'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Negroponte's People 

Iraqi death squads periodically receive media attention, but the most recent revelations were shocking to those uninitiated into the byzantine ways of the occupation:

Interior Minister Jawad Al Bolani ordered the suspension yesterday of two police commanders in the wake of a brazen high-profile kidnapping operation in the Iraqi capital.

“The minister of interior ordered the suspension of the commander of the 8th Brigade of the National Police and another battalion commander and he initiated an investigation into the security violations in Amil neighbourhood,” Major General Rashid Fulayah said on state television. Hundreds of residents of the south-west Baghdad neighbourhood, mostly Sunni, demonstrated yesterday against the police, accusing them of turning a blind eye to the kidnappers, who snatched 26 people from a food processing plant on Sunday.

Many of those taken subsequently turned up dead in Abu Chir neighbourhood to the south. There have long been complaints over Iraqi security forces, particularly the police forces controlled by the interior ministry, of turning a blind eye to Shi’ite armed gangs involved in kidnapping and assassinations.

US military commanders operating in south-west Baghdad have also expressed their suspicions about the National Police in these mixed Sunni-Shi’ite neighbourhoods with strong a strong militia presence.

One of the demonstrators’ demands was for US soldiers to replace the National Police in the neighbourhood.

US and Iraqi authorities have said a shake-up of the National Police, which was hurriedly thrown together over a year ago and filled with militia-sympathisers, is imminent.

Even Steve Gilliard, no angel, was dismayed:

This is really simple.

The death squads aren't police impersonators.

The death squads ARE the Iraqi police.

But such disclosures shouldn't be so surprising. lenin, over at Lenin's Tomb helpfully diagrammed the situation for us back in June, replete with the appropriate links in the original source material:

6,000 bodies in Baghdad's mortuaries since the start of the year, and what's more, "no-one believes these are the true figures from the violence in and around Baghdad as many bodies are not taken to the morgue, or are never found".

Here's the thing: the US government can openly announce its intentions. It can even be reported once in a while (albeit with a rather crude apologia bracketing the facts). Knight Ridder correspondent Yasser Salihee can die while uncovering the truth behind it. Yet somehow, invariably, it's simply taboo to mention what is richly evident. The BBC did not mention any of this either on television or on the internet. No one mentions that the bulk of these deaths are attributed to the Special Police Commandos, who

were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units.

Yasser Salihee found that "many of the dead were apprehended by large groups of men driving white Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings. The men were wearing police commando uniforms and bulletproof vests, carrying expensive 9-millimeter Glock pistols and using sophisticated radios". He died shortly after reporting this at a US checkpoint, with a bullet in the head.

lenin links Sahilee's submission to Knight Ridder prior to his death, and it is riveting:

Days after Iraq's new Shiite-led government was announced on April 28, the director of Baghdad's central morgue began noticing that the bodies of Sunni Muslim men were turning up after the men had been detained by people wearing Iraqi police uniforms."

"Faik Baqr, who is also the chief forensic investigator at the morgue, said the corpses first caught his attention because the men appeared to have been killed in methodical fashion. They were blindfolded and their hands had been tied or handcuffed behind their backs, Baqr said. In most cases, the morgue director said, the dead men looked as if they had been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with a single bullet to the head."

"Iraqi and American officials said the killings were not being investigated systematically, but in dozens of interviews with families and Iraqi officials, and a review of medical records, a reporter and two special correspondents found more than 30 examples of this type of killing in less than a week. They include 12 cases with specific dates, times, names and witnesses who said they might come forward if asked by law-enforcement officials."

"U.S. officials, who have advisers in the Interior Ministry, have said they are aware of the abductions and killings, but think insurgents posing as police are responsible."

lenin also connects the dots to two of the mercenaries associated with this program, described by the Pentagaon as the Salvadoran Option:

Iraq's Ministry of Interior was co-constructed by Steven Casteel, Vice-President of Vance Global International, a global 'security' and 'investigation' firm which he hooked up with after being made 'advisor' to the Interior Ministry. He helps "businesses and governments in the U.S., Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East" "respond to security and investigation risks ". He is also a former affiliate of Colombian death squads as a DEA man. Casteel also created the Special Police Commandos. Clearly the right man for the task. The man he placed in charge of the commandos is General Rashid Flayih, a former Ba'athist general who helped suppress the Shi'ite uprisings in 1991. Another perfectly cast role.

Again, lenin's original post has essential links for additional background.

Now, courtesy of Dahr Jamail, we discover that the US is creating Sunni militias in al-Anbar province:

Some Sunni leaders from the troubled al-Anbar province west of Baghdad recently met away from their tribes to set up new militias, according to local reports.

These new armed groups have received early praise from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.S. officials. The United States had earlier called for the disarming of all militias for the sake of social peace and reconciliation, but that policy has clearly changed. The occupation forces now back both Shia and Sunni militias in different areas of the country.

These new groups are drawing strong condemnation from other Sunni tribal chiefs.

"They are a group of thieves who are arming thieves, and this is something dangerous and nasty," Sheik Sa'adoon, chief of a large Sunni tribe near Khaldiyah in al-Anbar, told IPS. "This only means we will have more disturbances here, and it could create local civil war."

Another tribal leader in the area, speaking to IPS on condition of anonymity, said "they are only doing this in order to kill as many Sunnis as possible, and this time with Sunni hands."

With the US military defeated, insurgent attacks now increasing to 800 to 900 a day, and an even worse 2007 anticipated, the Salvadoran Option is now the only remaining viable vestige of American policy to perpetuate an indefinite occupation. Victory is an illusion, but the vengence of scorched earth is an acceptable substitute, one that delays, and may destroy, the prospect that an independent Iraq will emerge from the collapse of the occupation.

No wonder that Iraqi civilian deaths during the month of September set a new, horrifying record:

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in violence may have jumped to a record high in September, data from the Iraqi government indicated on Sunday.

Partial statistics compiled by the Health Ministry and issued by the Interior Ministry put civilian deaths last month at 1,089, a 42 percent increase from 769 in August and more than the previous record in this series of data -- 1,065 in July.

Sadly, the news of each passing day suggests that this record will be eclipsed, probably not once, but numerous times, with a continuing internal displacement of the Iraqi populace, 9,000 people a week, 190,000 since mid-February. The deaths of 21 American soldiers since Saturday is a historical footnote by comparison.

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