Monday, January 04, 2010

We'll have what he's smoking



Last month, no American soldiers were killed in Iraq. Last month, the unemployment rate dipped a bit, the stock market ended the year up, the financial system did not crater, Detroit's Big Three began to get a pulse -- and yet a consensus started to form that Barack Obama, who is either responsible for or merely presided over all this good stuff, is a failure.



"This is our life and this is our environment," declares Zahraa Mohammed, a young mother of two who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. "All have been polluted by the war. I am 23 and I have cancer though I'm the only one to be infected in my family history. I wish I could become better for the sake of my children. If I die, who's going to take care of my children?" Zahraa speaks in the video report at the start of the latest Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera) where moderator Jasim al-Azzawi is joined by Dr. Jawad al-Ali (consultant oncologist) and Christopher Busby (radiation expert) to discuss the huge rise in cancer that coincides with the start of the illegal war and the use (by the US and others) of depleted uranium. Jasim al-Azzawi noted that the Pentagon was invited to participate in the discussion but declined to participate.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Dr. Jawad al-Ali, you are a physician, you are a member of the Iraq Cancer Board and you have seen the astronomical rate in cancers rise as well as defects in children. Explain to me what is going on in Basra?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: Really, as you know, Iraq is effected by three wars, three destructive wars. The last two -- the 1991 war and the 2003 war -- where depleted uranium is used for the first time in history. The 1991 war, they used depleted uranium at the western part of Basra and also they dropped some of the uranium weapons [. . .] during the withdrawal of the Iraqi army. And also they dropped some of the depleted uranium at the eastern part of Basra where it was the only way to withdraw our army from Kuwait.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Did that cause such an astronomical rise in the cancer rates in 1991 and the 90s? And also in the 2003?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: After three or four years, that is in 1994, I, myself, I noticed that the hospital receiving many patients with cancer. And we were surprised at that time. And we don't what was the link. But, after two years, that is 1996, one of the intelligent persons, worked with the intelligence and he's escorting one of the delegations, he told me that depleted uranium is used. And he told me this is a secret, please keep it inside your brain.

Jasim al-Azzawi: It is no longer a secret, Dr. al-Ali, let me bring in Christopher Busby. Mr. Busby, you were a witness expert in one of the British trials regarding a soldier who developed cancer immediately after returning from deployment in southern part Iraq.

Christopher Busby: In September of this year, I was asked by the coroner in the West Midlands near Birmingham to attend an inquest as an expert witness. I've become a witness on the health effects of depleted uranium. I sat on a number of government committees including a [UK] Ministry of Defense committee and I've studied the health effects of Uranium for almost 15 years and I've closely followed these arguments about the increase in cancer in Iraq and in other areas where uranium has been used. So I was -- I was asked to give evidence as an expert witness in this case. This man, Stuart Dyson, has worked as an Ordnance Corps support soldier. So basically what he did, he cleaned up the vehicles and, as a result, he became contaminated with depleted uranium which collected on the vehicles which were used in the 2003 Gulf War and he then developed cancer at a very early age, about 38. I mean, it's very, very rare to get that cancer, colon cancer, at that age. The normal rate is about 6 in a million people. Now we know as a result of cancer research that cancer is caused by exposure to something that causes a mutation in cells. So we have to look to something that he was exposed to that caused mutations in cells.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Yes.

Christopher Busby: And really there isn't anything else but depleted uranium.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Dr. Jawad al-Ali, you were also a member of a research team in Iraq, especially in the south, and you have seen the deformities and the defects among newly born babies in Iraq. How bad is that?

Dr. Jawad al-Ali: You know, depleted uranium, it's not only a cancer inducing factor but also it might effect the chromosomes whether in the husband or the mother of a child. And many, many children are born with deformities, with loss of limbs, with a big head, with deformed legs and the rate of this -- these deformities is increasing about seven times since 1991until 2002. And also another phenomena we noticed here that families cluster -- cluster of cancer in families -- a husband and a wife are effected. And many families, I got their pictures with me. The other phenomena is the appearance of double and triple cancers. That is three cancers in one patient or two cancers in the same patient. These phenomena are very strange for us. I haven't seen it before. Because I worked in Basra for about 39 years. And I haven't seen such cases of cancer [before]. The other thing is the change of pattern of cancer as said by Dr. Busby. We have a change in the pattern that is the cancers of elderly people appearing now in a younger age group. And this is surprising. Even the breast cancer which is disease of middle and elderly ladies now appearing at the age of 20.

Jasim al-Azzawi: Let me, Mr. Busby, in the 1991 war, most of the fighting was done outside the centers of population, out of the big cities. But in 2003, a great majority of the war, of the battles, actually happened in centers of population. In 1991, we started to see the effect of depleted uranium almost two years or three years after that immediately. Are we going to witness a dramatic rise later on, even in places like Baghdad?

Christopher Busby: I believe you are. And the way in which this works is that you get an immediate genetic shock and then you get a build up of an effect over a longer period of time. But the other thing is that if you already have cause -- genetic damage -- in the first Gulf War, then those people will be more likely to get cancer as a result of a second hit in the second Gulf War. So-so what you've got here, I am afraid, is that, in my prediction, there's going to be a massive increase in cancer and a massive increase in birth defects because this material is one of the most dangerous genetic damaging material that has ever -- that exists on earth because it binds to the DNA and it focuses radiation to that part of the body where it's most dangerous, where it causes the most damage -- for inheritable defects, as Dr. al-Ali says, for cancer also, as he says. So I'm afraid that the whole genetic makeup of the Iraqi population -- and probably a lot of the Gulf War veterans who fought there to, from America and from the United Kingdom also -- will be suffering as a result of these exposures.

All Iraqis suffer from the DU but it falls primarily on the young. They're the ones who may not only become sick themselves but may also see a parent (or both) die. The children of Iraq are not "collateral damage," they are the victims and they are the targets. If you doubt that, Scott Fontaine (McClatchy's News Tribune) was all excited about a psy-ops operation, one he identified as just that. It's all about persuasion, blared the headline, not propaganda. But psyops, by its very nature, is propaganda. US Dept of Defense definition: PSYOPS or Psychological Operations: Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator's objectives. Also called PSYOP. See also consolidation psychological operations; overt peacetime psychological operations programs; perception management.

Get it? Fontaine didn't. Even with Lt Jose Perez bragging about how the operation was about managing the Iraqis behavior. It's also about lying to Iraqis. Perez explains of the December 8th bombing, "We told them that the attackers targeted Iraq's culture and Iraq's history. We wanted people to know that it was way more than an attack on buildings and people." Uh, no, the Iraqi government was attacked. The one set up by the occupying power (the US) and, no, it doesn't not have a cultural or historical role in Iraq. Most importantly, foreigners do not define a foreign country to the inhabitants. Especially when those foreigners are occupiers, they do not define a foreign country to the inhabitants. But that's what the US military does as it swarms through al-Saltuin. Roaming through the village like they own it. Barreling in and flashing guns and stopping parents, pay attention to this, who say they know nothing about any 'insurgents' only to have the US military make veiled threats. An armed US soldier speaking to an Iraqi, pumping him or her for information, and then stating to the Iraqi, "We're here to stop in some of the villages and talk to parents so their kids don't get in trouble"? Plays like a veiled threat. Doubt it? Spc Olivia Laschober tells Fontaine she talks to the Iraqi women, "Most women, if they have children, want to protect their kids, and we play into that."

That's disgraceful and outrageous. It's also shocking because we were told that these sort of raids and patrols stopped June 30th. Remember that? But the US forces are going through villages, detaining Iraqis (there's no freedom of choice when the occupier is armed and orders you to speak with them) and making veiled threats towards Iraqi children.

Moving on to other hostages, five British citizens were kidnapped May 29, 2007 in Iraq and, Wednesday, one was released: Peter Moore. Moore, Alec Maclachlan, Jason Crewswell, Alan McMenemy and Jason Swindelhurst were kidnapped by the League of Righteous from the Ministry of Finance and, following the US military releasing League of Righteous members from their prisons in Iraq in June, the bodies of Crewswell, Swindelhurts and Maclachlan were slowly turned over to British authorities. The British government announced in July that they believed Alan McMenemy was dead but his family has continued to hold out hope. John Leland (New York Times) reports, "On Sunday, the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said that he did not know for sure whether Mr. McMenemy was dead, and that he hoped for 'a handover' in the next few days." Assad Abboud (AFP) quotes an unnamed spokesperson for the British Foreign Office stating, "Our position is unchanged. We have believed for some time that Alan's been killed and his immediate family have been told our views. We continue to urge those holding Alan to return his body immediately. We're in close contact with the Iraqi authorities and we're doing everything we can to try and secure a swift return to the UK." Leland explains that the League of Righteous' Laith al-Khazali had to be released by the Americans back in June before the corpses were retutnred and that his brother, Qais al-Khazali, was released from the US prison "just hours" before Peter Moore was released. Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports:The Shia cleric, Qais al-Khazali, who held the key to Peter Moore's fate was freed from Iraqi custody tonight in a move that is widely expected to prompt the handover of the body of the last of the five kidnapped Britons, Alan McMenemy.Iraq's Interior Ministry spokesman and the Sadr Office in Baghdad confirmed the Iranian-linked cleric was released after a cursory period of three days in Iraqi custody that followed the almost three years he spent in an American detention centre.Leaders of the Shia resistance group, The Righteous League, which captured the five men in May 2007 have committed to releasing the remains of McMenemy, who is believed to have been killed along with Moore's three other guards. Negotiators who have dealt with the hostage takers tonight reiterated that they were "100% sure" that McMenemy was dead. They joined the Foreign Office in downplaying speculation from Baghdad that he was still alive.Who are the League of Righteous? A group tight with Nouri al-Maliki. Once followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. From the June 9th snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
The ringleaders of an attack on a US base that killed 5 American troops were in US custody and they were released, traded so that 3 British corpses and 1 British citizen could be released. Kind of hard for Barack to play commander in chief and enstill a fighting spirit or pride within the military when the answer to an attack on a US base that results in multiple deaths is the killers walk. ITN reports that the family of Jason Swindlehurst have stated that Jason is dead because the US refused to act quickly and quote father Russel Swindlehurst stating, "We're very, very glad that Peter's back home safe and sound. But if the only reason he was released was because the Americans have released whover it is [al-Khazal], why couldn't they have done it two years ago so we might have had all five lads coming home instead of just one." As the father, it's a perfectly reasonable question. Stepping back a distance, the US never, NEVER, should have released the ringleaders responsible for the deaths of 5 Americans. And if Barack's administration had thought in the least (their thinking was addressed in Thursday's snapshot), they would have realized that the release would lead to questions such as Swindlehurst. From his point of view, it's a valid question. From the point of view that an American president is supposed to represent and protect American citizens -- Barack was not elected President of the World -- Barack's actions are appalling. Alice Fordham (Times of London) explains, "The release of Mr McMenemy, or his remains, is being linked to the impending freeing of a Shia cleric and leader of Asaib al-Haq (AAH), League of the Righteous, the group that held the five Britons. Qais al-Khazali, the AAH leader, was transferred from US to Iraqi custody shortly before the release of Mr Moore on December 30."

There are reports that Alan McMenemy may be alive. His family has never given hope. The reports center around a questionable character as the source -- one known for headline grabbing behavior. Since the source has nothing concrete, why did he go public? The answer is: headline grabbing behavior.

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