Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ask Petraeus

On Friday, April 4th, Congressman Robert Wexler sent out a email asking what questions we, the people, would like asked of General Petraeus when he delivers his assessment of the Iraq War to Congress next week, and appears before such committees as the Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee, beginning next Tuesday, April 8th.

Wexler asks that we submit "short and focused" questions to him at along with a first name, city and state. He will ask two questions that have been sent by the public.

I received the email on the same day I discovered a report released on April 1, 2008 entitled: "U.S. War Crimes in Iraq 2007-2008", written by Karen Parker, President of the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers and Chief Delegate to the United Nations for the International Education Development/Humanitarian Law Project, along with author/policy analyst Bill Rau, produced by Consumers for Peace.

The only news article available to date on the release of this report is titled: "Report Recommends Petraeus Be Quizzed by Congress on Iraq War Crimes".

The report is the third in a series, with the original being, "War Crimes Committed by the United States in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability", published in October 2006, and revised in December 2006.

This original report is endorsed by such honorable scholars and journalists as Howard Zinn, Dahr Jamail, Kathy Kelly, and retired Colonel Ann Wright.

The second report, titled "U.S. War Crimes in the 'Surge' -- 2007: Petraeus Manual and Tactics Flout International Law" is an analysis by Karen Parker of the "Counterinsurgency Field Manual" co-authored by General Petraeus and released in 2007, followed by documentation by Bill Rau of the effects of the policies and tactics of the U.S. military on the Iraqi population.

Both the above reports are notably concise, with lengths of merely 38 pages and 26 pages, respectively, and present significant information we, the people, need to know.

The third report, the one just released, a mere 20 pages, is the one you should read immediately.

Even if you only have a few minutes to glean information, ">this piece is revelatory.

From the first report onward, Parker and Bau have shown that the U.S. military, in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has turned its back on international humanitarian law, as well defined by the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

In this third report, the "surge" that has been "successful", according Mr. Bush, Mr. Gates, General Petraeus and others who either have ulterior motives or are drinking the Koolaid, is completely based on statistics that indicate a decrease of Iraqis killing other Iraqis.

However, what they are not reporting is the severe increase in civilian fatalities, a figure that was already too large to report without public outrage.

This notable increase has been caused by the increase of "air power" in place of troops on the ground. Rather than going door to door searching for "insurgents" (otherwise known as 'Iraqis-with-a-legal-right-to-resist-the-tyranny-of-an-occupying-force), more often the U.S. is finding it easier to use helicopters and bombers to blast away at "assumed targets".

This does make for less American casualties, to be sure, but the slaughter is also conveniently less noticeable to the America public, since the Pentagon has made it clear from the beginning that it is not in charge of body count.

Of course, the Iraqis can't help but notice it.

In addition, the report reviews the continuing increase of detention of innocent Iraqis, up from 17,000 in March 2007 to approximately 50,000 at this time. This includes approximately 1000 children as of December 2007. They are picked up arbitrarily, often for being male, held without charge, for a year or more, in filthy, disease-ridden prisons that were meant to hold 30-40% of their current occupancy – with the apparent intention of intimidating Iraqi citizens into submission.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is over 60%, making the promise of money for terrorist/resistance acts even more tempting for the most moderate Iraqis.

Two thirds of medical professionals have left the country, and those who remain have inadequate facilities and supplies, so needless deaths are a constant.

Few schools remain open, many educators have also left, and few students regularly attend, leaving a large population who will not have the skills necessary as adults to improve their lives.

Other services, such as water and electricity, are worse than ever. While living without electricity may be mostly survivable, drinking contaminated water is not. Last fall, a major cholera epidemic struck 45 Iraqi districts.

So, the actual result of this "successful" surge is an increase in hatred for the U.S. and its troops. . .

Which naturally results in more "insurgents".

Which, as I see it, gives those-who-profit-from-war more reason to keep it going.

Hence, just last month, as McCain called for a 100 year war, Mr. Bush found military service to be "exciting" and "romantic", Mr. Cheney uttered his infamous "So?" regarding the opinions of Americans, and Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets testified about atrocities at "The Winter Soldier" conference, the Pentagon called for a delay in troop withdrawal in Iraq.

Sickening, eh?

That is why now is the time to take action and ask questions.You, too, can contact Congressman Wexler (

And any other Congressman, Senator, journalist, and/or Presidential candidate you want.

Read the reports -- and/or tell them you know about them. And demand accountability -- from both the General -- and those who should be asking questions.

As for me, these are the questions I have sent:

1. What has been the effect of the increased use of aerial attack helicopters and aerial bombing on the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians?

2. Why does the U.S. military not provide the numbers on Iraqis killed by U.S. troops?

3. In terms of the international law established by the Geneva and Hague Conventions, what do you understand to be the responsibility of the United States military in Iraq regarding its civilians?

You, too, have a right -- no, now that you know more, you have a responsibility to ASK.

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