The Acts of the Democracies
The United Nations is sidestepped when, after a meeting with the USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, the IGC nominate the Prime Minister of the new government. He is one of their own members, Iyad Allawi who is a UK educated Shia Muslim with links to the USA's CIA and the UK's MI6. He has been responsible for passing some of the faulty intelligence to the West that was used to justify the invasion.
The nomination is quickly accepted by the USA, as a spokesperson says he "had emerged as a popular candidate". The UK newspaper, Financial Times, writes that Alawi "is the least popular of 17 prominent Iraqi political personalities monitored by the Iraqi Centre for Research and Studies".
Many consider that the "handover of power" is a cosmetic change and the nomination of Allawi a USA-backed coup. Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA case officer who served in the Middle East had this to say of Iyad Allawi: "Two facts stand out about Allawi. One, he likes to think of himself as a man of ideas; and, two, his strongest virtue is that he's a thug."
Lakhdar Brahimi tells UK newspaper, The Guardian, who was in control of the selection process: "I'm sure he doesn't mind me saying that Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money. He has the signature. Nothing happens without his agreement in this country". The members of the IGC itself are considered by most Iraqis to be collaborators. Several have been the targets of assassinations, some of which have been successful.
In addition, Paul Bremer threatens to veto the choice of president if it not the USA's preferred candidate.
The post of Defence Minister goes to Hazem Sha'alan, a former property developer from the UK; the Interior Minister is Falah al-Naqib, another former exile.
Once the new government is in place the Western media begin to refer to them as "the new Iraqi government" even though Iraqis themselves have had nothing to do with their selection. Allawi calls on the occupying powers to continue their occupation: "Iraq will need multinational forces to defeat its enemies - I call on the United States and Europe to protect Iraq".
The United Nations passes a resolution (number 1546) in which "the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq and therefore reaffirms the authorisation for the multinational force under unified command". In other words, the newly USA-selected government, requests the USA occupation forces to stay. The term "unified command" is a euphemism for "USA control".
The Interim Iraqi Government will have no control over the USA or UK military. According to articles in two USA newspapers, Wall Street Journal (issue 13 May) and New York Times (issue 2 June), the USA has been "quietly building institutions that will give the US powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make. In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, [the US] created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. 110 to 160 American advisers will be layered through Iraq's ministries, in some cases on contracts signed by the occupation, extending into the period after June 30. In many cases, these US and Iraqi proxies will serve multiyear terms and have significant authority to run criminal investigations, award contracts, direct troops and subpoena citizens".
As officials put it "the new Iraqi government will be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit US approval".
The USA passes a law barring what it calls "illegal militias" from standing in elections for three years. This will cover most people fighting against the occupation. Just before the "handover", the USA ensures that contracts are handed to its favoured companies who are mainly from the USA and who charge up to ten times what local companies would. The contracts are framed in a way that will make it ruinous for a future Iraq government to cancel them.
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for Democracy? Anyone for a UN sell out? Anyone for economic imperialism?
Over 40 people are killed (including women and children) in USA airstrikes in Fallujah. The new puppet government in waiting supports the attack. The government then requests help from NATO (a local European-North American military alliance dominated by the USA and not a world body) to train its army.
Three soldiers accused of abusing prisoners in Abu-Ghraib prison go on trial. Their defence is that they were following orders. One of the lawyers, Paul Bergrin, admits (on the UK Channel 4 News, 21 June) that the interrogation procedures used were approved from higher up:
"They used the humility method that has been known based upon the Israeli government's intelligence and expertise on Arab prisoners of parading them naked in front of other people. And what that did emotionally and psychologically is that caused the Arab prisoner to not want that photograph displayed because of cultural issues so it made them talk."
In an attempt to show that the USA wanted to treat Iraqi prisoners humanely and did not condone torture, the USA government releases internal documents that set out what its soldiers are allowed to do to prisoners during interrogations. The documents included a memo by USA president, George W Bush, stating that the Geneva Convention would not apply. The USA is a signatory to the Convention. The list of approved interrogation techniques dates from December 2002 and applies to the concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay (in USA-leased land in Cuba) as well as to Iraq. The list included:
Sherman Carroll of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture affirmed that "the documents from the White House authorised specific interrogation techniques by US forces abroad that amount to torture".
In late June, the USA, pro-consul, Paul Bremer, passes Order 17. This makes USA and UK military personnel, security personnel ("mercenaries") and ordinary civilian contractors immune from all civil and criminal law in Iraq. Westerners will have exception from paying tax and will not even need to have driving licenses. Contractors will have immunity from anything done under a contract, including defaulting on payments or injuring people.
A few days later, Western governments and their media begin a massive propaganda campaign to convince the USA electorate that there has been a "transfer of power" to the Iraqis in Iraq. A low key ceremony is conducted in the USA compound in Baghdad (called the Green Zone). No foreign dignitaries are present. The first announcement is made in Istanbul during a NATO summit in Turkey.
The 160,000 USA occupation force is restyled "the multinational forces" which have been invited to stay in Iraq by the "new Iraqi government" (headed by the CIA-linked Iyad Allawi). The Coalition Provisional Authority is renamed "The American Embassy" with a staff of over 3000 (making it the largest in the world). All Iraqi ministries have USA "advisors" attached to them. The USA proconsul, Paul Bremer, leaves to be replaced by the new USA "ambassador", John Negraponte, who arrives unannounced and without ceremony.
Negraponte was ambassador to Honduras between 1981 to 1985 while the country was being used by the USA-armed Contras to destabilise the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. The USA newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, probed this period using released government papers and concluded that the ambassador knew of and supported the activities of Battalion 3-16, a Honduran death squad . According to a former Honduran congressman, Efrain Diaz, this was because "they needed Honduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocent people being killed".
In July, the USA announces that Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq has been "handed back to the Iraqis" but he will remain in USA custody in Qatar. A pre-trial appearance before an Iraqi judge is made. This is made inside the USA controlled Green Zone (also known as "the American Embassy").
The USA selects the media to be allowed to cover the appearance (none of whom are Iraqi) and confiscates some of the footage, destroying the opening testimony of some of the defendants. The footage broadcast around the world is censored and contains the text "cleared by US military".
A USA television worker confirms that the USA was "... running the show. The Americans decided what the world could and could not see of the trial - and it was meant to be an Iraqi trial. There was a British official in the courtroom whom we were not allowed to take pictures of. The other men were US troops who had been ordered to wear ordinary clothes so that they were 'civilians' in the court".
Professor Michael Scharf, who is training the USA military to be judges in Guantanamo Bay, was more descriptive of the USA role: "The United States will be involved in the trial but from behind the scenes, more like a puppet master".
After "handing control to the Iraqis", the USA bombs a residential area in Fallujah killing more than 12 people.
After a week, USA-approved Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, introduces legislation allowing the imposition of martial law, curfews, a ban on demonstrations, restrictions of movement, phone-tapping, the opening of post and the freezing of bank accounts. This is less than two years after the USA and UK invaded the country "to bring democracy". In the same week, a USA senate committee reports that the intelligence for going to war in Iraq was flawed.
USA forces vacate a building that contains the names of 600,000 of Iraq's war dead from the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s. The soldiers had daubed the walls with company insignias and other graffiti.
In the north of Iraq, Kurds force Arabs from their homes in Kirkuk, creating over 100,000 refugees living in camps in northern Iraq. This and the fact that the Kurds supported the USA invasion, engenders widespread anti-Kurdish feeling among the rest of the population in the country.
The Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, orders the Arab television station, Al-Jazeera, to leave the country while police close their Baghdad offices. This is the station watched by the majority of Arabs in the Middle East which has been criticised and had its offices bombed by the USA.
In Najaf, USA forces surround the city. Armed Iraqi police order all foreign journalists out of the city. The police chief announces that they had two hours to leave. He said that the order had been issued by the Ministry of the Interior of Iyad Allawi's (USA appointed) government.
A little later the journalists are told: "You have been warned. You have two hours. If you don't leave you will be shot". This story failed to appear on UK television news.
The next day, armed police return to the Sea of Najaf Hotel where all the journalists are staying. They attempt to arrest a journalist from al-Arabiya television, Ahmed al-Saleh. As journalists and hotel staff protest, a police lieutenant tells them "We are going to open fire on this hotel. We are going to smash it up. I will kill you all. You did this all to yourselves." The police eventually left and fired shots into the hotel.
The response of the UK government to their journalists being shot at and threatened was to issue a statement via a spokesperson: "I think we should not be too hasty to turn this into a debate about free speech. There is quite a lively media in Iraq for the first time in years".
KryssTal Opinion: Anyone for free speech?
According to the UK newspaper, The Independent, two USA companies were awarded huge reconstruction contracts without having to tender. Halliburton has received contracts worth $ 4,700 million while Bechtel was awarded $ 2,800 million. Both companies have close ties with the USA administration.
Abd Al-Jabbar al-Kubaisi, a politician who opposed Saddam Hussein but also opposed the USA invasion, is arrested by the occupying forces with the collusion of the USA appointed Iraqi government, and taken to an undisclosed location. According to the Arab National Forum, this is one of many such cases of the arrest of dissidents. This story is unreported in the Western media.
In early September, the USA bombs two houses in Fallujah killing 17 people, including children who are blown to pieces. The story fails to make the Western media a day after prominent television and newspaper headlines describing the deaths of 16 Israelis killed by Palestinian suicide bombers. A previous strike on Fallujah a few days earlier had killed 5 people and wounded 42. More people are killed in Fallujah over several days but the media fail to mention the region until 7 USA soldiers are killed.
35 people are killed in Baghdad by USA forces.
Fallujah is bombed for three successive days killing over 40 people, including three women, a 65 year old man and five children. The USA describes the attacks as a "precision strike" but photos of injured children are published by the Arab television station al-Jazeera. 15 homes are destroyed by tank fire. In Tal Afar, 27 are killed and 70 are injured.
a week-long invasion by USA forces.
In mid-September, air strikes on Fallujah by the USA leave 18 people dead, including women and children. Seven people, including the driver of an ambulance, are killed when USA aircraft fire a missile at the vehicle while it was transporting casualties near the northern gate of the city. A paramedic and five patients are also killed. According to Dr Rafia al-Isawi, director of Fallujah hospital: "Every time we send out an ambulance, it gets targeted". Attacking medical facilities is a violation of the Geneva Convention. Three homes are destroyed in al-Shurta neighbourhood.
USA snipers kill at least 11 people in the city of Ramadi. Dr Khamis al-Saad, general director of Ramadi hospital reports that the dead included a woman and children while another 18 were wounded by USA fire. Ambulances and medical teams are targeted by USA snipers in different areas of Ramadi including close to hospitals for women and children.
Two ambulance drivers and members of medical teams in the vehicles are also killed. Medical staff and patients inside the hospitals are targeted and several are shot in the head. 29 others were injured. Images of one of the targeted ambulances are shown on Arabic television at the same time as the USA is describing the attacks as a "precision raid".
Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations tells the UK radio station BBC World Service that the invasion of Iraq was "not in conformity" with the UN Security Council or the UN Charter. This is a polite way of saying that the invasion was not legal. On the same day (and mostly unreported in the West) the USA announces that $ 3,400 million originally allocated to providing water and power to Iraqis is to be redirected to boosting security and oil output.
Seven rockets are fired by two USA helicopters into a crowd in Baghdad killing 13 people and wounding 41. Film of the incident by al-Arabiya contradicts the USA account of the massacre in which Mazen-al-Tomeizi, a Palestinian television producer, is among the dead.
Another air attack on Falluja kills over 56 people and wounds 40. Several strikes on the village of Zoba, 7 km south of Falluja, demolish 13 houses. Dr Ahmad Khalil of Falluja general hospital reported: "The bodies of 30 people killed in Zoba were brought to Falluja general hospital as well as 40 wounded." He added that many of the victims were women and children.
The USA military described the attack as a "precision strike" which "destroyed a terrorist compound". However, Iraqi medical sources and independent journalists in Falluja say that most of those brought into the hospitals are civilians, and included many women and children.
After over a week of violence, the story appears on BBC television news in the UK but the number of victims is described as "several". After a further week of similar attacks, the USA appointed Iraqi government bans the Ministry of Health from revealing civilian casualty figures.
In October, USA forces attack the city of Sammara.
The USA uses helicopter gunships, jets and snipers; over 125 people are killed. According to an ambulance driver: "Dead bodies and injured people are lying everywhere in the city. The Americans fired at us when we tried to evacuate them. Later on they told us that we can evacuate only injured women and children, but we cannot pick up injured men".
The denial of medical treatment is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Local people complain that they are unable to take their injured to hospital as USA forces are arresting all males over the age of 15. All power and water has been cut off and snipers are firing at people. According to Iraqi journalist Ziyad al-Samarai: "The situation in Sammara city is very tense and unstable. US forces have taken up rooftop positions on the city's buildings and schools, completely closing the city and preventing people from moving around".
According to schoolteacher, Rahim Abdul-Karim, "There has been a lot of deaths, and they have been ordinary people. They are killing us to save us". Another man describes seeing stray dogs picking at corpses in the street.
The USA continues to describe their actions as "precision strikes". In the main hospital, doctors say that of the first 47 bodies brought in, 11 were women, 5 were children and 7 were elderly men. Even the BBC television news in the UK begins to talk about "US claims" while showing children being pulled out of the rubble of destroyed homes.
Fallujah was also attacked by USA warplanes during the hours of darkness. Two houses were reported to have been flattened in al-Shurta district. Dr Ahmad Tahir at Falluja's general hospital said seven dead, including children and women, and 13 wounded were received at the hospital. All the victims were civilians. A photographer from Associated Press describes seeing the bodies of women and children being removed from the rubble of the homes.
In the Sadr City suburb in Baghdad USA forces fire missiles into packed tenement buildings.
The USA appointed Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, makes a speech in the USA Congress. This is later shown to have been written by the USA president's re-election team.
An Iraqi organisation, Struggle Against Hegemony, states that over 37,000 civilians were killed between the start of the invasion in March 2003 and October 2003. This figure does not include deaths of Iraqi military and paramilitary forces. According to Muhammad al-Ubaidi:
"For the collation of our statistics we visited the most remote villages, spoke and coordinated with grave-diggers across Iraq, obtained information from hospitals, and spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw incidents in which Iraqi civilians were killed by US fire."
Al-Ubaidi, a physiology professor based in the UK, provided a detailed breakdown of the 37,000 civilian deaths for each region in Iraq.
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The counting stopped in October 2003 after researchers were arrested by USA forces and have not been seen since.
In October 2004, a scientific study published in the UK medical magazine, The Lancet, suggests that at least 100,000 people have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. More than half of the victims have been women and children killed by "the effect of areal weaponry", in other words, air strikes. The survey was undertaken by public health experts from Iraq and the USA (Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland). The figures are much higher than earlier estimates based on media sources. Some studies suggest that even these figures are an under-estimate. The occupying forces are also criticised by the report for failing to keep figures of Iraqi casualties.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that 350 tons of high explosive went missing from from storage at Al-Qaqa'a during the USA invasion in March 2003. Iraqi witness maintain that USA troops were told of the presence of the material at the site but failed to guard it. The site was one listed by the UK as producing illegal weapons.
In November, the secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, warns the USA and UK not to attack the city of Fallujah as that would make the situation in Iraq more difficult. His plea is ignored. The USA heavily bombs the city from the air for several days and orders civilians to leave.
Ralph Peters, a former military officer told USA newspaper, New York Post: "We must not be afraid to make an example of Fallujah. We need to demonstrate that the United States military cannot be deterred or defeated. If that means widespread destruction, we must accept the price Even if Fallujah has to go the way of Carthage, reduced to shards, the price will be worth it''.
A month after stating that most of Iraq is "completely safe'', the USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, declares martial law throughout all of Iraq except the Kurdish north. The new powers allow public gatherings to be broken up, private houses to be entered without warrants, and people to be detained without trial. These are similar powers held by the previous regime that the USA had thought was so totalitarian that it had to be removed.
The USA invades the city of Fallujah (population normally 300,000) with over 10,000 troops for the second time in 2004, taking the Fallujah General Hospital, the city's main health care facility. Patients in the hospital are handcuffed and dragged out of their rooms for examination by troops. Most are later released. Mehdi Abdulla, a 33 year old ambulance driver describes USA actions: "Doctors in Fallujah are reporting to me that there are patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the Americans. Some doctors there told me they had a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors away and left the patient to die". Nazzal Emergency Hospital, a recently constructed trauma clinic, is bombed and destroyed killing 20 doctors and a dozen patients; a nearby warehouse for medical supplies is also destroyed.
Half of the city's 120 mosques are destroyed by air strikes. The effect on the Arab and Muslim world of images of mosques being attacked with tanks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan can only be imagined. Many people are killed and bodies have to be buried in gardens due to the curfew. The wounded cannot get medical attention. There are reports of bodies lying in the streets.
According to Colonel Mike Ramos, anyone violating the curfew is part of a "free fire zone" - in other words, any thing that moves will be shot at. Colonel Gary Brandl, a USA marine, tells the UK television station, the BBC: "The enemy has a face. It is Satan's. He is in Fallujah, and we are going to destroy him."
Muhammad Abbud has to watch his 9 year old son, Ghaith, bleed to death after being hit by shrapnel: "We just bandaged his stomach and gave him water, but he was losing a lot of blood. He died this afternoon". This story is extensively covered by Middle Eastern media but ignored by Western television news. Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at Fallujah Hospital said: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes who we can't move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands". The USA-appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, responds by accusing Iraqi doctors of exaggerating civilian casualties.
A resident of the city, Fadri al-Badrani, tells the Reuters news agency: "Every minute, hundreds of bombs and shells are exploding. The north of the city is in flames. Fallujah has become like hell". Another resident, Farhan Saleh added: "My kids are hysterical with fear. They are traumatised by the sound but there is nowhere to take them".
A fleeing woman.
The magazine, Christian Science Monitor, quotes a retired general with connections to the USA military as noting, This is being done for not only its effect on Fallujah, but for its demonstration effects...on other places resembling Fallujah�. In other words, if you resist us, this is what will happen to you. The use of violence for the purpose of intimidation and spreading terror is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions.
Television reports mention "phosphorous rounds" without elaborating. This is a substance that sticks to skin and burns. A hospital doctor, Kamal Hadeethi, is quoted in the USA newspaper, Washington Post as saying "The corpses of the mujaheddin which we received were burned, and some corpses were melted". People reported being attacked with a substance that melted their skin, a reaction consistent with white phosphorous or napalm burns.
None of this is mentioned in the Western media.
Their destination and status remains unknown.
As the slaughter continues some members of the the USA-appointed government, decide to speak out and pull out of the government. Mohsen Abdel Hamid, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party explains his reasons: "The American attack on our people in Fallujah has led and will lead to more killings and genocide without mercy from the Americans". The Association of Muslim Scholars calls for a boycott of planned elections as they will be held "over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah and the blood of the wounded". Up to 500 Iraqi troops that had been trained by the USA to "put an Iraqi face" on the invasion refuse to fight and desert.
Throughout the attack on Fallujah, most Western television reports state that "there are no reliable reports of civilian casualties". Prior to the attack, the Arabic television station, Al-Jazeera was excluded from Iraq. Al-Arabiya had an unembedded ("independent") reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on 11 November USA forces arrested him and held him away from the city. This detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists: "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job".
The USA-appointed Iraqi government orders journalists working in Iraq to tow the government line or face legal action. Media were ordered to "set aside space in your news coverage to make the position of the Iraqi government, which expresses the aspirations of most Iraqis, clear". It continued, "We hope you comply ... otherwise we regret we will be forced to take all the legal measures to guarantee higher national interests". Ann Cooper, director of the USA-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern at this development: "It damages the government's credibility in establishing a free and democratic society". The clampdown continues with the arrest of Mustafa al-Dulaimi, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, who had earlier spoken out against the invasion of Fallujah.
The USA television station, Fox News, reported that "US troops also raided a Sunni mosque in Qaim, near the Syrian border". The report described the arrests as "retaliation for opposing the Falluja offensive". Two Shia clerics associated with Moqtada al-Sadr have also been arrested in recent weeks; according to the news agency, Associated Press, "both had spoken out against the Falluja attack".
Fallujah resident, Luai Mansur Abd al-Karim, described conditions in the battered city: "The majority ... have stayed in the streets, in the open air. They have no food, no shelter. Life necessities are very little. Humanitarian organisations cannot reach these families as all roads leading to the city and its suburbs are closed. Anyone who walks in the streets exposes his life to danger and his vehicle to being bombed. US forces have cordoned off the city and all its suburbs. They are conducting group killings and eliminations in Falluja and its suburbs. These families cannot go anywhere."
Another resident, Rasul Ibrahim, told the Qatar based TV station, Al-Jazeera: "There's no water. People are drinking dirty water. Children are dying. People are eating flour because there's no proper food".
An Iraqi journalist tells Associated Press: "The Americans are shooting anything that moves". To dislodge just one Iraqi sniper, an embedded journalist with the newspaper, New York Times, reports that a three storey complex was hit with two 500-pound bombs, 35 155mm artillery shells, 10 120mm shells from tanks and about 30,000 rounds from machine guns and small arms. The building is left a "smoking ruin". From the television footage coming out of the city, USA troops "search" buildings by using grenades and machine gun fire on houses before entering. Every male found alive is being dragged away, bound and hooded, to detention centres.
Whole districts were leveled with many buildings destroyed. There is no electricity or water. Residents talk of the odour of death in the streets. Abd al-Hamid Salim, a volunteer with the relief organisation, Red Crescent observes that "anyone who gets injured is likely to die because there's no medicine and they can't get to doctors. There are snipers everywhere. Go outside and you're going to get shot."
Abbas Ali, a doctor reported: "I'm one of the few medical cadres that survived last Monday from the massacre. We are in a very tragic situation. Hundreds of dead bodies are spread in the streets. Even the injured are still there. We cannot transfer them. We cannot do anything to save them."
The USA President, George W Bush and UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, continue to say that the military operations in Fallujah are to "help Iraqis achieve their liberty and to defend the security of the world". Fallujah's resisters are described as "Saddamists" even though the city had a history of defying the former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
As Fallujah is battered into submission, uprisings occur in several places around the country, including Mosul, Baiji and Ramadi.
After a week, the USA declares that Fallujah is under USA control. Aid convoys are prevented by USA forces from entering the city, originally because of "security concerns" then because the USA is providing all assistance required. According to USA marine, Colonel Mike Shupp, "there is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people". The USA appointed Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, states that there are "no civilian casualties" in Fallujah. Refugees, doctors and other witnesses from the city talk of outbreaks of typhoid, rotting corpses, thousands of people trapped, the wounded unable to get medical aid. These claims are mainly ignored by the Western media. No footage of bodies is shown. In contrast, bodies are shown in the Dafur region of Sudan during the same week.
USA troops searching houses while frightened Iraqis look on.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the invasion of their city.
A video by USA television station, NBC, shows a USA soldier killing a wounded Iraqi inside a mosque. The soldier is heard saying that the man was breathing and faking being dead. After a single shot is fired at the man's head the soldier says "He's dead now".
This is one of several pieces of footage showing USA soldiers killing wounded Iraqis in violation of the Geneva Convention as well as attacks on civilians by aircraft and helicopters. The NBC footage is shown in the USA and UK with a story of how the solder concerned had been previously shot and is broadcast in the middle of other news items; the UK television station BBC covers the story in less than 10 seconds during one broadcast. The actual shooting is never shown.
In the Middle East the footage is shown uncensored. According to Kevin Sites, the NBC reporter present at the time, "the prisoner did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way". Kathy Kelly of the peace group, Voices in the Wilderness, spoke about the images: "I don't think the US is paying much attention to the Geneva Conventions any more - that is the problem".
According to reports from newsmen embedded with the USA troops during the assault launched on 8 November, the shooting may not have been an isolated incident. Instead, it may have simply been the only one caught on camera, an illustration of the looser rules of engagement authorised for the Fallujah offensive. The night before the assault began, the order came down that troops could shoot any male on the street between the ages of 15 and 50 if they were viewed as a security threat, regardless of whether they had a weapon.
Residents of Saqlawiya, a village neighbouring Falluja, tell the TV station, Al-Jazeera, that they helped bury the bodies of 73 women and children who were burnt to death by a USA bombing attack: "We buried them here, but we could not identify them because they were charred by the use of napalm bombs used by the Americans," said one resident of Saqlawiya in footage broadcast on Al-Jazeera.
According to Abu Hammad, 35 year old trader, the USA "used everything -- tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground." Kassem Mohammed Ahmed a refugee from Fallujah tells the news agency, IPS, that he witnessed many atrocities committed by USA soldiers in the city: "I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks. This happened so many times". Abdul Razaq Ismail another Fallujah refugee told of soldiers using tanks to pull bodies to the football stadium to be buried. "I saw dead bodies on the ground and nobody could bury them because of the American snipers. The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah."
Abu Hammad describes what happened when people attempted to swim across the River Euphrates to escape the attack on Fallujah: "The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore. Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot". He also describes seeing elderly women carrying white flags shot by USA soldiers. "Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed".
Kharma, a small city near Fallujah, was bombed by USA warplanes. In one instance a family of five was killed.
Initial figures by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) talk of over 800 civilians killed.
The USA newspaper, the New York Times, quoting the ICRC, cited the story of one family using a car to flee the carnage into the city only to come face to face with a marine squad who had taken control of a mosque as a defence position. "A barrage of bullets followed. Minutes later, Ms Abd Allah's mother lay bloodied and dying in the rear seat, glass shards strewn about her. Ms Abd Allah, hit in the back by a bullet, collapsed into her mother's lap. Three men in the car were lightly wounded," the paper reported.
When the USA marines realised they may have killed civilians, they rushed to check on the casualties. The USA-supported Iraqi National Guard (the so-called "Iraqi face" of the occupation) advised they kill the survivors, but the marines held off and provided medical assistance when it was determined the people in the car were not part of the city's resistance groups.
The Jolan and Askali neighbourhoods were the worst hit, with more than half of the houses destroyed. Dead bodies were scattered on the streets and narrow alleys of Jolan, one of Fallujah's oldest neighbourhoods. Witnesses told of blood and flesh were splattered on the walls of some of the houses. During one night, USA warplanes dropped eight 2,000-pound (900kg) bombs on the city overnight, and artillery boomed throughout the night and into the morning.
According to USA army captain, Erik Krivda: "For this operation, we took the gloves off."
Abdulla Rahnan, a 40 year old man, tells Lebanese-born USA journalist, Dahr Jamail, "The Americans want every city in Iraq to be like Fallujah, They want to kill us all-they are freeing us of our lives!" His friend adds "Everyone here hates them because they are making mass graves faster than even Saddam!"
Although mostly ignored by Western media, reports of war crimes continue to surface: Aziz Abdulla (27) reports: "I saw so many civilians killed there, and I saw several tanks roll over the wounded in the streets." Abu Mohammed (40) reports the use of cluster bombs by the USA, adding: "The Americans smashed our city, killed thousands of people, destroyed our mosques and hospitals." Abu Aziz (45): "The tanks rolled over wounded people in the streets. They shot so many wounded people who went to mosques for shelter. Even the graves were bombed."
Naomi Klein of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, commented on the lack of reporting of civilian casualties in the Western media: "The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks."
Seven people, including a child, die when a bus is shot at by USA troops in Ramadi. Television footage from Reuters showed the bus peppered with bullet holes. Some of the windows were shattered and others spattered with blood. Flies buzzed around corpses in the vehicle, as men carried away bodies and loaded them into cars.
Many civilians are arrested in Samarra by USA troops and Iraqis working for the USA-appointed government. al-Adhamiya is put under a 6pm curfew. Citizens cower in their houses while USA helicopters fly overhead. USA troops conduct house to house searches in the Sadr City district of Baghdad where a 6 year old boy is shot for being outside during curfew.
A report published by Norway's Institute for Applied International Studies and the United Nations states that roughly 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "wasting," a condition characterised by chronic diarrhoea and dangerous protein deficiencies. This is 7.7% of the population, an increase since the invasion from 4%. Approximately 60% of rural residents and 20% of urban dwellers have access only to contaminated water.
The USA appointed Iraqi government announces that elections will take place on 30 January 2005. By the Muslim calendar this date is in the middle of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Farnaz Fassihi, a reporter in Iraq for the USA newspaper, Wall Street Journal sent an email to friends describing conditions for reporters in Iraq:
"Being a foreign correspondent in Baghdad these days, is like being under virtual house arrest.... I avoid going to people's homes and never walk in the streets. I can't go grocery shopping any more, can't eat in restaurants, can't strike a conversation with strangers, can't look for stories, can't drive in any thing but a full armored car, can't go to scenes of breaking news, can't be stuck in traffic, can't speak English outside, can't take a road trip, can't say I'm an American, can't linger at checkpoints, can't be curious about what people are saying, doing, feeling. And can't and can't."
In December the Western media announced that Iraq's debts would be forgiven. What was omitted from most reports was that this would only happen if the country allowed its economy to be run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for ten years regardless of what Iraqis themselves voted for. This is an excellent example of a story being misleading by omission.