TBR News September 5, 2016

Sep 05 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  September 3, 2016:  “Because of the upcoming holiday, we will be out of town until Tuesday, September 6, 2016.”

Saudis tighten their belts for Eid in age of austerity

September 5, 2016

by Marwa Rashad and Reem Shamseddine |


RIYADH/KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia- A cartoon widely circulated in Saudi Arabia on Twitter last month showed three old men in traditional robes, named Unemployment, Prices and Poverty, looking down at a young boy with torn clothes named Salary.

“When will you grow bigger like us?!” the men ask the boy.

The annual Eid al-Adha holiday period is traditionally a time for ordinary Saudis to splurge on new clothes, accessories and travel. But this year’s Eid holidays, which fall on Sept. 12-15, are set to be the most austere in well over a decade.

Low oil prices are forcing the government of the world’s top oil exporter into spending cuts to curb a budget deficit that totaled a record $98 billion last year.

Those cuts, which began late in 2015, are now rippling through almost every area of the Saudi economy, reducing consumers’ disposable income and weighing on the living standards of ordinary Saudis.

“Looking at individual consumption, you will find a significant shift in consumer habits, and the size of purchases has gone down significantly compared to last year,” said Saudi economist Fadl Albuainain.

“Although corporations are the main reason behind declining consumer demand, the impact of individuals’ spending cannot be overlooked.”

The consumer spending slump has become a significant drag on the economy as a whole. Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector shrank 0.7 percent from a year ago in the first quarter of 2016, its worst performance in at least five years. Second-quarter data has not been released yet but London-based Capital Economics estimates the sector shrank 4.5 percent in June.

The value of imports into Saudi Arabia plunged 24 percent from a year earlier in June; while some of the drop may be due to reduced purchases of equipment for government projects, some appears due to weaker imports of consumer goods.


The official unemployment rate among Saudi citizens is around 11.5 percent. So far, relatively few have lost their jobs because of this year’s slowdown; legal restrictions make firing Saudis difficult, so the kingdom’s population of 10 million foreign workers has borne the brunt of lay-offs.

However, government ministries and state-owned firms, who employ about two-thirds of working Saudis, are adopting a more frugal approach to their staff.

Lavish bonuses, overtime payments and other benefits – once considered routine perks in the state sector – have been slashed. Essam al-Zamel, another Saudi economist, said such benefits accounted for up to 30 percent of Saudis’ take-home income, so many people now felt significantly poorer.

Meanwhile, the government has raised domestic gasoline and utility prices to save money on state subsidies, almost doubling the annual inflation rate to around 4 percent.

Although Riyadh is encouraging Saudis to establish private businesses to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil revenues, the economic slowdown is making this harder by cutting the incomes of some entrepreneurs.

“I used to travel three times a year to Dubai and Europe, but this year I didn’t and I am not going anywhere this Eid…I cannot afford it anymore,” said Sultan al-Dossary, 27, a Saudi who runs a small enterprise helping firms interact with the government.

He said his net income had fallen to around 3,000 riyals ($800) per month from 10,000 to 12,000 six months ago. He plans to sell one of his three cars to shore up his finances.

The impact of such belt-tightening can be seen in shopping centers and restaurants in Riyadh, Jeddah and oil-producing Eastern Province. Glitzy malls display signs such as “70 percent Sale”, “Further Reduction” and “Clearance”; many restaurants offer cut-price lunch packages.

Jarir Marketing Co, one of the biggest retailers in the kingdom, reported a 25 percent year-on-year drop in net profit for the first half of 2016 as sales fell 15 percent.

The slide in retail consumer purchases at Jarir’s stores has been in the high single digits, while the cut in corporate and government spending on office and computer supplies has been even steeper, Jarir’s chairman Muhammad Alagil told Reuters.


There are reasons to think consumer spending may soon stop falling. Corporate surveys in the past two months suggest private sector growth is picking up somewhat on the back of rising oil output, and many people expect modestly higher oil prices next year, which could ease pressure on state finances.

“We believe it will stabilize next year,” said Alagil.

But few expect any major rebound. Even with austerity, Riyadh is expected to run a budget deficit in the tens of billions of dollars this year – unsustainable in the long run – and officials have said more subsidy cuts are in store.

In 2018, the government plans to introduce value-added tax, probably at a rate of 5 percent with exemptions for items such as food.

Many Saudis accept that low oil prices make austerity inevitable, and there is no sign of a significant political backlash against government policies. But belt-tightening is being widely discussed on Twitter under hash-tags such as “Salary doesn’t meet our needs”.

“We are nowhere near the bottom, and we think the years to come will be even more painful,” said Samih Jarjoura, an operations manager who handles distribution of foreign luxury goods to retailers in Jeddah.

(Additional reporting by Celine Aswad in Dubai; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Anna Willard)

 Merkel defends refugee stance after poll defeat, pledges to rebuild trust

Angela Merkel has vowed to “win back trust” after her party suffered a humiliating defeat against the anti-migrant AfD in state elections. The result has been blamed on voter disenchantment with her refugee policy.

September 5, 2016


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday defended her government’s handling of the refugee crisis, but said the poor election result showed there was work to be done to win back voter confidence.

“I am very unsatisfied with the outcome of the election,” Merkel told reporters on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in China. “Obviously it has something to do with the refugee question. But I nevertheless believe the decisions made were right and we have to continue to work on them.”

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was relegated to third place behind the right-wing, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in weekend polls in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The CDU garnered 19 percent of the vote – its worst ever score in the ex-communist state, which is also where Merkel has her parliamentary constituency.

The AfD managed to draw supporters from across the spectrum to finish in second place with 20.8 percent of the vote. The CDU’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), remained the strongest party with 30.6 percent, but it too lost part of its voter base to the AfD.

‘Work to be done’

Merkel told reporters that, as chancellor and CDU party chief, “of course I am also responsible,” but she insisted that opening Germany’s borders to more than 1 million asylum seekers in 2015 was the right thing to do. She added that the numbers of refugees entering the country had since declined, and that the government was working to integrate the migrants already in Germany. “There is much to be done to win back trust, and the topic of integration will play a huge role, as well the repatriation of those who don’t gain residency rights,” Merkel said. The right-wing AfD has enjoyed a surge in support among voters concerned about the influx of migrants to Europe over the past year. Despite being only three years old, the party is already represented in nine out of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments. Leif-Erik Holm, who heads the AfD in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said the election result should act as a warning to the government to rethink its refugee policies and that “today could mark the beginning of the end of the chancellery of Angela Merkel.” The Sunday poll was the first of five regional votes before a national election due to take place next September.

Clinton emails wiped clean after NYT story

September 2, 2016

by Nikita Vladimirov

The Hill

A number of Hillary Clinton’s private emails were erased weeks after The New York Times published a story reporting on her use of a private email server while secretary of State, according to notes from the FBI’s investigation released on Friday.

The notes include an entry that says that someone mistakenly deleted Clinton’s archived mailbox from her server and exported files.

The deletion took place between March 25 and March 31, the FBI learned in a May 3 interview. The name of the person who deleted the emails was redacted from the FBI’s notes.

“In a follow-up FBI interview on May 3, 2016, —— Indicated he believed he had an ‘oh s–t’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from PRN server and used BleachBit to delete the exported .PST files he had created on the server system containing Clinton;s e-mails,” the FBI notes released on Friday stated.

BleachBit is a special computer software that is designed to “prevent recovery” of files so that, as House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy(R-S.C.) said last week, “even God can’t read them.”

After the conclusion of the investigation in July, the FBI Director James Comey recommended no charges against Clinton but added that the Democratic presidential nominee was “extremely careless” in handling classified material.

The Times story was published on March 2.

‘Operation Snail’: Protesters block Calais roads demanding removal of ‘Jungle’ camp

September 5, 2016


French truckers, farmers, shopkeepers and police are united in a major protest. The port of Calais has been blockaded amid calls for local residents to form a human chain, seeking a definite date for the demolition of the notorious ‘Jungle’ migrant camp.

British media instantly dubbed the protest action ‘Operation Snail’, as it is apparently expected to cause huge traffic disruptions, both in France and on the UK side.

The protesters gathered in and around the northern French city of Calais on Monday morning, blocking roads in and out of the port and urging the authorities to shut down the camp.

Up to 80 trucks and 150 tractors are participating in a blockade of the A16 motorway, a key artery to and from the Calais port.

Truck drivers are converging at Dunkirk, to the north of Calais, and Boulogne, to the south, the Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett – who got the details from the French road transport union, the FNTR – told British media.

“Despite assurances that the action by Calais hauliers [truckers] would take the form of a go-slow, this now appears not to be the case. Both groups will then travel along the A16 towards Calais, converging at the Eurotunnel exit,” Burnett added.

About 200 farmers will be joining the protest, saying the migrant influx has led to destruction of crops and damage to farms in the region.

Immense disruptions for both passengers and freight are expected as a result.

“It seems certain that traffic crossing from the UK will find it almost impossible to leave the port as access to the A16 is denied,” Burnett said, as quoted by the Press Association.

“The inevitable repercussions of this will surely mean that the authorities on this side of the Channel will have no alternative but to deploy Operation Stack. This will bring yet further misery to hauliers bound for mainland Europe and of course for the people and businesses of Kent.”

Operation Stack is a procedure used by Kent Police and the Port of Dover in England to park (or ‘stack’) trucks on the M20 motorway in Kent when services across the English Channel are disrupted, for instance because of the bad weather or industrial action.

The numbers of migrants living the camp’s squalor is climbing steadily, with the figures provided by local activist groups now standing at over 9,000 people, while the government says there are about 6,900 people in the ‘Jungle.’

Just a couple of days ago, the French authorities begged the UK to take in hundreds of refugee kids from the Calais camp.

There has been an increased level of criminal activities linked to the camp as well, and an increased danger to drivers, as some migrants tried to attack passing vehicles, throwing various objects at windscreens and cutting trees in an attempt to hijack vehicles.

There have also been reports of criminals threatening drivers with chainsaws and machetes.

All in all, a whopping 10,000 migrants are smuggled into the UK yearly, according to French police and security sources cited by the Telegraph about a week ago.

The latest protests come after the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve pledged to demolish the ‘Jungle’ – but announced the future construction of two other migrant camps in Paris.

Happy Labor Day! There Has Never Been a Middle Class Without Strong Unions

September 5, 2016

by Jon Schwarz

The Intercept

The entire Republican Party and the ruling heights of the Democratic Party loathe unions. Yet they also claim they want to build a strong U.S. middle class.This makes no sense. Wanting to build a middle class while hating unions is like wanting to build a house while hating hammers.

Sure, maybe hammers — like every tool humans have ever invented — aren’t 100 percent perfect. Maybe when you use a hammer you sometimes hit your thumb. But if you hate hammers and spend most of your time trying to destroy them, you’re never, ever going to build a house.

Likewise, no country on earth has ever created a strong middle class without strong unions. If you genuinely want the U.S. to have a strong middle class again, that means you want lots of people in lots of unions.

The bad news, of course, is that the U.S. is going in exactly the opposite direction. Union membership has collapsed in the past 40 years, falling from 24 percent to 11 percent. And even those numbers conceal the uglier reality that union membership is now 35 percent in the public sector but just 6.7 percent in the private sector. That private sector percentage is now lower than it’s been in over 100 years.

Not coincidentally, wealth inequality – which fell tremendously during the decades after World War II when the U.S. was most heavily unionized – has soared back to the levels seen 100 years ago.

The reason for this is straightforward. During the decades after World War II, wages went up hand in hand with productivity. Since the mid-1970s, as union membership has declined, that’s largely stopped happening. Instead, most of the increased wealth from productivity gains has been seized by the people at the top.

Even conservative calculations show that if wages had gone up in step with productivity, families with the median household income of around $52,000 per year would now be making about 25 percent more, or $65,000. Alternately, if we could take the increased productivity in time off, regular families could keep making $52,000 per year but only work four-fifths as much – e.g., people working 40 hours a week could work just 32 hours for the same pay.

So more and better unions would almost certainly translate directly into higher pay and better benefits for everyone, including people not in unions.

However, the effects of unions in building a middle class go far beyond that, in a myriad of ways.

For instance, the degree to which a country has created high-quality, universal health care is generally correlated with the strength of organized labor in that country. Canada’s single payer system was born in one province, Saskatchewan, and survived to spread to the rest of the country thanks to Saskatchewan’s unions. Now Canadians live longer than Americans even as their health care system is far cheaper than ours.

U.S. unions were also key allies for other social movements, such as the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, people generally say Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington – but in fact it was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and it was largely organized by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Among the other speakers was Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers.

And unions have many other positive effects, including ones so subtle they never show up in history books. Here’s one I personally know of:

Dean Baker, co-director of a Washington, D.C. think tank called the Center for Economic and Policy Research, or CEPR, is arguably the only economist in the U.S. who both recognized the danger of the gigantic U.S. housing bubble in the mid-2000s and warned about it loudly.

But Baker didn’t appear out of nowhere. His first job in Washington was at the Economic Policy Institute, which was founded in 1986 with a five-year funding pledge from eight unions. His foothold there made it possible for him to eventually co-found CEPR and make his case on the housing bubble. (I know this about Baker because I briefly worked for CEPR long ago.)

So the wise use of union resources played a key role in the eventual creation of some extremely important knowledge. Baker alone wasn’t able to get the political system to respond before Wall Street shot the U.S. economy in the stomach – but it’s certainly possible to imagine a different history, in which stronger unions created perches for additional economists who cared about reality, and they worked with stronger unions to organize to stave off our ongoing catastrophe. In other words, if the U.S. had a stronger labor movement, the whole country could be perhaps $10 trillion richer.

So enjoy the day off. But if you’d like to see an American middle class again at some point before you die, spend some time thinking about how to get more hammers into everybody’s hands.

China wary as Hong Kong election exposes underlying strains

September 4, 2016

by Venus Wu and James Pomfret


HONG KONG-Hong Kong voted on Sunday in its first major election since pro-democracy protests in 2014 and one of its most contentious, with a push for independence among disaffected younger candidates and voters stoking tension with China’s government.

The vote is for a 70-seat legislative council in which Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition is hoping to maintain a one-third veto bloc in the face of better mobilized and funded pro-Beijing and pro-establishment rivals.

The former British colony was handed back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement that promised to maintain the global financial hub’s freedoms and separate laws for at least 50 years, but gave ultimate control to Beijing.

Long queues formed outside some polling stations as voters flocked to cast ballots for a record number of candidates who fanned out across the city of seven million on election day.

Much attention focused on a group of about 20 pro-democracy “localists” pushing a more radical, anti-China agenda who could become a fledgling new force in the legislature.

A growing yearning for independence and animosity towards Beijing in the southern coastal city pose one of the central government’s most pressing domestic political issues.

“Hong Kong is really chaotic now. I want to do something to help,” said 28-year-old Maicy Leung, who was in a snaking queue of several hundred. “It’s to help the next generation and to help myself.”

The stakes for Beijing are particularly high this weekend as G20 leaders gather in the eastern city of Hangzhou for a summit.

Hong Kong’s opposition now controls 27 of the legislature’s 70 seats, giving it a one-third veto bloc to oppose funding and various legislative bills including those it sees as eroding freedoms.

Over 50 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, with the results due early on Monday.

It will give an indication of anti-China sentiment some two years after tens of thousands took to Hong Kong streets to demand full democracy from China’s Communist Party leaders.

A younger generation of activists who joined those protests is openly advocating independence – a push some people warn could jeopardize Hong Kong’s economic and political future, but which seems to be gaining traction. A recent Chinese University of Hong Kong poll found around one in six people now support a separation from China.

China’s stability-obsessed leaders have categorically rejected any possibility of independence.

Hong Kong officials are generally supportive of Beijing and keen to preserve “one country, two systems”, though confidence in China’s commitment to the formula has been shaken by recent incidents including the abduction of several Hong Kong booksellers by Chinese agents.


Many residents see the 79 days of student-led “Umbrella Revolution” protests in 2014 as a turning point in the city’s politics even though Beijing gave no ground.

Since then, many disaffected youngsters have decried what they see as increasing Beijing interference to stifle dissent and civil liberties, leading to a radicalization of the political scene and occasional violent protests and a riot.

In July, six pro-democracy election candidates were disqualified from the election by the Hong Kong government on the grounds that they supported independence, even after some were forced to sign a pledge that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China

“We don’t want our next generation to be slaves of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Edward Leung, one of those disqualified who campaigned for a replacement candidate in an open top bus and addressed cheering crowds of with a loudhailer.

“It’s a revolution of this era,” shouted Baggio Leung of Youngspiration, who was running on Leung’s vacated ticket.

China has launched a multi-pronged campaign to try to sway the vote through its channels of influence including state companies and grassroots patriotic associations..

“It is an open secret that they … pull strings, they make threats, they plant votes,” said Anson Chan, a former senior Hong Kong official.

The city’s Beijing-backed leader, Leung Chun-ying, rejected any suggestion of interference.

“Our election is a democratic one,” Leung told reporters after casting his vote, when an activist threw a tuna fish sandwich at him. “Voters have their own free choice and don’t need anyone to tell them how to vote.”

(Reporting by Venus Wu, Tris Pan and James Pomfret, Editing by Robert Birsel and Angus MacSwan)

 Syrian Kurds to Fight to Death to Stop Turkey ‘invading Their Land

September 3, 2016

by Patrick Cockburn


The Syrian Kurdish leadership vows to defend their de facto state in north east Syria to the end, but is fearful of a growing understanding between the Syrian and Turkish governments in opposition to Kurdish separatism at a time when US support for the Kurds is faltering.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, a senior Syrian Kurdish official says that the Kurds will fight to the death to stop Turkey “invading the region” and speaks of possible reconciliation between Damascus and Ankara on the Kurdish question.

The Syrian Kurds, who have been the most effective US ally in the war against Isis in Syria, now see themselves as possible victims of international betrayal. The US support for the Turkish military intervention in Syria on 24 August and demand that the  Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), who had just captured the strategic town of Manbij from Isis after a hard-fought siege, should pull back east of the Euphrates river, were bitter blows to the Kurds. Without whole-hearted US support, they are vulnerable to attacks by the numerous enemies who encircle them, notably Turkey and possibly, in future, the Syrian government.

Sihanouk Dibo, senior adviser to the Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim in Qamishli, the de facto Syrian Kurdish capital, says in an email interview that he views fighting between the YPG and Syrian government forces in the northeastern provincial capital of Hasakah as a sign that Syria and Turkey are increasingly on the same side when it comes to the Kurds. On 18 August, the Syrian Air Force attacked YPG targets in and around Hasakah for the first time in five years of war. “What happened in Hasakah is not a mere local conflict, it’s a game by regional powers” says Mr Dibo. “More precisely, the Syrian government and Turkey, though currently hostile to each other, are against [any form of Kurdish separatism including local autonomy]. Recently, Turkey has hinted it may move to normalise relations with [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad. The Syrian government’s response to Turkey’s suggestion was also a hint to return the relations as they were before 2011 not by statements, but by action, which is shelling Hasakah.”

Mr Dibo says he doubts that Turkey has a coherent plan on how to deal with the Syrian Kurds. He believes that a full-scale invasion of the Kurdish region will fail because of the Kurdish resistance and because Turkey has not thought through what it is doing and “acts haphazardly.”

Foreign observers believe that here the Syrian Kurds may be detecting a co-ordinated conspiracy against themselves which does not really exist. But there is no doubt that in August, the Syrian Kurdish leadership, whose forces have been making spectacular advances on the ground since they won the battle of Kobani against Isis in early 2015 so they control a swathe of northern Syria, were in trouble on several fronts. The fighting in Hasakah came after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main component is the YPG, captured Manbij, a strategically-placed town in north Aleppo province, on 13 August. Four days earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and appears to have reconciled him to the prospect of limited Turkish military intervention.

In the event, Russia was surprisingly restrained in its reaction to the Turkish action. It may be that the very success of the Kurdish-US military combination – 50,000 YPG fighters on the ground backed by the massive fire power of the US Air Force – had alienated Russia. Its previous reason for supporting the Syrian Kurds was simply that they were anti-Turkish at a time of extreme Turkish-Russian hostility in the wake of the shooting down of a Russian fighter-bomber by a Turkish jet on 24 November last year. Once Moscow and Ankara were reconciled, the Russians had less need for the Kurds.

The Kurds may have been too successful for their own good. Their victory at Manbij and the advance of YPG-led forces north towards the Isis-held town of Jarabulus on the Syrian-Turkish border and west towards the Kurdish enclave of Afrin were steps too far for several of the multitude of powers now involved in the Syrian conflict. The complex mosaic of shaky alliances, tacit understandings, deep-seated rivalries and age-long hostility began to shift. Mr Dibo says that it is significant that the Syrian armed forces attack on Hasakah “came after liberating Manbij and the reconciliation of Turkey and Russia”.

Complicated though this is, the real story of what happened is even more murky. The Syrian Kurds, the much praised ally of the US and the international community against Isis, did not appreciate – and the Americans probably deliberately did not make clear – that there were limits to US protection against Turkish intervention on the ground. This had been on the cards since the summer of 2015, but had been delayed because of US doubts about the project and then Russian determination to punish Turkey at the first opportunity for shooting down its plane.

The fighting in Hasakah, a Kurdish-Arab city close to the oilfields of north east Syria, started for local reasons. The city is mostly held by the YPG which fought Isis in combination with pro-Syrian government Arab militia and Syrian soldiers, but relations between the two was always fraught. Fighting began between the militia and the Kurdish Asayish police force. The Syrian army supported the militia with heavy weapons and the YPG counter-attacked successfully and surrounded the city. The Syrian Air Force then bombed YPG targets, killing several Kurdish civilians while others fled the city.

For over a year the Syrian Army had been co-operating in Aleppo and elsewhere against Isis and the Syrian armed opposition, but both sides now swiftly emphasised their deep-felt and undying hostility. Mr Dibo says the Kurds simply want a decentralised federal system giving them autonomy while the government is a “traditional dictatorship” that has carried out dozens of massacres. He says the two sides can never be allies, though both are fighting Isis.

The war in Syria has been full of “decisive moments” and “game changing events” which turn out to be of much less significance than had been supposed. The murderous conflict continues unabated. But the Turkish military intervention 10 days ago is changing the relationship between the antagonists in the war, with opposition to the Kurds and the US-Kurdish military alliance playing a greater role.

Shadi Ahmed, an economic and political analyst in Damascus, agrees that the ground rules of the Syrian conflict are shifting. He says: “Turkey has now started to understand that Turkey adopted and supported Isis in order to weaken the Syrian government. But this is now reflecting back on Turkey because a weaker Syria means that the Kurds are stronger.” He argues that “the Kurdish factor” is reducing tension between Russia, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, all of whom believe that whatever Kurdish leaders in any country in the region say about autonomy or federalism, in practice they want an independent state.

Mr Ahmed points out that Turkey and Russia have modified their language towards each other. Turkey has always claimed that the YPG and the rulers of the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria are simply the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against which the Turkish state has been waging war since 1984. But it was only recently that Syrian military referred to Kurdish forces as “the PKK”. For their part, Turkish leaders are putting less emphasis on the departure of Mr Assad as a precondition for ending the war. But Mr Ahmed says he is sure that Mr Erdogan will not stop supporting and supplying the armed opposition in Syria, some 80 per cent of whom are under his control and are one of his main political cards in the conflict.

There are now so many international players involved in the multiple crises and confrontations being fought out in Syria that everybody’s room for advance – and even manoeuvre – is constrained. Isis will be hoping that so many countries and parties in the conflict are pursuing their own interests, while pretending to fight the jihadis, that Isis will continue to survive. The Syrian Kurds have little choice but to continue with their US alliance and hope that the Americans do not wholly abandon them – though doubtless with much wringing of hands – to Turkey or any future Syrian government.

Mr Dibo says that, despite the US support for a limited Turkish intervention and a YPG withdrawal east of the Euphrates, the YPG attacks on Isis will not be reduced. As for an attack on the Isis Syrian capital of Raqqa, he says that “liberating Raqqa is a strategic goal for the SDF and its [YPG] allies” who would do their best to take the city, though this would be more difficult following the Turkish intervention.

Mr Dibo did not say so, but the danger for the two million Syrian Kurds is that they are isolated apart from the unsteady and largely military relationship with the US. As for Turkey, it may have made itself an important player in Syria through its military intervention, but it has not solved its basic problem. It has stopped Kurdish expansion westwards, but there is a de facto Kurdish state in northern Syria that will be an inspiration and a sanctuary for the embattled Kurdish minority in Turkey. Given that Turkey has chosen a military solution to its Kurdish question at home, it can only hope to win there by also defeating the Syrian Kurds across the border. The Turks may find that they are like the Americans in Vietnam half a century ago, who intervened in Cambodia only to find that they had spread the war rather than ending it. The political kaleidoscope in Syria changes, but looking through it, the prospect is still for more war.

Yes, the News Can Survive the Newspaper

September 4, 2016

by Jim Rutenberg

New York Times

One day many decades hence, when your grandchildren ask you, “Grandma, what was a newspaper?” you can direct them back to Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Because it may well go down as the day the American newspaper as we’ve known it moved out of intensive care and into the palliative wing on its way to the Great Beyond.

The Newspaper Association of America, the trade group that has represented the interests of major newspaper publishers in one form or another since 1887, is going to drop from its name the very word that defined it: “Newspaper.”

The group will be known as the News Media Alliance.

There is one obvious reason behind the change: The number of newspapers continues to drop, which has a way of depressing the association’s membership. (It has fallen to about 2,000 from roughly 2,700 in 2008, executives there say.)

But the bigger issue, the group’s chief executive, David Chavern, told me last week, was that the word “newspaper” has become meaningless in reference to many of the group’s members, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and Dow Jones. They may have newspapers, but they get large percentages of their readers online. Actually, you can’t even refer exclusively to “readers” these days when so many millions are “viewers” of online news video.

Then there are all those digital news organizations that until now could not join the association because they did not have print editions — like BuzzFeed or the Independent Journal Review. (Independent Journal Review is among the first members that does not publish a newspaper.)

The print requirement was needlessly exclusive for a group that needs all the members it can get to meet numerous existential challenges — such as ad blocking, ad fraud and aggregators who steal their material and then use it to compete with them.

“‘Newspaper’ is not a big enough word to describe the industry anymore,” Mr. Chavern said. “The future of this industry is much broader.”

The American Society of News (formerly Newspaper) Editors made a similar decision several years ago. It’s sort of like the Horse and Buggy Operators Association adjusting to the advances in surface transportation. Except at least back then you knew that A) you were going to continue to be able to get there from here and B) it was going to happen faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In this case, as the ad dollars that have long financed journalism vaporize into the electronic ether, you don’t know with any certainty that the best services that newspapers have provided — holding public officials to account, rooting out corruption — will live on.

If anything, today’s “efficiencies” may even set readers back by pumping out lowest-common-denominator nonsense or, at worst, disinformation.

Just look at what happened last week after that Goliath of the digital transformation, Facebook, pared back the team of “curators” and copy editors who oversaw the selection process for its “Trending Topics” feed. Instead, it gave more control over to an algorithm.

With less meddling from discerning humans, the algorithm promoted a news item about a man engaging sexually with a McChicken Sandwich, and it picked up a false report that Fox News was dropping its star anchor, Megyn Kelly, because she had come out in support of Hillary Clinton. She had done no such thing.

The Facebook program picked up the bogus story and the McChicken item because they were generating copious clicks on the internet — thus, they were “trending.”

They represented worst-case examples of what happens when media companies race to give their readers what’s popular — which is more discernible than ever in an age of ubiquitous data measurement — at the expense of what’s true or informative.

And it is all exacerbated when experienced and discerning journalists fall out of the mix, along with the judgment they bring to the process.

The Facebook experience wasn’t all that far off from the doomsday scenario John Oliver recently envisioned on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight.”

In a spoof version of the movie “Spotlight,” about the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Mr. Oliver envisioned a “multiplatform content generation distribution network” — formerly a “newspaper” — that puts off a City Hall corruption blockbuster in lieu of a potentially more popular item about a creature that looks like both a raccoon and a cat — a “Rac-Cat.”

Mr. Oliver devoted his show that week to digital-age threats to local newspapers and the industry’s sometimes ham-handed attempts to overcome them. It took particular aim at Tronc, formerly known as Tribune Publishing — owner of big regional newspapers like The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun — whose new, tech-world management team boasts that it will “optimize” Tronc’s journalism with “artificial intelligence.”

Mr. Chavern criticized Mr. Oliver on his group’s website for being overly pessimistic, and in doing so hit an off note, as Margaret Sullivan wrote in The Washington Post. Mr. Chavern was somewhat sheepish about it when we spoke, saying, “I’m a passionate defender of publishers.” But he acknowledged that his statement could have been more thoughtful and he appreciated that Mr. Oliver was presenting a defense of newspapers.

Today’s industry thinking goes that the modern newspaper — er, news company formerly known as a newspaper — can do both “Rac-Cat” and the big City Hall corruption story. That is, it can maintain its public service mission while also providing higher-traffic bits that “pop” online. But it will most likely have to do so with fewer resources and a smaller classically trained reporting staff. That means letting some stories go uncovered, which at best can mean skipping stories about nonlethal fires in pursuit of the bigger fish — and at worst can mean eliminating the full-time City Hall reporter.

“My mantra is, ‘We can’t be the general store that we used to be,’” Stan Wischnowski, the executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, told me. “We have to make choices — we have to use our informed, experienced editors to make really smart decisions.”

As Mr. Wischnowski pointed out, though, popular web-only offerings don’t have to be “Rac-Cat.” Witness The New York Times’s video from inside the boisterous crowds at Donald J. Trump’s political rallies, which racked up more than 18 million views on Facebook.

Know-nothing press haters may say that news organizations are going out of business because the public is shunning them, but that’s not the case at all. Through online exposure, newspapers are reaching more people than ever. The problem is how they make money. Circulation for physical newspapers is declining, and so is print advertising; digital ads remain far less profitable. The trick is finding a way to make up the lost revenue.

That’s one reason that physical newspapers have stuck around as long as they have. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the industry whose majority revenue is not still print,” said Michael J. Klingensmith, the publisher and chief executive of The Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and the vice chairman of the soon-to-be News Media Alliance. He added, “The name change to me isn’t about not being paper anymore — it’s really just about expanding opportunities.”

We fell into the usual conversation about how long newspapers would remain. He said he figured Sunday newspapers would be around at least another 20 years, though he wasn’t sure he could say the same for the rest of the week.

That leads back to where this column started. The newspaper, as we’ve always known it, is dying. There will be a lot less to mourn, and even something to celebrate, if we come to find that it has an everlasting soul that lives on.

Correction: September 4, 2016

An earlier version of this story misstated the date on which the Newspaper Association of America is changing its name to the News Media Alliance. It is Wednesday, Sept. 7, not Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Events Related To Iraq

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


Week of Mar 17

After taking Baghdad for Britain, Lieut. General Sir Stanley Maude addressed the citizens of Baghdad, and said: “our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.”»


Week of Aug 8

It was the tenth anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait; Alaa Hussein Ali, who led Kuwait’s puppet government during the occupation, filed suit against Saddam Hussein for compelling him to collaborate with Iraqi forces.»

Week of Aug 15

British and American warplanes again bombed Iraq, just a few days after President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela visited the country; the airstrikes destroyed a warehouse used to store food acquired in the U.N. oil-for-food program.»

Saddam Hussein’s decision to send assassins disguised as belly dancers to kill Iraqi exiles in London was denounced by British belly dancers, who said it would undermine their business.»

Week of Aug 22

American and British planes bombed Iraq.»

Week of Aug 29

Iraq said that it will not cooperate with a new set of arms inspectors.»

Week of Sep 5

The U.S. and Britain bombed Iraq.»

Week of Nov 7

Britain and the United States bombed Iraq again.»


Week of Jan 16

British prime minister Tony Blair got hit with a tomato by a protestor upset about the continued sanctions on Iraq, which was bombed again by the United States and Britain.»

Week of Jan 23

Iraq announced the donation of 100 million euros to help the poor people of America.»

Week of Feb 20

It was “foreign-policy week” at the White House: President Bush went down to Mexico for a visit, personally authorized what he called a “routine” bombing of five Iraqi anti-aircraft sites, and appointed John D. Negroponte to be his ambassador to the United Nations. Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras in the early 1980s, where he helped orchestrate Ronald Reagan’s covert war against Nicaragua.»

Week of Feb 27

Most of the “smart” bombs dropped on Iraq last week missed their targets, the Pentagon admitted.»Nine hundred and eight Iraqi Kurds, including 300 children, were abandoned by smugglers in a freighter off the French Riviera after the boat ran aground; the Kurds made it safely to shore and were taken into custody by immigration officials.»

Week of Mar 6

Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to the Middle East and proposed easing the ten-year-old sanctions on Iraq that disproportionately harm innocent civilians.»

Week of Apr 3

A U.S. warplane bombed targets in Iraq; a U.S. spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet but landed safely in China.»

Week of Jul 3

American and British warplanes bombed Iraq again, killing three people.»

Week of Aug 14

American planes bombed Iraq.»

Week of Aug 21

American planes bombed Iraq.»

Week of Sep 11

American warplanes bombed Iraq.»

Week of Sep 18

Strikes against Iraq were being planned to punish Saddam Hussein for smuggling millions of dollars to Osama bin Laden.»

Week of Sep 25

The United States continued its routine bombing of Iraq.»

Week of Nov 20

Iraq fired a mortar shell at Kuwait.»

Week of Dec 25

Bush Administration officials told reporters that they tried as hard as they could to blame Iraq for the recent anthrax attacks but the evidence kept pointing back to America. »


Week of Jan 22

The Bush Administration was said to be actively planning a covert assault on Iraq.»

Week of Feb 5

President Bush, in his first State of the Union address, identified Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” »

Week of Feb 19

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate that President Bush had decided to overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein but had not yet settled on a strategy and was considering his options. »

The administration was reportedly planning to create an “inspection crisis” by demanding that Iraq admit arms inspectors and then using the expected refusal to justify an attack. »

Former vice president Al Gore said that Iraq was a “virulent threat” and called for a “final reckoning.” »

Week of Mar 12

The document describes situations in which nuclear weapons might be used in a first strike on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, or North Korea. »

Week of Mar 19

Preparing for a potential strike against Iraq, the United States plucked Vice President Dick Cheney out of hiding and sent him touring Arabia to summon support from the region’s leaders. »

Week of Apr 2

At a meeting of the Arab League in Beirut, the assembled leaders agreed to endorse Saudi Arabia’s proposal for peace with Israel, Iraq recognized Kuwait’s sovereignty and promised not to invade it again, and Saudi crown prince Abdullah publicly kissed an Iraqi official. »

Week of Apr 30

“Saudi Arabia made it clear,” Bush said, “and has made it clear publicly, that they will not use oil as a weapon.” Senior Bush Administration officials told reporters that they were still hoping to invade Iraq but acknowledged that Ariel Sharon’s invasion of the West Bank, which was getting high ratings in Israel, had put off the war until early next year; they estimated that the new war, which until recently was on the fall schedule, would require the use of up to 250,000 troops. »

Iraqis celebrated Saddam Hussein’s 65th birthday. »

Week of Jun 25

Iraq announced that three novels by Saddam Hussein will be taught in schools next year. »

Week of Jul 9

An Egyptian man named Hesham Mohamed Hadayet walked into Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire on the El Al airlines ticket counter and killed two people; authorities said they had no evidence that the shooting was an act of terrorism and that it might just be a “hate crime.” A “highly classified” Pentagon planning document for the invasion of Iraq was leaked to the press. »

Week of Aug 6

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened hearings on whether to invade Iraq, which this week invited United Nations arms inspectors to Baghdad for talks. »

Senator Trent Lott claimed that President Bush does not need congressional approval to invade Iraq since he was given the authority last fall to pursue military action against Al Qaeda. »

The senator said that he “suspects” there are Al Qaeda elements in Iraq. »

Week of Aug 13

A spokesman for Representative Tom DeLay, who wrote the provision of the antiterrorism law that authorizes such threats, said that “this is just an effective tool, and we have said numerous times that we have to do whatever it takes to protect our service members from this rogue court.” Vice President Dick Cheney told Iraqi opposition leaders that the United States was committed to overthrowing Saddam Hussein and installing a democratic replacement, who would then be treated as a major ally. »

German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announced that he was opposed to an American war in Iraq. »

House majority leader Dick Armey observed that an unprovoked attack on Iraq would violate international law: “It would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation.” The Justice Department said it would not use mailmen to spy on citizens as part of TIPS, its Terror Information and Prevention System. »

Week of Aug 20

“And we don’t think it’s appropriate for the European Union to prevent other countries from signing them.” Senior military officers revealed to the press that the Reagan Administration continued to provide military support to Iraq during its war with Iran even after the administration learned that Iraq was using chemical weapons; Iraq’s past use of chemical weapons has been cited repeatedly by President Bush as justification for an invasion. »

Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal warning President George W. Bush not to start a war with Iraq. »

Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Wesley Clark also said they opposed a unilateral invasion of Iraq. »

Week of Aug 27

“Obviously, to the extent that, you know, our friends promote democracy, that’s important,” President Bush responded, and assured the American public that Musharraf is “still tight with us in the war against terror, and that’s what I appreciate.” Lawyers for President Bush determined that he can launch an attack on Iraq without approval from Congress, since the permission his father received in 1991 to engage in the Persian Gulf War remains in effect. »

Week of Sep 3

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that President Bush had not yet decided whether to invade Iraq and that it was important for Americans to “engage in a somewhat elevated, thoughtful discussion about what free people ought to do given the circumstances of the 21st century.” Secretary Rumsfeld compared President Bush to Winston Churchill and said that Saddam Hussein was acting like Adolf Hitler. British historians begged to differ. »

President Bush had lunch with Prince Bandar bin Sultan down at the ranch in Crawford and tried unsuccessfully to convince the Saudi ambassador that America must make war on Iraq; the President also telephoned Crown Prince Abdullah and pledged “eternal friendship” with the House of Saud. »

Week of Sep 10

President George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair got together at Camp David to talk about Iraq; at a news conference both men cited a satellite photo showing recent construction activity at an old Iraqi nuclear site as evidence that they must invade Iraq now. »

President Bush compared Saddam Hussein to a crawfish and said he was “stiffing the world.” Bush and Blair also mentioned a 1998 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency and said that Iraq could be six months away from developing nuclear weapons. “I don’t know what more evidence we need,” Bush said. »

In fact, the report said that Iraq had been six to 24 months away from developing the bomb prior to the Gulf War and the subsequent weapons inspections but that there was no evidence that Iraq had retained the physical capability to develop nuclear weapons now. »

An IAEA spokesman pointed out that Bush had also misinterpreted the satellite photo: “There is no new information about any Iraqi nuclear activity.” A White House official later admitted that mistakes had been made. »

The leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and China all refused to support President Bush’s plan to attack Iraq. »

Nelson Mandela said he was “appalled” by the United States’ threats to attack Iraq and said that America was “introducing chaos in international affairs.” Congress, which convened briefly in New York for the first time since 1790 to commemorate September 11, promised weeks of hearings on the war issue. »

Week of Sep 17

President Bush addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations and demanded that something be done about Iraq; he also announced that America was rejoining UNESCO. »

Democrats in Congress were worried about the political cost of opposing President Bush’s obsession with attacking Iraq. »

Week of Sep 24

Iraq agreed to readmit United Nations weapons inspectors without conditions, but the White House denounced the offer as a stalling tactic and insisted that inspections would never work anyway. »

The Pentagon presented the President with detailed invasion plans, and Saudi Arabia agreed to allow American forces to attack Iraq from bases there but only if the United Nations blesses the war. »

Congressional Democrats explained that they were reluctant to oppose the war with Iraq because of the November election. »

Week of Oct 1

Prime Minister Tony Blair finally presented his famous “dossier” on Iraq, which largely amounted to a compilation of material from defectors and nongovernmental organizations that has long been public domain. »

Germany, Belgium, and Russia all said that the dossier failed to justify an attack on Iraq; Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov dismissed Blair’s presentation as a “propaganda furor” and called for a return of weapons inspectors. »

Professor Richard Dawkins, the Oxford biologist, said in response to the report that the British “have every right to feel degraded and humiliated at our government’s cringing subservience to the illiterate, uncouth, unelected cowboy in the White House.” British newspapers have taken to calling Blair “Bush’s poodle.” The International Atomic Energy Agency disputed President Bush’s assertions that Iraq could build a nuclear bomb within months if it obtained fissile material: “I don’t know where they have determined that Iraq has retained this much weaponization capability, because when we left in December 1998 we had concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program. »

“There is no evidence in our view that can be substantiated on Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program,” he continued. »

“If anybody tells you they know the nuclear situation in Iraq right now, in the absence of four years of inspections, I would say that they’re misleading you because there isn’t solid evidence out there.” Rep. »Mike Thompson of California and Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington traveled to Baghdad hoping to persuade Iraqi officials to submit to new weapons inspections and thus prevent the war; Mr. McDermott said he was suspicious of attempts by the White House to tie the Iraqis to Al Qaeda and flatly stated on television, “I think the President would mislead the American people.” Senator Trent Lott replied that McDermott “needs to come home and keep his mouth shut.” »

The White House retreated from language in its first proposal for the congressional resolution on Iraq that would have given the President virtually unlimited authority to make war in the Middle East, and President Bush backed away from his attacks on the Senate’s patriotism. »

Week of Oct 8

A new poll found that most Americans are opposed to invading Iraq if it means significant Iraqi civilian casualties; a majority of those polled also said that they were more concerned about the economy than about Saddam Hussein’s putative weapons of mass destruction and that Congress should be more critical of President Bush’s war plans. »

Senate majority leader Tom Daschle said that he probably would support a Senate resolution authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq. »

Hans Blix, the head of the United Nations’ inspection commission, negotiated a deal with Iraq to allow the return of weapons inspectors within two weeks. »

President Bush said that “all of us recognize the military option is not the first choice,” and he threatened to invade Iraq anyway if the Security Council doesn’t do as it’s told. »

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia denounced the rush to war with Iraq as “blind and improvident,” a perversion of the congressional power to declare war, which was reserved to Congress to forestall “the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions,” that of “involving and impoverishing their people in wars pretending generally if not always that the good of the people was the object.” »

The fruitcake author, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that he was “hoping to stimulate some debate about what the image of September 11 means to us while people are thinking about going to war with Iraq.” »

Week of Oct 15

George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, sent a letter to Congress in which he appeared to undercut the President’s assertions about the purported Iraqi threat, arguing that it was very unlikely that Iraq would supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction or attempt to attack the United States, except in extreme circumstances, such as an American invasion. »

Current and former intelligence officials in the CIA, the FBI, and the energy department complained that President Bush’s case against Iraq was largely false: “Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements,” said Vincent Cannistraro, the former head of counter-intelligence at the CIA. »

“And there’s a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA.” The Iraqi government gave reporters a tour of Al Furat, an old industrial site that President Bush claims is being used to develop nuclear weapons. »

Iraqi citizens were preparing to vote “yes” in a referendum on Saddam Hussein’s continued rule; the ballot, which voters must sign, will contain one question: “Do you agree that Saddam should remain president?” Baath Party leaders selected as their campaign theme song Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” »

Democrats in Congress said they were hoping to “move on” and refocus their election campaigns on the economy and other domestic issues now that they have given the President what he wants on Iraq, and they were puzzled by the fact that it wasn’t working. »

Someone at the Pentagon leaked plans for the long-term military occupation of Iraq after the war. »

President Bush said that America would never seek to impose its “culture or our form of government” on another country, and said that he wants to liberate Iraq not occupy it. »

Week of Oct 22

It was reported that the CIA has begun covert operations in Kurdish Iraq, and American officials acknowledged that the CIA had put the wrong man’s face on its wanted poster for Mullah Muhammad Omar, the former head of the Taliban. »

Week of Oct 29

Lobbyists were giddy at the prospect of a Republican Senate; one anonymous source remarked that “it’s the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq.” The Pentagon announced that it will set up a new intelligence unit because senior officials are not happy with the reports they are getting on Iraq, especially the judgment that Iraq has no connection with Al Qaeda and that it has no intention of attacking the United States. »

The United States, Japan, and South Korea issued a statement warning North Korea that the country will be shunned if it refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, and President Bush, frustrated that Russia and France still have not submitted to his demands in the Security Council, again threatened to invade Iraq no matter what. »

Bush had earlier explained that Iraq is “unique” because Saddam Hussein has gassed his own people and “thumbed his nose” at the United Nations. »

One expert explained that this decision “shows how reasonable the executive branch is.” About 100,000 people traveled to Washington, D.C., and circled the White House to protest the coming war with Iraq; it was the largest antiwar demonstration in the capital since the Vietnam era. »

Week of Nov 5

American warplanes were practicing bombing runs in southern Iraq, and President Bush declared that Iraq “has made the United Nations look foolish.” New Hampshire was considering naming a mountain after Ronald Reagan, and a town in California was thinking of changing its name to “Got Milk?” The European Union unveiled a draft for a new constitution as part of a plan to add 10 new member nations; new names were also being contemplated, including “the United States of Europe.” Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former president of France, said that “we need a name which gets across our brand.” »

Week of Nov 12

France and Russia, after weeks of dickering, voted in favor of a United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq after the United States agreed to change the word “and” to “or” and the word “secure” to “restore.” “This would be the 17th time that we expect Saddam to disarm,” said President George W. Bush. “This time we mean it. This time it’s for real.” American officials claimed that the resolution was a “mousetrap” that gives the U.S. the right to go to war unilaterally; Europeans pointed to assurances from American diplomats that the document contains “no hidden triggers.” President Bush settled on a war plan for Iraq that will include a short air campaign followed by rapid ground operations involving about 250,000 troops. »

Week of Nov 19

One day after Iraq’s parliament rejected the terms of the Security Council resolution calling for resumed weapons inspections, a letter from Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri agreeing to the demands was delivered to the United Nations. »

A group of medical experts estimated that 500,000 people, mostly civilians, would probably die as a result of an American invasion of Iraq. »

President Bush was asked what would constitute a “material breach” of the new Security Council resolution on Iraq: “Zero tolerance,” Bush replied. »

The FBI warned that Al Qaeda might be planning a “spectacular” attack; the Bush Administration was annoyed at the FBI for releasing the warning, and Senator Bob Graham attacked the administration for ignoring Al Qaeda in its obsession with invading Iraq. »

The Pentagon hired actors to play hecklers in a fake Arab town that was set up in southern California to help troops prepare for the Iraqi invasion. »

Week of Nov 26

American soldiers were practicing their invasion tactics just a few miles from the Kuwait-Iraq border. »

Week of Dec 3

United Nations weapons inspectors began their work in Iraq; among the first installations to be inspected were Al Dawrah and Al Nasr, two factories that Tony Blair and George W. Bush, citing satellite photographs, had claimed were sites of renewed production of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. Inspectors found nothing but ruins. »

American forces were preparing for large-scale war games in Qatar, which is expected to be the base for command and control operations during the invasion of Iraq.»

Week of Dec 10

Iraq delivered its 12,000-page weapons declaration to the United Nations, and American officials said they will be ready to mount an invasion by next month. »

General Amir al-Saadi, one of Saddam Hussein’s closest advisers, challenged the United States to come up with proof that Iraq has resumed nuclear-, biological-, or chemical-weapons programs. “We don’t understand the rush to judgment,” the general said. “A superpower should study and take its time in judging, especially as everyone is looking on as it prepares for a huge military campaign, for an aggression against Iraq. It should behave wisely.” »

President Bush said that America will make the final decision as to whether Iraq is telling the truth, and he noted that “this is not a court of law.” Administration officials said they were “disappointed” that North Korea has refused to allow inspections of its nuclear-weapons program. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, rejected any comparison with the Iraqi situation and said that there is no double standard for weapons of mass destruction. “Not every policy,” he said, “needs to be put into a photocopier.” »

Iraqis were amused by the inspection of three gin factories by United Nations weapons inspectors, and reporters were relieved to discover that Iraq’s liquor stores are well stocked. »

Week of Dec 17

Iraq was upset that the United States took possession of the only copy of its weapons declaration that was given to the United Nations Security Council; Norway and Syria, nonpermanent members of the council, complained that they would receive only edited versions of the document. »

The U.S. warned that it reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on Iraq if necessary. »

Week of Dec 24

Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that Iraq has already committed a “material breach” of the latest Security Council resolutions by failing to disclose information about its putative weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. »

Powell was described by one widely-quoted Republican as having shown “the talons of the dove.” America agreed after many requests to share intelligence on suspected Iraqi arms sites with the United Nation’s weapons inspectors, who keep insisting that their work has only just begun. »

The United States, which edited Iraq’s weapons declaration before distributing it to other members of the U.N. »

Security Council, removed the names of 150 companies that were listed as contributors to Iraq’s arms programs. »

Week of Dec 31

The Bush Administration revealed that it is preparing a comprehensive strategy of political and economic measures to pressure North Korea into backing down from its aggressive pursuit of additional nuclear weapons, though Secretary of State Colin Powell refused on television to characterize the situation as a “crisis.” Administration officials privately admitted that it was difficult to explain why it is necessary to go to war with Iraq, where United Nations weapons inspectors have the run of the country, while counseling patience and diplomacy with North Korea, which has threatened “uncontrollable catastrophe” and “merciless punishment” for the United States and which just announced the expulsion of U.N. inspectors. »

Iraq shot down an American Predator drone, and allied jets bombed a command-and-control post near Tallil. “The evil criminals in the evil American administration and its humble servant Britain added a new crime to their black record against civilization and humanity and the houses of God,” said the official Iraqi news agency. »


Week of Jan 14

Administration officials then asked a federal judge to deny Jose Padilla, the alleged “dirty bomber,” access to his lawyer because the presence of a lawyer “would threaten permanently to undermine the military’s efforts to develop a relationship of trust and dependency that is essential to effective interrogation.” Hans Blix, the head of the United Nations arms-inspections team, acknowledged that no “smoking gun” had been found to prove that Iraq was engaged in the manufacture of illegal chemical or biological weapons but complained that the documents provided by Iraq were incomplete. »

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for nuclear inspections of Iraq, dismissed a crucial bit of President Bush’s evidence for an Iraqi nuclear weapons program by concluding that aluminum tubes Iraq tried to import recently were to be used in making rockets rather than gas centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium. »

A United Nations report entitled “Likely Humanitarian Scenarios” estimated that an American invasion of Iraq will result in some 500,000 casualties and about 900,000 refugees, who will require food and shelter; up to 3 million Iraqis could require “therapeutic feeding.” The U.S. military admitted that it has spammed thousands of Iraqis with email messages urging them to defy Saddam Hussein. »

Iraqi dissidents met with President Bush, who told them he favors a quick transition to democracy in Iraq after a short military occupation; Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, made a point of saying that the president still hasn’t decided whether or not to invade Iraq. »

Bush Administration sources said they had largely completed their plans for administering Iraq after the war and securing the Iraqi oil fields; Colin Powell recently stated that the goal is to “protect those fields and make sure that they are used for the benefit of the people of Iraq.” »

Week of Jan 21

United Nations weapons inspectors discovered 11 empty chemical warheads in southern Iraq; the inspectors said that the warheads were not included in Iraq’s weapons declaration, but Iraqi officials said that they were. »

Inspectors also searched the private homes of two Iraqi scientists, one of whom was upset that his clothing and his wife’s medical Xrays were examined. The inspectors later expressed surprise that the Bush Administration was making such a big deal out of the empty warheads, which have a range of 12 miles; Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. team, said the warheads were not important, and a French diplomat agreed: “I have only one thing to say — empty.” »

American officials said they thought “the moment of truth” on Iraq would come in early to mid-February. »

Week of Jan 28

United Nations weapons inspectors presented their interim report on Iraq’s compliance with Security Council resolution 1441. »

Hans Blix, one of the chief inspectors, complained that Iraq had failed to provide important information about its weapons programs. »

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that his inspectors had found no evidence that Iraq has restarted its nuclear-weapons program. »

“Is Iraq complying, yes or no? If the answer is only partially yes,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, “then the answer is no.” Bush Administration officials were very upset over France and Germany’s latest statements condemning America’s war plans and their continued unwillingness to support an American invasion of Iraq. »

Rumors were circulating among defense analysts that the Pentagon was preparing to use nuclear “bunker busters” in the invasion of Iraq. »

President Bush said that watching Saddam Hussein was like watching “a rerun of a bad movie.” Reporters asked the president when he planned to attack Iraq. “I will let you know,” he replied, “when the time has come.” Saddam Hussein convened his war cabinet and said: “I want you to know that even when I am not smiling, I am in fact smiling.” Saddam also said that he rarely has trouble sleeping: “I sleep as soon as I put my head on the pillow.” »

King Abdullah of Jordan appeared resigned to the war: “Let us hope that whatever happens between Iraq and the international community is as quick and painless as possible.” A movement was afoot in Mexico to remove the “United States” from its official name: the United Mexican States. »

Week of Feb 4

President George W. Bush gave a State of the Union address that focused largely on the state of his plans to go to war with Iraq. »

The president said that Secretary of State Colin Powell will soon present new evidence of Iraq’s evildoing, including its alleged ties to Al Qaeda, to the United Nations Security Council. »

CIA analysts continued to maintain that there is no evidence of Iraqi aid to terrorists, and officials at the FBI also said they were baffled by the president’s claims: “We’ve been looking into this hard for more than a year,” said one anonymous source, “and you know what, we just don’t think it’s there.” Hans Blix, the head of the United Nations chemical and biological inspections team, rebutted many of the president’s reasons for attacking Iraq; Blix said that there was no evidence that Iraq was hiding illegal weapons or weapons scientists in neighboring countries, that there was no credible evidence of Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, and that there was no evidence of Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda. “There are other states where there appear to be stronger links,” he said. »

Blix also said that there has been “no trace” of chemical or biological agents in the many samples his inspectors have taken all across Iraq. »

Resolutions opposing an American invasion of Iraq were passed in Multnomah County, Oregon; Cleveland, Ohio; Tacoma, Washington; Nederland, Colorado; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Topanga, California. »

Week of Feb 11

Colin Powell presented the United Nations Security Council with America’s latest case against Iraq. He played recordings of what he said were intercepted conversations of Iraqis discussing the removal of “forbidden ammo” from weapons sites, and he showed satellite photos in which trucks appeared to be parked next to warehouses. »

Powell referred to a “potentially sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network” but provided no conclusive evidence of collaboration. »

“If the Security Council were to allow a dictator to lie and deceive, the Security Council will be weakened.” The British government admitted that its new “intelligence” dossier on Iraq, which purported to provide “up-to-date details of Iraq’s network of intelligence and security” and which Colin Powell cited approvingly in his presentation to the United Nations, was largely plagiarized from various published articles, including one by a student that described Iraqi intelligence activities in 1990 and 1991. »

France, Germany, and Belgium vetoed a NATO plan to reinforce Turkey’s defenses in anticipation of an attack from Iraq; American officials were said to be “livid,” and Colin Powell said the action was “inexcusable.” There was talk of a “crisis of credibility.” Ansar al Islam, the militant group that supposedly has links both to Saddam Hussein and to Al Qaeda, gave reporters a tour of the camp that Colin Powell identified as a poison factory. »

The budget does not include funds for the invasion of Iraq but does propose to make it more difficult for poor families to obtain government handouts. »

Week of Feb 18

Millions of people around the world demonstrated against George W. Bush’s coming war on Iraq. More than a million people rallied in London, and 500,000 gathered at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. There were protests in Amsterdam, Brussels, Barcelona, Melbourne, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Tokyo, and at least 600 other cities. »

Al-Jazeera, the popular Arab television station, broadcast another Osama bin Laden tape; Bin Laden, or someone who sounded like him, made the usual denunciations of the United States and called on the Iraqi people to resist the upcoming American invasion. Colin Powell claimed that the tape was proof of an alliance between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, even though Osama referred to Saddam as an “apostate.” »

Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief U.N. weapons inspectors, gave an updated report to the Security Council and declared that they were making good progress and had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; Blix dismissed much of Colin Powell’s presentation before the United Nations last week and said that the satellite photographs of weapons installations he featured could easily depict routine activity. »

Nelson Mandela said that he was thinking about visiting Iraq. »

Week of Feb 25

Hans Blix, the chief United Nations weapons inspector, ordered Iraq to destroy all its Al Samoud 2 missiles after U.N. tests determined that the missiles exceed the 150-kilometer range set by the Security Council. The lightest version of the missile, Blix said, has a range of 193 kilometers. »

“If Iraq decides to destroy the weapons that were long-range weapons, that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said President Bush. “So the idea of destroying a rocket, or two rockets, or however many he’s going to destroy, says to me he’s got a lot more weapons to destroy.” United Nations weapons inspectors complained that the intelligence tips they’ve been getting from the United States have been “garbage after garbage after garbage.” Dr. »

Bush Administration officials, apparently concerned that the war in Iraq might not go smoothly, told reporters that Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, has a five-page list of “war risks” that he keeps in a desk drawer and refers to constantly. »

France, Belgium, and Germany agreed to let NATO make preparations for defending Turkey in case of an Iraqi attack. »

U.S. and Turkish officials were still discussing Turkey’s plan to send troops into northern Iraq to prevent the Kurds from establishing an independent state. »

Defense Department officials told reporters that their psychological tactics were more sophisticated than ever; the Air Force, for example, has been broadcasting programs that mimic the style of local Iraqi programming: “Do not let Saddam Hussein tarnish the reputation of the soldiers any longer,” a recent broadcast said. “Saddam uses the military to persecute those who don’t agree with his unjust agenda. Make the decision.” The officials were hoping to learn from their mistakes in Afghanistan, where 500 radios were air-dropped to civilians. None survived impact. »

Week of Mar 4

Turkey’s parliament rejected a proposal to allow American troops to use Turkish bases for the invasion of Iraq, undoing weeks of bargaining with the United States over a multi-billion-dollar fee. “What more do you want?” said Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish leader. “It was a completely democratic result. May it be for the best.” American officials asked for a “clarification” of the decision, and Yasar Yakis, the Turkish foreign minister, said that his government would request a second vote. »

Members of the Bush Administration hinted that Russia might have a hard time collecting its Iraqi debts if it fails to support the American war drive: “What we’ve said is that if you are legitimately concerned about recouping your $8 billion of debt, and if you are interested in economic opportunities in a liberated Iraq, then it would be helpful if you are part of the prevailing coalition.” American diplomats were telling Security Council countries that they risked “paying a heavy price” if they don’t vote for war with Iraq, although Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, denied that the Administration was trying to bribe countries for war votes: “The president is not offering quid pro quos,” he said. »

The United States, Britain, and Spain asked the United Nations Security Council to affirm in a new resolution that Iraq had missed its last chance to disarm. »

An American diplomat in Athens, Greece, resigned in protest over the President’s policy toward Iraq and said that “our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson.” Russia’s foreign minister threatened to veto the new American resolution on Iraq. »

Federal officials lowered the terrorist threat level to “yellow” so that they could raise it again to “orange” right before the invasion of Iraq. »

Iraq crushed four Al Samoud 2 missiles with a bulldozer; Hans Blix said that the decision to destroy the missiles was a “very significant piece of real disarmament.” A pack of dogs attacked six parked cars in Munich. »

The sale of young girls was on the rise in Afghanistan, and President George W. Bush declared that making war on Iraq will lead to peace in the Middle East. »

Week of Mar 11

Someone in the Bush Administration told a reporter that the president took the extraordinary step of sitting still by himself — “in solitude, undisturbed” — for ten whole minutes before he walked purposefully down a long hall on a red carpet to his first prime-time press conference in more than a year, where he told the world that he was prepared to launch an invasion of Iraq within days. He was described as “a leader impervious to doubt.” Bush said that “as we head into the 21st century, when it comes to our security, we really don’t need anybody’s permission.” Asked about the danger of undermining the authority of the United Nations, Bush replied: “I want to work — I want the United Nations to be effective. It’s important for it to be a robust, capable body. It’s important for its word to mean what they say.” Bush asserted that Saddam Hussein “has trained and financed Al Qaeda-type organizations,” and he said that his job “is to protect America. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. People can ascribe all kind of intentions. I swore to protect and defend the Constitution. That’s what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.” Bush mentioned the September 11 attacks eight times. Some commentators were surprised by Bush’s odd, passionless tone; there was speculation in the Washington Post that the president was on drugs. »

Coleen Rawley, the famous FBI agent, sent a letter to the bureau’s director, and copied the major media, charging that the FBI is unprepared for the wave of terrorist attacks that could come as a result of the invasion of Iraq. »

President Bush warned Mexico that there could be reprisals against Mexican Americans if it fails to support the war on Iraq. »

The Organization of the Islamic Conference met in Qatar; representatives from Kuwait and Iraq exchanged unpleasantries: “Shut up, you monkey,” said the Iraqi, to which the Kuwaiti replied, “Curse be upon your mustache, you traitor.” CBS admitted that it hired an actor to read the translation of Saddam Hussein’s remarks to Dan Rather in a fake Iraqi accent. »

Week of Mar 18

President George W. Bush went on television and gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq; the president recited a long list of Security Council resolutions that “the dictator” has failed to obey, and then he berated the Security Council for refusing to submit to his war agenda. »

Bush repeated the discredited charge that Iraq has armed and trained Al Qaeda terrorists, and he even mentioned the “poison factory” that, upon inspection, had no plumbing. »

Bush observed that “we are not dealing with peaceful men” and all but issued a declaration of war; he smiled and told the people of Iraq that their liberation was near. »

American military personnel were being instructed to bury dead Iraqis with their heads pointing southwest toward Mecca, and White House lawyers were busy trying to come up with a new legal theory to justify the invasion. »

American officials were alarmed over an Iraqi drone aircraft that they claimed could be used to deliver anthrax, and they complained that Hans Blix had downplayed the drone in a recent report. »

American troops rehearsed their invasion with bulldozers along the Kuwait-Iraq border, and four B-2 Stealth bombers left Missouri for the Middle East. »

A Kurdish man exploded in Sulaimaniya, Iraq, apparently before he reached his target. »

It was reported that a group of Iraqi soldiers crossed the Kuwaiti border and attempted to surrender to British forces when they mistook military exercises for an invasion; the British soldiers told them it was too early to surrender and ordered them back across the border. »

A panel of military experts convened by the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that the postwar occupation of Iraq will take up to 200,000 American soldiers and will cost at least $20 billion a year. »

Week of Mar 25

Sitting behind the “Resolute” desk in the Oval Office, George W. Bush addressed the nation on television in a speech laden with theological language and declared that his “work of peace” in Iraq had begun. »

Just before his speech began, Bush gave a little shake of his fist and said: “Feel good.” A coalition of nations, including Bulgaria, Mongolia, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, joined the United States and Britain in what was christened Operation Iraqi Freedom, though most members of the “coalition” were unable to commit actual troops. »

“This military action cannot be justified in any way,” said President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and Gerhard Schroeder of Germany observed that the president’s decision meant “certain death to thousands of innocent men, women, and children.” Pope John Paul II said that the invasion of Iraq “threatened the destiny of humanity.” The United States Congress quickly voted to endorse the president’s declaration of war. »

Television viewers in America were entranced by the spectacle of large explosions and exciting footage of tanks racing across Iraq’s southern desert. »

Within a few days, however, coverage was increasingly dominated by battle scenes as Iraqi forces began to offer significant resistance to the American advance toward Baghdad. »

American networks offered few images of dead civilians, refugees, or young Iraqi children with burned faces. »

Iraqi television broadcast images of several dead American soldiers lying in pools of blood and five American soldiers who were apparently captured near Nasiriya after a maintenance unit took a wrong turn. »

Trenches full of oil were burning in Baghdad, and several oil wells were reportedly on fire in southern Iraq. »

It was revealed that Richard Perle, the chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board who for years has argued in favor of a war with Iraq, has been hired by Global Crossing to lobby the Defense Department to approve its sale to a Hong Kong billionaire; last week Perle took part in a Goldman Sachs conference call on war-related investment opportunities. The call was entitled “Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?” Lawyers for Global Crossing, which will pay Perle $725,000, said that they had hired him because he has access to top officials. »

The Bush Administration requested bids from American companies to participate in the rebuilding of Iraq; Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, was among the companies that were invited. »

The BBC apologized to the White House for broadcasting images of President Bush getting his hair styled and his makeup applied just before he unveiled Operation Iraqi Freedom. »

Fifteen law firms in Bellingham, Washington, posted signs in their windows reading “Closed in honor of those now being killed in Iraq.” Small pro-war demonstrations were held around the country as well. »

Congress debated next year’s budget, which contains nothing to pay for the war in Iraq but does call for more tax cuts for the wealthy, guaranteeing record deficits for at least the next decade. »

CIA analysts continued to complain to reporters that the Bush Administration was distorting intelligence reports on Iraq to bolster its war policy; analysts were particularly embarrassed when President Bush publicly claimed that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. »

Week of Mar 29

German archaeologists working in Iraq announced that they might have found the tomb of Gilgamesh.»[BBC]

Week of Apr 1

American and British forces in Iraq were slowed in their advance toward Baghdad by severe dust storms and by attacks from Iraqi militias, who were harassing the long, exposed supply lines between Kuwait and the front. American commanders were forced to change their tactics because of the unexpected resistance. »

Lt. General William Wallace, commander of Army forces in the Persian Gulf, said that “the enemy we’re fighting is a bit different than the one we war gamed against.” American and British casualties were heavier than expected, and soldiers said they were having a hard time distinguishing Iraqi forces from civilians. “It’s not pretty,” said one marine. “It’s not surgical. You try to limit collateral damage, but they want to fight. Now it’s just smash-mouth football.” The bombing of Baghdad continued; one reporter described seeing a severed hand, a pile of brains, and the remains of a mother and her three small children who were burned alive in their car after two American missiles landed in a crowded market. »

Pentagon officials suggested that the missiles could have been fired by the Iraqis. »

Bush Administration sources said they were frustrated with the skeptical tone of some recent reporting on the war, and some American troops were becoming impatient with the failure of most Iraqis to show enthusiasm for the invasion. “I expected a lot more people to surrender,” one soldier told a reporter. “From all the reports we got, I thought they would all capitulate.” »

President George W. Bush declared that he was satisfied with the war and said that “the Iraqi people have got to know that they will be liberated and Saddam Hussein will be removed, no matter how long it takes.” Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain traveled to Camp David to discuss the war with the president and urged him to make peace with Europe. »

Belgium’s parliament was taking steps to dismiss a war-crimes claim against President George Bush the elder which was filed last month by seven Iraqi families whose relatives were killed in the 1991 American bombing of a civilian bomb shelter. »

Thousands of Muslims from all over the world were traveling to Iraq to fight against the American invasion; an Iraqi general claimed to have 4,000 volunteer suicide bombers from 23 Arab countries. “This is a war for oil and Zionism,” said an Egyptian student volunteer. “I want to help Iraqis, not Saddam. I know I might die. I don’t want to kill people but I will if I have to, to protect people like those children with their heads missing.” »

Palestinian Islamic Jihad said it had sent suicide bombers to Baghdad “to fulfill the holy duty of defending Arab and Muslim land.” One hundred fifty thousand Moroccans demonstrated against the war, chanting “suicide attacks lead to freedom,” and there were reports that the Moroccan government had offered to send 2,000 monkeys to Iraq to help clear land mines. »

A taxi driver killed four American soldiers when he blew up his car at a checkpoint near the holy city of Najaf, in southern Iraq. »

A Palestinian exploded in Netanya, Israel, and wounded three dozen people. Islamic Jihad said the attack was a gift to the Iraqi people. »

Civilians in Basra, Zubayr, and many other Iraqi cities were without drinking water. »

Week of Apr 2

Officials continued to play down the possibility that any significant weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq; one senior White House source speculated that what might turn up were some “precursors,” and said that Saddam Hussein “couldn’t put them together as long as the inspections were going on.”»[New York Times]

Week of Apr 8

Pentagon officials and Army commanders were complaining that Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, had prevented them from deploying enough ground troops to carry out the invasion of Iraq. »

“If the tide turns, there’s nothing else that keeps his boat afloat.” Most of these complaints disappeared soon after American forces completed their drive to Baghdad and made two strikes into the city center; officials said they had killed more than 2,000 Iraqi fighters and many civilians. “We just wanted to let them know that we’re here,” said Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount III. “It was real scary,” said one soldier. »

Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said that “slowly but surely the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people are being won over as they see security increase in their areas, as humanitarian deliveries are stepped up.” American officers said they had been studying the Israeli occupation of Palestine for pointers. »

Two female Iraqi suicide attackers, one of whom was apparently pregnant, killed three U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint about 120 miles north of Baghdad. »

Administration officials continued to characterize the war in Iraq as a “demonstration conflict” aimed at communicating the new reality of international politics. »

Some counterterrorism officials expressed surprise that little evidence has emerged of an imminent terrorist attack on the United States in retaliation for the invasion of Iraq. »

The Southern Baptist Convention said that it has about 800 missionaries ready to deliver relief aid and the word of Jesus to the people of Iraq, and Samaritan’s Purse, a group run by the Rev. Franklin Graham, who believes that Islam is evil and inherently violent, was preparing relief efforts as well. »

Week of Apr 15

Faced with the unlikelihood of finding any nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons in Iraq, the Bush Administration was beginning to suggest that Saddam Hussein had moved all his weapons of mass destruction to Syria. »

President George W. Bush, asked whether Syria has weapons of mass destruction, replied: “I think that we believe there are chemical weapons in Syria, for example, and we will — each situation will require a different response, and of course we’re — first things first. We’re here in Iraq now, and the second thing about Syria is that we expect cooperation.” »

President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair both went on Iraqi television and told the Iraqi people, almost none of whom had electricity, that “the nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over.” »

Kurds were driving Arab families from their homes in northern Iraq. »

Baghdad and other cities in Iraq were in chaos; mobs were looting businesses, government offices, and private homes. “You cannot do everything simultaneously,” said Donald Rumsfeld. “It’s untidy. And freedom’s untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.” »

One notable crime was the looting of the National Museum of Iraq, which held a massive collection of ancient artifacts from more than 7,000 years of Mesopotamian civilization. Occupying forces intervened briefly but then left; what was not stolen was destroyed. »

The Army Corps of Engineers revealed that the Pentagon contract to fight oil fires in Iraq, which was awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, Dick Cheney’s most recent private employer, will be worth up to $7 billion. The contract was given without the usual competitive bidding process. »

Week of Apr 22

Iraqis exercised their newfound freedom to complain, with tens of thousands publicly protesting their conditions and the possibility of a long-term American occupation. »

U.S. officials insisted they were not interested in occupying Iraq, but expected to retain four military bases there to be used for future crises. »

The White House was said to regard Syria, Cuba, and Libya as members of a “junior varsity axis of evil,” but although the administration repeated accusations that Syria was providing sanctuary to Iraqi fugitives, Colin Powell assured the world that Washington has no war plan “right now” to address that country’s disobedience. »

Another administration official worried about wasting an opportunity in the Middle East: “We have to make it clear that we didn’t just come to get rid of Saddam. We came to get rid of the status quo.” The United States persuaded some Iraqi civil servants to show up for work with a promise of $20 for each, and a returning exile declared himself mayor of Baghdad. »

Some looters were surrendering stolen goods after learning that a cleric issued an edict forbidding Iraqi wives from having sex with their looter husbands. »

The Ministry for Religious Affairs was set on fire, destroying thousands of Korans, some a thousand years old. “When Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258, these books survived,” said a ministry official. “If you talk to any intellectual Muslims in the world, they are crying right now.” A poll found that most Americans believe that the war against Iraq will have been worthwhile even if weapons of mass destruction are never found and Saddam Hussein is never captured or killed. »

Pizza Hut and Burger King set up their first Iraqi franchises, on a British military base near Basra. »

America disabled an oil pipeline that had been carrying 200,000 barrels a day from Iraq to Syria, in flagrant violation of United Nations economic sanctions. »

President Bush was anxious for the U.N. to lift the 12-year-old sanctions against Iraq, so that its oil could be sold to help pay for the country’s rebuilding, but the six nations that border Iraq — Syria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, and Jordan — argued that sanctions should not be removed until a legitimate government, formed by Iraqis, was in place. »

The Bechtel Corporation, whose chairman advises President Bush on international-trade issues and whose senior vice president advises Donald Rumsfeld on defense policy, won the first major Iraq reconstruction project, with a value of up to $680 million. »

The Great Sasuke, a professional wrestler who campaigned for a state assembly seat in Japan while wearing his trademark mask, won and vowed to continue wearing his mask: “I won support from voters with this face, and to take it off would be breaking promises.” Iraqi doctors said that the much-televised rescue of prisoner of war Jessica Lynch from a hospital “was just a big, dramatic show,” since her captors had fled before rescuers arrived, leaving only four doctors and two patients, one of whom was paralyzed and connected to an IV drip, to be bound and handcuffed by American forces. »

Week of Apr 27

Anonymous Bush Administration officials were beginning to speak more candidly about the president’s rationale for invading Iraq, saying that Iraq’s potential as a military threat was less important than its strategic location and the president’s desire to make a “global show of power and democracy.”»[Independent.co.uk]

Week of Apr 29

The North Koreans admitted they already have nuclear weapons and may test, export, or use them depending on U.S. actions; Donald Rumsfeld thought this might present an opportunity for another “regime change.” The U.S. warned Iran not to meddle in Iraq’s political affairs and accused the country of sending agents into the south to promote an Iranian model of government; to counter the damage, troops and intelligence officers were asking Iraqi clerics to please issue fatwas in support of the American administration of the country. »

The U.S. warned Iraqis not to exploit their country’s power vacuum by appointing themselves to political positions, and American soldiers arrested the former exile who announced that he was the mayor of Baghdad. »

Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein’s foreign minister, negotiated a surrender to Diane Sawyer of ABC News but changed his mind and turned himself in to military officials, who were also holding the former liaison to U.N. weapons inspectors and a quarter of the 55 “most wanted” Iraqi fugitives. »Bush was feeling nostalgic for Iraq’s former information minister, who famously overstated the Baathist defense of Baghdad: “He’s my man; he was great. »

Donald Rumsfeld denied that the Bush Administration wishes to establish military bases in postwar Iraq and worried that the widely reported story might give other countries the wrong impression. »

President Bush told a group of Arab Americans that Iraqis will be free to choose whatever form of government they like, as long as it’s a democracy. »

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shiites traveled to Karbala to flagellate themselves in commemoration of the death of Hussein, Muhammad’s grandson. »

The White House was pondering ways to punish France for opposing its invasion of Iraq, and noted that when President Bush attends an economic summit meeting in the French Alps in June, he will sleep in Switzerland. »

President Bush prophesized that the U.S. would find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but rejected international calls for United Nations inspectors to augment the search. »

“On principle, we don’t want the United Nations running around Iraq.” Hans Blix, the U.N. weapons inspector, pointed out that “We found as little, but with less cost.” Military officials admitted that they were holding children in the high-security prison for terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, even though they have not been accused of any offense, and said that they would be detained “until we ensure that they’re no longer a threat to the United States.” A Florida mother said she accidentally stabbed her 19-year-old son in the buttocks with a 12-inch knife when he wouldn’t get out of bed for work. »


Taylor Donahue, vice president of production at Timely Studios, writes to Anita Levine senior vice president of production, suggesting that Timely Studios send a small film crew to Iraq. “In the best-case scenario,” he wrote, “we can also get one or two of our leads over there in costume to do a scene with the mayhem of real war as a backdrop.” »

Week of May 1

American soldiers shot and killed 15 Iraqi civilians who were demonstrating against the occupation on Saddam Hussein’s birthday; a few days later another demonstration was held to protest the killings, and soldiers shot a few more.»[New York Times]

Rumsfeld also made a victory tour of Iraq and was photographed autographing a Baghdad street sign that some soldiers had apparently taken as a souvenir.»[New York Times]

Week of May 2

President Bush landed on an aircraft carrier in an S-3B Viking airplane and, clad in a military jumpsuit with the words “Commander in Chief” printed on the back, he informed the assembled sailors, whom he said were “the best of our country,” that the war on Iraq had been won. The commander in chief, who served as a pilot in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War, told reporters that he had briefly flown the airplane. “I miss flying,” he said. Few publications mentioned the president’s long unexplained failure to report for duty during that period, and his daring arrival was widely hailed as a “Top Gun moment.”»[New York Times]

Week of May 3

India said it would reestablish diplomatic relations with Pakistan, Nepal opened negotiations with its rebels, the United States made a truce with an Iranian-backed guerrilla army in Iraq, and mercenaries in Ivory Coast murdered a rebel leader who told them to lay down their weapons.»[New York Times]

Week of May 4

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia was rewarded for his country’s service in the invasion of Iraq with a sleepover down at the Presidential Ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he was served green-chili cheese grits for supper.»[New York Times]

May 15

Donald Rumsfeld denied reports that U.S. soldiers in Iraq were going to start shooting looters on sight, though he did tell the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that American forces in Baghdad “will be using muscle to see that the people who are trying to disrupt what is taking place in that city are stopped and either captured or killed.”»

May 17

  1. Paul Bremer, the new American overseer of Iraq, informed Iraqi leaders that the United States and Britain had changed their minds about setting up an interim government made up of Iraqis and that he would remain in control until further notice. Bremer toured Mosul and praised it as “a great example of embryonic democracy”; elsewhere in the city a crowd chanted “America is the enemy of God.”»[New York Times]

May 18

Kurdish leaders, who have been running their own affairs for about 12 years, were particularly irritated, and there were widespread accusations that the United States was now revealing its true agenda to occupy Iraq and exploit its oil supply.»

Looters continued to dismantle Iraq’s infrastructure, and most of the equipment needed to restore the national electric grid, such as the computers that regulate power distribution, has been stolen. Nostalgia for the days of Saddam Hussein was spreading among the people.»

May 28

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in response to complaints that weapons of mass destruction still have not been found in Iraq, speculated that Iraq might have destroyed its illegal weapons before the war began.»[New York Times]

May 29

A senior British official claimed that his government had “transformed” an intelligence report on Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction to make it “sexier.” “The classic example,” he said, “was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes.”»[BBC]

May 30

“The time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests,” said Robin Cook, the former British foreign secretary who resigned over the Iraq war. “We went to war for reasons of U.S. foreign policy and Republican domestic politics.”»[Independent.co.uk]

President George W. Bush did not quite deny reports of a possible American attack on Iran: “We’ve had all kinds of reports that we’re going to use force in Syria and now some are, I guess, saying force in Iran, force here and force there. This is pure speculation. We used force in Iraq after a long, long period of diplomacy.”»[UPI]

Lt. Gen. James Conway, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, said that American forces have looked very hard for weapons of mass destruction but that “they’re simply not there.”»[UPI]

Jun 1

President Bush went on a tour of Europe and visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, where he wrote “never forget” in the guest book; a few hours later he made a speech at a castle and used the occasion to congratulate himself for invading Iraq.»[New York Times]

Jun 5

Douglas Feith, an undersecretary at the Pentagon, denied what he called the “urban legends” that the Pentagon lied about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction or that intelligence analysts were pressured to come up with slanted reports. “I can’t rule out what other people may have perceived,” he said. “Who knows what people perceive? I know of nobody who pressured anybody.”»[Minneapolis Star Tribune][Toronto Star]

Jun 6

President Bush flew over Iraq shortly after he told U.S. troops in Qatar that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction would eventually be found. “We’re on the look,” he said. “We’ll reveal the truth.”»[International Herald Tribune]

Officials said that the president did not set foot in Iraq because the situation on the ground was too risky. There were also concerns that such a visit would appear too “imperial.”»[New York Times]

Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, said that the quality of American intelligence on Iraq was very poor and suggested that the American and British governments had “jumped to conclusions” about weapons of mass destruction.»[Guardian]

Jun 8

A growing number of weapons experts, engineers, chemists, and other scientists said that the “germ trailers” trumpeted by the Americans are not at all what one would expect from a mobile weapons lab and that the units appear to be designed to produce hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, which is what Iraqi scientists have claimed. It was reported that the British sold such a system to Iraq in 1987.»[Observer]

International weapons inspectors were wondering why American troops failed to stop Iraqi villagers who live near Tuwaitha nuclear complex from dumping uranium yellowcake and nuclear sludge on the ground and using the empty radioactive barrels to haul drinking and bathing water; one woman from a nearby village called Al Mansiya (“The Forgotten”) wondered why so many journalists were coming to visit. “We are like a string of beads that has been cut, and all the beads are on the floor,” she told a reporter. “We love the Americans, but we loved Saddam because he was our father. He was the tent over us — he was the string in our beads.”»[New York Times]

Jun 9

Two of the highest-ranking Al Qaeda leaders in United States custody denied that Al Qaeda had worked with the Iraqi government.»[New York Times]

The British government admitted that Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s director of communications, wrote a letter to the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service apologizing for a report, “Iraq: Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation,” which contained material that was plagiarized from an old out-of-date term paper found on the Internet. Campbell promised to take “greater care” in the future.»[New York Times]

Jun 10

President Bush was still “absolutely convinced” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.»[New York Times]

Jun 11

The American soldiers looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were running out of places to look. “It doesn’t appear there are any more targets at this time,” said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington. “We’re hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future.”»[Washington Post]

Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, said that it doesn’t matter whether WMD are found, “because the rationale for the war changed. Americans like a good picture. And one photograph of an Iraqi child kissing a U.S. soldier is more powerful than two months of debate on the floor of Congress.”»[Washington Post]

Jun 14

An Iraqi shepherd filed a $200 million lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld for the deaths of 17 family members and 200 sheep.»[Agence France-Presse]

Jun 16

Iraqi civilians continued to die in what Lt. Gen. David McKiernan called “a cycle of action, reaction and counter-action”; among those who were killed by mistake was a family of shepherds and a family that was trying to put out fires in their wheat field that were set by American flares.»[Guardian]

CBS News sent an interview request to Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the American P.O.W. whose dramatic rescue in Iraq turned out to be largely simulated, that included “ideas” from CBS Entertainment, MTV, and Simon & Schuster; some news critics found the combination of news and entertainment offers “troubling.”»[New York Times]

Jun 18

North Korea announced its intention to accelerate its program to build a nuclear deterrent and said that a U.S. naval blockade or embargo could lead to “all-out war”; a state-run newspaper said that “the Iraqi war proved that disarmament leads to war. Therefore it is quite clear that the DPRK can never accept the U.S. demand that it scrap its nuclear weapons program first.”»[Associated Press]

Jun 19

Stansfield Turner, a former director of central intelligence, criticized the Bush Administration for its use of intelligence to justify the conquest of Iraq: “There is no question in my mind [that policymakers] distorted the situation, either because they had bad intelligence or because they misinterpreted it.”»[Agence France-Presse]

American soldiers in Iraq were being killed at a rate of one per day.»[Guardian]

Jun 25

A State Department intelligence analyst told a congressional hearing that he had felt pressure to make his reports conform to the administration’s position on Iraq.»[New York Times]

Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, made the surprising claim that “before the war, there was no debate about whether Iraq had unconventional weapons.”»[New York Times]

Jun 30

  1. Paul Bremer, the overseer of Iraq, warned Iraqi malcontents that resistance was futile.»[New York Times]

Jul 3

President George W. Bush dismissed growing complaints that he exaggerated the threat posed by Iraq in the buildup to the invasion and invited Iraqis who remain loyal to Saddam Hussein to attack American troops: “There are some who feel like that if they attack us, that we may decide to leave prematurely,” he said. “My answer is: bring them on. We’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.”»[Orlando Sentinel]

Poland’s foreign minister admitted that his country sent troops to Iraq because it wanted to obtain direct access to Iraqi oil supplies.»[BBC]

Jul 4

A tape of a man claiming to be Saddam Hussein was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television; the man said he was in Iraq and planning more attacks on his enemies.»[Guardian]

The commander of the American forces in Iraq acknowledged that the war was not over.»[New York Times]

Jul 6

Rumors were circulating among Iraqis that power shortages were the result of American retribution for guerrilla attacks, and»[BBC]

a resistance group called the Muslim Fighters of the Victorious Sect warned that it will execute Iraqis who collaborate with the Americans.»[Charlotte Observer]

Jul 7

Seven Iraqi policemen who had just completed an American training course were killed and 50 were injured by a bomb as they marched down the street as part of their graduation ceremony.»[Independent]

Jul 9

The White House admitted that President Bush’s claim in his last State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger was based on “unsubstantiated” intelligence;»[CNN]

Jul 10

Danish troops in Iraq received a supply shipment of lawn mowers and snowplows.»[Agence France-Presse]

Jul 12

President Bush’s approval rating was down to 59 percent, according to a new poll, and 52 percent of respondents said that the level of American casualties in Iraq was “unacceptable.”»[Slate]

Jul 13

President Bush, asked whether he regretted his false claim about the uranium, responded by saying there was “no doubt” in his mind that he was right to conquer Iraq. “And there’s no doubt in my mind, when it’s all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth.”»[New York Times]

American soldiers continued to die in Iraq,»[Associated Press]

Jul 14

Iraq’s new interim Governing Council was announced. Its first act was to abolish six holidays associated with Saddam Hussein; April 9, the date of the fall of Baghdad, was declared a new national holiday.»[New York Times]

Jul 16

Several U.S. soldiers complained on television that morale was low and that they wanted to go home. “If Donald Rumsfeld were here, I’d ask him for his resignation,” said one. “I would ask him why we are still here,” said another. “I don’t have any clue as to why we are still in Iraq.”»[Reuters]

Jul 17

CIA director George Tenet testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and again took responsibility for President Bush’s false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger, but he admitted that he didn’t know the claim, which he successfully removed from at least one of the president’s previous speeches, would be included in the State of the Union address. Tenet said that his staff should have told him about it.»[Washington Post]

General John Abizaid, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, admitted that his troops face “a classical guerrilla-type campaign” and said that troops might have to double their expected tours of duty in order to pacify the country.»[New York Times]

Jul 18

President Bush told a group of surprised reporters that Saddam Hussein had refused to permit weapons inspectors to return to Iraq: “And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.”»[Washington Post]

British prime minister Tony Blair addressed the United States Congress and predicted that history will “forgive” him even if weapons of mass destruction are never found in Iraq. He received 19 standing ovations; after the first one he responded: “This is more than I deserve and more than I’m used to, frankly.”»[Guardian]

Dr. David Kelly, a British Ministry of Defense scientist who was accused of being the source of news reports that the British government had doctored its intelligence on Iraq, was found dead two days after he was interrogated by a parliamentary committee.»[Guardian]

“This is the future for the world we’re in at the moment,” a special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld said about the unrest in Iraq. “We’ll get better as we do it more often.”»[Los Angeles Times]

A woman from Delaware shipped 200 air-conditioning units to American soldiers in Iraq.»[Ananova]

Jul 20

The International Red Cross demanded information on the status of three dozen Iraqi scientists detained in unknown locations.»[Observer]

Jul 21

Deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned Iraq’s neighbors not to meddle with the American occupying forces, proclaiming, “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.”»[Reuters]

Jul 23

The report, which also found no evidence of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, had been slated for release in December 2002 but was delayed due to administrative wrangling over which sections should be classified.»[UPI]

The Los Angeles Times refused to allow a Secret Service agent to interrogate a cartoonist who had depicted a figure labeled “politics” pointing a gun at President Bush against a background labeled “Iraq.”»[AP]

Jul 24

After killing Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, U.S. forces circulated grisly photos of the corpses in hopes that the images would help to dispel conspiracy theories, popular among Iraqis, that the United States is still in league with Saddam Hussein.»[Agence-France Presse]

Jul 30

In Iraq, the occupation government detained two Iranians who had identified themselves as journalists. Said an occupation official: “They were detained for doing things that we do not consider journalism.”»[New York Times]

Colin Powell called Saddam Hussein “a piece of trash.”»[New York Times]

Aug 1

The State Department agreed to pay $30 million to the Iraqi who snitched out Uday and Qusay Hussein.»[Bloomberg News]

Aug 3

Saddam Hussein’s sons Uday and Qusay were buried in the town of Awja; a jackhammer was required to dig their graves in the parched earth.»[New York Times]

Aug 7

General Richard Sanchez said that he was scaling back aggressive roundups of Iraqis in the search for Saddam Hussein and Baath Party loyalists because he was afraid that “maybe our iron-fisted approach to the conduct of ops was beginning to alienate Iraqis. I started to get those sensings from multiple sources.”»[New York Times]

Aug 9

Seventeen people died in a car-bomb attack on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, and President Bush told reporters down at the ranch in Crawford, Texas, that his men were making “good progress” in Iraq.»[New York Times]

Engineers from the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that the mobile laboratories found in Iraq were probably used to make hydrogen for weather balloons, just as Iraqi scientists have claimed.»[New York Times]

Aug 10

  1. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, said he thought the bombing was carried out by “outside” forces because he wasn’t sure the “ex-regime people” who have been shooting U.S. soldiers had the know-how to make a car bomb.»[New York Times]

Aug 13

“Every American needs to believe this,” said General Ricardo Sanchez, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, “that if we fail here in this environment, the next battlefield will be the streets of America.”»[Associated Press]

Aug 17

In Iraq, saboteurs blew up a large oil pipeline to Turkey three days after it reopened,»[New York Times]

a water main was bombed in Baghdad, and U.S. soldiers “engaged” and killed a Reuters cameraman;»[Austin American Statesman]

the police chief of Mosul was shot and two other officers died in an ambush; a Danish soldier was killed, some American soldiers were shot as they left a restaurant, and a sewage plant was set on fire.»[BBC]

Aug 20

A suicide bomber in a shiny new cement truck blew up the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad and killed 23 people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. special representative in Iraq. A pair of hands and a pair of feet, possibly those of the truck’s driver, were found 150 yards from the wreckage.»[New York Times]

Aug 22

American soldiers were still dying in Iraq,»[Associated Press]

Aug 23

Three British soldiers were killed in Basra.»[BBC]

Aug 25

A bomb went off in Najaf, Iraq’s holy city, and killed three guards of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Said al-Hakim.»[New York Times]

Aug 26

Condoleezza Rice, the president’s national security adviser, compared the Iraqi guerrillas to the Nazi Werewolves who resisted the Allies after World War II; Rice pleaded for patience and suggested that building democracy in Iraq might take a very, very long time. “Our own history should remind us that the union of democratic principle and practice is always a work in progress. When the Founding Fathers said, ‘We the People,’ they did not mean me. My ancestors were considered three-fifths of a person.”»[New York Times]

Kidnappings were on the rise in Baghdad.»[New York Times]

Aug 27

American soldiers continued to die in Iraq, and the number of Americans killed since President George W. Bush landed on an aircraft carrier to declare that “major combat operations” in Iraq were over exceeded the number killed during the war.»[New York Times]

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the destruction of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.»[New York Times]

Aug 28

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revealed that Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, has received more than $1.7 billion in military contracts in Iraq, far more than was previously known. It was noted that the practice of outsourcing logistical operations to private contractors was pioneered by Cheney during the first Gulf War when he was secretary of defense. Brown and Root won the first such contract, and Cheney was hired as CEO of Halliburton soon afterward.»[Washington Post]

Aug 29

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain testified before the Hutton inquiry and denied the BBC’s claim that his aides had “sexed up” his dossier on Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction; Blair said he would have resigned if the story had been true.»[Guardian, BBC, New York Times]

General John Abizaid repeated the Bush Administration’s claim that there is no need for additional American troops in Iraq;»[New York Times]

Aug 30

  1. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, was on vacation and no one knew when he would be back. “I think someone is writing up a statement, somebody, I’m not sure,” said Mahmoud Othman of the Iraqi governing council. “We don’t have a satellite, you know, that’s one of the problems. The Americans should give us a satellite.”»[New York Times]

Sep 3

The World Council of Churches denounced the invasion of Iraq as “immoral” and “ill advised” and called for the withdrawal of American forces.»[New York Times]

A congressional study found that the occupation of Iraq is unsustainable given the current size of the U.S. military, and the United States released a draft resolution calling on the United Nations to create a multinational peacekeeping force for Iraq that would remain under American military and political control.»[New York Times]

Jessica Lynch, the former Army private who was captured by Iraqis and became the subject of an elaborate heroic fiction, signed a book deal and reportedly received a $1 million advance. Lynch will share the advance with her co-author Rick Bragg, a former New York Times reporter.»[New York Times]

Sep 6

Gunmen fired on a Sunni mosque in Baghdad just after morning prayers and injured three people, a car bomb exploded near the headquarters of the Baghdad police department, a British bomb squad expert was killed, an American Humvee was blown up, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said that attacks on American forces were down to about 14 or 15 a day. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was touring Iraq and Afghanistan, complained that the news media was ignoring “the story of success and accomplishment” in Iraq.»[Austin American-Statesman]

Sep 8

President George W. Bush made a televised address to the nation and declared that Iraq was now the “central front” in the war on terrorism. He called for national resolve and national sacrifice and said that he will ask Congress for $87 billion in emergency funds for the occupation. It was noted that this new request, which comes on top of $79 billion already approved, will probably push the current budget deficit up to $600 billion. Howard Dean said the speech, which made no mention of Osama bin Laden, was “outrageous” and said it reminded him of Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. Senator Bob Graham observed that Bush now wants to spend more on Iraq this year than the federal government will spend on education.»[New York Times]

and surface-to-air missiles were fired at a transport plane in Baghdad. Donald Rumsfeld, who was nearby, said that such attacks are just a cost of doing business. Rumsfeld claimed that there has been “breathtaking” progress in Afghanistan since the war ended. “I’m not being Pollyannaish,” he said. “I’m telling the truth.” »[New York Times]

Sep 10

Pentagon officials testified before a congressional hearing that the military was having a hard time in Iraq.»[New York Times]

Sep 11

A British parliamentary report concluded that the Blair government did not intentionally lie in its controversial dossier on Iraq’s military threat; the report did criticize the government, however, and said that its false claim that Iraq was capable of launching weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes was “unhelpful,” and that the dossier should have made clear that Iraq was not, in the opinion of the intelligence services, an imminent threat to Great Britain.»[BBC]

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that a new Security Council resolution would be helpful, because it would allow other countries to pretend that the Iraqi occupation was a multinational operation, which would justify sending more money. Rumsfeld said that tourism will soon be a major industry in Iraq.»[New York Times]

A suicide bomber[Terrorism] struck in Kurdish Iraq, killing one child and wounding about 50 people.»[New York Times]

A new Osama bin Laden videotape was released. Bin Laden called on his “mujahedeen brothers in Iraq” to “devour the Americans just like the lions devour their prey.”»[New York Times]

Sep 13

Ten Iraqi policemen and one Jordanian hospital worker were killed in a firefight with American soldiers; the policemen were chasing a stolen BMW when they ran into two American tanks on patrol, with unhappy results. Guards at a nearby hospital fired shots, prompting the tanks to attack the hospital.»[New York Times]

Sep 15

Colin Powell claimed that Americans “are not occupiers” of Iraq. “We came as liberators,” he said. “We have liberated a number of countries.”»[New York Times]

Sep 18

The Dalai Lama met with singer Ricky Martin and then said that it was too early to tell whether the conquest of Iraq was a mistake.»[New York Times]

Sep 19

American soldiers continued to die in Iraq.»[New York Times]

Sep 20

An American soldier who was drinking beer after hours at the Baghdad city zoo shot and killed a Bengal tiger that had bitten another soldier who was trying to feed it.»[Reuters]

Sep 21

Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and President Jacques Chirac got together to talk about the latest American proposal for a Security Council resolution on Iraq. Chirac noted that “On Iraq, our views are not fully convergent.”»[New York Times]

Sep 22

The next day Chirac called for an immediate transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.»[New York Times]

  1. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, said that Iraqis were not quite ready for self-rule.»[Reuters]

Akila al-Hashemi, one of three women on the Iraqi governing council, was severely wounded in an assassination attempt.»[New York Times]

Sep 25

Mongolian troops returned to Baghdad for the first time since 1258, when Hulegu, a grandson of Genghis Khan, destroyed the city and killed 800,000 people.»[New York Times]

Administration officials tried to play down a disappointing progress report by the American team searching Iraq for signs of weapons of mass destruction.»[New York Times]

Sep 26

Colin Powell gave Iraqis six months to come up with a new constitution.»[New York Times]

  1. Paul Bremer, the American overseer of Iraq, was having a hard time explaining to Congress why he needs so much money. In an attempt to explain a $400 million request for two 4,000-bed prisons, which comes to $50,000 per bed, Bremer explained that there is a “shortage of cement” in Iraq.»[Financial Times]

Donald Rumsfeld claimed that the president’s $87 billion request for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan constituted an “exit strategy.”»[Financial Times]

Sep 28

At the request of the CIA, the Justice Department began investigating charges that the White House leaked the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press in retaliation for remarks by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, challenging President Bush’s claim that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake uranium in Africa. An unnamed administration official told the Washington Post that two White House officials had revealed the agent’s identity to at least six journalists. “Clearly,” the official said, “it was meant purely and simply for revenge.” The White House denied that Karl Rove was responsible for the leak, which was a violation of the Intelligence Protection Act and carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.»[Washington Post]

Ranking members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence criticized the Bush Administration for basing its case for the invasion of Iraq on piecemeal, out of date, deficient intelligence.»[Washington Post]

Sep 29

The Defense Intelligence Agency concluded in an internal assessment that most of the information received from Iraqi defectors before the war was completely useless.»[New York Times]

Sep 30

The Bush Administration rejected calls for an independent counsel in the matter of Valerie Plame, whose identity as an undercover CIA operative was revealed by at least one senior White House official, possibly Karl Rove, in retribution for her husband’s skeptical remarks about the president’s case against Iraq.»[New York Times]

American officials said that there are 650,000 tons of ammunition lying around Iraq, much of it unsecured. General John Abizaid told Congress that “there is more ammunition in Iraq than any place I’ve ever been in my life, and it is all not securable.” Pentagon officials had previously claimed that “all known Iraqi munitions sites are being secured by coalition forces.”»[New York Times]

It was noticed that Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush’s former campaign manager and until recently the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has set up a consulting firm to help clients exploit the occupation of Iraq. According to the company’s website, “New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” The company describes the “opportunities” in Iraq as “unprecedented” in nature and in scope.»[New Bridge Strategies]

Oct 2

A two-year-old Iraqi girl was shot dead in her home by American forces after a roadside bomb went off next to a military convoy. “If we determine there were deaths and/or injuries to innocent civilians as a result of U.S. forces responding to an attack,” said Major Anthony Aguto, “we will compensate the family with three years of standard Iraqi salary.” The grandfather of the dead girl said they didn’t want the money: “I submit my complaint only to God.”»[New York Times]

Oct 6

President Bush created a new “Iraq Stabilization Group.”»[New York Times]

David Kay, the head of the CIA team searching for traces of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, issued his status report; Kay admitted that no unconventional weapons had been found but did point to a single vial of botulinum toxin, which an Iraqi scientist had stored in his refrigerator since 1993, as evidence of evil intent. President Bush cited the vial and said that the report justified the invasion.»[Washington Post, International Herald Tribune]

and Robin Cook, the former foreign minister and leader of the Commons, who resigned to protest Britain’s participation in the conquest of Iraq, claimed that Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted privately to him two weeks before the invasion that Saddam Hussein had no weapons that posed a “real and present danger.”»[BBC]

Oct 7

Congress was working to cut “gold plated” items from the administration’s request for the reconstruction of Iraq; among the items at issue were 40 new $50,000 garbage trucks and $9 million for a new postal zone system.»[New York Times]

Oct 9

Tensions were beginning to surface publicly between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, over the creation of Rice’s Iraq Stability Group, which will oversee the chaos in Iraq. Rumsfeld was irritated that he was not told about the new group, and there were rumors, which the White House denied, that Rumsfeld has fallen out of the president’s favor.»[New York Times]

Oct 10

President Bush gave a speech before a military crowd in New Hampshire and said that the situation in Iraq is “a lot better than you probably think.” On that day in Iraq, a car bomb attack killed eight policemen, a Spanish diplomat was assassinated, and a U.S. soldier was murdered.»[Washington Post]

Oct 12

International aid workers continued to flee Iraq.»[New York Times]

American soldiers bulldozed ancient groves of date, orange, and lemon trees in central Iraq because, the soldiers said, the farmers know who is in the resistance but refuse to tell.»[Independent]

Oct 14

“The person who is in charge is me,” President Bush declared when asked about the factional intrigues among his advisers; the president went on to say that he was making “very good progress about the establishment of a free Iraq.”»[New York Times]

Oct 15

A car bomb blew up outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad; it was the third Baghdad car bomb in less than a week.»[New York Times]

Oct 16

Commerce Secretary Donald Evans introduced the new Iraqi dinar, printed in Britain minus the face of Saddam Hussein, in a live broadcast from the Baghdad International Airport, and encouraged investors to come to Iraq. “You have to look beyond these isolated incidents that are occurring,” he said.»[New York Times]

Oct 19

President George W. Bush traveled to Asia and gave a speech in Manila comparing Iraq to the Philippines, a former U.S. colony that was “liberated” from Spain in 1898 and occupied for 48 years. Bush said that the Philippines, which he called “the oldest democracy in Asia,” should be seen as the model for a new democratic Iraq, and then quickly left the country because of security concerns.»[New York Times]

Oct 20

Iraqis in Faluja were photographed dancing on a demolished U.S. Army truck after it was blown up and set on fire by local residents.»[New York Times]

Oct 22

Several soldiers home from Iraq on leave went AWOL.»[New York Times]

Oct 25

Iraqi guerrillas using a homemade launching pad fired eight to ten rockets at the Al Rasheed hotel in Baghdad, where American officials have been staying since April. Some of the Americans were seen fleeing the luxury hotel in their pajamas and shorts; one of the missiles struck a floor just below Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, but he escaped unhurt.»[Associated Press]

Oct 27

The following day, a suicide bomber driving an ambulance struck the offices of the International Red Cross in Baghdad; the bomb left a six-foot-deep crater and broke windows a mile away.»[New York Times]

Oct 28

Within 45 minutes, bombers struck four police stations in other neighborhoods; at least 34 died and more than 200 were injured in the attacks. “The more successful we are on the ground,” said President Bush, “the more these killers will react.”»[New York Times]

Oct 29

President Bush denied that his political operatives had been responsible for the erection of the “Mission Accomplished” banner that flew behind him on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, when he dressed up like a fighter pilot and declared victory in Iraq. He said that his advance men “weren’t that ingenious” and that the banner was put up by crew members, “saying that their mission was accomplished.” Scott McClellan, the president’s press secretary, later admitted that the banner was in fact created by the White House.»[New York Times]

Oct 31

A new study from the Center for Public Integrity revealed that the 70 companies that have benefited the most from $8 billion in government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan collectively contributed more than $500,000 to President Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.»[Boston Globe, New York Times]

Congressional negotiators stripped a measure criminalizing war profiteering from the final version of the $87 billion spending bill for Iraq.»[U.S. Newswire, Office of Sen. Patrick Leahy]

Nov 3

Iraqi guerrillas hiding in a grove of date palms shot down an American military helicopter near Falluja; 16 died and 20 were wounded. Most of the soldiers were leaving Iraq on furlough. Two civilian contractors and one U.S. soldier were killed the same day by roadside bombs. “In a long war,” said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, “we are going to have tragic days. But they’re necessary.”»[Associated Press]

Nov 5

President Bush, who has refused to comment directly on the daily casualties in Iraq and has not attended a single funeral for a soldier killed there, traveled to California to inspect the damage from the recent wildfires and was photographed hugging a woman who lost her home.»[New York Times]

Nov 8

Six U.S. soldiers died when their Black Hawk helicopter exploded in midair near Tikrit; there was speculation that a rocket-propelled grenade was responsible.»[New York Times]

U.S. forces responded with airstrikes, the first in Iraq since May 1, when the president dressed up as a fighter pilot and declared victory.»[Reuters]

Nov 12

The American-appointed mayor of Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, was killed after he drove into a forbidden area and got into a “wrestling match” with an American soldier, whose gun went off.»[New York Times]

Nov 13

The Bush Administration, worried about the political cost of the Iraq war and increasingly plagued by comparisons with Vietnam, decided to speed up its “Iraqification” plan by transferring sovereignty to a provisional native government by June 30.»[New York Times, USA Today]

“They are, we believe, ready for it,” said Condoleezza Rice. “And they have very strong ideas about how it might be done.” President Bush said that he believes the Iraqis “have the capacity to run their own country.”»[Reuters]

Four soldiers just back from Iraq were charged with stabbing another soldier to death, setting his body on fire, and leaving it in the woods.»[Associated Press]

Twenty-six people were killed in the car bombing of the Italian paramilitary headquarters in Nasiriya; seventeen Italian military policemen died along with nine Iraqis, including three ten-year-old schoolgirls who happened to be driving by in a minibus.»[New York Times, Nelson Report]

Nov 14

It was noticed that more U.S. soldiers have died so far in Iraq than in the first three years of the Vietnam War.»[Reuters]

Nov 15

General John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said that it was “beyond my imagination” that Saddam Hussein had planned for a guerrilla war prior to the fall of Baghdad.»[New York Times]

The Pentagon was planning to launch a 24-hour satellite television channel based in Baghdad to make it easier to circumvent the news media “filter” that Bush Administration officials believe is misleading the public by emphasizing bad news about the occupation of Iraq.»[Washington Post]

Nov 16

Seventeen U.S. soldiers died when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Mosul after one of them came under fire.»[New York Times]

Nov 18

  1. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul of Iraq, said that Saddam Hussein is “a voice in the wilderness.”»[New York Times]

Nov 21

President George W. Bush traveled to Great Britain, along with 650 companions, including five personal chefs, but was unable to move freely in the country because of massive protests. At Buckingham Palace the president dined on roasted halibut with herbs, free-range chicken, potatoes cocotte, salad, and a sorbet bombe but presumably skipped the Puligny-Montrachet and the Veuve Clicquot, Gold Label, 1995. Truck bombs blew up the British Consulate and a British bank in Istanbul, killing at least 27 and wounding hundreds. Bloody victims ran screaming through the streets. Two hotels in Baghdad used by Westerners were bombed as was the headquarters of a pro-American Kurdish group in Kirkuk.»[New York Times, Daily Telegraph]

Nov 22

Iraqi guerrillas were using homemade rocket launchers pulled by donkeys and concealed by piles of hay.»[New York Times]

Nov 26

  1. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul, declared that the situation in Iraq is getting better all the time.»[New York Times]

Nov 28

President Bush showed up in Iraq for Thanksgiving wearing an Army tracksuit; Bush stayed in the country for two and a half hours, the same amount of time spent by President Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam, in 1966.»[New York Times]

Nov 29

Seven Spanish intelligence agents were killed near Baghdad.»[Reuters]

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said that some U.S.-trained Iraqi policemen had carried out attacks on occupation forces.»[Reuters]

Dec 1

U.S. forces fought a major battle with guerrillas in Samarra and killed up to 54 Iraqis; American officials said the casualties were members of the Fedayeen but local residents said that most were civilians who fought back in self-defense.»[Guardian]

Dec 3

Iraqis were wondering why their gas lines were so long.»[New York Times]

Dec 5

Wesley Clark claimed to have a plan to get America out of Iraq but then refused to say what it was.»[New York Times]

It was revealed that George W. Bush’s famous Iraqi turkey was a mere prop.»[Daily Mail]

Dec 6

  1. Paul Bremer, the American proconsul of Iraq, warned that attacks against occupying forces will probably increase.»[Associated Press]

Dec 7

U.S. forces were using Israeli-style tactics against troublesome Iraqis, surrounding some villages with razor wire and forcing residents to carry identification cards, demolishing homes and buildings associated with attacks on Americans, and imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas.»[New York Times]

Dec 10

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz decreed that Canada, Germany, France, Russia, and other nations that opposed the conquest of Iraq will be ineligible for $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts. The announcement was greeted with astonishment by the blacklisted countries; Russia said that it would now refuse to consider restructuring Iraq’s $8 billion debt, and Canada said the decision would probably rule out further reconstruction aid.»[Boston Globe]

Dec 11

A bank in suburban Baghdad was robbed of about $800,000.»[New York Times]

Dec 12

The Pentagon accused Halliburton, which recently removed its name from outside its corporate headquarters in Houston, of overcharging for gasoline in Iraq.»[Reuters]

Dec 14

A suicide car bomber blew up outside an Iraqi police station, killing at least 17 people; a gas truck exploded in the middle of Baghdad, and an American soldier died while trying to disarm a bomb.»[Christian Science Monitor]

Saddam Hussein was found cowering in a pit on a farm near Tikrit.»[Reuters]

Dec 17

France and Germany agreed to cooperate on restructuring Iraq’s debt.»[New York Times]

Dec 19

There were reports that David Kay, the head of the American team looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is planning to resign.»[New Scientist]

Dec 25

Grenades, rockets, and mortars were fired at the Ishtar Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad.»[Associated Press]

Dec 27

Two Thai and five Bulgarian soldiers and seven Iraqis were killed in four major coordinated car-bomb attacks by guerrillas in Karbala; 500 Bulgarians were evacuated from the area, because their base was destroyed.»[Washington Post, Reuters]

Dec 28

Several American soldiers were killed by Iraqi guerrillas in various attacks around the country. One died in a car accident. »[Reuters]


Jan 1

A car bomb blew up a restaurant in Baghdad.»[New York Times]

It was reported that the CIA is planning to set up a new secret police force in Iraq, modeled after the Phoenix program of the Vietnam War, that will ensure the United States retains control over the country after official sovereignty passes to a native government. The secret plan, of which Dick Cheney was the purported secret author, will cost $3 billion and will be funded from the CIA’s secret budget.»[London Telegraph]

Jan 3

Another U.S. helicopter was shot down in Iraq.»[New York Times]

Jan 8

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace issued a report concluding that Iraq did not in fact possess any weapons of mass destruction. The report, which drew on intelligence material and documents discovered by weapons inspectors after the war, criticized the United States government for its deliberate exaggerations of Iraq’s military capabilities.»[New Scientist]

The Bush Administration withdrew a 400-member weapons-inspection team from Iraq because they are no longer needed.»[New York Times]

Thirty-five soldiers were wounded when Iraqi guerrillas shelled a U.S. camp west of Baghdad.»[New York Times]

Jan 9

Former secretary of the treasury Paul O’Neill revealed in a new book that President George W. Bush was already looking for an excuse to invade Iraq during the first few weeks of his presidency. “It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it,” O’Neill said. “The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.'”»[CBS News]

O’Neill said that the very first meeting of the National Security Council involved discussions of a “post-Saddam Iraq,” peacekeeping troops, and war-crimes tribunals. O’Neill provided the book’s author, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, with 19,000 internal documents — one of which, from March 5, 2001, was entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” and included a map of Iraqi oil fields listing contractors and countries with interests there.»[CBS News]

Secretary of State Colin Powell admitted that he never saw any hard proof of Iraqi links to Al Qaeda but failed to explain why he lied to the U.N. Security Council last February.»[New York Times]

Another U.S. helicopter was apparently shot down in Iraq.»[New York Times]

Jan 11

American soldiers killed two Iraqi policemen in Kirkuk.»[New York Times]

Facts Related To Iraq



Number of biological materials with military potential sent to Iraq by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in the 1980s: 14»[Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs]

Ratio of Iraqi chemical-warfare agents destroyed in the Gulf War to those since destroyed under U.N. pressure: 2:5»[U.N. Security Council (N.Y.C.)]

Apr 1

Minimum number of the 10 biological materials suspected in Iraqi warfare research that were supplied by U.S. firms: 9»[Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs]


Number of Sudanese factories besides the one the U.S. bombed last August that had U.N. approval to export drugs to Iraq: 0»[United Nations (N.Y.C.)]


Number of liposuction machines that Iraq sought U.N. permission to import last June: 4»[United Nations (N.Y.C)]



Percentage by which Iraq’s oil sales last year fell short of the maximum allowed under U.N. sanctions: 22»[U.S. Energy Information Administration]

Rank of the U.S. among countries that bought the most oil from Iraq last year: 1»[U.S. Energy Information Administration]

Percentage change in Iraq’s oil sales since 1997: +45»[U.S. Energy Information Administration]

Estimated chance that an Iraqi child diagnosed with leukemia will live as long as an American child similarly diagnosed: 0»[Leukemia Society of America (N.Y.C.)/Professor Richard Garfield, Columbia University (N.Y.C.)]


Chance that a day since December 28 has passed without U.S. or British forces bombing Iraq: 1 in 2»[U.S. Defense Department]

Value of the U.S. military equipment earmarked last year to aid Iraqi anti-Hussein groups: $97,000,000»[U.S. State Department]

Amount of the U.S. military equipment earmarked last year to aid Iraqi anti-Hussein groups that has been used: 0»[U.S. State Department]


Cost of the 105 bomb-proof boundary posts placed on the Iraq-Kuwait border after the Gulf War: $7,000,000»[United Nations (N.Y.C)]


Percentage of the medical supplies bought since 1996 under Iraq’s oil-for-food program that has been distributed: 43»[U.N. Security Council (N.Y.C.)]



Number of Chinese engineers who accompanied the Mongol Khan Hulägu on his siege of Baghdad in 1257: 1,000»[Fernández-Armesto, Millennium]


Estimated barrels of oil illegally exported by Iraq last year: 8,100,000»[U.N. Iraq Sanctions Committee (N.Y.C.)]



Percentage of Kuwait’s freshwater supply still contaminated with oil spilled by Iraqi forces during the Gulf War: 40»[Green Cross International (Geneva)]


Amount Iraq pledged last December to support the Palestinian Intifada: $930,000,000»[Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations (N.Y.C.)]

Amount Iraq pledged in January to aid “poor Americans”: $93,000,000»[Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations (N.Y.C.)]



Estimated number of U.S. sorties flown in Iraqi no-fly zones last year: 10,000»[U.S. Air Force (Saudi Arabia/Turkey)]

Gallons of concentrated anthrax that Iraq has admitted to producing as a biological weapon: 2,245»[United Nations Monitoring and Verification Inspection Committee (N.Y.C.)]

Number of biological materials with military potential sent to Iraq by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in the 1980s: 14»[U.S. Senate Committee on Housing, Banking, and Urban Affairs]

Minimum number of the ten biological materials suspected in Iraqi warfare research that were supplied by U.S. firms: 9»[U.S. Senate Committee on Housing, Banking, and Urban Affairs]


Year in which a Pentagon report warned that banning chlorine sales to Iraq would cause epidemics of waterborne diseases: 1991»[Defense Intelligence Agency (Washington)]

Minimum number of Iraqis who have died of waterborne diseases since a ban on chlorine sales to that country was enacted in 1990: 100,000»[Prof. Richard Garfield, Columbia University (N.Y.C.)]


Military budget of Israel in 1967 expressed as a percentage of the budgets of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria combined: 58»[U.S. Department of State]


Percentage of Americans who said in August that they had a clear idea of why the U.S. would consider attacking Iraq: 56»[The Gallup Organization (Princeton, N.J.)]

Amount of Iraq’s oil revenue since 1996 spent on anything but humanitarian programs, Kuwaiti reparations, or U.N. costs: 0»[United Nations (N.Y.C.)]


Ratio of Japanese killed in 1945’s U.S. atomic-bomb attacks to Iraqi children killed due to U.N. sanctions: 1:3»[Harper’s research/UNICEF (N.Y.C.)]

Number of reports that President Bush referred to on September 7 as evidence of Iraq’s nuclear threat: 2»[Harper’s research]


Hours after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld learned Bin Laden was a suspect that he sought reasons to “hit” Iraq: 2.5»[CBS News, 9/4/02]



Number of countries that supplied both sides during the Iran-Iraq war: 10»[Stockholm International Peace Research Institute]

Percentage of the $1.1 trillion in Iraqi oil contracts that are held by French or Russian companies: 69»[International Energy Commission (Paris)]


Minimum number of U.S.-led bomb strikes on Iraq in the month after inspections were agreed to last winter: 17»[Center for Defense Information (Washington)]


Chance that the United States bombed Iraq on any given day last year: 1 in 6»[Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace (Denver)]


Amount of new U.S. military aid for Colombia inserted into the Iraq war bill in March: $105,000,000»[U.S. Department of State]

Amount of new U.S. military aid promised Israel in April to offset the “burdens” of the U.S. war on Iraq: $1,000,000,000»[U.S. House of Representatives]

Days that AT&T ceased its TV advertising last March “out of respect for the U.S. military operation in Iraq”: 3»[AT&T (Bedminster, N.J.)]

Days after the U.S. invaded Iraq that Sony trademarked “Shock & Awe” for video games: 1»[U.S. Patent and Trademark Office]


Minimum number of people reported killed by militants in Congo since the beginning of the Iraq war: 1,280»[Harper’s research]


Number of books by Henry Kissinger found in Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz’s mansion in April: 2»[Jonathan Finer, Washington Post]


Amount of evidence, according to the New York Times in June, that Bush “did not believe” his own statements on Iraq: 0 »[New York Times, 6/22/03]

Number of officials who ever suggested that Iraq had nuclear weapons, according to Donald Rumsfeld in June: 0 »[U.S. Department of Defense transcripts, 6/24/03]

Number of times Democrat Howard Dean mentioned Iraq in announcing his candidacy for president this year: 0 »[Dean for America (Burlington, Vt.)]

Year in which Dick Cheney said that his policy as CEO of Halliburton was that “we wouldn’t do anything in Iraq”: 2000 »[ABC’s This Week, 7/30/00]

Price of the oil-field supplies sold to Iraq by two Halliburton subsidiaries during Cheney’s tenure: $73,000,000 »[Washington Post, 6/23/01]

Estimated number of soccer balls the U.S. government sent Iraq this summer to help “bring life back to normal”: 60,000 »[Major League Soccer (N.Y.C.)]

Percentage of Basra’s liquor stores that have closed since March: 100 »[United Nations (N.Y.C.)]

Percentage of the bombs dropped on Iraq this year that were not precision-guided: 32 »[United States Central Command (Tampa)]

Ratio of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1991 Gulf War to those killed in Iraq this year: 1:1 »[U.S. Department of Defense]


Months before September 11, 2001, that Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force investigated Iraq’s oil resources : 6»[Judicial Watch, Inc. (Washington, D.C.)]

Number of U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last two years : 354»[U.S. Department of Defense]

Percentage of Iraqis who said in July that they would rather live under the Americans than under Saddam Hussein : 29»[YouGov (London)]


Average number of U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq each day since the invasion began: 9.2 »[U.S. Department of Defense]

Average number of Iraqi civilians killed by gunfire in Baghdad each day last August: 17 »[Iraqbodycount.net (London)]

Percentage of Iraq’s urban areas with access to potable water a year ago and today, respectively: 92, 60 »[Coalition Provisional Authority (Baghdad)/World Health Organization (Geneva)]

Percentage of Baghdad’s citizens asked to participate in a Gallup poll last September who agreed to do so: 98 »









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