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A Word or Two about Petraeus

by delicatemonster Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 12:39:41 AM EST

Note: I know this isn't terribly Eurocentric, but I saw the other Petraeus diary and thought there might be some interest...

That General Petraeus has been shucking and jiving about Iraq for the last 3-4 years is probably pretty well known for those of us who follow these things. As one accute commentator put it, "He is the man the president chose for the public to believe in, now that they are done believing in George W. Bush."

What's less well known --and what's a far more serious matter than his obvious prevarications and fudging of casuality statistics-- is that General Petraeus's policies have been fueling the disastrous civil war in Iraq.

In an interview on Democracy Now! Arun Gupta, a reporter and editor of The Indypendent, a bimonthly newspaper based in New York, points out that David Petraeus has `credibility' and our `trust' mostly because his past actions in Iraq have gone largely unreported.

According to Gupta, one of the key things that Petraeus did was to support the creation of paramilitary forces in Iraq. One of the most 'aggressive' of these was the "Special Police Commandos", commanded by  General Adnan Thabit with a force of about 5,000 troops.

( Unraveling Iraq's Secret Militias)

At the highest levels, White House officials consider the Police Commandos as the leading force against the insurgency. In hearings before the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 16 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the commandos are among "forces that are going to have the greatest leverage on suppressing and eliminating the insurgency."

Petraeus calls the Police Commandos "a horse to back" and has done so by providing it with "money to fix up its base and buy vehicles, ammunition, radios and more weapons." In a satellite briefing to the press on February 4, Petraeus repeatedly praised the Special Police Commandos, calling the leadership "tremendously aggressive" in operations.

Unfortunately, the Special Police Commandos morphed into death squads that were used against the insurgency and against Iraqis, in general. Now Petraeus did not authorize or approve the actions of the death squads. But the key point is that he failed to put in place a system to ensure that there would not be those kinds of abuses.

Of course, none of this is new. Larry Johnson made note of it on his blog here. Front Line has a piece on the descending violence of the militias entitled the Gangs of Iraq.

Investigative reporter Max Fuller in his detailed examination of documents, stresses that the vast majority of atrocities attributed to `rogue' Shiite or Sunni militias, "were in fact the work of government-controlled commandos of `special forces', trained by the Americans, `advised' by Americans and run largely by former CIA agents." (Chris Floyd, `Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War') Petraeus attempt to play `Good Cop/Bad Cop' in order to `divide and rule' hasn't gone too well, nor is it likely to succeed now.

As Gutpa noted with understatement: "This played a key role in terms of stoking and fomenting the civil war, because you had death squads wearing government uniforms, being armed and trained by the U.S. going around killing Sunnis randomly. It generally alienated the Sunni Arab population from the government and drove them into the arms of the resistance."

Now Petraeus is apparently funding and training the Sunnis to take on the Shiite.
"...there are reports that have stated clearly with these militias saying, like, "Yes, we're getting weapons from the U.S. government." And part of it is, is that they do want to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is another Sunni-based group. It's an Iraqi-based group. But their main purpose is they want this money and weapons and aid to fight the Shiite militias."

"So here we have them, like in 2004, setting up these Shiite militias, and now he's setting up these Sunni militias to fight these Shiite militias. And what it portends is just an absolute disaster for Iraq. And, of course, it will also be used as justification: "Well, we can't leave because a bloodbath will result." But we're not looking at the fact that it's the U.S. that's creating this bloodbath."

Besides whacking folks, the Iraqi security forces under General Petraeus also had trouble hanging on to their weapons. Back in October 2006 there was this account:

The inspector general's office released its report Sunday in a series of three audits finding that:

Nearly one of every 25 weapons the military bought for Iraqi security forces is missing. Many others cannot be repaired because parts or technical manuals are lacking.

The Pentagon cannot account for 14,030 weapons -- almost 4% of the semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other weapons it began supplying to Iraq since the end of 2003.

The missing weapons will not be tracked easily: The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided -- less than 3%

That was followed by this report:

Weapons Given to Iraq Are Missing

The Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to a new government report, raising fears that some of those weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.

This was all on General Petraeus's watch.

Here's more from the interview:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about General Petraeus and the missing arms, the missing weapons?

ARUN GUPTA: Also during his tenure, 190,000 weapons went missing. These were Pentagon weapons that were supposed to go to Iraqi Security Forces...There were no records of it kept. Such simple things as recording the serial numbers were not done.

And, of course, the fear is that this is just going to turn up all sorts of places. The Turkish government has already claimed that it has seized more than 1,000 of these guns in Turkey that are being used by anyone, from criminal enterprises to anti-government militants. And there's also reports that they've turned up as far away as Italy.

So -- and this was part of the Petraeus strategy, that he was just throwing all this money and weapons and aid at the Special Police Commandos, because they were so desperate to create a strategy to defeat the Sunni insurgency. And, of course, by the time he left his mission in 2005 of training Iraqis, there was only one battalion that was considered ready. In one year, that's what his work amounted to.
And now a report just came out, a commission set up by Congress of four retired US generals, in which they stated that the National Police, which is what the Special Police Commandos are now known as, the National Police are so corrupt, so riven with sectarianism, they're so hated by the public, the Iraqi military and other police services, that they should just be completely disbanded. And yet, none of this is being talked about in Congress or the media.

Instead, they'll focus on John McCaine's rather dictatorial threat to throw organizations like Moveon.org out of this country because they have the temerity to note that Petraeus is a liar and has betrayed his oath of office.

And, being merely a liar is the benign view of Petraeus.

Around the same time as the creation of the "Special Police Commandos" was the creation of Iraq's so called Wolf Brigadefor all practical purposes a Shiite counterpart to the Special Police Commandos.

According to Gareth Porter

Last May, the Association of Muslim Scholars publicly accused the Wolf Brigade of having "arrested imams and the guardians of some mosques, tortured and killed them, and then got rid of their bodies in a garbage dump in Shaab district" of Baghdad.

Journalists began reporting details of forced confessions through torture and indiscriminate killing of Sunni detainees by the Wolf Brigade last summer. In one case reported by the Associated Press last July, a woman detained by the Wolf Brigade in Mosul was whipped by six men with electric cables and forced to sign a false confession that she was a high-ranking local leader of the insurgency. After the Brigade left the city and turned her over to local authorities, they released her with an apology for the torture she endured.

The Financial Times reported in late June that 474 people had been seized from their homes during one Wolf Brigade sweep in the Abu Ghraib area and had suffered systematic abuse at the hands of the Brigade. A former detainee said commandoes had "attached electrical wires to his ear and his genitals, and generated a current with a hand-cranked military telephone".

Despite this mounting evidence of systematic torture, the U.S. command had shown no evidence of discomfort about supporting the Brigade. Some Wolf Brigade sweeps through Sunni neighbourhoods have been carried out alongside U.S. troops.

On Nov. 10, a U.S. officer described on his personal weblog a "battalion sized joint operation" between the "Nightstalkers" (Army Airborne 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment) and the Wolf Brigade in southern Baghdad. The blogger concluded, "As we passed vehicle after vehicle full of blindfolded detainees my face stretched into a long wolfish smile..."

The Wolf Brigade obviously had full US support, not only in tactical matters, but also with manipulation of the Iraqi media space. The Wolf Brigade became famous for the awful TV program called "Terrorists in the Grip of Justice" that appeared on the American-created-staffed-funded-and-controlled Al `Iraqiyya TV network (should have been called Al Amrikiyya). The program showed supposed "terrorists", who had clearly been abused, sometimes badly beaten, and probably also tortured, confessing to a variety of offenses, some of which were completely ludicrous, such as having homosexual orgies in mosques. The ostensible purpose of the TV show was to influence the Iraqi public against the resistance by presenting the "terrorists" as the lowest of all possible low-lifes - a pretty transparent, and transparently stupid American P.R. stunt.

Once you penetrate the lies and 'warped' reality smokescreen consciously set up by folks like Petraeus and the cabal at the Pentagon, terms like 'betrayal' seem entirely too civil to describe the monster they have had a hand in creating--and continue to support.

Cross posted at DailyKos

Wow, this is really extraordinary. We've all heard about Petraeus basically being an inexperienced ass-licking non-entity despised even by the rest of the military brass, but to see this ... whoa!

Well, as there is another hot topic on the site at the moment, let me be the first to get in the cheap shot ... Petraeus: the Alan Greenspan of the US military.

by wing26 on Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 11:45:04 AM EST
This is the key paragraph ans it is revolting.
"So here we have them, like in 2004, setting up these Shiite militias, and now he's setting up these Sunni militias to fight these Shiite militias. And what it portends is just an absolute disaster for Iraq. And, of course, it will also be used as justification: "Well, we can't leave because a bloodbath will result." But we're not looking at the fact that it's the U.S. that's creating this bloodbath."

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 12:02:40 PM EST
I think you could couple that with this latest estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths (averaged across four surveys reckoned at over 3/4s of a million) and this report about the Iraqi refugee crisis (100,000 Iraqis fleeing Iraq per month), and it's not difficult to imagine someone like Petraeus in a war crimes docket some day.

Of course, I'm sure our media will still be discussing the high crime of the Moveon.org ad.

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 12:50:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you embed the MoveOn.org ad here for those of us who don't know what that's about?

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 01:59:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about a link?

Moveon.org ad

And a quick screen grab...

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Mon Sep 17th, 2007 at 03:51:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's call it The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly strategy:
There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog ...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat ...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider...
That wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
I don't know why she swallowed that fly--
Perhaps she'll die.
There was an old lady who swallowed a horse--
she's dead, of course.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2007 at 03:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't say I'm surprised. He wasn't chosen for his competence or ability.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Sep 19th, 2007 at 01:21:50 PM EST
Absolutely right, and that's why I personally feel the MoveOn.org ad was entirely non-controversial and on target, even if it ultimately proved to be an easy distraction for the pro-war crowd to latch on to. It's fairly obvious that his role in all of this is not primarily of a military nature, it is more that of a political operative. Given that, going after him is entirely fair.
(Not that you're ever above criticism, even when in uniform.)

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Mon Oct 1st, 2007 at 04:55:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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