The Fifth Estate

The relations which exist between the social and political condition of a people and the genius of its authors are always numerous; whoever knows the one, is never completely ignorant of the other. - Alexis de Tocqueville

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A History Lesson

Back in the early '90s, I took a course in Middle East Politics beause I knew nothing about the region that brought us the Gulf War. Or is that vice-versa? Anyway, in the March/April issue of Utne Reader I found myself back in class with the article, Al Qaeda's Surprising Origins.

No, it wasn't about Saudi Arabia, but rather the "persecuted minority," the Asiris, within the 80-year-old country, with ties to Yemen and a hatred of the Wahhabi.

"Of all the tribes in Asir, the al-Ghambi tribe has provided most of al Qaeda's foot soldiers and stands at its strongest base of support," says the article. "Five, possibly six, of the SAauydi hijackers were Ghamdis," reports John R. Bradley, in Prospect, the British political and cultural magazine. "The cave in Afghanistan wherre the plan for Sept. 11 was hatched was named the 'al-Ghamdi house.' The man visiting bin Laden in a wildly circulated video in which he reflects on the 'victory' of September 11 was called Sheik al-Ghamdi. "

Here's what I gather is the original piece from Prospect. (Utne requires a subscriber login to read their article)

At least three, and possibly four, of the al Qaeda cell who carried out the 12th May attacks in Riyadh this year were al-Ghamdis, including the alleged mastermind, Ali Abdul Rahman al-Faqaasi al-Ghamdi. However, when his capture was announced by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Ali al-Ghamdi's tribal name was left out and, following protocol, none of the Saudi newspapers therefore carried it the next day. What the media did report almost every day for the next month were official statements and photographs showing tribal leaders from the Hijaz and Asir meeting Crown Prince Abdullah and Interior Minister Prince Naif in Taif, scene of the Wahhabi massacres in the 1920s. In almost identical speeches, all these leaders pledged loyalty to the kingdom and its "wise leadership."

posted by Ileana  # 4:42 PM

Monday, April 26, 2004

No Administration left behind

Seems like the White House can't get history right, unless, of course, it's just an oversight. Thom Hartmann is on the case.

The White House's website opens Jefferson's biography in a startlingly out-of-context way that seems to imply Jefferson was a Bible-thumping believer like George W. The lead sentence of his biography says: "In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, 'I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.'"

Jefferson's letter, in fact, had nothing to do with party conflict. Instead, it had to do with attacks against him from Christian fundamentalists, the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of his day, and how the First Amendment should keep religion separate from government. On September 23, 1800, a few months before the election in which he became president, Jefferson wrote to his good friend, the physician Benjamin Rush:

"DEAR SIR, - ... I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum [the angry preachers (the same root word as "Vatican")] who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened.

"The delusion ...on the [First Amendment] clause of the Constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists.

"The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they [the preachers] believe that any portion of power confided to me [such as being elected President], will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion."

The White House website tries to recast Jefferson (among many others of the various presidents) as an early version of George W. Bush. It highlights that "he was no public speaker," and emphasizes that he was elected by a vote in the House of Representatives - implicitly not unlike Bush's selection by the Supreme Court.

posted by Ileana  # 7:17 PM

'The FBI wants to shut her up completely'

Another example of the Administration trying to squelch witnesses.

The Bush administration will today seek to prevent a former FBI translator from providing evidence about 11 September intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al-Qa'ida.

Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed by a law firm representing more than 500 family members and survivors of the attacks to testify that she had seen information proving there was considerable evidence before September 2001 that al-Qa'ida was planning to strike the US with aircraft. The lawyers made their demand after reading comments Mrs Edmonds had made to The Independent.

But the US Justice Department is seeking to stop her from testifying, citing the rarely used "state secrets privilege". Today in a federal court in Washington, senior government lawyers will try to gag Mrs Edmonds, claiming that disclosure of her evidence "would cause serious damage to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States".

Mrs Edmonds, 33, a Turkish-American who had top secret security clearance, claimed this month that while working in the FBI's Washington headquarters, she saw information proving senior officials knew of al-Qa'ida plans to attack the US with aircraft months before the strikes. She has provided sworn testimony to the independent panel appointed by President George Bush to investigate the circumstances surrounding 11 September.

posted by Ileana  # 7:13 PM

Toward a 'Global Glasnost'

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the world's former other superpower, now the president of Green Cross International, has a few words...go read them all.

In the first two years of his presidency, under the pretext of liberating business growth, Bush made several major changes to national environmental policies that have substantially undermined the central pillars of ecological legislation in America established during the previous four decades. Yet he did not think twice before spending billions (not to mention thousands of human lives) on the war in Iraq.

Such a course of action is fraught with danger, not only for the environment but also because it exacerbates the global conflicts between the North and the South, between the rich and the poor. The terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, were a graphic display of what can emerge from deep disparity.

Is there any alternative? Yes.

History is not predetermined. There is room for an alternative in any situation. It was this pursuit of an alternative model that led to the elaboration of a sustainable development program for the world back in 1992.

Agenda 21 was supported by the United Nations and endorsed by the heads of state and government of most states in Rio. For the first time in history, the world community managed to map out and agree on a strategic plan designed to address the twin problems of poverty and ecological disruption.

posted by Ileana  # 7:06 PM

Friday, April 23, 2004

Every day, life appears more and more insidious

Now this is truly taking the fun out of fundamentalism, except this time, it's the Mormons...

Mark Morford explains...

ClearPlay has, thank the Lord Almighty, developed a method that automatically bleeps out and/or completely skips over words, scenes and entire sections of Hollywood films it has deemed offensive or inappropriate, and displays the rest in sanitized, defanged, nipple-free form, so you won't ever find yourself having to explain to your precious wide-eyed heavily Ritalined 8-year-old just exactly what part of Penelope Cruz Tom Cruise is sucking in that one part of "Vanilla Sky." I mean, praise Jesus.

ClearPlay is a content-filtering company. It relieves all twitchy God-fearing Americans of the horrible and brain-draining duty of actually taking a modicum of responsibility for what they see and hear and for what they allow their children to see and hear, and replaces it all with a type of hapless willful ignorance, mislabeled as "choice."

All you have to do is buy ClearPlay's cheapass scene-deleting DVD player from Wal-Mart (of course), set the level of filtering you want from 1 to 16 (1 being, presumably, "Sex is icky" and 16 being, I suppose, "Lobotomize me now"), pop in a ClearPlay-approved DVD from your local video store and, voilà! -- your movie experience is pure and holy and now shows only happy bunnies and nummy butterflies and people kissing sweetly without tongue or moan or bulge. And, lo, the world is a better place.

posted by Ileana  # 12:18 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Rumsfeld never said that; it's not in the transcript, after all

So Bob Woodward put out a book. And there's all this hoo-ha going on even though Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neil already said as much in their books. But it's Woodward, after all. Mr. Oh-lucky-me-I-broke-Watergate-because-I-got-a-tip.

So everybody's listening to media boy. Mind you, Clarke and O'Neil -- even Eric Alterman -- already said all this. Hell, John O'Neil is screaming from the grave.

But Woodward got good quote, though. I'll give him that. Even if Rumsfeld did have it censored.

The Pentagon deleted from a public transcript a statement Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made to author Bob Woodward suggesting that the administration gave Saudi Arabia a two-month heads-up that President Bushhad decided to invade Iraq.

At issue was a passage in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," an account published this week of Bush's decision making about the war, quoting Rumsfeld as telling Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, in January 2003 that he could "take that to the bank" that the invasion would happen.

The comment came in a key moment in the run-up to the war, when Rumsfeld and other officials were briefing Bandar on a military plan to attack and invade Iraq, and pointing to a top-secret map that showed how the war plan would unfold. The book reports that the meeting with Bandar was held on Jan. 11, 2003, in Vice President Cheney's West Wing office. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended.

Pentagon officials omitted the discussion of the meeting from a transcript of the Woodward interview that they posted on the Defense Department's Web site Monday. Rumsfeld told reporters at a briefing yesterday that he may have used the phrase "take that to the bank" but that no final decision had been made to go to war.

posted by Ileana  # 10:46 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

More from the closet

Someone else remembers John negroponte, former US Ambasador to Honduras.

So much good reading here for an historian! So much to remember. What the Walsh Report does not speak to, what it glosses over, are the wretched facts of our involvement in Central America during this time. This omission is pressing today, because the ghosts of Iran-Contra have come back to haunt us.

John Dimitri Negroponte stands today as the nominee to represent the United States at the U.N. Negroponte is currently the Executive Vice President for Global Markets at McGraw Hill Companies, Inc., and served for 37 years with the United States Department of State as a career diplomat.

One of his diplomatic postings was as the American Ambassador to Honduras. He served there from 1981 to 1985, at the height of the Iran-Contra actions taking place in Central America. If nominated, Negroponte will join Elliot Abrams in the governmental service. Abrams was convicted of lying to Congress for his role in covering up the operation for the President and Vice President.

Eyewitness accounts have allowed us, with the passage of time, to understand the horrors that occurred in Honduras because of the direct actions of the Reagan administration. Eyewitness accounts tell us what Negroponte and Abrams surely knew at the time.

One such eyewitness is Sister Laetitia Bordes, a nun who worked in Central America during the 1980s and the 1990s. She has written a book entitled 'Our Hearts Were Broken.' Sister Bordes describes Honduras and Ambassador Negroponte in words we all need to hear:

"My mind went back to May 1982 and I saw myself facing Negroponte in his office at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa. I had gone to Honduras on a fact-finding delegation. We were looking for answers. Thirty-two women had fled the death squads of El Salvador after the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 to take refuge in Honduras. One of them had been Romero's secretary.

"Some months after their arrival, these women were forcibly taken from their living quarters in Tegucigalpa, pushed into a van and disappeared. Our delegation was in Honduras to find out what had happened to these women. John Negroponte listened to us as we exposed the facts. There had been eyewitnesses to the capture and we were well read on the documentation that previous delegations had gathered.

"Negroponte denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of these women. He insisted that the US Embassy did not interfere in the affairs of the Honduran government and it would be to our advantage to discuss the matter with the latter.

"Facts, however, reveal quite the contrary. During Negroponte's tenure, US military aid to Honduras grew from $4 million to $77.4 million; the US launched a covert war against Nicaragua and mined its harbors, and the US trained Honduran military to support the Contras.

posted by Ileana  # 2:43 PM

Extra, Extra

The skeletons of the newly appointed Ambassador to Iraq:John Negroponte.

..with a few admirable exceptions, news stories about Elliot Abrams, John Negroponte and Otto Reich have largely relied on past reporting and he-said, she-said soundbites by the usual supporters and critics, rather than in-depth investigations into their complicity in one of the bloodiest scandals of the past 20 years. And their guilt is based not on speculation or gossip, but on hard evidence that they aided torturers and death squads, circumvented Congress and the Constitution, and deceived the American people.
posted by Ileana  # 2:35 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

'It would have been nice'

An open letter to Condi from a foreign affairs analyst for the NGO. Read it all.

It would have been nice if you were more forthcoming with the 9/11 Commission regarding Zalmay Khalizad, the expert you hired to help you with a strategic plan for Afghanistan et al. But all you told them was “America’s al-Qaeda policy wasn’t working because our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working. And our Afghanistan policy wasn’t working because our Pakistan policy wasn’t working. To address these problems, I made sure to involve regional experts. I brought in Zalmay Khalizad, an expert on Afghanistan, who as senior diplomat in the 1980s worked closely with the Afghan mujaheedeens. . . .”

Maybe you could have mentioned that Zalmay Khalizad, according to truth-seeker Wayne Madsen, was a consultant for Cambridge Energy Research Associates and was negotiating with the Taliban for the TransAfghanistan Central Asia Gas Pipeline (Centgas). You could have mentioned that the consortium behind the project involved Chevron, where you sat as a member of the board of directors, and Halliburton, which Vice President Cheney headed. You could have also added that Enron did the project feasibility studies. And wait, there’s more. Khalizad was also the liaison between now Afghanistan President Hamid Kharzal and the Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar, who was a good friend of both the al-Qaeda and the Pakistani chief of intelligence, Gen. Mahmud Ahmed. You would have given me the opportunity to characterize your hiring of Khalizad as replacing the old “swatting flies” strategy with a “flypaper” strategy.

posted by Ileana  # 11:37 AM

Shorter Bush:

"You know, I just - I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, with all the pressure of trying to come up with answer, but it hasn't yet...."
posted by Ileana  # 11:36 AM

Monday, April 12, 2004

Just an exercise, nothing to see here

More and more coinkydinks from that pesky governmeent that didn't know folks would be slamming planes into buildings.

On 9/11, CIA Was Running Simulation of a Plane Crashing into a Building

Associated Press picks up story first reported by The Memory Hole [ see below ]

Here's another admission which destroys the government's lie that it couldn't possibly have foreseen the use of planes to ram buildings.

The National Law Enforcement and Security Institute will be holding a conference called "Homeland Security: America's Leadership Challenge" in Chicago on 6 Sept 2002. The star speaker is Rudolph Giuliani. One of the other speakers is CIA man John Fulton. Here is the crucial sentence from the promotional literature for the conference:

On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response\ issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building.

posted by Ileana  # 6:42 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Maybe Condi should attend

Date: May 3 - 6, 2004
Location: Washington, D.C.
Event Name: Congress and the Intelligence Community
Event Sponsor: Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University
Event Description: Conducted entirely on Capitol Hill, this four-day workshop is open to both civilian and uniformed employees from any department or agency with an interest in the intelligence area. The purpose of the workshop is to increase participants' understanding of the various ways that Congress interacts with the intelligence community, and therefore increase participants' effectiveness in this environment. Speakers will include Members of Congress, congressional staff, academic observers, news media representatives, and executive branch officials. Participants will also have the opportunity to observe congressional committee hearings and floor action in the House and the Senate.

Contact Information: Joan Milan { gai@georgetown.edu } 202-333-4838
Web site: { http://www.georgetown.edu/ssce/gai }

posted by Ileana  # 7:18 PM

Monday, April 05, 2004

"...rambling and not terribly informative..."

At first glance, I thought it was yet more copy on Iraq. This one's about Afghanistan, "the other war." Don't worry, the Administration's spin control is on it.

Retired Army Colonel Hy Rothstein, who served in the Army Special Forces for more than 20 years, wrote in a military analysis he gave to the Pentagon in January that the US failed to adapt to new conditions created by the Taliban's collapse, The New Yorker magazine reported.

"The failure to adjust US operations in line with the post-Taliban change in theater conditions cost the United States some of the fruits of victory and imposed additional, avoidable humanitarian and stability costs on Afghanistan," Rothstein wrote in the report.

"Indeed, the war's inadvertent effects may be more significant than we think."

posted by Ileana  # 3:35 PM

Love and Marriage

This via an e-mail I received from a friend, who's brother wrote this letter to the editor:

A Vote for Love

I would like to speak out in favor of gay marriage, and against any dilution of the equality now guaranteed by the Massachusetts state constitution, the oldest in the country.

Let me say first that I am a heterosexual, happily married, with two grown daughters. I should also say that one of my daughters is in a committed same sex relationship…and thrilled to be planning her wedding for next August.

I think I can agree with the opponents of gay marriage on a fundamental idea: the importance of the family as the basic building block of our society. There has definitely been an erosion of the family on some levels as it is threatened by marital instability and other social ills of our day. But I think those who wish to defend “traditional marriage” don’t really realize what they are defending.

Traditional marriage in biblical times was a contract between two families, in which the bride and groom had very little say. It was about an exchange of sheep and goats, or, if the families were privileged, of land and money. When the bible speaks of love, it is love between man and his God, or man and his neighbor; when it speaks of marriage it speaks of faithfulness and duty.

The idea of marriage for love has only really taken hold in the last 200 years! The ideas of romantic love we get from medieval ballads and poetry had nothing to do at the time with the business of marriage. Today we have something infinitely better than “traditional marriage”: the right of each person to marry the one they love.

I heard a very persuasive black man arguing that exclusion of gays from marriage was not discrimination, as was discrimination based on race, because unlike our race our sexual preference is a choice. It’s true, any relationship is a choice. Any marriage is a choice both for the one who asks and the one who accepts. But love is not a choice. We do not choose the person we fall in love with.

posted by Ileana  # 3:30 PM

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I found it!

I've been looking for this and finally located the hard copy. I'm sure this allegation that Israel initially established Hamas will likely piss off a few people. I'm not here to be liked. Just inform.

Speaking in Jerusalem Dec. 20, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer made the connection between the growth of the Islamic fundamentalist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Israel's promotion of the Islamic movement as a counter to the Palestinian nationalist movement. Kurtzer's comments come very close to EIR's own presentation of the evidence of Israel's instrumental role in establishing Hamas, and its ongoing control of that organization.

Kurtzer said that the growth of the Islamic movement in the Palestinian territories in recent decades—"with the tacit support of Israel"—was "not totally unrelated" to the emergence of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their terrorist attacks against Israel. Kurtzer explained that during the 1980s, when the Islamic movement began to flourish in the West Bank and Gaza, "Israel perceived it to be better to have people turning toward religion rather than toward a nationalistic cause [the Palestinian Liberation Organization—ed.]." It therefore did little to stop the flow of money to mosques and other religious institutions, rather than to schools.

According to the Dec. 21 Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Kurtzer made these extraordinary statements at a seminar on religion and politics sponsored by Oz V'Shalom-Netivot Shalom, a largely Anglo-American organization that promotes peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, the head of Har Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shvut, who is an active advocate of a just regional peace, also spoke. Kurtzer said that as a result of the growth of Islam at the expense of education, there are now Palestinians who are "determined terrorists that use religious beliefs in a perverted way to appeal to the masses."

Kurtzer said that cultural and religious interaction is potentially a way to "build bridges." But instead, "the perverted use of religion in the region is today becoming one of the great challenges for the years ahead." He said that there is no "inherent component" in Islam that advocates violence. But one of the five principles of Islam, jihad—resistance—"in classic religious associations connotes religious belief and fervor, not violence." But extremists have distorted the meaning of jihad, so it now has a connotation of violence in the service of a religious purpose.

posted by Ileana  # 3:44 PM

Friday, April 02, 2004

Hope the 911 Commission gets this

Stand-down orders? Rumsfeld? What does this mean?

Jim Hoffman has discovered a document which I believe may be very important to the 911 skeptic movement. This document superseded earlier DOD procedures for dealing with hijacked aircraft, and it requires that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is personally responsible for issuing intercept orders. Commanders in the field are stripped of all authority to act. This amazing order came from S.A. Fry (Vice Admiral, US Navy and Director, Joint Staff) so it appears to me that responsibility for the US armed forces "Failure to Respond" rests directly with Fry for issuing this instruction, as well as with Donald Rumsfeld for failing to execute his responsibility to issue orders in a timely fashion.

posted by Ileana  # 5:18 PM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Who am I?

Perhaps I'll discover myself with a little help from my pharma friends, according to The Guardian.

"Become who you are," wrote the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. A century later, millions of people are taking Nietzsche's advice to heart. Instead of turning to philosophy, however, they are using drugs and surgery. "I feel like myself again on Seroxat," says the woman in the anti-depressant advertisements; and so do users of Prozac, Ritalin, Botox, Propecia, Xenical, anabolic steroids, cosmetic surgery, hormone replacement therapy and even sex-reassignment surgery.

Even as people undergo dramatic self-transformations, altering their personalities with psychoactive drugs and their bodies with surgery, they describe the transformation as a matter of becoming who they really are. It was only by using steroids, writes the bodybuilder Samuel Fussell, "that I looked on the outside the way I felt on the inside". With sex-reassignment surgery, writes Jan Morris, "I achieved identity at last." If Nietzsche were alive today, he could be pitching anti-depressants for Pfizer.

posted by Ileana  # 7:25 PM

Catch No. 2 (reeling them in)

Via SG again, via Bad Attitudes, a New York Times prize-winner about how Bush-boy "just turned down an IRS request for 80 more criminal investigators to block the flow of funds to Al Qaeda?"

Not unless you happened to read a story tucked away on page C3 of today’s New York Times; it didn’t make the AP wire, or the news roundups on Google and Yahoo.

Yet it offers a truly fascinating glimpse into Bush’s Washington, where a GOP congress joins hands with a GOP White House to hide embarrassing truths from the American people. And Bush would have got away with it clean if a single Democratic congressman hadn’t been paying close enough attention to spot the pea under the shell.

By all means read David Cay Johnson’s whole article — maybe even twice, to get the confusing details straight in your mind.

posted by Ileana  # 6:38 PM

Your taxpayer dollars at work

Look what Suburban Guerrilla saw over at Daily Kos, under Politicizing the government:

Really, this administration thinks that the entire federal government is part of Bush/Cheney 2004. First it was ordering the CIA to pore over Clarke's old testimony seeking inconsistencies with his 9-11 remarks.

Now it is using the Treasury Department to "analyze" Kerry's budget proposals.

Go read it. Then spread the word.

posted by Ileana  # 6:32 PM

Dragged through the mud

There are so many things wrong with this, let's take it apart.

Gruesome images of dead American contractors being dragged through the streets of Iraq on Wednesday may trigger flashbacks to Somalia in 1993, where a U.S. soldier suffered a similar fate.

But don't expect U.S. companies to flee Iraq any time soon. Simply put, they can't afford to leave.

Just some more "collateral damage." Otherwise known as expendable people.

Pulling out of an effort so important to the Bush administration would hurt their chances of winning future government contracts, reconstruction experts say. So even though the companies rebuilding Iraq, including San Francisco's Bechtel Corp., have the right to withdraw if they deem the country too dangerous, they have an enormous incentive not to.


Bechtel lost an Iraqi subcontractor in March when a mortar round exploded near the company's Baghdad compound. Houston's Halliburton has seen about 30 of its employees or subcontractors killed.

And we're just hearing this now?

"As gruesome and brutal as this was, it's an attack, and we've had other attacks in the area," said Jack Herrmann, spokesman for Washington Group International.

The Idaho construction company repairs power lines in the Sunni triangle, the rebellious area northwest of Baghdad that witnessed Wednesday's attack, and lost two Korean subcontractors in a November ambush.

"If we get to the point where we feel we can't defend our people, we won't be there," Hermann said.

Bechtel spokesman Jonathan Marshall said his company had no plans to leave. "We're still committed to fulfilling our contracts, which run through 2005," he said.

Even by the bloody standards of postwar Iraq, Wednesday's incident in Fallujah stood out.

Because our own history -- as soon as three years ago -- has seen people dragged through the street?

Two sport utility vehicles carrying employees of North Carolina's Blackwater Security Consulting drove into an ambush inside the restive town and burst into flames. A mob of Iraqis surrounded the blazing vehicles, pulled charred corpses from the wreckage, and beat them with sticks -- the scene captured by an Associated Press news cameramen arriving on the scene.

Blackwater is one of the firms that have poured an estimated 15,000 private security agents into Iraq since Saddam Hussein's fall. The company guards food shipments in Fallujah.

Gurads food shipments for whom? I picture contractors and soldiers eating, with desperate Iraqi children's faces pressed against the window of the tent; they're starving.

Violence also struck the U.S. military Wednesday, with five soldiers killed by a roadside bomb not far from Fallujah.

How many does that make now? When do we stop counting?

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of operations for the coalition running Iraq, called the two incidents tragic.

"But that isn't going to stop us from doing our mission," he told reporters in Baghdad. "In fact, it would be disgracing the deaths of these people if we were to stop our missions."

I'm sure the families of the dead soldiers and contractors feel exactly the same way.

posted by Ileana  # 12:31 PM


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