Friday, September 14, 2007


Above is an example of a political cartoon which has one virtue: it has truth in it. That's future Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with his new best buddy, Saddam Hussein, two years after Saddam's nuclear weapons program was derailed by an Israeli air strike.

What exactly is the point of the disgusting political cartoon by Mike Lester that ran in the September 14, 2007, Albany Herald? For readers who missed it, the cartoon has two Democrats, each portrayed by the donkey symbol. One has cut off the head of General David Petraeus and is holding the head in one hand and a bloody sword in the other. The disembodied head says “The surge is working” and one Democrat says to the other “How the heck does he do that?!!”

As a Democrat whose son has done two tours in Iraq and whose daughter-in-law is currently serving her second tour, I have to ask: What could possibly have possessed you to run such a false and misleading attack ad which conflates Democrats with fanatical religious fundamentalists who murder innocent civilians? Democrats are guilty of exactly one crime-- doing nothing to stop the Bush Administration which created this fiasco and has kept it going the last four and a half years.

And where is Herald’s outrage about the lies that General Petraeus told Congress- with one notable exception- during his Congressional testimony on September 10th and 11th?

Both General Petraeus and President Bush have falsely claimed that the surge has been a success, asserting that civilian casualties and sectarian violence in Iraq have decreased in 2007. The truth is that both sectarian violence and American casualties have increased in 2007. From the time the surge began, the situation in Iraq descended further down into the cesspool of chaos, anarchy, and civil war, with American military deaths in Iraq reaching the highest first eight month total since the March 20, 2003 invasion, totaling 739 for the first eight months of 2007, compared to 439 for the same period in 2006, 549 in 2005, and 496 the first eight months of 2004.

One set of grim statistics from the central morgue in Baghdad reveals the effect of the American military invasion on Baghdad’s civilian population: in July and August of 2002- the year before our invasion- deaths from murder totaled 21 and 10, respectively. In July and August of 2007-- post surge, with thousands of American troops “stabilizing security” in Baghdad-- deaths from murder in July and August were 1,417 (an all time record) and 1,091, respectively.

Both General Petraeus and President Bush have trumpeted the “danger” from Al Qaida in Iraq- an organization which didn’t exist until our invasion and occupation created it in 2004- if American troops withdraw. The truth as revealed by military analysts in Iraq is that Al Qaida in Iraq, adherents of the Sunni sect, comprises less than two percent of the insurgency in Anbar province, and the organization has virtually no presence in the Shia areas of Baghdad and southern Iraq. If we left Iraq tomorrow it would be crushed by local Sunnis in a fortnight.

President Bush’s stated purpose in January of 2007 for the surge wasn’t to win the peace in Iraq- - it was to provide breathing space for Iraq’s central government to gain control of the country, effect reconciliation between warring tribes and sects, and enact meaningful legislation in such areas as oil revenue sharing. The truth, as reported by the non-partisan U.S. Governmental Accounting Office, is that Iraq’s government is non-functional and non-existent outside the Green Zone in Baghdad. It wouldn’t survive a minute if it weren’t propped up by American troops, and there is no reasonable hope that it will ever actually govern.

To those with short memories, here’s a brief recap of just some of the lies President Bush and his acolytes told Congress and the American public- before and after the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq (of which my son was one of over 100,000 Marines and soldiers):

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Vice President Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002.

"The Iraqi regime ... possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons." George W. Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program..... Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past." George W. Bush, Oct. 7, 2002.

"We know for a fact there are weapons there." George W. Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Jan. 9, 2003.

And here was the truth:

“Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. ...There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.” July 23, 2002, British Downing Street memorandum.

“... we have not uncovered weapons.... Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there." Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, May 30, 2003.

"I don't think they existed..." David Kay, leader of the U.S. hunt for weapons of mass destruction, who resigned on January 23, 2004.

And more lies:

"I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly, . . . (in) weeks rather than months." Vice President Cheney, March 16, 2003.

"It's a handful, a rearguard that's attempting to maintain a degree of political relevance here. We're going to finish these guys off." Col. James Hickey referring to the insurgency in September 19, 2003.

"There is no question in my mind that the coalition and the Iraqi people are winning." Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, in Baghdad, December 13, 2003.

We're on a glide-path toward success ... We have turned the corner, and now we can accelerate down the straightaway." Gen. Charles H. Swannack, Jr., Press Briefing, January 6, 2004.

“We’re making steady progress in implementing our five-step plan toward the goal we all want: completing the mission so that Iraq is stable and self-governing, and American troops can come home...." President Bush, September 25, 2004

“I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.... Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously … there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security, something they are keen to do.” General David Petraeus, in a September 26, 2004, op-ed piece intended to aid President Bush’s re-election efforts during the 2004 presidential campaign.

"We feel right now that we have ... broken the back of the insurgency, and we have taken away this safe haven." Lt. Gen. John Sattler, Press Briefing, November 18, 2004.

“I believe we’re really making progress in Iraq…." President Bush, April 28, 2005.

The insurgency in Iraq is “in the last throes.” Vice President Dick Cheney, May 31, 2005

“Iraq has made incredible political progress...." President Bush, October 28, 2005.

“Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy." President Bush, November 14, 2005.

“We’re making progress on all fronts.” President Bush, May 25, 2006.

“There has been good progress." President Bush, March 19, 2007.

There was one moment of near truth during the September 2007 hearings, when Republican Senator John Warner asked General Petraeus “if we continue ...this strategy.. you are making America safer?” Answer: “Sir, I don’t know actually,”

The truthful answer would have been: “It has made and will make the world- and America- a far more dangerous place.”

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Could at least one general tell the unvarnished truth about Iraq?

Army General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before Congressional committees and gave their long awaited testifimony about “progress” in Iraq on September 10th and 11th. General Petraeus’ upcoming testimony had been touted by the Bush Administration for months as the reason for Congress to hold off making its determination regarding the need for legislation forcing the President to begin the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

“Wait for the Petraeus report” was the refrain heard over and over, from the White House, from Congressional Republicans, and from the right wing political pundits. And, to their everlasting shame, the Democrats in Congress did wait, and while they waited, from February 1, 2007, through September 10, 2007, another 690 Americans and 39 British soldiers were killed. Thousands were wounded. Meanwhile, the situation in Iraq descended further down into the cesspool of chaos, anarchy, and civil war, with American military deaths in Iraq totaling 739 for the first eight months of 2007, compared to 439 for the same period in 2006. Iraqi civilian deaths are in the tens of thousands, and one set of grim statistics from the central morgue in Baghdad reveals the effect of the American military invasion: in July and August of 2002- the year before our invasion, deaths from murder totaled 21 and 10, respectively. In July and August of 2007- post surge, with thousands of American troops “stabilizing security” in Baghdad, deaths from murder in July and August were 1,417 (an all time record) and 1,091, respectively.

Over the last four and a half years, one after another, otherwise intelligent, objective, and dedicated public servants- starting with Secretary of State Colin Powell through the latest, General Petraeus, have, stretched, tortured, and outright evaded the truth as they spoke publicly about the need for America’s military actions in Iraq. It is astonishing that soldiers who would not hesitate for a moment to sacrifice their lives for their comrades somehow lack the courage to tell the unvarnished, unspun truth to the Congress and the American people- a truth which would save countless lives and billions of dollars from our treasury. Here’s how it might have sounded if Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General Petraeus had honored their consciences, the American soldiers serving in Iraq, and told the truth to the American people:

“The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a disaster for America, for our military, for our efforts to reduce conflict in the Middle East, and for our efforts to defuse the threat of Islamic terrorists. Our military has no defined military mission in Iraq. We should not use the word “war” because we are not fighting a "war" there and it is misleading to call it a war. We did briefly fight a war in Iraq when we invaded on March 20,2003, forced the surrender of their army, occupied their capital, and removed the ruling government from power. That took several weeks and ended in late April of 2003. The number of American deaths during that period were 140. If the Bush Administration had been even minimally competent, America would have quickly handed over peacekeeping and rebuilding responsibilities to the United Nations and got out as soon as possible, which would have saved well over 3,000 American lives and over $500 billion.

Instead, within months after our occupation of Iraq in 2003, violent opposition to the occupation began as a result of the disastrous post war policies of the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration provided both the manpower and materials which fueled the insurgency when it disbanded the Iraqi army and the civil government, put hundreds of thousands of unemployed heavily armed soldiers into the streets, and failed to secure weapons caches and munitions dumps which provided the raw materials for improvised explosive devices.

Our military did not invade Iraq to fight Al Qaida or punish those responsible for the 9-11 attacks, because no Iraqis were on the planes on 9-11 and all credible evidence shows that Iraq had no connection to Al Qaida’s terrorist acts. We did not invade Iraq to fight the organization called “Al Qaida in Iraq,” which is not the same organization that attacked us on 9-11, because it did not exist when we invaded 2003. We created the conditions for the birth of the insurgency, including Shia, Sunni, Al Qaida in Iraq, and dozens of splinter groups, when we allowed the destruction of the central and local governments, built huge permanent American military bases, garrisoned the country with American troops, outraged Iraqi citizens by arbitrarily imprisoning thousands of innocent Iraqis, tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians, and made the country so insecure that no citizen may safely attend religious services, travel the streets or even live in their homes without fear of assault, robbery, or murder.

In any event, Al Qaida in Iraq is not even close to being a primary threat to the formation of a stable government in Iraq. The Sunni-Shia religious split and tribal power struggles have far more to do with the instability of the country. Al Qaida in Iraq is barely two percent of the insurgency in Anbar province, and it has virtually no presence in the majority Shia population. When American troops finally leave, it is likely that the locals will deal with them handily and quickly.

As much as the President and Congressional Republicans try to conflate and confuse Americans with references to “9-11,” “terrorism,” and “Iraq,” we are not fighting global terrorism in Iraq. The vast majority of insurgents- over 99 percent- are locals. None of them had an active part in any terrorist acts before we invaded and traumatized the country’s population and destroyed its government. It is equally false to say that we must stay in Iraq because if we leave “the terrorists will follow us home.” That suggestion is absurd and laughable. However, responsible intelligence analysts have concluded that our continued military presence in Iraq has incited acts of global terrorism and has provided Osama Bin Laden the greatest possible service in recruiting adherents to his movement.

There is no effective central government in Iraq, and it is ridiculous to blame President al Maliki or the Iraqi Parliament ,for lack of progress in political reconciliation, economic rebuilding, or security. They exercise no power or authority outside of areas controlled by the American military.

Although we can cause a temporary reduction in violence in any area of Iraq where we put in more troops, the cumulative, long term effect of our troops being in Iraq is to increase the overall terrorism threat globally because of the extraordinarily provocative impact of having English speaking, mostly Christian troops occupying an Arabic speaking, Muslim country, and because we are viewed as torturers and murderers by the Muslim world.

The one issue on which we have managed to unite Iraqis of every religion and region is opposition to a continued American military occupation. More than half of Iraqis polled approve of attacks on American forces and more than 80 percent want American troops out of the country.”

If only General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker had enough courage to have told the truth- it would have provided Democrats and Republicans the cover they needed to bring the troops home.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


That "Mission Accomplished" sign is now 4 1/2 years ago- longer than it took the U.S. to defeat the Nazis and Japanese in WWII. Can we go home now?


During the first few months of 2007 the Bush Administration’s answer to Congress when asked when are we going to start withdrawing American troops from Iraq was “wait until September.” Wait for the report from General David Petraeus, the general selected by the President to run the war in Iraq. The general who will tell America whether or not the surge of additional troops sent to Iraq was working. The obvious implication was that General Petraeus would faithfully and accurately report the whole truth about the success or failure of President Bush’s decision to send in additional combat troops to secure Iraq. The message from the President was that after the general gave his report, the Democrats who now run Congress would then be able to decide whether to continue to support the President’s strategy or whether to start a withdrawal of our troops.

That directive from the Bush Administration- to hold off criticism until September, to hold off taking meaningful actions to end the war and just give the surge a chance to secure the peace in Iraq- that directive was the beginning of a shell game being played on America. I say “shell game” because the last few months, as every objective measure has indicated that violence is on the increase, that Iraq’s political situation- which is essential to a peaceful solution to the country’s problems- is disintegrating, that security is non-existent in most of the country while the infrastructure is still a shambles-- as all that has occurred even with the “surge,” the Presidential rhetoric has shifted once again.

Recently, the President has suggested that Iraq is just like Vietnam, but not in the way that most rational people would assume. He says we shouldn’t pull out of Iraq when all indications are that the surge is working– just like those defeatist Democrats did in Vietnam when we were on the cusp of victory. When asked in Australia at the APEC meeting how things were going in Iraq, his surrealistic response was “we’re kicking ass!” President Bush neglected to mention, as Bill Maher astutely pointed out, that if we really were kicking ass and the surge had worked, he wouldn’t have had to fly into the country secretly, spend every minute of his time in Iraq on our most secure air base, Al Asad, nicknamed “Camp Cupcake” by the Marines who serve there, and he wouldn’t have needed Iraq’s President al Maliki to secretly fly from Baghdad to meet him there.

Notwithstanding the mountain of objective evidence that the stated goals of the surge- the “18 benchmarks”-- have not been met (supposedly three were, but none of them involved the most critical- such as having movement forward on a political reconciliation and having the security situation improve so that ordinary Iraqis can safely live in their homes and drive on the streets), the spineless crapweasel Democrats will continue to hem and haw and avoid making an actual decision to pull the plug. They could end the war tomorrow if they so chose by cutting off the cash flow which is the necessity for the continuation of a war which has killed several hundred thousand Iraqis-- no one knows the actual number because the Bush Administration refuses to count-- over 4,000 Americans in uniform, and wounded and maimed tens of thousands of Americans, while costing the nation upwards of $500 billion, with $4 billion thrown down the sewer every week.

So as a public service to the nation, I have some suggested questions for Democrats in Congress to ask General Petraeus when he appears before them and gives them two self-contradictory messages: the surge is working, violence is down, and victory is in sight-- but if we stage an orderly withdrawal over the next 12 months, Iraq is so fragile it will immediately descend into chaos, overt civil war, genocide, and become a failed state and a haven for international terrorism targeting America.

The questions are easy to ask, and any competent commanding general should have made it his business to know the answers:

General Petraeus, what was the population of Iraq before we invaded in March of 2003?

What is Iraq’s population now?

How many Iraqis have fled the country since we invaded it in 2003, toppled their government, and occupied the country?

How many of the remaining Iraqis are involved in acts of violence, including the insurgency and sectarian violence between and within religious sects?

What are the names of each organization which has engaged in acts of violence against United States troops in Iraq in the last 12 months?

How many insurgents are members of the Al Qaida organization which takes direct orders from Osama Bin Laden?

What is/are the name of the top leader(s) of the Al Qaida organization in Iraq?

How many members of Al Qaida in Iraq are Iraqis?

Of those members of Al Qaida in Iraq who are Iraqi, how many of them were members of Al Qaida before we invaded in 2003?

How many members of Al Qaida in Iraq are foreign nationals?

What foreign countries do they come from, and what are the numbers who come from each of those countries?

Of those members of Al Qaida in Iraq who are foreign nationals, how many of them were members of Al Qaida before we invaded in 2003?

How many insurgents are nationalities other than Iraqi?

What is the breakdown in numbers by religion of the insurgents in Iraq (i.e. how many are Sunni, how many are Shia, how many are other)?

What is the geographic breakdown of the insurgents in Iraq, as in how many are there in each province?

General, are all Iraqis found dead from gunshot wounds counted by the American military when compiling statistics as to the effects of the surge?

General, are all Iraqis killed by explosives counted by the American military when compiling statistics as to the effects of the surge?

What provinces have experienced acts of violence committed by insurgents against American or coalition forces in the last 12 months?

What provinces have not experienced acts of violence committed by insurgents against American or coalition forces in the last 12 months?

How many of the insurgents who exist in 2007 were actively involved in violence against Americans before we invaded in March of 2003?

How many Iraqis oppose retaining America’s military presence there?

How many Iraqis, while not actively involved in violence towards America’s troops, do not object to attacks on American troops?

How many billions of dollars in cash did the United States government airlift or otherwise sent to Iraq after our invasion in 2003?

How much of that is missing?

Who got the missing cash?

How much of that missing cash has been used to fuel the insurgency and to attack and kill American troops?

How many weapons that were handed out to Iraq’s police forces and Iraq’s army have gone missing? How many of those missing weapons have been used to attack American troops or kill Iraqis in sectarian violence?

What is the total number of Iraq’s police forces?

How many of Iraq’s police have been killed in 2007? In 2006? In 2005? 2004? 2003? 2002 (before we invaded)?

How many Iraqi police officers can be counted on to impartially enforce the law rather than participating in the insurgency, in sectarian violence, or in criminal acts?

What is the total number of Iraq’s combat forces?

How many of Iraq’s combat forces can be counted on to impartially enforce the law rather than participating in the insurgency, in sectarian violence, or in criminal acts?

In the last six months, how many of Iraq’s combat troops have been “stand alone” and have carried out missions without active American troop support or American military advisors accompanying them?

What was the civilian population in Baghdad in August of 2007?

What is the average high daytime temperature in Baghdad in August?

How do Baghdad’s Iraqi civilians cool their homes?

General, during the month of August of 2007, how many hours a day on the average was electricity on in homes in Baghdad? In August of 2006? 2005? 2004? 2003? 2002 (before we invaded)?

How many hours a day is electricity on in your headquarters?

How many acts of sabotage were committed against Iraq’s electrical grid in the last 12 months?

Who was guarding Iraq’s electrical generators and grid systems in those 12 months?

How many acts of sabotage were committed against Iraq’s oil pipelines in the last 12 months?

Who was guarding Iraq’s oil pipelines in those 12 months?

Is the drinking water in homes in Baghdad safe to drink?

Would you advise Americans to drink the tap water from civilian homes in Baghdad?

General, my friend’s daughter is planning on visiting Iraq next month. Can you tell me what hotel you recommend she stay in outside the Green Zone and the names of some stores where she can shop without needing a security detail of U.S. Marines and attack helicopters?

General, if an American tourist wishes to take his family to Iraq, wearing clothing adorned with American flags, and without bodyguards or a military escort, which cities would you recommend they not visit, not stay in, and not go shopping in?

What would an American tourist’s life expectancy be in minutes if he walked the streets of Baghdad during the daytime?

Can you name any member of the Iraqi Parliament who can walk on the streets in Baghdad, wearing some insignia identifying himself as a member of the Parliament, without body guards, who has more than a 50 percent chance of returning alive?

Name every city in Iraq in which the mayor and city council members may walk the streets safely in the daytime without body guards?

Name every city where it is not safe for the mayor and city council members to walk the streets safely in the daytime without body guards.

Are Iraqi women who are not dressed in traditional Muslim clothing safer walking the streets today, or were they safer on March 19, 2003, before we invaded?

What percentage of your patrol vehicles have armor that will withstand improvised explosive devices planted in the street?

How many more IED resistant vehicles do you need?

How many have you ordered?

How many were delivered?

How many citizens of Iraq died from acts of violence there in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007? What were the numbers who died from disease or hunger during each of those years?

How many Iraqis left their homes in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007?

How many Iraqis left the country in 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007?

Are American troops in Iraq to provide democracy to the country?

Are the people of Iraq are free to choose their own fate or is their future being dictated by American military and civilian authorities?

Do you have any objection to asking Iraq’s government to schedule an election to allow the Iraqi people to vote: American troops are to leave within 12 months, or stay in Iraq for years to come?

What is America’s mission in Iraq?

When will that mission be accomplished so that all American troops may come home?

General Petraeus, how many nuclear weapons have American forces discovered in Iraq?

How many facilities capable of making nuclear weapons were discovered by American forces in Iraq?

One final question, General Petraeus: how many of the 20 9-11 hijackers were Iraqis?