US DETENTION OF SUSPECTS PROVES A PR DISASTER
The Age, 3/29/04
The American military is holding about 8000 Iraqi security detainees
without trial or formal charges, most of them in a prison where at
least six US guards have been criminally charged with abusing
inmates. While legal under the Geneva Conventions, the detentions are
proving disastrous to the image of the US-led occupation authority as
hundreds of Iraqis freed this month spread stories of dismal
conditions and say they were never told why they were arrested.
US officials insist they treat the prisoners fairly, but the widely
circulated stories about seemingly arbitrary arrests fuel the sense
of injustice here. In one such case, Mahmoud Khodair said American
soldiers blasted into his basement apartment six months ago and
dragged him off, accusing him of aiding insurgents. Like hundreds
more, he was released earlier this month with no explanation of why
he was arrested or why he was ultimately cleared to go home.
"Nothing has changed since Saddam," Mr Khodair said. "Before, the
Mukhabarat (secret police) would take us away and at least they
wouldn't blow down the door. Now, some informant fingers you and gets
$100 even if you're innocent." It is a problem the US recognises and
it is crafting a new approach.
Iraq a year later ... the resistance continues
By FinalCall.com News
Updated Mar 22, 2004, 12:13 am
Iraqi students hold national flags during a demonstration outside
Baghdad's Mustansiriyah University March 13, in protest against the
new U.S.-backed interim constitution. Students also demonstrated in
the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, and the northern
Sunni city of Mosul. Many Shiite students boycotted classes to
protest the new draft law. Photo: AFP
(FinalCall.com) - Seven United States soldiers were killed March 12-
14 and 19 were wounded, according to Army and U.S. officials, after a
lull in U.S. military deaths and the guerilla-style warfare that has
claimed close to 250 U.S. soldiers since President George Bush
declared the war in Iraq was over in April 2003.
Iraqi civilians, meanwhile, continue to be struck down, caught in
between U.S./UK forces and those fighting the coalition's occupation.
Five civilians were killed near the town of Baguba, 35 miles
northeast of Baghdad, when a mortar hit their village, near a U.S.
military base. On March 13, three Iraqis were wounded when an errant
mortar-type bomb hit an apartment complex next to the Iraqi
coalition's headquarters in Baghdad, a U.S. military official told
And the body of a policeman from Fallujah, west of Baghdad, who had
been reported missing on March 12, was discovered riddled with bullet
holes, a police officer told the Associated Press.
Yet, the conservative think tank, The Conference on Foreign Affairs,
released a report at Final Call press time stating that "significant
progress" has been made in reconstruction and the political
transition in post-conflict Iraq.
An editorial in the German weekly Die Zeit summed up the dilemma
faced by the international community as it pertains to assessing the
reality of Iraq. "With terror attacks on Shiites and indications of
civil war from Kirkuk to Kerbela, the situation in Iraq confirms the
view of the professional pessimists every day. Can it get worse?
Professional optimists can also point to the situation in Iraq,
because the government council has signed an interim constitution
designed to back the country until August 2005. This is a success for
the U.S. administrator. But whose view is correct?"
"The Iraq of today cannot be easily mapped onto a neat diagram of
sect or political party," Rahul Mahajan, author of the book, "The
U.S. War on Iraq: Myth, Facts and Lies," told The Final Call. He said
understanding the relationship between Iraqi society and the Iraq
state after three decades of Ba'ath Party rule is crucial to the
success of the post-war reconstruction efforts.
An editorialist in Financial Times argues that the U.S. narrative of
what is going on concerning the violence is portrayed as the action
of terrorists who are targeting coalition troops and Iraqi security,
as the June 30 date for the occupation's formal handover to an
interim government nears. "That looks to be a serious
misinterpretation," he wrote.
Nevertheless, the Coalition Provisional Authority is saying not to
worry, because the armed elements of the old regime of Saddam Hussein
that are still in Iraq, in large part leading the attacks against
U.S. and UK forces, are hunted down every day.
Scott Ritter, author of "Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass
Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America" and the former UN
weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998, says that the anti-U.S.
resistance in Iraq today is Iraqi in nature and more broadly based
and deeply rooted than acknowledged.
"Though the Bush administration consistently characterizes the nature
of the enemy in Iraq as terrorist, and identifies the leading
culprits as foreign fighters, the notion that al-Qaeda or al-Ansar al-
Islam are using Baghdad (or any urban area in Iraq) as an independent
base of operations is far-fetched," Mr. Ritter said.
But the spin doctors won't quit. Dr. Mustafa Alain, an expert on Iraq
at the Royal United Services Institute in London, says that "there
must be a mastermind" behind the terror attacks in Iraq; "We are not
talking about a group of amateurs."
Furthermore, the U.S. media continues to portray the recent attacks
on Iraqi Shiites as a deliberate attempt by elements linked to al-
Qaeda to foment inter-community strife and civil war. Michael Ratner,
president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the U.S.
government is clearly desperate "to get some sort of cover for its
So desperate that the Pentagon continues to pay $340,000 a month
for "intelligence collection" to the political organization in Iraq
led by Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the provisional government,
according to the New York Times.
The story said that the U.S. government admitted that much of the
information provided by the group before the war proved useless. A
later review in early 2004 by additional government agencies
concluded the same thing, the newspaper said. It was the Knight-
Ridder newspapers' group that broke the story that the payments,
which were authorized by Congress in 1998, were continuing.
One other issue that is sure to provoke the ire of the opposition to
the occupation is a little-talked about Article (59)c in the interim
constitution, which says that the Iraqi Interim Government will be
empowered to conclude binding agreements regarding the presence and
role of foreign forces in Iraq. This means, according to analysts,
that a temporary un-elected body, rather than the elected government,
will sign defense pacts with the U.S. and its associates.
While Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said he strongly objected to un-
elected bodies making any long-standing commitments on behalf of
Iraq, observers say they expect the nation's interim rulers will be
under massive pressure to grant Washington whatever it wants on the
Washington observers said that, after a month of acrimonious debate,
the Pentagon, rather than the State Department, was put in charge of
reconstruction, so the military, rather than the civilian agencies of
the U.S. government, will be calling the shots when it comes to
spending the $18 billion allocated to rebuild Iraq. According to
analysts, Article (59)c essentially denies Iraq the most basic
attribute of sovereignty: control over its own territory.
US citizen charged with spying for Iraq
NEW YORK, March 11: US federal prosecutors said on Thursday they had
arrested a US citizen, charged with acting as a paid spy for Iraqi
An indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charged Susan
Lindauer with acting as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi
Intelligence Service (IIS) and engaging in prohibited financial
transactions with the government of Iraq.
Lindauer, 41, allegedly made multiple visits to the Iraq's United
Nations mission in New York from Oct 1999 through March 2002 and met
several IIS members.
The indictment noted that the IIS, as well as coordinating counter-
intelligence activities, played a role in numerous terrorist
operations, including the attempted assassination of former president
"Additionally, the IIS located, intimidated, and killed Iraqi
defectors and dissidents living abroad," it said. Lindauer was
arrested on Thursday morning in her hometown of Takoma Park,
Maryland, and was to be brought before a judge in Baltimore later in
the day. She will be formally arraigned in New York on March 15.
During her visits to the UN mission, Lindauer allegedly accepted
various payments - totalling around 15,000 dollars - in return for
services provided in the course of her "ongoing intelligence
relationship" with the IIS.
Some of the payments were made when Lindauer visited Baghdad in early
2002 - a trip paid for by the IIS. Prosecutors said Lindauer's
acceptance of money, if proven, would constitute a violation of the
statute prohibiting transactions with a government that sponsors
international terrorism. -AFP
Cost of the War in Iraq
Iraqi outcry as US bans newspaper
Hundreds of Iraqis have protested in Baghdad after a
Shia newspaper was banned for allegedly inciting
violence against the US-led coalition.
Angry crowds gathered at the offices of Al-Hawza
Al-Natiqa weekly, which is produced by supporters of
the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
US troops earlier delivered a letter announcing a
60-day ban on the weekly.
The US blames Al-Hawza for inciting violence; the
paper's supporters say the ban attacks freedom of
"We ask everybody to come to the newspaper and stay
there until it is reopened," read a statement issued
by Mr Sadr's office.
Demonstrators responding to the call chanted
anti-American slogans and burnt a US flag in Baghdad's
Al-Hawza's editor, Ali Yasseri, told Reuters the US
soldiers padlocked the office and threatened to arrest
those who did not leave the premises.
A letter in Arabic handed out by the troops said the
paper "misleads readers" and "constitutes a real
threat of violence against coalition forces and Iraqis
who work with the coalition".
A spokesman for Mr Sadr said the paper was against the
US occupation of Iraq, but denied the charge that it
Sheikh Mahmud Sudani said Al-Hawza had attracted
censure because it strongly criticised the killing of
Palestinian preacher, Sheikh Yassin, by Israeli forces
in Gaza last week.
Mr Sadr, a young cleric based in the holy city of
Najaf, has fast risen to prominence since the US-led
invasion in 2003.
Huge crowds flock to his fiery sermons calling for an
end to the US occupation of Iraq, while his supporters
have formed an armed militia claiming to provide
security and social welfare for Shias.
Recent articles in Al-Hawza have accused the chief
American administrator, Paul Bremer, of following in
the footsteps of the deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein,
by persecuting Shias.
The publication has also alleged American rockets -
rather than a car-bomb, as was widely reported -
killed 53 Iraqis in the town of Iskandariyah recently.
BREMER CLOSES HARDLINE NEWSPAPER AND IRAQIS ASK: IS THIS DEMOCRACY US-
Robert Fisk, Independent, 3/30/04
ANOTHER LITTLE lesson in democracy...
On Sunday morning, American troops blocked the four roads into the
square and Iraqi policemen - 90, according to the journalists of the
Al-Hawza al-Natiqa newspaper - entered the paper's offices on the
square and presented the staff with a signed letter from Paul Bremer,
the US proconsul, ordering them to close down the weekly for 60 days.
Then US troops searched the premises. A few biscuits were left lying
on the sofa of the editor's office. And the gates were closed with a
new lock, marked "American Made". "This is not America - this is
Iraq," one of the paper's journalists said yesterday, pointing at the
gate which had already been forced open by the staff.
Now let us not be romantic. Al-Hawza al-Natiqa means "The Spoken
(Islamic) College" and the paper is a mouthpiece of Muqtada Sadr,
whose "Mehdi's army" brings a chill even to the heart of Paul Bremer.
Its sin, among many, was to criticise Mr. Bremer and - in his own
words, for he signed the letter - "to provoke violence against the
Coalition Forces'." For coalition, read occupation.
The letter was quite specific; anyone who disobeyed and dared to
publish more "false reports" faced court, a possible year in prison
and a $ 1,000 (pounds 550) fine.
Mr Bremer was specific about the paper's alleged crimes. The letter
was addressed to the manager of the paper, Sheikh Abbas al-Raba'i,
and stated that his publishing licence was being revoked. He and his
editor, Sheikh Abbas Hassan Zargani, were guilty of
publishing "false" articles.
"I am satisfied that your newspaper ... published many articles ...
that made the security situation unstable and that you are
encouraging violence against the Coalition Forces and the Coalition
Provisional Authority (CPA)..."
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