U.S. gunships kill 13 in Bahgdad, including an Al Arabiya reporter
On Sunday Sept. 13, thirteen Iraqis were killed and fifty-five wounded after US helicopters attacked a crowd of unarmed demonstrators dancing round a burning Bradley armored vehicle. Among those killed was Mazen al-Tumeizi, a Palestinian television producer working for al-Arabiya satellite channel. Al-Tumeizi is the 33rd reporter killed in Iraq by U.S. forces. The US sought to defend the two helicopter pilots who fired seven rockets into the crowd, saying they had come under “well-aimed ground fire”. This account is contradicted by film taken by the cameraman who was accompanying al-Tumeizi, which includes no sound of firing from the crowd prior to the helicopter attack. Initially the US military claimed that the helicopters had opened fire with rockets in order to prevent the disabled Bradley fighting vehicle from being looted.
U.N. Secretary General Annon calls Iraq war “Illegal”
In an interview to BBC, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted the obvious fact that the U.S. led invasion of Iraq is a violation of the UN charter. “I have indicated that it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, and from the charter point of view it was illegal,” Kofi Annan said. In response, Randy Scheunemann, a former adviser to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said Annan had no right to question the legal judgment of UN member states. “To do this 51 days before an American election reeks of political interference,” he told the BBC. This was the first time Kofi Annon had used the word “illegal” to describe the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
U.S. continues bombing in Fallujah
The U.S. military continues to launch airstrikes against the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Al-Jazeera is reporting that airstrikes have killed 56 and wounded 40 in Fallujah today, with many of the victims women and children. AFP reports at least 44 killed and 28 wounded. The U.S. military claimed it killed 60 foreign fighters but this claim was not verifiable. This attack is the latest in a series of airstrikes against Fallujah over the last few weeks that have killed hundreds of civilians.
CIA report Shows Pessimism on Iraq’s Future
According to the New York Times a classified National Intelligence Estimate prepared for President Bush spells out a dark assessment of prospects for Iraq. While not available to the public, the report is said to outline three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms. The intelligence estimate, the first on Iraq since October 2002, was prepared by the National Intelligence Council and was approved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under John McLaughlin, the CIA’s acting director. Such estimates can be requested by the White House or Congress, but government officials said this one was initiated by the intelligence council under former CIA director George Tenet. The White House dismissed the report, “You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can’t be done,” Mr. McClellan said at a news briefing. “And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future.” For an analysis of this new intelligence report, check out the Sept. 17 posting on Empire Notes.
17,000 GIs not listed as casualties
Acording to UPI, nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports, according to military data. The Pentagon said most don’t fit the definition of casualties. The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among veterans from Iraq seeking help from the VA, 5,375 have been diagnosed with a mental problem, making it the third-leading diagnosis after bone problems and digestive problems. Among the mental problems were 800 soldiers who became psychotic.
Italian humanitarian workers kidnapped by Undercover Police?
A new article by Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill questions the official line that Itailian humanitarian workers Simona Torretta and Simona Pari and two of their Iraqi colleagues Raad Ali Abdul Azziz and Mahnouz Bassam were kidnapped by resistance fighters. Klein and Scahill point out various inconsistencies that point to the conclusion that the four were possibly kidnapped by foreign intelligence agencies or the Allawi government. Sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, from Iraq’s leading Sunni cleric organisation, told reporters in Baghdad that he received a visit from Torretta and Pari the day before the kidnap. “They were scared,” the cleric said. “They told me that someone threatened them.” Asked who was behind the threats, al-Kubaisi replied: “We suspect some foreign intelligence.” Torretta and Pari work for an anti-sanctions NGO A Bridge to Bahgdad.