May 08, 2004

''We either have to mobilize or we have to get out,'' Murtha declared in an emotional press conference in which he disclosed the content of a series of written warnings he had sent to Bush and other top officials since his first of many visits to Iraq...

Yes, sadly, it is, as the LNS predicted, a Mega-Mogadishu...The "US Mainstream News Media" simply does not know what to do...it is almost impossible now to tell the story of Iraq without *telling the truth* so it is in quite a quandry, and it is stalling...The average is now four US soldiers dying per day in Iraq. The US Marines could not or would not take Fallujah. The South is rising in armed rebellion. There is much more...When will the "US mainstream news media" start talking about the big picture here? Right now, they are hiding behind their 24X7 coverage of the Abu Ghraib story. They are in a quandry. It is almost impossible now to tell the story of Iraq without *telling the truth* and that is something they hoped they could avoid...It's the Media, Stupid.

Jim Loeb, Inter Press Service: That question was put
front and center Thursday by Rep. John Murtha, a
conservative and highly influential Democrat close to
the Pentagon. In private meetings earlier this week,
he reportedly told fellow-Democrats that the war was
''unwinnable'' and Thursday issued a blistering attack
on the administration's strategy and
''miscalculations'' on Iraq.
''We either have to mobilize or we have to get out,'' Murtha declared in an emotional press conference in which he disclosed the content of a series of written warnings he had sent to Bush and other top officials since his first of many visits to Iraq since September last year.
''Today our forces in Iraq are undermanned,
under-resourced, inadequately trained and poorly
supervised. There's a lack of leadership, stemming
from the very top,'' he said, adding that the most
recent scandal should result in resignations ''right
up the chain of command''.

Support Our Troops, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

Published on Friday, May 7, 2004 by the Inter Press
Service
Rummy on the Rocks
by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - With the scandal over the abuse of
prisoners in U.S. military custody in Iraq still
growing, the administration of President George W Bush
appears to be shaken to its very core.


Demonstrators disrupt the hearing on prisoner abuses
in Iraq during testimony by U.S. Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld, before the Senate Armed Services
Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 7, 2004.
Rumsfeld on Friday took responsibility for the abuse
of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. personnel and apologized to
the victims, the Iraqi people and Americans. The
scandal exploded last week with the release of
photographs showing the sexual humiliation of Iraqi
prisoners in a U.S.-run jail outside Baghdad.
REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

While the immediate question is whether Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be sufficiently
persuasive in Congressional testimony scheduled Friday
to survive the fast-spreading calls for his
resignation, the larger issue has abruptly become
whether the U.S. occupation of Iraq, for which the
administration has just asked an additional 25 billion
dollars this year, is sustainable.

That question was put front and center Thursday by
Rep. John Murtha, a conservative and highly
influential Democrat close to the Pentagon. In private
meetings earlier this week, he reportedly told
fellow-Democrats that the war was ''unwinnable'' and
Thursday issued a blistering attack on the
administration's strategy and ''miscalculations'' on
Iraq.

''We either have to mobilize or we have to get out,''
Murtha declared in an emotional press conference in
which he disclosed the content of a series of written
warnings he had sent to Bush and other top officials
since his first of many visits to Iraq since September
last year.

''Today our forces in Iraq are undermanned,
under-resourced, inadequately trained and poorly
supervised. There's a lack of leadership, stemming
from the very top,'' he said, adding that the most
recent scandal should result in resignations ''right
up the chain of command''.

Murtha's fury reflected a growing sense that the
administration, whose internal splits are now more
apparent than ever before, has lost its way in Iraq.
This is a point underlined by the unexpected request
for 25 billion dollars more -- bringing total spending
on Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 to 191 billion
dollars.

That the Bush administration has very little idea
about what to do was made clear by the news -- printed
in bold across the front pages of the morning's
'Washington Post' and the 'New York Times' -- that
Bush had ''privately'' scolded Rumsfeld for not
warning him about the photographs before they were
broadcast.

While Bush insisted Thursday that the Defense
secretary will ''stay in my Cabinet'', the fact that
White House officials, presumably with the president's
authorization, briefed reporters on the ''private''
dressing-down was unprecedented.

It also encouraged Rumsfeld's State Department rivals
to pile on. State officials, who were also furious
that the Pentagon had kept them in the dark about its
own investigation, told reporters that they had
repeatedly warned Rumsfeld and his top aides about
problems relating to detainees, not only in Abu Ghraib
prison, but also in Afghanistan and at the detention
facility at the U.S. navy base in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba.

''It's something Powell has raised repeatedly -- to
release as many detainees as possible -- and, second,
to ensure that those in custody are properly cared for
and treated,'' a ''senior State Department official''
was quoted as telling the 'Post'.

But Rumsfeld, an experienced bureaucratic infighter,
was not entirely defenseless. Without quoting a
source, the 'Los Angeles Times' reported a few hours
after the 'Post' went to press that Rumsfeld was
informed about abuses at Abu Ghraib in January and
personally told Bush about them shortly thereafter.

That in turn led to embarrassing questions at the
White House briefing Thursday about what Bush had done
with that information. The questions echoed those
raised by the revelation just a few weeks ago about
what the president had done after hearing an
intelligence briefing on al-Qaeda's intention to
hijack airplanes inside the United States one month
before the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the
Pentagon.

Both the White House and Rumsfeld are now insisting
that they had only been told about the abuses orally
and had never seen the photographs until CBS' Sixty
Minutes II broadcast them last week.

Whether that explanation will suffice to contain the
scandal, however, is highly doubtful, particularly in
light of reports that the photographs may only be the
tip of a very large iceberg.

In an interview on Fox News Wednesday night, Seymour
Hersh, the investigative reporter who broke the
prisoner story in 'The New Yorker', predicted that
''(I)t's going to get much worse. This kind of stuff
was much more widespread....I can tell you just from
the phone calls I've had in the last 24 hours,
...there are other photos out there. ...There are
videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention
on national television...''

Hersh based his prediction largely on the 53-page
report by Maj Gen Antonio Taguba, parts of which have
remained classified.

He investigated the abuses beginning in January, when
Rumsfeld was first informed about them, and finished
his report in early March. The report put much of the
responsibility for what had taken place at Abu Ghraib
prison on the application of interrogation tactics
used against Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects at
Guantanamo against captives in Iraq and Afghanistan
itself.

The fact that Rumsfeld -- who had the time to attend a
festive black-tie dinner of the White House
Correspondents Association Saturday night, two days
after the photos were first aired -- admitted to not
having read the full report as recently as Wednesday
this week has emboldened those, still mostly
Democrats, who are now calling on him to resign.

But Democrats are not alone. Republican lawmakers have
privately told reporters that they are fed up with his
arrogance and inflexibility, particularly on the issue
that Murtha is most angry about -- the
administration's failure to provide more troops to
secure Iraq, and their own safety, both during and
after the invasion.

Several leading Republican lawmakers, including some
who are considered very close to the White House, also
complained bitterly about not being informed about the
abuses or the investigation in advance.

Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran and senior member
of the subcommittee that deals with Pentagon
appropriations, poured scorn on the administration's
optimistic predictions about Iraq.

Without explicitly stating that the war was
''unwinnable'', he at one point said the public had
turned against it and that it was unlikely the
administration would provide the troops needed to
stabilize the situation to such an extent that other
countries would be willing to help out.

While Murtha's angry defection created shockwaves in
Congress, a stunning attack on Rumsfeld by the
generally hawkish 'Washington Post' spread through the
capital with unaccustomed force.

Entitled 'Mr. Rumsfeld's Responsibility', the lead
editorial of the 'Post' put the blame for the abuse
scandal squarely on his shoulders by arguing that his
policies on incommunicado detention and refusal to
apply the Geneva Conventions have created a ''lawless
regime in which prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan
have been humiliated, beaten, tortured, and murdered
-- in which, until recently, no one has been held
accountable''.

Rumsfeld's statements since the disclosure of the
abuses, moreover, suggested that ''(h)is message
remains the same: that the United States need not be
bound by international law and that the crimes Mr
Taguba reported are not, for him a priority. That
attitude has undermined the American military's
observance of basic human rights and damaged this
country's ability to prevail in the war on
terrorism'', the 'Post' observed.

2004 IPS - Inter Press Service

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Posted by richard at May 8, 2004 12:32 PM