“They say that the killings and kidnappings are being carried out by men in police uniforms and with police vehicles but everybody in Baghdad knows that the killers and kidnappers are real policemen." Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari (quoted by Patrick Cockburn, The Independent 11/26/2006)
Paul Bremer to Newsweek (2/9/2004): "The two most popular things I've done since I've been here are the de-Baathication decree … and the disbanding of the Army."
Paul Bremer to
USA Today four months later (6/17/2004): “People say I disbanded the
army. There was no army to disband. It didn't exist. It wasn't here.”
As the sectarian bloodletting in Iraq intensifies, it is easy to lose track of the American policies that unleashed the carnage. Even the anti-war movement seems to have accepted the conventional wisdom that the insurgency and the Shiite death squads attired in police uniforms were unfortunate and unpredictable byproducts of a noble neo-con project to establish a progressive western oriented state in a turbulent region.
The greatest acts of deception in this war of choice were not the WMD allegations or the canard that Saddam was behind the atrocities of 9/11. The bigger lie is that the United States was on an idealistic expedition to fight tyranny and spread the gospel of democracy.
Bringing on the Insurgency
One can trace the emergence of the insurgency to Emperor Paul Bremer’s arrival in Baghdad on May 12, 2003. The American pro-consul wasted no time in issuing his first two decrees -- De-Baathification and disbanding the Iraqi army. Four days after arriving in Iraq, Bremer fired 30,000 senior Baath Party officials from the government. A few days later, he dissolved the army, putting more than 400,000 Iraqi officers and soldiers out on the street without pensions.
The conventional wisdom is that Bremer ‘made a mistake’ that eventually led to the birth of the insurgency in the Sunni Triangle. The pro-consul’s first two edicts were correctly perceived as a frontal assault against the Sunni Arab minority and the response was predictable.
Bremer’s marching orders came straight from Douglas Feith -- the neo-con Pentagon wizard appointed by Rumsfeld to redesign post-war Iraq after sidelining Collin Powell and the State Department. The enduring myth that the United States had no post-war plan is bunk. The State Department’s legion of experts spent months meticulously putting together reconstruction plans that were shelved because the authors were deemed to be ‘Arabists.’ The neo-con dictionary definition of an Arabist is a seasoned American diplomat with first hand experience in the Middle East who can’t pass the pro-Israeli litmus test.
For the record, Douglas Feith was the same neo-con operative tasked with setting up the pre-war WMD intelligence manufacturing plant known as the Office of Special Plans. The mission of this rogue Pentagon ‘intelligence’ unit was to sideline the CIA and fabricate tall tales that eventually ended up as leaks on the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post -- courtesy of Judith Miller and other Likudnik spinmeisters.
Feith Motivated by Likudnik Faith
Feith’s fingerprints are all over the Iraqi debacle. For all his troubles, General Tommy Franks nominated Feith as “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth.”
In hindsight, it appears that General Franks overlooked Feith’s biographical data. Had Franks taken the time to assess Feith’s Likudnik affiliations -- he might have reached an entirely different conclusion. If anything, Feith achieved a level of success beyond his wildest neo-con fantasies.
For background information on Feith, General Franks should have consulted Jim Lobe -- a respected expert on the neo-conservative cabal that hijacked American foreign policy after 9/11. One of Lobe’s articles dating back to November 3, 2003 is a must read. “Loss of Feith in Douglas” sheds quite a bit of light on Feith’s Likudnik Bona Fides. The article amounts to a detailed resume of the former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Lobe paints a picture of a committed Zionist who can only be described as a radical Israel Firster with political views that conform to the extreme right of the Israeli political spectrum.
Douglas Feith’s Likudnik Bona Fides
What follows are some of the highlights from the Jim Lobe’s article which documented Feith’s long career as a Netenyahu Likudnik.
“A protégé of Richard Perle, the former chairman of Rumsfeld's Defense Policy Board (DPB) who stands at the center of the neo-conservative foreign policy network in Washington, Feith has long opposed territorial compromise by Israel. He was an outspoken foe of the Oslo process and even the Camp David peace agreement mediated by former president Jimmy Carter between Egypt and Israel. His former law partner, L Marc Zell, is a spokesman for the Jewish settlers' movement on the occupied West Bank.”
“Also like Perle, Feith has long taken a strong interest in Israel and its security. His father, Dalck Feith, a philanthropist and major Republican contributor from Philadelphia, was active in the militantly Zionist youth movement Betar, the predecessor of Israel's Likud Party, in Poland before World War Two.”
“Both father and son have been honored by the Zionist Organization of America, which, unlike other mainstream Jewish groups in the US, has consistently supported Likud positions and the settlement movement in the occupied territories and actively courted the Christian Right.”
“Feith also served with Perle on the board of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a think tank that promotes military and strategic ties between the US and Israel.”
“In 1996, he participated in a study group chaired by Perle and sponsored by a right-wing Jerusalem-based think tank that produced a report calling for incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build a strategic alliance with Turkey, Jordan and a new government in Iraq that would transform the balance of power in the Middle East in such a way that Israel could decisively resist pressure to trade "land for peace" with the Palestinians or Syria.”
Feith Was Faithful to His Country: Israel
Feith’s policy decisions cannot be divorced from his ideology. And his motives can only be deciphered in light of his long history as an agitator for the Israeli Lobby. Even the blind should be able to recognize Douglas Feith for what he is -- disciplined and committed Likudnik operative. In evaluating Feith’s edicts, one has to think of the desired objectives of his mentors in Tel Aviv. Feith wanted what his country wanted. And his country was Israel.
Why the Invasion of Iraq Was Good for Israel?
And what exactly did Israel want? Israel would like nothing more than to see Iraq partitioned. It has a long history of supporting Kurdish separatists -- if only the Iraqi variety. In deference to its strategic alliances with Ankara, Tel Aviv has an entirely different attitude towards Turkey’s Kurdish rebels.
Sabotaging the Arab nationalist movement has always been a strategic goal of Zionism. For Feith’s Israeli mentors, the outbreak of civil war and chaos in Iraq or any other Arab country is considered a good thing. The Likudnik obsession with the Baath Party is rooted in Israel’s fear of a resurgence of pro-Palestinian pan-Arab nationalism. Historically, the pan-Arabists gave the Palestinians safe havens in addition to financial, material and diplomatic support.
But that was history. In the real world, pan-Arabism continues to endure only in the minds of a few bureaucrats at the Arab League. Amr Mousa will probably go down in history as the last of the genuine pan-Arab Mohicans.
The Camp David Accord and Egypt’s separate peace has already led to the disappearance of Nasserism from the political map of the region. That left Baghdad and Damascus as the last outposts of the pan-Arab nationalism.
In the case of Iraq, Saddam’s token support for the Palestinians was calculated to shore up his regime’s domestic legitimacy. Regardless, that was enough to put him on the Likudnik hit list. Old Israeli habits die hard and so it is that Tel Aviv continues to fight the ghost of a movement that no longer exists.
Against the backdrop of the Iraq war, Sharon and Olmert were granted ample space and time to systematically pulverize the Palestinians into slave-like submission. The goal was to get their leadership to accept an ‘independent state’ in Gaza and a few walled in mini-bantustans in the West Bank.
The conduct of American occupation troops in Iraq legitimized Israeli tactics. The use of torture, loose rules of engagement, scorched earth policies, collective punishment and the branding of insurgents as common criminals and terrorists were all Israeli standard operating procedures.
Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz played a pivotal role in selling these policies to the Pentagon. The neo-con insiders and their Likudnik collaborators in the mass media wanted to market the notion that America’s occupation of Iraq and Israel’s repression of the Palestinians were noble campaigns by two allies fighting in the same trench against a common enemy -- the irrational demonic forces of ‘Islamic terror.’ The Palestinians were not fighting for their liberty -- they were just acting out because they subscribed to a culture that breeds violence. In the same vein, Iraqi insurgents were not resisting the occupation of their country by foreign armies. They were just one huge Al-Qaeda cell operated by remote control from a cave in Afghanistan.
Neo-cons Recycle old Israeli Blueprints
Historical analogies are not always useful. But if one were to search for a conflict that had the same blue print as the war in Iraq and ended up with pretty much the same results -- it would be the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
Both invasions were unprovoked unilateral acts of aggression. The pipe dream in Lebanon was that Israel would empower the Shiites in the south, ‘liberate’ them from the PLO and install a pro-Israeli government under Bashir Gemayel -- the Phalangist warlord. Eighteen years later, the Israelis withdrew in the middle of the night after losing a war of attrition against Hezbollah -- an Iranian backed Shiite resistance movement that was created to resist Israeli occupation.
The thing about Likudniks is that they are intellectually inflexible ideologues mired in a fantasy world with doctored history and delusional expectations. If at first they don’t succeed in Lebanon, they roll out the same worn out blue prints in Iraq two decades later and repeat the fiasco -- this time with American blood and American treasure. And so it was that Feith and Wolfowitz set out on a long cakewalk in Mesopotamia to ‘liberate’ the Shia and Kurds and install Ahmed Chalabi as the leader of a pro-Israeli American client state in Baghdad.
Early Rumors of Government Death Squads
With the growing insurgency, Rumsfeld’s initial assessment that the rebels were just a bunch of ‘dead-enders’ was discredited. The Bush administration and the neo-con priesthood scrambled to deal with the new realities. Writing in the New York Times (Nov. 16, 2003), Max Boot openly advocated the use of assassination teams modeled after the CIA’s Phoenix project in Vietnam.
“We can still learn important lessons from that earlier war about how to deal with the insurgency. What proved most effective in Vietnam were not large conventional operations but targeted counterinsurgency programs. Four --known as CAP, Cords, Kit Carson Scouts and Phoenix -- were particularly effective.
Phoenix was a joint C.I.A.-South Vietnam effort to identify and eradicate Vietcong cadres in villages. Critics later charged the program with carrying out assassinations, and even William Colby acknowledged there were "excesses." Nevertheless, far more cadres were captured (33,000) or induced to defect under Phoenix (22,000) than were killed (26,000).
There is little doubt that if the United States had placed more emphasis on such programs, instead of the army's conventional strategy, it would have fared better in Vietnam.”
Max Boot is no ordinary pundit -- he is a certifiable neo-con who hangs his hat at the influential Council of Foreign Relations -- one of the think tanks that marketed the war. It wasn’t long before journalist Seymour Hersh was revealing that U.S. Army Special Forces were conducting “pre-emptive man hunting operations” targeted at former Ba’athist and other civilians suspected of supporting the insurgency.
On January 5, 2004, Julian Coman of the Telegraph filed the following report from Washington:
Nine months after the end of Saddam Hussein's regime and his feared intelligence force, Iraq is to get a secret police force again -- courtesy of Washington.
The Bush Administration will fund the agency in its latest bid to root out the Baathist loyalists behind the insurgency in parts of Iraq. The force will cost up to $US3 billion ($A4 billion) over the next three years.
Its ranks will comprise Iraqi exile groups, Kurdish and Shiite forces -- and former agents who are now working for the Americans. CIA officers in Baghdad will play a leading role in directing their operations.
A former US intelligence officer said: "If successfully set up, the group would work in tandem with American forces but would have its own structure and relative independence. It could be expected to be fairly ruthless in dealing with the remnants of Saddam."
Although officially banned by the ruling Coalition Provisional Authority, militia groups are already patrolling in Iraq, resulting in an increasing death toll of top former Ba’thists.
The US hopes to organize the various groups into one force with the local knowledge, motivation and authority to hunt down resistance fighters. According to Washington, the new agency could number 10,000. Initially, salaries will be paid by the CIA, which has 275 officers in Iraq. The force is intended to have a crucial role in post-Saddam Iraq.
"The presence of a powerful secret police ... will mean that the new Iraqi political regime will not stray outside the parameters that the US wants to set," said John Pike, an expert on classified military budgets at the Global Security organization. "To begin with, the new Iraqi government will reign but not rule."
Inviting SCIRI’s Death Squads to the Interior Ministry
The death squads began infiltrating the security forces right under the eyes of Bremer and Feith. Thousands of hard core disciples of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution (SCIRI) in Iraq were ushered into the ranks of the Iraqi police and Special Forces. Many of their cadres had been trained and indoctrinated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Now, why would Feith set into motion an irreversible process that basically handed the security apparatus to Tehran’s allies? Well, because, at the time, the neo-con crystal ball predicted a spontaneous Iranian uprising that would convert Iran into a carbon copy of Turkey -- a country that has cordial relations with Tel Aviv. Apparently, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hadn’t shown up on Feith’s radar screen.
It didn’t take long for SCIRI’s militias -- the Badr brigades -- to make their presence felt on the streets of Iraq. On Feb 3, 2004, David Enders of the Asia Times reported that “the police are increasingly reliant on other local groups to help them do their jobs. "The Badr troops often make arrests for us," said Colonel Karim Hussein "They are training to help us do our jobs."
The Road to Civil War
Two years ago, Ayatollah Abdelaziz al-Hakim, SCIRI’s leader, publicly declared his intent to take over the police forces. James Hider of the London Times reported on this new development on January 12, 2005.
“An Iranian-backed Ayatollah tipped to become Iraq's first elected leader in decades said yesterday that he would carry out a purge of Iraq's intelligence and security structures if his party wins power. Asked if he planned a sweeping purge of the intelligence and security forces that the Americans built up piecemeal after the war, the Ayatollah, who once commanded SCIRI’s 10,000-strong militia, said: "For sure. If we want to improve the security situation. It's natural and it's one of our priorities." In their place, he said he would install "loyal Iraqis and the believers (in God), and those who believe in the process of change in Iraq.”
"If he forms the government, that will be a disaster. He'll purge the army, purge the police and put his own men in it," said Ghassan al-Atiyyah, a secular Shia commentator, who is trying to build bridges with the Sunni community and defuse the uprising. "This is the road to civil war."
A strange thing happened when SCIRI emerged as the largest party in the Shia coalition that won the transitional government elections. Ayatollah Abdelaziz al-Hakim didn’t emerge as the Prime Minister. That position went to Ibrahim Jaafari of the Daawa Party. Al-Hakim had his sights on a much more powerful position -- the interior ministry. Sure enough, one of his aides, Bayan Jabr, was appointed as Interior Minister in April 2005.
Bayan Jabr wasted no time in making his mark. As Iraq’s senior police officer, he started converting the ministry into the official residence of the death squads. By May, he had launched the purge promised by Al-Hakim.
“In May 2005, Shiite militia groups in Iraq began depositing corpses into the dumps of Baghdad. The victims, overwhelmingly Sunni, were typically handcuffed, their corpses showing signs of torture -- broken skulls, burn marks, electric drill holes; by that October, the death toll attributed to such groups had reached 500.” (Harper’s Magazine -- 08/06/2006.)
Jabr is the kind of thug who likes to get his hands dirty. The SCIRI operative who continues to serve as finance minister in Maliki’s cabinet was personally involved in death squad activities.
A year ago, Solomon Moore of the Los Angeles Times painted a pretty graphic picture of the Shiite death squads in the Iraqi police force (11/29/2005). It was a long feature that gave a vivid and disturbing account of the reign of terror orchestrated by the militia infested Baghdad security forces. But perhaps the most alarming thing about the article was the allegation that Jabr had a direct hand in drawing up death lists.
“This month, U.S. forces raided a secret Interior Ministry detention facility in southern Baghdad operated by police intelligence officials linked to the Badr Brigade, a Shiite militia that has long-standing ties to Iran and to Iraq's leading Shiite political party. Inmates compiled a handwritten list of 18 detainees at the bunker who were allegedly tortured to death while in custody. The list was authenticated by a U.S. official and given to Justice Ministry authorities for investigation. It was later provided to The Times.
The U.S. military is investigating whether police officers who worked at the secret prison were trained by American interrogation experts. An Aug. 18 police operations report addressed to Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who has ties to the Badr militia, listed the names of 14 Sunni Arab men arrested during a predawn sweep in the Baghdad neighborhood of Iskaan. Six weeks later, their bodies were discovered near the Iranian border, badly decomposed. All of the corpses showed signs of torture, and each still wore handcuffs and had been shot three times in the back of the head, Baghdad morgue officials said.”
Outsourcing Torture to Bayan Jabr and SCIRI
After Abu Ghraib, the Bush administration apparently decided to outsource torture to Bayan Jabr’s goons. It was a natural extension of the administrations ‘rendition’ policies.
Jeffrey Fleishman filed this report on June 19, 2005. “The public war on the Iraqi insurgency has led to an atmosphere of hidden brutalities, including abuse and torture, carried out against detainees by the nation's special security forces, according to defense lawyers, international organizations and Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights.
Up to 60% of the estimated 12,000 detainees in the country's prisons and military compounds face intimidation, beatings or torture that leads to broken bones and sometimes death, said Saad Sultan, head of a board overseeing the treatment of prisoners at the Human Rights Ministry. He added that police and security forces attached to the Interior Ministry are responsible for most abuses.
The units have used tactics reminiscent of Saddam Hussein's secret intelligence squads, according to the ministry and independent human rights groups and lawyers, who have cataloged abuses.
"We've documented a lot of torture cases," said Sultan, whose committee is pushing for wider access to Iraqi-run prisons across the nation. "There are beatings, punching, electric shocks to the body, including sensitive areas, hanging prisoners upside down and beating them and dragging them on the ground…. Many police officers come from a culture of torture from their experiences over the last 35 years. Most of them worked during Saddam's regime." (The Times 6/19/2005)
New and Improved Canards
Now that we have put behind us the WMD canards and Iraq’s non-existent links to the atrocities of 9/11 -- the Bush administration and its mass media collaborators are marketing new and improved lies.
The new tall tale is that we went to Iraq on a noble mission to spread the blessings of democracy in the region. And that the democratically elected Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, is being subverted by rouge death squads and the insurgents. There is only one problem with this scenario: Maliki is the defacto leader of the death squads. He’s quite happy to have the Marines engaging the insurgents in Ramadi while his security forces and allied militias go about the nasty business of ethnically cleansing Baghdad.
Fully two years ago, there was more than enough evidence to suggest that the Bush administration was complicit in establishing and nurturing death squads. Long after the death squads appeared on the scene -- outfitted in their official issue police uniforms -- American advisers continued to equip, train and provide logistical support to the Iranian trained militants who had infiltrated the security forces.
It’s hard to imagine that the folks in the Pentagon and the CIA failed to notice the open collaboration of the Iraqi security forces with the death squads. The history of this dark chapter in the American occupation of Iraq is slowly coming to light thanks to folks like Seymour Hersh and Kim Sengupta. While Hersh’s initial accounts were met by denial, The Pentagon no longer bothers disputing articles like one by Sengupta that appeared in The Independent on 10/31/2006.
“This is a shadowy struggle, which involves tortured prisoners huddled in dungeons, murder victims mutilated with knives and electric drills, and distraught families searching for relations who have been “disappeared.” Iraq’s savage sectarian war is now regarded as a greater obstacle to any semblance of peace returning than the insurgency. Yet, ironically, the death squads are the result of US policy. At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out “irregular missions.” The policy, exposed in the US media, was called the “Salvador Option” after the American-backed counter-insurgency in Latin America more than 20 years ago, which led to 70,000 deaths and countless instances of human rights abuse.”
The death squads are an instrument. The goal is partition.
Israel and its neo-con operatives at the Pentagon were not the only forces working towards partition. The Kurds wanted it and Al-Hakim and SCIRI are sparing no effort to achieve the same goal.
But there was always one major obstacle that stood in the way of partition. It was called Baghdad. The Iraqi capital is home to one of every four Iraqis. Its seven million residents are a mix of Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and others. Before the war, it was a secular city where Shiites and Sunnis lived in relative harmony as evidenced by the high percentage of mixed marriages and mixed neighborhoods. It was the kind of place where it was considered poor manners to ask another person’s sect.
To partition Iraq, one must first partition Baghdad. What appears to be random tit-for-tat violence is actually part of a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing. The greatest mass migration in the modern history of the Middle East is underway. Over a million Iraqis have left the countries to seek refuge in Jordan, Syria and elsewhere. They include a high percentage of the crème de la crème of Iraq’s professional class.
According to the United Nations, one hundred thousands Iraqi refugees are abandoning the country every month. A disproportionate number are Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi Christians.
But there is another great exodus going on -- a million plus Iraqis have been internally displaced. In Baghdad, the Sunnis are seeking safe haven west of the Tigris and the Shiites are drifting to the east bank of the river. Sadr City is operating as an independent theocracy under the rule of the Al Mahdi army. Other mixed cities like Kirkuk, Mosul and Baqouba are also experiencing ethnic cleansing campaigns.
The Erosion of American Influence in Iraq
As the Iraqi civil war has evolved, the ability of the Bush administration to control the course of events has steadily eroded. That was probably the major reason for going through the motions of ‘restoring sovereignty’ to the Iraqi government. By discarding the “occupation” label -- the United States absolved itself of the legal obligation to provide security for the citizens of its Iraqi colony.
The United States military began withdrawing from Iraq two years ago. The majority of American troops never leave their fortified bases. And the primary mission of the troops in Iraq is force protection. Bush and Rumsfeld have publicly declared that they have no intention of intervening in a civil war that they refuse to acknowledge even exists.
So why continue deploying 150,000 military personnel at a cost of two billion dollars a week? Because Bush and his collaborators in both parties can’t figure a face saving way to reach the exit door. Just today, he was still blaming all his troubles on Al Qaeda, a force that didn’t exist in Iraq before the invasion.
Leaving Iraq under the control of a government run by the leaders of the same Iranian trained militias that operate the death squads also poses a challenge. Partition or no partition, Iran will emerge as the dominant force in the region.
The Gulf monarchs who actively backed and facilitated the neo-con inspired invasion are visibly shaken by the results of their folly. No one has ever accused the Machiavellian custodians of the oil plantations of being the brightest bulbs in the room.
Feith and Wolfowitz are long gone. No matter -- the damage they intended to inflict on Iraq is done. They are definitely entitled to hang up the ‘mission accomplished’ sign. Their Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is obviously satisfied with the results. During his official visit to the United States on November 13th, he thanked Bush for the Mess on Potamia. “We in the Middle East have followed the American policy in Iraq for a long time, and we are very much impressed and encouraged by the stability which the great operation of America in Iraq brought to the Middle East.”
Bush also had kind words for Olmert. “The whole central thrust of our discussions was based upon our understanding that we're involved in an ideological struggle between extremists and radicals versus people who just simply want to live in peace.” Just a few months ago, Olmert and Bush teamed up to inflict a whole bunch of peace on Lebanon.
Exiting Iraq Without Bush
Where Bush goes from here is anybody’s guess. This empty shell of a man is susceptible to the last idea whispered in his ear, so long as it conforms to his shallow understanding of a fantasy world that exists only in his imagination. His ignorance and ineptitude are dwarfed only by his ego. We have an extremist in the White House who, after six years of neo-con indoctrination, is incapable of making rational judgments. The president is still immersed in delusions about leading victory parades down Pennsylvania Avenue. He is willing to expend whatever amount of blood and treasure necessary to leave Iraq in the lap of the next occupant of the White House.
The quickest way out of Iraq is impeachment. Elizabeth de la Vega has just published a book titled United States v. George W. Bush et al. The former federal prosecutor is an expert at trying fraud cases. Read her book and you will walk away convinced that she has a closed and shut case proving that Bush and Cheney committed fraud against the American people to launch this war of choice.
After reading the book, don’t put it away. Walk it down to your congressional representative and ask them for a book report. Better yet, get your book club to read the book and take your pals along for a visit to your Senator.
While you’re waiting for the impeachment hearings, have the Senate intelligence committee resume its investigation of Douglas Feith. The pre-election Republican dominated committee has already blocked that probe for over a year. Now that the Democrats are in control, let’s see if Hillary Clinton is interested in the truth before she invades the White House with her own hand picked team of neo-cons.
* In the meantime, follow this link and see why Elizabeth de la Vega is about to rock America by blasting Bush et al out of the White House.
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