America turns on Bush over Iraq
- 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
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
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,
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
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
June 27, 2005
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
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
Monday, June 27th, 2005
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.
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
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.
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