REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

The Face of Fallujah - US Propaganda

POSTED BY: GHOULMAN
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 7, 2004 06:45
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Friday, November 26, 2004 6:35 AM

GHOULMAN


Smoking while Iraq burns
Its idolisation of 'the face of Falluja' shows how numb the US is to everyone's pain but its own
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1359871,00.html
Naomi Klein
Friday November 26, 2004
The Guardian

Iconic images inspire love and hate, and so it is with the photograph of James Blake Miller, the 20-year-old marine from Appalachia, who has been christened "the face of Falluja" by pro-war pundits, and the "the Marlboro man" by pretty much everyone else. Reprinted in more than a hundred newspapers, the Los Angeles Times photograph shows Miller "after more than 12 hours of nearly non-stop, deadly combat" in Falluja, his face coated in war paint, a bloody scratch on his nose, and a freshly lit cigarette hanging from his lips.

Gazing lovingly at Miller, the CBS News anchor Dan Rather informed his viewers: "For me, this one's personal. This is a warrior with his eyes on the far horizon, scanning for danger. See it. Study it. Absorb it. Think about it. Then take a deep breath of pride. And if your eyes don't dampen, you're a better man or woman than I."

A few days later, the LA Times declared that its photo had "moved into the realm of the iconic". In truth, the image just feels iconic because it is so laughably derivative: it's a straight-up rip-off of the most powerful icon in American advertising (the Marlboro man), which in turn imitated the brightest star ever created by Hollywood - John Wayne - who was himself channelling America's most powerful founding myth, the cowboy on the rugged frontier. It's like a song you feel you've heard a thousand times before - because you have.

But never mind that. For a country that just elected a wannabe Marlboro man as its president, Miller is an icon and, as if to prove it, he has ignited his very own controversy. "Lots of children, particularly boys, play army, and like to imitate this young man. The clear message of the photo is that the way to relax after a battle is with a cigarette," wrote Daniel Maloney in a scolding letter to the Houston Chronicle. Linda Ortman made the same point to the editors of the Dallas Morning News: "Are there no photos of non-smoking soldiers?" A reader of the New York Post helpfully suggested more politically correct propaganda imagery: "Maybe showing a marine in a tank, helping another GI or drinking water would have a more positive impact on your readers."

Yes, that's right: letter writers from across the nation are united in their outrage - not that the steely-eyed, smoking soldier makes mass killing look cool, but that the laudable act of mass killing makes the grave crime of smoking look cool. Better to protect impressionable youngsters by showing soldiers taking a break from deadly combat by drinking water or, perhaps, since there is a severe potable water shortage in Iraq, Coke. (It reminds me of the joke about the Hassidic rabbi who says all sexual positions are acceptable except for one: standing up "because that could lead to dancing".)

On second thoughts, perhaps Miller does deserve to be elevated to the status of icon - not of the war in Iraq, but of the new era of supercharged American impunity. Because outside US borders, it is, of course, a different marine who has been awarded the prize as "the face of Falluja": the soldier captured on tape executing a wounded, unarmed prisoner in a mosque. Runners-up are a photograph of a two-year-old Fallujan in a hospital bed with one of his tiny legs blown off; a dead child lying in the street, clutching the headless body of an adult; and an emergency health clinic blasted to rubble.

Inside the US, these snapshots of a lawless occupation appeared only briefly, if they appeared at all. Yet Miller's icon status has endured, kept alive with human interest stories about fans sending cartons of Marlboros to Falluja, interviews with the marine's proud mother, and earnest discussions about whether smoking might reduce Miller's effectiveness as a fighting machine.

Impunity - the perception of being outside the law - has long been the hallmark of the Bush regime. What is alarming is that it appears to have deepened since the election, ushering in what can only be described as an orgy of impunity. In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies. At home, impunity has been made official policy with Bush's appointment of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, the man who personally advised the president in his infamous "torture memo" that the Geneva conventions are "obsolete".

This kind of defiance cannot simply be explained by Bush's win. There has to be something in how he won, in how the election was fought, that gave this administration the distinct impression that it had been handed a get-out-of-the-Geneva-conventions free card. That's because the administration was handed precisely such a gift - by John Kerry.

In the name of electability, the Kerry team gave Bush five months on the campaign trail without ever facing serious questions about violations of international law. Fearing that he would be seen as soft on terror and disloyal to US troops, Kerry stayed scandalously silent about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. When it became painfully clear that fury would rain down on Falluja as soon as the polls closed, Kerry never spoke out against the plan, or against the other illegal bombings of civilian areas that took place throughout the campaign. When the Lancet published its landmark study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as result of the invasion and occupation, Kerry just repeated his outrageous (and frankly racist) claim that Americans "are 90% of the casualties in Iraq".

There was a message sent by all of this silence, and the message was that these deaths don't count. By buying the highly questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanisation of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are expendable, insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked.

The real-world result of all the "strategic" thinking is the worst of both worlds: it didn't get Kerry elected and it sent a clear message to the people who were elected that they will pay no political price for committing war crimes. And this is Kerry's true gift to Bush: not just the presidency, but impunity. You can see it perhaps best of all in the Marlboro man in Falluja, and the surreal debates that swirl around him. Genuine impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence, and this is its face: a nation bickering about smoking while Iraq burns.

· A version of this column was first published in The Nation

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Friday, November 26, 2004 8:14 AM

GHOULMAN


I found this (Florida, naturally)... can't believe it really.

Translation - Der Fuhrer

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Friday, November 26, 2004 10:57 AM

JAZAF


Quote:

Originally posted by Ghoulman:
I found this (Florida, naturally)... can't believe it really.




well ... why the hell can't you believe it?
currently he is and furthermore they voted for him. My big deal is how Americans can get so caught up in one single picture and not see around it..... it's like not seeing the forest for the trees. and that's just sad.
and what's with the german translation?(just curious)
---------------------------------------
Do you know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with till you
understand who's in rutting command here.

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Friday, November 26, 2004 11:04 AM

GHOULMAN


You don't get that? I'll try to explain.

I can't believe the Bush/Cheney election people, or Gov. Bush of Florida, would promote thier candidate with a phrase used exclusively in association with Hitler.

No one uses that term because it directly translates into Der Fuhrer.

Dong ma?

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Friday, November 26, 2004 2:44 PM

JAZAF


ooh, ok. I get now.
But these people probably aren't thinking about the German connection. they just want to make it clear what Bush is. at least i think so

---------------------------------------
Do you know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with till you
understand who's in rutting command here.

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Friday, November 26, 2004 5:49 PM

WILDBILL


Translated to German this is "Unser Fuhrer" not "Der Fuhrer".

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Friday, November 26, 2004 6:09 PM

SGTGUMP


Screw Naomi Klein.

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Friday, November 26, 2004 8:14 PM

DARKJESTER


I see that billboard as more Orwellian than Nazi-esque. Not that that reduces the absurdity....

MAL "You only gotta scare him."
JAYNE "Pain is scary..."

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Saturday, November 27, 2004 3:20 AM

GEEZER

Keep the Shiny side up


Quote:

Originally posted by sgtgump:
Screw Naomi Klein.



Quote:

Naomi Klein now totally unavoidable
By Jeremy Nelson
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2001

Naomi Klein sighting have increased twenty-fold in the last two weeks, sparking fears that the globalization pundit may have become airborne. If that is the case, she may be ubiquitous within a week, and despite increased production of the anti-Klein drug "Friedman," the epidemic may not be stopped in time.



http://www.thevarsity.ca/news/2001/12/06/fontColor880088bnewsbfont/Nao
mi.Klein.Now.Totally.Unavoidable-157527.shtml


"Keep the Shiny side up"

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Sunday, November 28, 2004 6:07 AM

BOJESPHOB


Well, Mr. Miller didn't even know that the photo was taken until it was distributed. This really is a ploy to try to make the US soldier out to be the "everyday man" that the they are. BUT, it really does hurt what you are trying to do when that video of the soldier shooting the unarmed man on the news. The thing that does NOT get on the news and get that much are those same insurgents that go and blow a bomb up in a market in Iraq and kill a bunch of women and children. The worst part about this is, who is to blame for all of it? The US? Iraq? The rest of the world? Christianity? Islam? That's really hard to say. Yes, there is some element of all of those in it. If September 11th wouldn't have happened, Bush would not have been re-elected and we wouldn't have gone into Iraq, he wouldn't have had ANY support to do anything of the sort. But Bush is still to blame for the invasion of Iraq, so let's just say that the guilt lies on both sides. Basically we played right into the hands of the radical fundamentalists by invading Iraq. They now have a steady flow of recruits who don't see all of the good things that the US has done for the downtrodden (we have THE largest charity base in the world). They don't see the help we send to the AIDS victims in Africa, nor the aid that we send to a country when a natural disaster happens, they see the news where another Iraqi is killed (doesn't matter to them if they were innocent or not). There are a lot of wonderful, loving people in the US, but are overshadowed by the greedy, hateful bigots that have control (and believe me, you, it's not just the President, nor Republicans in general, the Demi-crats fall under that umbrella too). We seem to have this foreign policy that seems to alienate people. This is the WHOLE reason that the Presidency AND congress should be volunteer, and they should receive NO compensation for thier time serving the country. That way we get rid of the doofs trying to get richer AND more power. If you are forced to make 7 dollars an hour doing jury duty (which is mandatory), they shouldn't be able to make more money for their croneys.

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Thursday, December 2, 2004 6:23 AM

GHOULMAN


Quote:

Originally posted by Geezer:
Quote:

Originally posted by sgtgump:
Screw Naomi Klein.


Quote:

Naomi Klein now totally unavoidable
By Jeremy Nelson
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2001
Naomi Klein sighting have increased twenty-fold in the last two weeks, sparking fears that the globalization pundit may have become airborne. If that is the case, she may be ubiquitous within a week, and despite increased production of the anti-Klein drug "Friedman," the epidemic may not be stopped in time.


http://www.thevarsity.ca
"Keep the Shiny side up"


Ah yes, more American articles that attack the people the neofascists hate. That is, anyone with an anti-Bush opinion.

Typical, it's like reading Tucker Carlson on CNN - attack the person and ignore the facts.

Smarmy articles like this aren't funny, they mearly demonstrate the anti-intellectual campaign the Bush/Cheney Junta and thier ideological dogs are funding. Rather like the Nazis discredited intellectuals in the 30s.

What's next... kicking the bodies of children gassed in Fallujah by US troops?

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Thursday, December 2, 2004 6:45 AM

GEEZER

Keep the Shiny side up


Quote:

Originally posted by Ghoulman:
Quote:

Originally posted by Geezer:
Quote:

Originally posted by sgtgump:
Screw Naomi Klein.


Quote:

Naomi Klein now totally unavoidable
By Jeremy Nelson
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2001
Naomi Klein sighting have increased twenty-fold in the last two weeks, sparking fears that the globalization pundit may have become airborne. If that is the case, she may be ubiquitous within a week, and despite increased production of the anti-Klein drug "Friedman," the epidemic may not be stopped in time.


http://www.thevarsity.ca
"Keep the Shiny side up"


Ah yes, more American articles that attack the people the neofascists hate. That is, anyone with an anti-Bush opinion.

Typical, it's like reading Tucker Carlson on CNN - attack the person and ignore the facts.

Smarmy articles like this aren't funny, they mearly demonstrate the anti-intellectual campaign the Bush/Cheney Junta and thier ideological dogs are funding. Rather like the Nazis discredited intellectuals in the 30s.

What's next... kicking the bodies of children gassed in Fallujah by US troops?



Uh, Ghoul. The article's from the online edition of the University of Toronto student newspaper, the Varsity. I hadn't realized that the Bush/Cheney Junta had spread to your nation's universities. Maybe you're not as paranoid as I thought.

Actually, after SgtGump's recommendation that we all have a romantic liaison with Ms. Klein, I googled for a picture so I could see, strictly theoretically of course, if this would be worthwhile. The Varsity's image caught my eye and lead to the article. I just got a chuckle out of it.

.

"Keep the Shiny side up"

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Thursday, December 2, 2004 6:58 AM

GHOULMAN


Yea, I didn't read the article, merely your blurb. I inferred the writers angle because the blurb you provide calls Naomi a "globalization pundit"... that's wrong.

So I only read your blurb. Is that wrong?

Having read the article, it's hard to put a finger on it. It's really crappy as articles go, it has no info, opinion, or meaning. Funny needs meaning. Shows the quality of education at UofT, a school known for matriculating the biggest pole lickers in Canada. I'm sure you know them as Harris supporters.

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Thursday, December 2, 2004 11:31 AM

SGTGUMP


Naomi Klein sucks. She isn't doing anything but calling soldiers 'Baby-killers'. Regardless of whether we like the war or agree that war is necessary, there is no reason to attack soldiers. We have all heard stories about soldiers doing bad things in Iraq, but not a single person can say that they are qualified to remark on such things, unless the have just come from the front lines after fighting. I was a soldier for five years and I can tell you why I no one ever called me a 'baby-killer', because I wouldn't have allowed it.

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Friday, December 3, 2004 6:42 PM

RUE

I have a vote and I'm not afraid to use it!


I'm sincerely curious to find out where she called soldiers 'baby killers' or even some version of that.

In it, I read that civilians were targets by accident (the Lancet highlights long-distance warfare like airstrikes) and are now targets BY POLICY. I thought she did a pretty goog job highlighting the policy - 'it comes from the top' - aspect. I didn't read anywhere that this was being put on soldiers. Perhaps you could point out the place where she portrayed soldiers in a 'baby killer' light.

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Monday, December 6, 2004 7:09 AM

GEEZER

Keep the Shiny side up


Quote:

Originally posted by rue:
I'm sincerely curious to find out where she called soldiers 'baby killers' or even some version of that.

In it, I read that civilians were targets by accident (the Lancet highlights long-distance warfare like airstrikes) and are now targets BY POLICY. I thought she did a pretty goog job highlighting the policy - 'it comes from the top' - aspect. I didn't read anywhere that this was being put on soldiers. Perhaps you could point out the place where she portrayed soldiers in a 'baby killer' light.



"Every day, US bombs and tanks move closer to the sacred Imam Ali Shrine, reportedly damaging outer walls and sending shrapnel flying into the courtyard; every day, children are killed in their homes as US soldiers inflict collective punishment on the holy city; every day, more bodies are disturbed as US Marines stomp through the Valley of Peace cemetery, their boots slipping into graves as they use tombstones for cover. "

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040913&s=klein

Or from the first post of this thread:

"Because outside US borders, it is, of course, a different marine who has been awarded the prize as "the face of Falluja": the soldier captured on tape executing a wounded, unarmed prisoner in a mosque. Runners-up are a photograph of a two-year-old Fallujan in a hospital bed with one of his tiny legs blown off; a dead child lying in the street, clutching the headless body of an adult; and an emergency health clinic blasted to rubble."

I doubt you'll find a direct "US soldiers are baby-killers" quote. but the inference is pretty clear.



"Keep the Shiny side up"

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Monday, December 6, 2004 8:12 AM

HERO


Quote:

Originally posted by Ghoulman:
Yea, I didn't read the article, merely your blurb. I inferred the writers angle because the blurb you provide


So you took a small part and spun it to fit your narrow closed minded view of the world. Wow, thats out of character...

Quote:


Having read the article, it's hard to put a finger on it. It's really crappy as articles go, it has no info, opinion, or meaning. Funny needs meaning. Shows the quality of education at UofT, a school known for matriculating the biggest pole lickers in Canada. I'm sure you know them as Harris supporters.



There you go. Attacking the person and ignoring whatever facts they might be presenting. Can't you Libero-fascists stop with the politics of personal destruction?

I think you wouldn't know a real fact if it flew a plane into your building, much less bit you on the ass.

H

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Tuesday, December 7, 2004 2:31 AM

SGTGUMP


Quote:

Originally posted by Geezer:

but the inference is pretty clear.





Thanks Geezer

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Tuesday, December 7, 2004 6:45 AM

GHOULMAN


the USA kills babies everyday, it's policy.

Follow up from our lovely truth teller, Naomi.

Naomi Klein
Saturday December 4, 2004
The Guardian

David T Johnson,
Acting ambassador,
US Embassy
, London

Dear Mr Johnson, On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating".

The letter suggested that my charge was "baseless" and asked the Guardian either to withdraw it, or provide "evidence of this extremely grave accusation". It is quite rare for US embassy officials to openly involve themselves in the free press of a foreign country, so I took the letter extremely seriously. But while I agree that the accusation is grave, I have no intention of withdrawing it. Here, instead, is the evidence you requested.

In April, US forces laid siege to Falluja in retaliation for the gruesome killings of four Blackwater employees. The operation was a failure, with US troops eventually handing the city back to resistance forces. The reason for the withdrawal was that the siege had sparked uprisings across the country, triggered by reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed. This information came from three main sources: 1) Doctors. USA Today reported on April 11 that "Statistics and names of the dead were gathered from four main clinics around the city and from Falluja general hospital". 2) Arab TV journalists. While doctors reported the numbers of dead, it was al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya that put a human face on those statistics. With unembedded camera crews in Falluja, both networks beamed footage of mutilated women and children throughout Iraq and the Arab-speaking world. 3) Clerics. The reports of high civilian casualties coming from journalists and doctors were seized upon by prominent clerics in Iraq. Many delivered fiery sermons condemning the attack, turning their congregants against US forces and igniting the uprising that forced US troops to withdraw.

US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda". But the strongest words were reserved for Arab TV networks. When asked about al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya's reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed in Falluja, Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence, replied that "what al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable ... " Last month, US troops once again laid siege to Falluja - but this time the attack included a new tactic: eliminating the doctors, journalists and clerics who focused public attention on civilian casualties last time around.

Eliminating doctors
The first major operation by US marines and Iraqi soldiers was to storm Falluja general hospital, arresting doctors and placing the facility under military control. The New York Times reported that "the hospital was selected as an early target because the American military believed that it was the source of rumours about heavy casual ties", noting that "this time around, the American military intends to fight its own information war, countering or squelching what has been one of the insurgents' most potent weapons". The Los Angeles Times quoted a doctor as saying that the soldiers "stole the mobile phones" at the hospital - preventing doctors from communicating with the outside world.

But this was not the worst of the attacks on health workers. Two days earlier, a crucial emergency health clinic was bombed to rubble, as well as a medical supplies dispensary next door. Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who was working in the clinic, says the bombs took the lives of 15 medics, four nurses and 35 patients. The Los Angeles Times reported that the manager of Falluja general hospital "had told a US general the location of the downtown makeshift medical centre" before it was hit.

Whether the clinic was targeted or destroyed accidentally, the effect was the same: to eliminate many of Falluja's doctors from the war zone. As Dr Jumaili told the Independent on November 14: "There is not a single surgeon in Falluja." When fighting moved to Mosul, a similar tactic was used: on entering the city, US and Iraqi forces immediately seized control of the al-Zaharawi hospital.

Eliminating journalists
The images from last month's siege on Falluja came almost exclusively from reporters embedded with US troops. This is because Arab journalists who had covered April's siege from the civilian perspective had effectively been eliminated. Al-Jazeera had no cameras on the ground because it has been banned from reporting in Iraq indefinitely. Al-Arabiya did have an unembedded reporter, Abdel Kader Al-Saadi, in Falluja, but on November 11 US forces arrested him and held him for the length of the siege. Al-Saadi's detention has been condemned by Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists. "We cannot ignore the possibility that he is being intimidated for just trying to do his job," the IFJ stated.

It's not the first time journalists in Iraq have faced this kind of intimidation. When US forces invaded Baghdad in April 2003, US Central Command urged all unembedded journalists to leave the city. Some insisted on staying and at least three paid with their lives. On April 8, a US aircraft bombed al-Jazeera's Baghdad offices, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. Al-Jazeera has documentation proving it gave the coordinates of its location to US forces.

On the same day, a US tank fired on the Palestine hotel, killing José Couso, of the Spanish network Telecinco, and Taras Protsiuk, of Reuters. Three US soldiers are facing a criminal lawsuit from Couso's family, which alleges that US forces were well aware that journalists were in the Palestine hotel and that they committed a war crime.

Eliminating clerics
Just as doctors and journalists have been targeted, so too have many of the clerics who have spoken out forcefully against the killings in Falluja. On November 11, Sheik Mahdi al-Sumaidaei, the head of the Supreme Association for Guidance and Daawa, was arrested. According to Associated Press, "Al-Sumaidaei has called on the country's Sunni minority to launch a civil disobedience campaign if the Iraqi government does not halt the attack on Falluja". On November 19, AP reported that US and Iraqi forces stormed a prominent Sunni mosque, the Abu Hanifa, in Aadhamiya, killing three people and arresting 40, including the chief cleric - another opponent of the Falluja siege. On the same day, Fox News reported that "US troops also raided a Sunni mosque in Qaim, near the Syrian border". The report described the arrests as "retaliation for opposing the Falluja offensive". Two Shia clerics associated with Moqtada al-Sadr have also been arrested in recent weeks; according to AP, "both had spoken out against the Falluja attack".

"We don't do body counts," said General Tommy Franks of US Central Command. The question is: what happens to the people who insist on counting the bodies - the doctors who must pronounce their patients dead, the journalists who document these losses, the clerics who denounce them? In Iraq, evidence is mounting that these voices are being systematically silenced through a variety of means, from mass arrests, to raids on hospitals, media bans, and overt and unexplained physical attacks.

Mr Ambassador, I believe that your government and its Iraqi surrogates are waging two wars in Iraq. One war is against the Iraqi people, and it has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The other is a war on witnesses.

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