Down on the war
Poll: More troops unhappy with Bush’s course in Iraq
By Robert Hodierne
Senior managing editor

The American military — once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war — has grown in creasingly pessimistic about chances for victory.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s han dling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, ac cording to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll re spondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved. The president’s approval rating among the military is only slight ly higher than for the population as a whole. In 2004, when his popularity peaked, 63 percent of the military approved of Bush’s handling of the war. While ap proval of the president’s war lead ership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.

Just as telling, in this year’s poll only 41 percent of the military said the U.S. should have gone to war in Iraq in the first place, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects the beliefs of the general population today — 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today/Gallup poll.

Professor David Segal, director of the Center for Research on Mil itary Organization at the Univer sity of Maryland, was not sur prised by the changing attitude within the military.

“They’re seeing more casualties and fatalities and less progress,” Segal said.

He added, “Part of what we’re seeing is a recognition that the in telligence that led to the war was wrong.”

Whatever war plan the presi dent comes up with later this month, it likely will have the re placement of American troops with Iraqis as its ultimate goal. The military is not optimistic that will happen soon. Only about one in five service members said that large numbers of American troops can be replaced within the next two years. More than one-third think it will take more than five years. And more than half think the U.S. will have to stay in Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.

Almost half of those responding think we need more troops in Iraq than we have there now. A surpris ing 13 percent said we should have no troops there. As for Afghanistan force levels, 39 per cent think we need more troops there. But while they want more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly three-quarters of the re spondents think today’s military is stretched too thin to be effective.

The mail survey, conducted Nov. 13 through Dec. 22, is the fourth annual gauge of active-duty mili tary subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. The results should not be read as representa tive of the military as a whole; the survey’s respondents are on aver age older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more ca reer-oriented than the overall mil itary population.

Among the respondents, 66 per cent have deployed at least once to Iraq or Afghanistan. In the overall active-duty force, according to the Department of Defense, that number is 72 percent.

The poll has come to be viewed by some as a barometer of the pro fessional career military. It is the only independent poll done on an annual basis. The margin of error on this year’s poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

While approval of Bush’s han dling of the war has plunged, ap proval for his overall performance as president remains high at 52 percent. While that is down from his high of 71 percent in 2004, it is still far above the approval rat ings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the 30s.

While Bush fared well overall, his political party didn’t. In the three previous polls, nearly 60 percent of the respondents identi fied themselves as Republicans, which is about double the popula tion as a whole. But in this year’s poll, only 46 percent of the mili tary respondents said they were Republicans. However, there was not a big gain in those identifying themselves as Democrats — a fig ure that consistently hovers around 16 percent. The big gain came among people who said they were independents.

Similarly, when asked to de scribe their political views on a scale from very conservative to very liberal, there was a slight shift from the conservative end of the spectrum to the middle or moderate range. Liberals within the military are still a rare breed, with less than 10 percent of re spondents describing themselves that way.

Seeing media bias (ed note: huh?)

Segal was not surprised that the military support for the war and the president’s handling of it had slumped. He said he believes that military opinion often mir rors that of the civilian popula tion, even though it might lag in time. He added, “[The military] will always be more pro-military and pro-war than the civilians. That’s why they are in this line of work.”

The poll asked, “How do you think each of these groups view the military?” Respondents over whelmingly said civilians have a favorable impression of the military (86 percent). They even thought politicians look favorably on the military (57 percent). But they are convinced the media hate them — only 39 percent of mili tary respondents said they think the media have a favorable view of the troops.

The poll also asked if the senior military leadership, President Bush, civilian military leadership and Congress have their best in terests at heart.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed said the senior military leadership has the best interests of the troops at heart. And though they don’t think much of the way he’s handling the war, 48 percent said the same about President Bush. But they take a dim view of civilian military lead ership — only 32 percent said they think it has their best inter ests at heart. And only 23 percent think Congress is looking out for them.

Despite concerns early in the war about equipment shortages, 58 percent said they believe they are supplied with the best possi ble weapons and equipment.

While President Bush always portrays the war in Iraq as part of the larger war on terrorism, many in the military are not convinced. The respondents were split evenly — 47 percent both ways — on whether the Iraq war is part of the war on terrorism. The rest had no opinion.

On many questions in the poll, some respondents said they didn’t have an opinion or declined to an swer. That number was typically in the 10 percent range.

But on questions about the president and on war strategy, that number reached 20 percent and higher. Segal said he was surprised the percentage refus ing to offer an opinion wasn’t larger.

“There is a strong strain in military culture not to criticize the commander in chief,” he said.

One contentious area of military life in the past year has been the role religion should play. Some troops have complained that they feel pressure to attend religious services. Others have complained that chaplains and superior offi cers have tried to convert them. Half of the poll respondents said that at least once a month, they attend official military gather ings, other than meals and chapel services, that began with a prayer. But 80 percent said they feel free to practice and express their religion within the military.

FRAGGING UP AS MILITARY GETS DOWN (see poll in next blog entry)

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suboena the first amendment and watch the embers burn....

Military subpoenas reporters and activists to help prosecute Lt. Watada

Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist.
January 4, 2007

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada became the first commissioned officer to refuse his orders to deploy to Iraq last June 22. In his upcomingFebruary court-martial Lt. Watada faces one charge of missing troop movement, and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Each of the later four charges relates to Lt. Watada’s public explanations of his refusal to deploy to Iraq. If convicted of all charges Lt. Watada faces six years in prison, four of which would be for speaking to the press.

In order to bolster their four charges of conduct unbecoming against Lt. Watada, the military prosecution has taken the unheard of step of issuing subpoenas to reporters and anti-war activists. Reporters Sarah Olson and Gregg Kakesako, and Seattle-area anti-war activists Phan Nguyen and Gerri Haynes, were originally served subpoenas to appear at Lt. Watada’s pre-trial hearing at Fort Lewis, Washington today, January 4. In the wake of growing attention and controversy, the military judge postponed the testimony of these witnesses untilthe full courts martial scheduled for February 5, 2007.

Today’s (January 4, 2007) pre-trial hearing will in large part set the tone of the upcoming court martial, specifically addressing the issue of how much evidence Lt. Watada can enter into the proceeding regarding his assertions that the Iraq occupation war is illegal.

Journalists Say Free Press Threatened By Army Subpoenas

Independent journalist Sarah Olson interviewed Lt. Watada last May. The Army says statements Watada made during Olson’s interview constitute one charge of conduct unbecoming an officer, and wants Olson to verify those statements in a military court.
Olson says:
“It’s my job to report the news, not to participate in a government prosecution. Testifying against my source would turn the press into an investigative tool of the government and chill dissenting voices in the United States.”
Independent journalist Dahr Jamail reported on Lt. Watada’s address to the Veterans for Peace convention last August in Seattle. Unlike Olson, he has yet to be subpoenaed, but the Army has placed him on the witness list in order to authenticate his reporting of the event.

Jamail says: “I don’t believe that reporters should be put in the position of having to participate in a prosecution. This is particularly poignant in this case, where journalists would be used to build a case against free speech for military personnel.”
Subpoenaed reporter Gregg Kakesako of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has thus far chosen to make no public statements regarding his possible testimony.

Olson sums up the situation in a widely reprinted commentary, “Why I object to testifying against Lt. Watada” first published by Editor & Publisher,
Do I want to be sent to prison by the U.S. Army for not cooperating with their prosecution of Lt. Watada? My answer: Absolutely not. Would I rather contribute to the prosecution of a news source for sharing newsworthy perspectives on an affair of national concern? That is the question I wholly object to having before me in the first place.”
... Conservative blogs have attacked Olson and Jamail as making something out of nothing.
"Trying to force a reporter to testify at a court-martial sends the wrong signal to the media and the military. . . . One of the hallmarks of American journalism, as documented in the Bill of Rights and defended by our armed services, is a clear separation of the press and the government. Using journalists to help the military prosecute its case seems like a serious breach of that wall."
- Military Reporters and Editors Association President James Crawley

Colleagues and supporters of Olson and Jamail have formed the Free Press Working Group to assist in their defense. As independent journalists, Olson and Jamail do not have access to corporate legal teams, so a fund has been established to cover travel, legal, and communications expenses. For more information, please visit:

Anti-war Activists Also Subpoenaed By Army

At a Tacoma, Washington press conference yesterday, January 3, Olympia-based anti-war activist Phan Nguyen described his objections to having been subpoenaed last week by the Army to testify against Lt. Watada. Nguyen, a member of the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, was the moderator of a number of press conferences in June 2006 regarding Lt. Watada and his objections to serving in an illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

When contacted directly by Army prosecutor Captain Daniel Kuecker last week, Nguyen refused to answer any questions without first speaking with a lawyer. However, Nguyen described the Kuecker’s line of questions as focusing on the behind the scenes workings of the anti-war movement in the Pacific Northwest. “Kuecker basically demanded that I name the names of any key organizers that had anything to do with the public support campaign created to support Lt. Watada,” explained Nguyen. “They are clearly on a political fishing expedition. Unless we fight back, this could have a chilling effect on anti-war organizing at a time when we have to step up to end the war.”

Seattle chapter Veterans for Peace (VFP) organizer Gerri Haynes has also been subpoenaed by the Army. Apparently, Haynes landed on the Army’s radar because she played a public role in organizing the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Seattle last August. Like Jamail, the Army is looking for information regarding Lt. Watada’s speech to the convention. Like Nguyen, Haynes confirmed that Kuecker “wanted the names of convention attendees and organizers.”

Another VFP organizer Tom Burkhart has been placed on the Army’s witness list.

Lt. Watada Supporters Plan Protests And People’s Hearing

Despite unheard of legal maneuvers by Army prosecutors, the campaign to support Lt. Watada plans a protest and press conference at the gates of Fort Lewis this morning from 8 AM to 11 AM as the pre-trial hearing begins.

Supporters are asked to write
Lt. General James Dubik,
Commanding General Fort Lewis,
1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1,
Fort Lewis WA 98433.

Please request that General Dubik “Dismiss all charges and honor Lt. Watada's long-standing resignation from the U.S. Army.”

A Citizens' Hearings is being convened January 20-22 at Evergreen State College
( ), Tacoma campus in order to fully evaluate Lt. Watada’s claims regarding the legality and morality of the Iraq War. Confirmed witness include:
  • Daniel Ellsberg, military analyst who released the Pentagon Papers in the Vietnam War;
  • Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General;
  • Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University.
For more information:

Finally, help spread the word about the regional mobilization at Fort Lewis on day Lt. Watada’s court martial is scheduled to begin on February 5, or organize your own local protest in solidarity on that day.

For more information: or




Stand with Lt. Ehren Watada Against Illegal and Immoral War in Iraq

"My fellow soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and their families are suffering because of the lies and deceptions crafted by the Bush Administration. The Iraq war is not only a crime against domestic and international law but [it] is a terrible moral injustice against the Iraqi people."

- Lt. Ehren Watada

As the first Army officer to publicly speak out against the war and refuse deployment to Iraq, Lt Watada will be punished by the U.S. Army with a maximum six years in prison. The military's intention IS to SILENCE VOICES OF RESISTANCE and make an example out of Lt. Watada.

"The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war. An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq."
- Lt. Ehren Watada


Feb. 5, 2007 - Lt. Watada Military Court Martial
Rally at the gates of Ft. Lewis, Washington or in your local community

5 Actions to Support Lt. Watada

1. Send letters or call Commander Dubik. Urge him to:

* Dismiss all charges

* Honor Lt. Watada's resignation

Lt. General James Dubik
Commanding General Fort Lewis
1 Corps Building 2025 Stop 1
Fort Lewis, WA 98433
Phone 253-967-1110

2. Spread the word about Feb. 5, 2007. Forward this email and post on blogs, MySpace, student, activist, social justice and media websites. Register for campaign updates.

3. Encourage your organization to endorse the National Day of Action and mobilize on Feb. 5, 2007. Please specify national, state, city, chapter/local, and contact person, and send to

4. Organize a student walkout, rally or vigil on Feb. 5, 2007. Tell us about your action so we can include your event on our website.

5. Donate online to Lt. Watada's Defense Fund.

Mark Your Calendars

Thurs. Jan 4, 2007
Pre-trial Hearing
Contact Commander Dubik
Rally at the gates of Fort Lewis, 8-11 am, exit 119

January 20-22, 2007
Citizens' Hearings
Evergreen State College, Tacoma campus
Tacoma, WA

February 5, 2007
Court Martial Trial Begins
National Call to Action
more details to come

For more information contact

Make your 2007 New Year's Resolution to Stand with Lt. Watada Against Illegal and Immoral War

On Monday, February 5, 2007 take action against the Iraq war and in support of Lt. Watada during his military court martial. Stand up with Lt. Watada and speak out against the illegal and immoral war! Join the national movement and organize student walkouts and non-violent demonstrations. Together let's build a mass movement in the streets, in our schools, and in our communities to end the Iraq War. On Feb. 5, 2007 rally at the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington or in your local community.

For courageously standing up and speaking out against the Iraq War, New Year's Eve 2007 may be Lt. Watada's last holiday as a free man until 2013. While many 28 year-olds are starting their families and building their careers, Ehren will be locked away in military prison for following his conscience and refusing to fight in the Iraq War.

Now it is time for you to follow your conscience and join the national movement to support Lt. Watada and end the Iraq war.

As civilians, the responsibility ultimately falls on us to demand an end to the Iraq war. In fact, we owe it to the soldiers who are fighting and dying in Iraq every day, as well as those resisting the war. We must all stand up and speak out against the war and in support Lt. Ehren Watada!

Currently, the Bush Administration is planning to deploy 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq, yet the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the Iraq war. Since 2003 the war has cost
3,000 U.S. soldiers' lives, approximately 650,000 Iraqi deaths, 2 trillion U.S tax dollars or approximately 8 billion dollars a week. We can no longer stand by and continue to allow this great injustice to occur!

"My fellow soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and their families are suffering because of the lies and deceptions crafted by the Bush Administration. The Iraq war is not only a crime against domestic and international law but [it] is a terrible moral injustice against the Iraqi people."
-- Lt. Ehren Watada

As the first Army officer to publicly speak out against the war and refuse deployment to Iraq, Lt Watada will be punished by the U.S. Army with a maximum six years in prison.

The military's intention IS to SILENCE VOICES OF RESISTANCE and make an example out of Lt. Watada.

Lt. Watada's bold actions have raised the consciousness of thousands of Americans about the illegality and immorality of this war, but his actions alone will not stop the Iraq war. If Lt. Watada is willing to sacrifice his freedom, then we, too, must voice our opposition and take action to end the war.

Take Action Feb. 5, 2007 during Lt. Watada's military court martial and make your 2007 New Year's Resolution to Stand with Lt. Watada Against Illegal and Immoral War.


Hussein last written statement to the people of Iraq

Final Letter from President Saddam Hussein to the People of Iraq (full text)
Saddam Hussein,
President of the Republic of Iraq and the
Chief Commander of the Combatant Armed Forces

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate:

'Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector: and in Allah let the Believers put their trust'

Oh, great people of Iraq. Oh, courageous men of our unrelenting armed forces. Oh, glorious Iraqi women. Oh, sons of our glorious nation, the courageous believers in the brave resistance.

In the past, I was, as you all know, in the battlefield of jihad and struggle. God, exalted be He, wished that I face the same again in the same manner and the same spirit in which we were before the revolution but with a problem that is greater and harsher.

Oh beloved, this harsh situation, which we and our great Iraq are facing, is a new lesson and a new trial for the people by which to be judged, each depending on their intention, so that it becomes an identifier before God and the people in the present and after our current situation becomes a glorious history. It is, above all, the foundation upon which the success of the future phases of history can be built. In this situation and in no other, the veritable are the honest and faithful and the opposing are the false. When the insignificant people use the power given to them by the foreigners to oppress their own people, they are but worthless and lowly. In our country only good must result from what we are experiencing:
'The scum disappears like froth cast out; while that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth'
God is all knowing.

Oh great nation. Oh people of our nation and of mankind. Many of you have known the owner of this letter for his truthfulness, his honesty, his purity, and his genuine concern over his people, for his wisdom, his vision, his justice, and for his firmness in dealing with issues and for his watchfulness over the properties of the people and of the country, and for living according to his conscience and his mind. His heart aches for the poor and he does not rest until he helps in improving their condition and attends to their needs. His heart contains all his people and his nation, and he craves to be honest and faithful without differentiating between his people except on the basis of their efforts, efficiency, and patriotism.

Here I am speaking today in your name and for your eyes and the eyes of our nation and the eyes of the just, the people of the truth, wherever their banner is hoisted.

Oh Iraqi people, oh our people and our folks and the folks of every honest and glorious man and woman in our country. You have known your brother and leader as well as his own family knew him. He never stooped to the cruel oppressors. He remained a sword and an authority on what is loved by the honest and abhorred by the oppressors.

Is this not the position which you would like your brother, your son, and your leader to take? Yes, this is how Saddam Hussein was described, and this is how his positions will be. If his positions did not, God forbid, correspond with his description, then he would despise himself. These are the stands which anyone who leads you and leads the nation must take, after God the Almighty and the all capable.

Here I am offering my soul as a sacrifice. If the Merciful wants it, he will raise it up whenever He commands it to be with the companions and the martyrs, and if He sees that He wants to postpone His decision, He will, because He is the Merciful and the Compassionate. He is the One who created us, and to Him we return. 'Patience is most fitting.' It is God whose help can be sought against the unjust.

Oh brothers, oh great nation. I call upon you to preserve the convictions which made you worthy of the faith that you have and to be the guiding light for civilization. Make your land, the birthplace of the father of the prophets, Abraham of Al-Khalil, and other prophets, and to preserve the values which officially and justifiably gave you the title of greatness for the sake of your country and your people. He offered all his life and the life of his family, young and old from the very beginning to this great nation and its faithful and honorable people and never gave up. In spite of all the difficulties and the storms which we and Iraq had to face, before and after the revolution, God the Almighty did not want death for Saddam Hussein. But if He wants it this time, it is His creation. He created it and He protected it until now. Thus, by its martyrdom, He will be bringing glory to a faithful soul, for there were souls that were younger than Saddam Hussein that had departed and had taken this path before him. If He wants it martyred, we thank Him and offer Him gratitude, before and after. 'Patience is most fitting.' It is God whose help can be sought against the unjust.

In the shadow of the greatness of the Creator, may He be exalted, and His protection, you must remember that God has bestowed on you different types of characteristics that make you a good example to be followed in love, pardon, forgiveness, and coexistence. The great make up of capabilities and resources which the Merciful had made available to you, was not meant to go to waste. He wanted it to be a test that would refine the souls. Hence there were some who joined your lines and others who joined the North Atlantic Treaty. Others were the Persians who are hateful as a result of their rulers' actions who had inherited Kisra's inheritance in place of Satan. He tempted those who obeyed him to turn against their own people or against their neighbors or tempted the Zionist aspirations and hatefulness to move their representative in the American White House to carry out the aggression and to create animosity that has nothing to do with humanity and faith. On the basis of faith, love, and peace, which bring glory and not bitterness to the glorified, you built the edifice and raised it without any fight or spite, and on this basis you were enjoying glory and peace in your beautiful colors, under the country's flag, not in the distant past, especially after your distinguished revolution, your 17th revolution, on 30 July 1968. You realized victory and you carried it in the color of the one great Iraq as loving brothers in the battle trenches or in the construction fields. The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, found that your unity stands as a barrier between them and your enslavement. They planted and grounded their hateful old and new wedge between you. The strangers who are carrying the Iraqi citizenship, whose hearts are empty or filled with the hatred that was planted in them by Iran, responded to it, but how wrong they were to think that they could divide the noble among our people, weaken your determination, and fill the hearts of the sons of the nation with hatred against each other, instead of against their true enemies that will lead them in one direction to fight under the banner of God is great: The great flag of the people and the nation.

Oh brothers! Oh mujahideen and fighters! For this I call on you now and I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair. It blinds you and closes all doors of thinking. Hate prevents you from thinking straight and from making the right choices and avoiding the wrong. It blocks your vision and prevents you from seeing the variables in the mind of those who were thought of as enemies, including those people who had gone astray but have changed their direction and have taken the right path, the path of the noble people and the glorious nation.

I also call on you, brothers and sisters, my children and the children of Iraq. I call on you, oh comrades of jihad; I call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us. You should distinguish between the decision-makers and the people. Just hate the action. Even those whose actions deserve to be fought--do not hate them as human beings. Also, the doers of evil, do not hate them, but hate the evil deed itself and fight the evil with what it deserves. Whoever changes to the better or does good inside or outside Iraq, give him clemency and open a new page for him because God forgives and loves whoever forgives out of willingness. Firmness is necessary if the situation calls for it. To be accepted by the people and the nation, one should base things on the law and must be fair and just. One should not be hostile on the basis of spitefulness and illegal pursuits.

You should know brothers, that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defense of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein. Others revealed the scandals of the invaders and condemned them. Some even wept profusely and with noble sincerity when they said goodbye to us when they ended their duty. To this I call on you to be one loyal nation, kind to itself, to its nation, and to humanity, and sincere with others and with oneself.

Dear faithful people, I bid you farewell, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any honest believer.

God is great. God is great.

Long live our nation. Long live humanity in the light of security and peace, wherever it imparts justice and fairness.

Long live our great unyielding people. Long live Iraq. Long live Iraq. Long live Palestine.

Long live jihad and the mujahideen. Allah Akbar. And the wretched aggressors shall be repelled.

Saddam Hussein
The President of the Republic and the Chief Commander of the Combatant Armed Forces

:: Article nr. 29464 sent on 02-jan-2007 03:43 ECT

JUST SADDAM? [video] aren't all capital punishment murders deplorable?

( '? duck query: is any capital punishment scene anything but??

Saddam death scenes 'deplorable'

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has described the circumstances of Saddam Hussein's execution as "deplorable".

Mobile phone footage showed Saddam being told to "go to hell" by people attending the hanging, while the ex-leader mocks their "bravery".

Mr Prescott said those responsible for the scenes should be "ashamed", without saying if that included the Iraqi government which organised the hanging.

Iraq's government has now begun an inquiry into Saturday's events.

'Totally unacceptable'

Mr Prescott told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the manner was quite deplorable really.

"Frankly, to get this kind of recorded messages coming out is totally unacceptable and I think whoever is involved and responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves."

Prime Minister Tony Blair, currently on holiday in Florida, has been criticised by Labour MPs opposed to the Iraq War for refusing to make an official statement about the execution.
"To get this kind of recorded messages coming out is totally unacceptable and I think whoever is involved and responsible for it should be ashamed of themselves" -John Prescott; Deputy prime minister
Glenda Jackson branded his lack of public reaction "amazing", while Peter Kilfoyle said it was "yet another error in a long catalogue" on Iraq.

Downing Street said Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett had spoken "on behalf of the whole government" when she gave her reaction to Saddam Hussein's death at the weekend.

She said Saddam had been "held to account", but added: "We do not support the use of the death penalty... we advocate an end to the death penalty worldwide, regardless of the individual or the crime."

The silent, official film released after the execution showed a subdued Saddam Hussein.

But the other footage, believed to have been filmed on a mobile phone, shows a charged, angry scene.

Unlike the official film, it shows the moment that the gallows trapdoor opens.

The amateur footage first appeared on websites and then excerpts began airing on major news channels.

The authorities fear the secret footage could contribute to a dramatic rise in sectarian tensions between Iraq's Sunni and Shia communities.

"There were a few guards who shouted slogans that were inappropriate and that's now the subject of a government investigation," an adviser to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, Sami al-Askari, told Reuters news agency.

'Wrong to interfere'

The official line from UK government ministers has been that they oppose the death penalty - but say the decision to execute Saddam was one for Iraq's government to take.

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, said Saddam's hanging "cannot be called unjust".

In a statement, he added: "For many criminals death is in fact a greater mercy than life-long imprisonment... Anyone who deliberately murders another human being immediately forfeits his or her own right to life.

"If Saddam Hussein had a fair trial and proper opportunity to appeal, his execution cannot be called unjust."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had demanded a "sharp and unequivocal punishment" for Saddam but not death.

"I would say of him what I have to say about anyone who has committed even the most appalling crimes in this country, that I believe the death penalty effectively says there is no room for change and repentance," he told the BBC.

see for yourself:

click "download link" or "save this link location" to view
must have quicktime video

Alice in Murderland -- with a cheshire cat grin...

Bush 'to reveal Iraq troop boost'

By Justin Webb
BBC News, Washington

US President George W Bush intends to reveal a new Iraq strategy within days, the BBC has learnt.

The speech will reveal a plan to send more US troops to Iraq to focus on ways of bringing greater security, rather than training Iraqi forces.

The move comes with figures from Iraqi ministries suggesting that deaths among civilians are at record highs.

The US president arrived back in Washington on Monday after a week-long holiday at his ranch in Texas.

The BBC was told by a senior administration source that the speech setting out changes in Mr Bush's Iraq policy is likely to come in the middle of next week.

Its central theme will be sacrifice.

The speech, the BBC has been told, involves increasing troop numbers.

The exact mission of the extra troops in Iraq is still under discussion, according to officials, but it is likely to focus on providing security rather than training Iraqi forces.

The proposal, if it comes, will be highly controversial.

Already one senior Republican senator has called it Alice in Wonderland.

The need to find some way of pacifying Iraq has been underlined by statistics revealed by various ministries in the Iraqi government, suggesting that well over 1,000 civilians a month are dying.

an' if you wear a uniform, you can be amerikan too ...

Military considers recruiting foreigners

Expedited citizenship would be an incentive

WASHINGTON -- The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.

Foreign citizens serving in the US military is a highly charged issue, which could expose the Pentagon to criticism that it is essentially using mercenaries to defend the country. Other analysts voice concern that a large contingent of noncitizens under arms could jeopardize national security or reflect badly on Americans' willingness to serve in uniform.

The idea of signing up foreigners who are seeking US citizenship is gaining traction as a way to address a critical need for the Pentagon, while fully absorbing some of the roughly one million immigrants that enter the United States legally each year.

The proposal to induct more noncitizens, which is still largely on the drawing board, has to clear a number of hurdles. So far, the Pentagon has been quiet about specifics -- including who would be eligible to join, where the recruiting stations would be, and what the minimum standards might involve, including English proficiency. In the meantime, the Pentagon and immigration authorities have expanded a program that accelerates citizenship for legal residents who volunteer for the military.

And since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of imm igrants in uniform who have become US citizens has increased from 750 in 2001 to almost 4,600 last year, according to military statistics.

With severe manpower strains because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a mandate to expand the overall size of the military -- the Pentagon is under pressure to consider a variety of proposals involving foreign recruits, according to a military affairs analyst.

"It works as a military idea and it works in the context of American immigration," said Thomas Donnelly , a military scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a leading proponent of recruiting more foreigners to serve in the military.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan grind on, the Pentagon has warned Congress and the White House that the military is stretched "to the breaking point."

Both President Bush and Robert M. Gates, his new defense secretary, have acknowledged that the total size of the military must be expanded to help alleviate the strain on ground troops, many of whom have been deployed repeatedly in combat theaters.

Bush said last week that he has ordered Gates to come up with a plan for the first significant increase in ground forces since the end of the Cold War. Democrats who are preparing to take control of Congress, meanwhile, promise to make increasing the size of the military one of their top legislative priorities in 2007.

"With today's demands placing such a high strain on our service members, it becomes more crucial than ever that we work to alleviate their burden," said Representative Ike Skelton , a Missouri Democrat who is set to chair the House Armed Services Committee, and who has been calling for a larger Army for more than a decade.

But it would take years and billions of dollars to recruit, train, and equip the 30,000 troops and 5,000 Marines the Pentagon says it needs. And military recruiters, fighting the perception that signing up means a ticket to Baghdad, have had to rely on financial incentives and lower standards to meet their quotas.

That has led Pentagon officials to consider casting a wider net for noncitizens who are already here, said Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty , an Army spokesman.

Already, the Army and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security have "made it easier for green-card holders who do enlist to get their citizenship," Hilferty said.

Other Army officials, who asked not to be identified, said personnel officials are working with Congress and other parts of the government to test the feasibility of going beyond US borders to recruit soldiers and Marines.

Currently, Pentagon policy stipulates that only immigrants legally residing in the United States are eligible to enlist. There are currently about 30,000 noncitizens who serve in the US armed forces, making up about 2 percent of the active-duty force, according to statistics from the military and the Council on Foreign Relations. About 100 noncitizens have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A recent change in US law, however, gave the Pentagon authority to bring immigrants to the United States if it determines it is vital to national security. So far, the Pentagon has not taken advantage of it, but the calls are growing to take use the new authority.

Indeed, some top military thinkers believe the United States should go as far as targeting foreigners in their native countries.

"It's a little dramatic," said Michael O'Hanlon , a military specialist at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution and another supporter of the proposal. "But if you don't get some new idea how to do this, we will not be able to achieve an increase" in the size of the armed forces.

"We have already done the standard things to recruit new soldiers, including using more recruiters and new advertising campaigns," O'Hanlon added.

O'Hanlon and others noted that the country has relied before on sizable numbers of noncitizens to serve in the military -- in the Revolutionary War, for example, German and French soldiers served alongside the colonists, and locals were recruited into US ranks to fight insurgents in the Philippines.

Other nations have recruited foreign citizens: In France, the famed Foreign Legion relies on about 8,000 noncitizens; Nepalese soldiers called Gurkhas have fought and died with British Army forces for two centuries; and the Swiss Guard, which protects the Vatican, consists of troops who hail from many nations.

"It is not without historical precedent," said Donnelly, author of a recent book titled "The Army We Need," which advocates for a larger military.

Still, to some military officials and civil rights groups, relying on large number of foreigners to serve in the military is offensive.

The Hispanic rights advocacy group National Council of La Raza has said the plan sends the wrong message that Americans themselves are not willing to sacrifice to defend their country. Officials have also raised concerns that immigrants would be disproportionately sent to the front lines as "cannon fodder" in any conflict.

Some within the Army privately express concern that a big push to recruit noncitizens would smack of "the decline of the American empire," as one Army official who asked not to be identified put it.

Officially, the military remains confident that it can meet recruiting goals -- no matter how large the military is increased -- without having to rely on foreigners.

"The Army can grow to whatever size the nation wants us to grow to," Hilferty said. "National defense is a national challenge, not the Army's challenge."

He pointed out that just 15 years ago, during the Gulf War, the Army had a total of about 730,000 active-duty soldiers, amounting to about one American in 350 who were serving in the active-duty Army.

"Today, with 300 million Americans and about 500,000 active-duty soldiers, only about one American in 600 is an active-duty soldier," he said. "America did then, and we do now, have an all-volunteer force, and I see no reason why America couldn't increase the number of Americans serving."

But Max Boot, a national security specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the number of noncitizens the armed forces have now is relatively small by historical standards.

"In the 19th century, when the foreign-born population of the United States was much higher, so was the percentage of foreigners serving in the military," Boot wrote in 2005.

"During the Civil War, at least 20 percent of Union soldiers were immigrants, and many of them had just stepped off the boat before donning a blue uniform. There were even entire units, like the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry [the Scandinavian Regiment] and General Louis Blenker's German Division, where English was hardly spoken."

"The military would do well today to open its ranks not only to legal immigrants but also to illegal ones and, as important, to untold numbers of young men and women who are not here now but would like to come," Boot added.

"No doubt many would be willing to serve for some set period, in return for one of the world's most precious commodities -- US citizenship. Some might deride those who sign up as mercenaries, but these troops would have significantly different motives than the usual soldier of fortune."

Bryan Bender can be reached at


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