28 May 2003
Why is it so difficult find out who the people are who are running Iraq? What does the Bush administration have to hide? We read the odd story in the press about these characters but you have to dig deep to find out much about their backgrounds. All are hand-picked Bush appointees. All have close associations with other Bush associates. All are right-wing, some extremely so. All are pro-Israeli. The entire operation is being run out of the Pentagon and many of the people picked for the various posts are military or former men or have close connections to the military.
Virtually all those selected are, according to the International Herald Tribune:
‘[T]he nucleus of the Bush administration’s new Iraqi government. One of the faraway masters, in the minds of many here, is someone known fondly – or not so fondly, depending on one’s political orientation – as Wolfowitz of Arabia.
The reference, of course, is to Paul Wolfowitz, the undersecretary of defense, who has dispatched some of his protégés here to prepare key Baghdad ministries for American management.’ Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/92109.html
Michael Mobbs, will be in charge of 11 of the 23 Iraqi ministries. Mobbs is a former law associate of Undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith, another right-wing ideologue with close connections to Richard Perle.
Mobbs is effectively running the civil administration of Iraq yet he has absolutely no qualifications for the position. No background in governance. No background in civil administration or affairs. No knowledge of Iraq, its people or its culture. And rather than being an advocate of civil or human rights, his record is diametrically opposed to rights of any kind, starting with Americans, so God knows how he’ll deal with the Iraqis.
‘A Pentagon lawyer, Mobbs has been a leading defender of the notorious Camp Ray X. Mobbs comes with a reputation for anti-civil rights and a serious disregard for international conventions on human rights. Mobbs campaigned to have US citizens imprisoned without charge and was the prime mover behind the suspension of judicial rights.’ Source: http://www.khilafah.com/home/category.php?DocumentID=6738&TagID=2
‘He is best known for drafting the so-called Mobbs Declaration, which states that the president has wide latitude to detain American citizens alleged to be enemy combatants indefinitely, without charge or counsel.’ Source: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.whoswho.html
Mobbs is the lawyer who’s sole testimony resulted in the indefinite detention of US citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi, an alleged Taliban fighter. The court hasn’t seen any of the ‘evidence’ that resulted in Hamdi’s indefinate detention without trial. The federal government has resisted all attempts to have any evidence at all being brought before the court.
‘The government’s only evidence of Hamdi’s Taliban activities is a two-page declaration by Michael Mobbs, a senior Pentagon official in charge of detainees.
The declaration, filed with the court, states that Hamdi received weapons training and remained with a Taliban unit after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. He was carrying a Russian-made assault rifle when he was captured alongside Taliban forces by the Northern Alliance.
Mobbs’ statement wasn’t enough evidence for Norfolk’s U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Doumar, who had ordered the government to produce Hamdi’s statements, a list of his interrogators and copies of statements by Northern Alliance forces regarding Hamdi’s capture.
[However,] [t]he government can indefinitely hold Yaser Esam Hamdi, the American citizen and alleged Taliban fighter being detained in the Norfolk Naval Station brig, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that enemy combatants can be jailed during wartime without criminal charges, regardless of whether they are American citizens.
As Bush administration officials hailed Wednesday’s ruling, it was viewed as a blow by more than 150 scholars, legal and human rights groups, including the American Bar Association, who argued that jailing an American citizen without filing criminal charges violates the Constitution.’ Source: http://www.hamptonroads.com/pilotonline/military/ml0109ham.html
And Mobbs is one of the people who is supposedly bringing ‘democracy’ to Iraq?
Iraq’s new rulers, a military junta? Judging by the people who have been selected, effectively, a military junta is or will be, running Iraq.
Walter Slocombe, a lawyer and former under-secretary of defense during the Clinton administration and advocate of a ‘first use’ policy of nuclear weapons even against a non-nuclear power (See http://www.mkogy.hu/nato/angol99/99an6.htm). Slocombes’ thinking on war with North Korea is also rather scary:
”The problem, says Slocombe, is ‘we’re faced with some pretty terrible options militarily.’ A preemptive strike would almost certainly cause Kim to unleash a full-scale attack on Seoul. The U.S. military believes it has a blueprint—called Operational Plan 5027—for a quick victory if war broke out. Among OPLAN 5027’s dictates: Lightning air strikes to wipe out artillery and biological- and chemical-weapons sites. One projection says deadly accurate ‘counterbattery fire’ could silence the North’s big guns along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) within an hour—reducing civilian casualties far below current estimates of a million dead in Seoul. ‘It is a war they have been planning to fight and win for the past half century,’ says John Pike, director of Washington-based think tank Globalsecurity.org. ‘It may be unthinkable in some political circles, but it is very plausible to the U.S. military.” Source: http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/printout/0,13675,501030317-430932,00.html
His role is to create a new Iraqi army that will be totally under the control of the Pentagon. According to one report, he will be:
‘given the assignment to examine the growing problem of how to get under control the military forces that each of the main opposition leaders now controls in Iraq. He is said to be working on a plan to meld them into a national security force, a task that would require Kurdish leaders to give up control over their armies.’ Source: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0517-02.htm
Importantly, Slocombe is one Democrat who has been recruited by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) along with other right-wing Democrats intent on making the Middle East ‘safe’ for Israel.
‘There is little question about the source of PNAC’s influence. When it was founded in 1997 by two prominent neoconservatives, William Kristol and Robert Kagan, its charter, which called for a U.S. strategy of global pre-eminence based on military power, was signed by men who would become the most influential hawks in the Bush administration, including Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, and Cheney’s influential national security adviser, I. Lewis Libby.
‘Thus, among the signers who have never before been associated with PNAC, are Robert Asmus, a former deputy secretary of state for Europe; Ivo Daalder, a prominent member of Clinton’s National Security Council staff; Robert Gelbard, a former U.S. ambassador to Chile and Indonesia; Martin Indyk, Clinton’s ambassador to Israel; Dennis Ross, his chief adviser on Palestinian-Israeli negotiations; Walter Slocombe, Clinton’s top policy official at the Pentagon; and, most important, James Steinberg, Clinton’s deputy national security adviser who now heads foreign policy studies at the influential Brookings Institution.’ Source: http://www.fpif.org/commentary/2003/0303pnacletter_body.html
Ironically, while Clinton’s chief security advisor, Slocombe:
‘ruled out imposing a new government in Baghdad by military force, and said stability of the region is one of the administration’s prime goal. ‘A regime change cannot be done by imposing a new regime by military force from outside, even assuming that would be possible,’ he said.
‘You can produce a lot of trouble. You can produce a lot of dead people, but you can’t produce a success unless it’s properly prepared and done very carefully and done very hardheadedly and realistically without any romanticism or any wishful thinking,’ Slocombe said. Source: http://www.thesunlink.com/news/daily/march99/0325w1c.html
My, how times have changed.
Robert Reilly, former boss of the Voice of America is to be head of the ministry of information and is also one of Wolfowitz’s chosen people:
‘They are thought to be particularly fervent about trying to remake Iraq as a beacon of democracy and a country with a tilt toward Israel. Reilly is working with Iraqi exiles to create radio broadcasts for use in the post-Saddam Iraq.’ Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/92109.html
During the invasion Reilly was head of the propaganda war directed at the Iraqi population and armed forces and:
‘Reilly is closely involved with an American administration plan to establish a media network in the Middle East. A $62m (£40m) satellite TV station is scheduled to begin at the end of the year. He is a very close friend and business partner of Ahmed Chalabi.’ Source: http://www.iraqwar.ru/iraq-read_article.php?articleId=3391&lang=en
Here is Reilly on a Voice of America broadcast telling us his opinions on the Gulf, Iraq and Iran:
‘Security and stability in the Persian Gulf remain vital national interests of the United States. Yet Iran and Iraq continue to engage in activities that threaten the region. The Iranian government is the principal state of international terrorism. Iran continues to try to destroy the Middle East peace process. And Iran has intensified its efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.’ Source: http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1996/iran_2c_iraq.htm (Jan 11, 1996)
And I think Reilly’s views on free speech are instructive and point to what kind of media ‘freedom’ Iraqis can expect under Reilly:
‘Not many Americans have heard of Spozhmai Maiwandi, but many Afghanis have. A native of the Central Asian nation, she ran the Pashto service of the Voice of America for over a decade. VOA is the paid broadcast arm of the U.S. government, but Ms. Maiwandi is a journalist, and she aired more than just American propaganda. She reported the news, and, in a broadcast shortly after September 11, included the remarks of the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar. That raised hackles in the Bush administration, and she quickly became a target.
‘Soon, under Bush-appointed director Robert Reilly, VOA turned on Ms. Maiwandi. First she found insulting notes slipped under her door by anonymous coworkers, she said, producing a note that simply read:
‘This is no longer your office. Move your big [expletive removed] out of here.’
Then she was fired from the Pashto service, although in an Orwellian twist Reilly claims he gave her a promotion. ‘You are being given a temporary promotion,’ VOA’s department of human resources wrote to Ms. Maiwandi. ‘This action is not a reassignment from your current position. Your position of record remains Chief of the Pashto Service,’ the note added, even though she would no longer run the service.’ Source: http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/5294
Other appointees include:
Lewis Lucke, is heading up ‘reconstruction’ and who according to Forbes magazine is:
‘A humble Austin, Texas, globetrotter named Lewis Lucke. Garner may have gotten all the press as he pressed flesh with U.S. troops, but it’s Lucke’s job to turn on the lights. His bed at the palace was a cot he had brought with him from Kuwait. ‘We were camping, in essence,’ says the 52-year-old.
And now he’s supervising Bechtel Group as it starts to dredge Umm Qasr, Iraq’s only seaport, to ready it for matériel to rebuild the country. Lucke is the coordinator for reconstruction, managing a $2.5 billion project that some expect will inevitably balloon to $30 billion, if not $100 billion. As the ranking man on the ground for the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), his hands are also closest to the purse strings, since his State Department branch is funding and contracting out much of the work. Source: http://www.forbes.com/global/2003/0526/018.html
Experts from the region including Palestinian-American author Said Aburish and Saudi analyst Mai Yamani are not too confident about the men chosen to run Iraq:
‘Aburish and other analysts and diplomats say the U.S. government lacks the expertise and cultural awareness to run a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country battered by three devastating wars in 20 years and 12 years of sanctions.
‘The more this move looks as if it serves U.S. interests the more it will be distrusted in the region,’ said Saudi analyst Mai Yamani. ‘It will reinforce the idea that they are occupiers and colonizers.’ Source: http://www.rense.com/general36/team.htm
Larry Di Rita, who is deputy for policy and a former Navy man and was head of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
There you have it. Any pretense the US government may have projected about ‘nation building’ and other well-worn propaganda phrases have gone. What we have is a quasi-military clique who will attempt to ‘reconstruct’ Iraq in their own image. One that conforms to the US model of ‘democracy’ but which will in reality, create an environment conducive to the interests of big business and US global and strategic aims.