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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #45 - 5 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Marines were strafed by DU at An Nasiriyah (Charles Jenks)
   2. FPIF News | Iraqi Constitution | Secrecy: Mother of Terror (IRC Communications)
   3. Mar 23- Sistani: Iraq constitution a 'dead end' (ppg)
   4. Fisk: New Iraq? Hooded protest and masked statistics (Hassan)
   5. Re: [casi-analysis] Seeking some assistence (Hassan)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 16:59:23 -0500
Subject: Marines were strafed by DU at An Nasiriyah
From: Charles Jenks <>
To: <>

Soldiers' accounts reveal new details:
'depleted' uranium rounds devastated US troops at An Nasiriyah

"It's bad enough to be shot, but to be shot with a depleted uranium round
that basically turns you into a hand full of mush."
- Col. Reed Bonadonna, field historian, talking to NPR's Jackie Northam

Hear an clip (edited for brevity) containing the Colonel's remarks about DU=
Listen also to the entire NPR reports (first report deals with 'friendly
fire' incident).

On March 19, 2004 NPR aired the first of two reports by Jackie Northam on
the experiences of US Marines in battle. 11 field historians had entered
Iraq with Marine units and interviewed marines after battle. She was given
access to 20 hours of interview tapes. Her first report concerns a battle o=
March 23, 2003 near An Nasiriyah, during which an A-10 repeatedly straffed
US troops with 'depleted uranium' rounds. As reported by Jackie Northam, th=
Marine Corps says that 18 marines died at An Nasiriyah that day but will no=
reveal how many died from the DU rounds.

It does seem clear though that previous assessments undersestimated Marine
deaths from 'friendly fire' that day. Dan Fahey, for example, in his review
of media accounts, reported the following as part of his assessment of DU
use during Gulf War II:

23 March, near Nasiriyah =AD A-10 fires on Marine Corps vehicles attached t=
1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade. At
least one vehicle, an armored assault vehicle (possibly AAVP7A1), is hit an=
penetrated by A-10 fire, killing at least one Marine and possibly wounding
others. A total of nine Marines and seven vehicles were destroyed in this
incident, although it is believed Iraqi forces caused the majority of the
deaths and damage during this engagement. "The Use of Depleted Uranium in
the 2003 Iraq War: An Initial Assessment of Information and Policies," page
5. Dan Fahey, June 24, 2003. [Fahey cited media sources for his figures.]

Fahey's reporting of the belief that Iraqi forces caused the majority of th=
deaths and damage during the engagement appears to this writer to be a
repeating of military spin. Listen to the interviews (first report) with
soldiers soon after the battle. While the military will not disclose how
many soldiers died that day from friendly fire, that is, from 'depleted'
uranium rounds from the A-10, it is clearly many more than "at least one" a=
reported by Fahey, based on US media accounts. Sargeant Lonnie Parker said
in the interview said that they lost the majority of their people from
'friendly' fire that day.

Contrast the Fahey assessment with that of retired Air Force Colonel Sam

Gardiner writes: "A disheartening aspect of the white flag story is what is
beginning to surface about what might have been the real cause of the Marin=
casualties near An Nasiriyah on March 23. Marines are saying that nine of
those killed may have been killed by an A-10 that made repeated passes
attacking their position." Quoted in The not-so-friendly reality of US
casualties, by David Isenberg, Aaia Times, Oct 22, 2003.

See also the Charlotte Observer, March 29, 2003 (questioning if 9 marines
who were said to have been ambushed by Iraqi's pretending to surrender had
actually been killed by 'friendly' fire).

And for identification of individual soldiers killed that day, see the
Washington Post, Faces of the
fallen.htm The Post reports that 18 marines died in or around An Nasiriyah
that day, 12 due to an alleged ambush by Iraqi soldiers who reported to hav=
pretended to surrender; and 6 "killed during operations" on the outskirts o=
the city.

Charles Jenks, attorney at law
President of the Core Group
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-1633; fax 413-773-7507


Message: 2
From: "IRC Communications" <>
Organization: Interhemispheric Resource Center
To: "" <>
Subject: FPIF News | Iraqi Constitution | Secrecy: Mother of Terror
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2004 15:43:24 -0700

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

What=92s New at FPIF
"Working to make the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner"

March 22, 2004

Introducing two new commentaries from Foreign Policy In Focus

The Iraqi Constitution
By Phyllis Bennis

The signing of the interim Iraqi "constitution" by the Governing Council
a significant step in U.S. efforts to legitimize its invasion and
of Iraq. By achieving the codification in a U.S.-supervised process of an
"Iraqi" legal document, the U.S. as occupying power is hoping that its
June 30th "transfer of power" will be accepted globally as the "restoration
of sovereignty to Iraq." In fact, that "transfer of power" will not end the
U.S. occupation, will not lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and will
result in any real sovereignty for Iraq.

Phyllis Bennis <> is a Fellow at the Institute for
Studies ( and is a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus

See complete new FPIF commentary online at:

With printer friendly PDF version at:

Secrecy: The Real Mother of Terror
By Colonel Daniel Smith, USA (Ret.)

The Washington Times headline (March 9), reporting on the latest Gallup
said it all: "Terrorism Ranks Highest as =91Critical Threat=92 to U.S."

Given other recent headlines, this one =96 and the accompanying story, whic=
cites the spread of weapons of mass destruction as a close companion
threat =96 begs an increasingly pertinent question about the core
between the people and their political leadership. The question and the
concern trust: trust that officials are interpreting data and trends
and honestly reporting these to the public, who in a democracy are
trust that, given the prevailing conditions, appropriate precautions and
are in hand; and trust that security procedures and processes are balanced
by the strictest observance of and respect for the constitutional
involving individual rights and protections.

Such considerations point to two levels of trust =96 between elected
and the public and between sovereign nations =96 both of which seem to be
as the country moves further and further from September 11, 2001, and from
the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Dan Smith <> is a military affairs analyst for Foreign Policy
Focus (online at, a retired U.S. army colonel and a senior
on Military Affairs at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

See complete new FPIF commentary online at:

With printer friendly PDF version at:


***** We Count on Your Support *****

Please consider supporting Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF). FPIF is a new
of think tank--one serving citizen movements and advancing a fresh,
understanding of global affairs. Although we make our FPIF products freely
available on the Internet, we need financial support to cover our staff
and expenses. Increasingly, FPIF depends on you and other individual donors
to sustain our bare-bones budget. Click on
to support FPIF online, or for information about making contributions over
the phone or through the mail. If you respond to this donation
please enter 'FPIF' in the "Special Offer Code" field.

***** Thank you ******

Distributed by FPIF:"A Think Tank Without Walls," a joint program of
Resource Center (IRC) and Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

For more information, visit If you would like to add a name
the "What=92s New At FPIF?" list, please email:,
giving your area of interest.

Also see our Progressive Response newsletter at:

Interhemispheric Resource Center(IRC)
Siri D. Khalsa
Outreach Coordinator


Message: 3
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Subject: Mar 23- Sistani: Iraq constitution a 'dead end'
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2004 14:55:55 -0500

Christian Science Monitor
March 23, 2004

Sistani says Iraq constitution a 'dead end'

Iraq's top Shiite leader threatens not to cooperate if UN endorses interim
by Matthew Clark |

Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has intensified his
opposition to the country's interim constitution. Mr. Sistani sent a letter
to the UN envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, saying that flaws in the
constitution "will lead to a dead end and bring the country into an unstabl=
situation and perhaps lead to its partition and division."

In the letter, Sistani said he will not participate in meetings with UN
officials if the Security Council endorses the US-backed interim
constitution, MSNBC reports. The Shiite leader also said he would boycott
the UN mission "unless the United Nations takes a clear stance that the
constitution does not bind the National Assembly and is not mentioned in an=
new Security Council resolution concerning Iraq."

 Among Sistani's main concerns is the consitution's heavy emphasis on ethni=
and religious differences. "This constitution that gives the presidency in
Iraq to a three-member council, a Kurd, a Sunni Arab and a Shiite Arab,
enshrines sectarianism and ethnicity in the future political system in the
country," his letter said.

Currently, the constitution, which was signed by the US-picked Iraqi
Governing Council on March 8, is to remain in effect until a permanent
constitution replaces it in late 2005.

Mr. Brahimi and other senior UN officials had "privately opposed US plans t=
adopt a detailed interim constitution, warning that the process was
insufficiently inclusive and would fuel resistance among groups not involve=
in drafting the document," The Washington Post reports.

"It would have been wiser to have a brief statement of principles, not a
full-fledged constitution," said one UN official who spoke on condition of
anonymity. "We were clear with the Americans. If they had listened to us,
they would not have this problem."
When Sistani talks, the US and the UN listen. In January, the cleric
demonstrated his considerable clout by quickly rallying tens of thousands o=
angry supporters to the streets of both Basra and Baghdad to call for
elections. He hinted then that such crowds could become violent if their
demands were not considered.

These peaceful, yet passionate, demonstrations were large enough to cause
Paul Bremer, the head of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, to ask
the UN the following week for a team to assess the feasibility of early
elections. Before the massive demonstrations, Sistani's consistent calls fo=
elections, since last June, seemed to fall on deaf ears.

The last time he voiced objection to the interim constitution, the signing
ceremony was delayed for three days, MSNBC points out. After it was signed,
he issued a fatwa, or religious edict, casting doubts on its legitimacy.

As of yet, it is unclear what effect, if any, Sistani's latest objection
will have on the interim constitution. But the letter's threatening tone
will no doubt give UN authorities much to think about in the next week. "We
warn that any such step will be unacceptable to the majority of Iraqis and
will have dangerous consequences," Sistani wrote.

The New York Times reports that the rumor mill in Iraq is a chief obstacle
to the US democracy-building effort. After US military leaders realized the
word on the street =96 true or not =96 was fueling serious security problem=
they decided to create a daily intelligence document covering Baghdad
gossip. The Baghdad Mosquito is distributed via e-mail to military officers
and policy planners and is posted on the military's classified Web server.
Here is one rumor collected by the Mosquito:

Less than 24 hours after a bombing in central Baghdad that tore the facade
off the Mount Lebanon Hotel, the rumors began circulating in the
marketplaces and teahouses: that the hotel was demolished not by a bomb, as
the Americans maintained, but by an errant American missile.
Sifting through the wide array of information that forms the opinions of
average Baghdadis will be critical to further US efforts to improve securit=
and democracy in Iraq's volatile capital.


Message: 4
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 03:08:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Fisk: New Iraq? Hooded protest and masked statistics
To: CASI newsclippings <>

New Iraq? Hooded protest and masked statistics
By Robert Fisk in Terbil, Iraq - 20 March 2004

Exactly a year after the Anglo-American armies invaded
Iraq, I found five young men yesterday busy smashing
up what was left of a Saddam statue in this little
dusty border village. The torso and head of the
dictator had long disappeared from his plinth at the
frontier station but his legs and one arm and a
battery of monumental missiles still lay on the ground
in gleaming steel. Two American attack helicopters
were racing up the border - still trying to find
Donald Rumsfeld's al-Qa'ida hordes as they supposedly
swarm into Iraq - but what caught my eye were the
heads of the five young men, so assiduously hammering
and sawing and hacking at the remains of the statue.
Four of them were wearing black face masks, the fifth
had a black hood over his head. A year after the fall
of Saddam, Iraqis have to hide their identity when
they attack his image. What does that tell us about
"new Iraq"?

If you are in Iraq, in Baghdad, driving its dangerous
roads, the evidence of collapse and failure is
everywhere. The few unarmed NGOs are marooned in the
cities, unable to travel on the highways, which have
become the domain of assassins and bandits. Now even
the road south of Kerbala is the haunt of armed gangs.
When I drive these highways, I now wear a keffiyeh and
thobe on my head. My driver wears western trousers and
shirt but I am in Arab clothes to avoid being
attacked. Other westerners are doing the same thing.
What does that tell us about Iraq a year after its

Many drivers now refuse to work for western reporters
- and who can blame them? Yesterday, another
journalist from the "Arabia" television station died
of wounds after being shot by US troops - no wonder
his colleagues walked out of Colin Powell's boastful
Baghdad press conference yesterday. Three journalists
working for the American- funded television station
have been killed by insurgents. An old Iraqi friend of
mine - one of Saddam's most trenchant critics -
approached me this week. He had wanted to work for a
"democratic" Iraq. Now he wanted my help in obtaining
a second passport. Could I speak to the Australian
embassy, he asked? He no longer believed that he would
live in a stable country. What does this also tell us
about "new Iraq"?

For those who spend time in Iraq, it is difficult to
know whether to laugh or to cry when the pro-war
chorus bangs its drums again. Richard Perle, one of
the war's American neo-conservative Vulcans who did
more than most to push the Bush administration into
this invasion, was arguing with me on a radio show,
praising the resumption of 24-hour electrical power in
the Iraqi capital. Alas, I could hear little of what
he was saying because of the roar of emergency
generators around me in night-time Baghdad.

How do we explain now the armies of truculent, often
ill-disciplined mercenaries now roaming Iraq on behalf
of the Anglo-American occupation authorities. Many
thousands of them British, some are well trained, many
are not. In my own hotel, dozens of them swagger
through the lobby with rifles and pistols, all talking
"security", all working for private security firms
hired by the occupation power or by private companies.
They have no rules of engagement and many of them
drink too much. When I pleaded with one British gunman
in sunglasses last week to at least put a shirt over
his gun to conceal it when walking in and out of our
hotel, he pointed a finger at me. "Listen mate," he
shouted. "If I see someone with a gun come to shoot
you, I am going to walk right past and do nothing."
But he is the risk to our security. The Iraqis, of
course, watch the coming and going of these young men
and draw their own conclusions. I fear I know what
they are.

Attacks against US troops and western civilians are
daily increasing in Mosul. Two days ago, three Iraqis
were killed in Basra by a car bomb intended for a
British military patrol. Western troops will now only
drive at night north of Najaf in companies 200-strong.
What happened to that nice little neatly defined
"Sunni triangle"? No wonder Spanish troops are so keen
to go home. Now that Poland's Prime Minister says he
was "deceived" about weapons of mass destruction, how
soon before the Polish contingent follow the Spanish?
Never is it reported that Polish troops are attacked
almost every night around the city of Hilla. David
Kay's astonishing interview in yesterday's Le Figaro -
"we must recognise our mistakes in order to restore
our credibility" - is being widely broadcast in
Baghdad. "I don't think there was any serious chance
of proving the existence of weapons of mass
destruction," he said. "Because the best evidence
suggests they did not exist."

Still, the occupying power, the "Coalition Provisional
Authority", refuses to keep statistics on the dozens
of innocent Iraqis dying each week under their
mandate, in massive car bombs and in roadside
killings. The US military searches of Iraqi Sunni
villages, the Israeli-style battering down of doors
and houses, the constant American killing of innocents
is embittering a new generation of Iraqis. And soon we
will have "democracy" in Iraq.

Copyright: The Independent. UK.

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Message: 5
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2004 00:17:32 -0800 (PST)
From: Hassan <>
Subject: Re: [casi-analysis] Seeking some assistence
To: CASI analysis <>


Here is an article that may be useful.



Foreign - Monday 8.3.2004

Helena Ranta to Iraq to lead group investigating
graves of Saddam victims

Team to work under US Army protection

A team of five experts headed by Finnish forensic
dentist Helena Ranta is leaving for Iraq on Wednesday
to investigate mass graves found there. The team is to
be in Iraq for about six weeks.

"We are expected to assess about 20 grave sites",
Ranta said at a press conference on Friday. "Mainly it
is a question of mass graves that came about in
connection with the suppression of the insurrections
that broke out after the first Iraq War."

At that time forces of former dictator Saddam Hussein
are estimated to have killed tens of thousands of
Shi'ites and Kurds. The sites are reportedly located
in the surroundings of Baghdad, and in northern and
southeastern parts of Iraq. For security reasons Ranta
would not reveal their exact locations.

Ranta says that the operation is very different from
her previous missions, such as her investigation in

"This time we are not collecting evidence; we are
simply analysing the graves. We will investigate how
many dead there are, and how big and how deep the
graves are. Collecting evidence would be legally
awkward, because we do not know what kind of a court
someone might end up facing."

The request to send the group came from the United
States last summer, but the departure was delayed by
the violent situation in Iraq at the time.

Foreign Ministry official Aapo P=F6lh=F6 does not believe
that the United States could use the results of the
group's study for propaganda purposes.

"Naturally, anything can be used for any purpose, but
our starting point is that this is activity which
supports basic humanitarian action and encourages
respect for human rights. We assume that all parties
involved are on the move with the same principles."
Ranta says that the work of the group will help the
provisional administration of the coalition in its
decision-making, and will serve the interests of the
Iraqi people "in the long term". She says that her
team will help the coalition decide which graves to
open and in what order.

Her team includes an archaeological anthropologist, an
archaeological police officer, a geologist, as well as
police officer Mika Tauru, who has previously worked
in Bosnia collecting information about excavations of
mass graves. He has also worked as an investigator for
the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Ranta says that her team will have 400 kilos of
equipment, which is significantly more than a Danish
group which returned from Iraq late last year.

"We are making extensive use of archaeological
methods. We have considerable experience on the
composition of the ground, and how the substances
behave when they are disturbed", says Taisto
Karjalainen, one of the members of the team.
Ranta's team will be under the protection of the US
Army. Moving from one place to another is the most
dangerous, as there have been constant attacks against
military vehicles in different parts of Iraq.

"Each member of the team will travel in a separate
car. We will have an ambulance, two mine clearing
vehicles, and at least one bulldozer in our convoy",
Ranta said.

"Frankly, probably everyone is a bit frightened, but
it is part of the job. I have confidence in the
24-hour protection that we have been promised",
Karjalainen said.

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