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December 21, 2010
[iraq] Qur’an Etched In Saddam Hussein’s Blood Poses Dilemma For Iraq Leaders‘Over the course of two painstaking years in the late 1990s, Saddam Hussein had sat regularly with a nurse and an Islamic calligrapher; the former drawing 27 litres of his blood and the latter using it as a macabre ink to transcribe a Qur’an. But since the fall of Baghdad, almost eight years ago, it has stayed largely out of sight – locked away behind three vaulted doors. It is the one part of the ousted tyrant’s legacy that Iraq has simply not known what to do with…’ [via @qwghlm]
September 27, 2010
[war] Go Look: Photo Of A Improvised Nokia Bomb Detonator In Iraq: “01 Call Missed”(more…)
March 25, 2009
[twitter] Salam Pax is on Twitter‘and to add irony while I sit here listening to bombs going off left’n’right.. Iraqi tv is showing a report about how security is better.’ [link]
July 18, 2008
[movies] Peter Bradshaw reviews Errol Morris’s documentary Standard Operating Procedure: ‘The Abu Ghraib scandal was a product of the digital age: ordinary roll-film cameras or Polaroids might have been too conspicuous, there would be no facilities for development, and any resulting prints might have been confiscated or lost. But digital images, immediately accessible and so easily transferable and reproducible, and with ineradicable date and time stamps, were the captors’ undoing. Watching this film is the grimmest experience imaginable…’
April 12, 2008
[movies] Standard Operating Procedure … the web site for Errol Morris’ new documentary about Abu Ghraib‘The one thing that can be said conclusively about Abu Ghraib is it was entirely a violation of the Geneva Conventions. All of it.’
March 31, 2008
[films] Recovering Reality … More from Errol Morris on Abu Ghraib … [via Kottke]

‘When Brent Pack talks about [Gilligan’s treatment] as being standard operating procedure, I find that a powerful and odd moment. He’s sincere, he’s not a bad guy, and yet he’s telling us something that is actually surreal and disturbing—even more so because he’s not a bad guy, because he’s being sincere. Or just seeing Lyndie England and how devastated she was by all of this. I’m moved by it. Call me crazy, but I am. She gives this final speech, which to me is so sad, about how maybe the whole world is just backstabbing and lying. You’ve got all of these players caught in this strange drama. The perversity of it all.’

March 21, 2008
[movies] Standard Operating Procedure — trailer for a new documentary from Errol Morris about the events in Abu Ghraib prison. [via Kottke]
November 25, 2004
[politics] Impeach Tony Blair? Not this Crazy Gang — Simon Hoggart on the attempt to impeach Tony Blair … ‘Some of us had gone along in the hopes of hearing Harold Pinter, a keen supporter of the move to impeach the prime minister. Perhaps he would read one of his poems: “‘ Bombs hurtle down. They split open the skulls of babies. George Bush fills the skulls with shit, the shit of shitty shit-covered damnation’. Thank you.” Or words to that effect. Sadly, Mr Pinter was not able to attend…’
November 11, 2004
[iraq] Steve Bell on Falluja‘These people are hardcore.’
October 24, 2004
[politics] The Baghdad Blogger goes to Washington — Salam Pax visits America before the election… On arriving at JFK: ‘This is the moment where, in a perfect world modelled on Bollywood movies, I would break into song and dance; my chorus boys would be the beautiful boys in turbans and beards brandishing their “axis of evil” passports and I would look as fabulous as Kylie Minogue while singing: “What do I have to do to get the message thru? I am Iraqi, Iraqi!” It would be a hit with everyone at the airport and I would be escorted by adoring fans to the limousine waiting outside. But this is not a Bollywood movie and I am being taken to a “secondary screening”. My first visit to the USA might just end up with me being shackled and sent to a very unpleasant place where the colour orange is the height of fashion.’
September 29, 2004
[politics] Brimming Certainty gives way to Painful Humility — Jonathan Freedland sketch of Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference Speech. ‘…he uttered two sentences that must have caused physical pain to his throat: “The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong. I acknowledge that and accept it.” That brought some unscripted applause, a sense of relief that at last he had said what so many had longed to hear. He didn’t give the full “sorry,” but like the liberal parent who does not demand complete humiliation from a remorseful child, the Labour tribe took what they could get. The language was lawyerly – “I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong,” he said, rather than I do apologise – but he seemed to get away with it.’
August 6, 2004
[comics] Doonesbury Goes to War — interview with Garry Trudeau from Rolling Stone Magazine. ‘…I was overwhelmed by some of the letters that came in about B.D. It was so emotional. People wrote that it made them feel they had a personal stake in the war — like someone they knew had been harmed. People were even more astonished when B.D.’s helmet came off. It signified his vulnerability and made it all the more difficult for them to accept. I was talking to a soldier in the hospital, and I said, “I draw this comic strip, and I have this character named B.D. who lost his leg.” The soldier’s eyes widened: “B.D. lost his leg?!” Here’s this mangled, broken hero lying in his bed, and he’s concerned that this character he knows had such a terrible thing happen to him. It was very moving.’
May 28, 2004
[iraq] Doonesbury at War — the Guardian takes a look at Doonesbury’s coverage of the War in Iraq along with a brief profile of Garry Trudeau. ‘…the syndication arrangement under which Trudeau operates gives him almost unprecedented reach and influence. With little or no editorial control, he talks to millions of readers worldwide. And even though Bush and Donald Rumsfeld profess not to read the newspapers, even they must be wary of the potential influence of such an untrammelled mind.’
May 23, 2004
[iraq] The Sexual Sadism of our Culture, in Peace and in War — interesting commentary on the links between pornography and the photos of torture in Iraq … ‘The pornographic culture has clearly influenced the soldiers; at the very least, in their exhibitionism, their enthusiasm to photograph their handiwork. And the victims in both don’t have feelings: to the abusers, they didn’t in Abu Ghraib; to the punter they don’t in pornography. Both point to just how degraded sex has become in western culture. Porn hasn’t even pretended to show loving sex for decades; in films and TV most sex is violent, joyless. The Abu Ghraib torturers are merely acting out their culture: the sexual humiliation of the weak’
May 8, 2004
[iraq] Donald Rumsfeld: ‘We’re functioning with peacetime constraints, with legal requirements, in a wartime situation in the Information Age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise.’ [via The Obvious]
April 23, 2004
[comics] B.D. loses his leg in Doonesbury


» Doonesbury the soap opera (scroll down for article): ‘A four-box daily comic strip it may be, but Doonesbury is also a soap, probably the only one in the world to blend current affairs with a regular cast of characters, ageing, marrying, splitting up, starting dotcoms, doing performance art, having kids, running for office, fighting in America’s wars, going to prison and occasionally dying. For afficionados of Doonesbury, the sight of that bandaged stump on a stretcher and that never-before-seen hair was powerful and affecting.’

December 15, 2003
[saddam] BBC Reporters Log On Saddam’s Capture … John Simpson: ‘Saddam’s capture is an extraordinary melodrama. Ad Dawr, where he was caught, was where he was born, where his appalling stepfather used to humiliate him and beat him. It was a place that he hated. One of his confidantes told me that when he drove past it he would turn his face away, he wouldn’t look at it. To be caught there, with a pistol in his possession, yet not kill himself or defend himself, is a remarkable end to an extraordinary life.’
September 18, 2003
[blogs] Baghdad blogger at the Hutton inquiry‘I also went to the House of Commons a couple of days ago to watch the debate on the role of the UN in Iraq, and I can tell you: that being an Iraqi and seeing that and the bit of the Hutton Inquiry yesterday, is quite strange. It is like listening to your parents discuss how they should bring you up; it is your life, but you are not making the decisions.’
September 9, 2003
[blogs] Salam Pax is on the promotion trail for his new book [Buy: UK | US] …

  • How I became the Baghdad blogger‘I spent a couple of days searching for Arabs blogging and finding mostly religious blogs. I thought the Arab world deserved a fair representation in the blogsphere, and decided that I would be the profane pervert Arab blogger just in case someone was looking.’
  • Salam Pax on the BBC’s Today Programme — requires Real Player.
  • Webchat with Pax … On the Internet in Iraq: ‘…the US would use the internet for email attacks: everyone who had an email in Iraq got an email telling you to cooperate with the coalition forces, to stay at home. All the military commanders got their phone numbers changed because for hours when they picked up their receivers they’d get a voice message saying “don’t fight, go home” from the coalition. ‘

August 12, 2003
[politics] A Sense Of History – So Take Off Your Jacket — Guardian Sketch of the first day of the Hutton Enquiry‘The British court system has always been a natural home for great rhetoricians – judges and barristers with the inspiring capability, when the moment requires it, of investing their words with a palpable sense of history being made. Lord Hutton is not one of them. “I hope the air-conditioning is going to work rather more effectively,” he said as he took his seat yesterday morning. “If anybody would like to take off a jacket, please feel entirely free to do so.” But no one did.’
July 30, 2003
[iraq] Salam Pax visits Saddam Hussein’s home town: ‘I can not really say it was very wise to go to Tikrit with foreigners two days after the death of Uday and Qusay was confirmed. They are not very friendly up there in Saddam’s home town at the best of times, and now they border on the hostile. I am now Salam “the spy” Pax in Aujah.’
July 3, 2003
[comics] Rolling Commentary — Alan Moore on the War in Iraq … ‘[America is] a great country, but you (and the rest of the world) got Bushwhacked. A spooky little clique who for some considerable while contented themselves with being part of America’s un-elected Shadow Government have now stepped boldly up into the footlights, where they feel (perhaps correctly) that they can now do or say whatever they want, and that nobody can or will do anything about it. They’ re ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille. There is no longer any need for secrecy or shadows. Covert wars were so last century, don’t you think?’ [Related: Arthur Magazine | via 2lmc Spool]
July 2, 2003
[connections] Microsoft Word bytes Tony Blair in the Butt — a mysterious person called M. Khan turns up in the revision history of a UK Government word document about Iraq …

Rev. #9: “MKhan” edited file “C:\TEMP\Iraq – security.doc”
Rev. #10: “MKhan” edited file “C:\WINNT\Profiles\mkhan\Desktop\Iraq.doc”


Unofficial Mary Whitehouse Experience: ”M. KAHN IS BENT’ was, until recently, painted in very large white letters on a railway bridge that crosses the North Circular road in London between Crouch End and East Finchley (Just by the gasworks). It had been there for over ten years, unmissable by every single car travelling in a westward directionon the North Circular, which, bearing in mind that approximately 300,000 cars containing an average of 2.7 people pass under that bridge every day, would indicate that, over the course of time, the fact of M. Kahn’s bent-ness may have been impressed on 2,956,500,000 people, or round about five times the population of Europe.’
June 4, 2003
[iraq] Baghdad Blogger — the first Guardian column from Salam Pax‘Beside all the papers we now have a TV channel and radio; they are part of what our American minders have called the Iraqi media network. My favourite TV show on it is an old Japanese cartoon (here it is called Adnan wa Lina). It is about what happens after a third world war when chaos reigns the earth. Bad choice for kids’ programming if you ask me.’ [Related: Salam Pax is Real]
June 3, 2003
[blogs] Mission Fullfilled — Warbloggers feel sad and unsatisfied after wargasm … ‘I myself did notice something rather odd about a week after combat ended in Iraq. I was relieved that we finally attacked, and even more relieved that the war was quick and that our military suffered as few casualties as they did in winning it. But I also felt, oddly, a kind of let-down, an emptiness, something missing.’
May 30, 2003
[iraq] Salam’s Story — the Guardian interviews Salam Pax ahead of them publishing his new fortnightly column. ‘…in the final weeks before the impending conflict, he became increasingly anxious that the men of the Mukhabarat, the feared Iraqi intelligence agency, were on to him. “They were not only paranoid, they were going crazy,” he says. At one point the regime blocked access to the website on which he was posting his writing, blogspot.com. “There was the possibility that they knew. I spent a couple of days thinking this is the end. And then you wait for a couple of days and nothing happens and you say, ‘OK, let’s do it again.’ Stupid risks, one after another.”‘
May 23, 2003
[war] “If We Run Out of Batteries, This War is Screwed.” — Wired Article on the US Army’s creation of a “tactical” internet during the War in Iraq …

‘The history of warfare is marked by periodic leaps in technology – the triumph of the longbow at Crécy, in 1346; the first decisive use of air power, in World War I; the terrifying destructiveness of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, in 1945. And now this: a dazzling array of technology that signals the arrival of digital warfare. What we saw in Gulf War II was a new age of fighting that combined precision weapons, unprecedented surveillance of the enemy, agile ground forces, and – above all – a real-time communications network that kept the far-flung operation connected minute by minute. Welcome to the so-called revolution in military affairs…’

‘I’m headed north again, this time with a 97-vehicle convoy whose mission is to deliver missile launchers and set up a Tactical Operations Center just south of the Baghdad suburbs. But there’s a problem; the convoy makes two massive U-turns in search of a side road that leads to a much-needed fuel stop. “We’re lima lima mike foxtrot in Iraq,” says Sergeant Frank Cleveland, who’s riding shotgun in the truck where I’ve hitched a ride. “What does that mean?” I ask from the backseat. “We’re lost like a motherfucker,” he says.’

May 21, 2003
[iraq] ‘Salam Pax’ plays Americans for fools in Iraq — the backlash begins against Where is Raed?‘Salam is the scion of a senior figure from Iraq’s Baathist nomenclature. He was brought up at least partly in Vienna, which is the OPEC headquarters; his father was therefore an oilman, and possibly a former head of Iraq’s OPEC mission. Another clue is a hint that his grandfather was an Iraqi tribal chief, from which I infer that his father was one of the Iraqi tribal chiefs that Saddam Hussein rewarded for loyalty, outside the Tikrit clan.’
May 20, 2003
[iraq] Interview with Salam Pax — more from the Baghdad Blogger‘During the war, the Arab-language news program of the BBC had a story about my virtual diary. Coincidentally, my father was in the first floor of our house and heard the story on the radio. Then he came down the stairs and told everyone the strange story of this mysterious Internet blogger, who supplied the world with news from Baghdad. (Laughs). At that moment, I sought to keep my composure, but in reality I thought I was going to die…’ [via Nick Denton]
May 7, 2003
[iraq] Dear Raed — the blogger from Baghdad updates … ‘Let me tell you one thing first. War sucks big time. Don’t let yourself ever be talked into having one waged in the name of your freedom. Somehow when the bombs start dropping or you hear the sound of machine guns at the end of your street you don’t think about your “imminent liberation” anymore.’
April 20, 2003
[war] Where is Raed Salam Pax? — Metafilter discusses the fate of the blogger from Baghdad and remixes in Kaycee Nicole‘Salam Pax is Steven Den Beste.’
April 15, 2003
[war] Said al-Sahaf (Iraqi Information Minister) Soundboard‘My feelings – as usual – we will slaughter them all.’ [via Fimoculous | Related: We Love The Iraqi Information Minister]
April 14, 2003
[war] Drawing Fire — Steve Bell on why he’s not an “embedded cartoonist” … ‘I believe passionately in the idea of cartoon reportage, but not at my age, and certainly not in the present circumstances with the military breathing down my neck. Don’t get me wrong – I would love to hurl myself into foxholes and I really enjoyed the only time I’ve ever been paintballing. But I fear this would be paintballing with extreme prejudice – and just imagine the indignity of being at the beck and call of nuclear-powered wankers like Air Marshal Bertrand Bollocks or whatever his name is.’ [via Metafilter | ¡Journalista!]
April 12, 2003
[war] Iraqi Officer Tells of War Chaos … Iraqi Army Officer on fighting in Baghdad … ‘He said the Republican Guards did not want to engage in street fighting in Baghdad, despite allied forces being convinced they would make a last stand there, since the Iraqi soldiers’ families were there and then “everything (can be) broken that’s yours, so if I fight in my city, every building is mine … those are our families, our babies.If you want to fight, you should fight out of (away from) your home,” he said.’ [via The Command Post]
April 10, 2003
[war] New Get Your War On about the fall of Baghdad … ‘Ugh. I hate finding cluster bombs in my cake! They get stuck in my fillings.’
April 9, 2003
[war] Northern Iraq Weblog — BBC News reporter Stuart Hughes has been recovering and updating his weblog after having his foot amputated following being injured by a landmine in Iraq‘I’ve been avoiding using one word until now because it scares me but I think now’s the time to say it. Amputation. It’s such a brutal word, conjuring up images of below-deck surgery in blood-spattered operating theatres on navy tallships. But that’s what’s happened to me and now it’s over it doesn’t seem so bad. Rather than months of hobbling around on crutches and scores of slow and painful operations, hopefully it means a swift return to normality.’ [Related: Iraq Journalist’s Leg Amputated]
April 5, 2003
[war] The Mood Changes as the Marine Invasion Gains Momentum — Guardian Reporter meets the Republican Guard … ‘They were still in uniform, but were already making their transition to civilian life. “It’s a relief,” said Mahdi, of his capture, of the collapse of the guard, of the end of the regime. “It’s like a weight off my chest.” Yet Mohamed spoke of how difficult it would be for Iraqis of his generation – they are all in their early 20s – to think themselves out of the tyranny inside their heads. Asked what he thought about Saddam, he said: “He’s my father, he’s my president. We didn’t understand him properly. We grew up with him around so we don’t know anyone else but him.”‘
April 1, 2003
[war] Northern Iraq Weblog — BBC Reporter Stuart Hughes on-the-spot blog from Iraq … ‘We were woken by the News Desk at 0730 and for the next 8 hours we barely drew breath. The Rolling News Monster had us in its grip and wasn’t going to let us go. Each hour was filled with lives for World TV, News 24, World Service, Radio 4, Five Live, you name it, interspersed with the odd rushed phone call to find out what was actually happening.’ [via Bowblog]
March 25, 2003
[war] Shock Tactics — interview with Harlan Ullman the creator of “Shock and Awe” … ‘On Wednesday night, after US commanders ordered a smaller strike of Tomahawk missiles at targets they believed included Saddam Hussein, CNN, for one, began running an on-screen alert reading “Shock and Awe postponed”. But “that was classic shock and awe,” says Ullman, who is now strategic associate at the centre for strategic and international studies in Washington. “If you kill the emperor, the empire’s up for grabs. And had we killed him, it would have been a classic application [of the theory]: $50m of ordnance, and we won the war.” After this, the argument begins to get a little circular: the postponement of shock and awe “was shock and awe, too,” Ullman says, because “we were threatening shock and awe”.’
March 24, 2003
[war] Baghdad Calling — the Guardian’s G2 Section had several pages of recent postings from Where is Raed? today … ‘Those who know Baghdad well, and who have read the diary closely, say there is no doubt in their mind that whoever is writing it is currently resident in the Iraqi capital. The author may display evidence of spending time in the west (possibly Britain, though he does use Americanisms) with his cynical sense of humour and love of David Bowie lyrics, but the reams and reams of fascinating detail about domestic and street life in Baghdad are highly convincing.’
March 23, 2003
[war] BBC War [B]log links …

  • 22 March – Pushing … Rageh Omar in Baghdad: ‘Every sign here is that Saddam Hussein and his commanders have escaped attempts to assassinate them, despite persistent rumours from London and Washington ‘
  • 21 March – Attacks … Gavin Hewitt in Southern Iraq: ‘In the last few minutes we just crossed over the Basra-Baghdad highway. We’ve had several bizarre incidents in the last few minutes of drivers on the highway completely unaware that American armour may be this far north, stopping their vehicles in utter amazement as we crossed the highway.’
  • 20 March – At War … Nick Bryant in Washington: ‘The White House is trying hard to show that things are calm. They’ve put a lot of effort into making the President’s day seem effortless.’

[war] Iraq Still Online — brief article about the status of Iraqi Internet. (Where is Raed? has not updated since Friday) … ‘It’s not immediately clear, however, whether Iraqis have been able to easily access the Internet since the initial attacks. Repeated checks of the abbreviated log files for Uruklink.net and BabilOnline.net reveal only a few hits from users of SMS and AIT, the two satellite ISPs that supply Iraq.’
March 22, 2003
[war] Minute After Minute the Missiles Came, with Devastating Shrieks — Robert Fisk in Baghdad. ‘…the symbolic centre of this raid was clearly intended to be Saddam’s main palace, with its villas, fountains, porticos and gardens. And, sure enough, the flames licking across the facade of the palace last night looked very much like a funeral pyre.’
March 21, 2003
[blogs] Q: Is the Baghdad Blogger for real? — Paul Boutin wonders if the Where is Raed? iraqi weblog is a hoax … ‘Salam claims to connect to the Net via Uruklink, the state-run Iraqi ISP, using Web-based email from the British music magazine New Musical Express. Remember the Sex Pistols line, “I use the NME?” So does he. IP addresses in his email headers aren’t sufficient to pinpoint his location, but they’re consistent with his story, being in the same range used by past Uruklink posters.’ [thanks John]
March 20, 2003
[war] Iraq on-the-spot Linkage …

  • Where is Raed?‘there is still nothing happening in baghdad we can only hear distant explosions and there still is no all clear siren.’
  • Reporters’ Log: At war in Iraq … Paul Wood in Baghdad: ‘People are very jumpy here. We now know the city of Baghdad was not the main thrust of the air attack. The focus is being described as a “target of opportunity”, where five senior members of the Iraqi government were gathered. It is believed that Saddam Hussein was amongst them. In the last few minutes it appears the telephone system has gone down here.’
  • Suddenly, the War is Very Real — Yesterday in Baghdad … ‘Reality finally came to Baghdad yesterday. Overnight, sandbags sprouted on football fields and roundabouts. In the evening the authorities rustled up yet another peace demonstration. The number of fatal car accidents seemed to surge, with drivers in a panic to get home, or to get out. Chemists sold out of valium.’ [via Words of Waldman]

[war] Steve Bell’s Iraq Cartoons (so far) …

Single-handedly, Jim lad! by Steve Bell.

March 19, 2003
[war] Reporters’ Log — BBC News Correspondents are [b]logging the War … ‘The overwhelming feeling among the British troops is a wish to get on with the job they have been sent here to do. As one British commander put it: “It will be tea and medals in Baghdad in a few days time.” And no-one really wants to contemplate the alternative.’ [via Grayblog]
[war] Douglas Rushkoff has been talking to Grant Morrison about the war in Iraq‘[Morrison] says he’s decided not to think about the war and all this mess, at all. He’s calling it “what the adults do,” and making a strong case for the idea that “we told them this would happen,” and “they never listen to us, anyway.”‘
March 18, 2003
[war] Sun sets on Kuwaiti Border Peace — eye-witness report from Northern Kuwait … ‘In the setting sun, the camouflage netting of one British camp looked like a sprawling field of jagged rocks, spreading from the road to the horizon. All these camps are filled with the lumps and spikes of armour and artillery. British tank guns point unblinkingly at the main highway, as if expecting attack from that direction. Yet it is not the weaponry which is most chilling about this armed host, which, with its five divisions, its training, its speed and mobility, its vast fleet of helicopters, its ability to fight at night and its digital technology is probably the most capable killing machine the world has ever seen. It is the industrial scale of the supply operation, and the amount of money which is visibly being spent, which scares. This is a professional army, and it goes at the job like a contractor.’
March 4, 2003
[war] The Palace of the End — Martin Amis on the coming war in Iraq … Three quotes:

‘Osama bin Laden is an identifiable human type, but on an unidentifiable scale. He is an enormous stirrer – a titanic mixer. Look how he’s shaken us up, both in the heart and in the head. One could say, countervailingly, that on September 11 America was visited by something very alien and unbelievably radical. A completely new kind of enemy for whom death is not death – and for whom life is not life, either, but illusion, a staging-post, merely “the thing which is called World”. No, you wouldn’t expect such a massive world-historical jolt, which will reverberate for centuries, to be effortlessly absorbed. But the suspicion remains that America is not behaving rationally – that America is behaving like someone still in shock.’

‘We hear about the successful “Texanisation” of the Republican party. And doesn’t Texas sometimes seem to resemble a country like Saudi Arabia, with its great heat, its oil wealth, its brimming houses of worship, and its weekly executions?’

‘Saddam’s hands-on years in the dungeons distinguish him from the other great dictators of the 20th century, none of whom had much taste for “the wet stuff”. The mores of his regime have been shaped by this taste for the wet stuff – by a fascinated negative intimacy with the human body, and a connoisseurship of human pain.’


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