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woman confronts U.S. Marines in Fallujah
BUSH: "THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE IN IRAQ WOULD BE UNTHINKABLE..."
Speaking in prime-time, President Bush promised more troops if U.S. commanders
need them. He also made it clear that he intends to hold to the June 30
deadline for turning sovereignty over to Iraqis, although it is unclear
which Iraqis will chosen to receive it. On 9/11, Bush said that he had
seen nothing new in the August 6 PDB warning of
the likelihood of an attack in the U.S. from Osama Bin Laden. (White
House transcript, April 13, 2004; also viewable in streaming video)
ALI SISTANI WARNS U.S. AGAINST ATTACKING NAJAF OR KARBALA
Iran's Mehr News Agency speculates that U.S. military operations in
either of Iraq's holy Shiite cities could lead to a general mobilization
of all Shiites in Iraq against the U.S. occupation. (Mehr News Agency,
April 13, 2004)
THE USE OF FORCE PLAY INTO THE HANDS OF IRAQI EXTREMISTS?
U.S. forces appear to be bringing the situation back under control, last
week's violence has radically changed how the U.S. occupation is perceived
in Iraq. The BBC's John Simpson reports that many Iraqis--including members
of the Provisional Governing Council--blame U.S. tactics for letting Muqtada
al Sadr's violent splinter movement take the initiative as defender of
the faith. While Muqtada has pulled his troops back from positions in
three key cities, the U.S. command appears determined to use even more
force to arrest or kill him. A request is in for 10,000 additional U.S.
troops to bolster U.S. firepower. Nearly 40 foreigners have taken hostage
at one time or another,
including 9 Americans (see Washington Times). Sporadic attacks continue.
Simpson analyzes dissatisfaction with the U.S. strategy on the BBC World
Service (April 12).
The U.S. Coalition's General Abizaid briefs Pentagon reporters (April
Jazeera: shaky cease fire extends in Fallujah
military commanders unhappy with U.S. use of excessive force.
(Sean Rayment in the London Daily Telegraph, April 11, 2004)
ONE IS PULLING OUT YET, BUT NEWS ORGANIZATIONS ARE CONCERNED
After a number of close calls, some reporters would rather stay in
Baghdad and do their reporting off the wires. Others have risked being
taken hostage by random groups, recalling the risky days of covering the
civil war in Beirut. (Julia Angwin,Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2004)
Globe and Mail on the fear of being kidnapped (April 12, 2004)
THE AUGUST 6, 2001 PDB WARNING:
"OSAMA BIN LADEN DETERMINED TO STRIKE THE UNITED STATES"
text of the declassified Presidential Daily Briefing begins with a stark
warning: "Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate
Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S.
Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that
his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi
Yussef and "bring the fighting to America."
•Photocopy of the PDB
was unconcerned in August 2001
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and Mike Allen look at the prevailing
atmosphere when the warnings were given. As a senior White House aide
put it: "It wasn't just the president who was on vacation. It was
the whole government. It was the Bureau [FBI] and the Agency [CIA], too.
The attention to the threats was above and beyond normal, but it obviously
wasn't enough."( Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, The Washington Post,
April 11, 2004)
president enamored of working holidays
the ranch in Crawford last Thursday. Guests included thehead of the
National Rifle Association (White House photo)
Bush had already raised eyebrows when he took an unprecedented month-long
working holiday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas during the critical buildup
to 9/11 in August 2001 (See
ABC News' report at the time). When Iraq was blowing up last week, the
President was back in Crawford on a pre-Easter break. Part of it involved
showing off his ranch to assorted sportsmen, including Wayne La Pierre,
Chief Executive of the National Rifle Association. Colin
Powell and Condoleezza Rice were left behind in Washington to handle details
of the war in Iraq (Washington Post, April 9, 2004). The Nation's Matt
Blivens notes that the President has spent an unprecedented 500 days on
working holidays--roughly 40% of his first term. (Matt Blivens, The Nation's
Daily Outrage, April 12, 2004)•Bliven's
adds up the numbers
TRANSLATOR SAYS THE WARNINGS CAME MUCH EARLIER
The White House went to considerable effort to try to silence FBI
translator Sybil Edmonds on the grounds of "state secrets privilege."
Edmonds, who was interviewed behind closed doors for three hours by the
9/11 Commission says that the FBI was receiving information concerning
the dangers of an attack in the spring of 2001. The warnings continued
throughout the summer. (Edmonds interviewed in Britain's Independent and
the New Zealand Herald, April 3, 2004)
on Democracy Now with Colleen Rowley,
(April 9, 2004)
Washington Post on why the press missed the Edmonds story (April 9,
HEARINGS: TRANSCRIPT OF TESTIMONY ON WHAT THE FBI KNEW BY LOUIS FREEH,
JOHN ASHCROFT, JANET RENO, THOMAS PICKARD
Post, April 13, 2004)
MAN WHO KNEW
FBI agent John O'Neil tracked Osama Bin Laden obsessively for six
years, much to the annoyance of his superiors in Washington who thought
that he had gone overboard. O'Neil came close to uncovering Al Qaeda's
intentions after the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, but his investigation
was blocked by the U.S. ambassador there. O'Neil was in frequent conflict
with FBI director Louis Freeh. After finally resigning from the FBI in
despair, O'Neil signed on as chief of security for the World Trade Center.
He died on 9/11. PBS Frontline is rebroadcasting O'Neil's story. The complete
broadcast is viewable on line along with comprehensive background notes
and interviews. (PBS Frontline, April 2004)
Yorker on O'Neil and the FBI.
The New Yorker's Lawrence Wright profiled O'Neil in 2002. Ironically,
Wright's story begins with an anecdote from Richard Clarke. Both men were
on the trail of Ramzi Yousef, the initial World Trade Center bomber. (Lawrence
Wright, The New Yorker, January 14, 2004)
The Congressional Research Office has made detailed suggestions on
how the FBI might be improved. (Federation of American Scientists, April
FROM ALLIES ABOUT TERRORISM
Both the British and the French have had considerably more experience
than the United States in dealing with terrorism. The RAND Corporation's
Peter Chalk and William Rosenau have written a detailed study on lessons
learned and how they might be applied to the U.S. Available online in
pdf format. (Peter Chalk, William Rosenau, RAND, 2004)
AFTER THE FIRST YEAR
Center for Strategic and International Studies' Anthony Cordesman provides
a mixed status report: "When Iraq is given sovereignty on June 30
th, it will acquire this sovereignty without a popular government and
with almost every major issue affecting its future political structure
still in flux..." (Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, April 2004)
SHIITES AS ADVERSARIES OR FRIENDS
The U.S. Army War College's W. Andrew Terrill notes that Iraq's Shiites
are divided into different groups who do not always agree with each other.
Keeping the Shiites with the coalition depends on understanding the differences.
(W.Andrew Terrill, Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College, February
RESISTANCE MOVEMENTS COMBINING FORCES
has been mounting what some Israeli intelligence experts see as a hostile
takeover of the Palestinian al Fatah movement's Al Acqsa Martyr's brigade.
At the same time there are signs that Fatah and Hamas have also been combining
forces. (Haaretz, April 12, 2004)
and Hamas involved in foiled attack
Ambassador and special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzhad, insists
that progress is being made in reconstruction, but security is still a
key issue, and Khalilzhad is even more disturbed by Pakistani lethargy
at tracking down Al Qaeda elements that have sought refuge on Pakistan's
border. The Pakistanis must act soon, says Khalilzhad, or the U.S. will
act for them. Zbigniew Brzezhinsky presided over a forum discussion at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (CSIS, April 5, 2004)
LEADER URGES UPRISING AGAINST THE U.S.
Gulbudeen Hekmatyar once received substantial support from the U.S.
Not anymore. These days Hekmatyar is on America's "Most Wanted"
list. The radical Islamist Afghan warlord's latest venture is to call
for a Muslim rebellion against the U.S., copying the example set by Iraq's
Muqtada. (Janullah Hashimzada, The Guardian, April 12, 2004)
SURROUNDS RELEASE OF AIDWORKER KIDNAPPED IN CHECHNYA
Arjan Erkel, the former head of the Medecins sans Frontiers' (Doctors
without Borders) office in Dagestan was released after being held for
20 months by unknown kidnappers. Police claimed that the release came
after a special commando operation, but it seems more likely that a deal
was arranged. No ransome was ever asked for Erkel. while Russian authorities
blamed Chechen guerrillas, MSF had suspected comlicity by Dagestan officials.
A Dagetan gangster had also been a suspect. One theory was that officials
might have backed the kidnapping to discourage foreigners, in order to
reduce independent observation of government activities. Osana Yablokova
reports in the Moscow Times, April 13, 2004.
Conn Hallinan points out in Foreign Policy in Focus, that the recent
robot vehicle competition sponsored by DARPA in the Mojave Desert might
seem like a Max Sennett farce. None of the robots, which were supposed
to cover a 142-mile course, managed to get more than 8 miles. But the
motives behind the $1 million competition are considerably darker. With
the success of the unmanned predator as a remote control hit man, the
Pentagon is looking for new automated killing machines. (Conn Hallinan
in Foreign Policy in Focus, April 7, 2004)
truck burns on the Baghdad-Fallujah highway
Raed writes: "...You have to be careful about what you say
about (Muqtada) al-Sadir. Their hands reach every where and you
don't want to be on their shit list. Every body, even the GC is
very careful how they formulate their sentences and how they describe
Sadir's Militias. They are thugs, thugs thugs. There you have it.
I was listening to a representative of al-sadir on TV saying that
the officers at police stations come to offer their help and swear
allegiance. Habibi, if they don't they will get killed and their
police station "liberated". Have we forgotten the threat
al-Sadir issued that Iraqi security forces should not attack their
revolutionary brothers, or they will have to suffer the consequences.
Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort
of timing is that: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of
Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you
knew) that they are trouble makers..."
taken to sleeping in the living room again. We put up the heavy
drapes the day before yesterday and E. and I re-taped the windows
looking out into the garden. This time, I made them use the clear
tape so that the view wouldn't be marred with long, brown strips
of tape. We sleep in the living room because it is the safest room
in the house and the only room that will hold the whole family comfortably.
The preparations for sleep begin at around 10 p.m. on days when
we have electricity and somewhat earlier on dark nights. E. and
I have to drag out the mats, blankets and pillows and arrange them
creatively on the floor so that everyone is as far away from the
windows as possible, without actually being crowded.
Baghdad is calm and relatively quiet if you don't count the frequent
is talk of negotiations between the Hawza and Muqtada Al-Sadr, with
Mohammed Ridha Al-Sistani (the Grand Ayatollah's eldest son) and
a son of Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq Al-Fayadh together with other
representatives of Shi'ite clerics as intermediaries. A spokesman
for the delegation said that they would later name a renowned Iraqi
figure (from outside the GC) to act as an intermediary between them
and the CPA. He also announced that an important statement is to
be issued tomorrow by Sistani on behalf of the Hawza alilmiyyah
that would be to the effect of a warning to coalition forces if
they ever tried to attack Najaf or arrest Al-Sadr. This in response
to Gen. Sanchez' remarks that Al-Sadr would be arrested or killed
and that American troops are moving to Najaf. If that is true, it
would mean a full scale Jihad against Americans by Shia followers
of Sistani in the event of any movement against Sadr. A telling
sign that Sistani and his colleagues are losing patience..."
WILDING'S FALLUJAH DIARY--APRIL 11
The following account has been circulating by email on the internet:
"... The reason I'm on the bus is that a journalist I knew
turned up at my door at about 11 at night telling me things were
desperate in Falluja, he'd been bringing out children with their
limbs blown off, the US soldiers were going around telling people
to leave by dusk or be killed, but then when people fled with whatever
they could carry, they were being stopped at the US military checkpoint
on the edge of town and not let out, trapped, watching the sun go
down..." (Jo Wilding, Fallujah, April 11, 2004)
VIEW FROM INSIDE FALLUJAH
activist, Rahul Mahajan, observed the shaky truce in Fallujah from
the vantage point of the Iraqis trapped there. "To Americans,
'Fallujah' may still mean four mercenaries killed, with their corpses
then mutilated and abused; to Iraqis," notes Mahajan. From
where Mahajan was stationed at an overcrowded emergency clinic,
the view was quite different. “'Fallujah'" means the
savage collective punishment for that attack, in which over 600
Iraqis have been killed, with an estimated 200 women and over 100
Mahajan, Empire Notes, April 12, 2004)
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