October 29, 2005

Blackwater Mercenaries in Louisiana: First Hand Account

By NyDem25

Originally Posted on Mon Sep 12, 2005. (We're republishing it at this time as background for an anticipated exclusive story on Blackwater that we will be publishing shortly)

I just read this in today's Blackwater Tactical Weekly a weekly newsletter distributed by Blackwater In it there is a first hand account written by Frank Borelli from Gretna, Louisiana.

Borelli begins by telling us what equipment is issued prior to arrival in Louisiana.

OK: First thing off the bat - for the first time EVER, I'm on contract to Blackwater as a working contractor. The following is a brief description of the current working conditions I've observed first hand in Louisiana as Blackwater supports the Humanitarian and other Operational Efforts here.
I reported to Blackwater's HQ in Moyock, NC EARLY Monday morning (about 0315). That morning I was issued a bag of gear that included: body armor w/ plates, clothing (pants and L/S-sleeve t-shirts), boots, socks, a holster, belt, radio pouch, ASP Baton, baton holster, SureFire G2 Nitrolon flashlight, Leatherman Multi-tool, CamelBak Hydration system, hydration system filter, BlackHawk gear bag, gloves, Wiley-X Protective eyewear, ID holder, a three-day pack (BlackHawk Force 5 w/out hydration bladder) and ID card... I think that's it. I was told I could bring my own gunbelt if I wanted, and weapons too for that matter. I chose to leave the weapons at home but brought my gunbelt. The info I had received was that Blackwater was issuing, on site, Glock pistols (17 or 19 9mm), shotguns and/or M4s. I brought my extra mags for a Glock 17 as they are usually what I use in my G19 at home. Having extra mags is never a bad thing.What equipment I left on my belt was limited. I saw no need for bringing handcuffs. OC Spray wasn't a good idea because I knew I'd be flying. Normally I have a Leatherman on my belt, but I didn't need it because I had a SOG Power-Plier multi-tool in the utility pouch of my sheathed knife - an MOD Nightwing. What I have on my gunbelt as I type this, starting at the buckle and working my way clockwise (to the right): double magazine pouch w/ two magsfolding knife pouch w/ knifeDeSantis 096 SRT holster with Glock 17 9mm pistol (w/ night sights)MOD Nightwing on left side, w/ SOG Power Plier in utility pouchThat's it sports fans.On my body armor I have the 12g ammo that won't fit in the magazine of the weapon.

Are you kidding me sounds to me like Mr. Borelli was being sent off to war. Last time I checked our troops fighting over in Iraq weren't afforded the option of using this quality of arms let alone a simple kevlar vest. Borelli then goes on to explain conditions at Saber Camp.
I came into Baton Rouge on Tuesday afternoon, and was picked up at the Baton Rouge Airport for transportation to "Saber Camp". Once there I checked in with the headshed and found a cot. I was lucky in that I knew several guys on site and therefore had friends in the tent I slept in. Before racking out I got a briefing that included info on Wednesday morning, an intel dump on the situation (to include health concerns) and tentative assignments for Weds morning. I was told to be up, dressed and "packed for three" (days) in front of the headshed at 0700. I was issued a Glock 17 and a Mossberg M590A shotgun. I was also issued a shotshell pouch with ten rounds of slug and ten rounds of 00 Buck. There was (at that time) no 9mm ammo available, but I was blessed to be in a camp full of trigger-pullers. Before I racked out I had 51 rounds of 9mm ammo loaded into three magazines for the G17. Thanks, Vince! The lack of ammo IS NOT a negative comment on Blackwater. The logistics effort to support the operation is awesome and I KNOW ammo was just flown in on Monday. More came in on Wednesday. It is a comment on the spirit of the American cop / warrior that Blackwater can put SO MANY men on the ground SO FAST. Supporting them is a daunting challenge.
Before I go further, let me give you a brief rundown about the camp. It's simply amazing what people can do when a disaster strikes. Tents were in abundance. Some are circus-size tents. Others are camping tents. I slept in a six-man cabin tent. Dining tent, storage tent, first-aid station, "City Hall", post office, barber shop, laundry - all were set up and operational. Trailored in were latrines (heads for you Navy guys) and showers. Hot water was available on site. HUNDREDS of cases of bottled water, sodas, hydration drinks, etc were on hand. Food was also available. For the Blackwater guys we could have meals in the Dining tent while in camp, but on assignment we were to take prepackaged food, or MREs.
As a comment on food and cots, Chief Steven c. Bronson, owner of Tactical Waterborne Operations, was on site with two trailers full of supplies. He was acting as the quartermaster and knows how to take care of the troops. He hooked me up with THE LAST cot he had and provided me "food for three" before I went to bed Tuesday night. He's all about business but still has a smile on his face.

I think he a like this a little too much. Who wouldn't right? Borelli then goes on to explain his first day.
Wednesday morning saw us going out on assignments. I was ready and standing by at 0700. The assignment I received - and where I sit as I type this - is essentially a static guard site. Restoring public service is a HUGE necessity and some of the facilities are in NOT so good neighborhoods. The site I'm at is a relatively secure 1-acre (give or take) compound surrounded by a six-to-eight foot fence with concertina wire around the top. Access is one controlled gate. Two buildings. To one side of us is the "low rent" district - low income housing where there are still some folks living even though they have no safe water and little food. On the other side is welfare apartment complexes otherwise known to cops as "the projects". It seems that no matter what city you're in there is always The Projects. More people still living in there.
Driving out from base camp was about an hour-and-a-half tour. Gas prices are about $2.50 per gallon IF the stations have it. Lines are LONG at those that do. The devastation was obvious as we drove. I had a clear view of the SuperDome and it looked like 2/3 of the roof was just gone. One of the oddest things I saw was a McDonald's with no glass and no sign, but the Golden Arches still standing at the top. Less than fifty feet from the Mickie Dee's was what used to be a billboard sign. The I-Beams that held it up were twisted and bent so that, starting about three feet off the ground, they were horizontal. Ten feet away from that was a glass telephone booth - apparently completely unharmed.
The smell isn't terrible but it isn't great. Where I am is about 1/2 mile (as the crow flies) out of New Orleans. When the wind blows right (or wrong?) it smells like the dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant in the middle of July while the trashmen are on strike. Joy.
The people I've seen don't look happy or sad. Either emotion would take too much energy and they're just plain whipped. The man whose computer I'm typing on doesn't have a house anymore. It's completely underwater. If anyone knows Louisiana or wants to look at a map, find Port Sulphur and then look south. Most of it isn't there - it's been reclaimed by the Gulf. There are large chunks of the area that AREN'T underwater, but that were laid waste by the winds. Perfectly dry land with bare foundations and no other sign of the houses that used to be there.
The biggest obvious threat I've seen thus far is (previously) domesticated animals. I saw a Rottweiler walk by outside the compound fence where I am early this morning (it's Thursday as I type this), and we carefully eyed each other through the fence. He looked at me like I might be food and I looked at him like he might die. I took great faith in the fact that, unless he was packing, he was overmatched. I saw no signs of disease or odd behavior, but he's obviously fending for himself and that might not bode well for whoever he runs across.

He then ends with a call to arms
I can say this now because I'm one of the guys wearing a Blackwater shirt down here: If you're a cop or prior serviceman and you have decent skill sets, consider working for Blackwater. I've seen no indication of anything less than 100% professionalism out of their personnel here. That ain't ass-kissing. You who have read my reviews for long enough know that ain't me. It's just how it is. Show up. Be prepared. Work hard. Don't be lazy. Be straight about your skill sets. Don't try to claim you're a SWAT cop if you're not. Don't ask for an M4 if you don't know anything about it. If you don't know how to serve high-risk warrants, don't expect to be given door-kicking jobs. Blackwater will work you to match your skill sets - and don't care if they hurt your feelings when they give you the assignment. It isn't about you. It's about the job and client and doing the best thing. You don't have to like it. You just have to do it.

October 27, 2005

Niger Uranium Documents: Update

Just a reminder

We've posted up a complete analysis of the Niger yellowcake forgeries on our website IraqFact .com. It contians images of all the documents, translations from the French and analysis of the obvious flaws. You can view them here.

[Update] we've added links to copies of the three new articles from La Repubblica that were published this week. With additional English translations

Check them out..if you can add any new analysis please leave a comment.

IraqFact Working Group

The British Conundrum

British accused of bombings in Iran to push Blair agenda
By NYdem25

The tension between both the Bush and Blair administrations and Tehran has been a constant underlying theme of the war in Iraq from the moment Bush uttered the now legendary phrase “the axis of evil”. The Iranian cooperation in the pre war build up, both allowing the Iraqi National Congress to establish a legitimate presence in the Iraqi arena, as well as allowing American elements to operate within its borders has benefited both the hegemonic interests of Iran in the Middle Eastern region as well as the American and British coalition. However, even though the Iranian’s did cooperate in the pre-war build up, the tension created by Bush’s speech was bound to escalate at some time. This seems to currently be the case in the latest exchange between 10 Downing Street and Tehran.

First a bit of background on the flare up.

The British have recently claimed that the Iranians have backed a network of insurgents operating in southern in Iraq led by “Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani.

According to U.S. military-intelligence

al-Sheibani heads a network of insurgents created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps with the express purpose of committing violence against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. Over the past eight months, his group has introduced a new breed of roadside bomb more lethal than any seen before; based on a design from the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the weapon employs "shaped" explosive charges that can punch through a battle tank's armor like a fist through the wall. According to the document, the U.S. believes al-Sheibani's team consists of 280 members, divided into 17 bomb making teams and death squads. The U.S. believes they train in Lebanon, in Baghdad's predominantly Shi'ite Sadr City district and "in another country" and have detonated at least 37 bombs against U.S. forces this year in Baghdad alone.
Besides supporting al-Sheibani the British have also claimed that the Iranians have been supporting camps within in Iran and Lebanon, and that there was "some evidence" that there are camps in Syria.

The source said that the technology had been "proliferating", leading to a sharp rise in attacks on British troops which are running at three a week. Several large arms caches, believed to be for attacks during the impending referendum, have been found in southern Iraq. In the past eight days British, US and Iraqi forces have found more than 50 rockets, 10 mortars and 64 landmines, as well as the infra-red devices. The devices were found on Route Tampa, the main feeder route for British and American troops to Meysan, a province where coalition forces have faced periodic bouts of intense attacks.
The Iranians counter acted Britain’s recent accusations by blaming the British for a bombing in the town of Ahvaz, located in the oil rich province of Khuzestan in the southwest part of Iran populated predominately by the Arab minority.

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, told state television that, that Britain was involved in a double bomb attack last week that killed six people and injured more than 100 in the restive southwestern city of Ahvaz saying that,
"Information shows that Britain is seeking to create insecurity in our country by interfering in our internal affairs," he added, warning that the consequences "could be worrying for the British."
Are the Iranian accusations directed at the British because of what they see as the British bullying them over their involvement in developing technology to create nuclear arms? The British seem to think so. However, Blair’s proof of Iran’s involvement in Southern Iraq is smeared in lies and was obviously disseminated under the auspicious that the general public doesn’t know how to use an internet search engine. Well Mr. Blair I’m sorry some of us do.

Mahan Abedin, in the Asia times methodically took apart Blair’s case fabulously.

First, Abedin claimed that the way that Blair announced the accusations to the world were a bit odd.

They were first disclosed by an "anonymous" senior official to a group of correspondents in London on October 5. The "anonymous" official claimed, in no uncertain terms, that Iran was helping to kill British troops by providing bomb technology to Shi'ite insurgents, possibly through the Lebanese Hezbollah. But the very next day, Prime Minister Tony Blair was more diplomatic about Iranian complicity, claiming that the evidence led either to Iran or its Lebanese militant allies Hezbollah, but adding, "We can't be sure of this." There was also disquiet in the British military establishment, with the Guardian reporting on October 6, "Defense sources suggested that blaming the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for supplying the explosives technology was going too far."

Second, Abedin claims that bringing the Lebanese Hezbollah into the equation simply makes no sense.

Iran has direct access to southern Iraq and, moreover, has many official representatives (not to mention hundreds of covert operatives) in the Basra area alone. Given this impressive presence, it is difficult to see why the Iranians would want to involve a Lebanese political party/militia in their dealings with Shi'ite forces in the south of Iraq. The British, it seems, have unwisely copied Israeli disinformation methodology. Indeed, whenever Israel levels an extraordinary allegation against Iran, it almost invariably involves the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Third, Abedin claimed that the accusation that "rogue" elements in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are behind the transfer of technology seriously undermines the British government's position.

Either the British know very little about Iranian security policy or they are deliberately employing a deceptive argument. The fact is that there are no "rogue" elements in the IRGC. The IRGC is, first and foremost, an ideological military organization with its own independent command, comprised of ground, naval and air forces. This makes Iran the only country in the world to operate two completely independent military structures (ie, the regular military and the IRGC). Moreover, aside from being a military organization, the IRGC has security/intelligence capabilities and other civilian infrastructure. For instance, the best specialized medical clinics in Iran (particularly those pertaining to dentistry and laser eye surgery) are owned and operated by the IRGC. Overall, the IRGC directly employs up to 350,000 personnel, 120,000 of whom serve in its ground, naval and air forces. The IRGC is a vast organization, and as such it is subject to intense discipline. The idea that "rogue" elements within this organization are actively engaged in undermining Iranian foreign policy is simply a non-starter. These deceptive arguments are usually deployed to buttress unsubstantiated accusations against the Islamic republic.

Last, Abedin claimed the transfer of bomb technology makes no sense from a technical perspective.

The technology in question (which involves specially shaped charges capable of penetrating armor) is up to 50 years old and there is nothing particularly "Iranian" about it. It has been used in a variety of conflicts, notably in Sri Lanka, where it has been deployed by the Tamil Tigers. While it is true that the Lebanese Hezbollah deployed these types of devices against the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in southern Lebanon in the 1990s, it is equally true that the technology was widely known to the Istikhbarat, the former Iraqi military intelligence service. In fact, the Istikhbarat closely tracked Iran's military relationship with Hezbollah, and had even sent a specialized team to Lebanon in 1995 to study Hezbollah tactics against the IDF. This expertise is being widely used by Iraqi Arab Sunni insurgents (who are mostly led by former Istikhbarat and Mukhabarat officers) against US forces in the western, central, north-central and northern regions of Iraq. Given that this technology is widely available to and exploited by the Arab Sunni guerrilla movement, there is no reason why it should not travel further south to benefit the emerging Shi'ite insurgency against the British presence. In any case, the circuitous route through which this old and well-known technology is supposed to have been transferred (ie from Iran to Hezbollah and then to the Iraqi Shi'ites) is implausible, if not downright spurious.

It’s obvious now that the British have intentionally tried to deceive the world and the Iranians responded by placing the blame on them for the Ahvan bombings, leaving us asking why? Why did the British lie? The answer is obvious. They are faced with a conundrum. The British have miscalculated the outcome of the war in Iraq, thus severely undermining their power within the European Union. In order to save face within the E.U. the British have been trying to take on a prominate role in confronting the Iranians over their role in producing nuclear weapons. While trying to save face within the E.U. the British are also forced with trying to appease the Bush administrations foreign policy agenda. Because of this conundrum the British have reverted back to what seems to be the modus operandi of 10 Downing St., when trying to legitimize their agenda, relaying on poorly constructed lies. I wonder when Blair will finally wake up and realize that no matter how much he lies or kisses up to his buddies across the Atlantic the Bush administrations views Britain as an easily sacrificed pawn in their ongoing game of pax-American.

Wipe that smirk off ya face

Or we'll wipe it off for ya

It looks like it won't be very long before we'll finally get to see at least one smirking chimp get the smile wiped off his face, ........now if only we could only do something about the other one.

October 25, 2005

Niger Forgeries Analysis

We have posted up a complete analysis of the Niger yellowcake forgeries on our website IraqFact .com. It contians images of all the documents, translations from the French and analysis of the obvious flaws. You can view them here.

Check them out..if you can add any new analysis please leave a comment.

IraqFact Working Group

October 22, 2005

It all comes down to one simple question

by Duke1676

It appears we are rapidly approaching the watershed moment for the Bush Administration. Not only are numerous top officials about to face serious questions about their actions, but the cornerstone on which Bush has built his Presidency will be tested and judged: his ability to judge character. From almost the start, Bush has run a "trust me" kind of Presidency. He has often led the American people to believe that he has an almost innate ability to discern the motivations and character of people simply by meeting them. He has pronounced foreign leaders "good men", he has "looked into the hearts" of numerous appointees, and has generally asked the American people to trust him about his decisions. His nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court is the most recent example of this pattern. But now a reckoning is about to occur. The American people are about to face a simple question that will determine Bush's fate and legacy.

Do you believe that those members of the Bush administration who were responsible for the making decisions about war and peace considered the documents dealing with Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium in Niger to be genuine?

An examination of the documents shows that there is no "good" answer to that question for Bush.

One must remember that the veracity of these documents was questioned on more than one occasion. Ambassador Joseph Wilson was the first to raise serious doubts the Niger claims in early 2002. The following October, the CIA sent two memos to the White House warning that the Niger charges were not based on solid evidence. On Oct. 5th 2002, a memo addressed to Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael Gerson and deputy national security adviser, Stephen J.Hadley and others, objected to a sentence that the White House had included in a draft of a speech the President was to give two days later in Cincinnati. The speech contained the claim that Saddam Hussein's "regime has been caught attempting to purchase" uranium in Africa. The CIA memo noted that the amount was in dispute and that it was not clear the material "can be acquired from the source." The CIA also pointed out that Iraq already had its own supply, 500 tons, of the "yellowcake" uranium ore it was accused of seeking.(1)

The following day a second memo was sent to Hadley and National Security Advisor Condollezza Rice in response to another draft of the speech, the memos included new CIA objections to the charge, saying there was "weakness in the evidence" and that the attempted purchase "was not particularly significant." Before the speech, one last warning came when CIA director George Tenet called Hadley, requesting that the Africa allegation be removed. Although the Cincinnati speech did not contain the reference it did reappear in later speeches, the most notable being the 2003 State of the Union speech.

The history of the "sixteen words" and the Plame leak are now familiar to all at this point, but the documents themselves have not been widely disseminated by the US media. The Italian press did publish a copy, but most Americans have not had a chance to determine there authenticity for themselves. This will most likely change over the next weeks and months as the Plame case accelerates.

Even the most cursory examination will show the obvious flaws in the documents. The first glaring flaw shows up in the letterhead:

(Doc.3) Note the crude "hand drawn" nature of the seal in the letterhead. Also of note are the handwritten notations of "urgent" and "confidential". These are obviously not official documents of any government.

(Doc.2) note the seal in this letterhead, also note the urgent stamp. Both are nothing like those on Doc#1.

Of note on this document is the discrepancy with the date. The top posts a date of 30 Jul, 1999, yet in the body text it's dated , 29 June 2002.

When these documents begin to circulate throughout the media over the coming weeks and months, the American people will be faced with a tough choice. They will view with their own eyes the documents on which the Bush administration based one of its crucial arguments for war on. The claim that Saddam Hussein was capable of producing nuclear weapons, and the specter of those weapons falling into the hands of international terrorists. That " America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud ". (2)

After careful examination people will be faced with one of two conclusions, neither of which will be very good for the President. Either his advisors were too ignorant to discern the obvious, that the documents were crude forgeries, or they knowing lied to the American people when they made their nuclear claims. Whether Bush knew he was lying when he made those claims is ultimately unimportant, the fact will remain that he "looked into the hearts" of his most trusted advisors and misjudged them. The men and women whom he thought were the brightest and most honest, turned out to be either liars or fools or both. So much for the "trust me" President.

October 21, 2005

It's starting to look a lot like Fitzmas

October 17, 2005

Of purple fingers and blue states

by Duke1676

The Iraqi people have voted. Despite turnout rates in some Sunni regions as high as 90% their attempts to block the adoption of the new constitution have failed. President Bush congratulated the Iraqi people and praised the expected results. "This is a very positive day for the Iraqis and, as well, for world peace. Democracies are peaceful countries" he said. But we know better.

Do you know why? Because in a strange way we've been there before. Democrats that is.

Let's play a little psychological parlour game of regression if you don't mind. (I promise we won't rehash that time your older brother made you eat the booger) We won't go back far, only to a little less then a year ago. To the first Wednesday in November 2004.

The alarm goes off like it has a million times before. After a few groggy moments, half in a dream, half awake, you stumble from your bed. You're exceptionally drained this morning, but you don't really recall why. You just know you feel like hell. Coffee!!! I need coffee, you think.

You make your way to the kitchen, turn on the light, and start to put up a pot. Then it happens, an emptiness in the pit of your stomach, a feeling both anxious and foreboding.. something's terribly wrong ...you're starting to wake up and you remember why you feel so crappy... Oh my God.....Bush.

How the hell can this be? There were thousands of us at the polling place waiting to vote. We waited for hours. I saw pictures on TV of lines stretching for blocks and blocks. We worked for months and months, organizing the vote, making calls, handing out flyers, registering voters. Nobody in their right mind could have voted for this guy. How can this be? How can this be?

Remember that feeling? Remember how terrible it was? How you hoped against hope that something would change in Ohio. How you just wanted to crawl in a hole. Maybe have a drink or ten. How you could have slithered into bed and never left for the rest of your life.

Good....now take that feeling ....... multiply it .......by....I don't know.....maybe......a... gazillion.

That's how a Sunni feels right now.

Except that he or she lives in a place that's messed up beyond belief. People get blown to bits everyday. There's no work, or prospect of getting any. Electricity and water are rare commodities. A foreign army roams your streets. Your fellow countrymen hate you. A corrupt government of your ancestral enemies runs your country, and the place is in total ruins. To top it off, the one and only natural resource your country has, the basis of your whole economy, has for all intents and purposes been put under the control of your enemies to do with as they see fit.

Now add in the fact that our Sunni friend lives in a country where average citizens are now armed to the teeth. Kids make bombs instead of playing with toys, and killing has become almost the national pastime. Stuff blows up every day. That's just the way it is

Now, I know the comparison leaves much to be desired, but given what we know of despair and disillusionment with a political system, will it really come as a shock when the shit hits the fan, and Iraq turns into the biggest mess we've ever seen, with even more violence and death? Will we really be surprised when each day more and more desperate Sunnis call for civil war?

Bush and his Republican friends and followers will be shocked. "How can this be? They've got a brand new constitution and a bright and shiny democracy over there. How could there be millions of tera-ists, where are all these insurgents coming from, who is fomenting such turmoil?"

While we will hopefully never know the horror of life in a hell-hole like Iraq, we as Democrats won't be quite as shocked when the whole thing comes unglued. We now know, thanks to Republican one party rule, what it's like to have no voice in your government, to have leaders who work against your best interests and those of your nation. To have theocrats and hypocrites sit in the seats of power. In that way we are like Sunnis, and can in some very small way understand their frustration and despair.

October 16, 2005

29 minutes, 3400 words, 40 lies: The case against Bush

I was going through my files looking for a link I had related to the Plame case when I came across a copy of Bush's famous October 7, 2002 speech in Cincinnati just prior to the Congressional vote on Iraq. It was in this speech that Bush laid out his case for regime change and the need to use military force in Iraq. Something compelled me to re-read it...there was somthing about seeing these words again that sent a shiver down my spine.

To read these words three years later is mind numbing. It's impossible to come to any other conclusion than that our President is either the biggest liar to ever walk the face of the earth, or he is of unbelievably limited mental capacity. Either way he should be removed from office immediately. After re-reading this speech I believe it would be impossible for anyone with a modicum of cognitive ability to come to any other conclusion. Almost every claim he made was false, and has been proven so over the course of time. And they are not just false, many of the claims in retrospect are downright absurd. Whether he knew they were false at the time is irrelevant. If he did ....he's a liar,... if he didn't, it proves that his incompetence is monumental and unforgivable.

So why don't we take a little trip down memory lane and make a short stop in the bizarre world that is George W Bush.

Remarks by the President on IraqCincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Union TerminalCincinnati, Ohio October 7, 2002
8:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for that very gracious and warm Cincinnati welcome. I'm honored to be here tonight; I appreciate you all coming.
Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons (1). It is seeking nuclear weapons (2). It has given shelter and support to terrorism (3), and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability -- even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.

Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Since we all agree on this goal, the issues is : how can we best achieve it? (4)

Many Americans have raised legitimate questions: about the nature of the threat; about the urgency of action -- why be concerned now; about the link between Iraq developing weapons of terror, and the wider war on terror. These are all issues we've discussed broadly and fully within my administration. And tonight, I want to share those discussions with you.

First, some ask why Iraq is different from other countries or regimes that also have terrible weapons. While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone -- because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant who has already used chemical weapons to kill thousands of people. This same tyrant has tried to dominate the Middle East, has invaded and brutally occupied a small neighbor, has struck other nations without warning, and holds an unrelenting hostility toward the United States.

By its past and present actions, by its technological capabilities, by the merciless nature of its regime, Iraq is unique. As a former chief weapons inspector of the U.N. has said, "The fundamental problem with Iraq remains the nature of the regime, itself. Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction."

Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do (5)-- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions. (6)

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. (7) Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th.

And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. (8) Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.

Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations –(9) - in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. (10) We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. (11) And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it.

And that is the source of our urgent concern about Saddam Hussein's links to international terrorist groups. (12) Over the years, Iraq has provided safe haven to terrorists such as Abu Nidal, whose terror organization carried out more than 90 terrorist attacks in 20 countries that killed or injured nearly 900 people, including 12 Americans. Iraq has also provided safe haven to Abu Abbas, who was responsible for seizing the Achille Lauro and killing an American passenger. And we know that Iraq is continuing to finance terror and gives assistance to groups that use terrorism to undermine Middle East peace. (13)

We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. (14) These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. (15) We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. (16) And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. (17) Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. When I spoke to Congress more than a year ago, I said that those who harbor terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction. (18) And he cannot be trusted. The risk is simply too great that he will use them, or provide them to a terror network.

Terror cells and outlaw regimes building weapons of mass destruction are different faces of the same evil. Our security requires that we confront both. And the United States military is capable of confronting both.
Many people have asked how close Saddam Hussein is to developing a nuclear weapon. Well, we don't know exactly, and that's the problem. Before the Gulf War, the best intelligence indicated that Iraq was eight to ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon. After the war, international inspectors learned that the regime has been much closer -- the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993. (19) The inspectors discovered that Iraq had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a workable nuclear weapon, and was pursuing several different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.

Before being barred from Iraq in 1998, the International Atomic Energy Agency dismantled extensive nuclear weapons-related facilities, including three uranium enrichment sites. That same year, information from a high-ranking Iraqi nuclear engineer who had defected revealed that despite his public promises, Saddam Hussein had ordered his nuclear program to continue.

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. (20) Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. (21) Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. (22)

If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed. Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression. He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists.

Some citizens wonder, after 11 years of living with this problem, why do we need to confront it now? And there's a reason. We've experienced the horror of September the 11th. We have seen that those who hate America are willing to crash airplanes into buildings full of innocent people. Our enemies would be no less willing, in fact, they would be eager, to use biological or chemical, or a nuclear weapon.

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. (23) As President Kennedy said in October of 1962, "Neither the United States of America, nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world," he said, "where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nations security to constitute maximum peril."

Understanding the threats of our time, knowing the designs and deceptions of the Iraqi regime, we have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring.
Some believe we can address this danger by simply resuming the old approach to inspections, and applying diplomatic and economic pressure. Yet this is precisely what the world has tried to do since 1991. The U.N. inspections program was met with systematic deception. The Iraqi regime bugged hotel rooms and offices of inspectors to find where they were going next; they forged documents, destroyed evidence, and developed mobile weapons facilities to keep a step ahead of inspectors (24). Eight so-called presidential palaces were declared off-limits to unfettered inspections. These sites actually encompass twelve square miles, with hundreds of structures, both above and below the ground, where sensitive materials could be hidden. (25)

The world has also tried economic sanctions -- and watched Iraq use billions of dollars in illegal oil revenues to fund more weapons purchases, rather than providing for the needs of the Iraqi people.
The world has tried limited military strikes to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities -- only to see them openly rebuilt, while the regime again denies they even exist.
The world has tried no-fly zones to keep Saddam from terrorizing his own people -- and in the last year alone, the Iraqi military has fired upon American and British pilots more than 750 times. (26)

After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon. (27)

Clearly, to actually work, any new inspections, sanctions or enforcement mechanisms will have to be very different. America wants the U.N. to be an effective organization that helps keep the peace. And that is why we are urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough, immediate requirements. Among those requirements: the Iraqi regime must reveal and destroy, under U.N. supervision, all existing weapons of mass destruction. To ensure that we learn the truth, the regime must allow witnesses to its illegal activities to be interviewed outside the country -- and these witnesses must be free to bring their families with them so they all beyond the reach of Saddam Hussein's terror and murder. And inspectors must have access to any site, at any time, without pre-clearance, without delay, without exceptions.

The time for denying, deceiving, and delaying has come to an end. Saddam Hussein must disarm himself -- or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

Many nations are joining us in insisting that Saddam Hussein's regime be held accountable. They are committed to defending the international security that protects the lives of both our citizens and theirs. (28) And that's why America is challenging all nations to take the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council seriously.

And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. (29) It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown.

By taking these steps, and by only taking these steps, the Iraqi regime has an opportunity to avoid conflict. Taking these steps would also change the nature of the Iraqi regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice. Unfortunately, at least so far, we have little reason to expect it. And that's why two administrations -- mine and President Clinton's -- have stated that regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation.

I hope this will not require military action, but it may. (30) And military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully; we will act with the full power of the United States military; we will act with allies at our side, and we will prevail. (Applause.)

There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait -- and that's an option. In my view, it's the riskiest of all options, because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I'm convinced that is a hope against all evidence. (31) As Americans, we want peace -- we work and sacrifice for peace. But there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I'm not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein.

Failure to act would embolden other tyrants, allow terrorists access to new weapons and new resources, and make blackmail a permanent feature of world events. (32) The United Nations would betray the purpose of its founding, and prove irrelevant to the problems of our time. And through its inaction, the United States would resign itself to a future of fear.

That is not the America I know. That is not the America I serve. We refuse to live in fear. (Applause.)

This nation, in world war and in Cold War, has never permitted the brutal and lawless to set history's course. Now, as before, we will secure our nation, protect our freedom, and help others to find freedom of their own.

Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq. (33) The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, (34) just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban. The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.

On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.

America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture. America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin. (35)

Iraq is a land rich in culture, resources, and talent. Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time. (36) If military action is necessary, the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild their economy, and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at peace with its neighbors. (37)

Later this week, the United States Congress will vote on this matter. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America's military, if it proves necessary, to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. (38) the resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something. Congress will also be sending a message to the dictator in Iraq: that his only chance -- his only choice is full compliance, and the time remaining for that choice is limited.

Members of Congress are nearing an historic vote. I'm confident they will fully consider the facts, and their duties.

The attacks of September the 11th showed our country that vast oceans no longer protect us from danger. Before that tragic date, we had only hints of al Qaeda's plans and designs. (39) Today in Iraq, we see a threat whose outlines are far more clearly defined, and whose consequences could be far more deadly. (40) Saddam Hussein's actions have put us on notice, and there is no refuge from our responsibilities.

We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace, and lead the world to a better day.

May God bless America. (Applause.)

END 8:31 P.M. EDT

October 07, 2005

The real importance of the Fitzgerald investigation.

by Duke1676

These are heady times for those of us who have been crying out against this Administration, and its war of convenience from the start. The prospect that senior officials who lied and manipulated our nation to war, will finally be frog-marched out of the White House to face their rightful punishment is a sweet turn of the karmic wheel. The temptation to issue some sort of universal "We told you so" to all the apologists, naysayers, and misinformed is almost overwhelming. ...It feels as if we've earned the right.

We earned it when Bush stood on that flight deck on the USS Abraham Lincoln, and with approval ratings in the stratosphere declared "mission accomplished"....We knew it wasn't, but no one would listen.

We earned it when 75% of the American people believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attacks of September 11.... We knew he wasn't, but no one would listen.

We earned it when Colin Powell sat at the UN and "demonstrated" that Iraq definitely had weapons of mass destruction with the aid of cartoon drawings so unconvincing that an intern wouldn't use them in a PowerPoint presentation....We knew they didn't, but no one would listen.

We earned it when Rumsfeld told us about Iraqis with flowers greeting our troops. We knew there would be no flowers except on the graves of the fallen, but no one would listen.

So now our vindication approaches, and now they are listening. Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet and his minions are falling like flies. So everything is good........right?

Only if we stay on point, and don't get bogged down in the circus of personality politics that the Fitgerald indictments are bound to bring about.

This all started because of Iraq and the lies that needed to be told to convince the American people that a neocon empire building experiment in Iraq was in their best interest. It's all about Iraq and has always been about Iraq. Yellowcake was about Iraq, Plame was about Iraq, and Wilson was about Iraq.

It's not about Rove, Libby,Cheney or any other Administration lackey. They are merely repulsive distractions, and when they fall...Iraq will still be there like a giant pile of steaming excrement left behind by elephants gone mad.

So while we dance around the bonfire as the witches burn, we must remember that what see roasting on the embers are mere phantoms. The true evil still exists, and will continue until we extricate ourselves from the nightmare of right wing control. This will only be done if we stay on message....They lied to make a needless war.

October 05, 2005

From Baghdad to Bourbon St: A litany of lies and ineptitude

By Duke1676

Originally posted Sept 2, 2005

As tragic events unfold along the Gulf coast, a stunned nation reels in disbelief at the notion that the most powerful country ever to exist cannot provide for the basic essentials to sustain the lives of tens of thousands of its own citizens. The idea is almost unfathomable: that an America that could put a man on the moon, feed the world's hungry and protect its oppressed, cannot in 2005 supply food, water, security and basic medical care to the victims of a hurricane. Yet this appears to be the situation. How is this possible? How could this have possibly happened?

Unfortunately the handwriting for disaster has been on the wall for quite some time. Although it began with the systematic disassembling of the federal government and it’s programs in the eighties, the last six years of one-party control have brought the situation to a head. Today all that is left of our nation’s ability to respond to disaster are a thousand points of faith-based, compassionate- conservative light, and this is obviously not enough.

From the start, the present administration in particular has been ruthless in its quest to re-mold both the nation and the world to fit a predetermined vision. In their quest to accomplish their goals they have demonstrated a willingness to manipulate, mislead and deceive. But perhaps worse than the deceit has been the utter incompetence with which they have proceeded with their plans.

From the claim that Iraqis would greet US troops with flowers and candy to the assertions about weapons of mass destruction, they have been proved to be wrong. From the inability or unwillingness to supply our troops with the necessary tools to wage war to the gross underestimation about the size of the force needed to control a conquered Iraq, they have been proved to be wrong. From the claim that the vast oil wealth of Iraq would pay for the cost of rebuilding and reconstruction to the assertion that fighting terrorist "there" would make us safer here, they have been proved to be wrong. Almost every premise given for the war, and every decision made about its execution have been proved to be wrong. Now, we are seeing the same rank incompetence being revealed in New Orleans and the Gulf States.

It is ironic that once again tragedy strikes our nation as our president vacations. Once again he reacts slowly, and with uncertainty. Once again he fails to see danger on the horizon. Once again, Americans die.

"Who would have thought terrorists would fly a plane into a building" sounds eerily like "Who would have thought the levees would break". Bush strumming his guitar as people drowned looks not unlike Bush reading "My Pet Goat" as thousands perished in the World Trade Center. The people trampled to death on a Baghdad bridge look not unlike the lost souls wandering I-10 in New Orleans, looking for a way out of hell. The coffins of the 2000 servicemen and women killed in Iraq are not unlike the coffins of the thousands killed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Mistake upon mistake, death upon death, lie upon lie--this is the legacy of the Bush administration.

"Secret" Air Base for Iraq War started prior 9-11

Originally posted on June 21, 2005
By Duke1676

With a small ceremony on April 26, 2003, control of Prince Sultan Air Base was handed back to the government of Saudi Arabia. Since the mid-nineties it had been the premier US air base in the region and the nerve center for all air force operations in the Gulf. As the home of the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), the base was the primary command and control facility responsible for orchestrating the air campaigns for both Operation Southern Watch in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The timing of the closing of PSAB seemed odd, coming just weeks after the official start of military actions in Iraq. It should have, at the very least, caused unwanted logistical problems for the Pentagon and regional commanders, but it didn't. A contingency plan had long been in the works, not only for Prince Sultan Air Base, but also for the entire map of the Middle East, including Iraq.

Long before the US pullout, a new home for the operations had secretly been built in the deserts of Qatar. What had been in October 2001 "nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses", the Al Udeid Air Base was transformed in a few short months into one of the largest air bases in the world.

Published reports and official DOD statements claimed that the amazing transformation was the result of the heroic response of US servicemen to the tragedy of 9-11. A determined military had beaten indeterminate odds to transform a barren wasteland into a state of the art military base in order to "take the war to the terrorists".

The true story of the building of Al-Udeid is actually quite different. The planning for the mammoth base had in fact taken place long before Sept. 11, and actual work on the base began as early as the spring of 2001. The building of Al Udeid turns out not to be a "miracle in the desert" in response to a heinous attack, as touted by the military, but rather a required step on the path to regime change in Iraq.

It has long been accepted knowledge that the Bush Administration was working feverishly towards regime change in Iraq during the 18-month period between 9-11 and the official start of the war in March of 2003. The Downing St Minutes confirmed that the Administration was set on a path to war at least as early as mid-summer of 2002. The accounts of Paul O'Neil and Richard Clarke verified that Iraq was a front burner issue for the Administration from the very first day, and only intensified after the attacks. Yet finding hard evidence to prove that planning for the war in Iraq was taking place prior to 9-11 has been hard to find. A look at the building of Al Udied can provide that evidence.

According to published reports, the groundwork for what would become Al-Udeid Air Base was first laid at a cost of over one billion dollars in 1996 in an attempt by the Qatari government to lure the American military to set up shop in the small Gulf nation. At the time it was built, Qatar had not yet acquired as much as a single airplane to call the base home. Although they would later purchase an air force comprised of 12 French Mirage fighter jets, they would never actually station them at Al-Udeid. They were simply playing a waiting game, hoping that eventually the volatile nature of the region would bring the Americans knocking at their door. The Qatari's gamble paid off with the events of Sept. 11. In response to the attacks, the US presence in the region needed to increase exponentially. By Sept. 29, 2001, according to the official records, the first military teams arrived to begin looking the base over in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom.

On October 2, 2001 a rapid-response team of civil engineers, the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron whose specialty is to repair and build structures such as runways and roads in remote areas, arrived. According to the accounts of the 823rd, the Qatar base "was nothing more than a runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Since there was no room in the warehouses for the RED HORSE airmen to sleep, they moved into an expandable shelter on the flightline and lived and worked out of there
They had come to begin the largest construction project ever undertaken by a RED HORSE team; a $9.1 million military construction project that consisted of building a 1,240- foot by 630-foot concrete ramp with taxiways, shoulders and lighting. While waiting for funding and approval for the ramp project, the RED HORSE troops spent two months doing other base projects, like building the operations center and helping set up the tent city.
Finally in January 2002 ramp construction began. The completed ramp, as big as 8 football fields, was finished in late March.

As March 2002 began, the airfield was still classified as "Secret".
Only a handwritten "Army Camp" sign marked its entrance. By the middle of the month, several thousand new American troops were now stationed at the base. Many of these troops were supporting the large complement of US aircraft, which included F-16 fighters, JSTARS reconnaissance aircraft, and KC-10, KC-130 and KC-135 aerial tankers. The rapid growth of the base made Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani decide he had to let his people know about extent of the American presence in their country. It was agreed that the best way to announce the presence of the base was to have Vice President Cheney visit on March 17, 2002.

Within ten days of Cheney's visit, reports were coming out of Saudi Arabia that the US was moving communications and computer equipment from Prince Sultan Air Base to Al-Udeid in anticipation of a base closing. US military trucks had been seen leaving the base 50 miles south of Riyadh, and arriving at the border with Qatar in the second week of March. It was speculated that a move was being made in response to the Saudi government's refusal to allow air raids on Afghanistan to be launched from its soil. Additionally, in the event of a Saudi refusal to collaborate in a second phase of the US "war on terror" against Iraq, the move would be needed to allow the US to effectively conduct an air campaign.

At the time US central command spokesman, Major Ralph Mills confirmed the equipment movements but insisted they represented business as usual. Mills told reporters, "This is not uncommon. This is status quo. We are moving stuff from point A to point B, this is an ongoing process." Dick Cheney also denied there were any plans to close Prince Sultan AB, claiming no decision had made to change military positions with respect to Saudi Arabia.

By June of 2002 the work on the first phase Al Udeid was nearing completion.
The US military had quietly moved munitions, equipment and communications gear to the base from Saudi Arabia. The base was now home to 3,000 troops. A huge tent city had been erected with warehouses and miles of security barriers. Miles of freshly paved runways and acres of new aircraft parking ramps showed up on satellite imagery from the period. Newly built hangers, munitions supply areas and control facilities had been hardened with concrete to withstand aerial attack, and the base now boasted the longest runway in the region at over 15,000 feet. It had become as one military analyst said; "The most capable base in the Gulf region."

On August 7, 2002
the Saudis announced that the US would no longer be allowed to fly combat missions in Iraq out of Prince Sultan Air Base in support of Operation Southern Watch. The Saudi decision had no effect on US war plans by that time, as Al Udeid was more than prepared to pick up where the Saudis had left off. A year later, Prince Sultan was closed after all Command and Control was moved to Al Udeid.

As the Bush Administration came to power in January 2001, the sound of war drums began beating along the Potomac. Numerous accounts from the period tell of an increased emphasis on the need for regime change in Iraq. As the political wing of the administration worked on setting the stage for policy change, the military began to deal with the practicalities of waging war. With the deteriorating situation in Saudi Arabia in general, and the possible need replace Prince Sultan AB in particular; the DOD began to make moves to find a replacement.
Since the first Gulf War, the US had had limited military agreements with Qatar. In 1992, a Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed that permitted "access and prepositioning" of US assets in the country. In November, 1995 another agreement to host "several Air Expeditionary Force deployments" was reached. Yet as of 2000, Al Udeid had been mostly ignored, but that was about to change.

In 2000 the US planned to to use Al-Udeid as a munitions storage facility
according to The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) 2000 report released in the fall of that year.

ICBL Report 2000: Qatar
Additionally, based on U.S. Air Force plans for its war reserve ammunition stockpiles in the Persian Gulf region, U.S. Gator antipersonnel mines, as well as Claymore mines, may be introduced and stockpiled at the Al Udeid area in Qatar in the near future. U.S. Air Force documents indicate that the Al Udeid storage\facility will eventually contain 142 CBU-89 Gator mine systems, each with twenty-two antipersonnel mines, and 141 M18/M18A1 Claymore mines

The ICBL 2001 report, which was
completed just prior to 9-11 confirmed that the munitions storage plan had in
fact gone into effect. Located in the remote desert region of Qatar, Al-Udeid
was a perfect candidate for this kind of usage. But munitions storage facility
would not last long. As the Bush administration came to power they had new plans
for the air base, plans that would clear the path to war with Iraq.

By March 2001 the Air Force began investigating moving operations to the Al-Udeid.
According to a Congressional report given by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the airfield was now being looked at as potential US base. In his annual Allied Contributions to the Common Defense Report , Rumsfeld stated:

"Since November 1995, Bahrain and Qatar have both hosted several Air Expeditionary Force deployments in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, and the United States Air Force recently established a limited prepositioning facility at Qatar's Al-Udeid Airbase and is investigating moving to the airfield. Qatar also hosts prepositioned U.S. Army assets at As-Saliyah."

This was the first time the use of Al-Udied as a potential base for US air operations was officially acknowledged. Back in April 2000, then Defense Secretary William Cohen had been asked about the use of Al-Udeid at a press conference in Kuwait. He acknowledge that he had "discussed ways in which Al-Udeid may be used in the future, in a crisis situation" with the Qataris, but no agreement could be reached. Obviously the new administration had more luck with the Qatari negotiations then its predecessors.

In June 2001 communications capabilities were completed at Al Udeid
According to his online biography archived at a website for those who had served at Prum Air Station in Germany, Bill Goodman (USAF Ret) states that communications work began at Al Udeid sometime before June 2001. Towards the end of his long and distinguished military career, Goodman says that while working for Air Force Central Command, he oversaw the installation of "communications capability" at Al Udeid in the spring.

"In June of 1996 ...I accepted a position on the United States Central Command Air Forces Staff. I was a Project Manager and Communications Systems Manager for Southwest Asia. I got to spend much time traveling throughout the Middle East. Most significant, and my last official duty in the Air Force was that I was project manager for an initial communications capability at Al Udeid Air Base in QATAR. I completed everything in June of 2001 and am pretty proud of what I helped accomplish there and feel like I made a difference."

Around the same period, Alaswar Technology Group Co (aka.Al-Aswar Electronic) of Hawally Kuwait supplied and installed two "60 foot guy masts, microwave dishes and allied works" in Qatar; one at the Saliyah Army Base, the other at Al-Udeid. Whether these communication dishes were part of the work Bill Goodman was doing cannot be known. What is known is that the US military had personnel working at Al-Udied long before the Sept 29, 2001 date always claimed to be the first time US servicemen set foot at the base.

In the Summer of 2001 construction contracts for the airbase began to go out for bids.
By the summer of 2001 plans to expand Al Udeid into a large-scale installation were well under way. The bidding process for contracts to do the work had all ready begun.

On August 9, 2001 bids went out for a "contractor owned-contractor operated" fueling station for both fighter and cargo planes as well as a diesel and automotive gasoline facility for ground vehicles. Also in the bid was a fueling station for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles and a commercial tank truck receiving facility.

Notice Date August 9, 2001
Contracting Office Defense Logistics Agency,Logistics Operations, Defense Energy Support Center, 8725 John J. Kingman Road, Fort Belvoir, VA, 22060-6222
Solicitation Number SP0600-01-R-0117
Response Due October 5, 2001
Description COCO Site at AL Udeid, Qatar 1. An aircraft hydrant fuel system capable of servicing both fighter and cargo aircrafts. 2. Approximately 72,000 barrels of JP8 storage capacity. 3. A ground products dispensing facility for Diesel Fuel and Automotive Gasoline. 4. A truck fill stand capable for mobile aircraft refueling vehicles. 5. A commercial tank truck receiving facility (i.e. tank truck off loading heads).
Record Loren Data Corp. 20010813/XSOL001.HTM (D-221 SN50U5O6)
(Contact info edited)

On Sept 7, 2001, according to company news releases, a contract was awarded GSCSGulf to build "administration facilities, a worker break room, ablution facilities, an outside storage area, a loading dock, FMSE facility, and a generator run up." Later in the month GSCSGulf was awarded two contracts farmed out from DynCorp. One was for a Fuel Receiving Point, the other for a Bulk Fuel Storage facility. "The projects (were) to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems (were) in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom."Although the press release from the 30th of September mentions "Operation Enduring Freedom", bidding on the contract had to have been completed long before that date. As the release states GSCSGulf had won the contracts from DynCorp, one must assume they competed for them.

GSCS Chosen to Build WRM Support Facilities
(7 September 2001) GSCS has won a contract to simultaneously construct 10 minor construction projects in support of the US Air Force War Reserve Material (WRM) program at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Individual projects include: administration facilities, worker break room, ablution facilities, outside storage area, loading dock, FMSE facility, generator run up
DynCorp Selects GSCS to Construct USAF Fuel Systems
(30 September 2001) GSCS has won two contracts with DynCorp International for the construction of a Fuel Receiving Point and a Bulk Fuel Storage Point, both at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The projects are to be built under expedited construction schedules in order to ensure fuel systems are in-place for incoming USAF tanker squadrons deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

GSCSGulf was awarded two more contracts during this period. Both had been won competitively, hence bids had been taken. Although it is impossible to know how the events of 9-11 affected the bid review and acceptance process, even under expedited conditions it seems highly unlikely that any but the last contract would have been initiated after 9-11 given the DOD's usual 60 to 120 day turn around time.

GSCS Wins Tent-City Site Preparation Contract
(3 October 2001)GSCS has been competitively awarded a contract for the emergency preparation of 61 acres of outside open area in support of a US Air Force tent city to be erected at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar. Work includes: excavation, backfilling, soil compaction, trenching for electrical cables, application of rock aggregate, construction of drainage ditches, access roads with culverts, parking areas, interior access corridors and perimeter earth berms.
GSCS Wins RMS Contract for USAF Aircraft Parking Apron Materials
(28 December 2001) Readiness Management Support L.C. has competitively awarded GSCS a contract for the rapid supply of base course aggregate (42,184 metric tons) and sub-base aggregate (73,482 metric tons) in support of construction of a new US Air Force concrete aircraft-parking apron at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar

October 2001 satellite images showed extensive work had already been completed at Al-Udeid The Oct 2001 images of runways, structures and roads show an air base far more advanced than the official story would have us believe, revealing that the base was certainly more than one month old. If this construction was part of the original Qatari project, or new US additions cannot be known. What is known is that the base was not "a simple runway and a field of sand covered by two-dozen tents and a few warehouses". Satellite images from Jan 2002, and the following June, show the rapidity with which base was completed. The clock on war with Iraq was running, and the military was in a race to beat that clock.

As any chess player can attest, the game is most often won or lost in the first few moves. The Bush Administrations plan for regime change in Iraq was much like a chess game, each piece needed to be in place before the gambit. Although the grand schemes were hatched in the plush offices of right wing think tanks and corporate boardrooms, the heavy lifting was done by simple pawns in the hot deserts of the Southwest Asia, long before the first rumbles of shock and awe were ever heard.

Able to use the smoldering embers of the World Trade Center as a canard to sell a "global" war on terror to not only the American people, but to those who would fight it, the Administration was able to cover their tracks with a web of misinformation. Al-Udeid was never intended as a frontline in a war against the terrorists of 9-11. It was planned as the frontline for something far different; the "War on Terror", which was nothing more then a clever repackaging of the plans for Iraqi regime change that began with the first Gulf War.
The level of misinformation can be illustrated with a simple story coming from the building of Al Udeid:

According to the official DOD history of Al Udeid, the first fatality of Operation Enduring Freedom was a civil engineer, Master Sgt. Evander Earl Andy"Andrews who died on Oct. 10, 2001 in a construction accident. To honor Andrews,the sprawling tent city at Al-Udeid was christened "Camp Andy". The story of "Camp Andy" is oft told in press accounts about the base and is a cornerstone in the façade of the official account.
Left out of the official story is the fact that since the existence of the base was classified at the time, the military initially announced only that the fatality occurred somewherein "Southwest Asia",and his parents waited months to find out what had really happened to their son

Just as Master Sgt. Andrews parents were not told the truth about their sons' death in Qatar, the American people were never told about the planning and execution of the war in Iraq. The history of the building of AL Udeid demonstrates that the Military planners were on a path to war long before the events of that fateful September morning "changed everything".

US led forces entered Iraq two months prior JHS Res.114

Originally posted June 8, 2005

In August of 2002, two months before the Congressional resolution was passed that would allow the use of force in Iraq, a joint US, British and Turkish strike force of commandos and Special Forces troops crossed the border from Turkey into Iraq and engaged a unit of enemy armor in what would become the opening salvo of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Preceded by two days of aerial bombardment to destroy the Iraqis ability to detect and defend against the incursion, on Aug. 8 at 5 PM an armada of helicopters swept over the Turkish border towards the strategic Bamarni military airbase laying 50 miles north of the oil-rich city of Mosel. After a brief skirmish with the ill-equipped Iraqi defenders, the base fell into Allied hands.

Coming six months prior to the official start of hostilities, the attack not only heralded events to come in Iraq, it represented the culmination of planning and preparation that began in the weeks and months that immediately followed 9/11.

Events leading up to the attack

Immediately following the attacks of September 11th the White House began to question just how far the powers of the executive branch could extend to engage in military activities in the new “war on terror”. The justice department was asked to review the constraints put upon them by both the War Powers Act and the legislative branch as a whole. On September 25, 2002 the Attorney Generals Office came back with an answer. In “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them”, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C.Yoo advised the President that:

“the President's broad constitutional power to use military force to defend the Nation… would allow the President to take whatever actions he deems appropriate to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters” and that “Military actions need not be limited to those individuals, groups, or states that participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: the Constitution vests the President with the power to strike terrorist groups or organizations that cannot be demonstrably linked to the September 11 incidents, but that, nonetheless, pose a similar threat to the security of the United States and the lives of its people, whether at home or overseas"
Having received the constitutional authority to engage in pre-emptive activity, the administration’s war planning for Iraq was in full swing by the winter of 2002. During the first few weeks of December, General Tommy Franks and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met numerous times to hone the plans which were finally presented to the Presidentat his Crawford ranch on December 28th. Although the plans for regime change in Iraq would evolve over the coming months, two key elements remained in all the early war scenarios: The use of Iraqi opposition groups as key allies in the overthrow of Saddam, and the need to “prepare the battlefield” by degrading the air defenses and command and control systems of the Iraqi military prior to any invasion.

In the first week of February the initial phases of the plan went into effect when the President signed an Executive Finding that gave the go ahead for the CIA and military Special Operations Forces to operate inside Iraq. Within weeks of that finding, the 5th Group Special Forces were pulled from Afghanistan where they had been hunting for Bin Laden and sent to work in Iraq to begin the preliminary work on the next phase of the war on terror. By mid- March, there were reports of upwards of 1800 US unconventional forces operating in Iraq, most in the northern Kurdish Region where they had been sent to set up local militias and train them for battle.

According to Israeli intelligence sources, in April large numbers of Turkish ground forces also began entering the Turkman regions around the big oil towns of Mosul and Kirkuk.

By June, American and Turkish construction engineers had started working in the mountains of the Kurdish Region, building and expanding airfields and air strips to make them fit for military use. That same month CIA director George Tenet was reported to have taken a side trip from Israel and Palestine to meet with Kurdish opposition leaders and US operatives in Kurdistan to discuss possible scenarios for the overthrow of Saddam.

Against this backdrop, the USAF began to step up its effort to destroy Iraq’s Air defenses and communications capabilities when Operation Southern Focus began in May. All this increased activity created a need to secure more substantial landing strips within Iraq where equipment and materials could be brought in for both the increasing US forces and the fledgling militias they were trying to organize. They were also needed to be used as staging bases for further air attacks.

The attack begins

The campaign to take Bamarni Air Field began on August 6, at 8AM Middle East time when US and British bombers went into action to destroy the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert near the Saudi Arabian border, just under 300 miles southwest of Baghdad. The center had recently installed a new advanced fiber optic network. It was later confirmed that the Allies had deployed an "enhanced" version of the Paveway Weapon system for the first time during the raid to knock out the mobile Chinese manufactured fiber-optic air defense system. The upgraded weapons system was installed only four months before the raid, and its refined laser guided system enabled it to strike a target with an accuracy of plus or minus six feet.

Less than twenty- four hours later two squadrons of US warplanes flew from Prince Sultan airbase in Saudi Arabia and from American aircraft carriers in the Gulf to test the effectiveness of the previous raid. Flying over the Iraqi capital there was no anti-aircraft activity, telling them that the early warning radar system protecting Baghdad and its environs from intrusion by enemy aircraft and missiles was now inactive.

On August 8, the first major military assault inside Iraq began. That night a fleet of Turkish troop-carrying helicopters with Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces left air bases in Turkey for northern Iraq. Eye-witnesses on the ground claimed air support and/or protection for the mission was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. The Allies seized the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq after a brief skirmish with an ill-equipped force from an armored section of the Iraqi army. The airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. After the base fell several C130 transport planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.

As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport, the American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq. The two bases which consisted of very basic army barracks on two hills, one 565 ft above sea level and the other 2160 ft provided the US and Turkish forces with strategic look out posts over the immediate area, and air superiority over the entire region that includes the cities of Mosal and Kirkuk. Also falling under Allied control was the strategic railroad linking Syria and Iraq and the major oil production facilities of northern Iraq.

Seven hours after the attack which resulted in the first face-to face engagement between US led forces and Iraqi troops, Saddam Hussein was delivering a national televised speech celebrating the 14th anniversary of the eight year Iran-Iraq War. Saddam, with his usual bravado, threatened American troops going to war against Iraq that they would return home in coffins.

The coverage in the press

Although this story was covered extensively in the world press, it received little attention from the US media. Clearly the evidence is incontrovertible that although it would be more than two months before Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq, the military had already gone forward with the Administration's plans for war.

."..on Wednesday night, August 8, Turkey executed its first major military assault inside Iraq. (Israeli) military sources learn from Turkish and Kurdish informants that helicopters under US, British and Turkish warplane escort flew Turkish commandos to an operation for seizing the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq. This airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul. With the Turkish commandos was a group of US Special Forces officers and men. Bamerni airport was captured after a brief battle in which a unit of Iraqi armored defenders was destroyed, opening the airport for giant American and Turkish transports to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.
The American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two small Iraqi military airfields nearby.
...military experts explain that with Bamerni airport and the two additional airfields the Americans have acquired full control of the skies over the two oil cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as over the Syrian-Iraqi railroad, which they can now cut off by aerial bombardment."

From Debka Net Weekly 8/10/02 (Israel)

"08 August 2002: According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, Turkish troops have taken control of the strategically important Bamerni Airport in south Kurdistan, as a preparation for a future attack on Iraq and to prevent the creation of a Kurdish State. Apparently, Turkey took control of the airport as a preparation in case of a chaos during attacks against Iraq and the possiblity of a Kurdish State. The Bamerni Airport is from the Saddam era. Hurriyet reported that Turkey has also sent civil and military personnel to the airport for maintenance and technical support. Several logistics-electronic machinery has also been sent to further improve the condition of the airport."

From KurdishMedia.com

"On August 9, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that 5,000 Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq and taken over the Bamerni air base north of Mosul.
But in part the actions go well beyond that. In Kurdish Iraq - according to Israeli sources - US army engineers are working around the clock to build a series of six to eight airstrips to serve fighter planes and helicopters that will provide air cover for invading ground forces. The airfields are strung along a western axis from the city of Zako southwest to the city of Sinjar; a central axis from Zako south to Arbil; and an eastern axis from Arbil to Sulimaniyeh."

From Asian Times 8/17/2002

"Two interesting stories recently appeared in the Turkish press about northern Iraq:
First, according to the dailies, Bamerni Airport near Dhohuk, across the border from Sirnak, is now completely under the control of Turkish troops. This development has been evaluated as a sign of imminent US intervention against Saddam Hussein since Turkey has brought the flurry of activity in the region under stricter control. However, as yet we don't have enough information about the actual story. Soon after Ankara's official denial that Turkey had deployed troops at the airport, we received information about struggles in the region."

From Milliyet (Turkey) via Turkish Press Review

On August 9,2002 future Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, then head of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke with CNN-TURK. He confirmed that the airport was in fact under Turkish control, but with an odd twist.

"A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader said in a broadcast Friday that the Turkish army had controlled an airport in the Kurdish-held north of neighbouring Iraq for several years, but the general staff in Ankara promptly denied the claim.
"But it has been under the control of Turkish forces for a long time, since 1995 or 1996," said Talabani, who left Turkey on Thursday for a meeting of the Iraqi opposition in Washington.
The Turkish army however denied it had control over the airport, a claim widely reported in the Turkish press for the past few days. "These reports are incorrect and do not reflect the truth," said an army statement, adding that the airport had been extensively damaged during the Gulf War and rendered inoperational."

From Kurdish Observer 8-9-02

By August 18, 2002 the news finally made it into the British press. The Sunday Express reported:

"...around 5pm on Wednesday, August 8 the Iraqi early warning systems were tested yet again as a fleet of troop-carrying helicopters from the Turkish Army swept over the Turkish border and into the strategic Bamarni military airbase which lies 50 miles north of the oil-rich Al Mawsil city.

The military invasion involved 5,000 Turkish Commandos backed by American Special Forces. Eye-witnesses on the ground claimed air support and/or protection in the northern no-fly zone was provided by Turkish, American and British aircraft. Claims of a British air involvement in this particular action drew a strong denial by the MoD.

After a brief skirmish with ill-equipped Iraqi troops from an armoured section of Saddam's war machine, Bamarni airbase fell into the control of Allied troops and several C130 transporter planes were guided on to the airstrips from bases in Turkey.

Heavy earth-moving machinery and electronic support equipment were unloaded over several days and as rumours of an invasion began to circulate, Turkish television issued strong denials and broadcast old pictures of the air base showing it abandoned and derelict. As Turkish troops reinforced security around the airport which lies just outside of the Kurdish district, American Special Forces and a crack unit of Turkish commandos seized two other strategic military points on either side of the airbase in the Dahuk province of Iraq."

From The Sunday Express 8/18/2002 via Global Intel.net

Summary at The Edge.Org

When the Downing St Memo was first published in beginning of May, one of the oft quoted lines was John Reid's report that: "The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime". Two weeks after Tony Blair and his cabinet met at #10 Downing to discuss how they would balance the increasing pressure from Washington to go to war with the actual political realities of doing so, the realities of Rumsfeld's "spikes of activity" became evident in the mountians of Northern Iraq.