Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Falluja - where are the reports?

The role of the media in the siege of Falluja has been nearly as extraordinary as the battle itself. The siege began on November 8, but by Nov. 15 the military had declared "victory" and the story disappeared from all the major media.


The fact is, the siege is ongoing and the final results are far from certain.


The curtain has been drawn on Falluja; allowing the military to pulverize the city beyond the scrutiny of the world community. The only news to emerge is from the eyewitness accounts of independent journalists. Everyone else has complied with the "total news blackout".


The siege of Falluja continues to be a huge story, despite the fact that the establishment media is nowhere to be found.


The extent of America's war crimes in Falluja is gradually becoming apparent. On December 24, approximately 900 former residents of the battered city were allowed to return to their homes only to find that (according to BBC) "about 60% to 70% of the homes and buildings are completely crushed and damaged, and not ready to inhabit. Of the 30% still left standing, there's not single one that has not been exposed to some damage."


Over 250,000 people have been expelled from their homes and the city has been laid to waste. The US military targeted the three main water treatment plants, the electrical grid and the sewage treatment plant; leaving Fallujans without any of the basic services they'll need to return to a normal life.


Most of the city's mosques have been either destroyed or seriously damaged and entire areas of the city where the fighting was most fierce have been effectively razed to the ground.

So far, the army has only removed the dead bodies from the streets; leaving countless decomposed corpses inside the ruined buildings. A large percentage of these have been devoured by packs ofscavenging dogs. The stench of death is reported to be overpowering.


Two weeks into the campaign, the military claimed victory saying they had "broken the back of the insurgency", but the truth has proved to be far different. In reality, the assault has only dispelled the illusion of US invincibility. Pockets of resistance still maintain a tenacious grip on parts of the city and the guerilla-style tactics have negated the overwhelming force of their adversary. If anything, the siege has only emboldened the resistance and broadened its sphere of influence.


The obliteration of Falluja makes the prospects of "losing the war" all the more likely. The pointless murder of 6000 civilians (Red Cross estimate) will only galvanize the resistance and hasten the inevitable defeat of America's misguided crusade.


If the military succeeds, life in Falluja will become very similar to life in the West Bank; a demeaning daily struggle with the brutish enforcers of occupation.

Counter Punch article<

Friday, December 24, 2004

Returning to Falluja - further report

According to another Falluja resident who returned to the town for the first time since 8 November, charred and half-eaten corpses littered the streets.


"I entered my neigbour's house and found him, after identifying him from an identity card. His body was lying on the ground, nothing left of him but some bones.

"The scene was very shocking and I could not stay as the smell in the houses and the street was intolerable," he said explaining why he left Falluja.

"Before entering the city, they [US forces] told us that the town is suitable for living but we were shocked when we found no water, no electricity and no simple services."

Aljazeera article

You just have to return to the city that you have, and not the one that you might wish to have in the future.

And three more marines were reported killed in Falluja today. Sorry -- U.S. reports read "in al-Anbar province." Because, Falluja is officially all hunky dory now.<

Fallujans return - sort of

Regardless of the reality, BushCo will not negotiate with itself - Fallujans are being returned.

There was anger, frustration and resentment among Iraqis who returned to Falluja on Friday as many discovered their homes in rubble and their livelihoods ruined following a U.S. offensive.

"I saw the city and al-Andalus destroyed," said Ali Mahmood, 35, referring to the district of the city he returned to briefly on Thursday but now plans to leave after seeing the destruction.


While those who fled were at pains to say they had nothing to do with the rebels who made Falluja their stronghold, many of them have since become angry and militant as a result of the offensive.

"Would Allah want us to return to a city that animals can't live in?" said Yasser Satar as he saw his destroyed home.

"Even animals who have no human sense and feelings can not live here," he said, crying.

"What do they want from Falluja? This is the crime of the century. They want to destroy Islam and Muslims. But our anger and resistance will increase."


Aid workers said 200,000 people fled Falluja before the assault and have spent the past seven weeks living in nearby towns and villages or in tented refugee camps nearby.


The Iraqi interim government and the U.S. military this week announced that around 2,000 heads of household would be allowed to return to the Andalus district of Falluja, considered one of the more secure, from Thursday.

Some 900 people, mostly men, made the journey, going through intense security checks before being allowed to enter, including the fingerprinting and iris scanning of "suspicious military-age men" by the U.S. military to ensure insurgents do not filter back in.


But they will be without water and electricity as basic services and communications were knocked out in the assault.

Iraq Net article

Actually, the conditions being imposed upon those who return may be worse than the conditions of their homes.

But, for a spot of light in this darkness:

Families of US troops killed in the offensive on the Iraqi city of Fallujah are to travel to Jordan [December 26] with 600,000 dollars worth of humanitarian aid for refugees of the attack.

The November assault on Fallujah left 71 US military dead, according to the families, and the Iraqi government said more than 2,000 Iraqis were killed.

"This delegation is a way for me to express my sympathy and support for the Iraqi people," said Rosa Suarez of Escondido in California.

"The Iraq war took away my son's life, and it has taken away the lives of so many innocent Iraqis. It is time to stop the killing and to help the children of Iraq," she added in a statement released by the families.
Iraq Net article

I'm impressed.<

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Falluja airstrike update

Three US marines were today killed in action in Iraq's volatile western Anbar province, a military spokesperson said.

The spokesperson would not say where the three had been killed, but their deaths were reported as US forces fought insurgents in Falluja, in the Anbar province. F-18 fighter jets dropped several bombs in the city, sending up plumes of smoke, while tank and machine gun fire could be heard to the south.
Guardian article

This is what allows General Myers to say the answer is simple - we just win. And what allows Derr Rumsfiend to say it's "crystal clear" and "unambiguous" that "Fallujah was a successful effort". (Source) We just quit saying where the soldiers were killed and refer to any deaths in Falluja as deaths in the Anbar province. See how easy that is? Simple.

I had been working on a post commenting on the DOD briefing I'm quoting there, but decided to forego posting it, as I'd posted a couple of things yesterday regarding other people quoting some of the assinine things Rumsfiend and Myers said. I'll change my mind again and put it here:

A few more choice quotes from yesterday's DOD briefing

December 22

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon, folks. (Coughs.) I've got a catch in my throat, so I apologize, but I swallowed something wrong.

As an old ex-con friend of mine always said, paybacks are a motherfucker. For all the stuff he's asking other people to swallow, it's only right. It's what he's spitting out that's the real problem.

The tragic attack in Mosul, Iraq demonstrates again that the coalition and the Iraqi people face a vicious and a determined enemy. Freedom is at stake in Iraq and it's achievable. The only alternative to success would be to turn back to darkness -- to those who kill and terrorize innocent men, women and children -- and that must not happen.

Now you know he doesn't believe that drivel. A catch in his throat isn't enough of a signal to him to stop puking up bullshit. Let's have another look at the directives and the methods for the capture of Iraq before we discuss killing and terrorizing innocents.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been killed and with the wounded and with their families and with all those military and civilian personnel who have volunteered to place themselves at risk in our country's behalf.

And the families of these dead soldiers are going to get my personally signed letter of condolence, unlike the dead before them whose families got letters forged by my signing machine.

Okay, I know. Usually I don't bother to post this crap, because I assume you've heard enough of it that you could write these little briefings yourself. Be sure to add that Afghanistan has been liberated and elected a mayor of Kabuhl president, and that the enemy has escaped Falluja and set up camp in Mosul been routed from Falluja. And keep repeating that Iraqis are being trained to keep Iraq secure. Don't leave out that we are fighting the enemy there so we don't have to fight him here. (And be sure to mention that the enemy chops off people's heads.) (Go check it out if you don't believe he's still saying all these things.)

And especially remember this quote when they hold elections at the end of January without Falluja, without Mosul, and without numerous other cities being able to vote:

As long as an important region of the world is condemned to tyranny and violence, with one-half of their population barred from full participation, with little hope for a better future, terrorists will have a deep pool from which to draw recruits and to attack free people across the globe.

Then we get General The-solution-is-simple-al l-we-have-to-do-is-win Myers

Efforts to defeat the insurgents in the anti-Iraqi, anti- coalition forces who are targeting innocent citizens and coalition forces remain a top priority. Intimidation, kidnappings and executions, especially those focused in Mosul, north Babil, Ramadi and al Qaim are particularly troubling, and these areas will be a focus of particularly increased security emphasis.

Directly contradicting Mr. Abdel-Mahdi at the National Press Club.

This attack, of course, is the responsibility of insurgents, the same insurgents who attacked on 9/11, the same type of insurgents who attacked in Beirut, the same insurgents who -- type of insurgents who attacked the Cole, Khobar Towers, and the list goes on.

Maybe General Myers actually said these were the same insurgents who attacked on 9/11. Maybe the transcriber left out "type of". Whichever way it went down, it was a flagrant deceptive statement continuing the administration's efforts to make the people we are killing, in your mind, responsible for the WTC attacks.

SEC. RUMSFELD: We have said all along that we expected the level of violence to increase as you got towards the election. That is not new. We have also said that Fallujah was a successful effort. It was. It seems to me that's crystal-clear, that it's unambiguous, and it was an important effort.

Cyrstal clear and unambiguous.

Q: Can I do a follow-up, Mr. Secretary, on that same issue? Do you and General Myers think it's unwise or was unwise to put 400- plus servicemen and civilians and others in a huge tent the size of a football field on a base in a combat zone, a base that had been hit by mortars and RPGs? And if you do think it's unwise, are either one of you or both going to sound off to Generals Casey and Ham, or take them to the woodshed?


[MYERS:]We have had a suicide bomber, apparently, strap something to his body -- apparently a him -- and go into a dining hall. We know how difficult this is, to prevent suicide -- people bent on suicide and stopping them. We understand how difficult that is. But I think -- this was the insurgents that did this. It's not General Ham that attacked his dining hall.

Oh, good lord. Thank God it wasn't General Ham who attacked his own men. Who lets this man speak? "Losses are not our fault, you dummies. Our enemies are trying to kill us."<

Falluja update

U.S. Marines clashed with insurgents in the battered city of Fallujah on Thursday [December 23] with warplanes dropping bombs and tanks shelling suspected guerrilla positions on a day when a first group of residents displaced by fighting were scheduled to return.
Iraq Net article

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Falluja ironically at Christmastime

Remember this Ben Hur re-enactment the troops entertained themselves with just before they launched into Falluja (Operation Phantom Fury) after the election?

It would appear they aren't having so much fun now.

Nearly six weeks after US marines stormed the rebel enclave of Fallujah, military psychologists are still seeing a steady stream of service personnel traumatised by the long days and nights of ferocious street fighting.


"After the offensive began, we had a lot of patients, then there was this lull, and it has picked up again recently with people trying to sit on their symptoms."


The US-backed government put rebel losses at more than 2,000, although unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed.

Sierra Times article

Remember when Rome was the occupying force in a Middle Eastern country and had all the males of a certain age killed? Does the name Herod ring a bell?

What the images of Phantom Fury did not convey is that this assault is the largest concentration of heavy armor in one place, since the fall of Berlin. This was the first time since World War II that "an American armored task force" has been turned "loose in a city with no restrictions".

More to the point, the force of as much as 20,000 soldiers (12,000 to 17,000 American/coalition soldiers, about 2000 odd Iraqi "National guards" and perhaps 1000 odd peshmergas) were supported by an estimated 1100 to as much as 2000 armored vehicles and tanks. Air support was largely carrier based out of the gulf and B-52's from bases outside of Iraq.

The armor alone represents the heaviest ever concentration of armor since the fall of Berlin (1945) in one place against a single military objective.

Phantom Fury was officially underway on the 8th of November and declared to be a sweeping victory on or about the 15th of November.


There is no evidence of what has transpired save intermittent but very very regular losses attributed to "pockets of resistance" in the "Anbar Province". And, yes, reportage on the brand new movie on Fallujah starring Harrison Ford.


There are no satellite pictures of Fallujah available in the public domain after November 15th.

Or consider that the Red Cross/Red crescent has not been allowed to enter the city in any substantive manner. Today is the 20th of Dec and it has still not been allowed.

Or consider another break in the regular stream of consciousness. No reporter has set foot in the city or after the 22nd of November.

A "Great Victory" like this and no footage?


Fallujah has not been taken. Not only has Fallujah not been taken, but the coalition forces have staged several retreats and are now confined largely to the outside of the city.

The Iraqi resistance is currently in control of most of the city and have forced back at least three of the largest armored assaults in recent history.

Held off by a bunch of guys in tennis shoes and sandals with low-tech weaponry and remote controls taken from toys. Maybe this isn't true. But if not, then why don't we have embedded reporters cranking out hero stories and great photos like we got at the initial invasion of Iraq? Read more of this article: The End of Warfare

Monday, December 20, 2004


Al-Zaman reports that on Saturday night into Sunday morning, clashes broke out again in the eastern Askari, Sina'i and Shuhada' districts of Fallujah between US troops and guerrillas, and that the US forces called in air strikes on those quarters; I couldn't find any mention of this report, coming from Iraqi eyewitnesses, in the US press.
Juan Cole post<


Al-Zaman reports that on Saturday night into Sunday morning, clashes broke out again in the eastern Askari, Sina'i and Shuhada' districts of Fallujah between US troops and guerrillas, and that the US forces called in air strikes on those quarters; I couldn't find any mention of this report, coming from Iraqi eyewitnesses, in the US press.
Juan Cole post<

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Regarding Harrison Ford's willingness to be Hollywood's propaganda for Falluja

Yesterday I actually watched some TV. I skipped around from show to show as they got boring and as advertisements broke in. One show that I came back to from time to time was a focus on Hollywood director Phillip Noyce (an Australian), who directed a couple of movies with Harrison Ford portraying Jack Ryan, the CIA operative in Tom Clancy's novels.

I haven't liked Harrison Ford since the Star Wars movies back when. He is one of the most overrated, in my opinion, of Hollywood's stars - a one-dimensional character whom they say is just like the guy you see on the screen. Today's John Wayne (another terrible actor). Director Noyce was talking about how they decided to make Jack Ryan react differently to a viewing of murders than author Clancy had the character react in the book Patriot Games, which movie Noyce was directing. He said Clancy was very unhappy about the way they changed the character from someone who stonily appreciated the killing aspects that were a large part of his career. Noyce and Ford decided Ryan should be a sympathetic character for the audience. They looked on him as a hero, and they didn't believe a hero would be so cold-hearted. Obviously they understand very little about the CIA.

But, see how that works? It's the same mentality Americans have about all their war "heroes". Our guys have good hearts. Their killing is of a heroic, selfless nature. Harrison Ford is just portraying on screen the delusion that we wish to maintain about ourselves. Bringing you entertainment, not a portrayal of life. (There should be a different category for people who perform those roles - just call them entertainers, not actors - that insults the really fine actors out there.)

So anyway, it comes as no surprise to me this morning to see that Mr. Ford is considering another role guaranteed to entertain you and keep you divorced from reality.

Producers at Universal Pictures are developing what would be Hollywood's first feature film about the war in Iraq, with actor Harrison Ford ready to portray a U.S. general in the movie, the studio said on Friday.

The combat drama would be based on the upcoming book "No True Glory," an account of the battle for Falluja by Bing West, a Marine veteran and former U.S. assistant defense secretary now covering the war as a foreign correspondent, a studio spokesman said.


In "No True Glory" he would play Maj. Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. Marine commander ordered to lead an assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja, an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, after four Americans contractors were killed and mutilated there by a mob in March 2004.

The offensive was halted the following month, and the Marines were withdrawn until U.S. forces renewed their assault on the Sunni Muslim city following the American presidential election in November.

Reuters article

Here's the author Bing West (covering the war as a "foreign" correspondent??) on December 8 at MSNBC online:

The city's warlords, Janabi and Hadid, paid obeisance to the arch terrorist Zarqawi and competed for his favor by assassinations and bombings. They bragged their "martyr battalions" would cut to pieces any American force entering the city.

Deciding otherwise, the residents fled the city, leaving a few thousand jihadists to their fate. In a swift offensive, American soldiers and Marines swept in and hunted them down, destroying every house and mosque where Zarqawi's soldiers stood and fought. Seventeen-thousand buildings were searched, uncovering cache after cache of weapons. The numbers were staggering: Over 100,000 explosives found in just one section of the city.

Bulldozers and backhoes are now shoveling the debris from the streets. The few remaining insurgents emerging from the ruins have been quickly cut down. The other day, four of them fired from a cluttered alley at two passing Humvees. Half a minute later, they were dead. A Marine battalion commander, Lt. Col. Pat Malay, shot the last of the four.

"It's a good day when you get into it," Cpl. Michael Yerena, the vehicle commander in the second Humvee, said to me. "You feel you've earned your pay."


Politically, Fallujah was as infected as the air at the torture house at the corner of the park. Many of the residents were complicit in the reign of terror. Whether the city returns to its murderous ways depends on the resolve of the Iraqi security forces now moving into the city. Voter turnout in January will be an indictor of how the political winds are blowing.

Militarily, the battle of Fallujah was an unqualified success. Zarqawi has been deprived of his sanctuary. He will spend more time on the run and have less time to blow up and decapitate people.

And here's the reality of Falluja in today's news (which is very scantly reported; try changing your search to "al-Anbar", the province in which Falluja is located):

The US military has renewed its aerial assault of Falluja amid reports of fierce clashes with the city's resistance, an Iraqi journalist said.

According to independent Iraqi journalist Fadhil al-Badrani, US warplanes targeted Falluja's eastern and southern districts.

He said fierce clashes had broken out in the city centre between US forces who have been in the city since 8 November and Iraqi fighters who had infiltrated back in across the Euphrates river.

"There is no way to determine the number of casualties as US authorities have barred journalists and aid workers from entering Falluja," al-Badrani told Aljazeera.
Aljazeera article

U.S. forces, fighting what they now acknowledge as formidable foes in Iraq, are improvising along the road to an exit that Washington can call a success.

American-led forces face "a very, very sophisticated enemy," Major General Stephen Speakes said this week -- a change in tone from early postwar talk of a "dead-end" rabble of Saddam-era "thugs" which U.S. commanders said they were mopping up.

With troops taking hundreds of casualties a month, American commanders on Thursday tripled the bonus paid to reservists who re-enlist and almost doubled the initial recruitment bonus.


Falluja is a virtual ghost town, but Marines were still shelling guerrilla strongpoints on Friday, clouding hopes that most of the city's 300,000 residents can return home soon.

U.S. generals concede the Falluja attack did not quell the insurgency, but say it unsettled its Iraqi and foreign leaders.

Yet the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, Lieutenant General Lance Smith, also said this week the guerrillas were "becoming more effective", particularly at disrupting convoys.

Arab Times Online article

"U.S. forces will allow families to return to the Andalous area starting Friday under a 10-day timetable," Mahmoud Ibrahim said, referring to a neighbourhood in the southwest of Falluja.

But there was no immediate evidence of anyone returning and witnesses said U.S. forces still battling pockets of die-hard insurgents shelled Falluja on Friday.
Sign On San Diego article

Reuters has the headline for this report as: "Falluja refugees to start returning". Always misleading.

There was no immediate evidence of anyone returning.

More than 200,000 people have yet to go home and many are in need of aid as night temperatures in Iraq sink toward freezing. U.S. forces have so far prevented refugees from returning, saying basic facilities must be restored first.

The city has been without power or water since the attack, which also destroyed hundreds of buildings and left power and communication lines severed and lying in the streets.

Iraq's interim government said on Thursday civilians would be allowed to start returning home next week.
Reuters article

Because they are going to have power and water by next week? Sure. Those "renewed" airstrikes should be a nice invitation to return, as well.

Aljazeera is reporting a little differently than Reuters (surprise!).

The US military had earlier said it could not recommend to the Iraqi interim government the return of residents to Falluja.

"At some point we will make a recommendation; we have not reached that point," Lieutenant Colonel Dan Wilson, a deputy commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, told reporters in a military base near Falluja late on Friday. Aljazeera article

And let's review the plan for when they do return, anyway.

Residents will now officially be denied entry until at least Dec. 24; and even then, only the heads of households will be allowed in, a few at a time, to assess damage to their residences in the largely destroyed city.

With a few notable exceptions the media has accepted the recent virtual news blackout in Falluja.


Entry and exit from the city will be restricted.


Fallujans are to wear their universal identity cards in plain sight at all times.


No private automobiles will be allowed inside the city.


Only those Fallujans cleared through American intelligence vettings will be allowed to work on the reconstruction of the city.


Those engaged in reconstruction work - that is, work - in the city may be organized into "work brigades."

Alternet article

Zieg heil. Bet they can't wait to get home and get cracking.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Promise of Falluja

The chilling reality of what Fallujah has become is only now seeping out, as the US military continues to block almost all access to the city, whether to reporters, its former residents, or aid groups such as the Red Crescent Society. The date of access keeps being postponed, partly because of ongoing fighting - only this week more air strikes were called in and fighting "in pockets" remains fierce (despite US pronouncements of success weeks ago) - and partly because of the difficulties military commanders have faced in attempting to prettify their ugly handiwork. Residents will now officially be denied entry until at least December 24; and even then, only the heads of households will be allowed in, a few at a time, to assess damage to their residences in the largely destroyed city.

With a few notable exceptions, the media have accepted the recent virtual news blackout in Fallujah. The ongoing fighting in the city, especially in "cleared" neighborhoods, is proving an embarrassment and so, while military spokesmen continue to announce American casualties, they now come not from the city itself but, far more vaguely, from "al-Anbar province", of which the city is a part.


A report by Katarina Kratovac of the Associated Press (picked up by the Washington Post) about military plans for managing Fallujah once it is pacified (if it ever is) proved a notable exception to the arid coverage in the major media. Kratovac based her piece on briefings by the military leadership, notably Lieutenant-General John F Sattler, commander of the Marines in Iraq. By combining her evidence with some resourceful reporting by Dahr Jamail (and bits and pieces of information from reports printed up elsewhere), a reasonably sharp vision of the conditions the US is planning for Fallujah's "liberated" residents comes into focus. When they are finally allowed to return, if all goes as the Americans imagine, here's what the city's residents may face:


The name tags and the high-tech identity cards are meant to guard against both forgeries and unlawful movement within the city. The military-style work gangs are to ensure that everyone is under close supervision at all times. The restricted entry points are clearly meant to keep all weapons out. Assumedly kept out as well will be most or all reporters (they tend to inflame public opinion), most medical personnel (they tend to "exaggerate" civilian casualties), and most Sunni clerics (they oppose the occupation and support the insurgency). We can also expect close scrutiny of computers (which can be used for nefarious communications), ambulances (which have been used to smuggle weapons and guerrillas), medicines (which can be used to patch up wounded fighters who might still be hiding somewhere), and so on.


[T]he most revealing element of the plan may be the banning of all cars, the enforcement of which, all by itself, would make the city unlivable; and which therefore demonstrates both the impracticality of the US vision and a callous disregard for the needs and rights of the Fallujans.


It is not much of a reach to see that, at least in their fantasies, US planners would like to set up what sociologists call a "total institution". Like a mental hospital or a prison, Fallujah, at least as reimagined by the Americans, will be a place where constant surveillance equals daily life and the capacity to interdict "suspicious" behavior (however defined) is the norm. But "total institution" might be too sanitized a term to describe activities that so clearly violate international law as well as fundamental morality. Those looking for a descriptor with more emotional bite might consider one of those used by correspondent Pepe Escobar of Asia Times Online: either "American gulag" for those who enjoy Stalinist imagery or "concentration camp" for those who prefer the Nazi version of the same.


These dystopian plans are a direct consequence of the fact that the conquest of Fallujah, despite the destruction of the city, visibly did not accomplish its primary goal - "to wipe out militants and insurgents and break the back of guerrillas in Fallujah".


[T]he history of the Iraq war thus far, and the history of guerrilla wars in general, suggest that there will simply be a new round of struggle, and that carefully laid military plans will begin to disintegrate with the very first arrivals. There is no predicting what form the new struggle will take, but the US military is going to have a great deal of difficulty controlling a large number of rebellious, angry people inside the gates of America's new mini-police state.

Asia Times article

Thursday, December 16, 2004


From Dahr Jamail...

“My list is now 32,”says Salam as he arrives at the hotel, “Now 32 of my friends have been killed.”

He still has tears in his eyes, even though he’s being stoic. Another of his friends has been shot and killed.

“You know I feel like shit every time I add someone to my list. Sometimes it feels like it is every day,”he says.

Welcome to Iraq. Where the news gets better with each passing day.

Heavy fighting is continuing in Fallujah. While the military claims to be in control of the situation, they are bombing areas of the city again with warplanes.

Sources in and around the city continue to state that the mujahideen are in control of large sections of the city as they’ve somehow managed to get more weapons in the city.


7 Marines have been killed in Al-Anbar province-read Fallujah. Does the military think it helps them to not announce that there has been ongoing heavy fighting in Fallujah for the last few days? How does this help the families of the soldiers there? What is this like for the loved ones back home who are living in an information blackout? When they know that the only hard news they will truly get from the military is when they are informed that their loved one is dead?


Monday, December 13, 2004

Letter from a soldier in Iraq


We all saw the video on NBC of the mosque shootings of wounded and I can tell you it is a lot worse than that. We often killed the helpless, the wounded and many civilians. My own squad did. I did. And I will do whatever I am ordered to do, but it doesn’t stop me from not liking it. I didn’t join the service to kill women and children!

We do a lot worse than what you saw on the video. In Fallujah when we come to a apartment building, we shout for the people to come out. Most times because a lack of translators we couldn’t even say to come out in Arabic, and these people don’t know what an English “come out” sounds like anymore than you reading this would know it if I said it in Arabic.

A lot of people are too afraid to come out. But after we would warn them, we would go in. You know how? We would riddle the building and every window with high-caliber, armor piercing machine gun fire, then often we would throw in a grenade for good measure. If any civilians were in there they ended up either dead or wounded. (And I can tell you that over the duration of a week I myself saw at least a hundred bodies in the burned out and attacked apartments, and I only saw a little sliver of Fallujah) And what did we do with the wounded? I’ll tell you. We did nothing. We just moved on to the next building. We were fighters not medics, but there were no medics behind us. I believe the thinking is that it is better for the wounded enemy to die so they can’t fight us anymore.

I did what everyone else did, but it doesn’t mean I liked it. I am a fighting man in the tradition of my Dad and Grandfather and on back. I had a great, great, great grandfather who fought with Lee in Virginia. I am an American fighting man, not the murderer of civilians. It is true that we have to kill civilians if we are to survive because we can’t know who the enemy is, but how in the world can our leaders put us in this situation?


The people here on the streets have a name for us, they call us the Jews! At first I never understood this, but when I found out how Israeli agents in the American government like Perle and Wolfowitz were behind the war, all of it began to fall into place. You are right, it was never a war for America, it is one where thousands of Americans are being killed or maimed for life for Israel, not America.

Liberty Forum article

Number one, good on you, soldier, for telling the truth. Number two, stop doing what you know is wrong. Unlike the people you are shooting, it won't kill you. And, son, you are personally responsible, whether you are following orders or not.

Just say "we won"

That's apparently all there is to winning in Iraq.

More air strikes on Falluja, notwithstanding the U.S. claim that the mission there was accomplished already.

Violent confrontations erupted in Falluja city on Sunday between the American forces and the gunmen in the city amid an intensive American air bombardment.

News reports said that confrontations which are the most violent since two weeks started yesterday morning in the eastern part of the city and covered the quarters of al-Askari, al-Senai, al-Shuhadaa and al-Jbeil.

The city was also exposed to intensive bombardment by tanks artillery from outside the city and clashes are still continuous in the southern and eastern parts of Falluja.

Witnesses said that humanitarian conditions are greatly deteriorated and that bodies of the dead are still scattered in the streets and parts of the city are covered with water after the destruction of its water station.
Arabic News article

Fallujah, the scene of a weeklong U.S.-led offensive last month to uproot insurgents based in the city, erupted in more violence Sunday that began with U.S. and Iraqi forces clashing with guerrillas in several suburbs and ending with a series of U.S. air strikes.

“Third Marine Aircraft Wing aircraft dropped 10 precision-guided bombs on structures in Fallujah where insurgents were hiding and attacking Iraqi and marine forces,” spokesman Lieut. Lyle Gilbert said.

“The strikes were conducted throughout the day and were called in by troops in (armed) contact with and observing the enemy moving from house to house.”

Fallujah resident Abdullah Ahmed said the fighting started after U.S. soldiers brought 700 to 800 men into the city to clear rubble from damage caused by the November offensive.

“The clashes started as soon as the young men entered the city,” Ahmed said.

“The American troops were surprised and decided to launch military operations.”
Globe and Mail article

For three weeks beginning October 14, say sources at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the assault on Falluja was pure PSYOPS, a mere announcement of assault, designed to provoke "the opposition" into premature response. The lie worked pretty well. "The opposition" abandoned their so-called safe havens and "melted into the night." For this reason, many residents of the city expected the PSYOPS theater to let out early, too.

One hapless doctor, Hakim Mirzoev, says he expected the Americans to surround the city, fire a few shots, and declare victory. He didn't realize that a greater PSYOPS scheme was in the making, a plan to flatten Falluja under boot and mortar so that the City of Mosques could be rebuilt by Christian Soldiers into a Model City-a Pasadena by the Euphrates. With this world-historical Crusade in mind, Falluja was crushed, thousands were killed and wounded, hundreds of thousands displaced, so that America could perceive itself great in the gaze of the world.

So who made Falluja possible? Who enabled budgets to be filled with imperial plans? American taxpayers did. The moral tracer on this funding leads to me and you, the co-investors who backed this pre-holiday discount on the lives of Fallujans, thousands of lives, forever lost and unlived. To pay for this moral bankruptcy, we got up in the morning, worked all day, and sent money to the war machine. Ask not who bankrolled Falluja.

Thursday, December 9, 2004


Dahr Jamail posts some pictures at Iraq Dispatches:

Two weeks ago someone was allowed into Fallujah by the military to help bury bodies. They were allowed to take photographs of 75 bodies, in order to show pictures to relatives so that they might be identified before they were buried.


Information with some of the photos is from those identified by family members already.

One of the family members who was looking for dead relatives, shared these photos which were taken from that book.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he told of what he saw in his village during the last few weeks.

"The Americans shot every boat on the river because people were trying to escape Fallujah by the river. They shot all the sheep, any animal people owned was shot. Helicopters shot all the animals and anything that moved in all the villages surrounding Fallujah during the fighting."

He said that none of the roads into Fallujah, or around Fallujah were passable because anyone on them was shot. "I know one family that were all killed. There are no signs on these roads that tell people not to use them-so people don't know they aren't supposed to use them. No signs in English or Arabic!"

There are several pages of gruesome photographs, a mere fraction of the number of bodies left lying in the streets and in homes in the city. Many are partially eaten by dogs.

To Iraqis, this is the handiwork of The Great Satan.

It's not your freedom they hate.

Previous Falluja posts
A Chronicle of Genocide

Update 9:40pm : Shortly after reading a skeptical commenter's claims, avowing that the military's rules of engagement would not permit these kinds of things - therefore, they don't happen - this article on Jimmy Massey, U.S. Marine with a conscience, came across my e-desk. Excerpt:

Jimmy Massey, a former marine staff sergeant, told an immigration and refugee board hearing in Toronto that he and his fellow marines shot and killed more than 30 unarmed men, women and children and even shot a young Iraqi who got out of his car with his arms in the air.

"We killed the man. We fired at a cyclic rate of 500 bullets per vehicle," testified Mr. Massey, a marine for 12 years who was honourably discharged last year. "The company gunnery sergeant came running over and began yelling, 'You just shot a guy with his hands up.' "


The former marine said none of the Iraqis they shot had suicide bombing materials in their vehicles. He speculated that they didn't understand the hand signals and signage indicating they should stop.

Globe & Mail article

Yes, I understand that the military's idea of a hand signal that means stop is a raised fist. They expect people outside their own organization to recognize that?

His testimony bolstered that of Mr. Hinzman, who said earlier the Iraqi conflict was considered "a new kind of war" and soldiers believed they were "going to Iraq to jack up [kill] some terrorists."

"We were told to consider all Arabs as potential terrorists . . . to foster an attitude of hatred that gets your blood boiling," said the former paratrooper, adding he did not want to be involved in capturing Iraqis who would not be afforded the rights of due process or of the Geneva Conventions.

As I posted in the comments section, there are plenty of articles exposing the criminal, inhumane behavior of the U.S. military over the course of many wars and other military actions. I have even heard from friends and read accounts of other soldiers who were special forces in Viet Nam stories that would give you nightmares. And these guys are trying to live with the memories of what they did in "service to their country" those many years ago.

But hey, believe what you want...you will anyway.

Update 10:00pm: And another one shows up...

Americans steadfastly refuse to notice the massacres ordered by a mad commander-in-chief and carried out by a berserk defense secretary, even as their fellow citizens are blown to bits in the process, and innocent men, women and children are gunned down in cold blood as they try to flee the carnage.

No one even blinked when Fox News military "analyst," retired Lieutenant General Tom Mc Inerney recently diagnosed what our mission in Fallajua should be -- "We must be ruthless, especially in the area of collateral damage," he said self-righteously. "We shouldn't be concerned about collateral damage. All the good civilians are gone. If we must make Falluja Carthage, then let's make Falluja Carthage..."
  Information Clearinghouse article

Monday, December 6, 2004

Falluja's new freedom awaits

Marine commanders working in unheated, war-damaged downtown buildings are hammering out the details of their paradoxical task: Bring back the 300,000 residents in time for January elections without letting in insurgents, even though many Fallujans were among the fighters who ruled the city until the US assault drove them out in November, and many others cooperated with fighters out of conviction or fear.


Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.


One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.


Most Fallujans have not heard about the US plans.

Boston.com article

They'll be thrilled when they find out. Bet.

"It's the Iraqi interim government that's coming up with all these ideas," Major General Richard Natonski, who commanded the Fallujah assault and oversees its reconstruction, said of the plans for identity badges and work brigades.

Sorry, I should have warned you not to be chewing or swallowing anything.

Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.

But, the Oaf of Office told me that brown-skinned people are capable of ruling themselves.

When they heard of the proposal to require men to work, some Marines were skeptical that an angry public would work effectively if coerced. Others said the plan was based on US tactics that worked in postwar Germany. DiFrancisci said he would wait for more details. "There's something to be said for a firm hand," he said.

Arbeit Macht Frei
Zieg heil

Falluja "secured"

The Iraqi Red Crescent (IRC) says it has left Fallujah on US military orders after the aid agency was told the former insurgent stronghold was not safe.


Ms Ibadi, speaking in Baghdad, had said earlier that the agency left of its own free will, but she said she was only informed after the IRC left the city that it had been told to do so by US marines.


There had been friction between the IRC and the US military as the agency was prevented from distributing aid throughout the city.

ABC article<

Dispatch from Iraq: Trophies

From Dahr Jamail on December 4:

Two giant explosions occurred around 6:15am, followed by mortar blasts, then constant, heavy gun battles that went on into late morning.

The Hamid al-Alwan mosque, a small Shia mosque in the predominantly Sunni area of Adhamiya had been hit with a car bomb.


The interesting detail is that while US military are usually some of the first to arrive on the scene at bombings, they never showed up for this one. The Iraqi National Guard, who have a base in the ex-presidential palace less than one kilometer from the bombing, never showed up either.

The Iraqi Police, however, did show up at the scene. Most of them wearing facemasks to protect their identity (this is Adhamiya) but one man, a muscular, arrogant, loudspoken policeman, unmasked, was yelling, ''Of course this happened because this is a Shia mosque! The Sunni hate the Shia!''

Members of the crowd perceived his actions as deliberately provocative and inflammatory.

Aisha Dulaimy, a resident of al-Adhamiya said, ''The reason for this car bomb is the Americans want to cause a split between the Shia and Sunni. But there has never been fighting between the Shia and Sunni in the history of Iraq. They want to make a struggle between us, but it will never work. They tried this before and people responded by making demonstrations together against the occupiers. So they will never make it. We are living as brothers-Shia and Sunni. There is no difference because we all live in the same home, which is Iraq.''

She references an attack last winter in the large Shia mosque across the river in the Khadamiya district, which was followed nearly immediately by an attack on a Sunni mosque in Adhamiya. The attacks were perceived by both residents and religious leaders as attempts to divide the religious sects, so they held mass demonstrations together, Shia and Sunni, in a show of solidarity. They also prayed in one another's mosques.

The nearly immediate reaction from the bombing yesterday was an intense mortar barrage on the nearby US military base followed by fierce clashes in Adhamiya.

Dahr's post also has this information about Falluja...

Thursday the director of Fallujah General Hospital was shot and wounded by soldiers while he and two other doctors attempted to enter Fallujah in an ambulance in order to provide aid to families trapped there. They had gone into the city after having been granted permission by the military and Ministry of Health.

A friend of mine here who is a doctor told me that recently the Ministry of Health issued a directive instructing doctors not to talk to any media, particularly about patients who are wounded by the military.


[T]here are also eyewitness reports now from refugees that some soldiers in Fallujah were tying the dead bodies of resistance fighters to tanks and driving around with their ''trophies.''

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Fallujans protest to return home

About 1500 displaced Falluja residents demonstrated in Habaniya demanding to return to their city, parts of which sustained heavy damage during the military operation last month.

US and Iraqi officials have pledged to reconstruct areas devastated by the fighting.


The statement said the resistance had been lying low for a "few days" but were planning to resume attacks against US-led forces.


It's a little hard to reconstruct when you are still fighting and blowing things up.

Fallujan refugee camp in Baghdad

Aljazeera special report: Falluja in 2004

Flashback: November 10 - Fallujah, the Sequel: Preparing for Butchery

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Falluja report

The Pentagon now says US forces will see their tour of duty extended until after the Jan. 30 elections. While their fight is no longer a front-page story, the physical and mental toll is growing, as the marines here continue to hunt an enemy that rarely seeks them out. Instead, pockets of insurgents lie waiting until teams...come crashing through their door.


[T]he original problem persists: US forces sweep through one neighborhood after another, only to find insurgents popping up in "cleared" areas.

The battle Monday killed one marine and wounded three others - a high cost against three insurgents, who had moved into a house 50 feet across the street from a newly established marine position at a Fallujah fire station. That house and several others nearby had been cleared just two days earlier.


The Fallujah assault "is not good for the families and marines who have suffered and died, putting their lives on the line for the freedom of Iraq. But it has been good in terms of dealing a blow to the insurgency," says Wilson.

  Christian Science Monitor article

Yeah, sure sounds that way.

For over a week rumors have circulated in the Arab press that both napalm and other chemical weapons were used mainly in the Jolan district of Falluja, a major area of the fighting. Now, despite a US media blackout, more evidence is leaking out and causing a furor in the British Parliament. As Gilfeather reports: “Last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh.”


The US has already admitted that it used napalm during the siege of Baghdad. The truth was reluctantly confirmed by the Pentagon after news reports corroborated the evidence. The military has tried to conceal the truth by saying that there is a distinction between its new weapon and “traditional napalm”. The “improved” product carries the Pentagon moniker “Mark 77 firebombs” and uses jet fuel to “decrease environmental damage”. The fact that military planner’s even considered “environmental damage” while developing the tools for incinerating human beings, gives us some insight into the deep vein of cynicism that permeates their ranks.

The Pentagon’s hair-splitting has done little to obfuscate the facts. Marines returning from Iraq call the bombs napalm and napalm it is.

  ZNet article

The Pentagon's announcement this week that it is adding 12,000 more troops to the approximately 138,000 soldiers it already has in Iraq has put an abrupt end to the fleeting sense of triumph that followed November's "victory" by U.S. Marines who regained control of Fallujah, the main Sunni rebel stronghold.

While the administration sought to spin the decision as a matter of keeping the insurgents "on the run" and backing up security for elections scheduled to take place Jan. 30, most analysts have described the move as an effective admission that Washington's counter-insurgency campaign has not, in fact, been going particularly well.


Given the recent disappointing performance of Iraqi police and security forces, the influx of more U.S. troops marks at least a symbolic setback to the larger strategy of "Iraqification," or giving indigenous Iraqi forces more responsibility for maintaining order and keeping the largely Sunni insurrection in check.

"I fear that it signals a 're-Americanization' ... of our strategy in Iraq," retired Army Col. Ralph Hallenback, who worked with the U.S. occupation in 2003, told Thursday's Washington Post.

  Lew Rockwell article

"Re-" nothing. It began and has always been an American war.

Troops who were originally promised tours of duty that would not exceed 12 months at the absolute most are now looking at extensions of two months at least. Some units originally scheduled to return home in October have been told they will have to wait until March 2005.


For the vets, one of the most important lessons of the whole Indochina debacle was to scrupulously avoid situations in which U.S. forces found themselves in an escalating guerrilla war, where the only way to contain a growing insurgency was to deploy more troops to the theater.

"Adding troops at this point is the opposite of what senior Pentagon officials expected when the war began in March 2003," noted the Post's veteran military correspondent Thomas Ricks.

"We now face the plain fact that the insurgency is growing," wrote Joseph Galloway, Ricks' experienced counterpart at Knight Ridder Newspapers, who scorned the claims of one widely quoted senior U.S. military commander that the Fallujah campaign had "broken the back of the insurgency."

Galloway noted that rebels had recently been mounting as many as 150 attacks a day – 10 times the number of one year ago.

"Be studious, stay in school, and stay away from the military. I mean it." -- Marine Staff Sgt. Russell Slay to his 5-yr-old son in a letter home shortly before he was killed in Iraq.

The war on witnesses

US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda". But the strongest words were reserved for Arab TV networks. When asked about al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya's reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed in Falluja, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, replied that "what al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable ... " Last month, US troops once again laid siege to Falluja - but this time the attack included a new tactic: eliminating the doctors, journalists and clerics who focused public attention on civilian casualties last time around.


US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda". But the strongest words were reserved for Arab TV networks. When asked about al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya's reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed in Falluja, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, replied that "what al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable ... " Last month, US troops once again laid siege to Falluja - but this time the attack included a new tactic: eliminating the doctors, journalists and clerics who focused public attention on civilian casualties last time around.


The images from last month's siege on Falluja came almost exclusively from reporters embedded with US troops. This is because Arab journalists who had covered April's siege from the civilian perspective had effectively been eliminated. Al-Jazeera had no cameras on the ground because it has been banned from reporting in Iraq indefinitely. Al-Arabiya did have an unembedded reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on November 11 US forces arrested him and held him for the length of the siege. Al-Saadi's detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists. "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job," the IFJ stated.

It's not the first time journalists in Iraq have faced this kind of intimidation. When US forces invaded Baghdad in April 2003, US Central Command urged all unembedded journalists to leave the city. Some insisted on staying and at least three paid with their lives. On April 8, a US aircraft bombed al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Al-Jazeera has documentation proving it gave the coordinates of its location to US forces.

On the same day, a US tank fired on the Palestine hotel, killing José Couso, of the Spanish network Telecinco, and Taras Protsiuk, of Reuters. Three US soldiers are facing a criminal lawsuit from Couso's family, which alleges that US forces were well aware that journalists were in the Palestine hotel and that they committed a war crime.


"We don't do body counts," said General Tommy Franks of US Central Command. The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks.

Mr Ambassador, I believe that your government and its Iraqi surrogates are waging two wars in Iraq. One war is against the Iraqi people, and it has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The other is a war on witnesses.

Information Clearinghouse article: Guardian columnist Naomi Klein letter to U.S. Ambassador to London<

Speaking of propaganda

In three recent reports about the military invasion of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the New York Times has misreported the facts about the April 2004 invasion of the city and the toll it took on Iraqi civilians.

Read about it at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Mission accomplished in Falluja

The Red Crescent compound houses more than 100 residents who became stranded there after a 24-hour curfew was put back in place last week by U.S. forces in eastern Falluja. Marine commanders had previously implemented a curfew between 3 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  CNN article

Does that sound to you like Falluja has been "pacified"?

Red Crescent volunteer Sabri Abd Almalek said the restrictions imposed by the Marines are hindering their humanitarian efforts to bring relief to families throughout the city.

"We are stuck here," he said. "We came here to help the people, treat the sick, and they won't let us leave -- only when we have permission."

An aid worker on the streets in Falluja.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Pictures from Falluja

Is this your boy? (Warning: extremely graphic - and I am not kidding - picture of a marine "injured" in Falluja.)

Other pictures that you won't see on cable TV or in your local paper are at Iraq in Pictures.

Meanwhile in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq Dec 3, 2004 — Insurgents launched two major attacks Friday against police stations in different areas of Baghdad, killing 20 people, including six police officers.
ABC article

Seventy-one US troops have been killed so far in the attack led by US marines to take control of the Iraqi city Falluja, the US military says.

Wednesday's reported toll is 20 more than had been previously reported.


The previous official tally was 51, given by Marine Corps Lieutenant-General John Sattler on 18 November.


Sattler said on 18 November the offensive had "broken the back of the insurgency", scattering the fighters and disrupting their operations nationwide.

A day later, air force Lieutenant-General Lance Smith, the second in charge at US Central Command, said it was "too early" to make such a prediction.

Aljazeera article

Ah, an honest man. He won't be getting a promotion any time soon.

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Down a steep staircase littered with glass shards and rubble, U.S. Marines descended Thursday to a dark basement believed to have been one of Fallujah's torture chambers. They found bloodstains and a single bloody hand print on the wall — evidence of the horrors once carried out in this former insurgent stronghold.

"We had sensed that there was a pure streak of evil in this town, ever since the first days of engagement here," said Maj. Wade Weems.


"Based on the evidence we have found here, we believe people were held here and possibly tortured — we have found enough blood to surmise that," Ray told reporters shown the basement Thursday.

On the wall adjacent to the hand print, human fingernails were found dug deep into the porous gravel around a hole in the wall — evidence, the Marines say, of a tunnel-digging attempt.

Although most of the evidence had been taken away, there was enough to suggest "they tried to dig their way out," Ray said.

No bodies or human remains — except for the fingernails — were found when the Marines discovered the underground chamber on Nov. 11, but they found "plenty of blood," he said. Marine experts have collected samples for forensic and DNA testing.

"This is tangible proof how horrific they were," Weems, of Washington, D.C., said of the insurgents, shuddering as he gazed at the bloody hand print.


"It's the combination of the chains, the cage, the blood — there were not nice people here, that's for sure," Ray said. "They certainly didn't have the morals I would expect in a human society."

Iraq Net article

These photos and more at AntiWar.com