A 1922 political cartoon on the British invasion of Iraq.
Saddam Hussein told an FBI interviewer before he was hanged that he allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction because he was worried about appearing weak to Iran, according to declassified accounts of the interviews released yesterday. The former Iraqi president also denounced Osama bin Laden as “a zealot” and said he had no dealings with al-Qaeda.
Hussein, in fact, said he felt so vulnerable to the perceived threat from “fanatic” leaders in Tehran that he would have been prepared to seek a “security agreement with the United States to protect [Iraq] from threats in the region.”
At one point, Hussein dismissed as a fantasy the many intelligence reports that said he used a body double to elude assassination. “This is movie magic, not reality,” he said with a laugh. Instead, he said, he had used a phone only twice since 1990 and rarely slept in the same location two days in a row.
Hussein’s fear of Iran, which he said he considered a greater threat than the United States, featured prominently in the discussion about weapons of mass destruction. Iran and Iraq had fought a grinding eight-year war in the 1980s, and Hussein said he was convinced that Iran was trying to annex southern Iraq — which is largely Shiite. “Hussein viewed the other countries in the Middle East as weak and could not defend themselves or Iraq from an attack from Iran,” Piro recounted in his summary of a June 11, 2004, conversation.
“The threat from Iran was the major factor as to why he did not allow the return of UN inspectors,” Piro wrote. “Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq.”
Two years before the 9/11 attacks on America, George W. Bush told a Houston journalist if elected president, “I’m going to invade Iraq.”
Bush made the comments about starting an aggressive war to veteran Houston Chronicle reporter Mickey Herskowitz, then working with Bush on his book “A Charge To Keep,” later brought out by publisher William Morrow.
This disclosure was uncovered by Russ Baker, an award-winning investigative reporter when he interviewed Herskowitz for his own book, “Family of Secrets” (Bloomsbury Press) about the Bush dynasty. However, Baker says, when he approached The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times with the potentially devastating story to President Bush prior to the 2004 presidential election, they declined to publish it.
In a new book, “Media In Crisis”(Doukathsan), Baker quotes Herskowitz as telling him: “He (Bush) said he wanted to do it(invade Iraq), and the reason he wanted to do it is he had been led to understand that you could not really have a successful presidency unless you were seen as commander-in-chief, unless you were seen as waging a war.”
The so-called Sunni Awakening, in which American forces formed tactical alliances with local sheikhs, has been credited with dampening the insurgency in much of Iraq. But new evidence suggests that the Sunnis were offering the same deal as early as 2004—one that was eagerly embraced by commanders on the ground, but rejected out of hand at the highest levels of the Bush administration.
The use of torture by the US has proved so counter-productive that it may have led to the death of as many US soldiers as civilians killed in 9/11, says the leader of a crack US interrogation team in Iraq.
“The reason why foreign fighters joined al-Qa’ida in Iraq was overwhelmingly because of abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and not Islamic ideology,” says Major Matthew Alexander, who personally conducted 300 interrogations of prisoners in Iraq. It was the team led by Major Alexander [a named assumed for security reasons] that obtained the information that led to the US military being able to locate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qa’ida in Iraq. Zarqawi was then killed by bombs dropped by two US aircraft on the farm where he was hiding outside Baghdad on 7 June 2006. Major Alexander said that he learnt where Zarqawi was during a six-hour interrogation of a prisoner with whom he established relations of trust.
Major Alexander’s attitude to torture by the US is a combination of moral outrage and professional contempt. “It plays into the hands of al-Qa’ida in Iraq because it shows us up as hypocrites when we talk about human rights,” he says. An eloquent and highly intelligent man with experience as a criminal investigator within the US military, he says that torture is ineffective, as well as counter-productive. “People will only tell you the minimum to make the pain stop,” he says. “They might tell you the location of a house used by insurgents but not that it is booby-trapped.”
In his compelling book How to Break a Terrorist, Major Alexander explains that prisoners subjected to abuse usually clam up, say nothing, or provide misleading information. In an interview he was particularly dismissive of the “ticking bomb” argument often used in the justification of torture. This supposes that there is a bomb timed to explode on a bus or in the street which will kill many civilians. The authorities hold a prisoner who knows where the bomb is. Should they not torture him to find out in time where the bomb is before it explodes?
Major Alexander says he faced the “ticking time bomb” every day in Iraq because “we held people who knew about future suicide bombings”. Leaving aside the moral arguments, he says torture simply does not work. “It hardens their resolve. They shut up.” He points out that the FBI uses normal methods of interrogation to build up trust even when they are investigating a kidnapping and time is of the essence. He would do the same, he says, “even if my mother was on a bus” with a hypothetical ticking bomb on board. It is quite untrue to imagine that torture is the fastest way of obtaining information, he says.
Perhaps you are reading these documents alongside me. I’ve only read the Bybee memo, as chilling an artefact as you are ever likely to read in a democratic society, the work clearly not of a lawyer assessing torture techniques in good faith, but of an administration official tasked with finding how torture techniques already decided upon can be parsed in exquisitely disingenuous ways to fit the law, even when they clearly do not. This is what Hannah Arendt wrote of when she talked of the banality of evil. To read a bureaucrat finding ways to describe and parse away the clear infliction of torture on a terror suspect well outside any “ticking time bomb” scenario is to realize what so many of us feared and sensed from the shards of information we have been piecing together for years. It is all true. These memos form a coda to the Red Cross report, confirming its evidentiary conclusions, while finding exquisite, legalistic and preposterous ways to deny the obvious.
I do not believe that any American president has ever orchestrated, constructed or so closely monitored the torture of other human beings the way George W. Bush did. It is clear that it is pre-meditated; and it is clear that the parsing of torture techniques that you read in the report is a simply disgusting and repellent piece of dishonesty and bad faith. When you place it alongside the Red Cross’ debriefing of the torture victims, the fit is almost perfect. I say “almost” because even Jay Bybee, in this unprofessional travesty of lawyering, stipulates that these techniques might be combined successively in any ways that could cumulatively become torture even in his absurd redefinition of the term. And yet the ICRC report shows, as one might imagine, that outside these specious legalisms, such distinctions never hold in practice. And they didn’t. Human beings were contorted into classic stress positions used by the Gestapo; they had towels tied around their necks in order to smash their bodies against walls; they were denied of all sleep for up to eleven days and nights at a time; they were stuck in tiny suffocating boxes; they were waterboarded just as the victims of the Khmer Rouge were waterboarded. And through all this, Bush and Cheney had lawyers prepared to write elaborate memos saying that all of this was legal, constitutional, moral and not severe pain and suffering.
As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, “pain and suffering” as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of “pain” as distinguished from “suffering”… The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict “severe pain or suffering”. Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat “suffering” as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.
Sullivan, as always, is commenting intelligently on his blog.
No mention of the torture memos appears right now on the Drudge Report (which provides news of a prank at Dominos pizza), Instapundit (which mentions the new DVD for the Lord of The Rings trilogy), Pajamas Media, or Michelle Malkin. They are reacting to the evidence of war crimes committed by the president of the United States the way they did at the time the crimes were committed.
In 1991, President George H. W. Bush implemented a ban on media coverage of returning war dead and their dignified transfer process at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Shortly after he assumed office, President Barack Obama asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to review this policy, and Gates later reversed it, giving family members of the fallen the right to allow or disallow media coverage. On April 5th, 2009, the repatriation of the remains of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Meyers became the first such event to be covered by the press in 18 years. This process has taken place, undocumented, over 5,000 times since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in 2001. Collected here are photographs documenting the transfers of nine soldiers that have taken place since April 5th, 2009. (25 photos total)
Members of the US Army’s Old Guard carry team lift the remains of US Army Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias from San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, as his body is returned on a C-17 to the US from Iraq April 7, 2009 at Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware. Specialist Candelaria Mejias, 28 yrs old, was killed April 5, 2009 near Baghdad as he attempted to disarm an IED. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, has said that progress is being made in the international community’s battle against terror in Afghanistan – and that progress is being made by iPhones.
In the Gaza Strip people are returning home — or to the rubble that was once their home. Many are blaming Hamas for the destruction because the militants hid among civilians and attracted Israeli fire. Yet no one dares to speak out openly.
What is left over when a person is hit by a tank shell. Blood, tissue, bone splinters, splatters on the wall.
“Many people are now against Hamas but that won’t change anything,” he says. “Because anyone who stands up to them is killed.” Since they took power Hamas has used brutal force against any dissenters in the Gaza Strip. There were news agency reports that during the war they allegedly executed suspected collaborators with Israel. The reign of terror will go on for some time, says the neighbor who doesn’t want to give his name. “There will never be a rebellion against Hamas. It would be suicide.”
Bottles of smuggled petrol wait for buyers in Rafah on June 21, when the fuel was selling for $7 per liter ($26.50 per gallon). A delivery of diesel, intended for Gaza City’s electricity plant, was stopped at the Israeli border on Nov. 13. As a result, it was lights out for two thirds of the city’s 480,000 population that evening when the plant turned off due to a fuel shortage. Israeli Defense Ministry officials said the border was closed that day due to rocket attacks from Gaza and intelligence that Gazan militants planned to attack a border crossing.
They even have to smuggle livestock through underground tunnels.
Gaza isn’t a country, it’s a gulag.
About a thousand people packed a Washington synagogue for a community pro-Israel rally.
Five members of Congress and Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor were among the speakers Wednesday at the standing-room only event midday at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington and some two dozen Washington area-based Jewish organizations sponsored the event.
Hundreds of Jewish day school students, some waving large Israeli flags, were among a spirited crowd that chanted “no more rockets” and carried signs that read “Israel Is On The Map To Stay” and “Iran Funds Hamas.”
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) all also strongly backed the Jewish state’s actions at the hourlong rally.
“To misquote Shakespeare, something is rotten in Gaza and now it’s time to take out the trash,” Kirk said.
Well, Kirk, let’s have a look at your “trash”:
The body of a girl who was found in the rubble of her destroyed house following an Israeli air strike on a house in Zeitoun Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
And let’s look a the blowback – about ten times the size of your little pro-Israel rally:
More than a thousand Afghans signed up on Thursday to say they wanted to go and fight Israel in the Gaza Strip, many of them blaming the United States which has some 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, for supporting the Jewish state.
Accusations by Taliban militants and some Muslim clerics that Israel and its main ally, the United States, aim to destroy Islam have a strong impact on public opinion in Afghanistan, where Washington plans to almost double its troop numbers this year.
“The acts of Israel against the innocent Muslims of Gaza are barbaric and inhumane and widely helped by the Americans,” Assam said, adding that nearly 10,000 people across Afghanistan had so far volunteered to fight in Gaza.
“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”
The Bush administration’s infatuation with presidential power has finally pushed the country over a constitutional precipice. As of New Year’s Day, ongoing combat in Iraq is illegal under US law.
In authorizing an invasion in 2002, Congress did not give President Bush a blank check. It explicitly limited the use of force to two purposes: to “defend the national security of the US from the threat posed by Iraq” and “enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”
Five years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the government of Iraq no longer poses a threat. Our continuing intervention has been based on the second clause of Congress’ grant of war-making power. Coalition troops have been acting under a series of Security Council resolutions authorizing the continuing occupation of Iraq. But this year, Bush allowed the UN mandate to expire on December 31 without requesting a renewal. At precisely one second after midnight, Congress’ authorization of the war expired along with this mandate.
Bush is trying to fill the legal vacuum with the new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) he signed with the Iraqis. But the president’s agreement is unconstitutional, since it lacks the approval of Congress. Bush even refused to allow Congress access to the terms of the deal.
I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.
In Iraq, we lived the “ticking time bomb” scenario every day. Numerous Al Qaeda members that we captured and interrogated were directly involved in coordinating suicide bombing attacks. I remember one distinct case of a Sunni imam who was caught just after having blessed suicide bombers to go on a mission. Had we gotten there just an hour earlier, we could have saved lives. Still, we knew that if we resorted to torture the short term gains would be outweighed by the long term losses. I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join Al Qaeda was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantánamo Bay. My team of interrogators knew that we would become Al Qaeda’s best recruiters if we resorted to torture. Torture is counterproductive to keeping America safe and it doesn’t matter if we do it or if we pass it off to another government. The result is the same. And morally, I believe, there is an even stronger argument. Torture is simply incompatible with American principles. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln both forbade their troops from torturing prisoners of war. They realized, as the recent bipartisan Senate report echoes, that this is about who we are. We cannot become our enemy in trying to defeat him.
“I never said the Taliban was eliminated.” — Bush 12.15.08
…“The Taliban’s ability to brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists has been virtually eliminated.” — Bush 9/02
…“With the Taliban eliminated and al-Qaida badly damaged, we have moved into the second stage of our war on terror.” — Bush April 2002
…“And as a result of the United States military, Taliban no longer is in existence. And the people of Afghanistan are now free.” — Bush 9/04
The saga of the shoe-throwing journalist and the following he has inspired continued Saturday. During a tense overnight sit-in at a Baghdad park in support of the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, who has been jailed since throwing his shoes at President Bush last Sunday, the Iraqi Army threatened to remove protesters by force but eventually allowed them to stay.
As many as 400 protesters gathered in the park near the Green Zone on Saturday afternoon, holding pictures of Mr. Zaidi and chanting: “Bush, Bush listen carefully! We bid you farewell with two shoes.”
Heavily armed soldiers surrounded the small park, and Iraqi Army helicopters circled overhead as the demonstrators were told to leave.
“I have told them I won’t move anywhere unless it is to my grave,” said Uday al-Zaidi, 32, one of the reporter’s brothers.
The demonstration, which began early Friday, continued the theme of presenting Mr. Zaidi, a Shiite television journalist, as a unifier of a fractured nation.
Signs pictured Mr. Zaidi, 29, in a traditional white Arab headdress, not commonly seen in Baghdad, proclaiming him in Arabic as “the son of Iraq” and “the humiliator of the occupiers.”
US President George W. Bush believes the Iraq war was a success and is “very pleased” with what is happening there, he said in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on a Japanese television network Sunday.
“I think the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right,” Bush told the Sunday Project programme of the private Asahi network.
Saddam was an enemy of the United States and a lot of people thought he had weapons of mass destruction, Bush said, adding “remarkable” progress had been made in Iraq since the late dictator was toppled in 2003.
“People have been able to take their troops out of Iraq because Iraq is becoming successful. I’m very pleased with what is taking place there now,” he said, adding there still is “a lot of work” to be done.
Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq — by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.
In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.
In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military’s definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits — and triggering outrage from veterans’ advocacy groups.
Meanwhile, Wachovia discreetly disclosed that its chairman, Lanty L. Smith, and its 10 most senior executives may reap a windfall of more than $100 million if Wells Fargo completes its takeover of the failing bank by December 31, as planned.
Most of the payments — a bit more than $98 million — would come in the form of severance payments to the executives.
So, severance from a bank: good. Severance from the army: not so good.
On Oct. 14, 2008, Salon published an article about the deaths of Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez. The Army attributed their deaths in Iraq in 2006 to enemy action; Salon’s investigation, which included graphic battle video and eyewitness testimony, indicated that their deaths were likely due to friendly fire.
After Salon published Benjamin’s Oct. 14 report, the Army ordered soldiers to shred documents about the men. As proof that they were ordered to destroy the paperwork, a soldier saved some examples and provided them to Salon.
The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing Iraqi oversight officials, who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here.
The dismissals, which were confirmed by senior Iraqi and American government officials on Sunday and Monday, have come as estimates of official Iraqi corruption have soared. One Iraqi former chief investigator recently testified before Congress that $13 billion in reconstruction funds from the United States had been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste by Iraqi government officials.
Sounds like they’re following the “Western standards of accountability” just fine.
Barack Obama may have been elected only three days ago, but his victory is already beginning to shift the political ground in Iraq and the region.
Iraqi Shiite politicians are indicating that they will move faster toward a new security agreement about American troops, and a Bush administration official said he believed that Iraqis could ratify the agreement as early as the middle of this month.
“Before, the Iraqis were thinking that if they sign the pact, there will be no respect for the schedule of troop withdrawal by Dec. 31, 2011,” said Hadi al-Ameri, a powerful member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a major Shiite party. “If Republicans were still there, there would be no respect for this timetable. This is a positive step to have the same theory about the timetable as Mr. Obama.”
One would think that Iraqi farmers, now prospering under “freedom” and “democracy,” would be able to plant the seeds of their choosing, but that choice, under little-known Order 81, would be illegal.
But first, it is important to set the context. Most people have never heard of the infamous “100 Orders,” but they help explain why the majority of Iraqis remain opposed to foreign occupation. The 100 Orders allow multinational corporations to basically privatize an entire nation, and this degree of foreign and private control has not been witnessed since the days of the British East India Company and its extraterritoriality treaties.
A few examples of the 100 Orders are illuminating:
* Order 39 allows for the tax-free remittance of all corporate profits.
* Order 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, immunity from Iraq’s laws.
* Orders 57 and 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector general in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. (1)
Back to one of the most blatant orders of all: Order 81. Under this mandate, Iraq’s commercial farmers must now buy “registered seeds.” These are normally imported by Monsanto, Cargill and the World Wide Wheat Company. Unfortunately, these registered seeds are “terminator” seeds, meaning “sterile.” Imagine if all human men were infertile, and in order to reproduce women needed to buy sperm cells at a sperm bank. In agricultural terms, terminator seeds represent the same kind of sterility.
Terminator seeds have no agricultural value other than creating corporate monopolies. The Sierra Club, more of a mainstream “conservation” organization than a radical “environmentalist” one, makes the exact same case:
“This technology would protect the intellectual property interests of the seed company by making the seeds from a genetically engineered crop plant sterile, unable to germinate. Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seed from a crop for planting the next year, and would force them to buy seed from the supplier. In the third world, this inability to save seed could be a major, perhaps fatal, burden on poor farmers.”
What makes this Order 81 even more outrageous is that Iraqi farmers have been saving wheat and barley seeds since at least 4000 BC, when irrigated agriculture first emerged, and probably even to about 8000 BC, when wheat was first domesticated. Mesopotamia’s farmers have now been trumped by white-smocked, corporate bio-engineers from Florida who strive to replace hundreds of natural varieties with a handful of genetically scrambled hybrids.
British paratroopers Private Danny Berk, right, and Corporal Scott Evens move through a hole blown in a compound wall by a grenade, Saturday Aug. 31, 2008, while protecting a convoy. The convoy consisted of over 100 vehicles in total, some carrying equipment and a new turbine for the power station at the Kajaki Dam. It passed through Taliban positions which were hit with artillery, mortars, Apache Attack helicopters firing rockets and Hellfire missiles, and fast jets dropping precision guided bombs, which resulted in an estimated 250 Taliban casualties. (AP Photo/Sgt. Anthony Boocock, MOD ho) #
Many more pictures at the link..
Compare photo 18 and 19
update: Here are the two pictures, and an animated gif of them switching places..
President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.
The classified orders signal a watershed for the Bush administration after nearly seven years of trying to work with Pakistan to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and after months of high-level stalemate about how to challenge the militants’ increasingly secure base in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Finally. Now without that stupid war in Iraq, and this kind of courage earlier on, the Taliban would have been wiped out a long time ago.
And the cynic in my realizes he hopes to have Bin Laden walk the plank before Nov 4.
There are 4155 US families that lost a loved one in Iraq, 584 that have lost a loved one in Afghanistan. Apparently, according to Cindy, those families can go fuck themselves.
Halliburton has been more closely associated with the invasion of Iraq than any other corporation. Before the Iraq War began, it was 19th on the U.S. Army’s list of top contractors and zoomed to number 1 in 2003. In 2003 Halliburton made $4.2 billion from the U.S. government. Cheney stated he had , “severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) recently asserted that Cheney’s stock options which were worth $241,498 a year ago, are now valued at more than $8 million– for an increase of 3,281% . Cheney has pledged to give the proceeds to charity. Cheney continues to received a deferred salary from the company. He was paid $205,298 in 2001; $162,392 in 2002; $178,437 in 2003; and $194,852 in 2004.
The Congressional Research Service has concluded that holding stock options while in elective office does constitute a “financial interest” whether or not the holder of the options donates the proceeds to charities, and deferred compensation is also a financial interest.
A robot moves towards the remains of a pair of bodies at the site of a suicide bomb attack in central Baquba in Diyala province August 12, 2008. Two people were killed and seven wounded when the bomber detonated an explosive vest near the convoy carrying Diyala Governor Raad Rasheed in the provincial capital Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad.
More pictures at the link
China and Iraq have signed a $3 billion deal revising an earlier agreement for China’s biggest oil company to help develop the Ahdab oil field, an official at the Iraq’s Oil Ministry said Thursday.
The deal, restoring a project canceled after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, was signed late Wednesday by Chinese officials and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani.
Gee, and it only took a bit over 4,000 dead US soldiers to get to this point…