Iraq war and occupationThe ISG will take over from the 75th Exploitation Task Force, a smaller military group previously in charge of finding and securing Iraq's WMDs. But the ISG has other duties besides finding and securing WMDs, including uncovering information relating to Saddam Hussein's regime, his intelligence services, any terror outfits with a presence in Iraq, war crimes, and POWs. Cambone emphasizes that WMDs are "only a part" of this "very large undertaking." The unit isn't even scheduled to deploy until the end of May. Cambone reports that before the war, the Pentagon had a list of around 600 suspected WMD sites, but currently only 70 or so of these sites have been visited, along with another 40 that were not on the original list. David Corn writes, "This hardly appeared to be the anti-WMD blitzkrieg that could have reasonably been expected by anyone who had listened to Bush's prewar rhetoric. If Saddam Hussein's weapons were such an imminent danger that the United States had had no choice but to spurn further investigations and invade and occupy, why had Bush not put together the Iraq Survey Group earlier? Why hadn't it been ready to roll as soon as US boots were on the ground? The war had come as no surprise to the Bush administration." In mid-May, the 75th Exploitation Task Force announces that it is wrapping up operations and will leave Iraq by the end of the month. Task force members complain that they lacked vital tools and, according to the Washington Post, "consistently found targets identified by Washington to be inaccurate, looted and burned, or both." Task force commander Colonel Richard McPhee admits that he knows of no plans to secure any WMD sites had any been found. "Why are we doing any planned targets?" asks one task force soldier. "We know they're empty." The ISG will cut back on its own investigations of WMD sites even before deploying. McPhee says, "Do I know where they are? I wish I did...but we will find them. Or not. I don't know. I'm being honest here." (David Corn)
9/11 attacksPanel director Peter Zelikow intends to force the release of the documents if possible. This is not the only example of government interference with the panel's investigation. In late April, one commission member, former Democratic congressman Tim Roemer, tried to read transcripts of three days of closed hearings that had been held last fall by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees -- hearings that Roemer, as a member of the House panel, had actually participated in. When Roemer went down to a guarded room on Capitol Hill to read the classified transcripts, he was "stunned" to learn that he was denied access. The reason was that Zelikow had acceded to a request by an administration official to permit lawyers to first review them to determine if the transcripts contained testimony about "privileged" material. Roemer called the deal "outrageous." White House lawyers eventually relented, averting an embarrassing public escalation of the dispute, and likely charges of a White House cover-up." (The Nation)
Iraq war and occupationFrance heatedly denies the charges, which are never proven, and accuse the Bush adminstration of orchestrating a smear campaign against France. The next day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld makes a point to tell the press that "France has historically had a very close relationship with Iraq. My understanding is that it continued right up until the outbreak of the war. What took place after that, we'll find out." A week later, press secretary Scott McClellan admits that the government has no evidence of any collusion between the French government and the Hussein regime. (Amy Goodman and David Goodman)
War with IranGaffney writes that the issue revolves around Iran's burgeoning nuclear power plant at Bushehr, planned since 1974 and scheduled to be finished later this year with the help of Russian technicians and funding. The US and Israel have not yet decided whether to allow the plant to be completed; though Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Regulatory Treaty, and no evidence exists of its intention to develop nuclear weapons, both the US and Israel believe than Iran intends just such development. The recent discovery of two secret Iranian nuclear research facilities, at Arak and at Natanz, have only heightened suspicion. (Information Clearinghouse)
Iraq war and occupation"A month after US forces left Baghdad," it notes, "the Pentagon's occupation authority remains plagued by insufficient resources and inadequate preparation, fueling complaints from Iraqis and doubts about the Bush administration's promise to reconstruct the country swiftly and set its politics on a new, democratic course.... US officers, acknowledging Iraqis' complaints about lax security, have pleaded that their troops are stretched too thin." Electricity and water are sporadic at best. Civilians wait in mile-long lines for gasoline. Hospitals, forced to work under primitive conditions, are stretched past their limits. Looting is rampant. Crime is rampant. Relief workers are being assaulted. Iraqis are settling old scores with revenge killings. Baghdad lacks a functioning police force. And the US occupiers don't even have language interpreters. "The planning was ragged," says a senior US official in Baghdad, "and the execution was worse." But Rumsfeld tells the press that the military under Tommy Franks and the reconstruction organization led by retired general Jay Garner are doing "outstanding job[s]...[W]e are continuing to make things better in almost every corner of the country." Within days, Garner will be fired and replaced by corporate honcho Paul Bremer; most of Garner's team is also dismissed and replaced. The White House refuses to explain the shake-up. Bu mid-May, the number of US and British troops in the country nears 200,000, and the situation is not improving. (Washington Post/David Corn)
Iraq war and occupation"It appears to this senator that the American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of long-standing international law, under false premises," Byrd says. "There is ample evidence that the horrific events of Sept. 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, who masterminded the Sept. 11th attacks, to Saddam Hussein who did not." Even fellow Republicans begin daring to criticize Bush's policies, most notably foreign policy expert Sen. Richard Lugar, who warned of a potential "catastrophe" in Iraq, said that the country was in danger of becoming "an incubator for terrorist cells and activity," and said that the administration clearly did not prepare for the task of handling post-war Iraq. (The Times/Truthout, Kansas City Star/AP, Portsmouth Herald)
"America and Great Britain were led to war under false pretenses. ...I can imagine no greater breach of public trust than to mislead a country into war." -- Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Military-industrial complexWoolsey, a longtime supporter of the push to invade Iraq and a key member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, is a senior director of the private equity firm Paladin Capital. The company was set up three months after the terrorist attacks on New York and sees the events and aftermath of 9/11 as a business opportunity which "offer[s] substantial promise for homeland security investment." Paladin's first priority was "to invest in companies with immediate solutions designed to prevent harmful attacks, defend against attacks, cope with the aftermath of attack or disaster and recover from terrorist attacks and other threats to homeland security." Paladin plans on raising $300 million from investors by the end of the year, and calculates that the US will spend at least $60 billion on anti-terrorism; corporations will spend twice that much to ensure their security and continuity in case of attack. Paladin is poised to rake in a substantial amount of those funds.
Islamist terrorismSubsequent terrorist attacks erupt all through the Middle East, some of which are linked to al-Qaeda. Although al-Qaeda spokesmen made it clear that such an attack was immiment, and that a "Gulf ally" of the US would be targeted, Saudi officials ignored the warnings and refused to increase security around the compounds. In late June, evidence surfaced connecting al-Qaeda sympathizers within the Saudi National Guard and the attacks. (Truthout, MSNBC, Democratic Underground)
Iraq war and occupationBremer is a diplomat and the former head of the counter-terrorism unit at the State Department, as well as a corporate CEO. He refuses to allow Iraqis to select the members of its interim government, preferring to use his own team of advisors led by Ahmed Chalabi (widely viewed as a puppet of the Americans), and oversees the laying off or firing of nearly half a million Iraqi workers and soldiers under the aegis of "de-Baathizing" the country's workforce. The majority Shi'a population has no voice in the governing process. Dozens of Iraqi companies go into involuntary bankruptcy when Bremer opens the borders to multinational corporations, who flood in to take advantage of the chaotic Iraqi economy. "In less than a month he has readied large swaths of state activity for corporate takeover, primed the Iraqi market for foreign importers to make a killing by eliminating much of the local competition and made sure there won't be any unpleasant Iraqi government interference -- in fact, he's made sure there will be no Iraqi government at all while key economic decisions are made." See numerous other items about Bremer throughout these pages. (The Nation/Common Dreams, FactMonster, Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Election fraud"There's 51 of us here today, and a quorum of the Texas House of Representatives will not meet without us," says state Representative Jim Dunnam, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Republicans answer by challenging the patriotism of the Democrats, and issue playing cards almost identical to the ones featuring Iraqi terrorists and outlaws, except these feature pictures of the Texas Democrats. In a statement released by the Democrats, they say, "We won't be present today -- or any day -- that the House plans to consider this outrageous partisan action. ...This misbegotten plan is a monument to Tom DeLay's ego. No one benefits more than Tom DeLay. He believes he should choose who represents Texas in Congress, not the Texas voters." The redistricting plan was largely drawn up by Jim Ellis, an aide to DeLay.
Iraq war and occupationexpected that 'we were going to open garages and find' weapons of mass destruction." (Reuters, Democratic Underground)
Iraq war and occupationbackpedaling on WMDs: "I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago -- whether they were destroyed right before the war, [or] whether they're still hidden." (Defense Department, Democratic Underground)
US actions in Latin America"There is a question of principle at stake here," Maxwell writes in his letter of resignation. "'It was made abundantly clear to me, as you know, that there was intense pressure on you [James Hoge, the editor of Foreign Affairs magazine], on Foreign Affairs and on my employer, the Council on Foreign Relations, from Henry Kissinger and others, to close off this debate about accountability and Mr. Kissinger's role in Chile in the 1970's." Maxwell was invited to write a review of the book The Pinochet File, a book that re-examines the American role in helping to unseat Allende, the socialist president who died during the military coup that brought the brutal regime of General Augusto Pinochet to power. The book is based on 25,000 United States government documents that were declassified in recent years. Maxwell's essay largely summarized the unresolved questions surrounding American actions in Chile, mentioning three issues in particular: the 1970 assassination of a Chilean general, Rene Schneider; the September 1973 coup against Allende; and the assassination of Orlando Letelier, Allende's former foreign minister, in September 1976. The review confirmed "the deep involvement of the US intelligence services in Chile prior to and after the coup."
Iraq war and occupationmilitary campaign in Iraq was not that Iraq was the biggest threat but, on the contrary, that it was the weakest and hence the easiest to take care of. The invasion was largely aimed at demonstrating America's political will and commitment to go to war. Reshaping the Middle East does not mean changing borders, but rather threatening existing regimes through military pressure and destabilizing them with calls for democratization. After Baghdad's fall, tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh should understand that America is back." Conservative columnist Thomas Friedman says more succinctly, "After 9/11, America needed to hit someone in the Arab/Muslim world." This jibes with the crowing of undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith, one of the architects of the war: "Can you imagine what our enemies think of us right now? The deterrent value of what we've accomplished far overshadows the direct results." (New York Times/Los Angeles Times/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Iraq war and occupation(Reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn give the date of the order as May 16.) Bremer's "Order No. 1" mandates that anyone considered a "full member" of the party -- in essence, the top three to four ranks at the ministries -- would be immediately removed from their posts and banned from any future participation in government. Additionally, everyone in the top three layers of the ministries will be investigated for possible crimes and security risks. The idea is to purge any Hussein loyalists from government and other leadership positions, but the idea is disastrous, as almost anyone who wanted any position of leadership or influence in the Hussein government had to join the party whether they supported Hussein or not. There are two million members of the Ba'ath Party throughout Iraq. "We can't do this," says outgoing reconstruction chief Jay Garner. Garner's idea was to remove just the top layer of officialdom, under the supposition that the leaders were the most loyal to Hussein, and work with the others to keep the ministries and the various elements of society functioning while rooting out the other "bad guys" piecemeal. "It's too deep," Garner protests. Bremer hears Garner's objections, but refuses to listen. "Hell, you won't be able to run anything if you go this deep," Garner says. Bremer writes in an e-mail to his wife about the "sea of b*tching and moaning with lots of them saying how hard it was going to be. But I reminded them that the president's guidance is clear: de-Baathification will be carried out even if at a cost to administrative efficiency."
Iraq war and occupation"I don't believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons." The number of times Bush administration officials, including Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush himself, have asserted that Iraq has nuclear weapons is too large to estimate. Two days later, Vice President Cheney will add to the pile of lies Rumsfeld is denying, by saying on NBC's Meet the Press: "We believe [Iraq] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." Liberal Democrat Henry Waxman explains his own vote to support the war with Iraq by saying in June 2003, "The most powerful argument that President Bush made to take the country to war was that Iraq was soon to become a nuclear power and that would change things dramatically -- Saddam Hussein would have the ability to blackmail other countries in the region and it also meant that any other kind of military action we might have to take against them in the future would be far more serious. It was the reason, quite frankly, that brought me to vote for the resolution." (Slate, Salon/Eric Alterman and Mark Green)
Bush's foreign policies"This administration has a view of the special character of the United States, the singular and exclusive character that is new. I've talked to them about it and they make this plain. They say, 'We are the sole super power, we're therefore the exceptional country, we're outside of international law. Others have to obey the law and obey the rules, but we don't.' ...I mean, I'm not making that up. If they were sitting here tonight...the people I've talked with would readily agree. They'd say, 'Yeah, that's right, that's who we are. We are the exceptional country and we don't have to obey the law because we're different.'" (SBS/Buzzflash)