Sunday, February 21, 2010


The first casualty of war is truth.

Prisoner and child at Abu Ghraib, Iraq at start of current war. These are also, no matter faith or faction, always first casualties of war.

"What a pity that so many innocent people have to pay with their lives for our obsessive fantasies." Thomas Merton in Ishi: A Meditation

For five years I was a subscriber to the paper and online editions of the Wall Street Journal. Last year I quit them in disgust at the Rupert Murdock takeover, and a pattern of news sequestration, such as the incident described below.

There has been much discussion the past few weeks of troubles caused by some in Iraq’s current Shiite Maliki government who would ban 500 Sunni candidates in coming parliamentary elections. The WSJ opinion piece, “Iran has designs on Iraq,” 2-17-10, warns that there are democracy destabilizing elements in Iraq that would tip it in favor of arch-enemy Iran. Buried within the op-ed are the names of two men who have been doing this dirty work. On this same paper’s front page, in the iconic, “What’s News” column, appears this item with no names of the two officials, and no news article indexed for follow-up reading.

“The top U.S. commander in Iraq said two Iraqi officials in charge of keeping Saddam Hussein loyalists out of the government have ties to Iran.”

Who are these Iraqi politicians acting in the interests of former axis-of-evil partner, not-long-before mortal enemy, Iran? One of them is Ahmed Chalabi, former WSJ columnist, celebrated numerous times in WSJ op-ed features and interviews*, as sage advisor on Iraq, pre and post 2003 invasion, though he’d not lived there for 47 years prior to U.S. occupation. Now Chalabi is a threat to democracy in Iraq? To get the full import of the story given incomplete mention by “What’s New’s”, with names not deleted down some memory hole, we need to turn to the New York Times. In their 2-16-10 article, featuring and naming these Iraqi politicians, Ahmed Chalabi and Ali Faisal al-Lami, our top commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno’s direct accusations are reported.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the senior American commander in Iraq, said Tuesday that two influential Iraqi politicians now involved in blocking candidates in the parliamentary election next month had close links to Iran, which the general said was trying to undermine the vote.

General Odierno was unusually blunt in publicly expressing concerns about the actions of the two Iraqis: Ahmed Chalabi, who was a confidant of Bush administration officials in the prelude to the 2003 invasion but now is perceived as having supplied false intelligence to the United States; and Ali Faisal al-Lami, suspected of involvement in murderous activities of Shiite militants, including a bombing in Baghdad, accusations that he denies.

The two Iraqi politicians “clearly are influenced by Iran,” General Odierno said. “We have direct intelligence that tells us that.” He said the two men had several meetings in Iran, including sessions with an Iranian who is on the United States terrorist watch list.

houldn’t this be WSJ front and center news? Our man in Iraq, gone over to the other side! Should it surprise us that our former point man on the Iraqi National Congress, who once received $335,000 per month from the Pentagon** to help promote and pursue our invasion of Iraq, is now accused by General Odierno of consorting with terrorists, and aiding our next best enemy, Iran? War is hell, but unfortunately there are many who make a hell of a profit from war. Chalabi is Shiite, with roots in the monarchy Saddam helped overthrow, and continues to act out of convinced self-interest, whichever way the wind blows.

The major concern for Wall Street Journal readers should be how their news is being managed. This newspaper, a long celebrated source of accurate information for the connected and financially correct, is now failing its customers. To get the “rest of the story” they must look elsewhere. When clever disinformation and omission replaces direct reporting of the truth, the prospects for conserving our democracy diminish.

With hope for a springtime of renewal this Lenten season, and with thanks, for artwork created by Kathleen Brahney

*A partial list appears below.

Put the Iraqis in Charge
Why Iraq is proving much tougher than Afghanistan.
Friday, August 29, 2003 12:01 A.M. EDT

Strip Poker
It's time for the U.N. to bare all and release its Oil-for-Food documents.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004 12:01 A.M. EDT

The Future Iraq Deserves
A pluralist state built on a democratic social contract.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004 12:01 A.M. EST

The Chalabi Comeback
Iraq's "indispensable" man returns to center stage.
Monday, August 29, 2005 12:01 A.M. EDT

One of Iraq's most controversial politicians offers thoughts on the "surge," Iran and where we go from here.
Saturday, July 7, 2007 12:01 A.M. EDT

**Sources for $335,000 figure, and other notable bio on Mr. Chalabi.

P.S. This posting in edited form was sent to the Wall Street Journal today for op-ed consideration.


The next SNV/BWPC Free Film Series offering is this coming Tuesday, focusing on the abuse of prisoners that pressed, still unchecked, from Afghansitan, to Iraq, to Guantanomo, now back to Afghani-Pakistan. Details below.

To be held this year at the Palmer Park Recreation Center, 2829 Armour St., from 7:00pm to 9pm

Tuesday Feb. 23rd Taxi to the Darkside Academy award winning docu-drama follows the story of a rural taxi driver in Afghanistan, who is swept up and detained in the early days of the U.S. invasion there. Testimony from our soldiers describes how pressure from above, and bad situations in the war zone, leads to the death of an innocent man, and abuses are multiplied on into Iraq, at Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo, Cuba detention-without-charge facilities.

1 comment:

  1. Another fine piece Michael.

    The ultimate con-man is back in action.
    His phoney expertise has been used to justify slaughter of
    unarmed innocents before.

    He's like Sick Dick Cheney - always comes back
    with impunity to deliver us evil.

    Still out of town - but have seen Taxi to the Darkside and
    it's excellent.

    Thank you for all you do!