the energy is there. Until there is, I'm a little tired of tilting at windmills that others won't acknowledge are there. It doesn't mean I don't care, but I'd prefer to spend my time doing stuff that might make a difference NOW - in other peoples life (i.e. my charity work) and in trying to be more balanced in my own life. I'll continue to pick and support battles, but I have no desire to make it my daily passion anymore. The deck is stacked and there's not enough people that care. I've screamed enough in the past and people won't listen. and then when they think they're listening you end up with a Tea Party that is just another facade. :undecided:


The whole campaign for Obama wasn't a call to ACTION on behalf of the public. it was another rues. Sit around and "hope for change". I made sooo much fun of that slogan when it came and people bought it up like 99 cent 1,000 ct glow stick bags. You're right. The change is going to come from a collective ALL hands on deck action. Not one man to come in and save the day. That's a fallacy in and of itself.

Your efforts are commendable, seany. I would never suggest that how you spend your time and energy in charity is in vain. Ever. It is important work that must be done and it takes a big heart and a lot of courage to get your hands in the mud.

You're also welcome to your own belief about 9/11. I only instigate that people realize the official story is a lie. If it wasn't, why would NIST have to concoct fraudulent science to explain building 7? What of all the other anomalies I point out in that other thread? This is to only draw the conclusion that the official story is a lie. Obviously sitting around drawing up theories is a time waster. One I dont bother myself with. They lied. End of story.

What are the implications of the lie? If they lied about what happened, doesn't that make the war in Afghanistan also a lie? I mean, building off from a lie is really just more lies, is it not?

#59 Joker

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:23 PM

http://www.reachingt...om/pnacosp.html

http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

http://thinkprogress...e-are-they-now/

Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Wurmser, et al. one just needs to connect the dots

Of course doing so can get you into a lot of hot water around these parts so tread lightly

#60 seany

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:27 PM

I pretty much know that the government tells us big lies all the time and has since before I was born, if not since it's inception. Ever think we're going to see the Kennedy files in our lifetime?

Given the choices, I still think Obama was a much better pick than McCain. It may be window dressing overall, but at least it hasn't been a total loss on some social issue...

The war in Afghanistan has always been about have a closer presence to Pakistan to potentially deal with a radical uprising there. That and a natural gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to India. And maybe an airbase to hit Iran from if the Saudi's ever lose control and kick us out. Of course, our presence there makes the potential for an uprising in Pakistan all that much greater. I've said all this since '01 before we went in. There is little strategic interest in trying to fix Afghanistan as they have little to offer except poppy fields for the CIA (but we could have those anyway). It's what's around Afghanistan that's important.

#61 seany

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:29 PM

http://www.reachingt...om/pnacosp.html

http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

http://thinkprogress...e-are-they-now/

Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Wurmser, et al. one just needs to connect the dots

Of course doing so can get you into a lot of hot water around these parts so tread lightly



Yup, but again, this news is 10 years old. Who are we really preaching to anymore?

#62 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:51 PM

Yup, but again, this news is 10 years old. Who are we really preaching to anymore?


Here on this board? To the people that are still cheering for Obama like he's actually done anything noteworthy. To the people who still take everything they are told by the government at face value. To the people who have that twitch in the back of their mind and know something is off, but not sure where to look. To the people who care deeply about where humanity is headed. To the people who might have the courage to actually view, read, investigate the information and change their mind about what they believe to be the truth.

#63 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:53 PM

Silent consent isn't going to make it go away. It's simply just silent consent.

#64 Joker

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:04 PM

I pretty much know that the government tells us big lies all the time and has since before I was born, if not since it's inception. Ever think we're going to see the Kennedy files in our lifetime?

Given the choices, I still think Obama was a much better pick than McCain. It may be window dressing overall, but at least it hasn't been a total loss on some social issue...


Unfortunately as long as people will accept swallowing the little pile of shit rather than the big pile, the machine will just keep rolling on.

It's either keep preaching and hope somebody hears or give up, bend over and gratefully accept what they're giving us.

Personally I'd be a hell of a lot more pissed off about this type of thing if I had children/grandchildren of my own who would someday have to deal with the future we're leaving them.

#65 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:09 PM

i know this because just like you, seany, I was screaming this very stuff a decade ago and no one was listening. I gave up on it. Figuring people really just dont fucking care. Disconnect somewhere. I'm re-arming myself with information to present and spread the word before it really is too late altogether.

Call my effort whatever you want, but it's more effort than doing nothing at all. I also continuously sign petitions involving environmental issues, social/political issues and spread knowledge too. If my efforts aren't worthy to you of the time taken, that's your business to believe. But please try and add to the discussions presented, much like you have here, rather than calling the effort itself into question. :rose:

#66 seany

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:14 PM

say nothing about them anymore thus ensure nobody will ever give a shit. be glad dave has taken up the torch when you grew tired and moved on to other issues. :rose:


I agree :rose:

CC has it. The most important step in producing real change is education. Once people are educated about these issues, it becomes easier to mobilize them into helping be the change. I choose to spread the word about the underlying problem within our govt. for a reason. All of the other items on the list; homeless, starving, uneducated, violence, child abuse, etc..etc.. are all products of our environment. That environment is imposed by this large, corporate government that WE fund to carry out these evil acts in the name of good and democracy. If we can stop that, think of all the funds/energy available to cure these other symptoms.

Getting to the root cause has to be priority number 1.

Would the people of the United States backed its governments call to war in Iraq if they knew that we secretly sold Saddam Hussein the weaponry he used against his own people and to invade Kuwait? Who profited from propping this man up and then beating hiim down when he stepped on "their" toes? Why weren't we told the truth about operation dessert storm?

Would the people have backed a war in Iraq in 2003 if they knew there were no WMDs AND that any old weapons depots that existed were depots of weapons sold to Saddam by Bush Sr.'s White House?
So much money goes into all of this and whos getting the pay off?

It certainly isnt the estimated 1.5 million killed in Iraq since 2003. Or the god only knows how many killed since the dessert storm operation and the 10 years of sanctions that murdered men, women and children alike throughout that time frame.

If this type of thing doesn't matter, then nothing does.


Again - I agree :rose:

I screamed this stuff from the rooftops a decade ago and it only served to make me the black sheep of the family. It fell on deaf ears. Everybody just bought into the lies and ignored the facts that were easily accessible to them, if they cared. But, it wasn't in total vain. Years later most of my family has come around and said, "you were right - it was all BS." But, still, they've bought into the most recent round of lies about the economy, deficits, healthcare, terror, etc. and are willing to buy into more and more of their "rights" eroded.

I do applaud what you're doing, TASB (and others), even if I'm a cynic and critic at times. My biggest problem/advice is to stick to bigger issues that you can sway opinion on. 9/11 just isn't going to be one of them. It's the Kennedy assassinations of our time only on a much more fantastic scale. We'll never know the truth in our lifetimes, if there is even a truth to be had. If you tilt at windmills like that all of the time, people tend to ignore some of the other good information that you're spreading. It's like the "legalize it" lobby. For years you just had stoners front and center talking about it. Not that that is a bad thing, but it was hard for people to take a serious look at it until they saw "more serious" people talking about the medical benefits and the extraordinary cost on society of our war on drugs. I want you to succeed in your message and not be seen as a "conspiracy" guy.
Despite Dr. Wood's credentials (and maybe her book is great, I'd be interested in borrowing it), I can't take that stuff seriously because her website has so many obvious holes in it that raise red flags with me right away (e.g. basic misunderstanding of fire + water = massive rust, steaming dirt...). One doesn't need a Ph.D. in engineering to understand these concepts and discredit that "evidence." The fact that she has one and would put that stuff up there is extremely troublesome for me - as an academic, she should know better.

Anyway - keep up the good fight. Some will listen, even if it takes years to acknowledge it. I do listen and I don't claim to have answers for things I can't explain. But I will be the skeptic and push you to do better :wink:

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#67 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:29 PM

People are going to believe what they want to believe, seany. A success for someone to investigate the material i present isn't a success for me and I dont view it that way. It is a success for truth, righteousness and humanity.

I'm willing to be the conspiracy guy. I've said it before too; I don't buy into everything Judy Wood says, or anyone else. I take the items of significance and the rest goes to the "not noteworthy" bin. Much like any investigation. My thread on 9/11, you'll notice, only brings up the most apparent and easy to understand anomaly. Because again, the idea is to get people to look at the information and question the official story. I think that is sufficient for its intent. Drawing a "Bush did it in the kitchen with the garden hoes" type theory is completely irrelevant.

#68 vic

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:33 PM

I screamed this stuff from the rooftops a decade ago and it only served to make me the black sheep of the family. It fell on deaf ears. Everybody just bought into the lies and ignored the facts that were easily accessible to them, if they cared. But, it wasn't in total vain. Years later most of my family has come around and said, "you were right - it was all BS." But, still, they've bought into the most recent round of lies about the economy, deficits, healthcare, terror, etc. and are willing to buy into more and more of their "rights" eroded.


same here seany...the screaming matches when visiting my parents for dinner are uncanny at times:lol:

but fortunately i've at least swayed my cousin, who used to be a stubborn bush supporter who i just knew was smarter than that, eventually did a complete about face and finds a lot more time than i can to do research and be vocal about all the bullshit going on...just convincing one person to see things a different way is enough to keep going

though bothering to use this message board as one of the places to do that is becoming far less worth it, so i haven't much lately

#69 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 01:13 PM

http://www.brussells...berts050311.htm

WikiLeaks analysis suggests hundreds of thousands of unrecorded Iraqi deaths
Les Roberts, 05 March 2011

http://www.brussells...ort_march_5.pdf

Imagine that the New York Times revealed that five Senators were known to be taking bribes from a particular corporation. Some days later the Washington Post runs a story saying they had independent sources suggesting that four Senators were taking bribes from that same corporation but goes on to state that this was nothing new as the story was already covered, neglecting to mention that three of the four names were different than those previously reported by the Times. This is hard to imagine because eight named Senators in a scandal is not the same as five named Senators, and because healthy competition between papers would tend to point out the information missed by a rival. Yet, this is, at least numerically, what happened following the October 22nd, 2010 release of the Iraq War Logs by WikiLeaks.

The release which supposedly included over 391,000 classified DoD reports described violent events after 2003 including 109,000 deaths, the majority (66,000) being Iraqi civilians. At the time of the release, the most commonly cited figure for civilian casualties came from Iraqbodycount.org (IBC), a group based in England that compiles press and other descriptions of killings in Iraq. In late October, IBC estimated the civilian war death tally to be about 104,000. Virtually all authorities, including IBC themselves, acknowledge that this count must be incomplete, although the fraction missed is debated. The press coverage of the Iraq War Logs release tended to focus on the crude consistency between the number recorded by WikiLeaks, 66,000 since the start of 2004, and the roughly 104,000 recorded deaths from Iraqbodycount since March of 2003. The Washington Post even ran an editorial entitled, “WikiLeaks’s leaks mostly confirm earlier Iraq reporting” concluding that the Iraq War Log reports revealed nothing new.

A research team from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health released a report this week analyzing the amount of overlap between the 66,000 WikiLeaks reports and the previously known listing of IBC. The team developed a system for grading the likelihood that the WikiLeaks War Log record matched an entry in IBC, scoring the match between 0 (not a match) to 3 (very likely a match). The matching records were graded by at least two reviewers and then a third reviewer arbitrated any discrepancies. The conclusion? Only 19% of the WikiLeaks reports of civilian deaths had been previously recorded by IBC. With so little overlap between the two lists, it is almost certain that both tallies combined are missing the majority of civilian deaths, suggesting many hundreds of thousands have died.

On some level, not noticing that the WikiLeaks list of 66,000 deaths were different events than those previously recorded by IBC is somewhat understandable. Reporters have precious few hours to read, assess, reach out to experts, and then produce copy on the topic of the day. It takes several minutes to review a particular War Log and then go to the public database on Iraqbodycount.org and see if on that specific day there was an event that seems to match the War Log description. In fact, many papers ran an AP wire article on the WikiLeaks release so it is likely very few reporters actually looked at the Iraq War Logs.

On the other hand, WikiLeaks gave these records in advance to five papers including the New York Times and it took the Columbia University team just minutes to realize that for most events reported outside of Baghdad (where matching takes more work) there were no reported killings in a particular city or province on that day within IBC’s database.

This is not the first time this topic has been inadequately covered by the US press. A study I coauthored in The Lancet in estimating 100,000 excess deaths by September of 2004 (an estimate confirmed three times since then) received extraordinary press coverage almost everywhere in the world, but almost none within the US. Project Censored cited the topic of Iraqi civilian deaths as the second most under-reported topic of 2004. A survey by researchers from Johns Hopkins University suggested there had been 600,000 deaths due to the invasion by mid-2006. A poll by the Opinion Research Business in late 2007 put the tally over 1 million. Both estimates were viciously attacked by critics, largely supported by experts in their respective disciplines, but consistently labeled as “controversial” by the press.

The implications of the WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs for the US standing in the Middle-East are profound. The only public estimate of the Iraqi death toll ever provided by the US was President Bush’s response at a public forum in December of 2005 in which he said, "I would say 30,000 more or less have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," with the Whitehouse spokesmen later attributing this estimate to media accounts. This number matched the IBC estimate at that time. WikiLeaks’ War Logs suggest the US had information to know that this estimate was only a small fraction of the reality.

Les Roberts is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Just to back track and put value to the assertion of the amount of Iraqi civilians killed during the 2003- present occupation of Iraq.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

i tried to embed the "ticker", but it failed. Click the link above to view the estimated total cost of death int he iraq invasion/occupation.

It states just under 1.5 million

#70 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 12:37 PM

http://www.cnn.com/2...oldiers.killed/

5 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, military says

Baghdad (CNN) -- Five U.S. servicemembers were killed Monday in central Iraq, the U.S. military said in a written statement.

The deaths are the single largest loss of life among U.S. troops in Iraq since 2009, and they come as Iraq debates whether to request U.S. troops stay beyond a January 1, 2012, deadline that requires 46,000 American forces out of the country.

The U.S. military did not say how or where the five died.

But two Iraqi security officials told CNN Monday that the servicemembers were killed during an early morning mortar attack at a U.S. military base in southeastern Baghdad.

Five servicemembers also were wounded in the attack, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The two officials said some of those killed and wounded were sleeping in trailers when the base was attacked.

U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Anishka J. Calder, a spokeswoman in Baghdad, declined to comment on details surrounding the deaths.

The names of the servicemembers were being withheld pending notification of next of kin, the military said in the statement.

The deaths follow warnings by the U.S. military that attacks against American troops in Iraq by armed militias are on the rise, an attempt to demonstrate their power ahead of an anticipated U.S. withdrawal at the end of the year.

U.S. troops have increasingly been targeted by roadside bombings and mortar attacks, largely in Baghdad and southern Iraq, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, spokesman for U.S. Forces-Iraq, recently told CNN.

While al Qaeda in Iraq -- predominantly Iraqi Sunni insurgents -- continue to launch strikes, Buchanan has said the militia attacks against the U.S. are "designed for power and they want to claim credit for our redeploying, for us leaving."

#71 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 02:52 PM

http://aep.typepad.c...style.html#more

June 07, 2011
Occupying Iraq, State Department-Style
A Frat House With Guns in Baghdad
By Peter Van Buren

Way out on the edge of Forward Operations Base Hammer, where I lived for much of my year in Iraq as a Provincial Reconstruction Team leader for the U.S. Department of State, there were several small hills, lumps of raised dirt on the otherwise frying-pan-flat desert. These were “tells,” ancient garbage dumps and fallen buildings.

Thousands of years ago, people in the region used sun-dried bricks to build homes and walls. Those bricks had a lifespan of about 20 years before they began to crumble, at which point locals just built anew atop the old foundation. Do that for a while, and soon enough your buildings are sitting on a small hill.

At night, the tell area was very dark, as we avoided artificial light in order not to give passing insurgents easy targets. In that darkness, you could imagine the earliest inhabitants of what was now our base looking at the night sky and be reminded that we were not the first to move into Iraq from afar. It was also a promise across time that someday someone would undoubtedly sit atop our own ruins and wonder whatever happened to the Americans.


From that ancient debris field, recall the almost forgotten run-up to the American invasion, the now-ridiculous threats about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, Secretary of State Colin Powell lying away his own and America’s prestige at the U.N., those "Mission-Accomplished" days when the Marines tore down Saddam’s statue and conquered Baghdad, the darker times as civil society imploded and Iraq devolved into civil war, the endless rounds of purple fingers for stage-managed elections that meant little, the Surge and the ugly stalemate that followed, fading to gray as President George W. Bush negotiated a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011 and the seeming end of his dreams of a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.

Now, with less than seven months left until that withdrawal moment, Washington debates whether to honor the agreement, or -- if only we can get the Iraqi government to ask us to stay -- to leave a decent-sized contingent of soldiers occupying some of the massive bases the Pentagon built hoping for permanent occupancy.

To the extent that any attention is paid to Iraq here in Snooki’s America, the debate over whether eight years of war entitles the U.S. military to some kind of Iraqi squatter's rights is the story that will undoubtedly get most of the press in the coming months.

How This Won’t End

Even if the troops do finally leave, the question is: Will that actually bring the U.S. occupation of Iraq to a close? During the invasion of 2003, a younger David Petraeus famously asked a reporter: “Tell me how this ends.”

Dave, it may not actually end. After all, as of October 1, 2011, full responsibility for the U.S. presence in Iraq will officially be transferred from the military to the Department of State. In other words, as Washington imagines it, the occupation won't really end at all, even if the landlords are switched.

And the State Department hasn’t exactly been thinking small when it comes to its future “footprint” on Iraqi soil. The U.S. mission in Baghdad remains the world’s largest embassy, built on a tract of land about the size of the Vatican and visible from space. It cost just $736 million to build -- or was it $1 billion, depending on how you count the post-construction upgrades and fixes?

In its post-“withdrawal” plans, the State Department expects to have 17,000 personnel in Iraq at some 15 sites. If those plans go as expected, 5,500 of them will be mercenaries, hired to shoot-to-kill Iraqis as needed, to maintain security. Of the remaining 11,500, most will be in support roles of one sort or another, with only a couple of hundred in traditional diplomatic jobs. This is not unusual in wartime situations. The military, for example, typically fields about seven support soldiers for every “shooter.” In other words, the occupation run by a heavily militarized State Department will simply continue in a new, truncated form -- unless Congress refuses to pay for it.

It would better serve America’s interests to have an embassy sized to the message we now need to send to the Middle East, and it shouldn’t be one of boastful conquest.

A Place to Call Home

After initially setting up shop in a selection of Saddam Hussein’s Disneyesque palaces (in one of the dumbest PR moves of all time), plans were made to build an embassy worthy of the over-the-top optimism and bravado that characterized the invasion itself. Though officially photos of the inside of the Embassy compound are not allowed for “security” reasons, a quick Google search under "US Embassy Baghdad turns up plenty, including some of the early architectural renderings of the future gargantuan compound. (Historical minifact: back in 2007, TomDispatch first broke the story that the architect’s version of the embassy’s secret interior was displayed all pink and naked online.)

The blind optimism of that moment was best embodied in the international school building stuck in one corner of the embassy compound. Though a fierce civil-war-cum-insurgency was then raging in Iraq, the idea was that, soon enough, diplomatic families would be assigned to Baghdad, just as they were to Paris or Seoul, and naturally the kids would need a school. It may seem silly now, but few doubted it then.

Apartments were built, each with a full set of the usual American appliances, including dishwashers, in expectation that those families would be shopping for food at a near-future Sadr City Safeway and that diplo-tots Timmy and Sally would need their dinners after a long day at school. Wide walkways, shaded by trees and dotted with stone benches -- ultimately never implemented -- were part of the overall design for success, and in memory now serve as comic rim-shots for our past hubris.

In la-la land they may have been, but even the embassy planners couldn’t help but leave some room for the creeping realities of an Iraq in chaos. The compound would purify its own water, generate its own power, and process its own sewage, ensuring that it could outlast any siege and, at the same time, getting the U.S. off the hook for repairing such basic services in Baghdad proper.

High walls went up rimmed with razor wire, and an ever-more complex set of gates and security checkpoints kept creeping into the design. Eventually, the architects just gave up, built a cafeteria, filled the school building with work cubicles, and installed inches-thick bulletproof glass on every window. The embassy’s housing for 4,000 is, at present, packed, while the electrical generators run at capacity 24/7. They need to be upgraded and new units added very soon simply to keep the lights on.

And now, the embassy staff in Baghdad is about to double. One plan to accommodate extra personnel involves hot-bunking -- sharing beds on day-and-night shifts as happens on submarines.

The embassy will also soon need a hospital on its grounds, if the U.S. Army truly departs and takes its facilities with it. Iraqi medical care is considered too substandard and Iraqi hospitals too dangerous for use by white folks.

You and Whose Army?

A fortress needs guards, and an occupier needs shock troops. The State Department's army will be divided into two parts: those who guard fixed facilities like the embassy and those who protect diplomats as they scurry about trying to corral the mad Iraqis running the country.

For static security, a company named SOC will guard the embassy facilities for up to $973 million over five years. That deflowered old warhorse Blackwater (now Xe), under yet another dummy corporate name, will also get a piece of action, and of the money pie.

SOC will undoubtedly follow the current security company’s lead and employ almost exclusively Ugandans and Peruvians transported to Iraq for that purpose. For the same reasons Mexicans cut American lawns and Hondurans clean American hotel rooms, embassy guards come from poverty-stricken countries and get paid accordingly -- about $600 a month. Their U.S. supervisors, on the other hand, pull down $20,000 of your tax dollars monthly. Many of the Ugandan and Peruvian guards got their jobs through nasty intermediaries (“pimps,” “slavers”), who take back most of their meager salaries to repay “recruitment costs,” leaving many guards as little more than indentured servants.

Long-time merc group Triple Canopy will provide protection outside the embassy fortress, reputedly for $1.5 billion over a five-year span. The overall goal is for State to have its own private army in Iraq: those 5,500 hired guns, almost two full brigades worth of them. The Army guards Fort Knox with fewer soldiers; my Forward Operating Base made due with less then 400 troops and I slept comfortably.

The past mayhem caused by contracted security is well known, with massacres in public squares, drunken murders in the Green Zone, and the like. Think of the mercs as what the Army might be like without its NCOs and officers: a frat house with guns.

Most of them are Americans, though with a few exotic Brits and shady South Africans thrown in. They love 5.11 clothing and favor fingerless leather gloves. Think biker gang or Insane Clown Posse fan boys.

Popular is a clean-shaven head, no moustache but a spiky goatee teased straight out. You know the look from late-night convenience store beer runs. They walk around like Yosemite Sam, arms out as if their very biceps prevented them from standing straight. They’re bullies of course, flirting inappropriately with women and posturing around men. Count on them to wear the most expensive Oakley sunglasses and the most unnecessary gear (gold man-bracelets, tactical hair gel). Think: Jersey Shore rejects.

Aggressive tattoos on all exposed skin seem a prerequisite for membership in Club Merc, especially wavy inked patterns around the biceps and on the neck. They all let on that they were once SEALS, Green Berets, SAS, or Legion of Doom members, but of course they “can’t talk about it.” They’re not likely to disclose last names and tend to go by nicknames like Bulldog, Spider, Red Bull, Wolverine, or Smitty.

If arrogance was contagious they’d all be sneezing. All Aryan, all dudely, and now all that stands between those thousands of State Department personnel and Iraq. Oh yes: the seersuckered and bow-tied diplomats are supposed to supervise the mercs and keep them on the right diplomatic path, kind of like expecting the chess club to run herd on the football team.

Air America

With the U.S Army departing in whole or in part by year’s end, most of the array of Army air assets State used will need to be replaced. A recently released State Department Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) “Report on Department of State Planning for the Transition to a Civilian-led Mission in Iraq Performance Evaluation” explains that our diplomats will, in the future, have their own little Air America in Iraq, a fleet of 46 aircraft, including:

* 20 medium lift S-61 helicopters (essentially Black Hawks, possibly armed)

* 18 light lift UH-1N helicopters (new models of ‘Nam era Hueys, possibly armed)

* Three light observation MD-530 helicopters (Little Birds, armed, for quick response strike teams… er, um, observation duties)

* Five Dash 8 fixed-wing aircraft (50-passenger capacity to move personnel into the “theater” from Jordan)

The OIG report also notes that State will need to construct landing zones, maintenance hangars, operation buildings, and air traffic control towers, along with an independent aviation logistics system for maintenance and fueling. And yes, the diplomats are supposed to supervise this, too, the goal being to prevent an Iraqi from being gunned down from an attack helo with diplomatic license plates. What could go wrong?

How Much?

At this point, has cost started to cross your mind? Well, some 74% of embassy Baghdad’s operating costs will be going to “security.” State requested $2.7 billion from Congress for its Iraq operations in FY 2011, but got only $2.3 billion from a budget-minded Capitol Hill. Facing the possibility of being all alone in a dangerous universe in FY 2012, the Department has requested $6.3 billion for Iraq. Congress has yet to decide what to do. To put these figures in perspective, the State Department total operating budget for this year is only about $14 billion (the cost of running the place, absent the foreign aid money), so $6.3 billion for one more year in Iraq is a genuine chunk of change.

How Does It End?

Which only leaves the question of why.

Pick your forum -- TomDispatch readers at a kegger, Fox news pundits following the Palin bus, high school students preparing to take SATs, unemployed factory workers in a food-stamp line -- and ask if any group of Americans (not living in official Washington) would conclude that Iraq was our most important foreign policy priority, and so deserving of our largest embassy with the largest staff and largest budget on the planet.

Does Iraq threaten U.S. security? Does it control a resource we demand? (Yes, it’s got lots of oil underground, but produces remarkably little of the stuff.) Is Iraq enmeshed in some international coalition we need to butter up? Any evil dictators or WMDs around? Does Iraq hold trillions in U.S. debt? Anything? Anyone? Bueller?

Eight disastrous years after we invaded, it is sad but altogether true that Iraq does not matter much in the end. It is a terrible thing that we poured 4,459 American lives and trillions of dollars into the war, and without irony oversaw the deaths of at least a hundred thousand, and probably hundreds of thousands, of Iraqis in the name of freedom. Yet we are left with only one argument for transferring our occupation duties from the Department of Defense to the Department of State: something vague about our “investment in blood and treasure.”

Think of this as the Vegas model of foreign policy: keep the suckers at the table throwing good money after bad. Leaving aside the idea that “blood and treasure” sounds like a line from Pirates of the Caribbean, one must ask: What accomplishment are we protecting?

The war’s initial aim was to stop those weapons of mass destruction from being used against us. There were none, so check that off the list. Then it was to get rid of Saddam. He was hanged in 2006, so cross off that one. A little late in the game we became preoccupied with ensuring an Iraq that was “free.” And we’ve had a bunch of elections and there is a government of sorts in place to prove it, so that one’s gotta go, too.

What follows won’t be “investment,” just more waste. The occupation of Iraq, centered around that engorged embassy, is now the equivalent of a self-licking ice cream cone, useful only to itself.

Changing the occupying force from an exhausted U.S. Army that labored away for years at a low-grade version of diplomacy (drinking endless cups of Iraqi tea) to a newly militarized Department of State will not free us from the cul-de-sac we find ourselves in. While nothing will erase the stain of the invasion, were we to really leave when we promised to leave, the U.S. might have a passing shot at launching a new narrative in a Middle East already on edge over the Arab Spring.

Embassies are, at the end of the day, symbols. Sustaining our massive one in Iraq, with its ever-lengthening logistics and security train, simply emphasizes our failure there and our stubborn inability to admit that we were wrong. When a country becomes too dangerous for diplomacy, like Libya, we temporarily close our embassy. When a country becomes dangerous, but U.S. interests are still at stake, as in Yemen, we withdraw all but essential personnel. Similarly, in Baghdad, what’s needed is a modest-sized embassy staffed not by thousands but by scores -- that is, only the limited number of people necessary to make the point that it is no longer an extension of a failed occupation.

Nothing can change the past in the Middle East, but withdrawing the troops on schedule and downsizing our embassy radically to emphasize that we are no longer in the business of claiming more space for the American empire might very well help change the future.

Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), will be published this September and can be preordered by clicking here. To listen to Timothy MacBain’s two-part TomCast audio interview in which Van Buren discusses Washington going through withdrawal over Iraq and the mercenaries it’s leaving behind, click here, or download it to your iPod here.

[Source Note: The full text of the OIG Report on the transition from military to State Department control of the Iraq mission can be read as a .pdf file by clicking here. The OIG site is chock full of interesting documents under its “Reports and Publications” tab, including many items previously surfaced via FOIA requests. Though not cited in this article, another excellent source of primary documents about the US mission in Iraq can be found at the website of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.]

[Note: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or any other entity of the U.S. Government. The Department of State has not approved, endorsed, or authorized this post.]

Copyright 2011 Peter Van Buren

#72 TakeAStepBack

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 06:44 PM

http://www.commondre...ne/2011/06/13-3
Missing Iraqi Billions 'Probably Stolen'
U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion

by Paul Richter

WASHINGTON - This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled funding for reconstruction in postwar Iraq.


Oops. One Hercules C-130 could carry as much as $US2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $US100 bills. (Photo: Supplied) But despite years of investigations, US defense officials still cannot say what happened to $US6.6 billion ($6.3 billion/Australian) of the cash. Federal auditors are now suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error.

After the US-led invasion in March 2003, the Bush administration flooded Iraq with so much cash that a new unit of measurement was born.

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $US2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $US100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash followed by 20 other flights by May 2004 in a $US12 billion haul that US officials believe to be the biggest ever international cash airlift.

Stuart Bowen, special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, said the missing $US6.6 billion might be ''the largest theft of funds in national history''.

Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations' oil-for-food program.

The US Congress, which has already shelled out $US61 billion for similar reconstruction and development projects in Iraq, is none too thrilled either.

''Congress is not looking forward to having to spend billions of our money to make up for billions of their money that we can't account for, and can't seem to find,'' said Democrat congressman Henry Waxman, who presided over hearings on waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq six years ago when he headed the House government reform committee.

The cash airlift was a desperation measure, organised when the Bush administration was eager to restore government services and a shattered economy to give Iraqis confidence that the new order would be a drastic improvement on Saddam Hussein's rule.

The White House decided to use the money in the so-called Development Fund for Iraq, which was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to hold money amassed during the years when Hussein's regime was under crippling economic and trade sanctions.

But US officials often didn't have time or staff to keep strict financial controls.

Millions of dollars were stuffed in gunny sacks and hauled on utility trucks to Iraqi agencies or contractors, officials have testified.

Pentagon officials have contended for the past six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records. But repeated attempts to find the documentation, or better yet the cash, were fruitless.

Iraqi officials argue the US government was supposed to safeguard the stash under a 2004 legal agreement. Abdul Basit Turki Saeed, Iraq's chief auditor and president of the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit, has warned that his government will go to court if necessary to recoup the missing money.

''Clearly Iraq has an interest in looking after its assets and protecting them,'' Samir Sumaidaie, Iraq's ambassador to the US, said.