August 09, 2004

William Rivers Pitt: The Writing on the Latrine Walls

The Emperor has no uniform...

William Rivers Pitt, The soldiers
over there are hip to the jive at this point. Michael
Hoffman, a Marine corporal in artillery, was part of
the original March invasion. Before Hoffman's unit
shipped out, his battery first sergeant addressed all
the enlisted men. "Don't think you're going to be
heroes," said Hoffman's sergeant. "You're not going
over there because of weapons of mass destruction.
You're not going there to get rid of Saddam Hussein,
or to make Iraq safe for democracy. You're going there
for one reason and one reason alone: Oil."

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

The Writing on the Latrine Walls
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 09 August 2004

I sat with a photographer from Reuters who had
just returned from a six-month tour of Iraq. He had
been tagging along with the Kellogg Brown & Root
operation, subsidiary of Halliburton, and saw
everything there was to see. He went from new military
base to new military base, from the oil work in the
north and back to the south, observing how busy were
the contactors for Halliburton.

"I feel like I compromised every one of my
principles by even being over there," he told me after
the story had been spun out a bit. His eyes, which had
seen too many things through the lens of his camera,
were haunted.

It was two years ago that talk about invading Iraq
began to circulate. Reasons for the invasion were
bandied about - they had weapons of mass destruction,
they had a hand in September 11, they will welcome us
as liberators - but it wasn't until the Project for
the New American Century got dragged into the
discussion that an understanding of the true motives
behind all this became apparent.

The Project for the New American Century, or PNAC
for short, is just another right-wing think tank,
really. One cannot swing one's dead cat by the tail in
Washington D.C. without smacking some prehensile
gnome, pained by the sunlight, scuttling back to its
right-wing think tank cubicle. These organizations are
all over the place. What makes PNAC different from all
the others?

The membership roll call, for one thing:

Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States,
former CEO of Halliburton;
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense;
Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense;
Elliot Abrams, National Security Council;
John Bolton, Undersecretary for Arms Control and
International Security;
I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's top National Security
Quite a roster.

These people didn't enjoy those fancy titles in
2000, when the PNAC manifesto 'Rebuilding America's
Defenses' (Adobe document) was first published. Before
2000, they were just a bunch of power players who had
been shoved out of the government in 1993. In the time
that passed between Clinton and those hanging chads,
these people got together in PNAC and laid out a
blueprint. 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' was the
ultimate result, and it is a doozy of a document. 2000
became 2001, and the PNAC boys - Cheney and Rumsfeld
specifically - suddenly had the fancy titles and a
chance to swing some weight.

'Rebuilding America's Defenses' became the roadmap
for foreign policy decisions made in the White House
and the Pentagon; PNAC had the Vice President's office
in one building, and the Defense Secretary's office in
the other. Attacking Iraq was central to that roadmap
from the beginning. When former Counterterrorism Czar
Richard Clarke accused the Bush administration of
focusing on Iraq to the detriment of addressing
legitimate threats, he was essentially denouncing them
for using the attacks of September 11 as an excuse to
execute the PNAC blueprint.

Iraq, you see, has been on the PNAC menu for
almost ten years.

The goals codified in 'Rebuilding America's
Defenses,' the manifesto, can be boiled down to a few
sentences: The invasion and occupation of Iraq, for
reasons that had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.
The building of several permanent military bases in
Iraq, the purpose of which are to telegraph force
throughout the region. The takeover by Western
petroleum corporations of Iraq's nationalized oil
industry. The ultimate destabilization and overthrow
of a variety of regimes in the Middle East, friend and
foe alike, by military or economic means, or both.

"Indeed," it is written on page 14 of 'Rebuilding
America's Defenses,' "the United States has for
decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf
regional security. While the unresolved conflict with
Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf
transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."

Two years after the talk began, the invasion is
completed. There are no weapons of mass destruction,
there is no connection to September 11, and the Iraqi
people have in no way welcomed us as liberators. The
cosmetic rationales for the attack have fallen by the
wayside, and all that remains are the PNAC goals, some
of which have been achieved in spectacularly
profitable fashion.

The stock in trade of Halliburton subsidiary
Kellogg Brown & Root is the construction of permanent
military bases. The Reuters reporter I spoke to had
been to several KBR-built permanent American military
bases in his six month tour of Iraq. "That's where the
oil industry money is going," he told me. "Billions of
dollars. Not to infrastructure, not to rebuilding the
country, and not to helping the Iraqi people. It's
going to KBR, to build those bases for the military."

According to the Center for Public Integrity,
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root has made
$11,475,541,371 in Iraq as of July 1. So that's one
PNAC goal checked off the list.

As for the corporate takeover of the Iraqi oil
industry, that has become the prime mission of the
American soldiers engaged there. Kellogg Brown & Root
also does a tidy business in the oil-infrastructure
repair market. "The troops aren't hunting terrorists
or building a country," said the Reuters photographer.
"All they do is guard the convoys running north and
south. The convoys north are carrying supplies and
empty tankers for the oil fields around Mosul and
Tikrit. The convoys south bring back what they pull
out of the ground up there. That's where all these
kids are getting killed. They get hit with IEDs while
guarding these convoys, and all hell breaks loose."

That last goal, about overthrowing other regimes
in the region, hasn't been as easy to follow through
on as the PNAC boys might have hoped. The Iraqi people
are fighting back, and the small-by-comparison force
Rumsfeld said would be enough to do the job can't seem
to pacify the country. Perhaps that is because too
many troops are dedicated to guarding the oil supply
lines. More likely, however, it is because of the
sincere belief among the Iraqi people that they have
been conquered - not 'liberated' but conquered - and
their conquerors don't give a tinker's damn whether
they live or die.

"The Americans over there have all these terms for
people who aren't Americans," the Reuters photographer
said. "The Iraqi people are called LPs, or 'Local
Personnel.' They get killed all the time, but it's
like, 'Some LPs got killed,' so it isn't like real
people died. Iraqi kids run along the convoys, hoping
a soldier will throw them some food or water, and
sometimes they get crushed by the trucks. Nothing
stops, those are the orders, so some LPs get killed
and the convoy keeps rolling. The labels make it
easier for them to die. The people are depersonalized.
No one cares."

"Everyone is an 'insurgent' over there," the
photographer told me. "That's another label with no
meaning. Everyone is against the Americans. There is a
$250,000 bounty on the head of every Westerner over
there, mine too, while I was there. The Americans
working the oil industry over there are the dumbest,
most racist jackasses I've ever seen in my life.
That's the American face on this thing, and the Iraqi
people see it."

930 American soldiers have died to achieve goals
the PNAC boys gamed out before they ever came in with
this Bush administration. Well over 10,000 Iraqi
civilians have likewise died. Over $200 billion has
been spent to do this. Fighting today rages across
several sections of Iraq, and the puppet 'leaders'
installed by U.S. forces are about to drive a final
stake into the heart of the liberation rhetoric by
declaring nationwide martial law.

Two enemies of the United States - the nation of
Iran and Osama bin Laden - are thrilled with the
outcome to date. Saddam Hussein was an enemy to both
Iran and bin Laden, and he has been removed. The
destabilization and innocent bloodshed bolsters Iran's
standing against the U.S., and sends freshly motivated
martyrs into the arms of Osama.

Yes, the Halliburton contracting in Iraq for
military bases and petroleum production is a cash cow
for that company. The bases are being built. The oil
industry has been privatized. The resulting chaos of
the PNAC blueprint, however, has left the entire
theater of the war in complete chaos. The Bush
administration has insisted all along that this
invasion was central to their 'War on Terror.' It has,
in truth, become a failed experiment in global
corporate hegemony writ large, foisted upon us by some
men named Cheney and Rumsfeld who thought it would all
work out as they had planned it in 2000.

It hasn't, except for the profiteering. For all
their white papers, for all their carefully-laid
plans, for all the power and fancy titles these
erstwhile think-tankers managed to gather unto
themselves, their works are now blood-crusted dust.
They are clearly not as smart as they thought they
were. The overall 'War on Terror' itself has plenty of
examples of these boys not being too swift on the
uptake. Iraq is only the largest, and costliest,

The case of Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan is another
perfect example. Khan was a mole, deep undercover
within the ranks of al Qaeda, who was sending vital
data on the terror organization from Pakistan to
British and American intelligence. But officials with
the Bush administration, desperate to show the
American people they were making headway in the terror
war, barfed up Khan's name to the press while bragging
about recent arrests. Khan's position as a mole within
al Qaeda was summarily annihilated. The guy we had
inside was blown.

Pretty smart, yes? "The whole thing smacks of
either incompetence or worse," said Tim Ripley, a
security expert who writes for Jane's Defense
publications, in a Reuters article on the blown agent.
"You have to ask: what are they doing compromising a
deep mole within al Qaeda, when it's so difficult to
get these guys in there in the first place? It goes
against all the rules of counter-espionage,
counter-terrorism, running agents and so forth. It's
not exactly cloak and dagger undercover work if it's
on the front pages every time there's a development,
is it?"

This would be the second agent we know of who has
been blown by the arrogant stupidity of the Bush
administration. The other, of course, was Valerie
Plame. Plame was a 'Non-Official Cover' agent, or NOC,
for the CIA. NOC designates the deepest cover an agent
can have. Plame's deep-cover assignment was to run a
network dedicated to tracking any person, nation or
group that might give weapons of mass destruction to
terrorists. Because her husband, Ambassador Joseph
Wilson, had the temerity to accuse the Bush
administration of lying in the public prints, the
administration blew Plame's cover as a warning to
Wilson and any other whistleblowers who might have
thought of coming forward.

The Bush administration blew Khan's cover because
they wanted to get a soundbite out for the election
campaign. They blew Plame out of sheer spite, and out
of desperation. The mole we had inside al Qaeda, and
an agent we had tracking the movement of weapons of
mass destruction, are both finished now because the
PNAC boys are watching all their plans go awry, and
they don't quite know what to do about it. That makes
them stupid and exceedingly dangerous.

The soldiers over there are hip to the jive at
this point. Michael Hoffman, a Marine corporal in
artillery, was part of the original March invasion.
Before Hoffman's unit shipped out, his battery first
sergeant addressed all the enlisted men. "Don't think
you're going to be heroes," said Hoffman's sergeant.
"You're not going over there because of weapons of
mass destruction. You're not going there to get rid of
Saddam Hussein, or to make Iraq safe for democracy.
You're going there for one reason and one reason
alone: Oil."

The Reuters photographer I spoke to couldn't get
any soldiers to talk about how they felt when
surrounded by their fellow soldiers. "They don't talk
in the ranks, or just about anywhere on base," he
said. "You have to go out to the latrine area, to the
Port-O-Potties. For some reason, they talk there. You
can read how they really feel - all the anti-Bush
stuff, all the wanting to go home - in the writing on
the shithouse walls."

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and
international bestseller of two books - 'War on Iraq:
What Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know' and 'The
Greatest Sedition is Silence.'

Posted by richard at August 9, 2004 04:50 PM