UN inspectors hunted for weapons of mass destruction at missile plants and nuclear complexes Sunday, while an unusual visitor — Hollywood star Sean Penn — spoke out in Baghdad against a US attack and in support of the Iraqi people caught up in an international crisis. (File Photo)...
This will be a big week for Iraq and all those who wish to bomb it. Since last summer's heady excitements, when George Bush seemed ready to go Saddam-hunting all on his ownsome, Washington hawks and assorted birds of prey have endured a series of false dawns. (US Army file photo)...
As the war in Iraq moves forward; Sean Penn visits Baghdad and declares the truth; "the blood will be on the hands of all Americans".
It is amazing to me how little George allowed Sean Penn to go to Baghdad and criticize the genocide that is about to take place there in an American grab for oil.
Sean got a little press, but the great American war machine is already in gear and moving forward. The crisis in America is about oil, especially since American oil imports from Venezuela have been stopped. The price of gasoline is going up. We can't have that.
The morality of killing a lot of innocent human beings living in Iraq is low on the agenda of little George if it is even a consideration of his conscious mind.
Money/morality. morality/Money. Human blood for oil. Money wins.
Thanks Sean. At least you tried. In the end, that is all that really matters: you can say you tried. The millions of people who paid to see you work have little interest in the truth that you speak. Isn't it interesting that they will pay you big money to suspend reality for them but they will not pay a dime to stop one oil related death.
It comes down to the value of dark skinned Muslims. It comes down to the automobile.
In the end, it will be written: America lost its way when little George became President of the United States.
U.N. Seeks Spy Plane in Weapons Search
The Associated Press, Mon 16 Dec 2002
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — U.N. inspectors hunted for weapons of mass destruction at missile plants and nuclear complexes Sunday, while an unusual visitor — Hollywood star Sean Penn — spoke out in Baghdad against a U.S. attack and in support of the Iraqi people caught up in an international crisis.
In Berlin, meanwhile, the German defense ministry said the United Nations had asked it to supply the inspection operation with unmanned spy aircraft to help in the search for banned Iraqi weapons or the facilities to make them.
A decision on whether to supply the LUNA drones and the technicians needed to maintain them likely will be made this week, said a ministry spokesman on customary condition of anonymity. German-U.S. relations were strained over Berlin's opposition to attacking Saddam Hussein, but Berlin has pledged full support for the inspection program.
Also Sunday, coalition jets patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq fired on two installations, a surface-to-air artillery battery and a mobile radar unit, after coming under fire, the U.S. Central Command reported on its Web site.
It said the sites were near An Nasiriyah, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, and Al Basra, 240 miles southeast of the capital. Coalition planes hit three targets in the southern no-fly zone Saturday.
An Iraqi military spokesman said ``the evil American and British warplanes bombed civil and service installations in the provinces of Dhi Qar and Wassit'' on Sunday but offered no futher information, the official Iraqi news agency reported.
Penn issued his comments at the end of a three-day visit to Iraq which was organized by the Institute for Public Accuracy, a research organization based in San Francisco, California.
``Simply put, if there is a war or continued sanctions against Iraq, the blood of Americans and Iraqis alike will be on our (American) hands,'' Penn said at a news conference in the Iraqi capital Sunday.
U.N. inspectors hunting for banned weapons of mass destruction searched a missile plant south of Baghdad that the United States said had aroused suspicion. It was one of ten sites the newly bolstered inspection team visited Sunday, according to Iraqi government officials and a statement by U.N. inspectors' headquarters in Baghdad.
With the arrival of 15 inspectors Sunday and the routine departure of others in recent days, the total of U.N. sleuths now stands at 105, said Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the U.N. program in Baghdad. On Saturday, the teams visited a dozen sites, a number Ueki said was the largest single-day site visitation since the inspectors returned to Iraq on Nov. 27 after a four-year hiatus.
The sites visited Sunday included al-Mutasim, a government missile plant occupying the grounds of a former nuclear facility 46 miles south of Baghdad, the inspectors said. As usual, they offered no details about what they sought or found.
Al-Mutasim was cited in a CIA intelligence report released in October that detailed what U.S. officials said was evidence Iraq was producing chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them. The report also cited the facility for as a site where Iraq might be trying to build nuclear weapons.
Iraqi officials said the inspectors also revisited al-Qa'qaa, a large nuclear complex just south of Baghdad, Sunday that had been searched Saturday and last week as well. The site had been under U.N. scrutiny in the 1990s and was involved in the final design of Iraq's nuclear weapons ambitions before it was destroyed by U.N. teams after the 1991 Gulf War.
The United Nations offered no details on Sunday's inspection at al-Qa'qaa. During their Saturday visit, inspectors said the question the director of the facility about changes made since teams were last in Iraq four years ago. Last week the teams began taking an inventory of nuclear materials still at the site.
Also Sunday, the inspectors returned to a missile complex north of Baghdad for the second time in two days. The complex, the government-owned al-Nasr Company, 30 miles north of Baghdad, also houses sophisticated machine tools that can, for example, help manufacture gas centrifuges. Such centrifuges are used to enrich uranium to bomb-grade level — a method that was favored by the Iraqis in their nuclear weapons program of the late 1980s.
Haithem Shihab, manager of a factory in al-Nasr, said the inspectors compared the facility to site plans and checked machinery.
``Today's inspection went smoothly, and we provided the inspectors with all the information they asked for. They entered all the places they wanted. We answered all questions. They made sure that there are no prohibited activities in this factory,'' Shihab said Sunday.
Shihab said his factory produced parts for missiles with a range no greater than 43 miles. Under U.N. resolutions, Iraq is limited to missiles with a range of no greater than 90 miles.
Also Sunday, International Atomic Energy Agency experts on the U.N. team inspected Um-Al Maarek — Mother of Battles — a government facility 12 miles south of Baghdad. Nuclear experts visited the site the first time Nov. 30. It is run by the government's Military Industrialization Commission in charge of weapons development.
In the first round of inspections in the 1990s, after Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, the United Nations destroyed tons of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons and dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program — but inspectors do not believe they got all Iraq's banned arsenal.
The inspectors are back under a tough U.N. resolution passed last month that threatens serious consequences if Iraq fails to prove it has surrendered all its banned weapons. The United States already has expressed skepticism at the voluminous Iraqi weapons declaration filed Dec. 8.
All reason is about to be gassed, poxed and nuked
This week the countdown to war on Iraq may begin in earnest
Monday December 16, 2002
This will be a big week for Iraq and all those who wish to bomb it. Since last summer's heady excitements, when George Bush seemed ready to go Saddam-hunting all on his ownsome, Washington hawks and assorted birds of prey have endured a series of false dawns.
First there was their rising hope that the UN security council, challenged by Bush in September to put up or shut up, would fail to agree a common course of action. That would have left the way clear for the US, claiming prior authority, to fire at will. But resolution 1441, passed on November 8 and mandating resumed weapons inspections, frustrated beaky avian hopes of early morning glory.
Next came the seven-day deadline for Iraq's full, unconditional acceptance of the UN's onerous new rules. Vultures gathering on the Potomac shore figured the terms were just too tough. Maybe Saddam could live with foreign busybodies clutching clipboards and bleeping gadgets zooming around the country like so many misguided Scuds. Maybe Iraq's famously paranoid dictator would be able, just, to ignore the humiliating media circus that followed the UN parade.
But surely even he, grimly locked though he is into best behaviour mode, would baulk at the prospect of Hans Blix plodding portentously through presidential palace boudoirs, magnifying glass in hand like a latterday Holmes, looking for the dog that didn't bark? No sir. Slippery Saddam disappointed them all. He met the deadline with time to spare and, in febrile US imaginings at least, went off to run an acid bath.
It's been tough being a hawk since then. Every time Bush suggested the UN inspection regime was up the spout already, that annoying Kofi Annan popped up to say it was all going fine. The more Donald Rumsfeld sent his bombers into southern Iraq, defending Shia human rights by blowing up their airports and killing their men, the more wimpy Euro-appeasers shouted foul.
There was minor consolation to be had in exposing the tawdry sex life of one UN inspector, in rubbishing Blix's professional qualifications, in playing soldiers in Qatar and conjuring spurious links between Iraq and al-Qaida. But when Saddam met his next deadline, the December 8 production of a dossier detailing his weapons of mass destruction (or rather, his lack of them), it seemed like all the fun was going out of this war before it had even got going. For thwarted Saddam-bashers, the whole process was turning out to be, well, too damn reasonable.
Sadly, help for the hawks is at hand - and reason is about to be suspended. In fact, reason, along with rational thought, objective analysis and calm, considered discourse are about to be gassed, bombed, anthraxed, poxed and nuked.
The US and the four other permanent security council members have now had a week to dissect Iraq's dossier. They have also, scandalously, had a chance to edit and censor it, omitting in all probabil ity Iraq's embarrassing list of western arms suppliers along with other inconvenient facts. On Thursday, Blix will submit his initial analysis of the declaration to the council. Whatever he says, that will also trigger the US and Britain's full, formal "preliminary" assessments.
No prizes in this doomsday guessing game: we already know what they'll say, since they've already said it. To cut a very long story short, our elected representatives and people's tribunes will solemnly intone, Iraq's voluminous dossier is lies, lies, videotape, and more lies (without the sex).
With this 12,000-page piece of recycled hocus-pocus, Saddam has proved he is not serious. By sins of omission, they will claim, Saddam has refused to disarm. By this irresponsible action, this unrepentant prince of darkness, this evil axle, this arch-foe of the free and the brave, this serial abuser of Kurds, Iranians and Kuwaitis has, regrettably, brought war very much closer. A pattern of non-compliance is developing, the US will assert. UN interviews of Iraqi scientists will be the next test.
But on the banks of the Potomac, at the Pentagon, at Langley and in the Oval office, the hawks will not really be sad at all. Their perch-bound penury is near an end. Now just watch them fly and soar! And just listen for their battle-cry, as from England's Henry before Harfleur: "Once more unto the material breach, dear friends, once more! For America and King George!" Oh, and for democracy, too.
Cock your B52s; unholster your bunker busters; let loose the doggerel of war. For this week the countdown to conflict may begin in earnest.
For all the on-off hopes of a peaceful outcome, this avoidable, illogical denouement should come as no surprise. Unreason permeates every aspect of Bush's slow-burn, post-Afghanistan campaign against Iraq. Unreason is the warlord now and is now unleashed. For just consider.
Bush says people planning to use weapons of mass destruction are the big global threat. So Washington has pledged itself to pre-emptive, any-time use of weapons of mass destruction if provoked. Is that reasonable or what? Bush says he has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. But for a decade the US starved and impoverished those same people with unleavened sanctions. Now, taking the direct approach, it is willing to kill them outright in order to "liberate" them.
Bush says Iraq is but part of his wider "war on terror". But while he plots Saddam's downfall, al-Qaida is plotting his (and maybe ours). Bush surely knows that nuclear-arming, desperate North Korea and its ballistically unstable "Dear Leader" present a far greater, wider and immediate threat than Iraq's rusting Scuds and mutinous army. But do his eyes turn from the gates of Baghdad? No, they do not.
Bush says he fights for democracy, in Iraq and beyond. No matter, apparently, that the US, not trusting the Iraqis with their own country, plans to install a US-confected military government or perhaps, a carefully vetted, pro-American puppet show, and tramples civil liberties at home.
Bush says that in his coming battle, he has a host of friends and allies. But most have been bought, bullied or destabilised into bogus solidarity. Bush's moralistic war will set a woeful precedent for an immoral era of "pre-emptive" intervention.
As long as the UN inspections continue, there is still a chance to stop this war. Maybe the French or Russians will dig in, will demand stronger evidence of Iraqi cheating going beyond the US's highly suspect dossier deductions. Maybe Blix and Annan will baulk. Maybe Colin Powell can hold the diplomatic line a little longer. All the same, this could be the week when the irrational becomes irresistible. Now, in dread, deadly prospect, is the dawning age of unreason. Or, as Byron put it:
"This is the patent age of new inventions
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
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