January 14, 2003
The Washington Post

Breaking Point

by Jim Sollisch

This is the seventh time I've started and restarted this essay. It's about the war in Iraq, and it's the last thing I want to write about. . . .

I read that our occupying army is now using the techniques of the Israeli army -- burning down houses, encasing whole villages in razor wire, detaining the families of suspected insurgents. And, I am too ashamed to keep quiet.

This is what one of our colonels in Iraq said, as quoted in the New York Times: "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them." That colonel is our representative in Iraq. He is the ambassador of our values. He speaks for you and me. If he is the ugly American, so are we. . . .

Is Israel's approach toward the Palestinians really the model we Americans had in mind when we sought to liberate Iraq? I am Jewish, and while I support Israel, I do not support its policy of an eye for an eye. I do not say this as an idealist. I say it as a realist. If the policy worked to decrease the violence and get both sides to talk peace, I might support it. But our Army is choosing a model that has clearly failed in Israel by almost anyone's standard. Each suicide bomb begets an Israeli retaliation, which begets another suicide bomb. And even worse, begets another 1,000 would-be suicide bombers.


Julian Borger, "The Spies Who Pushed for War," Guardian, July 17, 2003

[The U.S. Central Command helped 15 Mossad agents involved in the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim to flee Iraq, an Egyptian weekly magazine disclosed on Monday.--"U.S. Backed Mossad Agents Involved in Hakim's Assassination to Flee Iraq," Tehran Times, September 9, 2003]

Joe W. (Chip) Pitts III, "Tough Patriot Act Followed by 40 Nations," Washington Post, September 14, 2003

Julian Borger, "Israel trains US assassination squads in Iraq," Guardian (UK), December 9, 2003

Maher Arar, "Delivered Into Hell by US War on Terror," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2003

[This assassination program is illegal because it targets civilians not soldiers. Americans have denied these Iraqi civilians due process in their own country. Based on the word of a single anonymous informant, Ba'ath Party members who have never harmed a single American can be detained indefinitely, tortured until they rat out some colleagues, or become a double agent, or they can be assassinated along with their family, friends and neighbors.--Douglas Valentine, "Preemptive Manhunting: The CIA's New Assassination Program," CounterPunch, December 11, 2003]

Bill and Kathleen Christison, "The Pervasive Fear of Talking About the Israeli Connection," CounterPunch, December 14, 2003

[The Americans crack down even harder, now openly adopting tactics used by the Israelis on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip . . .

"They cut locks, they blow open doors, they search houses with no evidence. It's just like the Israelis and the Palestinians." . . .

And the Americans are being urged to mirror the Israelis' extensive West Bank and Gaza informants' network, which has underpinned the Israeli campaign of summary execution for terror suspects . . .

The strategy has rekindled unfavourable memories of Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, when Special Forces teams worked with Vietnamese agents to detain or kill those suspected of working or sympathising with the Vietcong.

Up to 40,000 Vietnamese are estimated to have been eliminated over five years, many of them for spurious reasons.--"Fight to the death," Sydney Morning Herald, December 20, 2003]

[According to officials in Washington, the new agency could eventually number 10,000. Initially at least, salaries will be paid by the CIA, which has 275 officers on the ground in Iraq.

Former CIA officials compare the operation to the Phoenix programme in Vietnam, which was launched in 1967. That programme sought to destroy the civilian infrastructure supporting the Vietcong through assassinations and abductions secretly authorised by Washington.Julian Coman, "CIA plans new secret police to fight Iraq terrorism," Telegraph, January 4, 2004]

Martin Dillon, "CIA Recruits Terrorist Agents At Guantanamo: U.S. efforts to infiltrate Al Qaeda begin with captured compatriots," American Free Press, January 2004

Ahmed Janabi, "Iraqi intellectuals flee 'death squads'," Al Jazeera, March 30, 2004

William Norman Grigg, "Casting Aside Justice'," The New American, August 8, 2005

[Critics of the program dispute its legality under U.S. and international law, and say it is administered by the CIA with little oversight.--Josh Meyer, "CIA Expands Use of Drones in Terror War: 'Targeted killing' with missile-firing Predators is a way to hit Al Qaeda in remote areas, officials say. Host nations are not always given notice," Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2006]

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