A bomb went off in a marketplace in Khalis, Iraq, when October opened. More than 40 people were killed. On that same day, another bomb went off in al-Zubair that killed at least ten people. A third bomb went off that same day in Baghdad, killing at least 13 people. More than 25 others were wounded when another bomb went off in the Husseiniya neighborhood of the capital.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in al-Zubair; the other attacks remain unsolved. ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, is the military force comprised of former Ba’athist Army officers and troops who came together after the United States disbanded them by force during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Their ranks have been swelled by volunteers, and they have been laying siege to both Iraq and Syria for months, often using US-made weapons left over from the war.
This past Friday, more bombs ripped across Iraq. In Tarmiyah, another marketplace was bombed, killing four and wounding twelve. In Youssifiyah, a bomb killed three and wounded nine. A gunman in Tarmiyah attacked a checkpoint, killing one and wounding three. The most important story of that day, however, was that Iraqi troops and Shi’ite militia fighters successfully reclaimed a major oil refinery from ISIS in the town of Beiji. Iranian paramilitary officers were filmed leading the fight. Earlier that week, a car bomb went off in Mahmudiya. Three people were killed and 17 more were injured.
As of October 13, more than 1,400 people in Iraq had been infected with cholera. The disease is often caused by the presence of human feces in the water supply, or by an ample presence of corpses.
Khalis, al-Zubair, Husseiniya, Tarmiyah, Mahmudiya and Youssifiyah were either bombed or strafed in a short span of days, and many bodies hit the ground. According to the United Nations, more than 700 people were killed and more than 1,200 people were wounded in attacks like these during the month of September.
On March 28, 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a memo to President George W. Bush outlining the details of Bush’s upcoming summit with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. In it Powell made it manifestly clear that Blair was on board and ready to play spin-doctor defense for the already-made decision to invade and occupy Iraq. In one telling line, Powell stated that Blair would make it clear that both administrations had comprehensive plans for “the day after,” i.e. the post-invasion consequences.
Mass deaths in Khalis, al-Zubair, Husseiniya, Tarmiyah, Mahmudiya and Youssifiyah. More than 700 dead in September alone. ISIS running wild. A cholera epidemic. All in the last seven weeks. “The day after” has become an international nightmare, a murder machine, thanks to Bush and Blair chumming it up a year before the war to decide how they were going to lie to the world about the invasion.
None of this is new news, in the main. The Downing Street Memos, classified British intelligence documents that were leaked, described how in July of 2002 “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” of invasion, and that Bush had made up his mind to go to war even though “the case was thin.” This newly revealed Powell memo, however, reveals the decision to attack Iraq had come together many months before, with Tony Blair as an early willing accomplice.
Besides which, no WMD were ever found in Iraq. No connections to 9/11 or al Qaeda were ever established in Iraq. The “We’re bringing democracy” canard fell apart before it began, ink-stained fingers notwithstanding. As I said more than 12 years ago, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a smash-and-grab robbery writ large, an act of theft and first-degree murder that has unleashed an ocean of blood. It will take ten generations to recover from what was done, and only if we’re lucky.
So here is a modest proposal, based upon this new Powell-memo documentation as well as the barrels of evidence already in hand: Arrest the perps. Slap Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and every other soul-vacant Bush administration vampire who participated in handcuffs. Put them on trial for war crimes. Make no mistake: This happened because they wanted to gut the Treasury in order to “prove” that government doesn’t work; they wanted to give that money to their friends; they wanted to win elections; they wanted to establish a permanent military foothold over the oil sands of Iraq and they wanted to create enough chaos in the Middle East to ensure that the gravy train for the “defense” industry would roll unchecked for years to come.
They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams … but if what they did does not constitute a blizzard of crimes, then the word “crime” has no meaning. You may as well go next door and blow your neighbor in half with a double-barreled shotgun. When the police ask why you did it, you can say, “I had intelligence that he had weapons of mass destruction here.” After they don’t find any, don’t sweat it. That’s exactly what the president did, and as Richard Nixon famously opined, if the president does it, it’s not a crime.
Rest easy, though. The oil refinery at Beiji has been secured.