November 16: Latest News from Iraq
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Photo of the Day:

Baptizing for the WWIII?
A Czech soldier in a protective suit decontaminates a colleague during a chemical warfare training exercise Um Al Aish, 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border in the northern Kuwait desert Thursday, Nov. 14, 2002. The training was timely as U.N. weapons inspectors prepare to test whether Iraq is willing to comply with a U.N. Security Council resolution to disarm or risk a U.S. military attack. That, in turn, could trigger a deadly Iraqi response here and elsewhere in the Gulf.(AP Photo/Gustavo Ferrari)


Audio Files:
Nov 22 Between The Line Radio Show (USA)
Bush Interpretation of UN Resolution Likely to Bring War
Listen to RealAudio version of program:

1) UN Security Council Approves Resolution Renewing Iraq Weapons Inspections
- U.S. interprets wording of document as authority to wage war against Baghdad for any future violations
Interview by Scott Harris

James Paul, executive director of the Global Policy Forum, assesses the significance of the U.N. Security Council action and the likelihood of war.

2) Economic Sanctions on Iraq Continue to Exact Deadly Toll on Civilian Population
Interview by Melinda Tuhus

Joy Gordon, a professor of philosophy at Fairfield University in Connecticut speaks about how the Iraqi sanctions are administered, the impact they're having on the Iraqi people, and what the interplay of sanctions might be with a future war considering the very real specter of a U.S. invasion.

Latest: Allied Jets Bomb Iraqi Again! (Assoicated Prerss)
US Looks for NATO Support on Iraq (Assoicated Press)
Decoding the New UN Resolution on Iraq (Institute of Public Accuracy)
Iraqi-Americans Fear War Inevitable (Assoicated Press)
This War Brought to You by Rendon Group (Asia Times)

1) Allied Jets Retaliate for Iraqi Fire
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - In an action U.S. officials consider a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, Iraq fired surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft guns at American and British warplanes patrolling a ``no-fly'' zone.

Coalition warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense site in retaliation for Friday's firing, a Pentagon statement said.

It was the first coalition strike on Iraq since President Saddam Hussein's government accepted the Security Council resolution Wednesday that demanded he disarm and allow inspectors to search for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Under the resolution, a material breach must be reported to the Security Council for new debate and could be used as possible justification for U.S.-led military action to remove Saddam's government.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government considers the firing a material breach, but could not say whether or when American officials would raise the issue with the United Nations.

State Department spokesman Frederick Jones said the United States had the option of reporting the Iraqi firing to the Security Council but had not decided whether to do so.

In New York, meanwhile, chief U.N weapons inspector Hans Blix prepared to set off for Baghdad with a warning to Saddam that the Security Council won't tolerate ``cat and mouse'' games.

Blix and other inspectors are scheduled to arrive in Iraq on Monday after a four-year absence, and he said actual inspections were expected to begin Nov. 27.

Saddam's government told Iraqis on Friday they must welcome the inspection team.

The Bush administration says it will go to war if Saddam does not comply with the new U.N. resolution to cooperate in declaring and dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam accepted the U.N. resolution on Wednesday but insists Iraq has no chemical, biological and nuclear arms.

``Iraq's acceptance of the resolution is an attempt to save our people from any harm,'' the state-run Al-Iraq newspaper said Friday. ``This is the most important thing.''

President Bush and other U.S. officials have said they believe Iraq's firing on coalition planes patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones would violate the latest U.N. resolution.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials, however, have been vague about whether Iraqi hostile actions in the zones would be considered a trigger for a wider U.S.-led attack.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. David Lapan said Iraq fired surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery at coalition planes. The shots came from Iraqi positions near the southern city of An Najaf, said Cmdr. Dan Gage, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command.

Coalition planes used precision-guided weapons to attack an air defense communications facility near An Najaf about 85 miles southeast of Baghdad, a Pentagon statement said. The strike happened at about 2:50 p.m. EST.

There were strikes Sunday against two surface-to-air missile sites near Tallil, 175 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The latest U.N. Security Council resolution, passed 15-0 on Nov. 8, prohibits Iraq from taking or threatening any hostile action against countries ``taking action to uphold any council resolution.'' The United States and Britain say they established the no-fly zones to enforce Security Council resolutions calling on Saddam to end attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south.

The resolutions do not specifically deal with interdiction zones.

Iraq calls the zones violations of its sovereignty and has repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to shoot down the warplanes that patrol them.

11/16/02 07:19 EST

2) US Looks for NATO Support on Iraq
.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - At a NATO summit next week, President Bush expects to hear from his alliance partners about what they can do to help the United States face down Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the national security adviser said Friday.

Still, the Iraq crisis will be just a sideline issue as NATO leaders convene to announce new membership invitations and longer-term alliance plans to build a 21,000-member rapid reaction strike force, Condoleezza Rice told reporters.

``Iraq is typical - or the most important example - of the kind of threat NATO will face in the future, so it would be odd if this were not an issue at the summit,'' said Rice.

``I suspect that we will hear from NATO partners what they are prepared to do and what they can do, but that's not the purpose of this summit,'' she said.

Emboldened by unanimous support in the U.N. Security Council, U.S. officials expect NATO to make a political statement of ``allied solidarity.'' But the White House has not asked for any collective NATO commitment to assist in any war should Saddam Hussein refuse to surrender his weapons of mass murder.

``It hasn't crossed my mind, we've not proposed it,'' Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in advance of the summit in Prague.

As one NATO official privately explained, there is no attempt to put together a NATO military declaration because the Iraqi crisis is currently on a diplomatic track through the United Nations. With Germany holding to its staunch anti-war position, the unanimity that NATO proceedings require will be difficult to achieve on any position going further than the U.N. demand that Saddam disarm or risk ``serious consequences.''

In Prague on Wednesday, Bush will pull aside the Czech, Turkish and French leaders, along with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, for separate meetings on Iraq and the anti-terror war. Rice glossed over sharp Iraq-related tensions between Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, saying the two men are bound to run into each other in Prague but will have no formal meeting.

``We are working with the Germans and will continue to,'' Rice said.

Nicholas Burns, Bush's ambassador to NATO, framed what the United States wants from NATO in terms of a simple endorsement of the Security Council resolution.

``At Prague, we must speak with one voice and tell Saddam that the will of the U.N. must be respected and that we will stand together until this problem is resolved,'' said Burns.

The 19 NATO partners meet against a Dec. 8 deadline for Saddam to disclose all aspects of his weapons programs. But the summit is being convened foremost to approve, with the United States' assent, another round of membership invitations to seven ex-communist states - Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bulgaria - while hopefuls Macedonia and Albania are expected to be put off.

To reassure Russia that it should not view NATO's latest expansion as threatening, Bush will stop in St. Petersburg to see Russian President Vladimir Putin before making congratulatory visits on Friday and Saturday to the Lithuanian and Romanian capitals.

NATO, casting an eye to its own relevance in the post-Cold War world, also is expected to announce an overhaul of its 53-year-old defensive military mission.

At Rumsfeld's prompting, NATO will begin to assemble a strike force, transforming yesteryear's sort of NATO deployment - heavy tanks protecting Germany's eastern flank from Soviet invasion - into one that can attack rogue and terrorist threats wherever they pop up.

The point, said Stephen Hadley, Bush's deputy national security adviser, is for NATO to be better prepared than it was just after the Sept. 11 attacks, when an international anti-terror coalition was ``assembled on the run, in an emergency'' to strike in Afghanistan.

But no one expects the new force to be ready in time for participation in the current Iraqi crisis.

Instead, said Robertson, it's more a long-term ``question of modernization or marginalization.''

Robertson promises to deliver the United States a ``strong political message'' on Iraq, but whether this statement will be self-standing or folded into the summit's official declaration remains under discussion.

The newest NATO members and hopeful future members, meanwhile, have quietly told the United States to count on them to help in any war with Saddam. U.S. officials are eyeing the ``niche contributions'' individual countries can make.

11/15/02 11:41 EST

3) Decoding the New UN Resolution on Iraq:
Myth-Shattering Analysis at

Today the Institute for Public Accuracy released a detailed analysis of
the new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq. The assessments feature
conclusions of several legal and political analysts. The multifaceted
critique is available at:

Among the analysts who are available for interviews:

Executive director of the Global Policy Forum, which monitors policy-making
at the United Nations, Paul is author of a series of papers including
"Iraq: The Struggle for Oil." He said today: "This resolution takes a
hard-line approach that will almost certainly lead to war. Thirteen members
of the Security Council were opposed to this resolution or deeply
skeptical, but Washington used intense pressure and eventually bent them to
its will."

A former UN Assistant Secretary General, Halliday headed the UN's
food-for-oil program in Iraq. He said today: "The new resolution of the UN
Security Council is a charade, a device to obscure. Nevertheless it is
transparent enough that one can point out the trip wires, hoops and hurdles
-- combined with dangerous ambiguity -- placed so that Iraq must inevitably
fail to avoid material breach. Then the Bush war can begin nicely covered
in UN respectability -- although of course it has already begun, what with
the 12 years of deadly embargo, the no-fly zone bombings and now placement
of army, navy and air force resources on the ground in the Gulf, Kuwait, etc."

Rangwala is a lecturer in politics at Cambridge University in Britain.

Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Bennis is author of the new
book "Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis."

Jennings is president of Conscience International, an aid organization that
has worked in Iraq.

Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois
College of Law.

Burroughs is executive director of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy.

Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Mahajan is author of the book "The New Crusade: America's War Against

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

4) Iraqi-Americans Fear War Inevitable
.c The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - War with Iraq is inevitable and President Saddam Hussein's decision to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into the country is merely a stalling tactic, some Iraqi-Americans believe.

Doctors, lawyers, educators and activists surveyed Wednesday in Detroit and Southern California, home to the nation's two largest Iraqi-American communities, said Saddam has ignored U.N. orders before.

Even if Saddam keeps his word this time, there is nothing to stop him from removing whatever weapons inspectors find, then replacing them after they leave, these Iraqi-Americans believe.

``The reality is this: Tomorrow they remove the weapons of mass destruction. What warrants that Saddam will not rebuild them again?'' asked Labib Sultan, a professor of computer science at San Diego State University. ``The U.N. inspectors will not be able to stay in Iraq all of their lives.''

Not that Iraqi-Americans are taking the possibility of a war in their homeland lightly.

``If they (the U.S.) don't like Saddam, let them take him out,'' said Jim Murad, 58, of Clinton Township, Mich. ``Just don't kill the people. They're already dead. They have no good water, no good services, no good hospitals.''

Murad, who was born in Iraq and moved to the United States 30 years ago, is one of an estimated 120,000 Iraqis living in southeastern Michigan. The immigration began in the 1930s and '40s and peaked in the '50s and '60s, as Iraqis and others from the Middle East moved to the Detroit area for jobs in automobile factories.

For Dr. Ridha Hajjar, the imam, or religious leader, at Ahlul Beyt Mosque in Pomona, the real test of international commitment to Iraq lies in the long-term changes to come.

``What happens after the inspections?'' asked Hajjar, 62, whose congregation serves the estimated 85,000 Iraqi-Americans in Southern California.

Hajjar, who did not attend his mother's funeral in Iraq five years ago out of fear he might be arrested, said political reform in his country should not be viewed as an abstract policy debate.

``My mother wanted to see me. She died and I was not able to see her. There was no security. That is why human rights are so important,'' he said.

U.S. policy makers note U.N. resolution 1441 calls for ``immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access'' to any site in Iraq suspected of storing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

But Iraqi-Americans remember an order 11 years ago that, had it been enforced, might have made the new resolution unnecessary.

``There is no direct mention to resolution 688,'' the 1991 U.N. decree that called for democratic reform in Iraq, Sultan said.

Sultan, who three years ago joined the estimated 35,000 Iraqis living in San Diego, said he worries about the safety of his sisters and brother back home, and believes a change of government is the only way to ensure long-term stability in the region.

Alan Zangana, 46, program director of Kurdish Human Rights Watch in San Diego, said members of his ethnic minority, who were attacked by Saddam's forces with nerve gas in 1988, fear they could be the target of a renewed revenge attack.

``He knows that the Kurds will fight with the United States,'' said Zangana.

In Los Angeles, immigration lawyer Ban Al-Wardi, 28, said she believes the United States intends to go to war with Iraq, despite the guise of diplomatic efforts.

``The entire resolution is basically a pretext for war,'' Al-Wardi said. ``And I don't see any slowdown in the military buildup on the border of Iraq.''

She said she spoke by telephone with relatives in Baghdad recently and she fears for their well-being.

``Everyone is just preparing for war,'' she said. ``I have a couple of cousins who are in college and they are not even registering for college next semester because they are afraid it will be blown up. They are just giving up.''

Associated Press Writer Jack Hagel in Detroit contributed to this report.

11/14/02 02:34 EST

5) This War Brought to You by Rendon Group
By Ian Urbina
Asia Times Online

WASHINGTON, Nov 12, 2002 -- "Word got around the department that I was a good
Arabic translator who did a great Saddam imitation," recalls the Harvard grad
student. "Eventually, someone phoned me, asking if I wanted to help change the
course of Iraq policy."

So twice a week, for US$3,000 a month, the Iraqi student says, under condition
of anonymity, that he took a taxi from his campus apartment to a Boston-area
recording studio rented by the Rendon Group, a DC-based public relations firm
with close ties to the US government. His job: translate and dub spoofed Saddam
Hussein speeches and tongue-in-cheek newscasts for broadcast throughout Iraq.

"I never got a straight answer on whether the Iraqi resistance, the CIA or
policy makers on the Hill were actually the ones calling the shots," says the
student, "but ultimately I realized that the guys doing spin were very well and
completely cut loose." And that's how Baghdad's best-known opposition radio
personality was born six years ago - during the Clinton administration. It was
one of many disinformation schemes cooked up by the Rendon Group, which has
worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations fighting the psy-op
war in the Middle East.

"The point was to discredit Saddam, but the stuff was complete slapstick," the
student says. "We did skits where Saddam would get mixed up in his own lies, or
where [Saddam's son] Qusay would stumble over his own delusions of grandeur."
Transmissions were once a week from stations in northern Iraq and Kuwait. "The
only thing that was even remotely funny," says the student, "were the mockeries
of the royal guard and the government's clumsy attempts to deceive arms

The Saddam impersonator says he left Rendon not long ago out of frustration
with what he calls the lack of expertise and oversight in the project. It was
doubly frustrating, he says, because he despises Saddam, although he adds that
he never has been involved with any political party or opposition group. "No
one in-house spoke a word of Arabic," he says. "They thought I was mocking
Saddam, but for all they knew I could have been lambasting the US government."
The scripts, he adds, were often ill conceived. "Who in Iraq is going to think
it's funny to poke fun at Saddam's mustache," the student notes, "when the vast
majority of Iraqi men themselves have mustaches?"

There were other basic problems, too. Some of the announcers hired for the
radio broadcasts, he says, were Egyptians and Jordanians, whose Arabic accents
couldn't be understood by Iraqis. "Friends in Baghdad said that the radio
broadcasts were a complete mumble," the student says. One CIA agent familiar
with the project calls the project's problem a lack of "due diligence", and
adds that "the scripts were put together by 23-year-olds with connections to
the Democratic National Committee."

Despite the fumbling naivete of some of its operations, the Rendon Group is no
novice in the field. For decades, when US bombs have dropped or foreign leaders
have been felled, the public relations shop has been on the scene, just far
enough to stay out of harm's way, but just close enough to keep the spin cycle

As Franklin Foer reported in the New Republic, during the campaign against
Panama's Manuel Noriega in 1989, Rendon's command post sat downtown in a high-
rise. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Rendon operatives hunkered down in Taif,
Saudi Arabia, clocking billable hours on a Kuwaiti emir's dole. In Afghanistan,
group founder John Rendon joined a 9:30am conference call every morning with
top-level Pentagon officials to set the day's war message. Rendon operatives
haven't missed a trip yet - Haiti, Kosovo, Zimbabwe, Colombia.

The firm is tight-lipped, however, about its current projects. A spokesperson
refuses to say whether Rendon is doing any work in preparation for the
potential upcoming invasion of Iraq. But a current Rendon Arabic translator
commented, "All I can say is that nothing has changed - the work is still an
expensive waste of time, mostly with taxpayer funds." However, Rendon may just
prove to be one step ahead of the game. If Saddam is toppled, a Rendon creation
is standing by to try to take his place. The Iraqi National Congress (INC), a
disparate coalition of Iraqi dissidents touted by the US government as the best
hope for an anti-Saddam coup, has gotten the go-ahead from US officials to arm
and train a military force for invasion. The INC is one of the few names you'll
hear if reporters bother to press government officials on what would come after

At the helm of the INC is Ahmed Chalabi, a US-trained mathematician who fled
from Jordan in 1989 in the trunk of a car after the collapse of a bank he
owned. He was subsequently charged and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in
prison for embezzlement. Back home in Iraq, he's referred to by some as the so-
called limousine insurgent and is said to hold little actual standing with the
Iraqi public. Shuttling between London and DC, Chalabi hasn't been in Iraq for
over years, and draws "more support on the Potomac than the Euphrates," says
Iraq specialist Andrew Parasiliti of the Middle East Institute in Washington

"Were it not for Rendon," a State Department official remarked, "the Chalabi
group wouldn't even be on the map."

With funding first from the CIA throughout the 1990s and more recently the
Pentagon, Rendon managed the INC's every move, an INC spokesperson
acknowledges, even choosing its name, coordinating its annual strategy
conferences, and orchestrating its meetings with diplomatic heavy hitters, such
as James Baker and Brent Scowcroft. Not that the Rendon Group was the first
purveyor of psy-op tactics for promoting US foreign policy in the region. In
fact, some of the most impressive spin maneuvers and disinformation campaigns
occurred during the Gulf War in 1991, the lessons of which are particularly
pertinent as the US again gears up.

Most notorious was the work of PR giant Hill & Knowlton (H&K) (for which
current Pentagon spokesperson Torie Clarke worked after she was an aide to John
McCain and Bush's dad). Subsidized by the Kuwaiti royal family, H&K dedicated
119 executives in 12 offices across the country to the job of drumming up
support within the United States for the 1991 war. It was an all-out grassroots
blitz: distributing tens of thousands of "Free Kuwait" T-shirts and bumper
stickers at colleges across the US and setting up observances such as National
Kuwait Day and National Student Information Day. H&K also mailed 200,000 copies
of a book titled The Rape of Kuwait to American troops stationed in the Middle
East. The firm also massaged reporters, arranging interviews with handpicked
Kuwaiti emissaries and dispatching reams of footage of burning wells and oil-
slicked birds washed ashore.

But nothing quite compared to H&K's now infamous "baby atrocities" campaign.
After convening a number of focus groups to try to figure out which buttons to
press to make the public respond, H&K determined that presentations involving
the mistreatment of infants, a tactic drawn straight from W R Hearst's playbook
of the Spanish-American War, received the best reaction.

So on October 10, 1990, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a hearing on
Capitol Hill at which H&K, in coordination with California Democrat Tom Lantos
and Illinois Republican John Porter, introduced a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl
named Nayirah. (Purportedly to safeguard against Iraqi reprisals, Nayirah's
full name was not disclosed.) Weeping and shaking, the girl described a
horrifying scene in Kuwait City. "I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital," she
testified. "While I was there I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital
with guns and go into the room where babies were in incubators. They took the
babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the
cold floor to die." Allegedly, 312 infants were removed.

The tale got wide circulation, even winding up on the floor of the United
Nations Security Council. Before Congress gave the green light to go to war,
seven of the main pro-war senators brought up the baby-incubator allegations as
a major component of their argument for passing the resolution to unleash the
bombers. Ultimately, the motion for war passed by a narrow five-vote margin.

Only later was it discovered that the testimony was untrue. H&K had failed to
reveal that Nayirah was not only a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, but also
that her father, Saud Nasir al-Sabah, was Kuwait's ambassador to the US. H&K
had prepped Nayirah in her presentation, according to Harper's publisher John R
MacArthur, in his book Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War.
Of the seven other witnesses who stepped to the podium that day, five had been
prepped by H&K and had used false names. When human rights organizations
investigated later, they could not find that Nayirah had any connection to the
hospital. Amnesty International, among those originally duped, eventually
issued an embarrassing retraction.

When asked if it acknowledges the incubator story as a deception, H&K's media
liaison, Suzanne Laurita, only responded: "The company has nothing to say on
this matter." Pushed further on whether such deception was considered part of
the public relations industry, she reiterated, "Please know again that this
falls into the realm that the agency has no wish to confirm, deny or comment
on." Years later, Scowcroft, the national security adviser at the time,
concluded that the tale was surely "useful in mobilizing public opinion".

H&K's baby-atrocity routine really won over the hearts, but for the minds of
realpolitik skeptics the Pentagon had other methods. To sway them, the Pentagon
flooded the major media outlets with reports of a top-secret satellite image
that allegedly showed 250,000 Iraqi troops and 1,500 tanks amassed at the Iraqi-
Saudi border.

Once again, this was misinformation. When the US military refused to hand the
satellite image over to the press, several investigative journalists opted to
purchase commercially available, but equally detailed, satellite images on the
open market. Shots of the exact same region, during the same time frame,
revealed no Iraqi soldiers anywhere near the border. The journalists hired a
coterie of experts, including a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst who
specialized in desert warfare imagery, and the verdict was the same: no Iraqis,
just desert and a lot of US jet fighters sitting wing-tip to wing-tip at nearby
Saudi bases.

But by the time those questions began circulating about the Pentagon's supposed
satellite image and the web of decisions being spun around it, the US military
was already set on course. Once again, a similar mobilization is in high gear,
with skeptical questions lagging behind.


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