Iraq Blows Up Without Explosives

While Iraqi government chaos increases, Rumsfeld lies to Congress about 'progress' of 'political process'

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In this July 19 cartoon in Baghdad's Al-Mutamar, an Iraqi citizen sleeps with daggers in his back, representing "various conspiracies against the innocent Iraqis."

Amid the stifling heat, the prickly rash of a hated occupation by foreign soldiers, and the outbreak of car bombings by terrorists, frustrated Iraqis are blowing up their own government.

That's odd: Don Rumsfeld's propaganda machine doesn't mention that this morning. Instead, the Defense Department proclaims:

    Terrorists in Iraq have been unable to derail the political process, a new Defense Department report on Iraqi stability and security states. Still, the report contends, insurgents "remain capable, adaptable, and intent on carrying out attacks."

    The report to Congress on measuring stability and security in Iraq says the inability of insurgents to derail political progress is a "noteworthy strategic indicator of progress toward a stable security environment."

Is this some sort of sick joke? The "report" is nothing more than the latest Weekly Status Report—the same vague charts—that the U.S. government has been pumping out for months, only this time accompanied by more bullshit.

I've written plenty about these weekly reports—at first produced by Defense and now by State—how they've become less and less informative as the situation in Iraq has gotten worse and worse, how they constantly overstate the number of Iraqi cops and soldiers.

This latest version, transmogrified by Rumsfeld into "good news," doesn't even mention that the total number of "trained" troops includes those who have gone AWOL.

Compare page 12 of this new Rumsfeld report with page 6 of the July 6 State Department Weekly Status Report and you'll see what I mean: It's the same chart, with the "soldiers" and "cops" columns reversed. The numbers are very similar but slightly different, which is odd, because each chart says the data are as of July 4.

Of course, only the State Department version includes the footnotes about the figures being padded by the AWOL troops. Below are the charts I'm talking about. Sorry they're so small, but I'm hemmed in by the layout. Click on each to get the PDF files.

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Defense Dept., July 21

Above, the chart from page 12 of the latest Defense Department report. Below, page 6 of the weekly State Department report. Both charts (click on each to go directly to their PDF originals so you can actually see them) are as of July 4, so why are the figures different? And see the two crucial footnotes on the State Department page? They're missing from the Defense Department page.

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State Dept., July 6

I guess Rumsfeld figures that Congress is too stupid and lazy to compare the two charts and realize that he and his staff are—in addition to twisting, massaging, and omitting—just making up this shit as they go along. I guess he's probably right.

Besides the lies, what the Bush regime is neglecting to tell you is that the political process in Iraq is blowing up without the direct aid of explosives.

Just a couple of days ago, the Baghdad provincial council unanimously decided to fire the city's governor, Alaa al-Tamimi, accusing him "of being incapable of dealing with his responsibilities," says the daily Al-Adala (brought to us by the intrepid Ali Kadhim Marzook in the Baghdad bureau of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting). The IWPR's summary continues:

    The council also said he is not firm in dealing with his staff, which resulted in bad services for the people and corruption. The council added that he is always out of Iraq and relies on people who are not competent to run his office. They accused him of corruption, saying he used 13 billion Iraqi dinars a month as salaries for the office of guards and security, but no one knows where this office is.

Digression: George W. Bush was right: We really are building a Western-style democracy there. Al-Tamimi would be right at home in the Nassau County GOP, Al D'Amato's old machine, which plundered one of the nation's richest counties and left its citizenry with outrageously high taxes and poor services. (Full disclosure: That includes me.) Alaa al-Tamimi. Al D'Amato. They even sound the same. End of digression.

You careful readers of Iraqi politics, please note: Alaa al-Tamimi is not to be confused with Alwan al-Tamimi, deputy leader of the Diyala provincial council, who was blown up for real on June 2 in Baquba. A car bomb killed the latter al-Tamimi and three of his bodyguards as their convoy drove past.

Bodyguards aren't safe even when their boss isn't around: Earlier that day, the bodyguards of Deputy Prime Minister Ruz Nuri Shawis were eating in a Baghdad restaurant when it exploded. The bomb not only destroyed the place but also set eight cars on fire. Shawis wasn't there, because he travels by air. Of his guards, who traveled by car, one of them was killed and six others injured.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to figure out who's getting blown up, who's getting kicked out, who's doing what. Maybe that's because, as the daily Al-Sabah reports, Iraq's Ministry of Information has been dissolved.

Well, at least the courts are functioning. After all, Saddam Hussein is about to go on trial, right?

But the legal office of the Council of Ministers, according to the daily paper Baghdad, has decided to get rid of the court system's director general, security director, and seven judges of the criminal court. That's because they had contact with the dissolved Baath regime. Twelve to 17 more judges face ouster for the same reason.

That shouldn't stop Saddam's supposedly upcoming trial. Only the hell that is Iraq itself could do that. His lawyer Giovanni di Stefano—at least di Stefano claims to be one of Saddam's lawyers—wants a change of venue for obvious reasons, telling the Associated Press the other day:

    "Do you fancy spending a year or more in Baghdad, going to court five days a week? Would you feel safe there?

    "Baghdad couldn't even prevent the recent kidnapping and killing of the Egyptian ambassador. There are also many Iraqis who want to see Saddam executed and many others who want to see him freed. That means the defense and prosecution would both be in danger there."
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