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America turns on Bush over Iraq

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    World Tribunal On Iraq - Report from Istanbul (below) America turns on Bush over Iraq: Three in five want troops out as President vows to stay Rupert Cornwell
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 4, 2005
      World Tribunal On Iraq - Report from Istanbul (below)


      America turns on Bush over Iraq:
      Three in five want troops out as President vows to stay
      Rupert Cornwell
      news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=649440


      Washington, 25 June 2005 - Beset by fading public support for the war
      and growing violence on the ground, President George Bush flatly
      rejected any timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq, vowing the
      United States would stay until the insurgency was defeated and
      democracy had been established.

      "This is a time of testing, a critical time," Mr Bush acknowledged
      yesterday after a meeting at the White House with Ibrahim al-Jaafari,
      the Iraqi Prime Minister. The insurgents "feel that if they can shake
      our will and affect our public opinion, we'll give up on the mission.
      But I'm not giving up the mission, we're doing the right thing". The
      President was speaking amid unprecedented challenges to his whole Iraq
      policy. A week of carnage in that country was capped by news that six
      marines were killed on Thursday in the former rebel stronghold of
      Fallujah, lifting the total American death toll in Iraq to a total of
      1,730.

      Several victims were believed to be female marines. The Pentagon said
      they died when a suicide car bomber exploded his vehicle as a US
      military convoy was passing. The attack is the 479th recorded car
      bombing since the handover of sovereignty on 28 June 2004. Even more
      serious is the ebbing support on the home front. Polls show a majority
      of Americans believe the March 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein
      was a mistake. Some 60 per cent now favour a troop pullout, while Mr
      Bush's approval rating has tumbled to little more than 40 per cent,
      the lowest of any second-term president since Richard Nixon in the
      throes of Watergate.

      Tense Congressional hearings moreover laid bare this week the growing
      divide between the sombre assessments of the situation from US
      commanders on the ground, and the resolutely optimistic picture
      painted by the civilian leadership - notably the recent assertion by
      Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, that the insurgency was "in its last
      throes". In a bid to rally public support, Mr Bush will deliver a
      televised address on Iraq when he visits the army base at Fort Bragg,
      North Carolina.

      Despite appearances, progress was being made, the President insisted.
      At every major step, from January's elections to the agreement to
      bring more Sunnis into the constitution-writing process, "the Iraqi
      people have met their strategic objectives". The way ahead would not
      be easy, and US and Iraqiforces were facing "a violent and ruthless
      enemy", Mr Bush said.

      Mr Jaafari sounded equally determined, arguing against any withdrawal
      timetable for US troops. He spoke of "steady and substantial
      progress", adding that the constitution would be completed on
      scheduled and "there is a will in Iraq to succeed". For all the brave
      talk, however, the spectre of Vietnam is stirring. In terms of
      duration and casualties, the two conflicts are hardly comparable - the
      Vietnam war lasted a decade, and claimed 58,000 US lives, while fewer
      than 2,000 American troops have died in Iraq since the invasion two
      years ago.

      But the similarities in the national mood are hard to ignore. The word
      "quagmire" has returned to the debate - Mr Bush even made a joking
      reference to it yesterday, when asked by a journalist about his
      declining popularity and political difficulties.

      More serious is a decline in public support for the war, which proved
      fatal to the Vietnam enterprise three decades ago. Republicans and
      Democrats are complaining that the administration has no credible plan
      for victory, while General John Abizaid, the commander of US forces in
      Iraq, has voiced the military's alarm over the public mood.

      Troops in Iraq were becoming aware of the decline in enthusiasm for
      the war at home, General Abizaid told a Congressional hearing, and the
      troops were asking him "whether or not they've got support from the
      American people". While confidence among soldiers in the field was
      high, "I've never seen the lack of confidence greater" among
      politicians in Washington.

      Speaking of his native South Carolina, Senator Lindsay Graham told
      General Abizaid that "in the most patriotic state I can imagine,
      people are beginning to question ... I think we have a chronic problem
      on our hands." The blame lies mainly with the unrelenting tide of bad
      news. Grim images of Baghdad streets devastated by Thursday's car
      bombings dominated the main US papers yesterday. "They know the
      carnage they wreak will be on TV. They know it bothers Americans to
      see death. It bothers the Iraqis. It bothers me," Mr Bush said.

      One year on

      * 28 JUNE 2004

      US hands sovereignty to interim government

      * 1 JULY

      Saddam Hussein, in court for the first time, declares himself
      president of Iraq

      * 14 JULY

      Lord Butler clears Tony Blair of any deliberate attempt to "mislead"
      the country before the war

      * 28 JULY

      68 people die when a suicide car bomb explodes outside a police
      recruiting centre in central Baquba

      * 6 AUGUST

      American forces say they killed at least 300 militia fighters during a
      two-day battle in the holy city of Najaf

      * 12 AUGUST

      US troops set up a cordon around Najaf's Imam Ali mosque and ancient
      cemetery as Mehdi Army vows to destroy the occupying forces

      * 8 NOVEMBER

      Thousands of American troops fight their way into rebel stronghold of
      Fallujah to start all-out assault

      * 30 JANUARY 2005

      Eight million Iraqis vote for a transitional national assembly. Shia
      United Iraqi Alliance wins majority of assembly seats

      * 31 MARCH

      US spy agencies were "dead wrong" in "almost all" their pre-war
      judgements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, a commission
      appointed by President George Bush says

      * 11 MAY

      More than 60 people are killed when at least five explosions rock
      Baghdad, Tikrit and Hawija

      ===

      Letter from Iraq

      Wake up Calls
      Dahr Jamail
      June 27, 2005
      dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/archives/dispatches/000258.php#more


      The jury of conscience has just released its recommendations after the
      culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq came to its
      conclusion. I'll post the news story I wrote on this later, which will
      provide more details.

      I will add now, as a preface to a letter I received just now from an
      Iraqi who asked me to pass it on to the American people, that the jury
      made the following recommendations:

      "The recommendations made by the jury included the demand for an
      immediate, unconditional withdraw of all occupation forces, the
      governments of the coalition to pay full compensation to Iraqis for
      any and all damages, and that all laws, contracts, treaties and
      institutions created under the occupation that Iraqi people deem
      harmful or un-useful to them be banished.

      Other recommendations included immediate investigations of crimes
      against humanity for Mr. George Bush, Tony Blair, and every other
      president of countries belonging to the coalition. In addition, the
      jury called for a process of accountability to begin to bring justice
      to journalists and media outlets that lied and promoted the violence
      against Iraq, as well as including corporations who have profited from
      the war."

      Here is the letter from my friend:

      From an Iraqi citizen to the American people:

      We always have thought that you are citizens; away from the savageness
      which controls nmany people in the world because you suffered from the
      injustice of your own occupation more than two hundred and fifty years
      ago. Therefore, you picked up weapons against the occupiers until you
      forced him to go out of your state which was a great victory for you.

      Naturally, this occupier was giving unreasonable justifications for
      his stay in your country. Like any occupation, no country ever admit
      that they occupy some land but always says that they are a liberator
      of the people who are then unable to govern themselves and so on…

      Such reasons cannot change the origin of occupation.

      Nowadays, your army is occupying our homeland, destroying our homes
      and killing our men, women, and our children. The occupation is
      leaving this country full of chaos to the point we are now facing so
      many disasters, including suffering from looting and robbery.

      Sudden attacks and cruel murders have been perpetrated by your army
      who then prevent all people from submitting judicial complaints. This
      encourages all soldiers to kill thoughtlessly without any threat of trial.

      We have seen our Holy Quran desecrated by soldiers, but you continue
      to say your soldiers do not do what the Mogul and Barbarians did in
      the lands they occupied.

      Your soldiers did many immoral acts but your government leaders have
      done even more.

      We, the Iraqi people, do not put the responsibility of this on your
      shoulders because you are a people and not your government. But when
      the people have a decision in the fate of their country and decide to
      go in a direction which only benefits the government, this means that
      the people are satisfied with their governments' actions.

      When you elected Mr. Bush for the second time, this was a declaration
      from you of being satisfied with all his acts in violation of the
      holiness of a state which shares a place with yours in the United
      Nations Security Council

      Has the age of occupation returned back to a place where agreements
      and treaties and international laws which forbid aggression are
      useless? When the people who chose to defend their land and reject the
      occupier are then described by your government as a terrorist? How
      long have you heard that an occupation which continues will have no
      resistance against it? Do you refer to the patriots of your own
      country as terrorists in your history books?

      Have you ever heard that there is a peaceful occupation? One that
      ended in victory for the occupier?

      American people, please remember the land of Iraq and remember the
      Iraqi people and think of yourselves as if you were in our place. In
      this way you will realize what Iraqis suffer.

      I am an Iraqi who bears no grudge against any person all over the
      world. We simply wish that other people may realize our suffering now,
      especially the people who do not support their thoughtless governments
      and their aggressive acts. For the people who support these corrupted
      governments will be responsible for them, and history will hold them
      responsible for allowing this tragedy to have occurred.

      This will be a shame on their ancestors who will not be able to hide
      this black page of history.

      Thank to the American people for listening attentively, and I am
      wishing you reasonableness and the ability to comprehend the truth.

      Posted by Dahr_Jamail at June 27, 2005 11:04 AM


      ©2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail


      ===

      World Tribunal on Iraq Condemns U.S. and Britain,
      Recognizes Right of Iraqis to Resist Occupation
      Democracy Now!
      Monday, June 27th, 2005
      www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/27/1335230


      The World Tribunal on Iraq wrapped its three-day session today in
      Istanbul, Turkey. The tribunal investigated various issues on Iraq
      including the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war
      crimes and the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the
      cultural sites and the environment. We play excerpts of addresses by
      human rights attorney Barbara Olshansky and Indian writer Arundhati
      Roy. [includes rush transcript]

      The World Tribunal on Iraq wrapped its three day session today in
      Istanbul, Turkey. Torture and rendition was a main theme of the
      testimony heard there.

      Among the speakers at the tribunal this weekend was human rights
      attorney Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constiutional Rights. She
      is author the book, "America's Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment,
      Detainees, and the "War on Terror."

      * Barbara Olshansky, attorney with the Center for Constitutional
      Rights addressing the World Tribunal on Iraq, June 26, 2005.

      The gathering was modeled after the International War Crimes Tribunal
      that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967 during the
      Vietnam War. Speakers included Indian writer Arundhati Roy, former UN
      Assistant Secretary General Dennis Halliday, independent journalist
      Dahr Jamail and others.

      This year's gathering was the culminating session of commissions of
      inquiry and hearings on the Iraq war held around the world over the
      past two years.

      The Istanbul Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings
      investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the
      legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and
      the role of the media, as well as the destruction of the cultural
      sites and the environment.

      A 17-member Jury of Conscience at the Tribunal heard testimonies from
      a panel of advocates and witnesses who came from across the world,
      including from Iraq, the United States and the United Kingdom.

      The jury delivered its verdict and recommendations at a news
      conference this morning. The preliminary verdict read in part,
      "Recognizing the right of the Iraqi people to resist the illegal
      occupation of their country and to develop independent institutions,
      and affirming that the right to resist the occupation is the right to
      wage a struggle for self-determination, freedom, and independence as
      derived from the Charter of the United Nations, we the Jury of
      Conscience declare our solidarity with the people of Iraq."

      We go now to jury chair Arundhati Roy's remarks yesterday, following
      testimony from witnesses of the war and occupation.


      * Arundhati Roy, Chair of Jury of Conscience, addressing the World
      Tribunal on Iraq, June 26, 2005.



      RUSH TRANSCRIPT



      AMY GOODMAN: We continue on this theme of rendition, which was taken
      up at the World Tribunal on Iraq this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey,
      which wrapped up a three-day session. It was the main theme of
      testimony of Barbara Olshansky. She is with the Center for
      Constitutional Rights and traveled to Istanbul for the Tribunal. Her
      book is called America's Disappeared: Secret Imprisonment, Detainees
      and the War on Terror. This is an excerpt of what she had to say.

      BARBARA OLSHANSKY: The United States government's unlawful and covert
      practices started very early on. And I'm just going to say this to
      give people a picture of how quickly this administration seized on an
      opportunity to repress people. Within one day of the attacks on the
      United States, the government rounded up -- started rounding up in
      excess of 1,500 people -- that's a guess; we'll never know how many --
      immigrants and foreign visitors to the United States of Middle Eastern
      origin and/or of the Muslim faith and put them in jails and detention
      centers around the United States and ordered the guards at those jails
      to lie to the attorneys who came to the jails and to lie to the
      foreign consulates about who was imprisoned there. This was a
      deliberate order of our Attorney General then, John Ashcroft, to lie
      to everyone that came to the door about who was there.

      And when we filed under our federal law seeking information about who
      had been arrested -- because people had come to us, and said, "They
      took my husband, my brother, my son, my nephew, and I don't know where
      they went." And we had to go literally door to door to try and find
      people. When we asked under this law, this information law, about how
      many people were taken, what was the justification, whether they had
      attorneys, whether their families knew, whether their consulates were
      advised, whether they could make calls, we got an answer from our
      Department of Justice that we were not entitled to know.

      A last piece I'll say about it: With the creation of Guantanamo also
      comes an exponential growth in the C.I.A.'s extraordinary rendition
      program. Under this program, United States Special Forces charter
      private jets and fly around the world and pick up people. Now, these
      are not usually enemy combatants. For those, we, I think, use our
      regular Army and Air Force planes. These are people that are seized,
      hooded and shackled, brought out surreptitiously from the country
      where they're captured and sent to third countries for interrogation
      under torture at the United States' request. I'm sure some people have
      read about this. It happened to two Egyptian men who were taken from
      Sweden. It happened to people that were transiting -- traveling from
      one flight to another in J.F.K. airport and ended up in Syria for a
      year being tortured, and this, what the C.I.A. calls their `snatch and
      grab' operations, has been confirmed by C.I.A. officials and now
      private citizens who have helped to set up to the operations for the
      charter companies.

      These are the things started with Guantanamo. What they prove, and I
      guess why someone who was much wiser than me understood when they
      asked me here today, is that they prove that every statement made by
      the United States government about abuses in Abu Ghraib, abuses
      elsewhere in Iraq, being the work of a few rogue individuals is a
      monstrous lie. It could not be anything else other than a monstrous
      lie, because these policies started in Guantanamo, and we now know
      that they started at the request of those highest up in the
      administration and they have been going on from Guantanamo through to
      the present. They are certainly not the policies of single individuals.

      What they also show is that while this has been going on, there has
      been a failure of leadership in the United States. Neither the
      judiciary nor Congress has been able to hold back this tide of
      militarism and brutality committed by the military and by the Bush
      administration. And that is why I think it's important for me to be
      here today to see that there are so many people to work with to try
      and rein in a rogue country that has alienated itself and the rest of
      the world from the people of the United States. Thank you.

      AMY GOODMAN: Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional
      Rights, speaking at the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul this
      weekend. The gathering was modeled on the International War Crimes
      Tribunal that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967
      during the Vietnam War. Speakers included Indian writer Arundhati Roy,
      former U.N. Assistant Secretary General, Dennis Halliday, and
      independent journalist Dahr Jamail. This year's gathering was the
      culmination of commissions of inquiry and hearings on the invasion of
      Iraq held around the world over the past two years. The Istanbul
      Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings investigating various
      issues related to Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of
      the U.N., war crimes and the role of the media, as well as the
      destruction of the cultural sites and the environment.

      A seventeen-member Jury of Conscience at the Tribunal heard
      testimonies from a panel of advocates and witnesses who came from
      across the world, including from Iraq, the U.S., and Britain. The jury
      delivered its verdict and recommendations at a news conference today.
      The preliminary verdict read in part, (quote), "Recognizing the right
      of the Iraqi people to resist the illegal occupation of their country
      and to develop independent institutions and affirming that the right
      to resist the occupation is the right to wage a struggle for
      self-determination, freedom and independence as derived from the
      charter of the United Nations, we, the Jury of Conscience declare our
      solidarity with the people of Iraq."

      We go now to the jury chair, who read today's verdict, Arundhati Roy.
      But these comments she gave yesterday after testimony from witnesses
      who had been to Iraq, of both the invasion and occupation.

      ARUNDHATI ROY: When I was invited to be on the jury by the W.T.I. --
      yesterday, when they were making a film, they asked me, "Why did you
      agree? You must have had so many invitations; why did you choose
      this?" And I said, you know, "I feel so hurt that you are asking me
      this question. Because it's ours. You know, where else would I be?
      What other invitations would matter to me when we have to attend to
      this, this huge, enormous bloody thing?" You know, since I'm not a
      lawyer, nor am I even much of an organizer, nor am I even somebody who
      has been particularly concerned about my legitimacy or, you know.

      I don't think in sort of legal and bureaucratic terms, so you know, I
      didn't really go down the road of questioning who we are or who we
      represent, because to me it was a bit like somebody asking me whether
      I had the legitimacy to write a novel. I mean, we're just a group of
      human beings, whether we are five or ten or fifteen or ten million.
      Surely, we have the right to express an opinion, and surely, if that
      opinion is irrelevant, surely, if that opinion is full of false facts,
      surely, if that opinion is absurd, it will be treated as such, and if
      that opinion is, in fact, representative of the opinion of millions of
      people, it will become very huge.

      So we don't need to really worry ourselves too much about defining
      ourselves. I think we need to worry about being very clear, being very
      honest, being very precise about what we think and express that
      fearlessly and in solidarity with the values that all of us have so
      clearly expressed in so many ways here today. I really think this last
      three days – I mean, as a -- speaking as a writer, what I seek with
      complete greed, what I seek almost ruthlessly is understanding. You
      know, that is all that I ever ask for, an understanding of the debt of
      this world we live in. And that was a gift that one received, and I
      will always be grateful for it.

      To ask us why we are doing this, you know, why is there a World
      Tribunal on Iraq, is like asking, you know, someone who stops at the
      site of an accident where people are dying on the road, why did you
      stop? Why didn't you keep walking like everybody else?

      While I listened to the testimonies yesterday, especially, I must say
      that I didn't know -- I mean, not that one has to choose, but still,
      you know, I didn't know what was more chilling, you know, the
      testimonies of those who came from Iraq with the stories of the blood
      and the destruction and the brutality and the darkness of what was
      happening there or the stories of that cold, calculated world where
      the business contracts are being made, where the laws are be
      rewritten, where a country occupies another with no idea of how it's
      going to provide protection to people, but with such a sophisticated
      idea of how it's going to loot it of its resources. You know, the
      brutality or the contrast of those two things was so chilling.

      There were times when I felt, I wish I wasn't on the jury, because I
      want to say things. You know? I mean, I think that is the nature of
      this tribunal, that, in a way, one wants to be everything. You want to
      be on the jury, you want to be on the other side, you want to say
      things. And I particularly wanted to talk a lot about -- which I won't
      do now, so don't worry, but I wanted to talk a lot about my own, you
      know, now several years of experience with issues of resistance,
      strategies of resistance, the fact that we actually tend to reach for
      easy justifications of violence and non-violence, easy and not really
      very accurate historical examples. These are things we should worry about.

      But at the end of it, today we do seem to live in a world where the
      United States of America has defined an enemy combatant, someone whom
      they can kidnap from any country, from anyplace in the world and take
      for trial to America. An enemy combatant seems to be anybody who
      harbors thoughts of resistance. Well, if this is the definition, then
      I, for one, am an enemy combatant. Thank you.

      AMY GOODMAN: That was Arundhati Roy, speaking at the War Crimes
      Tribunal held now in Istanbul, Turkey. It has just wrapped up earlier
      today. Special thanks to Deep Dish TV for today's footage.

      To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here
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