Annals of Liberation: Buried Truths, Bloody Lies and Our Expert Executioners


For a proper perspective on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, check out Winter Patriot on the Winter Soldier hearings in Washington DC. WP has all background -- and the vital links -- to this important conference, where the Iraq Veterans Against the War are presenting hard truths about the bloody, brutal -- and brutalizing -- reality of the continuing American war crime in the shattered land. Get over there now, read WP's excerpts, then hop to the many links to further details.

Because you're not going to get this information from the America's media mandarins. The New York Times has not deigned to mention the hearings at all. The Washington Post buried a story on it deep inside the paper on Saturday -- and a very skillful piece of dampening it was, too. Five of the first 11 paragraphs were given over to the handful of "counter-protestors" who showed up to denounce the veterans. It was not until the 19th paragraph that the Post mentioned any specific incident -- a gunship attack on an apartment building in November 2003. No details were given.

Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn -- another longtime eyewitness to the realities of Iraq whose voice you will never hear in the hushed and reverent corridors of the corporate media -- provides yet another portrait of Iraq's deepening ruination in The Independent. From "Iraq is Not a Country Anymore":

'It reminds me of Iraq under Saddam," a militant opponent of Saddam Hussein said angrily to me last week as he watched red-capped Iraqi soldiers close down part of central Baghdad so the convoy of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, might briefly venture into the city.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, the US and the Iraqi governments claim that the country is becoming a less dangerous place, but the measures taken to protect Mr Maliki told a different story. Gun-waving soldiers first cleared all traffic from the streets. Then four black armoured cars, each with three machine-gunners on the roof, raced out of the Green Zone through a heavily fortified exit, followed by sand-coloured American Humvees and more armoured cars. Finally, in the middle of the speeding convoy, we saw six identical bullet-proof vehicles with black windows, one of which must have been carrying Mr Maliki.

The precautions were not excessive, since Baghdad remains the most dangerous city in the world. The Iraqi Prime Minister was only going to the headquarters of the Dawa party, to which he belongs and which are just half a mile outside the Green Zone, but his hundreds of security guards acted as if they were entering enemy territory.

Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls. Different districts even have different national flags. Sunni areas use the old Iraqi flag with the three stars of the Baath party, and the Shia wave a newer version, adopted by the Shia-Kurdish government. The Kurds have their own flag.

The Iraqi government tries to give the impression that normality is returning. Iraqi journalists are told not to mention the continuing violence. When a bomb exploded in Karada district near my hotel, killing 70 people, the police beat and drove away a television cameraman trying to take pictures of the devastation. Civilian casualties have fallen from 65 Iraqis killed daily from November 2006 to August 2007 to 26 daily in February. But the fall in the death rate is partly because ethnic cleansing has already done its grim work and in much of Baghdad there are no mixed areas left.

John McCain is in the locked-down, walled-off, ethnically cleansed Iraqi capital right now, pumping for his 100 Years of War and touting the "success" of the surge. But as ThinkProgress points out, the surge is so successful that McCain is now unable to go to the open-air market he visited last April, when with "100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead," he took a brief stroll to show how safe Baghdad already was. The marketplace is now under the control of Shiite ethnic cleanser Moqtada al Sadr, and U.S. reporters were told by their security guards that "they didn't believe it was safe for an American to be in that area."

Arthur Silber expands on Cockburn's piece in a post very aptly titled, "Over One Million Murdered -- and Nothing has Been Learned." Silber also peels the paint off the pack of "wise men" assembled by the New York Times this weekend to assess the progress and problems of the imperial adventure in Mesopotamia. Their conclusion: keep killing, but do it better next time. Silber lays it on the line (as always, go to his site and follow the many links):

Of course, neither the NYT nor any of the "nine experts" refer to the invasion and ongoing occupation as a war crime. Not a single one of these eminent personages acknowledges that Iraq had never attacked us, that Iraq constituted no threat to the U.S. of any consequence whatsoever, and that these facts -- which are the only facts relevant to a determination of whether the U.S. had any justification at all to launch this criminal war -- could have been known in the winter and spring of 2002-2003, and that these facts were known to many "ordinary" persons in the United States and around the world. But none of the "ordinary" persons who understood the truth were "experts." None of them belonged to the ruling class.

Silber then gives chapter and verse from the hideous gospels of these willing executioners, and concludes:

Behold the wisdom of the ruling class, now increased by benefit of the deaths of more than a million innocent people: the next time the United States wages a war of aggression, the next time the United States violates the Nuremberg Principles, the next time the United States installs a brutally cruel colonial occupation force -- do it efficiently.

Manage future wars of conquest and future occupations competently. Commit your crimes -- and your murders -- with skill and expertise.

In this way, the ruling class is now prepared to do it all again -- against Iran, or Syria, possibly China in five or ten years. It will not matter that another nation will not have attacked us, or even had the capability of doing so. All that will be of consequence is that the United States manages its future crimes expertly and efficiently....

Our government is a government of monsters, advised by "experts" who are monsters. If the United States should suffer another horrifying attack on a scale equal to or even worse than 9/11, do not wonder why. You know why, but most of you don't want to acknowledge the explanation or face what it means, even now.

A million deaths will not deter them. Will five million? Ten million? No. They will not. This is your government, and it will be your government under a new Democratic or Republican administration.

Oh my lord! Silber sounds like Obama's preacher! We'd better denounce him right away!

For to be sure, denunciation, demonization and marginalization are the fates awaiting anyone in public life who dares utter a word of truth in freedom's fair and happy land. That's why the testimonies of the Winter Soldiers of Iraq are being buried or ignored -- just like the bodies of the million dead now rotting in Iraqi soil.

UPDATE: Dahr Jamail has more details on the Winter Soldier testimony at Rules of Engagement 'Thrown Out the Window."

The International Red Cross also provides detail on the devastation: Millions of Iraqis lack water and healthcare.

The Chicago Tribune gives a portrait in miniature of the "monstrous losses" suffered by the Iraqis associated with the paper's Bagdhad bureau.

UPDATE II: Guardian correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad revisits Baghdad, the city where he was born and lived for 30 years: Death, destruction and fear on the streets. Here's an excerpt of real life in the "liberated land" after the "successful" surge:

Few Baghdadis would try [traveling across the city] these days. Most now live in walled, effectively ethnically cleansed, communities. Travelling across the city means hopping from one frontline to another and negotiating countless militia-controlled fiefdoms.

To do it I must make elaborate preparations. First, two separate ID cards, one with a Sunni name, another Shia. Then the rings: Shia militiamen favour two big ones. As we approach Shia checkpoints I stick my hand out of the window wearing them, wave Salam, and am almost always waved through.

I grew up in Karrada, a mixed neighbourhood, but I went to school in Adhamiya, a strongly Sunni area where the insurgency started. Soon after the war Adhamiya was taken over by al-Qaida but today it is controlled by an anti al-Qaida Sunni militia. The main threat comes from across the highway: the Shia area of Qahira. The highway between the two areas resembles a scene from the West Bank: two high concrete walls separating the two sides of the road. The militiamen say they feel safe inside Adhamiya, but a few yards outside the neighbourhood it is very different. "Our limit is the checkpoint at Antar square," their commander tells me. "After that the Mahdi army of Qahira will kidnap us."

In the market the vegetable sellers say that each time they bring in food supplies, they must bribe the Iraqi army soldiers manning checkpoints. "We are worse than Gaza because if they don't let me through that checkpoint I have to drive all around the area and try to get through another checkpoint, and 99% I will be dead."

Not far from the checkpoint and behind the famous Abu Hanifa mosque was a small park. Because so many have been killed in the area, and because people can't move outside it, it has been converted into a cemetery. Three thousand graves have been dug in two years, according to the man who supervises it. An old man sprinkling rosewater on his son's grave told me: "He was killed by the Shia Mahdi because his name was Omar" - a common Sunni name...

Another day, I changed my ID card and car and visited the other side of the wall. It is a poor area, controlled by a Shia militia, some of whose members are affiliated to the Mahdi army.

There were two funeral tents that day, one for Hussein, a young boy whose brother says he was killed mistakenly by the Americans the night before, the other for Jassim, a pick-up driver whose father and cousins say he was killed by the people of Adhamiya...

There is no such thing as a Baghdadi any more. Everyone now is identified with a particular walled neighbourhood, guarded by one of a dozen or so militias.