For immediate release
Date: 11 November 2013
FOR JUSTICE FOR IRAQ:
LEGAL CASE FILED AGAINST
FOUR US PRESIDENTS
AND FOUR UK PRIME MINISTERS
FOR WAR CRIMES, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
AND GENOCIDE IN IRAQ
The following is the full “Narration of Facts” from the legal case filed 6 October 2009 before the Audiencia Nacional in Spain against four United States presidents and four United Kingdom prime ministers for commissioning, condoning and/or perpetuating multiple war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq. The case was filed under laws of universal jurisdiction.
The case, naming George H W Bush, William J Clinton, George W Bush, Barack H Obama, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown, was brought by Iraqis and others who stand in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in defence of their rights and international law.
Under Spanish law and procedure, this submission is not intended to be, or taken to be, a full evidential brief. Submissions of this kind, in such cases, aim only to convince the assigned investigating judge that there is enough reason to believe that the harm alleged has been done, and is significant enough to open an official case. In earlier press statements, we responded to the refusal of the investigating judge to open a case for Iraq.
The follow does not include the supplementary evidence that was filed with this Narration of Facts: a collation from hundreds of documents we considered, the final and only copy of which exists in the archive of the Audiencia Nacional in Madrid. We had hoped to be able to annotate the full case at some point, but for each of us in different ways, the necessary return to life after following so much death, along with logistical problems of access to the original case submission, prevented us from achieving this task. We hope it can be achieved in the future. We publish this Narration of Facts without the supporting evidence we provided to the court because we believe, nonetheless, that it should be available and in the public domain.
Researchers, activists and others are welcome to contact us with any questions on specific parts of what follows.
The respondents herein identified in this complaint have all held or hold high public office in the administrations of the United States and the United Kingdom, and/or commanding authority in the respective armed forces of these countries, and whilst in command or in office actively instigated, authorized, supported, justified, executed and/or perpetuated:
1. A 13-year sanctions regime on Iraq known and proven to have an overwhelmingly destructive impact on Iraqi public health, especially child mortality
2. The use of disproportionate and indiscriminate military force, including numerous extra-legal strikes and bombing campaigns throughout the 1990s, entailing the purposeful destruction of Iraq’s water and health facilities, and defence capacities, and the widespread contamination of Iraq’s ecosphere and life environment by the unjustified and massive use of depleted uranium munitions
3. The prevention by means of comprehensive sanctions, and/or military strikes, of the reconstruction of Iraq’s critical civil infrastructure, including its health, water and sanitation systems, and the decontamination of Iraq’s ecosphere/life environment, backed by the threat of Security Council veto where unanimity was not present for such strikes and/or the continuance of the sanctions regime
4. The launching of an illegal war of aggression against Iraq based on deliberate falsification of threat assessment intelligence and systematic efforts to conceal from the general public in the United States and the United Kingdom, and other countries, along with parts of the military command structure of the respective armed forces deployed, the true aims and objectives of that war
5. Establishing by design an occupation apparatus that by its incompetence, inexperience, corruption and/or ideological or sectarian alignment and actions would finalize the destruction of the Iraqi state and the attempted destruction of Iraqi national unity and identity, entailing an attack upon Iraqis as a whole and the intended destruction of the Iraqi national group as such.
The acts ordered and/or continued and perpetuated by the respondents identified in this complaint were unlawful in nature, were known to be and/or ought reasonably to have been known to be unlawful in nature, and were based on manifest and purposive lies, manipulations, deliberately misleading presentations of facts, and baseless assertions and other false justifications The acts ordered and/or continued and perpetuated by the respondents identified in this complaint were unlawful in nature, were known to be and/or ought reasonably to have been known to be unlawful in nature, and were based on manifest and purposive lies, manipulations, deliberately misleading presentations of facts, and baseless assertions and other false justifications. The consistency of the propaganda effort that supported and contextualized these unlawful acts was such — and was aimed and known to be so — that it constituted an international campaign of demonization and dehumanization of Iraqis, the Iraqi nation, the Iraqi state, Iraq’s civil and military leadership, Iraq’s civil administrative apparatus, and Iraq in its Arab context. As such, and through actions taken and summarized below, the respondents:
1. Deprived the Iraqi people of all or the majority of their fundamental rights as established and protected by international human rights law and international humanitarian law, expressed in the UN Charter and conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, including the right of defence
2. Structured and implemented policies that continue to deprive the Iraqi people of their sovereignty and the exercise of their freedom, human rights, and civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as established and guaranteed by international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including the UN Charter and conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions
3. Consistently gave political and legal cover to these acts, even as these acts were known to be and/or ought reasonably to have been known to be in violation of international law, including peremptory or jus cogens standards of law
4. Asserted and defended extra-legal immunity for all those engaged in acts that have attacked the protected rights of the Iraqi people, and established a pattern of impunity for those accused of such attacks by failing to adequately investigate and prosecute specific and general allegations of grave abuses, and/or to ensure responsibility is assumed throughout the chain of command that permitted or failed to prohibit such attacks, and/or dismissed or distorted numerous customary legal standards, including the laws of war and those that outlaw the preemptive use of force in international relations
5. Abused and overran international law, the guarantor of international order, peace and security, which the United Nations System exists to protect and is deemed to embody, enshrined in the UN Charter, and upon whose foundation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gains positive affect and final meaning.
Opportunity for redress for Iraqi victims in their own national jurisdiction is non-existent as Iraq remains occupied, its sovereign institutions dismantled and non-functioning. Without effective investigation and prosecution of these abuses and violations, the international community runs the risk of allowing a precedent of unlawful action of such grave magnitude to be set without censure, thereby endangering the rights and dignity not only of Iraqis but also of people the world over Opportunity for redress for Iraqi victims in their own national jurisdiction is non-existent as Iraq remains occupied, its sovereign institutions dismantled and non-functioning. Despite numerous individual petitions submitted to its chief prosecutor, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that it has no jurisdiction to hear cases of abuses and violations of human rights standards and international humanitarian law in Iraq. In light of US and UK threats to use permanent member veto power in the past, it is not foreseeable that the Security Council in the future will refer complaints in Iraq to the ICC, and nor can Iraqis wait for Security Council reform. Without effective investigation and prosecution of these abuses and violations, the international community runs the risk of allowing a precedent of unlawful action of such grave magnitude to be set without censure, thereby endangering the rights and dignity not only of Iraqis but also of people the world over. Such a precedent would be contrary to the UN Charter and the principles upon which the international order of states is deemed to be founded. The basis for public acceptance of a state of law is that it protects peace and defends the wellbeing of the people. Failure to investigate and effectively prosecute the catalogue of grave abuses and violations perpetrated by the respondents in Iraq, and against the Iraqi people, would constitute an ongoing and inherent threat to the basis of the international order in general and to international peace and security specifically.
Though there are nuances of responsibility inherent to the nature of policy construction and execution, the personal relations and interconnections between primary and secondary level individuals involved, and the groups or common circles to which they belong, testify to a large degree of cohesion present in intent and action among the respondents identified and those who support and benefit from the policies they have pursued Alongside those in official positions of authority, key political advisers, lobbyists, strategists and corporate representatives have also played a crucial role in the ideological and political justifications and legitimization sought and falsely proposed in order to execute the overall policy embraced, inclusive of an accumulated pattern of attacks, military and otherwise, that has lasted 19 years to date, culminating in the 2003 illegal war of aggression waged on Iraq and that continues to be executed despite wide and ongoing condemnation. Though there are nuances of responsibility inherent to the nature of policy construction and execution, the personal relations and interconnections between primary and secondary level individuals involved, and the groups or common circles to which they belong, testify to a large degree of cohesion present in intent and action among the respondents identified and those who support and benefit from the policies they have pursued. At the least, this shared intent is one of deliberate harm; at worst, it amounts to an objective intent to destroy for definable, and at times publicly enunciated, strategic, geopolitical and geo-economic reasons. Furthermore, none of the respondents can reasonably claim they did not have knowledge of the likely outcome of their policies, and those they supported, as all had not only participated in the design and execution of these policies, but they continued to execute said policies once their effects were widely known and had been proven to be detrimental to — and destructive of — the health, sovereignty and rights of the Iraqi people, and further have defended these policies and in majority continue to do so.
From the start of the implementation of a US-instigated and dominantly administered sanctions regime up to the present day, an approximate total of 2,700,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of sanctions followed by the US-UK led war of aggression on, and occupation of, Iraq beginning in 2003. Among those killed during the sanctions period were 560,000 children. From 2003 onwards, having weakened Iraq’s civil and military infrastructure to the degree that its people were rendered near totally defenceless, Iraq was subject to a level of aggression of near unprecedented scale and nature in international history, occurring in parallel with the promotion of a partition plan for Iraq, the substantial direct funding of sectarian groups and militias that would play a key role in fragmenting the country under occupation, both administratively and in terms of national identity, the cancellation of the former state apparatus and the dismissal of its personnel entailing the collapse of all public services and state protection for the Iraqi people, the further destruction of the health and education systems of Iraq, and the creation of waves of internal and external displacement totaling nearly 5,000,000 Iraqis, or one fifth of the Iraqi population. By December 2007, the Iraqi Anti-Corruption Board reported that there were up to 5,000,000 orphans in Iraq, while the Iraqi Ministry of Women’s Affairs counts 3,000,000 widows as of 2009.
Such massive destruction of life, having as context a 19-year period of accumulated attacks, with numerous warnings and opportunities for remedy and a reversal of policy ignored, cannot be mere happenstance. Indeed, the paramount charge that must be investigated, and that plain fact evidence suggests, is that this level of destruction has been integral to the US and UK’s shared international policy for Iraq Such massive destruction of life, having as context a 19-year period of accumulated attacks, with numerous warnings and opportunities for remedy and a reversal of policy ignored, cannot be mere happenstance. Indeed, the paramount charge that must be investigated, and that plain fact evidence suggests, is that this level of destruction has been integral to the US and UK’s shared international policy for Iraq. The destruction in whole or in part of the Iraqi people as a national group, and depriving this group of all or the majority of its rights, appears from a reasoned account of the catalogue of violations, abuses and attacks to which the Iraqi people have been subject to be the unlawful means pursued purposely by the respondents in order to redraw by force the strategic and political map of the Arab region and Iraq’s place within that context, and to capture, appropriate and plunder, via the cancellation of the sovereignty of the Iraqi people and the destruction and fragmentation of their identity and unity as a national group, Iraq’s substantial natural energy resources. Historically, the Iraqi national group, variegated yet cohesive, was and continues to be, despite the aggression faced, firmly rooted in its overwhelming majority in the concept of citizenship of the Iraqi state — a state founded on public provision of services and a nationally owned energy industry. The policy that the respondents have sought and continue to seek to impose, that has entailed privatizing and seizing ownership of Iraqi citizens’ resources, along with the administrative and political partition of the former unitary state, is contrary to the basis of, and cohesion of, the Iraqi people as a national group.
Until prevented by effective legal investigation and precautionary action, it is highly likely that the combined US/UK strategy in Iraq will continue, though its tactics may change. Iraqis in the majority show no sign of surrendering their right to and belief in Iraqi citizenship, including sovereign control over Iraq’s natural resources. Between a belligerent foreign aggressor and a resilient, resistant people legal action is crucial to end the ongoing and by all likelihood perpetual slaughter of Iraqis and the destruction of their national identity and rights. We are before immoral and unlawful acts, contrary to the basis on which the international order of state sovereignty and peace and security rests, and that brought about and continue to pursue the destruction of the Iraqi state and attempted destruction of the Iraqi nation. Whereas 1,200,000 Iraqis, according to credible estimates, have lost their lives to violence since 2003 alone, the Iraqi people continue to lose their lives or at best live under constant fear of death, mutilation, detention, exile and lack of access to their rightful resources and freedoms. The sum of these conditions, the outcome of a pattern of purposeful action whose consequences could be foreseen, and of which detailed and compelling notice was served, situated in a context of false justifications, deceptions, and outright lies, and matched by the unlawful use of force, and disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force, amounts to substantive violations of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
As proof of the widespread impact of past and current US and UK policies, in 2009 the American Friends Service Committee, in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reported that some 80 per cent of Iraqis surveyed in Iraq had witnessed a shooting, 68 per cent had been interrogated or harassed by militias, 77 per cent had been affected by shelling/rocket attacks, 72 per cent had witnessed a car bombing, 23 per cent of Iraqis in Baghdad had had a family member kidnapped, and 75 per cent had had a family member or someone close to them murdered.
Military operations in Iraq from 2003 have already cost for the United States an estimated $800 billion, with long-term costs estimated at $1.8 trillion. By 2009, the estimated cost for the United Kingdom, according to figures released by the UK Ministry of Defence, was £8.4 billion ($13.7 billion). The United States continues to spend $12 billion on the war per month. There has been a total of 513,000 US soldiers deployed to Iraq since 2003. Some 170,000 were stationed during the “Surge” campaign of 2007, and 130,000 remain deployed as of June 2009. In addition to regular armed forces, the US administration is believed to employ up to 130,000 additional private security contractors and has refused to release official numbers in this regard. Security companies have been granted blanket immunity under Iraqi law. Equally, there is no effective mechanism, or hope, for Iraqis to hold US and UK forces to account directly.
The narration of facts that follows is substantiated with evidence detailed in the Annex. Other facts to be investigated while reported are not mentioned in the following.
i. Demonization and dehumanization of Iraq
The demonization of Iraq as a state, its leadership, the ruling Baath Party, Iraq’s armed forces and the civilian state apparatus began shortly after Iraq agreed to a ceasefire with Iran in 1988 following eight years of conflict. Following his appointment as commander of CENTCOM in November 1988, US General Norman Schwarzkopf, who would lead armed conflict against Iraq in 1991, insisted that the main threat to the Gulf region — qualified by President George H W Bush as of vital strategic importance to US national interests — was Iraq. Prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, General Schwarzkopf personally planned and supervised a CENTCOM large-scale computer based military exercise called “Internal Look 90”, simulating an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Hill & Knowlton was retained with US funding, using a front group called “Citizens for a Free Kuwait”, to fabricate and plant negative, disparaging and false stories about Iraq in the international media, including the rehearsed and false testimony to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus given by “Nayirah”, the 15-year old daughter of Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US Nasir Al-Sabah, alleging that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers, during Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, taking babies out of incubators and leaving them to die on the floor in Al-Addan Hospital in Kuwait City, where she had never worked.
Throughout the 1990s, successive US and UK administrations instigated with express funding an orchestrated campaign of further disinformation about — and demonization of —Iraq as a state, its leadership, the ruling Baath Party, Iraq’s armed forces and the civilian state apparatus. This campaign played a crucial role in justifying and excusing the massively destructive impact of comprehensive sanctions on Iraq, and the humanitarian catastrophe they created. Official agencies of the US and UK governments contracted — and continue to retain — PR firms like the Rendon Group or Hill & Knowlton to fabricate and plant negative, disparaging and false stories about Iraq in the international media, and post-2003 in the Iraqi media also. In the run up to the March 2003 US/UK invasion in particular, Iraqi Arab Sunnis and the civil servants of the state apparatus were collectively equated to — and vilified in similar fashion to — the ruling Iraqi Baath Party. In his State of the Union address of January 2002, President George W Bush, in a phrase proposed by speechwriter David Frum, characterized Iraq as part of an “Axis of Evil”. While planning for an illegal invasion, in November 2002, in a meeting at 10 Downing Street attended by Professor Charles Tripp of SOAS and Dr Toby Dodge of Queen Mary University, Prime Minister Tony Blair reportedly asked: “Is Saddam uniquely evil?” Some US officials, particularly then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, asserted that the United States needed to respond to the 11 September 2001 attacks by “ending states” such as Iraq.
Within this context of demonization and dehumanization, respondents identified in this complaint used or supported false propaganda to persuade the people and the legislatures of their respective countries and other countries to support an illegal war of aggression against Iraq, knowing this action was unlawful and backed by deliberate fraud and deception.
President George W Bush, personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with Vice President Richard Cheney, illegally spent public funds on a secret propaganda programme to manufacture a false cause for war against Iraq. The Department of Defense engaged in a years-long secret domestic propaganda campaign to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq — a programme defended by the White House press secretary following its exposure. The mission of this programme placed it within the field controlled by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a White House task force formed in August 2002 to market an invasion of Iraq to the American people. The group included Karl Rove, I Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Nicholas E Calico, and James R Wilkinson. The WHIG produced white papers detailing so-called intelligence of Iraq’s nuclear threat that later proved to be false and fabricated. This supposed intelligence included the claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger as well as the claim that the high strength aluminum tubes Iraq purchased from China were to be used for the sole purpose of building centrifuges to enrich uranium. Unlike the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, the WHIG’s white papers provided “gripping images and stories” and used “literary license” with intelligence. The WHIG’s white papers were written at the same time and by the same people as speeches and talking points prepared for President George W Bush and many of his top officials.
The WHIG also organized a media blitz in which, between 7-8 September 2002, President George W Bush and his top advisers gave numerous interviews and all provided similarly gripping images about the possibility of nuclear attack by Iraq. The timing was no coincidence, as Andrew Card — then White House chief of staff — explained in an interview regarding waiting until after Labour Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” A Pentagon military analyst propaganda programme also existed, as revealed in a 20 April 2002 New York Times article. The programme illegally involved “covert attempts to mould opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recruited 75 retired military officers and gave them talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC, among other media outlets, and according to the New York Times report, which has not been disputed by the Pentagon or the White House, “Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.” According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents, the military analysts were considered “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who would deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions”. Robert S Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and Fox News military analyst described this as follows: “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.’”
President George W Bush, both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with Vice President Cheney, executed a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States into believing that there was and is a connection between Iraq and Saddam Hussein, on the one hand, and the attacks of 11 September 2001 and Al-Qaeda, on the other, so as to falsely justify the use of the US Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq, as well as to fraudulently obtain and maintain congressional authorization and funding for the use of such military force against Iraq. The means used to implement this deception were, first, allowing, authorizing and sanctioning the manipulation of intelligence analysis by those under his direction and control, including the vice president and the vice president’s agents, and second, personally making, or causing, authorizing and allowing to be made through highly-placed subordinates, including the president’s chief of staff, the White House press secretary and other White House spokespersons, the secretaries of state and defence, the national security advisor, and their deputies and spokespersons, false and fraudulent representations to the citizens of the United States and Congress regarding an alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Iraq, on the one hand, and the 11 September attacks and Al-Qaeda, on the other, that were half-true, literally true but misleading, and/or made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth, as well as omitting to state facts necessary to present an accurate picture of the truth.
President George W Bush, both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the vice president, executed a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States into believing that the nation of Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the use of the US Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq. The means used to implement this deception were personally making, or causing, authorizing and allowing to be made through highly-placed subordinates, including the president’s chief of staff, the White House press secretary and other White House spokespersons, the secretaries of state and defence, the national security advisor, and their deputies and spokespersons, false and fraudulent representations to the citizens of the United States and Congress regarding Iraq’s alleged possession of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons that were half-true, literally true but misleading, and/or made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth, as well as omitting to state facts necessary to present an accurate picture of the truth.
Long before the 20 March 2003 invasion of Iraq, a wealth of intelligence informed the president and those under his direction and control that Iraq’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons had been destroyed well before 1998, and that there was little, if any, credible intelligence that showed otherwise. As reported in The Washington Post in March of 2003, in 1995 Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, had informed US and British intelligence officers that “all weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear — were destroyed.” In September 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report that concluded: “A substantial amount of Iraq’s chemical warfare agents, precursors, munitions and production equipment were destroyed between 1991 and 1998 as a result of Operation Desert Storm and UNSCOM actions … [T]here is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons or whether Iraq has-or will-establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities.” Notwithstanding the absence of evidence proving that such stockpiles existed, and in direct contradiction to substantial evidence that showed they did not exist, the president and his subordinates and agents made numerous false representations claiming with certainty that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons that it was developing to use to attack the United States.
Despite overwhelming intelligence in the form of statements and reports filed by and on behalf of the CIA, the State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), among others, which indicated that the claim was untrue, the president, and those under his direction and control, made numerous representations claiming and implying through misleading language that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Niger in order to falsely buttress its argument that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons programme. Despite overwhelming evidence in the form of reports by nuclear weapons experts from the energy, the defense and state departments, as well from outside and international agencies that assessed that the aluminium tubes Iraq was purchasing were not suitable for nuclear centrifuge use and were, on the contrary, identical to ones used in rockets already being manufactured legally by Iraq, the president, and those under his direction and control, persisted in making numerous false and fraudulent representations implying and stating explicitly that the Iraqis were purchasing the tubes for use in a nuclear weapons programme.
Further, the president, both personally and acting through those under his direction and control, suppressed material information, selectively declassified information for the improper purposes of retaliating against a whistleblower and presenting a misleading picture of the alleged threat from Iraq, facilitated the exposure of the identity of a covert CIA operative and thereafter not only failed to investigate the improper leaks of classified information from within his administration, but also failed to cooperate with an investigation into possible federal violations resulting from this activity and, finally, entirely undermined the prosecution by commuting the sentence of Lewis Libby — indicted and convicted of the offence, along with perjury — citing false and insubstantial grounds, all in an effort to prevent Congress and the citizens of the United States from discovering the fraudulent nature of the president’s claimed justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
President George W Bush, both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the vice president, executed a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States into believing that the nation of Iraq posed an imminent threat to the US in order to justify the use of the US Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq. The means used to implement this deception were, first, allowing, authorizing and sanctioning the manipulation of intelligence analysis by those under his direction and control, including the vice president and the vice president’s agents, and second, personally making, or causing, authorizing and allowing to be made through highly-placed subordinates, including the president’s chief of staff, the White House press secretary and other White House spokespersons, the secretaries of state and defense, the national security advisor, and their deputies and spokespersons, false and fraudulent representations to the citizens of the United States and Congress regarding an alleged imminent threat posed by Iraq, statements that were half-true, literally true but misleading, and/or made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth, as well as omitting to state facts necessary to present an accurate picture of the truth.
Notwithstanding the complete absence of intelligence analysis to support a claim that Iraq posed an imminent or urgent threat to the United States and the intelligence community’s assessment that Iraq was not likely to attack the United States unless it was itself attacked, President George W Bush, both personally and through his agents and subordinates, made, allowed and caused to be made repeated false representations to the citizens and Congress of the United States implying and explicitly stating that such a dire threat existed. In furtherance of his fraudulent effort to deceive Congress and the citizens of the United States into believing that Iraq and Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States, the president allowed and authorized those acting under his direction and control, including Vice President Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Lewis Libby, who reported directly to both the president and the vice president, among others, to pressure intelligence analysts to tailor their assessments and to create special units outside of, and unknown to, the intelligence community in order to secretly obtain unreliable information, to manufacture intelligence, or to reinterpret raw data — so called “data mining” — in ways that would support the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq based on a false claim of urgency despite the lack of justification for such a pre-emptive action.
Similarly, a considerable number of the claims made by UK Prime Minister Blair about Iraq’s nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons from early 2002 onwards drew upon the authority of the intelligence services for their validation. The prime minister purported to have a substantial amount of knowledge, not otherwise in the public realm, which came from this source. Nevertheless, a substantial number of the most significant claims made by the prime minister were either an exaggeration of intelligence assessments or were in contradiction to intelligence findings that had been reported to him. The prime minister made claims about the existence of Iraq’s weapons that were not backed up by intelligence assessments; he made claims about threats from Iraq to the region and the world that were unsubstantiated by intelligence; he stated that UN inspectors were reporting that illicit weapons did exist, whilst they were reporting that some materials were unaccounted for, even though the distinction between these two categories was drawn clearly in intelligence reports; he asserted that Iraq’s illicit weapons programme was growing, despite the indications of intelligence that it was not; he misreported the findings of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the IAEA to portray inspections as futile and to assert that Iraq had committed a “material breach” of UN Security Council Resolution 1441; and he claimed that material found after April 2003 was part of a covert weapons programme, despite the lack of intelligence to support these claims.
The UK government, including the prime minister, had been in possession of a substantial amount of information that undermined the case that it was presenting to the public about Iraq’s weapons, but which it chose not to disclose. It is also proven that it fabricated and plagiarized information in the so-called “Downing Street Dossier” that played a key role in UK/US attempts to justify a pre-emptive war. In consequence, UK members of parliament and the public were unable to make a properly informed judgement of the scale of the threat posed by Iraq at the time they were asked by the government to support the invasion. The retention of information also prevented the government and the prime minister from being adequately exposed to properly informed criticism after the invasion. The evidence available to the public strongly indicates that the prime minister understood that the United States was planning to invade Iraq from late 2001, ostensibly unless Saddam Hussein was deposed through other means; that he made a decision to support the United States in this action during the course of mid-2002; and that he used the claims about Iraq’s weapons and about non-cooperation with UN weapons inspections throughout this period as a way to win support from the public and other countries. In effect, the prime minister had committed the UK to assist the US with the invasion of Iraq, but had not disclosed this commitment to parliament, to his own cabinet or to the British public.
ii. Destruction of Iraqi public health
While the false and fraudulent representations made by US and UK leaders in the run up to the 2003 preemptive war of aggression on Iraq found discursive context in over a decade of concerted efforts to demonize and dehumanize Iraq as a state, its leadership and the ruling Iraqi Baath Party, and as a nation, US presidents George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and now Barack Obama, along with British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, respectively instigated, ordered, supported, executed and/or perpetuated the destruction of Iraq’s public health, water and sanitation systems by destroying and dismantling, and/or preventing the reconstruction of, critical Iraqi civilian infrastructure, and contaminating Iraq with radioactive ordnance, and/or failing to undertake, or actively blocking, the decontamination of Iraq’s ecosystem and life environment.
Both during the 1991 Desert Storm and 2003 Shock and Awe bombing campaigns, US presidents George H W Bush and George W Bush, acting personally and through their agents and subordinates, as well as British prime ministers John Major and Tony Blair, acting personally and through their agents and subordinates, authorized the use of mass quantities of depleted uranium ordnance. Depleted uranium (DU/U-238) possesses a radioactive half-life of four and a half billion years. Exposure has known severe health consequences on humans and animals, and gravely affects the environment. In 1991, the US military used more than 350 tons of DU in around 970 radioactive bombs and missiles fired on Iraq. At the time and thereafter, the Pentagon intentionally concealed information, denied DU’s health related risks, and released misleading information on the areas in Iraq in which these weapons had been used, and their quantities and characteristics. A 1991 study by the UK Atomic Energy Authority predicted that if less than 10 per cent of the particles released by DU weapons used in Iraq were inhaled it could result in as many as “300,000 probable deaths”.
Between 1990 and 2001, the incidence rate of leukemia in Iraq grew by more than 600 per cent. Iraqi studies show around Basra a 60 per cent rise in child leukemia from 1990 to 1997, and a threefold increase in congenital malformations in 1998 compared to 1990. During the March-May 2003 US-UK bombing campaign, President George W Bush and Prime Minister Blair, knowledgeable of and warned of the health risks associated with radioactive materials and DU, authorized the use of around 2,000 additional tons of DU ordnance, including on densely civilian-populated areas, in Baghdad, Samawa and other provinces.
During Operation Desert Storm, President George H W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, planned, authorized and later justified the deliberate destruction of so-called “dual use” civilian infrastructure such as electrical power plants and water treatment plants, unlawfully and unjustifiably deemed legitimate military targets. Coalition Forces had foreknowledge of Iraq’s dependence on its water treatment facilities to provide drinkable water to Iraqis. The findings of a Defense Intelligence Agency report on “Iraq’s Water Treatment Vulnerabilities” was circulated to Coalition Forces on 22 January 1991. It examined the effects of the economic sanctions regime and its ban on oil exports and spare parts imports on the water system, concluding that the water system would collapse completely within six months if sanctions were maintained. The report stated that Iraq depended on imported specialized equipment and select chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline. It also stated that Iraq had no domestic sources of both water treatment facility replacement parts and some essential chemicals, and that the failure to secure supplies of both would result in a shortage of potable water for much of the population, which could lead to increased incidences — if not epidemics — of disease.
Coalition Forces, under the authority of US President George H W Bush and his agents and subordinates, totally destroyed 11 of Iraq’s 20 major power stations, and 119 substations, while a further six major power stations were heavily damaged. By the end of the bombing campaign, Iraq’s electricity supply was four per cent of its pre-war levels, causing the failure of water purification and sewage treatment plants. President George H W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates also authorized, by military strikes, the disabling of all major dams, most major pumping stations and many sewage treatment plants.
From 10-17 March 1991, UN Secretary General Peres de Cuellar headed a UN fact-finding mission inside Iraq. He reported to the president of the UN Security Council on 20 March 1991 that: “[…] nothing had prepared us (the team) for the particular form of devastation which has befallen the country. The recent conflict has wrought near apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure of what has been, until January 1991, a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society. Iraq has for some time to come, been relegated to a pre-industrial age, but with all the disabilities of post-industrial dependency on an intensive use of energy and technology. […] Having regard to the nature of Iraq’s society and economy, the energy vacuum is an omnipresent obstacle to the success of even a short term, massive effort to maintain life-sustaining conditions in each area of humanitarian need.”
De Cuellar concluded by recommending the lifting of sanctions on energy and spare parts, stating: “[…] it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remedy these immediate humanitarian needs without dealing with the underlying need for energy on an equally urgent basis. […] Otherwise, food that is imported cannot be preserved and distributed; water cannot be purified; sewage cannot be pumped away and cleansed; crops cannot be irrigated; medicaments cannot be conveyed where they are required; needs cannot even be effectively assessed. It is unmistakable that the Iraqi people may soon face a further imminent catastrophe, which would include epidemic and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not rapidly met. The long summer, with its often 45 or even 50 degree temperatures (113-122 degrees Fahrenheit), is only weeks away. Time is short.”
Knowledgeable of and warned of the effects of economic sanctions as well as Iraq’s water treatment dependence on energy and chemicals imports, and the foreseen consequences on Iraqi civilian health and life, President George H W Bush and his agents and subordinates, as well as Prime Minister Major and his agents and subordinates, deliberately instigated and championed UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, maintaining the same regime of sanctions and linking their suspension to the verified unconditional disarmament of Iraq, rather than to the prevailing humanitarian situation. Without the possibility to repair its infrastructure, including water treatment and electrical plants, due to the ban on imports of non-humanitarian goods and spare parts, Iraq could not contain the health problems that emerged from waterborne diseases and radioactive contamination.
Between 1992 and 2000, despite numerous US intelligence, UN bodies and NGO reports on the catastrophic humanitarian situation, and in particular the staggering increase in under-five child mortality and malnutrition, US President Clinton, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, as well as Prime Minister Major, perpetually threatened to use permanent member veto power if other UN Security Council members were to propose the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright justified the massive loss of civilian life caused when answering a journalist on whether the sanctions-related death of 560,000 Iraqi children by 1995 was worth it: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
So as to maintain sanctions, President Clinton and his agents and subordinates, along with UK counterparts, as well as President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates to follow, repeatedly lied about the existence of a weapons of mass destruction programme while they had been informed by UNSCOM Chief Inspector Rolf Ekeus that he was about to certify Iraq free of all weapons of mass destruction in early 1997. Between 1996 and March 2003, when Iraq was authorized, under the “Oil for Food” programme, to export a specified amount of oil products and to import non “dual use” items, presidents Clinton and George W Bush, acting through their agents and subordinates, along with their UK counterparts, deliberately used the consensus-based mechanism of Committee 661, responsible for monitoring all Iraq contracts under sanctions, by imposing a system of holdings on contracts they deemed to include “dual use” items. By 2002, the US was responsible for 93 per cent of holds, effectively blocking major Iraqi repair and rehabilitation projects. The US consistently blocked water purification chemicals such as chlorine, qualified as a dual use item. An estimated 1,500,000 Iraqis died from sanctions-related causes between 1990 and 2003.
Upon the illegal US/UK-led invasion and occupation, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, particularly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, and Chief Civil Administrator in Iraq L Paul Bremer, dismantled Iraq’s public health system in laying off thousands of skilled civil servants without wage or pension, including members of the Health Ministry and practicing doctors, and via the appointment of incompetent and/or corrupted staff in replacement. Jim O’Beirne, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) recruiter, cancelled the appointment of public health expert Frederick M Burkle to oversee the rehabilitation of Iraq’s healthcare system and appointed James K Haveman instead, a social worker who had been running a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan and who lacked the required competence for the task with which he was charged. As CPA adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Haveman urged focus on an anti-smoking campaign and concentrated the CPA’s use of Iraqi assets into rehabilitating maternity wards. No funds were allocated for the rebuilding of emergency rooms and operating theatres, or acquiring medical supplies, despite Iraqi hospitals and medical staff repeatedly pleading for basic supplies and facilities amid an overwhelming daily intake of casualties due to the continuing armed conflict.
Subsequently, the portfolios of different ministries, which remain staffed by thousands of US contractors working as “advisers”, were allocated to sectarian factions that participated in the US sponsored and vetted political process, along with their affiliated militias, later assimilated into the newly formed Iraqi Security Forces. One faction alone was given administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Transport — in effect, the entire public health condition of the Iraqi people. This faction organized the mass kidnapping and extrajudicial killing of thousands of Iraqi Arab Sunnis via the US trained and equipped Ministry of Health Protection Facilities Services and police units. Arab Sunni patients and their relatives were kidnapped from and killed in hospitals, found the day after or later on rubbish dumps, often bearing signs of torture and mutilation. Arab Sunni relatives trying to identify and retrieve their dead were also attacked in morgues, under control of the same faction. Doctors testify to being systematically threatened with death by militiamen, often wearing police uniforms, if found treating Arab Sunni patients.
In 2008, following the replacement of the former health minister, a deadly outbreak of cholera in Iraq was being blamed on a scandal involving corrupt Ministry of Health officials who failed to sterilise local drinking water because they were bribed to buy $11 million worth of chlorine from Iran for use in the provinces of Babil, Diwaniyah and Kerbala that was past its expiration date. President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, has systematically concealed and blocked information and investigations on corruption among Iraqi officials.
According to the UNHCR, an estimated 40 per cent of Iraq’s middle class, including academics, doctors, teachers and engineers, have fled the country due to “systematic” intimidation and murder. President George W Bush and his subordinates and agents purposefully promoted, and directly instigated, the breakdown of law and order by dismantling the Iraqi security apparatus. Health professionals have been systematically targeted both by state sponsored militias involved in extrajudicial killings, and criminal gangs involved in kidnappings. Both Coalition Forces and the US-supported and vetted Iraqi government have failed to arrest or investigate the perpetrators of this campaign of persecution. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that some Baghdad universities and hospitals have lost up to 80 per cent of their staff. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 2000 Iraqi doctors were killed and 250 kidnapped between 2003 and 2006. According to a Medact report published in January 2008, up to 75 per cent of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their posts since the US led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated. Reports on the Iraqi wounded show relatively low levels while credible estimates point to as many as 1,200,000 Iraqi deaths by violent means as of September 2007, suggesting that the wounded are unable to find treatment for their injuries and die due to a lack of skilled medical professionals and available medical supplies.
The 2007 State of the World’s Mothers Report noted that Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased 150 per cent since 1990. Some 122,000 Iraqi children died in 2005 alone before reaching their fifth birthday. More than half of these deaths were among babies in the first month of life. An Oxfam report of 2007 pointed to 8,000,000 Iraqis requiring immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in absolute poverty. Four million Iraqis lack food and are in dire need of varied forms of humanitarian assistance. Only 60 per cent of the 4,000,000 who depend on food assistance had access to rations from the public distribution system, down from 96 per cent before 2003. The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003. Some 80 per cent of Iraqis do not have access to effective sanitation. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent under sanctions to 28 per cent as of July 2007. A wave of assassinations of rubbish collectors has also left entire neighbourhoods with piling rubbish and waste, creating enormous environmental and health hazards for the population, especially children.
In April 2005, a UN watchdog warned that war damage to sanitation and electricity systems, coupled with worsening pollution, had aggravated Iraq’s environmental crisis and posed a grave threat to Iraqi public health. The report, issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), called for urgent action to restore Iraq’s water and sewage systems and to clean up pollution “hot spots” and piles of rubbish and medical waste to reduce the risk of epidemics. It also suggested scientists carry out a risk assessment of sites struck by DU munitions, and that the Iraqi public be given advice on how to avoid exposure to DU contamination. “Many environmental problems in Iraq are so alarming that an immediate assessment and a cleanup plan are needed urgently,” UNEP Iraq Study Group Chairman Pekka Haavisto said. Iraq’s environment minister, Othman Hasan, said the use of DU weapons by US-led Coalition Forces had a devastating impact on the Iraqi nation and has become a serious environmental challenge, leaving several parts of the country lethal to human and animal life. According to Hasan, only a fraction of sites hit with depleted uranium have been decontaminated by August 2009.
Decades of war and sanctions, followed by corruption and mismanagement, and compounded by two years of drought, are wreaking havoc on Iraq’s ecosystem, drying up riverbeds and marshes, turning arable land into desert, killing trees and plants, and transforming what was once the region’s most fertile area into a wasteland. Falling agricultural production means that Iraq, once a food exporter, will in 2009 have to import nearly 80 per cent of its food. By 2009, the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture estimates that 90 per cent of Iraqi land is now desert, or suffering from severe desertification, and that the remaining arable land is being eroded at the rate of five per cent per year. Iraq’s environment minister also warned about the danger posed by the tens of millions of land mines strewn across the country. “For one person we have one mine planted. We have 25 million mines in Iraq — one quarter of the world’s mines,” she said.
iii. Destruction of Iraqi national unity and identity
While the US Congress officially endorsed, via the Biden Partition Bill, the division of Iraq in 2007, promoting the partitioning of Iraq has been a lynchpin of US policy since 1991. Successive administrations have differed on the detail of partition, but all have addressed Iraq according to a rubric that posits and promotes the existence of three distinct regions and distinct peoples in Iraq, aiming to dismantle Iraq’s centralized system of government with Kurdish autonomy in favour of decentralized federalism at best. Following the instigation and betrayal of insurrectionary ethnic and sectarian opposition in Iraq in 1991, and the subsequent imposition of unilateral no-fly zones covering two-thirds of Iraqi territory, President Clinton, personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, authorized a covert CIA programme of supporting Iraqi opposition forces in 1992. Under air protection from the US Air Force, a meeting of opposition groups was organized in 1992 in Salah El Din in Iraq. The declaration of that meeting endorsed and introduced the principle of the rule of Iraq according to ethnic and sectarian quotas.
By 1995, when the devastating effect of the sanctions regime could no longer be concealed or denied, a draft resolution that would be passed as UN Security Council Resolution 986 on 14 April 2005, the so-called “Oil for Food” resolution, proposed that Iraq be allowed to sell $2 billion worth of oil every six months, and to purchase non “dual use” goods for humanitarian relief purposes. President Clinton, acting through his agents and subordinates, insisted on adding to the resolution the provision that the UN would administer the programme in the Iraq’s three northern governorates, as well as the establishment of a discriminatory redistribution system for oil revenue. While 34 per cent of Iraqi oil revenues from the quota of sales was earmarked for the UN Compensation Fund and other UN monitoring and inspections related costs, of the remaining 66 per cent, some 13 per cent was earmarked for the three autonomous Kurdish governorates of Dahuk, Arbil and Suleymaniyah, the remaining 53 per cent of the balance for the rest of Iraq.
This arrangement also contained a discriminatory allocation of deductions, taking all from the portion allocated to the Baghdad-controlled regions. Thus, the 13 per cent of the Iraqi population in the Kurdish areas of the north got 13 per cent of total oil sales, while 87 per cent of the population in the Baghdad-controlled areas in the centre and south got just 53 per cent of oil sales — 61 per cent of the rate available in the north. As a result, three northern Kurdish governorates were allowed to flourish economically, and their political leaders became more aggressive in pursuing not only autonomy but also independence.
In September 2002, STRATFOR released a report detailing the “Hashemite Plan”, with high-level sources reporting that US war planners were considering plans to divide Iraq into three regions. Iraq as a central unified state would cease to exist. According to STRATFOR, Israeli terrorism expert Ehud Sprinzak stated that the authors of the “Hashemite Plan” were Vice President Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz. Under the plan, a northern region including Kirkuk would become a Kurdish independent state; the central region of Iraq, including Baghdad, itself ceasing to be a capital, would join Jordan; the southern region, including Basra, would join Kuwait.
In his 1999 book, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, David Wurmser, Middle Adviser to Vice President Cheney, echoed similar ideas when advocating that the US intervene to create a “loosely unified Iraqi confederal government, shaped around strong sectarian and provincial entities.” Wurmser in 1996, along with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Feith and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee and by many seen as a chief architect of the 2003 Iraq war, wrote for incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu the strategy document, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”. Therein Netanyahu is encouraged to “re-establish” the “principle of pre-emption,” including removing Saddam Hussein from power, deemed “an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.” This document is understood as being influenced by the widely cited 1982 article of Oded Yinon, entitled “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s”, where it is explained that Israel’s strategy towards Syria and Iraq should embrace the dissolution of Syria and then Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas, such as in Lebanon, pointing to Iraq as Israel’s primary target in the long run on the Eastern front.
In November 2003, Leslie Gelb published an influential piece in The New York Times — rehashed as an op-ed in 2006 co-written with then-Senator Biden, current US vice president — outlining a plan to divide Iraq into three states: Kurd, Shia and Sunni. He echoed the Israeli strategy to divide Arab countries into many parts so that Israel would become the only force controlling the region. And in his New Yorker article, entitled “Plan B”, of 28 June 2004, Seymour Hersch reported that Israel told the US in summer 2003 that the occupation would fail politically and decided to interfere by training Kurdish forces in secret operations. When Avi Ditcher, former Israeli Shin Bet director and former minister of internal security praised Israel’s achievements in Iraq in a speech on 4 September 2008, he confirmed that President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates facilitated and authorized the presence and activities of Israeli agents on Iraqi soil, while Iraq is officially at war with Israel.
Knowledgeable of the expansionist desires of the two Iraqi Kurdish political parties, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, in concert with UK counterparts, gave military control of a band south of the northern no-fly zone, from Syria’s borders to Iran’s borders, including Kirkuk with its oil resource richness and strategic situation, to Kurdish political parties and the Kurdish Peshmerga militia. This region, which was afterwards dubbed “disputed areas”, is inhabited by Turkmen, Christians, Yezidis, Shabak, Arabs and Kurds. As Kurdish parties established a de facto semi-independent region in the north, Shia religious parties allied with Iran demanded a similarly autonomous region in the south and Baghdad. The US-drafted TAL echoed and endorsed the tripartite division of Iraq, subsequently imposed as the base upon which a permanent constitution for Iraq was to be drafted, according to a political transition sequence set out in the TAL. The TAL also cancelled the idea of Iraqi citizenship and the Arab character of the Arab Republic of Iraq, whose population is at least 75 per cent Arab. Preparing the division of the united Iraq, it deemed Iraq a country of many nationalities, and granted the right to provinces to merge and create semi-independent regions. It defined the state as “federal” with an autonomous Kurdistan region having its own administration and making the militias of its political parties its armed forces.
The US-drafted TAL was adopted by the US-appointed ICG, without consulting the Iraqi people, mere weeks ahead of Chief Civil Administrator Bremer “handing sovereignty” to the UN-appointed interim Iraqi government of Iyad Allawi. Working through his agents and subordinates, in particular US Ambassador to the UN John Danforth, President George W Bush initiated UN Security Council Resolution 1546 of 8 June 2004, which “welcomes” the political process to establish a federal Iraq while the Iraqi people were not consulted, their foreign-appointed representatives unelected. Throughout the months ahead of Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for 31 January 2005, President George W Bush, personally and working through his agents and subordinates, authorized the persecution and ill treatment of those who refused to recognize the TAL, opposed the confederal and sectarian nature of the political process of the “New Iraq”, and/or the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil, including campaigns of mass arbitrary detention, torture, and the use of disproportionate and indiscriminate force.
President George W Bush personally authorized the use of force with the purpose of disenfranchising Iraqis, both overall as a nation and within groupings targeted recursively according to specific political intention. Towns situated in what the US military defined as the “Sunni Triangle” are systematically targeted. Among others, the towns around the capital — Yusifyah, Mahmoudia, Abu Ghraib, Taji, Selman Pack, Khan Beni Saad, Behrez, and Al-Khalis — were all attacked. Fallujah was singled out for resisting the US occupation project and was destroyed in November 2004, entailing the forced displacement of 300,000 of its inhabitants.
While mass arrests, targeted assassinations, and attacks on villages, towns and cities were ongoing, in the absence of a national census and following the destruction of public registries of the identity of Iraqi citizens during the 10-15 April 2003 wave of destruction and looting, and while international observers meant to monitor the elections were stationed in Amman for security reasons, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, authorized that the food rationing system be used as a means of regulating and validating the polling process, leading to thousands unwilling to endorse an elections process based on — and whose results were prohibited from contradicting — the TAL being not only disenfranchised but also starved. The elections themselves were widely seen as unfree and unfair. Almost all lists ran on ethnic and sectarian tickets. Ballot boxes were reportedly smuggled from neighbouring countries, and voters intimidated. In areas controlled by the Peshmerga militia, residents reported systematic fraud, such as transferring foreign nationals to participate in the ballot, as well as allowing the same person to vote at multiple polling centres on the same day. In the centre of Iraq, following months of siege, many areas were afforded no polling stations at all.
In December 2006, following the February bombing of Al-Askari shrine of Samarra and the massive sectarian violence it sparked, a bi-partisan panel known as the Iraq Study Group released its final report. It recommended the conditional withdrawal of US troops, engaging in talks with Iraq’s neighbours, and embedding more US troops with Iraqi units. The Bush administration dismissed the report and its recommendations. Instead, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, escalated the US military offensive. On 10 January 2007, President George W Bush announced “the Surge” strategy, deciding on deploying an additional 30,000 US troops in Iraq, especially Baghdad.
During the Baghdad Pacification Plan, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, authorized the forced displacement of millions of Iraqis and the ethnic cleansing of 175 erstwhile mixed neighborhoods, through state sponsored extrajudicial killing, mass arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention, disappearance, torture, mutilation, among other unlawful actions. The “Surge” corresponds to the biggest wave of Iraqi displacement of the last six years, with for several months up to 100,000 Iraqis fleeing on a monthly basis to neighbouring countries. Some 700,000 Iraqis fled to Syria in 2007 alone. According to the UNHCR, 40 per cent of Iraq’s middle class has been made refugee. The mass displacement of the middle class left the social field open for religious and fascist leaders, compounding the total debilitation of the education and health systems. Universities became a place for religious/sectarian demonstrations and killings, and hospitals a trap to kill people who visit them. Death squads accomplished their role of creating deep social wounds between Shias and Sunnis and of going out of control. Scores of bodies were being found in the street, day after day for months, seemingly killed because they were not Shia or Kurd.
During the course of the “Surge”, President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, ordered entire Sunni neighbourhoods of Baghdad be walled in by 12 metre-high blast walls with only one entrance, left permanently under siege, under curfew, and surrounded by checkpoints. The walls extended to all Baghdad, which is now divided into some 30 purged enclaves separated by walls and guarded by sectarian militias. Movement between neighbourhoods has been reduced to a minimal level. Everyday life for inhabitants became impossible because of checkpoints, corruption, absence of electricity, medicine, healthcare, water, and an absence of civic rights. While killings declined, arrests increased.
According to research conducted by the University of California, the “Surge” owes much of its putative success to sectarian violence. The “cleansing” of Baghdad’s formerly mixed neighbourhoods reduced available targets and thus the death tolls fell. “If the surge had truly ‘worked’ we would expect to see a steady increase in night-light output over time,” said Thomas Gillepsie, one of the Iraq Study Group co-authors in a press release. “Instead, we found that the night light signature diminished in only certain neighbourhoods, and the pattern appears to be associated with ethno-sectarian violence and neighbourhood ethnic cleansing.” According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the surge policy served to “essentially support a quasi-feudal devolution of authority to armed enclaves, who exist at the expense of the central government authority … Those we are arming and training are arming and training themselves not to facilitate our objectives but to pursue their own objectives vis-à-vis other Iraqis. It means that the sectarian and ethnic conflicts that are now suppressed are likely to burst out with even greater ferocity in the future.”
iv. Destruction and liquidation of Iraqi heritage and wealth
Upon invasion, knowledgeable of the unique national heritage of Iraq and warned of the dangers it would be exposed to during the course of military conflict, as well as the needs of a functioning state for public records and registries, President George W Bush, personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, and their UK counterparts, failed to protect, and specifically refrained from protecting, for several consecutive days, all Iraqi public, cultural, artistic and historical buildings, institutions and monuments, which were subject to massive looting, particularly in the days 10-15 April 2003.
As documented by Nabil Al-Tikriti, and according to numerous eyewitnesses and the testimony of state institution and ministry employees, paramilitary units with apparent specific plans and targets, later joined by crowds, started the large scale looting of all public property, attacking, looting, destroying and setting fire to buildings with accelerative explosives. The looting engulfed all major Iraqi cities. Coalition Forces were ordered not to intervene and not to fire warning shots, and protected only the Ministry of Oil and the Interior Ministry. In mid-April, at the height of the looting, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld cancelled the deployment of the First Cavalry Division — some 16,000 soldiers who could have prevented, if ordered, the destruction of Iraq’s civil and institutional infrastructure. Martial law was not declared.
The institutions, possessions, depots, archives and production units of the ministries of planning, education, health, defence, water and irrigation, trade and industry, foreign affairs, culture and information were all attacked, their records stolen or burnt, and their facilities looted. National public registries of property ownership and the registries of the identity of citizens were destroyed. Within days, 16 of 20 Iraqi ministries had been totally destroyed. The looting was so comprehensive that factory machines, nuclear research equipment, and steel rebars reinforcing walls and ceilings were plundered, along with electrical cabling. The level of looting of overhead cables led to a dip in the price of copper on the world market.
National armouries were equally appropriated, looted or destroyed, mainly by US allied militias. Half a million tons of weapons disappeared. Amidst a wave of parallel assassinations of Iraqi scientists, academics and professionals, a number of scientists and university professors sent an SOS — made public by Iraq researcher and expert Dirk Adriaensens — complaining that US soldiers were transporting mobs to scientific and educational institutions to destroy scientific research centres, confiscate papers and documents, and that US forces drafted and provided lists of the names, addresses and research interests of Iraqi scientists to those who were conducting the attacks. All hospitals, schools and banks were ransacked and looted. By 15 April, there was no functioning bank in Baghdad and Iraqis’ private savings had been stolen.
The CPA estimated that the total value of looted material reached $12 billion, equivalent to the revenue allocated for Iraq during 2003-04. Fifty per cent of water treatment plants in Iraq were no longer functioning and no sewage treatment plant in Baghdad was functioning. Nearly $500 million worth of spare parts, equipment, water treatment chemicals and service vehicles had been looted or destroyed. Electricity supplies to nearly forty per cent of the population were cut. Whilst some hospitals within urban centres that escaped damage or looting had started functioning with minimal levels of equipment, a majority of primary healthcare facilities remained out of service. Both the staff and recipients of such services, particularly women and children, were avoiding school and health facilities due to the adverse security environment.
According to UNICEF, in July 2003: “The collapse of the political regime has not only meant a major change in the political governance structure in Iraq, but also the near total collapse of the public administration that has been traditionally responsible for all social services in the country.” The UN had earlier warned that due to the sanctions regime more than 60 per cent of Iraqis were completely dependent on the food-rationing programme, and that food reserves could last only a few months. The food-rationing programme, administered through a state distribution system, was rendered non-functional by looting. UNICEF further estimated that 500 schools in Baghdad were damaged, and all equipment and material looted from the majority of schools in Baghdad. According to Jairam Reddy, director of the United Nations University, “some 84 per cent of Iraq’s institutions of higher education have been burnt, looted or destroyed,” including 2000 laboratories. John Agresto, former CPA director of higher education reconstruction, described the devastation of Iraq’s schools and universities as an “opportunity for a clean start”.
Despite having been provided, by numerous informed professionals and institutions, with lists of specific institutions and sites at risk, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, and their UK counterparts, assigned no troops to protect Iraq’s cultural and historical heritage. The National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, the Mosul Museum, the Iraqi National Library and Archives, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs’ Central Library, the Academy of Science, as well as the House of Wisdom, were all attacked and looted. Nabil Al-Tikriti has documented that employees of multiple heritage institutions and sites were in contact with US forces as the looting was taking place and that their pleas for protection were ignored. Thousands of unique Mesopotamian, Sumerian and Abbasid artifacts, along with hundreds of thousands of books and manuscripts, many extremely rare from the Ottoman, Persian and Hashemite periods, as well as thousands of research papers, were stolen, destroyed or burnt. Some employees have testified to seeing US soldiers colluding in the looting.
On 11 April 2003, in a press briefing, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed the looting and vandalism throughout much of Iraq with the comment, “Stuff happens.” He added that looting was “part of the price” for freedom. At the time, General Jay Garner, head of the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), responsible for post-war planning and administration, was held up in Kuwait, unable to enter Iraq because General Tommy Franks, commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), refused to allocate his staff the necessary military protection detail.
Beyond a failure to protect, and specific orders given to Coalition Forces not to protect, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, authorized the appropriation, for military use, of several ancient Iraqi archaeological sites. In Babylon, the famed capital of Mesopotamian antiquity, US military forces and contractors partly bulldozed the world heritage site to create a helicopter landing pad, the site becoming Forward Operating Base Camp Alpha and headquarters of the South Central Command of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq (MNF-I). Ur, the birthplace of Abraham and recognized as the first city-state, was appropriated for the Tallil Forward Operating Base. According to the 2009 UNESCO report, “Damage Assessment in Babylon”, the appropriation of historical sites as military camps and facilities has destroyed thousands of years of archaeological material, stratigraphy and historical data.
Numerous historic mosques and other monuments across the country have also been destroyed by military action, shooting and bombing. A number of video clips shot by US soldiers and now in the public domain show deliberate vengeful acts of vandalism against mosques and monuments, along with other cultural and civilian objects. Some academic researchers refer to the destruction and looting in Iraq as a whole as “memocide” — the intentional destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage.
Further to the destruction of Iraq’s cultural, historical and institutional heritage, entailing the looting and destruction of all state institutions leading to the collapse of all public services, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, consciously acquisitioned, plundered and wasted Iraqi assets and wealth, including the totality of Iraqi state finances. Via UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, passed under US pressure, all UN and internationally held assets of Iraq, the Iraqi Baath Party, its high ranking members and their families were placed in trusteeship under the Development Fund and given to the CPA. After 14 months, nearly all this revenue — $23 — was gone. In the last month of the “official” occupation alone, $5 billion was spent. Personnel of the CPA report a distinct push to spend as much as possible ahead of the “transfer of sovereignty” to the US-vetted and protected interim Iraqi government. In one instance, $7 million in cash was given to one field administrator on instruction that it be spent within one week. By contrast, of $18 billion committed by US Congress in October 2003 for reconstruction, a mere $1 billion was disbursed one year later.
In the year after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US Federal Reserve shipped $11,981,531,000 of the Development Fund in US currency, or nearly 281 million notes weighing 363 tons, from New York to Baghdad for disbursement to Iraqi ministries and US contractors. Using C-130 planes, the deliveries took place once or twice a month with the biggest delivery being $2,401,600,000 on 22 June 2004, six days before the “handover of sovereignty”. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the way the cash was handled was mind-boggling. He wrote in a memorandum: “The numbers are so large that it doesn’t seem possible that they’re true. Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone?” The memorandum concludes: “Many of the funds appear to have been lost to corruption and waste … thousands of ‘ghost employees’ were receiving pay cheques from Iraqi ministries under the CPA’s control.” In one ministry, the inspector general found that 8,206 employees were on the payroll, but only 602 could be validated.
President George W Bush further consciously permitted a system of fund allocation to operate that totally lacked transparency and oversight. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction — an independent government agency created by the US Congress to provide oversight of the use and alleged misuse of the $52 billion US reconstruction programme in Iraq — has 50 criminal investigations for fraud in Iraq currently underway. Meanwhile, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), a UN watchdog created by Security Council Resolution 1483 to oversee the accounting of the Development Fund for Iraq, revealed that $12 billion could not be accounted for from the time the Development Fund was administered by the CPA. Inspector General Bowen wrote in his report of January 2005, that “after months of careful interview […] my auditors concluded that there were not adequate systems in place to ensure that the CPA knew what happened to the DFI funds after they were disbursed to the Iraqi ministries.” The Inspector’s General audit was limited to funds disbursed to Iraqi ministries between October 2003 and June 2004 to pay for budget items. Some $8.8 billion that the CPA tuned over to Iraqi ministries cannot properly be accounted for. Bowen has stated that he now believes that the lack of accountability and transparency extended to the entire $20 billion expended by the CPA.
Chief Civil Administrator Bremer’s financial adviser, retired Admiral David Oliver, said in an interview with the BBC World Service when asked what had happened to the $8.8 billion turned over to Iraqi ministries: “I have no idea. I can’t tell you whether or not the money went to the right things or didn’t – nor do I actually think it’s important.” The BBC journalist interviewing him interjected, “But the fact is billions of dollars have disappeared without trace”, to which Oliver answered: “Of their money. Billions of dollars of their money, yeah I understand. I’m saying, what difference does it make?” Contrary to the stipulation set by Security Council Resolution 1483, that an independent certified public accounting firm be appointed to oversee the disbursement of the Development Fund, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, including the staff of the CPA, purposefully appointed an incompetent and inexperienced consulting firm called North Star Consultants Inc. The firm was so small that it reportedly operated out of a private home in San Diego. Mr Bowen found that the company “did not perform a review of internal controls as required by the contract.” On 20 April 2004, a CPA official reported that the “CPA did not obtain the services of a certified public accounting firm as it was determined that these services were not those required,” as stated in a Congressional Research Service report in 2009.
President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, also facilitated the smuggling of Iraq’s natural resources, and consequently the financing of sectarian militias involved in numerous crimes against the Iraqi people, collectively and individually. Since the transfer of Iraqi assets to the Development Fund for Iraq via Security Council Resolution 1483, and the lifting of the UN monitoring system over petroleum in Iraq, the IAMB has required on multiple occasions that the CPA and later successive Iraqi governments make sure to repair and operate the metering system — destroyed in the invasion — meant to quantify the amount of oil being extracted. No operating oil field has installed a metering system to this day. Mousa Faraj, former president of the Anti-Corruption Board, wrote that Coalition Forces refused to help him to stop oil smuggling. Quarterly “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” reports to US Congress acknowledge that militia forces fund part of their operations via the smuggling of oil. Iraqi officials believe that around two million barrels of oil are smuggled everyday. The Oil Facilities Protection Services, falling under the Ministry of Interior but also under the Oil Ministry, are accused of organizing the smuggling themselves.
Before 2003, Iraqi crude oil production was about 2.5 million barrels per day. Since 2003, production has not reached this level. In 2006, Iraqi crude oil production averaged 2.12 million barrels per day. The situation has been characterized by some Oil Ministry officials as chaotic, with one official stating, as reported by the International Relations and Security Network: “We do not know the exact quantity of oil we are exporting, we do not exactly know the prices we are selling it for, and we do not know where the oil revenue is going.” RAND Corporation Senior Analyst Keith Crane suggested before a US Foreign Relations Committee hearing that a third of Iraqi imports of gasoline and diesel fuel are stolen annually, which in 2005 cost the country about $2 billion. Experts estimate that five to 10 per cent of Iraq’s national revenue is lost to smuggling.
President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, also purposely designed, implemented and justified a “cost-plus” contracting system, opening the way for both endemic corruption and massive price gouging from Iraqi financial resources. According to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), much of the balance of rising costs are the result of increasing security billing, which is buried in “cost plus” contracts where companies get reimbursed for all costs spent plus a percentage of those costs as a fee. For example, the Nassariyah water treatment plant project, originally with a budget of $80 million, was billed the original cost projection plus $200 million. A Congressional Research Service report of August 2009 shows that infrastructure projects in Iraq are characterized by high administrative costs. About 55 per cent of KBR work on the RIO project, and 43 per cent of a Parsons oil project, were consumed by overhead costs. President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, has failed to properly audit or prevent corruption. When the Pentagon’s own auditors determined that about $263 million of a Halliburton subsidiary’s costs were potentially excessive in a $2.41 billion worth contract, the US Army still paid the company all but $10.1 million of the disputed costs. Credible estimates put Halliburton’s overcharges alone at a total of $1.8 billion.
President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, deliberately granted civilian contractors in Iraq immunity under Iraqi law, preventing the Iraqi government from ever recovering Iraqi assets unfairly acquired or stolen by US contractors.
v. Destruction of the Iraqi state
President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, particularly Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Feith, along with Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, planned, authorized and executed, with the support of UK counterparts, the dismantlement of the united Arab Republic of Iraq, a founding member of the United Nations, via a policy, promoted by Kanan Makiya, of “DeBaathification”, replacing it with a “federal” sectarian state based on quotas. This policy was executed in parallel with the looting and destruction of Iraq’s material and cultural wealth, and a wave of assassinations of Baath Party members across Iraq.
On 11 April, Army Brigadier General Vincent Brooks announced that the US military had issued a deck of cards of 55 high ranking Iraqi officials wanted “dead or alive”. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld referred to search operations for identified individuals as “manhunting”, in 2006 personally authorizing that “manhunting” become part of the official rules of engagement of US Special Forces. Hit lists were circulated via email, posted in public buildings or on walls in the streets. On 15 December 2003, Seymour Hersch reported in the New Yorker that senior intelligence officers had indicated that the rules of engagement of US Special Forces included assassinations and that, given the number of anti-Coalition Forces attacks taking place by that time, potential targets had been extended to middle range Baath Party members and other anti-occupation groups and individuals. The underground leadership of the Baath Party claims that some 35,000 Baathists were killed in the opening three months of the occupation, by extrajudicial killing, Coalition Forces attacks, or by US-allied militias. This number, it claims, reached 125,000 by 2009.
Under the cover of hunting Baathists, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, and their UK counterparts, ordered and/or authorized the arbitrary mass arrest and torture of thousands of Iraqis while condoning and/or participating in the extrajudicial killings of Baathists.
The persecution of high-ranking Iraqi scientists, pilots, university professors, journalists, medical professionals, judges and lawyers, as well as senior and mid-level professionals and administrators, who were subject to a wave of assassinations, has neither been investigated, prevented nor condemned by President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, or by their UK counterparts. The president of Baghdad University was among the first killed. The consequences of the assassination, disappearance and flight of Iraq’s educated and professional class on the country and the functioning of state services have been devastating, and are ongoing for Iraq’s future development. In a context in which mass killing was occurring, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, and their UK counterparts, have made no effort to protect the Iraqi middle class and ordinary citizens, 40 per cent of which has fled the country, according to the UNHCR. DeBaathification and the equation of Iraq’s civil service with Baathism have been used as political cover for inaction as well as direct persecution.
On 7 February 2004, less than one year into the US occupation, The New York Times quoted Iraqi police officers and a member of the Baghdad City Council estimating the number of assassinated academics at between 500 and 1000. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 2000 Iraqi doctors were killed and 250 kidnapped between 2003 and 2006, and that 331 schoolteachers were assassinated in the first four months of 2006 alone. According to the Iraqi Lawyers Association, by 2007 at least 210 lawyers and judges had been killed, in addition to dozens injured in non-fatal attacks.
According to an article published by the Christian Science Monitor, Iraqi academics claimed that some 2500 university professors had been killed, kidnapped or told to flea by June 2006. On 19 October 2006, Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Special Police, under the authority of President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, were ordered to raid the office of the Association of Iraqi University Professors established by prominent geologist Dr Issam Al-Rawi to “defend the professors’ rights and lives”. Dr Al-Rawi was active in collecting data on assassinated academics and was an outspoken critic of the US-led occupation. On 30 October 2006, two days after appearing on Al-Jazeera television denouncing the raid and criticizing the lack of protection afforded to academics, Al-Rawi was assassinated close to his home, on his way to Baghdad University.
The BRussells Tribunal has detailed 423 similar assassinations of Iraqi academics and 311 media professionals as of August 2009. A report delivered to the UK Cross-Party Commission in June 2007 demonstrates that the killing of academics has been widely dispersed across academic disciplines, that the rate has increased over time, that around 70 per cent of victims documented held high university positions, such as rector or chancellor, dean or vice dean, department head or professor, and that the vast majority (82 per cent) of killings targeted professionals of the universities and higher education colleges of Central Baghdad, Southern Basra and Northern Mosul. Some 25 per cent of victims were killed in the street, 21 per cent at home, 19 per cent at their workplace and 35 per cent under some form of detention. According to the same report, the majority of killings targeted specific persons and were marked in their degree of professionalism, with very few intended targets surviving.
The pattern and grouping of assassinations suggests a conscious plan to deny Iraq its advanced intellectual capacity and to debilitate its general and higher education system. According to researcher and expert on Iraq, Dirk Adriaensens, when set in the context of similar systematic campaigns of assassination across other professions, including doctors and health workers, lawyers and judges, engineers and journalists, the pattern suggests a systematic attack on Iraq’s professional middle class — the class capable of running the Iraqi state.
The harm done to Iraq by the assassination of its professional middle class and the destruction of its civil and institutional infrastructure and cultural and national heritage is compounded by — and follows from — the failure, which in its systematic character infers purpose and criminal negligence, of President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates, and their UK counterparts, to effectively plan for Iraq’s post-war administration. Despite the fact that the US State Department had established the “Future of Iraq Project” in 2002, from which was produced 13 volumes of analysis and directives on how to establish an ordered administration in Iraq in the post-conflict period, on 20 January 2003, President George W Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive #24 (NSPC-24), giving control of post-war Iraq over to the Pentagon. In Washington, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Feith, was put in charge of post-war planning — a man described by General Franks as the “dumbest motherfucker on the planet”. A mere eight weeks ahead of the invasion, ORHA was established to oversee Iraq’s post-war reconstruction and administration. Retired Army General Garner, appointed head of ORHA, is on record as stating that he had no knowledge of the Future of Iraq Project or its conclusions.
Similarly, in the UK, Prime Minister Blair and his agents and subordinates established the Iraq Policy Unit a mere two months ahead of the invasion, charged with developing a strategy for post-war reconstruction and administration. Professor Tripp reports that on 17 March 2003 — two days ahead of the war — he received an email from the UK Department for International Development asking if he or anyone he knew was available to do “desk based research”, and to provide a reading list, on “government structures” in Iraq.
Further, President George W Bush and his agents and subordinates purposively underfunded the reconstruction of Iraq, arguing that Iraqi oil proceeds would cover the costs. When General Garner in February 2003 decried the fact that his team was allocated only $27 million to rebuild Iraq where Garner forecasted the cost of reconstruction to be upwards of $12 billion, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld told him: “If you think we’re spending our money on that, you’re wrong. We’re not doing that. They’re going to spend their money rebuilding their country.” By the time Garner entered Iraq, ORHA comprised a staff of a mere 120 persons to run a country of 25 million people. When pressed on the issues of funding and staffing, Lawrence DiRita, aide to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, banging a table with his fist, responded: “We don’t owe the people of Iraq anything! We’re giving them their freedom. That’s enough.”
Despite impossible time, financial and staffing constraints, ahead of entry to Iraq General Garner established a “Unified Mission Plan” that consisted of organizing elections within 90 days, removing top Baath Party members from office, downsizing the Iraqi army by half, and quickly pulling US troops out of Iraqi cities. Garner’s plan to recall the Iraqi Army was supported by CENTCOM, who had factored a recall into their operational plans. Colonel Paul Hughes, working with Garner and ORHA, was in charge of contacting Iraqi Army personnel and officers and reports that by 9 May 2003 he had established, by courier system, a list of 100,000 signatures of Iraqi Army personnel under the name, “Independent Military Gathering”, in Baghdad, Mosul, Basra and Kirkuk, willing to enter into discussion with the civil administration of the occupation. President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, purposefully cancelled the implementation of this plan by abruptly removing General Garner from his responsibilities and appointing, on 23 April 2003, L Paul Bremer —on the suggestion of Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz and Assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for National Security Affairs Lewis Libby — as presidential envoy to Iraq. According to Ambassador James Dobbins, former assistant secretary of state, “it was lack of experience that commended [Bremer] to the Bush Administration.”
While still in Washington, Bremer, acting under the authority of President George W Bush, blocked all progress on the formation of an interim Iraqi government, established the policy of deBaathification, and wrote the order to disband the Iraqi Army. Just prior to his arrival in Iraq, Bremer declared that his mission was to “eradicate the Baathists”. On the first day of his arrival in Iraq, 13 May 2003, Chief Civil Administrator Bremer circulated internally CPA Order #1, “The DeBaathification of Iraqi Society”. General Garner has testified to immediately going to Bremer’s office to contest that the order went “too deep”. Former Chief Civil Administrator Bremer continues to deny recollection of this meeting. Garner reportedly had previously advocated to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that Baathists were an Iraqi problem and should be left to the Iraqis. In the meeting with Bremer, Garner suggested that he and a CIA officer present take 45 minutes to consider the order and digest it, and then speak with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to “soften it”. Bremer’s response, according to Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post, was: “Look, you don’t understand. I’m not asking you. I’m telling you, this is what I’m going to do. I’m not asking for your advice.” After the argument continued a few moments more, Bremer said finally, according to Thomas Ricks: “Look, I have my orders; this is what I’m doing.”
Acting through his agents and subordinates, in particular Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, President George W Bush, supported by UK counterparts, authorized the persecution of some 30,000 Iraqi civil servants by denying them means of survival, barring them from public life, and subsequently failing to provide them with security and/or condoning their extrajudicial killing or arbitrary arrest. CPA Order #1 was issued 15 May 2003. The Iraqi secular Arab Socialist Baath Party was banned. Estimates put its membership near two million. The order immediately dismissed the four top-ranking party layers, denying them salaries and pensions, and banning them from public service and participation in political life. Around 30,000 employees of different ministries, of which roughly 10-15,000 were researchers and teachers, but also judges, lawyers, engineers and scientists, were directly affected. CPA Order #1 effectively cancelled and disbanded the Iraqi state.
To oversee the process of the “DeBaathification of Iraqi society”, a DeBaathification Commission was appointed, headed by Ahmed Chalabi, general secretary of the US-funded Iraqi National Congress, a grouping of opposition forces that previously had instigated coup attempts against the former Iraqi government. Lower party rank employees were to be individually screened by the Commission for possible reemployment depending on their level of affiliation with the Baath Party. Contrary to what was propagandized by US and UK agencies and officials, including Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, the Baath Party was not in composition, nor in ideology, a Sunni organization. The findings of the DeBaathification Commission show that more than 50 per cent of those affected by CPA Order #1 were Iraqi Arab Shias, as were more than half of the 55 most wanted Baath Party officials. Christians as well as other minorities were members of the Baath Party. Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, who remains in US detention, is Christian. As intelligence specialists testify, along with academic authorities, the Arab Republic of Iraq was a secular welfare state, providing free access to health and education, and employing 57 per cent of the workforce in its public institutions, 47 per cent of which were female.
Seven days after issuing Order #1, President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, particularly Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, authorized the persecution of a further 450,000 Iraqis by dissolving the defence and security apparatus of the Iraqi state, depriving them of means of survival, barring them from public service and subsequently failing to provide them protection, and at times ordering their arbitrary arrest and condoning or failing to prevent their extrajudicial killing. On 23 May 2003, CPA Order #2, “Dissolving the Entities”, was issued. The Iraqi Army, Iraqi Air Force, Iraqi Navy, the Iraqi Air Defence Force, and other regular military services were all dissolved. The Iraqi Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Military Affairs, the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the National Security Bureau, the Directorate of National Security (Amn Al-Am), the Special Security Organization and organizations and institutions such as the Presidential Diwan, the Presidential Secretariat, the Revolutionary Command Council, the National Assembly, the Youth Organization (Al-Futuwah), the National Olympic Committee, the Revolutionary, Special and National Security Courts, as well as the Republican Guard, the Special Republican Guard, the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Al-Quds Force, and Emergency Forces (Quwat Al-Tawari) were dissolved also. All civil and paramilitary organizations directly affiliated to the Iraqi president were dissolved.
Some 450,000 military personnel were laid off without pay or pension. All military officers above the rank of colonel were barred from returning to work, as were nearly 100,000 personnel employed in different intelligence services.
One day before CPA Order #2 was issued, President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, particularly US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, instigated UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, appropriating Iraq’s assets. Resolution 1483 notably decided to freeze, seize and transfer all UN and internationally held assets of Iraq, the Iraqi Baath Party, its high ranking members and their families, to the newly created Development Fund for Iraq, as well as to transfer the “Oil for Food” programme to the CPA within six months. The resolution also required the international community not to provide asylum to Baath Party officials.
Two days after issuing CPA Order #2, on 25 May 2003 Chief Civil Administrator Bremer issued CPA Order #4: “Management of Property and Assets of the Iraqi Baath Party”. The CPA seized all Iraqi Baath Party property and assets including “all movable and immovable property, records and data, cash, funds, realizable assets and liquid capital, in whatever form maintained and wherever located, used, possessed, or controlled by the Baath Party, its officials and members, and all members, and all residences occupied by officials or members assigned to them by the Party, a member of the Baath Party or other State instrumentality and that were not purchased for full value by those officials or members.” High-ranking members and their families’ assets and properties were seized and confiscated, leaving them without protection, resources or homes. All state assets were appropriated.
While CPA Order #1 and Order #2 dismissed 500,000 public servants and military personnel, CPA Order #4 left tens of thousands with no individual means of material survival and put all Iraqi state assets in the hands of the occupation, under the direction and authority of President George W Bush. It has been reported that Secretary of State Colin Powell learned of CPA Order #2 only after it was issued. Order #2 was widely denounced by high-ranking generals of the US Armed Forces, including Lieutenant General David McKiernan on 23 May 2003, but not reversed. The disbanding of the Iraqi Army opened the field for the full ascent of sectarian militias and left the Iraqi people with no force present to protect them as a national group, or individually as citizens.
All Iraqis were immediately individualized, leaving each to fend for him or herself while the US military had previously warned that anyone carrying a weapon was a potential target. At the same time, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army forced Iraqis to embrace, if only for protection, secondary identities — Shia, Sunni, Kurd, and other minorities. In July 2003, Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, under the authority of President George W Bush, appointed a 25-member Interim Governing Council (IGC) founded on a system of quotas for ethnic and confessional groupings though no national census was undertaken. The IGC was tasked with creating a “cabinet” that had only advisory powers. The two main forces represented were Shia Islamists allied with Iran and Kurdish separatists, both with affiliated militias incorporated in the emerging Iraqi Security Forces loyal not to the Iraqi people but to their pro-occupation political paymasters.
Further, President George W Bush, working personally and through his subordinates and agents, negligently if not purposely did not plan for Iraq’s reconstruction. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Bowen’s 2005 report identified “detailed systematic management failings, lax or nonexistent oversight and apparent fraud and embezzlement on the part of the US officials charged with administering rebuilding efforts”. Andy Bearpark was in charge of infrastructure and development for the CPA, and responsible for supervising reconstruction. He said in a BBC News interview on 28 July 2008 that never in his career had he come across such a lack of preparation. “The plan had to be created at the same time as it was being implemented. Everything to do with the CPA was being invented from scratch, from a zero base … I remember being given [a] Bechtel assessment … and having something like three hours to say, ‘Is this a good idea or a bad idea?’”
The CSIS concludes that US planners did not carry out an adequate physical survey of the country’s infrastructure, analyze present and future requirements, allow for the impact of underfunding since early in the Iran-Iraq war, dependence on obsolete equipment, or realistically address the problems in converting to US-planned and supplied systems. Coalition efforts also relied heavily on increasing oil exports, but did not properly analyze the problems of Iraq’s oil industry. A Department of Defense report of 2005 concluded: “ Similar to the case in oil infrastructure, the US reconstruction planners contracted out many projects worth billions of dollars without assessing the country’s capacities and needs”. Despite the poor condition of the oil infrastructure that produces Iraq’s chief source of income, the CSIS reports that in 2005 only nine per cent of reconstruction funds were earmarked for oil infrastructure rehabilitation. While half of the oil rehabilitation funds was expended, less than a quarter of projects have been completed.
President George W Bush also purposely employed ideologically driven staff that were not competent for the tasks they were assigned to. According to the CSIS, US personnel in charge of reconstruction often lacked experience and basic competence. “They had no experience in dealing with the scale of efforts involved, command economies, or operating in a counterinsurgency environment. They were not familiar with Iraq, did not speak Arabic and usually were not deployed in the country long enough to build competence and rapport.” Having been warned of the risks of implementing “shock therapy” policies on a command driven economy, President George W Bush, working personally and through his agents and subordinates, planned, authorized and executed the wholesale liberalization of Iraq’s economy without providing a framework to oversee the reform and the financial system.
On 7 June 2003 Bremer issued CPA Order #12, which suspended all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes, licensing fees and similar surcharges for goods entering or leaving Iraq, and all other trade restrictions that may apply to such goods. A list attached to the order included palm and historical artifacts. Order #17 of 27 June 2004, “Status of the CPA, MNFI, Certain Missions and Personnel in Iraq,” granted foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq’s laws. Order #39 of 20 December 2003, “Foreign Investment”, allowed for the privatisation of Iraq’s 200 state-owned enterprises, 100 per cent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, national treatment of foreign firms, unrestricted, tax free remittance of all profits and other funds, and 40-year ownership licenses. Order #40 of 19 September 2003, “Bank Law”, allowed foreign banks to enter the Iraqi market and to purchase up to 50 per cent of Iraqi banks. Order #49 of 20 February 2004, “Tax Strategy for 2004”, dropped the tax rate on corporations from a high of 40 per cent to a flat rate of 15 per cent. Order #81 of 16 April 2004, “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law,” prohibited Iraqi farmers from saving heirloom seeds from one year to the next.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), at the time of transfer of power from the CPA to the interim Iraqi government in 2004, Iraq had a new set of laws, regulations, oversight commissions and new institutions that lacked a strategic framework. In their 2006 report, CSIS states that: “due to the lack of an overarching comprehensive financial framework for various government agencies, it is not clear which ministry is in charge of revenues and reserves.” The CPA’s “efforts to introduce rapid liberalizing reforms were mixed to the point of being chaotic and did not help establish a properly functioning financial and business sector. This was the direct result of the lack of any continuity and coordination within the CPA effort, but it was also the result of a lack of any comprehensive development plan for the country.” The report concludes that “some economists criticize the CPA for having left a legacy of inappropriate economic policies. They maintain that the abrupt liberalization of prices and markets […] resulted in joblessness, prompted insecurity and reduced Iraq’s already low capacity to absorb investment […] The CPA legacy was marked by a declining GDP, a drop in living standards, increase in overall prices of tradable goods, increase in malnutrition, rise in infant mortality, rise in unemployment and rise in corruption.”
According to the CSIS, the CPA planned to spend $13 billion in 2004 for reconstruction. However, due to delays caused by US government contracting procedures and conflict over which agency would control the contracts, the CPA spent only $333 million on reconstruction projects in Iraq by mid-June 2004. The US Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy reported that 40 per cent of the $18.4 billion appropriated in 2004 was actually spent on providing security, not on reconstruction. Despite the poor condition of the oil infrastructure that produces Iraq’s chief source of income, CSIS reports that in 2005, only 9% of reconstruction funds have been earmarked for oil infrastructure rehabilitation. While half of the oil rehabilitation funds have been expended, less than a quarter of projects have been completed. The New York Times reported on 24 May 2006 that according to a SIGIR audit of April 2006: “An examination of Task Force Shield, a programme to train and manage oil and electricity infrastructure protection force, found it had been unsuccessful after the expenditure of $147 million. In part, this outcome was due to the absence of a clear management structure for the various US Agencies involved. Further, auditors, reportedly, could not determine how many Iraqis were trained or how many weapons were purchased.”
The CSIS reported in 2006 that electricity is the worst performing sector in the reconstruction effort, with only 41 per cent of projects reaching completion level. The report concludes that the choice of the Department of Defense and USAID of awarding indefinite and design specific mega-projects with no measurable targets and without assessing the country’s electricity infrastructure needs are the most significant reasons for this failure. The Brookings Institution in early 2007 indicated that Baghdad has electricity for four to eight hours per day, with the remainder of Iraq receiving eight to 12 hours of electricity per day, less than pre-invasion rates. Compounding the level of degeneration, The New York Times reported in 2006 that most of the 500 municipal workers who have been killed in Baghdad since 2005 have been waste collectors. At present, there are only 380 waste collection vehicles in service, down from 1,200 before the invasion. Most of the vehicles were destroyed or lost in the looting that following the US invasion.
In addition, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, overwhelmingly contracted foreign firms in what reconstruction efforts existed, preventing Iraqis from employment opportunities. Until 2006, all contracts were given to non-Iraqi multinationals with negligent employment of Iraqis. Contracts were given out mostly without competitive bidding and were of “indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity” form. These multi-billion-dollar projects were not audited. As of June 2004, only 15,000 Iraqis had been employed in US reconstruction activities. They were mostly employed on a weekly or monthly basis with minimal wages. They represent less than 0.25 per cent of Iraq’s estimated workforce of seven million. In addition to CPA Order #1 and Order #2, the factories and productive units looted in the initial days of the occupation couldn’t subsequently be privatized. Today, their net worth is assessed to be only a little higher than the value of their land and buildings. They never returned to work again. Some 600,000 workers and employee representatives of the public sector demonstrated in 2009, demanding that their factories be put to work. Until now, Iraq does not have a functioning industrial section with security tasks the main source of employment.
The result of the above for the Iraqi population as a whole was the collapse of all basic public service provision as well as many if not most means of material survival. Iraq now ranks between second and third of most corrupted states of 180 surveyed according to Transparency International.
vi. Destruction of Iraq’s defence capacity
On 17 January 1991, five and a half months after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the imposition of a regime of comprehensive sanctions, President George H W Bush and UK Prime Minister John Major authorized a US-led coalition to launch a 42-day bombing campaign dubbed “Operation Desert Storm” and widely referred to as “total war”. Some 34 countries sent forces into combat, often on the basis of monetary gain, and an additional 18 provided logistical support. Some 73 per cent of the forces deployed were US Armed Forces. Operation Desert Storm remains the longest bombing campaign in aviation history, backed by a massive naval deployment. The approximately 540,000-strong coalition flew over 100,000 air missions and dropped approximately 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq, destroying most of Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure. While US battle casualties amounted to 148 dead, General Schwarzkopf estimated the loss of the Iraqi Army during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Sabre that followed at around 200,000 men, with 27 out of 38 Iraqi Army divisions deployed during the war destroyed, along with their equipment.
Refusing that the Iraqi Army would withdraw intact from Kuwait, despite Iraq’s acceptance on 26 February 1991 of a Russian brokered deal of unconditional withdrawal, President George H W Bush personally, and acting through his agents and subordinates, insisted to launch Operation Desert Sabre, authorizing the wanton killing of Iraqi soldiers out of combat. Retreating Iraqi Armed Forces were bombed with DU ordnance on two Iraqi highways. On one of the highways, later dubbed the “Highway of Death”, a five-mile-long retreating column of Iraqis on a causeway near the Rumaila oilfield west of Basra, was sealed off and attacked for five hours with waves of bombing, missile attacks, and tank, air and artillery fire. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly called Schwarzkopf following press reports on the operation telling him that they “make it look like wanton killing. Even the French and the British began to ask about an end to this ‘wanton killing’”. Pilots returning from air bombing missions spoke of a “turkey shoot”. Estimated casualties range from the hundreds to the thousands. Some 700 Iraqi tanks, armoured cars, and trucks were destroyed on Highway 80 alone. Among them were also buses and cars with civilians, including children, trying to reach Baghdad. To eliminate the Iraqi Armed Forces, the US military admitted it had resorted to burying Iraqi soldiers alive in their trenches with bulldozers.
With knowledge of the devastation inflicted upon Iraq and its armed forces, and the deadly effects of the sanctions regime on civilian life, and despite Iraq’s complete withdrawal from Kuwaiti territory, the initially announced aim of sanctions, President George H W Bush personally and through his agents and subordinates instigated the passing of UN Security Council resolution 687 on 3 April 1991 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, qualifying Iraq a threat to the region and its neighbours.
Resolution 687 maintained the same regime of sanctions, compelled Iraq to unilaterally agree to disarming and destroying all its biological and chemical weapons, as well as ballistics missiles of a range higher than 150 kilometres. UNSCOM, a UN special weapons inspection body, was created to oversee the process, reporting to the Sanctions Committee (Committee 661) created by UN Security Council Resolution 661, composed of UN Security Council members. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was also tasked with the responsibility of verifying Iraq’s compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Committee 661 was to determine the sites to be inspected by UNSCOM and the IAEA. A compensation scheme for all losses incurred by Kuwait and various corporations due to Iraq’s occupation was also set up, with an UN-managed escrow account created to receive compensation funds. A UN observation mission was created to demarcate the border between Iraq and Kuwait and to monitor it. Resolution 687 noted that once the observation team would be established, coalition forces would be able to withdraw from the area as stipulated in Security Council Resolution 678 of 1990. The US has since maintained forces in the region since the build up to Operation Desert Shield in 1990. Review of the sanctions regime, rather than being based on the findings of UN inspectors was be to based on Iraq’s final proof of disarmament, the modalities of which proof were never defined.
At the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm and Desert Sabre, President George H W Bush personally incited a fratricidal insurrection of the Iraqi “Shias” in Southern Iraq and Iraqi “Kurds” in Northern Iraq against the alleged “Sunni” dominated minority Iraqi government, accused of oppressing other sectarian groups. This misrepresentation of the nature of the Iraqi ruling party, and Iraq, was widely disseminated despite knowledge in the intelligence community of the non-sectarian composition and policies of the Iraqi government and state institutions. Conscious that Iraq’s president would move to suppress the insurrection, President George H W Bush and Prime Minister Major purposefully withdrew support to the insurgents, with General Schwarzkopf clearing the flight of Iraqi Army helicopters to the south, but used the suppression of the insurrection as a pretext to unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over a large portion of Iraq’s territory, first in Northern Iraq on 7 April 1991, north of the 36th degree parallel. President Clinton subsequently declared a second no-fly zone on 27 August 1992, in Southern Iraq from 32nd and then 33rd degree parallel. The Iraqi Armed Forces were prohibited and actively prevented from flying any aircraft over the two zones, and from entering the three Northern Iraq governorates by land. The de facto semi-autonomy of the “Kurdistan region” was established.
Both President Clinton and President George W Bush used the no-fly zones, throughout subsequent years, as cover to organize paramilitary units, and as safe airspace from which to bomb both military installations, especially Iraq’s defence capabilities, Iraqi governmental facilities, and civilian infrastructure. In September 2002 alone, President George W Bush authorized Operation Southern Focus wherein 54.6 tons of bombs were dropped on Iraq prior to US Congressional authorization of the use of force against Iraq. According to US official reports, President Clinton authorized the CIA to covertly support select Iraqi opposition groups in exile as early as 1992. UN-administered Iraqi northern territory was used to train paramilitary groups and collect intelligence information on Iraq. On 31 October 1998, the US Congress officially sanctioned the Clinton administration to provide funds and military equipment and training to Iraqi opposition groups by passing the Iraq Liberation Act, drafted by Randy Scheunemann, consultant to future Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and project director with the Project for a New American Century, the key neoconservative think tank that informed George W Bush administration policy. The act adopted “regime change” as US policy, providing up to $99 million in military goods and services and broadcasting support to Iraqi opposition forces. Those who had both political and military forces were Islamist Shias allied with Iran and Kurdish separatists. This support was widely criticised in the US intelligence community as being wasted on individuals who lacked credibility and gave false information.
So as to maintain sanctions and the no-fly zone regime, President Clinton, acting through his agents and subordinates, sabotaged the Iraqi government’s efforts to comply with the disarmament requirements stipulated in UN Security Council Resolution 687 by infiltrating an UNSCOM inspection team with intelligence officers working for the US government. Iraq filed a complaint with the UN about this infiltration. Former Chief Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in 2003 confirmed the veracity of this allegation, stating that UNSCOM deliberately sabotaged relations with Iraq by insisting on gathering intelligence unrelated to prohibited weapons — intelligence that was later used in bombing strikes, prompting a suspension of Iraq’s cooperation with UNSCOM. In addition, US Secretary of State Albright, knowing that Iraq had been disarmed, declared on 26 May 1997 that the position of the US government was that sanctions should be maintained whether Iraq had complied with UN resolutions or not, and until Saddam Hussein was no longer in power. In December 1998, following a failed CIA-supported coup attempt in Iraq, dubbed the “bay of goats” by US intelligence agencies that judged it a debacle, a four-day offensive against Iraqi military installations and the Iraqi government was launched (Operation Desert Fox). While Secretary of State Albright explained that the purpose of the operation was to “degrade” Iraq’s capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, former US Army military analyst William Arkin argued that it targeted the Iraqi regime itself.
Chief UN Weapons Inspector Rolf Ekeus confirmed in 2009 that he was about to certify Iraq free from weapons of mass destruction when official US policy became “regime change” in Iraq. As a result, Iraq suspended all cooperation with UN inspectors. While knowledgeable that Iraq had effectively been disarmed, both President Clinton and President George W Bush, and their agents and subordinates, used Iraq’s non-cooperation with UN inspectors as ostensible proof that Iraq was both hiding weapons of mass destruction and developing a nuclear weapons programme. President Bush, in particular, repeatedly lied, falsified and exaggerated, and comprehensively misrepresented and invented Iraq’s threat to Western states and neighbours, and the United States and United Kingdom in particular, in the run up to the illegal 2003 invasion. By late 2002, while UN inspectors were allowed back into Iraq with unrestricted access, it was effectively impossible for Iraq to prove that it had indeed disarmed. On 7 December 2002, Iraq submitted a 12,000-page declaration in response to paragraph 3 of Security Council Resolution 1441 of 2002, and within the time stipulated by the Security Council. The report is immediately impounded, with The Washington Post reporting 10 December that, “Bush administration officials indicated today that they would tell [Chief Weapons Inspector Hans] Blix before the end of the week what elements of the report should remain confidential.” General Hussam Amin, the officer in charge of Iraq’s National Monitoring Directorate, told reporters a few hours before the declaration was formally submitted: “We declared that Iraq is empty of weapons of mass destruction. I reiterate Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.”
In full awareness of Iraq’s efforts to verify its disarmament, President George W Bush, personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, in particular US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, and with the support of UK counterparts, forced UN weapons inspectors to abruptly cease their mission, pre-empting the publication of their final findings by authorizing Operation Iraqi Liberation in violation of international law and the UN Charter and conventions. Upon invasion, President George W Bush appointed a special investigation team headed by Charles Duelfer to find Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Following two years of fruitless searches, Iraq was declared free from weapons of mass destruction in January 2005. President George W Bush and his subordinates retracted or qualified claims that Iraq was linked to Al-Qaeda and that it posed an imminent nuclear threat to the United States and other countries, acknowledging there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, while repeatedly downplaying the importance of these facts. Former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Rice, in March 2009, even claimed that no one in the Bush administration had made the claim that Iraq was linked to the 9/11 attacks, though the link is explicit in a letter from the White House to the House Speaker on 18 March 2003.
On 20 March 2003, President George W Bush, in concert with his agents and subordinates, and UK counterparts, authorized and launched the illegal invasion of Iraq, a consciously rendered defenceless founding member of the United Nations. The US-led coalition was accompanied in the invasion by the paramilitary units of sectarian and separatist groups the combined administrations of President George H W Bush, President Clinton and President George W Bush had been funding, training and arming for a decade. According to US military briefings and reports, some 800 missiles rained down on Baghdad in the first 48 hours of Shock and Awe, the 300-hour bombing campaign that opened the illegal war. The express intent of this campaign, in the words of one Pentagon strategist speaking to CBS News, was to ensure “There will not be a safe place in Baghdad.” In the words of Harlan Ullman, chief architect of the Shock and Awe “regime”, “This ability to impose massive shock and awe, in essence to be able to ‘turn the lights on and off’ of an adversary as we choose, will so overload the perception, knowledge and understanding of that adversary that there will be no choice except to cease and desist or risk complete and total destruction.” The US military and UK Ministry of Defence has admitted using, during the opening of the war and subsequently, DU missiles, MK-77 — a derivative of napalm — and cluster bombs ordinance.
Upon US occupation, national armouries were appropriated, looted or destroyed, mainly by US allied militias, with half a million tons of weapons disappeared. As revealed by a joint investigation of The New York Times and CBS News, President George W Bush and responsible agents and subordinates left weapons storage facilities unprotected and open to looting. On 18 April 2003, US Armed Forces were ordered to unseal Al-Qaqaa facility, a site containing high explosives, where hundreds of tons of some of Iraq’s most powerful conventional weapons had been stored since 1991. In late April, for several days, US soldiers witnessed looters with pickup trucks stealing weapons. When US search teams visited the facility on 8 May 2003, it “had been looted and stripped and vandalized”. No US Armed Forces had been assigned to guard Al-Qaqaa facility. While knowing that 100,000 members of the Iraqi Army were willing to talk with the civil administration of the US-led occupation, Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, acting under the direct authority as presidential envoy of President George W Bush, dissolved the Iraqi Army and all other regular and special Iraqi Armed Forces on 23 May 2003. Some 450,000 military personnel were dismissed without pay or pension. Nearly 100,000 personnel employed in different intelligence services were also dismissed.
In parallel, President George W Bush authorized the persecution of Iraqi military personnel deemed “terrorists supporters” or “renegades of the regime”. Officers, including pilots, engineers and scientists, were targeted through a campaign of assassinations, disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture. The so-called “Rumsfeld Doctrine” had established in the lead up to war an expanded role for US Special Forces, operating under the US Special Operations Command. Pentagon-payroll military analysts openly suggested that in addition to assassinations, these Special Forces would be active in planting “car bombs” and “house bombs”. Upon invasion, President George W Bush charged a special task force referred to alternately as Task Force 121, 20/6-26/145, composed of Army Delta Forces, Navy SEALs and CIA officers, with killing, arresting and interrogating Baath Party members. The Knight Ridder news agency reported that immediately after the invasion, the CIA took operatives from militias of the six largest opposition parties in exile and welded them into an organization known as the Collection Management and Analysis Directorate (CMAD). CMAD’s task was to “turn raw data into targets”. This 800-strong Iraqi paramilitary unit was to work alongside Task Force 121.
In place of the national, draft-based Iraqi Armed Forces, President George W Bush, working through his agents and subordinates, funded, trained and promoted a new sectarian Iraqi security apparatus named the Iraqi Security Forces. The building of the quota-based Iraqi Security Forces started with the assimilation of militias affiliated to political groups represented in the ICG and that had cooperated with the US-led invasion — mainly Kurdish separatists and Islamist Shias allied with Iran. Aside from the Peshmerga, established in Northern Iraq and trained by the US and Israel, most entered Iraq from Iran. On 7 June 2004, two weeks prior to “handing over sovereignty”, Bremer institutionalized the militias’ incorporation into the Iraqi Security Forces by signing CPA Order #91. It created the Transition and Reintegration Implementation Committee, also based on quotas, tasked with evaluating the admittance of potential applicants into a new Iraqi Security Forces. CPA Order #91 stipulated that acceptance was conditional on endorsing the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) established by the US-led occupation, with and its political process, and being cleared by the DeBaathification Commission headed by Ahmed Chalabi, the most visible Iraqi ally to the US prior to the 2003 invasion. Armed forces or militias that could prove they had been fighting against Iraq’s sovereignty and the former Iraqi Government for a substantial period of time prior to 1 May 2003 were eligible for retirement and pensions. Forces considered ineligible for integration into the Iraqi Security Forces or civilian life were deemed illegal and subject to criminal law.
CPA Order #91 and the functioning of the Transition and Reintegration Implementation Committee established full US endorsement of all Iraqi militias linked to the US-imposed political process, and also established a mechanism for the withdrawal of that endorsement, if warranted by US unified command. President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, purposefully trained the new Iraqi security apparatus mainly in counterinsurgency, issuing the Iraqi Security Forces with light to medium weapons only. Most elements of the Iraqi Security Forces have been reported involved in death squad activities, extrajudicial killing, kidnapping and disappearances, and torture and mutilation. The police force, including commandos and Special Forces, was the first to be rebuilt, with 30,000 active officers assembled by July 2003. According to the US Congressional Research Service report, “Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security”, by 2008, out of some 840,000 funded, trained and equipped armed forces, only 3758 comprised the Iraqi Air Force and the Iraqi Navy, leaving Iraq incapable of defending itself from foreign aggression unassisted.
In promoting sectarianism in the political process based on quotas and parties with armed militias, President George W Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, also instigated a security apparatus fragmented across multiple points of allegiance. Of 840,000 Iraqis trained by the US, 200,144 operate under the Iraqi Minister of Defence while 380,826 operate under the Iraqi Interior Ministry. These forces, because the political parties to which they owe allegiance, and which have been assigned ministries on a sectarian basis, hold conflicting agendas, often clash and at times attack each other. This situation has also given birth to parallel systems of detention and secret prisons.
Under the UN-appointed interim government of Ayad Allawi, James Steele, a specialist in counterinsurgency methods who worked as a security adviser in several Latin American countries and is a former adviser to the Special Forces’ mission in El Salvador, was appointed adviser to the Ministry of Interior and particularly to the Special Police Commandos. According to a New York Times article of May 2005, the Commando forces were drawn from “veterans of [Saddam] Hussein Special Forces and the Republican Guard”. By 2006, the paramilitary forces of the Ministry of Interior were widely believed to be heavily involved in death squad activities. Quarterly Reports to Congress on “Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq” acknowledge that elements of Ministry of Interior forces are operating as death squads. Iraqis are regularly abducted, disappeared, tortured, mutilated, and assassinated by paramilitary units from the Ministry of Interior, sometimes on the basis of their first name alone. In July 2005, the “Wolf Brigade”, a subset of Ministry of Interior Commandos, was implicated in a series of sectarian killings. And on 13 November 2005, US soldiers revealed a “torture chamber” in the Jadariyah bunker operated by the Ministry of Interior, with 169 half-starved and gravely beaten prisoners from the Arab Sunni community, some making allegations of rape during detention.
Similarly, on 8 December 2005, 625 detainees were found in the Iraqi Police Commando Division Central Facility for Baghdad, held in conditions so crowded that detainees were unable to lie down at the same time. According to press reports, prisoners had been subjected to severe torture by electric shock, had had fingernails torn out, and suffered broken bones from beatings. An in-depth Channel 4 UK investigative documentary, called “The Death Squads”, confirms these allegations and the involvement of the Badr Brigade Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq ? the main Shia party in the Iraqi National Assembly. And on 14 November 2006, the Ministry of Higher Education was raided by the Ministry of Interior, according to a State Department report. News agencies reported that 140 employees were abducted. The incident happened in broad daylight, one kilometre away from the Green Zone in a heavily secured area with multiple army and police checkpoints. Some 50-100 paramilitary men with trucks were seen abducting the employees and driving away. Released abductees described some of their colleagues being tortured and killed in cold blood while detained in a school. Many have disappeared. Two bodies among those abducted were found dumped in the streets, several days later, bearing signs of torture. The Interior Ministry promised an investigation, whose findings like all others, have yet to be disclosed.
In addition, President Bush authorized the creation of a force comprising of some 144,000 armed men tasked with protecting public buildings and personalities but that can also be privately contracted, called the Facilities Protection Services. This force falls under an unclear arrangement of multiple responsibilities, mainly under the Iraqi Interior Ministry but also under each singular ministry, while ultimately under the authority of US unified command. Several ministries have been attacked by the Facilities Protection Services of another ministry. Numerous cases of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, kidnappings, torture, smuggling of oil, and other abuses are associated with these forces. President George W Bush, along with responsible agents and subordinates, by failing to replace the metering system necessary to quantify the amount of oil being extracted from any and all Iraqi oil fields, has allowed the widespread smuggling of Iraqi oil resources. Quarterly US Congress “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” reports acknowledge that militia forces fund their operations via the smuggling of oil. Iraqi officials believe that around two million barrels of oil are smuggled everyday. During the time of occupation oil prices reached $150 per barrel for several months. The Oil Facilities Protection Services, falling under the Ministry of Interior but also under the Oil Ministry, have been accused of organizing the smuggling themselves.
In February 2008, former Deputy Minister of Health Hakem Al-Zamili and Lieutenant Colonel Hamed Al-Shemari, from the Health Ministry security command, were brought to court for abuse of power, abduction, murder, and acts of sectarian violence. They were charged with organizing the killing of hundreds of Iraqi Arab Sunnis. They headed the Facilities Protection Forces of all health and sanitation public buildings. The political faction they belonged to was also heading the Ministry of Transport and its militia employed by the Interior Ministry as local policemen. For months, Sunnis were abducted and disappeared from hospitals, along with their family relatives. Doctors testify to being threatened by militiamen if they treated Sunni patients. Arab Sunnis started to change their identity cards and to adopt Shia names, as well as refraining from seeking treatment in public hospitals. Sunni families often express fear to retrieve their dead from morgues. Despite a catalogue of allegations and atrocities, General David Petreus, head from 2004 of the Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, decided in 2005, that the commandos would “receive whatever arms, ammunition and supplies they require”.
By 2009, the sectarian composition of the Iraq’s security apparatus mirrors the attempt to transform Iraq into a federal state, with three distinct regions each having their own sectarian security forces. Coterminous with the announcement of the “Surge” strategy in January 2007, President George W Bush authorized the co-option into the occupation apparatus of forces affiliated to Sunni tribes, armed and named the “Awakening Councils”. These 100,000 “Iraqi Security Volunteers” have not been integrated, however, into the main Iraqi Security Forces, but rather remain an armed militia of Sunni affiliation, charged with ensuring security for the occupation mainly in Sunni areas. This followed a long sequence of US Armed Forces recurrently attacking Sunni-dominated provinces, and has established, at the level of the provision of security, the last part in a three-piece jigsaw of dividing Iraq according to a sectarian and ethnic quota system of Shias, Kurds and Sunnis. In 2007, this division or partition of Iraq into three zone — Kurds in the north, Shias in the south, Sunnis in the centre — found expression in the passing of a bill in the US Congress sponsored by then-Senator Joe Biden, the current vice president of the United States.
vii. Destruction of civil and political rights
As a response to the devastating effects of US urbicides that preceded the elections and that targeted and inflicted enormous destruction and mass displacement on towns and areas with a majority Sunni population, and in opposition to the sectarian character of the US-imposed political process, 85 per cent of Sunnis boycotted the 2005 Constituent Assembly elections. Across the population as a whole, at least 50 per cent of Iraqis also boycotted the elections. All anti-occupation groups boycotted. The Constituent Assembly hence elected by overwhelming minority, and that did not reflect the democratic will or interests of the Iraqi people, was controlled by sectarian Kurds and Shias ready to implement the partition of Iraq, soon backed by a TAL-based permanent constitution that permits this.
Whereas Iraq by tradition was a secular state with a strong national identity, according to the Brookings Institution the new 275-seat Assembly was composed mainly ? some 65,8 per cent ? of Islamist Shia and Kurdish separatist parties who had cooperated with the invasion and the CPA, while only 9. 1 per cent of seats were filled by political parties with an Arab secular platform. Following the establishment of the Constituent Assembly, President Bush, acting through his agents and subordinates, mounted a campaign of repression of the towns, cities and provinces where the boycott was large. Between 2004 and 2006, President George W Bush authorized attack on Samarra, Tel Afar, Mahmudiyah, Ramadi, Al-Qaim, Haditha, Baqubah, and Husaybah, among other towns. President George W Bush and agents and subordinates qualified these towns and cities as safe havens for terrorists and planned their further persecution.
President George W Bush personally justified the disproportionate assault on Tel Afar, a Turkman populated town, for its low participation in the Constituent Assembly vote. As US military operations in Fallujah had caused the anti-occupation movement in Iraq to boycott the elections, the 2005 attack on Tel Afar led them to boycott the vote on the permanent Iraqi constitution. During the drafting process, many lawyers who were participating in the discussion and opposed the sectarian and dividing character of the draft were found assassinated. On 15 October 2005, despite knowledge that the conflicting sectarian forces of the Constituent Assembly could not agree on 54 of 143 of the draft constitution’s articles, President George W Bush, acting personally and through his agents and subordinates, authorized, organized and imposed by military means the holding of a fraudulent referendum on a permanent constitution for Iraq. Controversial articles were relegated to be rediscussed and amended after the referendum. There has been no agreement to date on these amendments.
The permanent Iraqi constitution establishes federalism as Iraq’s system of government, further characterizes Baathism as well as its symbols as a crime “that has no place in Iraq’s pluralism”, and is void of any reference to the Arab character of Iraq except by its membership of the League of Arab States. Militias are made an official part of the Iraqi Armed Forces. As with the Constituent Assembly, where the promotion of corruption, sectarianism and feudalism has led to permanent conflict and inertia, and in turn to an escalation of US military assaults and its increasing reliance on terror as its key means to impose its strategic, political and economic agenda, so the permanent Iraqi constitution, in ending the Iraqi state based on citizenship and in generalizing conflict, corruption, ethnic and sectarian cleansing, chaos, and all manner of suffering, has prevented, too, the building of a functioning Iraqi state able to organize the life of the Iraqi people. Building the “new Iraq” according to the system of ethnic and sectarian quotas while trying to win hearts via bribery caused the spread of corruption to all aspects of public life. Corruption became a method of government in the “new Iraq”, with its multitude of armed forces. According to Transparency International, Iraq ranks for several consecutive years the second most corrupted country in the world after Somalia, with 180 surveyed.
The rise of factionalized elites causes permanent strife not only between the authorities and the Iraqi people, but also among different branches of government and respective ministries. Public money no longer provides public services; rather, it is used to enrich certain individuals and to fund a propaganda drive based on the pretense that the occupation brought democracy. As factions each have militias, partially integrated in the new security apparatus of the Iraqi Security Forces, violence has spread to the intra-state level. Although there is a Transparency Commission, its successive directors have declared that it is prevented from working to punish corruption. Fully aware of endemic corruption in the new Iraqi government and its institutions, President George W Bush has systematically refused independent oversight, and concealed and blocked relevant information, including from the US Congress.
The constitution also organises the state on the principle of elected semi-independent entities that have legislative and enforcement powers almost in all domains. The central government and its institutions are composed in practice of quotas from these entities. In support of partition, Kurdistan’s possible secession is underlined in the constitution by a ban on Iraqi Security Forces entering the Kurdistan region. The fate of Kirkuk and so-called “disputed areas” are to be decided via referendum following the conduct of a census after the return of the population allegedly expelled prior to 2003 is achieved. The numbers of Kurdish inhabitants expelled has been widely disputed by local minorities representatives who accuse Kurdish parties of transferring Kurdish and foreign nationals holding forged identities on a mass scale to the area, ahead of the census.
President George W Bush, personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, failed to prevent or investigate the persecution and forced displacement of all minorities inhabiting the so-called “disputed areas”, in an attempt to change the demographic balance of the region.
In early 2006, the State of the World Minorities Report showed that in 2005, Iraq topped the worldwide list of countries where minorities were under threat. Minorities residing in the “disputed areas” in particular have been and remain systematically oppressed ? the Turkmen, Christians, Yazidis, as well as Shabaks, Bahais, Faili Kurds, and Kaka’is (Yaresan). Minorities are the first victims of the project of dividing Iraq into three states: they are obliged to change their Iraqi identity to Kurdish identity in the north, and to endure Shia religious laws in the south. A CIGI report shows that while religious minorities represent only five per cent of the entire Iraqi population, they represent 20 per cent of the displaced. Nearly 80 per cent of Iraqi Mandeans have been displaced and less than 5,000 are reported as remaining in Iraq. The percentage of displaced among other Christians and other minorities is 60 per cent. The use of bombings to ignite civil war in the so-called “disputed areas” resembles the same tactic employed elsewhere to pit Shias against Sunnis: no investigation has discovered the perpetrators of these acts, and the US and its Iraqi allies accused without proof Al-Qaeda or the Iraqi resistance.
Allegations of sexual aggression of Iraqi women from Coalition Forces as well as Iraqi Security Forces and militiamen are widespread. The gang rape and subsequent burning of Abeer Al-Janabi in Mahmoudiyah in 2006, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl along with the killing of her family members by US soldiers, terrorized the Iraqi population. The arrest of Sabrin Al-Janabi, a 20-year-old Iraqi Arab Sunni who had claimed in an interview on Al-Jazeera television in February 2007 that she was gang-raped by four Iraqi police commandos shocked all Iraqi women. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki referred to her as a “liar”. In December 2007, The Times reported that 48 women had been gunned down by militias in Basra alone in the past six months for “un-Islamic behaviour”. Due to the prevailing violence and threat of sexual violence alternatively by Coalition Forces, private contractors, militiamen or criminal gangs, Iraqi women were forced, for the past six years, into de facto house arrest.
Targeted killings have also affected members of sexual minorities. They have been sporadically reported since 2004. In the beginning of 2009, death squads started a vastly more extensive and organized campaign against men seen as “effeminate”, or suspected of homosexual conduct. The most trivial details of appearance‚ “the length of a man’s hair, the fit of his clothes‚” could determine whether he lived or died. The campaign started in Baghdad but extended to other cities, among them Najaf, Basra, Kirkuk and Samarra. A special report of Human Rights Watch published in 2009 documents numerous cases in which victims were kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and killed in brutal ways. A UNAMI official is quoted estimating the number of victims “in the hundreds”. The report mentions also the inactivity and often complicity of the security forces, including cases in which Ministry of Interior officers kidnapped and tortured members of sexual minorities to extort money, and where those who could not pay were often killed.
viii. State terrorism in Iraq
Since the onset of the occupation there has been daily terrorist bombings in markets and places of worship in areas populated by Iraqi Arab Shias, displacing more than a million. Some bombings have taken hundreds of lives at a time. Explosions have also been frequent during pilgrimage feasts. Most Iraqis and their families live with the permanent fear of being victim of an explosion. Since the start of the occupation, the main anti-occupation organizations and movements, as well as armed forces, have unequivocally and systematically condemned attacks against civilians. Neither the US military nor successive Iraqi governments have released findings of investigations into any of these bombings, despite promises to do so. American and Iraqi officials routinely accuse “Al-Qaeda terrorists” or “Baathist renegades” as the perpetrators. Hundreds of thousands have been tortured to extract confessions to substantiate these claims. These explosions are used to justify further repression of the Arab Sunni community accused of organizing or harbouring the forces that conduct such attacks. In parallel, US forces have attacked Shia communities.
On 22 February 2006, Al-Askari shrine in Samarra, considered one of the holiest places in Shia Islam, was destroyed by a massive explosion. A wave of sectarian violence was sparked directly in the wake of the bombing, displacing a million across Iraq, both internally and externally. In Baghdad, within a few hours, state sponsored militias ? wearing police uniforms and under the eyes of US forces ? assassinated tens of Sunni religious figures, and burnt and ransacked more than 30 Sunni mosques. In the days following, families received threats to leave mixed areas within 24 hours or be killed. Thousands were forced to flee. Militias abducted, mutilated and killed thousands of Iraqi Arab Sunnis. The demographies of Baghdad, Basra and Baquba were comprehensively redrawn as rival armed groups took revenge on one another’s civilian communities. Out of 200 formerly mixed neighbourhoods in Baghdad, only 25 remained. Some 30 per cent of Iraqi marriages being mixed, this violence imploded the family structure.
UNAMI’s monthly reports following the attack set the number of unidentified bodies found either mutilated, with holes caused by power drills, bearing signs of torture, or shot in the head and dumped in the streets, in the rubbish or in rivers at the level of thousands per month. Bodies were collected without internal organs, sometimes internally booby-trapped. These atrocities were coupled with intensified bombings in Arab Shia populated areas sparking even more violence. Neither the US army nor the Iraqi government has ever released the results of investigations on Al-Askari or other bombings, despite promises to do so.
The breakdown of law and order and the dissemination of weapons has caused widespread criminal activity. Hundreds of people are being kidnapped on a daily basis by various state sponsored militias, paramilitary units and criminal gangs. Kidnapping became one of the most lucrative businesses in an increasingly impoverished environment. Kidnappings have had various purposes and targets, but professionals are specifically kidnapped for their prospective financial value. A doctors’ ransom can go as high as $50,000. As a result, professionals fled the country en masse. In 2007, the International Medical Corps reported that the number of teachers in Baghdad has fallen 80 per cent, and that medical personnel left Iraq in disproportionate numbers. According to a Medact report published in January 2008, up to 75 per cent of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the US-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated.
American and British Special Forces are also suspected of grave crimes. An incident in September 2005 in Basra involved two British operatives arrested by local Iraqi police with a truck full of explosives and bomb-making materials. The two commandos ? identified as members of the British SAS or SRR ? were driving around a demonstration in Basra when their suspicious behaviour attracted attention. The police attempted to stop the men, who were disguised as Arabs in local garb over their T-shirts and khaki trousers. The men wore black wigs and, according to some reports, typical headdresses. They fired on the police and passers by. At least one Basra policeman was shot dead. British forces attacked and destroyed the local police station where the two men were subsequently held, with tanks rolling through and breaking the prison walls. The two operatives were rescued and 150 other prisoners escaped. An undetermined number were injured in the ensuing gunfight.
From the start of the occupation, regions and urban neighbourhoods populated by Iraqi Arab Sunnis were singled out as strongholds of “Sunni insurgents”, “Saddam remnants” or “Al-Qaeda supporters”. Throughout the CPA’s period of administration, military raids were carried out in and around Baghdad, targeting communities suspected of hosting Baath Party or other anti-Coalition forces. The media repetitively aired misleading or false military catchphrases, such as the “Sunni Triangle”, the “Triangle of Death”, or “Sunni insurgency”. Daily curfews, cordoning of areas, nightly raids, house searches, arbitrary mass arrests and detention, targeted assassinations, bulldozing of homes and agricultural groves, destruction of places of worship and military sieges all took place. In the words of First Lieutenant Ben Klay, who took part in the decimation of Ramadi, “We’re used to taking down walls, doors and windows, but eight city blocks is something new to us.”
US War Veterans Against the War have organized a series of conferences dubbed “Winter Soldier” where active duty and ex-soldiers have testified to grave US violations of the laws of war, including the disproportionate use of force, willful killing, indiscriminate killing of civilians, torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances, looting, rape as well as incrimination of the dead and cover-ups. Many say the chain of command are well aware of these practices and at best turn a blind eye. According to the Brookings Institution, 12 per cent of US soldiers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their first deployment, and 27 per cent after their third or fourth tour. Despite having been diagnosed with PTSD many are redeployed.
On numerous occasions private security companies have also been accused of being involved in grave crimes against Iraqi civilians, including targeted assassinations, killings, torture, rape and human trafficking. US federal authorities are currently investigating the role of Blackwater operatives in the shootings of 16 September 2007 in Nisour Square that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. A former Blackwater employee and an ex-US marine who has worked as a security operative for the company have made a series of allegations in sworn statements filed on 3 August 2009 in federal courts in Virginia. The Nation magazine reported on 4 August that the two men claimed that the company’s CEO, Erik Prince, might have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the corporation. The former employees also alleged that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”
The assault of the “Sunni” community is epitomized by the urbicide of Fallujah. The systematic and relentless targeting and attacks on predominantly Arab Sunni towns and provinces fractured the national identity of Iraqis horizontally, forcing all other constituent parts of the Iraqi nation to embrace their secondary identity, running hand-in-hand with the promotion of the “Shia majority” and Kurdish “aspirations”, though this would not last, US support wagered on support of the occupation and US strategic and economic designs on Iraq. Eventually, even this would give way, with US forces instigating and widening intra-communal strife, pitting all Iraqis against all other Iraqis.
Fallujah was the only Iraqi city to publicly announce, while MNF-I forces were invading Iraq, that it would not resist the invading forces provided that these did not attack them. This notwithstanding that during the 1991 Gulf War, British warplanes had bombed a bridge in Fallujah, killing 130 civilians. When friends and relatives ran to the scene to assist the injured, the warplanes returned to bomb them as well. Markets had also been repeatedly bombed. In April 2003, US forces appropriated and occupied Al-Kaahd School in the centre of the city. When residents protested how the 82nd Airborne had converted the school into a military post, thus barring children from using it for their classes, soldiers opened fire, killing 17 on the spot with a further eight dying of their injuries thereafter. Seventy-five others were wounded. Two days later, on 30 April, a demonstration against the murders committed by the US troops took place, with similar results. According to the mayor of Fallujah, two people were killed (another died later from gunshot wounds) and 16 wounded when a crowd of 1,000 protestors stopped in front of the former offices of the Baath Party in Fallujah, which had also been occupied and turned into the US battalion headquarters. When a US military convoy en route from Ramadi to Baghdad passed the demonstrators, some threw their footwear at the building. The convoy opened fire on the protestors after a young boy threw his sandals at a US Humvee.
As with the 28 April attack, the US military justified the killings, claiming US troops had taken fire from the crowd, a statement refuted by journalists at the scene, as well as Iraqi officials in the city. Photos of the incident taken by Julian Andrews, which were published in the Daily Mirror in the UK, clearly show unarmed demonstrators fleeing a large calibre machine gun being fired from atop a US Humvee as it sped down the main street in Fallujah. Chris Hughes, in an article for the Mirror, wrote of the incident, “I watched in horror as American troops opened fire on a crowd of 1,000 unarmed people here yesterday. Many, including children, were cut down by a 20-second burst of automatic gunfire during a demonstration against the killing of 13 protesters at the Al-Kaahd school on Monday.” A Human Rights Watch report entitled “Violent Response: The US Army in Al-Falluja”, calling for an independent and impartial investigation, thoroughly documented these events by interviewing soldiers, officers, townspeople, and other witnesses. It included an investigation of ballistic evidence found at the scene of the two attacks. No bullet holes were found in the school that the soldiers occupied, directly refuting military claims that they had come under fire.
On 17 September 2003, US soldiers fired on a wedding party in the city, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding several others. That same month, US soldiers killed eight Iraqi policemen, supposedly mistaken for bandits, despite being in uniform and driving in clearly marked vehicles. The policemen had reportedly begged and screamed over their radios for the firing to stop. US military officials were unable to explain to reporters why their soldiers had opened fire on the policemen as they passed in front of a US military base in two clearly marked Iraqi police cars with sirens flashing. A Jordanian security guard at a Jordanian-funded hospital opposite the US base was also killed in the attack. Inside the hospital, four other guards were injured.
By late 2003, Fallujah, like many other Iraqi cities, began experiencing collective punishment from the US military each time a US patrol was attacked. On 31 March 2004, four Blackwater mercenaries were killed in Fallujah. President Bush authorized the launching of Operation Vigilant Resolve as a response. On 4 April, the US military laid siege to the city. US military snipers deliberately targeted children and other civilians, including medical personnel and ambulances. Snipers were placed atop the roofs of hospitals to prevent civilians from reaching the medical facilities. Men of “fighting age” were not allowed to leave the city, literally turned back at US military checkpoints when they attempted to flee. US airforce bombed civilians, as captured on leaked footage from an F-16 combat air strike, confirmed as authentic by the US military, where a large group of unarmed civilians can be seen entering Julan Street in the Julan district of Fallujah. The pilot reports to his command centre: “I have numerous individuals on the road. You want me to take those out?” Command responds instantly: “Take ‘em out.” Upon strike impact, seconds later, as the crowd is engulfed in smoke, the pilot reacts, with a tone of mock admonishment: “Aw, dude.”
President Bush also authorized the mass arrest and disappearance of countless Iraqi men, and sometimes boys, from Fallujah, rounded up and arbitrarily detained. Many of these were never heard from again. At the end of the offensive, doctors in Fallujah counted 736 dead, the majority of which were civilians. Some 2847 others were injured. Two thirds of the dead were women and children. One bombing in the Julan district on 6 April killed 31 members of the family of Ali Zhahi. As others tried to retrieve the bodies the site was bombed again. Similarly, 13 family members of Haithem Al-Mashhadani were killed 24 April in an early morning cluster bomb strike on their remote farmhouse in the Naimai district.
President Bush authorized the indiscriminate killing of thousands of civilians as well as the destruction and contamination of the city. The assault, codenamed Operation Phantom Fury, involved 10,000 US marines and 2,000 Iraqi troops. Cluster bombs, uranium munitions and white phosphorous have been used regularly in Fallujah, and the US military has admitted firing white phosphorous munitions during Operation Phantom Fury. The US military declared the entire city of Fallujah ? a city with a population of over 350,000 civilians ? a “free fire zone”. Approximately 70 per cent of Fallujah was bombed to the ground or heavily damaged during the operation, including the destruction of 37,000 homes, 8,400 shops, 60 nurseries and schools, and 65 mosques. Like in the April siege, all electricity, water and medical services in the city were cut off. This led the UN to declare, one year later, in October of 2005: “The United States-led coalition’s alleged practice of cutting off food and water to force Iraqi civilians to flee before attacks on insurgent strongholds is a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law.”
Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said: “The action is inhumane and causes innocent people to suffer. The Geneva Conventions on warfare, which form the basis of international humanitarian law, not only forbid denying food to civilians, but also make the occupying force responsible to provide it.” On 7 November 2004, Fallujah General Hospital was occupied. According to the US military, the hospital was targeted because it was a “centre of propaganda,” that spread “rumours” of civilian casualties during the April assault. During the siege, patients were rounded up and ordered to lie on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs. Two days later, the US bombed Fallujah’s Central Health Centre killing 20 nurses and doctors and an uncounted number of patients. The US military refused to allow emergency aid to be brought into Fallujah, or to allow doctors to evacuate wounded people to hospitals outside the city. has not been reconstructed as of 2009. Its inhabitants were issued specific biometric cards, and non-residents barred access to the city. The town remains surrounded by a strict system of checkpoints.
US soldiers testify that the attack was consciously timed to follow immediately the results of the US presidential elections. It was ostensibly aimed to pacify the city ahead of Iraqi elections in January 2005. Over 300,000 civilians were displaced by the assault, which began on the first day of Ramadan. The US military reported killing 1300 Iraqis in one week, while the Iraqi national security advisor reported 2085 killed in 18 days. The Iraqi Red Crescent put the total number killed at 6,000. Some 250,000 refugees in camps outside the city were reported by the Red Cross to be suffering starvation. Inside the city, unable to bury the dead, bodies were buried in gardens or the city stadium, sometimes in mass graves. Soldiers report that the rules of engagement were such that “everyone walking or breathing is a target.” General Robert Scales (Ret.), military analyst for Fox News, commenting on footage from Fallujah, opined: “In urban warfare the key is not to fight fair.” On 13 November 2004, a cameraman inside a Fallujah mosque filmed a soldier killing a wounded man with a gunshot to the head. Some soldiers report that the offensive appeared “a massive killing of Arabs.” One commanding officer was filmed addressing a company ahead of the Fallujah offensive saying: “The enemy has a face — he’s called Satan and he’s in Fallujah. And we’re gonna destroy him.”
In a presentation to the 7th Session of the Human Rights Council, the MHRI reported that today in Fallujah, following the US use of unconventional weapons in the area, birth defects, stillbirths and cancer rates, especially in children, along with other health problems including leukemia, meningitis, thalassemia, septicemia, congenital spinal cord abnormalities, congenital renal abnormalities, brain tumours and other undiagnosed illnesses, are at epidemic proportions. Voice of America estimated that only 30 per cent of Fallujah’s inhabitants had returned by March 2005. Those that did were issued biometric identity cards. Non-residents are barred access to the city. Fallujah remains surrounded by a system of strict checkpoints.
Following the April 2004 offensive on Fallujah, the US accused “terrorists” of hiding in the northern town of Tel Afar. It was attacked on 9 September 2004 in Operation Black Typhoon. Tel Afar is populated by Iraqi Turkmen. The Turkmen, a distinct ethnic group that incorporates Sunni, Shia and Christians, live predominantly around Kirkuk, Mosul, Erbil and Tel Afar, in the so-called disputed territories of northern Iraq. According to the CIGI [full name needed] report, they have suffered from systematic abuse, terrorist attacks, forced displacement and killings which often occurred in the context of struggles over the fate of oil-rich Kirkuk and its potential integration in an autonomous Kurdistan region.
In December 2004, approximately 5,000 American and Iraqi troops sealed off the city, enclosing it behind a wall of sand with military checkpoints. The city’s people were forcefully evacuated. The Red Cross was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the exodus and was unable to provide shelter, water, or food for many of those who fled. Abrams tanks, F-16s, helicopter gunships and heavy artillery relentlessly pounded and strafed the city for more than a week. At least four mosques were bombed and the Sarai district was hit persistently with 500-1000lb bombs. Allegations of US use of unconventional weapons emerged. The campaign against Tel Afar displaced 50,000 people. President Bush declared in his 20 March speech to the City Club of Cleveland: “The strategy that worked so well in Tal Afar did not emerge overnight ? it came only after much trial and error. It took time to understand and adjust to the brutality of the enemy in Iraq. Yet the strategy is working.”
ix. Mass detention and torture
President George W Bush, working personally and through subordinates and agents, designed, authorized, executed and promoted a programme of mass arrest and mass arbitrary and indefinite detention where detainees go uncharged and have no access to legal counsel. Working personally and through his agents and subordinates, President George W Bush has denied the protection of prisoner of war (POW) status to Iraqi detainees and repeatedly justified the need to treat POWs of the “war on terror” outside universally acknowledged legal standards such as the Third 1949 Geneva Convention. US officials qualify Iraqi prisoners alternately as “enemy combatants”, “security detainees”, “security internees” and “persons under custody”, categories with neither clear legal status nor protection.
In a Pentagon press briefing in June 2008, Major General Douglas Stone, former commander of Task Force 134 (detainee operations) and deputy commander of US detention facilities in Iraq, elaborated on the “population engagement programme called ‘detention’”. He explained that, “the detention system in Iraq now functions as a counterinsurgency tool that combats terrorist ideology”. Major General Stone further elaborated that US detention policies constituted a concerted programme of “re-education” designed to persuade Iraqis to accept the control of the US-supported Iraqi occupation government. Under the programme, all detainees are evaluated by Iraqi clerics and social workers as well as by military intelligence service officers upon transfer to so-called “theatre internment facilities”, and again several times during their detention. Detainees are then classified into categories. “Extremists” are defined in the US Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual as persons “whose beliefs prevent them from ever reconciling with the government”.
Based on their respective classifications, detainees are then offered participation in specifically designed courses with names such as “Tanweer (enlightenment) Islamic Discussion Programme”. According to Major General Stone, persuasion of change of attitude, belief or mind is the only way out of US detention, with the decision for release being made by a review board made up of US military personnel. A spokesman for TF-134 emphasized in an email to Consumers for Peace that: “There is no place for legal representation in the THREAT BASED system that we operate.” This programme of “re-education” has created much suspicion towards released detainees.
Most arrests are made during neighbourhood sweeps and house searches, and at checkpoints. According to the ICRC and UNAMI, Coalition Forces nearly always make arrests without judicial warrants or evidence of wrong-doing. The arresting forces provide no information about who they are nor do they explain the cause of arrest. The ICRC has repeatedly expressed concerns that detainees’ families are in most cases not notified about the arrests. Despite consistent protests of UN and human rights organizations, tens of thousands of people have been — and continue to be — held in abusive detention, removed from their families and kept incommunicado for long periods. The ICRC documented estimates of Coalition Military Intelligence saying that 70-90 per cent of those taken into custody appeared to have been arrested “by mistake”. Despite the fact that TF-134 itself admitted that there are often false reports made that cause a person to be arrested unnecessarily, the US insists on its right to hold these prisoners, based on what it calls “military necessity” or “imperative reasons of security”.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan repeatedly called attention to the Coalition’s policies of arbitrary detention, referring in 2005 to “the detention of thousands of persons without due process”. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq have frequently criticized US mass detention operations and the large number of detainees held without access to judicial review. President George W Bush and Prime Minister Blair argued that they had been given unlimited detention authority by way of a letter from US Secretary of State Colin Powell attached to UN Security Council Resolution 1546. The letter speaks of “internment where this is necessary for imperative reasons of security”. Former UN Secretary General Annan rejected this interpretation and the UN continues to raise questions about the legality of this policy.
Most detainees of MNF-I prisons are male, but there are also an unknown number of women, elderly and more than 800 juveniles who have been held for prolonged periods. According to a 2009 UNAMI report, at least 874 juveniles were held in MNF-I custody on 8 December 2008. Around 90 per cent of these juveniles were between 15 and 17 old, but there were also children as young as 10 years. According to US officials quoted in The Washington Post in April 2007, the average length of detention is one year, but 8,000 Iraqis had been held longer than a year and 1,300 for more than two years. TF-134 announced in 2008 that the average prison stay is 330 days and that around 4,000 detainees in US control are considered hardened resistance fighters whose prison terms may be indefinite.
Most MNF-I prisoners who have been transferred to “theater internment facilities”, are held at four facilities: Abu Ghraib Prison near Baghdad, Camp Bucca in the desert near Umm Qasr in the south, Camp Cropper near Baghdad, and Camp Shu’aiba located at a major British base south of Basra. In addition, there is a facility known as “MNF-I centre” and five prisons of US Armed Forces at brigade or divisional level. Coalition Forces hold prisoners throughout Iraq in dozens of locations and many types of facilities. Some are held in prison buildings, some in makeshift quarters like school buildings and army barracks or in Forward Operating Bases. While mass detention has been a steady phenomenon since the onset of occupation, there has been two peaks: in the run up to the 2005 Constituant Assembly elections, when UNAMI estimated that there were up to 14,000 MNF-I prisoners, and during the “Surge” reaching 24,700 by the end of December 2007. In a report published by Truthout in October 2008, the spokesperson for TF-134 answering questions submitted by Consumers for Peace maintained that the US military has detained around 200,000 Iraqis from March 2003 until early autumn 2008. About half of those captured are held in field and interrogation centres and released within 21 days. The other half, roughly 96,000, were sent to US prisons in Iraq or “theatre internment facilities”.
The real numbers, however, may be much higher, as despite regular visit requests neither the ICRC nor human rights organizations have been granted access to field prisons and secret detention centers. The ICRC stated in a confidential report in 2004 that there are no complete, accurate and up to date prison registers, even in “theatre internment facilities”. There are an unknown number of secret detention centers, holding an unknown number of “ghost” detainees. The March 2004 “Taguba Report” of Major General Antonio Taguba who was charged with an Article 15-6 inquiry to investigate alleged mistreatment, abuse and torture in the wake of the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal, first mentioned that in central prisons like Abu Ghraib, “ghost detainees” were shuttled around to avoid any encounter with ICRC inspectors. In a 2006 report, Amnesty International documented allegations that some prisoners have been transferred out of Iraq to naval ships or secret interrogation centres in foreign countries, potentially as part of the CIA extraordinary rendition programme. In 2005, Human Rights First estimated that at least a dozen Iraqi detainees have been transferred abroad.
In August 2006, Human Rights First reported that there were at least 62 secret interrogation and detention sites in Iraq. These include former Camp Nama near Baghdad, Camp Diamondblock at Mosul airport and FOB Tiger close to the Syrian border. In the 2006 HRW “No Blood No Foul” report, former interrogators testify that, the three secret centres are kept so clandestine that those working there do not even disclose their real names to each other nor the agencies to which they belong. The testimonies revealed, however, that interrogations of detainees are conducted by Special Forces of the military, the CIA and private contractors. The ICRC concluded in its 2004 confidential report that detainees under the supervision of military intelligence soldiers and officers “were at high risk of being subjected to a variety of harsh treatments ranging from insults, threats and humiliation to both physical and psychological coercion, which in some cases was tantamount to torture.” The report said the widespread “use of ill-treatment” could be considered a “practice tolerated” by Coalition Forces because it continued even after ICRC warnings to US military and government officials.
President George W Bush, working personally and through his subordinates and agents, in particular the office of the US attorney general and the Department of Defense, planned, authorized, implemented and justified a wide ranging strategy to expand the scope of interrogation techniques. US government officials, including President George W Bush and former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have denied that “enhanced interrogation techniques” amount to torture. President George W Bush concealed information about and consistently denied that the new techniques were discussed at the highest levels of his administration. The release of a series of memos has proven that Bush administration officials discussed in detail a panoply of interrogation techniques that amount to torture, including waterboarding . These unlawful policies have been conducted with the complicity of the intelligence community, psychologists and health workers.
President George W Bush systematically denied knowledge of abuses in US run prisons, instead blaming scandals on a few “bad apples” when he had full knowledge of, and had ordered, the systematic abuse and ill treatment of Iraqi detainees and had failed to stop and punish these abuses. In the 2006 Human Rights Watch report, “No blood No Foul”, individual testimonies of former interrogators who operated in the secret detention centers of Camp Nama, Camp Diamondblock and Forward Operating Base Tiger are presented, with interrogators charging that mistreatment, abuse and torture were carried out systematically and with the knowledge of superior levels in the US chain of command. Testimonies mention that in Camp Nama interrogators used an “authorized template” on computers, on which interrogators would check-off the harsh methods they intended to use on detainees and these were then signed by their superiors.
Testimonies also mention pressure from superiors to use aggressive interrogation techniques, and to discourage complaints. According to the report, some of the most serious allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq since 2003 have concerned the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, as well as a special Navy SEALS team called alternately Naval Special Warfare Squadron 7 or Navy SEAL Team 7, and most notably a special military and CIA task force — known variously as Task Force 20, Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26 and Task Force 145 — charged with capturing, mistreating or killing high-level combatants, but also hundreds of other detainees. Task Force 20 first maintained a detention and interrogation facility in Camp Nama at the Baghdad International Airport and later operated in other locations.
Practices mentioned in the 2004 ICRC report include hooding, handcuffing with flexi-cuffs, beating with hard objects, slapping, punching, kicking, use of painful stress positions for hours, being stripped naked for several days and held in solitary confinement combined with threats of ill-treatment, indefinite internment, reprisals against family, imminent execution or transfer to Guantanamo Prison, deprivation of sleep, food and water, being paraded naked or with women’s underwear in front of other persons, prolonged exposure to the sun while hooded or to loud noise or music as well as forced sitting or laying on hot surfaces, causing severe skin burns. In 2006 and 2007, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented further cases of abuse that included spraying with ice-cold water and exposure to extreme cold, suffocation by water (waterboarding), punitive use of strobe lights, pepper spraying, various claustrophobic techniques, confinement for hours in boxes in which it is impossible to sit or to stand, being forced to stand upright in narrow, excessively hot metal containers in extreme temperatures for 24 hours, forced exercises, and use of attack dogs.
The Taguba Report has asserted that numerous instances of abuse occurred at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 including simple assault, humiliation, and the harassment of prisoners, and instances of US personnel raping female detainees. On 20 May 2004, The Guardian reported that already in December 2003 a woman prisoner in Abu Ghraib managed to smuggle out a note in which she described rape and sexual abuse practices urging the Iraqi resistance to bomb the prison to spare the women further shame. General Taguba confirmed the existence and contents of this note. The Guardian reported also that US officials acknowledged detaining Iraqi women in the hope of convincing male relatives to provide information. Usually, US soldiers take a wife or daughter when they raid a house and fail to find a suspect male. Reportedly, other women were arrested as former wives of high-ranking Baath Party members, or on charges of alleged support for the Iraqi resistance.
The Taguba Report also found “credible” allegations of several male detainees who reported having been burned with phosphoric acid, subjected to aggravated assault, threatened with dogs and sodomized with various objects. The report includes photo documentation that relates to 400 cases of torture, rape and sexual abuse in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons under US control. The American Civil Liberties Union won a ruling under the US Freedom of Information Act, for these photos to be released on 28 May 2009. President Barack Obama, who first undertook to release them and to conduct a full investigation, in May 2009 blocked their publication, claiming the photos could provoke violence against US troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. General Taguba was quoted by The Daily Telegraph on 27 May 2009 as saying, “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency … The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”
In a report in June 2009, Physicians for Human Rights published findings of a medical investigation of abuse and torture on former Iraqi prisoners. The report mentions a host of sexual abuses such as naked pyramids, exposed genitals, forced wearing of soiled underwear, forced drinking of urine or being urinated on, having the penis and tentacles painfully pulled and/or tied, being stripped naked and paraded before female interrogators, simulated homoerotic encounters and forced sodomy. In a number of cases, severe abuse and torture have resulted in death. The US army’s inspector general, Lieutenant General Paul T Mikolashek, listed 94 documented cases of prisoner abuse in his 300-page report to the Senate Armed Services Committee released in February 2004. Of the 94 cases cited in the report, 39 ended in deaths. Twenty of those are suspected homicides.
While direct physical torture and abuse have systematic in Coalition prisons, authorities have also subjected detainees to unacceptable and inhumane conditions of incarceration. UNAMI, the ICRC, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports, as well as a 2004 report of US Army General Paul Mikolashek, have spoken of contaminated food and bad quality water, prisoners exposed to extreme temperatures, grossly overcrowded cells, and seriously inadequate sanitation arrangements. The Taguba Report mentioned that in order to pressure prisoners and to “soften them up” for interrogation, guards at many facilities have withheld or greatly curtailed access to food and water, punitively limited toilet visits, confined inmates to fetid isolation cells, and removed mattresses, sheets and prisoners’ clothing.
Two of the world’s most respected medical journals, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, have run articles detailing the unethical and illegal behavior of military medical staff at Coalition prisons. According to these reports, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel have — with complete impunity — failed to monitor or correct unhealthy and unsanitary conditions and inadequate provision of food and shelter, have failed to attend to prisoners’ wounds, sores, broken limbs and other serious conditions, have approved harsh interrogation methods after medical examinations, have turned over prisoners’ medical records to interrogators to allow them to exploit the vulnerabilities of detainees, and filled out false reports and death certificates. The Taguba Report mentioned that during 2003 prisoners organized a number of protests, to which guards responded by opening fire on prisoners. Since then, prisoners have repeatedly protested, rioted, gone on hunger strike and otherwise taken extreme measures to call attention to their prison conditions. The ICRC, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all pointed to the use of excessive force to suppress protests.
Despite knowledge of extreme human rights violations in Iraqi-run prisons, President George W Bush, in a personal capacity and acting through his agents and subordinates, failed to investigate, arrest and prosecute individuals and their superiors accused of abuses and on the contrary praised the progress of the Iraqi government with regards to detention operations.
According to UNAMI, by March 2007, driven by the Baghdad security operations (”the Surge”), there were almost 20,000 Iraqis in Iraqi prisons and detention centers. On 31 October 2008, an Iraqi parliamentarian, Mohammed Al-Daini, held a press conference in Geneva, charging that Iraq has 420 secret detention centers where “conditions are much worse than in the official prisons”. He said that 40,000 are being held in Iraqi government prisons and that this is one quarter of the total number being held by the government, suggesting the Iraqi government might hold as many as 160,000 prisoners. Although the Ministry of Interior is not allowed to hold prisoners under Iraqi law, it continues to do so. UNAMI has pointed to abusive over-crowding as well as dire sanitation and basic hygiene conditions. A report published by the BRussells Tribunal in 2006 mentions cases in which more than 200 prisoners were cramped into 20-metre square cells. A BBC report of November 2008 quoted prisoners saying that for them to be able to sleep others have to stand and some have to sleep next to open toilets.
The UNAMI 2007 report said that it, “remains concerned about the continuing failure of the Iraqi government as a whole to seriously address issues relating to detainee abuse and conditions of detention … The authorities have yet to demonstrate the political will to hold accountable law enforcement personnel suspected of involvement in torture and other abuse of authority … The continuing failure to take decisive action in this regard can only serve to encourage the climate of impunity that prevails today … ” In a 2008 report, UNAMI concluded that: “There are no documented cases to this day where an official of the Minister of Defense has been held accountable for human rights abuses.”
In May 2007, The Washington Post reported that “beatings and torture are common” in Iraqi prisons and quoted an anonymous US official saying “routine beatings, suspension by limbs for long periods, electric shock treatment to sensitive parts of the body, threats of ill treatment of close relatives. Another 2008 UNAMI report affirms that gross mistreatment of detainees continues in Iraqi prisons: “Ongoing widespread ill-treatment and torture of detainees by Iraqi law enforcement authorities, amidst pervasive impunity of current and past human rights abuses, constitute severe breaches of international human rights obligations and represent examples of challenges faced by the Iraqi government.” UNAMI noted that there are “continuing reports of widespread and routine torture and ill treatment of detainees” in the Iraqi-run prisons. Several women and girls interviewed by UNAMI reported having been beaten, raped and sexually abused while held in police custody.
In 2006, the BRussells Tribunal published a Dar Al-Babel report on torture in Iraqi prisons that lists torture practices such as beating the detainee for six hours continuously without interruption, lashing the detainee with a large electrical cable, imposing electroshocks, breaking ribs and bones, threats to rape a female family member, arresting parents with their children and threatening parents with killing their children and children with killing their parents, hanging by the arms until shoulders are pushed completely backwards, hanging arrestees off a bridge at night, ripping out finger nails, tearing out teeth, cutting fingers, threats of rape, undressing and electrocuting detainees on the genitals and behind the ears, locking the prisoner up in a filthy toilet, injections with unknown substances, pouring boiling water on the bodies of detainees, stamping on the bodies of prisoners, driving over the prisoner’s feet, sodomy of male prisoners with various objects, unleashing fighter dogs on prisoners, having legs tied to a heavy object and being thrown into rivers to drown, extortion of money from detainees’ families to ease torture or release detainees, locking detainees in cells with rats and insects and hanging prisoners on metal bars of prison windows by one leg.
US officials have a direct role in torture and abuse in Iraqi prisons. On 8 May 2003, Chief Civil Administrator Bremer issued Memorandum #2, “Management of detention and prison facilities”, which granted ultimate command of Iraqi prisons to MNF-I, and unrestricted access to all detention facilities. Although President George W Bush argued that with the “transfer of sovereignty” MNF-I was not in command of Iraqi-run prison facilities, ample evidence shows that MNF-I are highly influential within the Iraqi detention system, and are daily in Iraqi prison premises. Memorandum #2 put all Iraqi-run prisons under the authority of the Ministry of Justice where Coalition Forces maintain advisers. In a 2006 report, Amnesty International pointed out that Iraqi-run prisons remained under US control or influence. Scores of US advisors were working with Iraqi authorities on a daily basis, including at detention sites, and US intelligence personnel are often present during interrogations, often in a supervisory role. Human Rights Watch commented in a January 2005 report that, to its knowledge, the plentiful US advisors have done nothing to promote detainee rights in this abusive atmosphere. According to an open letter of the Global Policy Forum to the UN Security Council dated 22 April 08, MNF-I command continues to exercise strong influence over most Iraqi detention facilities.
Further, President George W Bush, working personally and through his agents and subordinates, particularly Chief Civil Administrator Bremer, purposefully created a dysfunctional and powerless criminal court system by issuing, in April 2004, CPA Order #13: “The Central Criminal Court of Iraq”. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), though it has nationwide discretionary investigative and trial jurisdiction over “any and all criminal violations”, has no effective capacity to function as it has no compulsory powers over MNF-I, which can ignore its rulings. Official Coalition figures from November 2005 report that only 1,301 detainees had received trials since the beginning of the occupation. According to the 2008 Human Rights Watch World Report, MNF-I officials estimated in May that no more than one tenth of detainees are referred for criminal proceedings in Iraqi courts. MNF-I has acknowledged 367 cases as of 11 December 2007 in which it maintained custody following a CCCI ruling that dismissed the charges or brought a verdict of not guilty. According to the same source, Coalition commanders eventually release most prisoners, after months of detention, interrogation and uncertainty. Releases are often as arbitrary as the original arrests and no explanations are given.
In December 2008, Human Rights Watch found that hearings and trials relied almost exclusively on confessions, summarized testimony of witnesses and secret informants. No physical evidence was introduced at any stage of any proceedings. Iraqi judicial authorities told Human Rights Watch that the testimony of secret informants is a principal source of evidence in the security-related cases at the core of the court’s mandate, particularly in cases that originate in mass detentions associated with military operations. One CCCI investigative judge said that secret informant testimony is part of approximately 40 per cent of all cases heard by the court. Brigadier General David Quantock, commander of TF-134, quoted by the AP in November 2008, said that the US has evidence against “only a few hundred” of the 5,000 detainees who are considered “most dangerous”.
The 2007 UNAMI report mentions that the vast majority of defendants are represented by a lawyer appointed by the court whom they have never met and who has little or no knowledge of the substance of the charges or evidence against their clients. The entire trial is concluded within an average of 15-30 minutes, including complex cases resulting in life imprisonment or the death penalty. The report also draws attention to the fact that trials are increasingly leading to the imposition of death penalty sentences.
Sectarianism has been a cornerstone of the Coalition Forces’ mass arrest and detention system. Major General Stone told reporters in Baghdad in October 2007 that 83 per cent of the then 25,000 officially detained in “theatre internment facilities” by US forces were Sunni and 16 per cent Shias. In 2007, the Iraqi Lawyers’ Association reported intensive pressure exerted on legal professionals to make judgments according to religious sect. Human Rights Watch reported in 2007 that Iraqi courts cannot operate independently and that judges and lawyers are often under intense political pressure and even fear for their lives. The Iraqi Lawyers’ Association reported also that at least 210 lawyers and judges have been killed since the 2003 invasion. In October 2006, the IRIN News Agency quoted an Iraqi judge speaking on condition of anonymity as saying: “We can’t do our jobs with all these pressures … Over the past three decades, there was just one party controlling the country’s judicial system, but now the whole system is in the hands of many political parties, especially those who have militias … They (the militias) are controlling everything everywhere, and they do whatever they want. They don’t even hesitate to put pressure on us openly.”
In January 2008, gunmen assassinated Iraqi Appellate Court Judge Amir Jawad Al-Naeeb, a Sunni, who was considered by Baghdad lawyers and judges to be “one of the country’s most competent and even-handed judges,” according to a Human Rights Watch report. Jonathan Hafez of the American Civil Liberties Union assesses that the system is tilted against Sunni defendants. The fate of Iraq’s Arab Sunni detainees and Iraqi prisoners in general was epitomized on 30 December 2006 in the summary execution, after a manifestly unfair trail condemned by UN bodies, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, of President Saddam Hussein. The insensitivity, brutality and mendacity of the US occupation was confirmed as his transfer for execution, at the hands of the Islamist Shia government, was rushed to coincide with the holy Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha, a time of reconciliation and generosity in Islamic tradition and culture.
x. Mass forced displacement
Mass displacement has exacerbated sectarian divisions and has greatly contributed to the restructuring of the country along sectarian lines. Some 2.7 million Iraqis have been internally displaced by violence according to the UNHCR. The Iraqi Red Crescent estimated in 2008 that more than 83 per cent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are women and children. Where the displaced decide to seek refuge often depends on the presence of relatives or friends and, because of the prevailing sectarian violence, on the religious or ethnic make-up of the host community. UNAMI reported that 19 per cent of IDPs have settled with their relatives or friends and 58 per cent have rented houses in areas populated by persons of the same ethnicity and/or sect. According to UNAMI, the 15 per cent who could neither find refuge with relatives nor pay for rent have taken refuge in camps, public buildings and abandoned military barracks, often without water, electricity and sanitation and continually threatened with eviction. A 2007 IOM survey covering a sample of more than 1,000,000 IDPs found that more than 60 per cent of the sample was Arab Shias and 63 per cent of the IDPs were living in Baghdad, confirming claims that Baghdad has been cleansed of its Sunni population. While 60 per cent of Iraqis remain dependent on food rationing, according to an assessment of the World Food Programme in 2007, 55 per cent of displaced families were unable to get their food rations provided under Iraq’s public distribution system, mainly due to administrative incapacities, corruption and the security situation.
Large scale displacement has caused deep demographic changes across the territory, has gravely undermined Iraq’s social fabric and has re-structured the country geographically along sectarian lines. According to many humanitarian agencies, Iraq has experienced the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world since the start of the occupation in 2003. UN agencies report that as of January 2009, almost 4.7 million Iraqis ? or more than 17 per cent of the total population ? have been internally or externally displaced. Syria and Jordan host 1.2 million and half a million refugee Iraqis respectively. Roughly 2.7 million Iraqis have fled to other areas in Iraq. Only around 200,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 25,600 refugees have returned as of January 2009, mainly due to desperate financial situations and the pressure of host countries. Many returning families find their property destroyed or occupied and become displaced or flee once again. Such massive displacement has destabilized the provision of all services and commerce in Iraq. According to the UNHCR, an estimated 40 per cent of Iraq’s middle class, including academics, doctors, teachers and engineers, have fled the country due to “systematic” intimidation and murder. For Iraq as a country, their absence has had a devastating effect; they constitute the human capital and skills to manage and operate state institutions and services. The ICRC reported that enrollment in Iraqi schools has dropped 45 per cent since 2005-07 due to “missing” teachers and that some Baghdad universities and hospitals have lost up to 80 per cent of their staff.
According to the UN secretary general special representative for children and armed conflict, as of April 2008, only 50 per cent of primary school age children are attending class, down from 80 per cent in 2005, and approximately 1,500 children are known held in detention facilities. The 2007 State of the World’s Mothers Report notes that Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased by 150 per cent since 1990. Some 122,000 Iraqi children died in 2005 before reaching their fifth birthday. More than half of these deaths were among babies in the first month of life. An Oxfam report of 2007 pointed to eight million Iraqis requiring immediate emergency aid, with nearly half of the population living in absolute poverty. Four million people lack food and are in dire need of varied forms of humanitarian assistance. Only 60 per cent of the four million who depend on food assistance had access to rations from the public distribution system, down from 96 per cent. The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies had risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003. Some 80 per cent of Iraqis do not have access to effective sanitation. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent under sanctions to 28 per cent as of July 2007. A wave of assassination of rubbish collectors has also left entire neighbourhoods with piling rubbish and waste, creating enormous environmental and health hazards for the local population, especially children.
Iraqi refugees are tolerated but enjoy no clear status in their host countries that have received very little assistance from the international community to cope with the burden of the massive influx. Syria and Jordan that host 95 per cent of the Iraqi refugees started to severely restrict entry for new refugees in 2007 although significant numbers of Iraqis continue to arrive in Syria each month. Hosting countries consider them “tourists” or “guests” while the Iraqi government considers them “voluntary migrants”. As tourists they are not allowed to work and have no or very limited access to health services and education. Many families’ savings have been completely depleted. Still fearing for their lives if they return, thousands overstay their tourist visas and remain illegally in host countries, with the permanent threat of being forcibly returned. In 2005, the new Iraqi government issued instructions to all immigration authorities that passports issued under the Saddam Hussein government, known as the “N-series”, and passports issued after the war, known as the “S-series”, would no longer be recognised. New “G” passport is only very slowly being issued outside Iraq. This decision leaves thousands of refugees without recognized identity and unable to travel.
Health and education are key concerns among refugees. UNICEF warned in 2006 that many of the displaced children of primary school age had their education interrupted, adding to the estimated 760,000 children (17 per cent) already out of primary school. UNICEF estimated in 2007 that children account for half of the Iraqi refugees abroad. A 2008 report to the US Senate mentions that only around 70,000 out of the approximately 500,000 school-age refugee children in Jordan and Syria are in school. Iraqi intellectuals speak of a “lost generation” that will be largely uneducated and unable to meet the requirements of the future. Numerous reports point to deteriorating general health conditions; in 2007 the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children quoted medical personnel in Jordan who pointed to alarmingly high rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer among refugees.
Humanitarian and human rights agencies point to the increase of domestic violence and divorce rates as well as signs of various physical and psychological trauma among refugees, a significant portion of whom were personally subjected to violence, kidnapping or torture, or have witnessed the assassination of close relatives or friends. An IOM survey published in April 2007 found that 63 per cent of Iraqis had fled their neighbourhoods because of direct threats to their lives, and more than one quarter had been forcibly removed from their homes. Many agencies reported also that a growing number of Iraqi refugees are becoming involved in the sex trade as a means of survival. The UNHCR calls this practice “survival sex”. Amnesty International reported that some Iraqi girls and women are being forced into prostitution to earn money, and also that child prostitution and trafficking of Iraqi children are growing inside Iraq and in hosting countries. A 2008 report to the US Senate quotes newspaper articles estimating the number of prostitutes among refugees as high as 50,000 in 2007.
Humanitarian agencies have complained repeatedly that the response of the international community has been completely inadequate to protect Iraqi refugees and IDPs and to ease the humanitarian crisis. Only [add number] refugees have admitted for resettlement in third countries. Amnesty International reported in 2007 that certain host countries, including those involved in the conflict, have forcibly returned people to Iraq despite the deteriorating security situation. Germany revoked the refugee status of 17,238 Iraqis who sought and received protection before the onset of US occupation. According to a 2008 report to the US Senate, the US has admitted 4,013 Iraqi refugees between 2003 and 2008. In the first half of 2009, almost 5,000 were admitted. According to the 2008 US Senate report, Congress has felt obliged every year from 2003-2008 to increase the US administration’s budget requests for humanitarian assistance many fold because it deemed the requests too low. According to the recent testimony of Bill Frelick, before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the amount the US has spent on emergency relief, basic health services and education for Iraqi displaced persons and refugees between 2003 and 2008 ($240 million) is lower than the amount it spends each day of the ongoing war.
Ad Hoc Committee For Justice For Iraq
Dr Ian Douglas
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal, coordinator, International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq +20 12 167 1660 (English) [email protected]
Hana Al Bayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal
+20 10 027 7964 (English and French) [email protected]
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Arabic) [email protected]
Advisory Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Spanish) [email protected]
Executive Committee, BRussells Tribunal (Dutch) [email protected]