Mahir Ali - So, no WMD. And no WMD programmes either. The final findings of the Iraq Survey Group come as no surprise, but, given that the ISG is an organ of the US government rather than an independent entity, it was more or less inevitable that it would try to offer some comfort to the invaders. This takes the shape of its conclusion that Saddam Hussein was determined to revive his weapons programmes once sanctions were lifted. Conveniently, this assertion cannot be substantiated. It is purely speculative and based on hearsay, yet it is now supposed to suffice as a reason not only for maintaining sanctions even after they had served their ostensible purpose, but also for a military assault that has cost tens of thousands of civilian lives. This, surely, is the stuff that dystopias are made of.
Sarah Whalen - Genies grant three wishes. But the moral of dealing with genies is that things never work out well. In last week’s debate against Sen. John Edwards, US Vice President Cheney rubbed his lamp and out popped three reasons for America’s invasion of Iraq: Saddam Hussein “had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad; he paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers; and he had an established relationship with Al-Qaeda.” “Specifically,” Cheney challenged, “look at George Tenet, the CIA director’s testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations two years ago when (Tenet) talked about a 10-year relationship.” Sounds good, right? Let’s take things one by one.
Scott Ritter - The mantra from both George Bush and Tony Blair remains that the world is a safer place with Saddam behind bars. But is it? When one examines the reality of the situation on the ground in Iraq today, it seems hard to draw any conclusion that postulates a scenario built around the notion of an improved environment of stability and security. Indeed, many Iraqis hold that life under Saddam was a better option than the life they are facing under an increasingly violent and destabilising US-led occupation. The ultimate condemnation of the failure and futility of the US-UK effort in Iraq is that if Saddam were released from his prison cell and participated in the elections scheduled for next January, there is a good chance he would emerge as the popular choice.
Abid Ullah Jan - Referring to the report by the USA’s Iraq Survey Group, the New York Times came out with a very fine editorial this morning. “The Verdict Is In”, it proclaimed. Despite the editorial’s title, however, it came to no conclusion at all, except to merely continue with the same war infected, biased and brainwashed mentality that caused the war against Iraq in the first place. “Sanctions worked. Weapons inspectors worked”, it suggested. Yes, sanctions worked for wiping out 1.8 million Iraqis. Yes, weapons inspectors worked but when the damage was already done. The total facts are that the basic premise for imposing sanctions at all was wrong because there was no WMD program at all. The invasion and occupation was wrong because there were no weapons of mass destruction at all.
James Bovard - After the 9/11 commission staff report effectively nuked the USA’s justification for invading Iraq, White House chief spokesman Scott McClellan was asked whether the Bush administration had misled the American people. McClellan replied, “I guess I don’t look at polls and look at it in those terms. In terms of this administration, we laid out the facts very clearly for the American people.” McClellan’s reply epitomizes how the Bush administration will never admit any of its deceptions. The unjustified, unnecessary war against Iraq should be a lasting warning to Americans not to trust government officials who claim the need to kill in the name of peace.
Jay Shaft - A soldier with a heavy heart and a real tragic choice confronting him contacted Jay Shaft, and told him of his horror in Iraq, and how he would not go back again. This moving interview contains his true words, and it gives his reasons for not wanting to go back for a second time to serve in the USA’s war in Iraq. He is a reservist who has been extended at least three times under “stop-loss” measures to maintain troop deployment levels. He was not ever given a choice or a contract renewal option, and has no legal recourse or way out. He was one week from getting out of the Standing Ready Reserves when he was reactivated and sent to Iraq in 2003.
Some called it a “dirty bomb” dropped on the Pentagon, namely the report last month that eight out of 20 men who had served in the same unit during the invasion of Iraq now have malignant cancers. That’s 40 percent in 16 months. The soldiers were reportedly exposed only to vaccines and depleted uranium, and vaccines are not known to cause cancer. Until it is proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, that DU is harmless, DU weapons should surely be banned. If the worst-case scenario proves correct, the effects of DU will be felt for years to come - in and around Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia. Dust storms will carry DU particles far and wide, and old DU munitions will retain their radioactivity for all eternity - in wrecked tanks where children play and in cooking pots made from recycled scrap.
"My life is shattered,” Umm Taha said while crying once again, “and I can do nothing. There is no compensation. I spent 20 years building my life, and now I?m 50 years old,” she added, “I can?t start over again. ??We have no present. We have no future. The occupiers have destroyed our life, and what have we done? We want to leave here - leave our country to the people who ?liberated? it.” Nagem Salam interviews a former Abu Ghraib female detainee, who was arrested by USA forces on September 14th, 2003 and detained for four months in Ba’qouba, Tikrit, Abu Ghraib, and the Tesfirat transfer station.
It’s hard to imagine what $151 billion actually means. Well, here are some facts to prod our imagination. To begin with, $151 billion can pay for health care for 23 million uninsured Americans; or housing stipends for 27 million homeless people in this country; or a year’s salary for 3 million new elementary school teachers; or more than 678,000 new fire engines. That same $151 billion could feed half the hungry people in the world for two years and provide clean water and sanitation for the entire developing world and fund a comprehensive global AIDS program and pay for childhood immunizations for every child in poor countries that constitute the global South.
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