More Troops Headed to Iraq
In response to the proximity of Iraq’s upcoming “elections” and a flourishing armed resistance, the United States and Great Britain have announced that they are sending more troops to Iraq. The United States recently announced that it is expanding the military force in Iraq by 12,000 to the highest level since May of 2003 while Great Britain is sending an additional 1,000 troops in anticipation of an expected increase in insurgent attacks.
With a record high of 137 US soldiers killed in Iraq in November of 2004, there has been increased concern over a lack of training among troops headed for Iraq. Most recently members of a California Army National Guard battalion are under lockdown after a series of desertions and objections in response to a lack of training and equipment.
Grand Rapids Press Highlights High School Student Support of Iraq War
In two articles over the past week, The Grand Rapids Press has highlighted the “support” given by local school students to US troops occupying Iraq. In a gushing article reporter Dave Murray told explained how students in the Grand Rapids Technical High School’s welding program are making grappling hooks for use in Iraq. The grappling hooks, manufactured at the behest of teacher Steven Tuttle who aims to remind students of the “dangerous work and sacrifices of local people headed overseas,” will be used to haul burned-out cars from Iraqi roads.
Meanwhile in Zeeland, local congressperson and cheerleader for the occupation, Pete Hoekstra, spoke to sixth-graders at Creekside Middle School and Zeeland Christian to report on progress in Iraq. Hoekstra denounced insurgents claiming that they “…don’t dress like soldiers. They resent America’s presence in their country and would try anything to thwart the plan to hold a democratic election next month in Iraq — even stashing a bomb in a car driving into an area where Iraqi people might be killed along with coalition forces,” an analysis that while targeted towards sixth-graders, is essentially the same as what the Bush administration directs towards adults. In addition Hoekstra told the students that soldiers were helping to rebuild hospitals and providing immunizations to children, although Hoekstra ignored the fact that health care is rapidly deterorating with a rise 2.7% in malnutrition among Iraqi children ages sixth months to five years and 400,000 children suffering from “wasting” and “emaciation.”
Of course, not all local students support the occupation of Iraq. A group of high school students in Lansing has released the second issue of their anti-militarism newsletter, Through the Wire.
Legal Actions Challenge Occupation of Iraq
Over the past month a number of legal challenges have been made to the United States’ occupation of Iraq, with most of the charges targeting specific officials within the Bush administration. Amid new reports that the US officials were warned in December 2003 about the abuse of detainees in Iraq, the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a request with German authorities on behalf of four Iraqis who suffered “severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse.” The complaint calls 10 US officials, among them Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and form CIA Director George Tenet, responsible for “war crimes against persons.” The complaint was filed in Germany because Germany has “the best law in the world right now” for prosecuting alleged war criminals.
On Wednesday December 1st 2004, lawyers from the Canadian group Lawyers Against the War charged President George W. Bush with torture for his role in the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The charges were unveiled publicly at an anti-Bush demonstration in Halifax where a mock trial found Bush guilty of war crimes.
Lastly, the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers has filed a rights petition with the Organization of American States (OAS) in response to attacks on hospitals and clinics in Falluja. Under OAS rules the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has the authority to investigate human rights violations committed by a member state of the OAS and seek remedies forthe victims.
Halliburton Facing More Problems in Iraq; Proposes to Sell Great Lakes Water
A new audit by Inspector General Stuart W. Bowen has found that a third or more of government property Halliburton Co. was paid to manage for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq cannot be found. In a summer 2004 audit, Halliburton subsidiary KBR was found to have lost or improperly inventoried over $18 million in equipment. Meanwhile, the same auditor has recommended withholding 15% on future invoices from Halliburton in response to the findings of the audit and a recent FBI investigation of contract abuse by Halliburton.
Halliburton has also initiated a process to export water from the Great Lakes to Iraq. Under the deal 3 million bottles of drinking water would be produced each week in Saginaw for sale in the Middle East by Halliburton.
Fallujah Coverage from Al-Jazeera
The Arab news channel Al-Jazeera now has a page dedicated exclusively to “Fallujah in 2004.” The page lists by month many of Al-Jazeera’s articles about Fallujah from the last year. Galleries of photos from Fallujah are also listed on the page. Many of these photos are graphic images of the victims of the violence Fallujah, images that the mainstream American are unwilling to show.