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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #170 - 4 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. U.S. - 'Iraqis have better intelligence ...' (farbuthnot)
   2. FPIF News | Measure to Help Prevent War Crimes by Bush Admin (IRC Communications)
   3. Fragile Clues: Past Investigations Suggests Chemical Traces Could
       Be Detected at Iraqi Graves (tom young)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 13:57:39 +0000
Subject: U.S. - 'Iraqis have better intelligence ...'
From: "farbuthnot" <>

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

Well here is a surprise. That Iraqi bush telegraph could never be surpassed=

Also, Seasons greetings to all on the CASI list and let us hope 2005 can
only be better. Warmets, felicity a.

=A0 =A0
Breaking News E-Mail Alerts
=A0=80=A0Get breaking news in your inbox as it happens
Mosul attack evidence insurgents' intel betterBy John Diamond, USA
TODAYWASHINGTON =8B The implications of the audacious suicide attack in the
center of a heavily guarded U.S. military base in Mosul go beyond a failure
of base security.A hole in the roof of a tent lights smoke moments after a
suicide attack on a dining facility in Mosul.
By Dean Hoffmeyer, Richmond Times-Dispatch
The attack is the latest evidence that Iraqi insurgents have better
intelligence about U.S. forces than U.S. forces have on the insurgents.
"The message that the attack on the base sends to average Iraqis is that if
the Americans can't protect their own soldiers on their own bases, how are
they going to protect you," said Andrew Krepinevich, a military analyst wit=
the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
"This is very much an intelligence war," he said. "The insurgents seem to b=
getting better and better at intelligence."
How did insurgents know when and where three Iraqi election officials would
be traveling last weekend in Baghdad before they were dragged from their
vehicle in broad daylight and murdered by pistol-wielding insurgents? How
have insurgents been able to penetrate the heavily fortified Green Zone =8B
the political and diplomatic nerve center of Baghdad?
The questions bedevil Pentagon officials trying to plot a successful
strategy for Iraq.
"It's a very tough, complicated business," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfel=
told reporters at the Pentagon Wednesday. "The enemy's got a brain. The
enemy alters its tactics. ... And intimidation is the kind of thing that ca=
prevent people from providing intelligence."
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the same
Pentagon briefing that the solution is simple.
"The way we prevent this is we win. And that's what we're going to do,"
Myers said.
Rumsfeld and Myers confront difficult choices for coping with what they now
acknowledge is an insurgency that will remain violent even beyond the
scheduled Jan. 30 Iraqi elections.
Both see the recent U.S. sweep of Fallujah as a model tactic to be used
But the concentration of forces in Fallujah required shifting troops away
from other areas, including Mosul, which helped spark violence in that
northern Iraqi city. A block-by-block sweep of Mosul for insurgents involve=
in the attack began Wednesday, but the city is three to four times
Fallujah's size.
The answer most often cited by outside experts =8B more troops =8B has its =
risks, Rumsfeld warns. Sending more troops, he said, "has the
counterproductive aspect of creating additional targets and creating a sens=
of occupation."
In the wake of the Mosul bombing, the immediate imperative facing U.S.
forces is protecting the troops. Myers called it "Job One." But that, too,
has its downside.
"We have to expend more resources trying to make bases secure, which leaves
fewer resources for dealing with insurgents," Krepinevich said.
Kenneth Allard, a retired Army colonel, warned against "a certain amount of
complacency" that can set in among troops even in war zones. "You will neve=
get to the point where you're totally safe," he said. "The one thing you ca=
do is try not to set attractive targets."
Patrick Lang, an Iraq expert and former Army intelligence officer, calls
armored Humvees and steel-reinforced dining halls =8B neither of which woul=
have prevented this attack =8B "Band-Aids" that overlook the widespread
hostility U.S. and allied forces face in Iraq.
"The idea that these are our allies, that's a lot of bunk. That's a really
bad attitude," Lang said. "There has to be a much larger support group in
the population which doesn't turn them in, which turns a blind eye, which
cooperates with them."
In the months since the end of the invasion-phase of the Iraq war, Bush
administration officials have linked surges in violence to a series of
benchmarks after which, presumably, the attacks would abate. First it was
the capture of Saddam Hussein, then the drafting of a constitution, then th=
establishment of an interim government and now the January elections.
The hard months of fighting this fall have replaced the optimistic
forecasting with a grim sense of reality at the Pentagon.
"Looking for a peaceful Iraq after the elections would be a mistake,"
Rumsfeld said. "I think our expectations level ought to be realistic about
Rumsfeld still talks about a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq. But
Wednesday he warned of the consequences of failure. "We can not allow those
who chop off people's heads to take control," he said.


Message: 2
From: "IRC Communications" <>
Organization: Interhemispheric Resource Center
Subject: FPIF News | Measure to Help Prevent War Crimes by Bush Admin
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 11:37:14 -0700

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

What=92s New at FPIF
=93Working to make the U.S. a more responsible global leader and partner=94

December 29, 2004

Introducing a new Discussion Paper from Foreign Policy In Focus

An "Affirmative Measure" to Help Prevent the Commission of War Crimes
by the Bush Administration
By Jeremy Brecher

United States officials are conducting a war of aggression against the peop=
of Iraq. Under their orders, the U.S. government has killed tens of thousan=
of civilians, maintained a tyrannical occupation, tortured prisoners, and a=
internationally recognized human rights. These acts constitute war crimes,
crimes against humanity, and violations of the Genevaconventions.

The Bush administration plans to continue this conduct in Iraq and is threa=
similar action against other countries as well. Indeed, it asserts its righ=
to ignore any international obligation it decides is not in accord with its
own definition of national interest.

All Americans have a responsibility under U.S. and international law to tak=
"affirmative measures" to bring these crimes to a halt. This discussion pap=
presents one possible "affirmative measure" for consideration: A public sta=
pledging to encourage and support resistance to draft registration and mili=
activities that violate international aw.

At the height of the Vietnam War, thousands signed a similar statement, A C=
to Resist Illegitimate Authority. Several of those involved, including Dr.
Benjamin Spock and Rev. William Sloan Coffin, were prosecuted in part for t=
heir role in the Call. The Call
and the subsequent trial played a significant role in the development of op=
and resistance to the Vietnam War.

Jeremy Brecher is a historian and the author of 12 books including /Strike!=
and /Globalization from Below/ and a regular contributor to Foreign Policy
In Focus (online at

See new FPIF paper online at:

With printer-friendly pdf version at:

Interhemispheric Resource Center is proud to announce that, in conjunction
with our 25th anniversary, we have changed our name to InternationalRelatio=
Please visit our website at to see our new logo and chec=
back in the coming months as we begin the integration and improvement of al=
of our program and project websites. As InternationalRelationsCenter we rem=
IRC and committed to our mission of: working to make the U.S. a more respon=
member of the global community by promoting progressive strategic dialogues
that lead to new citizen-based agendas.

Produced and distributed by FPIF:=93A Think Tank Without Walls,=94 a joint =
of International Relations Center (IRC) and Institute for Policy Studies (I=

For more information, visit If you would like to add a
name to the =93What=92s New At FPIF=94 list, please email: communications@i=,
giving your area of interest.

Also see our Progressive Response newsletter at:

(formerly InterhemisphericResourceCenter)
Siri D. Khalsa
Outreach Coordinator

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

IRC Projects Online:
Americas Program (
Self-Determination In Focus (
Project Against the Present Danger (


Message: 3
From: "tom young" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 22:11:18 -0500
Subject: Fragile Clues: Past Investigations Suggests Chemical Traces Could
    Be Detected at Iraqi Graves

From ABC news, I have been aware of it for sometime, but as its about to be=
 removed from ABC news website I wanted it preserved somewhere.  Not least =
in honour of James Briscoe's extra-ordinary nose, which was able to smell n=
erve gases some four years after they had been dropped.  In fairness to Jam=
es Briscoe he was not claiming to detect the smell of poison gas in the bod=
ies he was exhuming (which I believe is the impression the article leaves) =
but rather on the crater sites.  That, at least, is my belief from reading =
a previous article US media article that is no longer on the web.  I am hap=
py to be corrected.

Article follows.

Fragile Clues
Past Investigations Suggests Chemical Traces Could Be Detected at Iraqi Gra=

By Amanda Onion

May 20=97 What first struck James Briscoe was the smell.

"You could still smell the chemical on them," said Briscoe, a forensic arch=
aeologist who was helping investigate the remains of two victims of a bombi=
ng in Birjinni, a northern Iraqi village. "It smelled sweet, like fertilize=
r or Deep Woods Off tick spray."

Briscoe and a team of other forensic investigators from Physicians for Huma=
n Rights were searching for solid evidence that the Iraqi government had dr=
opped chemical weapons on the village in the late 1980s. Lab tests of soil =
samples from a nearby crater site later proved Briscoe's nose right.

Lost Lives, Lost Evidence

That was 11 years ago, when scientists were first able to prove the use of =
chemical weapons from environmental residue. The soil samples, plus account=
s from local villagers who had fled to Turkey, indicated that 60-year-old H=
asan Saleh Hasan and his 5-year-old grandson were killed when fumes from a =
chemical bomb wafted into the orchard valley where they were walking.

Some think the results of that June 1992 investigation suggest forensic inv=
estigations of newly found mass graves could yield vital evidence of the Ir=
aqi regime's atrocities =97 even much-sought-after traces of weapons of mas=
s destruction.

But as Iraqis desperately comb through newly found graves with shovels and =
bare hands, looking for lost loved ones, experts fear this evidence is bein=
g lost forever.

"The problem is once you excavate, you can't re-excavate," said Briscoe, wh=
o now runs his own archaeological consulting business from Norman, Okla. "I=
t's like reading a book and burning each page as you read it. There's no do=
ubt we're losing evidence."

One Chance for Clues

So far, at least 10 mass graves have been unearthed in Iraq since the end o=
f the war and human rights groups contend that dozens, perhaps hundreds mor=
e are scattered throughout the country. Amnesty International estimates tha=
t hundreds of thousands of Iraqis "disappeared" over the last 20 years.

Although some argue it's unlikely the Iraqi regime used or tested chemical =
weapons against Shiite Muslim populations in the south, where graves have r=
ecently been discovered, there may be sites remaining in the north where tr=
aces of the deadly weapons could be found.

"There are dozens more suspected sites in the north," said Susanne Sirkin, =
deputy director of the Boston-based nonprofit group, Physicians for Human R=
ights. "And there's no doubt there is still evidence of chemical weapons fr=
om 1988 attacks on Kurdish populations. That's why we're concerned there ha=
sn't been a clear process to document evidence from these sites."

Forensic archaeologists are quick to point out that no investigation can be=
 done in a vacuum. The search for chemical weapon traces in 1992, for examp=
le, was guided by verbal reports collected from Kurdish Iraqi refugees who =
survived apparent chemical weapons bombings in the late 1980s. But both ver=
bal accounts and careful forensic examinations are important for establishi=
ng a record of atrocities.

Every Detail Counts

William Haglund, director of the forensics program at Physicians for Human =
Rights, explains every detail in a mass grave, from the position of remains=
 to the finding of ammunition cartridges to tractor tire impressions or clo=
thing remains, must be noted, recorded, photographed and tested in order to=
 piece together what bones belong to whom and exactly how each person was k=

Images from southern Iraq of people carrying away bones and clothes show th=
at this kind of data is being lost daily.

"One grave dug by a professional is worth a thousand graves dug by amateurs=
," said Haglund, who plans to Iraq in the next week or two to begin assessm=
ents that will pave the way for formal forensic investigations.

Careful forensic procedure is even more important when searching for traces=
 of chemical weapons since chemical weapons degrade over time and often can=
't be detected in definitive amounts.

Long Wait for Uncertain Answers

The 1992 investigation in Birjinni, for example, revealed traces of a nerve=
 agent and mustard gas by noting byproducts of nerve agents from soil taken=
 from a bombing site in the village.

Jon Stereberg, a forensic archaeologist now investigating sites in the Balk=
ans, has been working on methods to detect traces of weapons in the clothes=
 and bones of mass grave victims, but his work is still preliminary.

"There may well be the remains of trace elements of agents within clothing =
that survives, but this would have to be carefully recovered by experts," h=
e said. "I am sure that skeletal remains may also be tested for some kind o=
f absorption of the chemical into the actual bone matrix."

When chemical agents or their products can't be detected directly, then inv=
estigators focus on cause of death by a process of elimination.

"Sometimes when you're finding skeletons, it's the absence of bony trauma t=
hat would lead you to believe they died of something else," said Haglund. "=
But indirect evidence is very dependent on background information and witne=
ss reports."

Explaining Justice

All forensic investigations take time =97 time that many Iraqi families, ea=
ger for signs of lost relatives =97 may be unwilling to wait out. That's on=
e reason it's critical that researchers work closely with people in the reg=
ion, says Clyde Collins Snow, a retired forensic archaeologist from the Uni=
versity of Oklahoma.

"You can't just go in there with a bunch of yellow crime tape and chase eve=
rybody off and collect the forensic evidence," said Snow, who has investiga=
ted grave sites in Guatemala, Bosnia and Iraq. "You have to explain what th=
e forensic needs are and how it's important to find justice. This is hard t=
o explain to people who have never known justice."

It took nearly a year for lab workers to deliver results from the soil samp=
les gathered from the Birjinni site in 1992. And investigations of mass gra=
ve sites that began in 1996 in Bosnia are only now yielding matches of vict=
ims' names and their remains.

Haglund argues it's critical that coalition forces begin protecting newly f=
ound sites now in Iraq so that evidence will not be lost.

"You have to ask people to wait =97 even though we may never be able to giv=
e all the answers," said Haglund. "But graves of dead people are powerful, =
heart-wrenching political forces that should be examined with care."

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