Georgi Archers
War Criminal Facts to prosecute the American Bastards in Ger
Sun Feb 6, 2005 09:14
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What I Heard about Iraq
Eliot Weinberger
In 1992, a year after the first Gulf War, I heard Dick Cheney, then secretary of defense, say that the US had been wise not to invade Baghdad and get ‘bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq’. I heard him say: ‘The question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth? And the answer is: not that damned many.’

In February 2001, I heard Colin Powell say that Saddam Hussein ‘has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours.’

That same month, I heard that a CIA report stated: ‘We do not have any direct evidence that Iraq has used the period since Desert Fox to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction programmes.’

In July 2001, I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.’

On 11 September 2001, six hours after the attacks, I heard that Donald Rumsfeld said that it might be an opportunity to ‘hit’ Iraq. I heard that he said: ‘Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.’

I heard that Condoleezza Rice asked: ‘How do you capitalise on these opportunities?’

I heard that on 17 September the president signed a document marked top secret that directed the Pentagon to begin planning for the invasion and that, some months later, he secretly and illegally diverted $700 million approved by Congress for operations in Afghanistan into preparing for the new battle front.

In February 2002, I heard that an unnamed ‘senior military commander’ said: ‘We are moving military and intelligence personnel and resources out of Afghanistan to get ready for a future war in Iraq.’

I heard the president say that Iraq is ‘a threat of unique urgency’, and that there is ‘no doubt the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised’.

I heard the vice president say: ‘Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.’

I heard the president tell Congress: ‘The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material could build one within a year.’

I heard him say: ‘The dangers we face will only worsen from month to month and from year to year. To ignore these threats is to encourage them. Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX nerve gas or, some day, a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally.’

I heard the president, in the State of the Union address, say that Iraq was hiding materials sufficient to produce 25,000 litres of anthrax, 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin, and 500 tons of sarin, mustard and nerve gas.

I heard the president say that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium – later specified as ‘yellowcake’ uranium oxide from Niger – and thousands of aluminium tubes ‘suitable for nuclear weapons production’.

I heard the vice president say: ‘We know that he’s been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.’

I heard the president say: ‘Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans, this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘Some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent. I would not be so certain.’

I heard the president say: ‘America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.’

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘We don’t want the “smoking gun” to be a mushroom cloud.’

I heard the American ambassador to the European Union tell the Europeans: ‘You had Hitler in Europe and no one really did anything about him. The same type of person is in Baghdad.’

I heard Colin Powell at the United Nations say: ‘They can produce enough dry biological agent in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people. Saddam Hussein has never accounted for vast amounts of chemical weaponry: 550 artillery shells with mustard gas, 30,000 empty munitions, and enough precursors to increase his stockpile to as much as 500 tons of chemical agents. Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical-weapons agent. Even the low end of 100 tons of agent would enable Saddam Hussein to cause mass casualties across more than 100 square miles of territory, an area nearly five times the size of Manhattan.’

I heard him say: ‘Every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.’

I heard the president say: ‘Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas.’ I heard him say that Iraq ‘could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order is given’.

I heard Tony Blair say: ‘We are asked to accept Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.’

I heard the president say: ‘We know that Iraq and al-Qaida have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraq regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.’

I heard the vice president say: ‘There’s overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al-Qaida and the Iraqi government. I am very confident there was an established relationship there.’

I heard Colin Powell say: ‘Iraqi officials deny accusations of ties with al-Qaida. These denials are simply not credible.’

I heard Condoleezza Rice say: ‘There clearly are contacts between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein that can be documented.’

I heard the president say: ‘You can’t distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘Imagine a September 11th with weapons of mass destruction. It’s not three thousand – it’s tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children.’

I heard Colin Powell tell the Senate that ‘a moment of truth is coming’: ‘This is not just an academic exercise or the United States being in a fit of pique. We’re talking about real weapons. We’re talking about anthrax. We’re talking about botulinum toxin. We’re talking about nuclear weapons programmes.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people.’

I heard the president, ‘bristling with irritation’, say: ‘This business about more time, how much time do we need to see clearly that he’s not disarming? He is delaying. He is deceiving. He is asking for time. He’s playing hide-and-seek with inspectors. One thing is for certain: he’s not disarming. Surely our friends have learned lessons from the past. This looks like a rerun of a bad movie and I’m not interested in watching it.’

I heard that, a few days before authorising the invasion of Iraq, the Senate was told in a classified briefing by the Pentagon that Iraq could launch anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons against the eastern seaboard of the United States using unmanned aerial ‘drones’.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say he would present no specific evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction because it might jeopardise the military mission by revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows.

*

I heard the Pentagon spokesman call the military plan ‘A-Day’, or ‘Shock and Awe’. Three or four hundred cruise missiles launched every day, until ‘there will not be a safe place in Baghdad,’ until ‘you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes.’ I heard the spokesman say: ‘You’re sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you’re the general and thirty of your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down. By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In two, three, four, five days they are physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted.’ I heard him say: ‘The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never contemplated.’

I heard Major-General Charles Swannack promise that his troops were going to ‘use a sledgehammer to smash a walnut’.

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say: ‘This is not going to be your father’s Persian Gulf War.’

I heard that Saddam’s strategy against the American invasion would be to blow up dams, bridges and oilfields, and to cut off food supplies to the south so that the Americans would suddenly have to feed millions of desperate civilians. I heard that Baghdad would be encircled by two rings of the elite Republican Guard, in fighting positions already stocked with weapons and supplies, and equipped with chemical protective gear against the poison gas or germ weapons they would be using against the American troops.

I heard Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby tell Congress that Saddam would ‘employ a “scorched earth” strategy, destroying food, transportation, energy and other infrastructure, attempting to create a humanitarian disaster’, and that he would blame it all on the Americans.

I heard that Iraq would fire its long-range Scud missiles – equipped with chemical or biological warheads – at Israel, to ‘portray the war as a battle with an American-Israeli coalition and build support in the Arab world’.

I heard that Saddam had elaborate and labyrinthine underground bunkers for his protection, and that it might be necessary to employ B61 Mod 11 nuclear ‘bunker-buster’ bombs to destroy them.

I heard the vice president say that the war would be over in ‘weeks rather than months’.

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say there was ‘no question’ that American troops would be ‘welcomed’: ‘Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and al-Qaida would not let them do.’

I heard the vice president say: ‘The Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation the streets in Basra and Baghdad are “sure to erupt in joy”. Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart. And our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced.’

I heard the vice president say: ‘I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.’

I heard Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister, say: ‘American soldiers will not be received by flowers. They will be received by bullets.’

I heard that the president said to the television evangelist Pat Robertson: ‘Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.’

I heard the president say that he had not consulted his father about the coming war: ‘You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.’

I heard the prime minister of the Solomon Islands express surprise that his was one of the nations enlisted in the ‘coalition of the willing’: ‘I was completely unaware of it.’

I heard the president tell the Iraqi people, on the night before the invasion began: ‘If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror. And we will help you build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbours, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.’

I heard him tell the Iraqi people: ‘We will not relent until your country is free.’

*

I heard the vice president say: ‘By any standard of even the most dazzling charges in military history, the Germans in the Ardennes in the spring of 1940 or Patton’s romp in July of 1944, the present race to Baghdad is unprecedented in its speed and daring and in the lightness of casualties.’

I heard Colonel David Hackworth say: ‘Hey diddle diddle, it’s straight up the middle!’

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say that 95 per cent of the Iraqi casualties were ‘military-age males’.

I heard an official from the Red Crescent say: ‘On one stretch of highway alone, there were more than fifty civilian cars, each with four or five people incinerated inside, that sat in the sun for ten or fifteen days before they were buried nearby by volunteers. That is what there will be for their relatives to come and find. War is bad, but its remnants are worse.’

I heard the director of a hospital in Baghdad say: ‘The whole hospital is an emergency room. The nature of the injuries is so severe – one body without a head, someone else with their abdomen ripped open.’

I heard an American soldier say: ‘There’s a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my Kevlar. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think: “They hit us at home and now it’s our turn.”’

I heard about Hashim, a fat, ‘painfully shy’ 15-year-old, who liked to sit for hours by the river with his birdcage, and who was shot by the 4th Infantry Division in a raid on his village. Asked about the details of the boy’s death, the division commander said: ‘That person was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

I heard an American soldier say: ‘We get rocks thrown at us by kids. You wanna turn around and shoot one of the little ...ers, but you know you can’t do that.’

I heard the Pentagon spokesman say that the US did not count civilian casualties: ‘Our efforts focus on destroying the enemy’s capabilities, so we never target civilians and have no reason to try to count such unintended deaths.’ I heard him say that, in any event, it would be impossible, because the Iraqi paramilitaries were fighting in civilian clothes, the military was using civilian human shields, and many of the civilian deaths were the result of Iraqi ‘unaimed anti-aircraft fire falling back to earth’.

I heard an American soldier say: ‘The worst thing is to shoot one of them, then go help him,’ as regulations require. ‘..., I didn’t help any of them. I wouldn’t help the ...ers. There were some you let die. And there were some you double-tapped. Once you’d reached the objective, and once you’d shot them and you’re moving through, anything there, you shoot again. You didn’t want any prisoners of war.’

I heard Anmar Uday, the doctor who had cared for Private Jessica Lynch, say: ‘We heard the helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military. There were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried “Go, go, go,” with guns and flares and the sound of explosions. They made a show: an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors. All the time with cameras rolling.’

I heard Private Jessica Lynch say: ‘They used me as a way to symbolise all this stuff. It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about.’ Of the stories that she had bravely fought off her captors, and suffered bullet and stab wounds, I heard her say: ‘I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do.’ Of her dramatic ‘rescue’, I heard her say: ‘I don’t think it happened quite like that.’

I heard the Red Cross say that casualties in Baghdad were so high that the hospitals had stopped counting.

I heard an old man say, after 11 members of his family – children and grandchildren – were killed when a tank blew up their minivan: ‘Our home is an empty place. We who are left are like wild animals. All we can do is cry out

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