Swarm Of Lies
By Dahr Jamail
22 March 2006
r u t h o u t
stated mission of Operation Swarmer, launched late last week in an area
just northeast of Samarra, in Iraq, was to "break up a center of
insurgent resistance" and to disrupt "terrorist activity,"
according to the US military.
Comprised of over 1,500 US
and Iraqi soldiers, 50 US attack and transport helicopters airlifted
the bold force into a flat area of farmland filled not with fighters
belonging to the "center of insurgent resistance," but with
impoverished farmers, cows, goats and women baking bread. The first
drop of soldiers onto the ground from this air-operation doubled the
meager population of 1,500 souls living in the 50 square-mile area.
US troops acted bravely,
snatching up 48 "suspected insurgents," then promptly releasing
17 of them. They were precise in their operations, and did not detain
a single cow or goat.
What did the military say
about why no resistance was met?
"We believe we achieved
tactical surprise," said Lt. Col. Edward Loomis, the spokesman
for the 101st Airborne Division.
Fallaciously hailed as the
largest air assault in Iraq since the Anglo-American invasion three
years ago, Lt. Col. Loomis said that two days into the operation his
forces "continue to move" through the area, and "tactical
interviews began immediately." According to
Time magazine reporters:
"Four Black Hawk helicopters
landed in a wheat field and dropped off a television crew, three photographers,
three print reporters and three Iraqi government officials right into
the middle of Operation Swarmer. Iraqi soldiers in newly painted humvees,
green and red Iraqi flags stenciled on the tailgates, had just finished
searching the farm populated by a half-dozen skinny cows and a woman
kneading freshly risen dough and slapping it to the walls of a mud oven.
But contrary to what many television networks erroneously reported,
the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the
start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers
specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were
no air-strikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation
that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than
a photo op. What's more, there were no shots fired at all and the units
had met no resistance, said the US and Iraqi commanders."
Of course, the US military
claimed that two local leaders of the group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
were to have been in the area, but alas, they were not to be caught
up in Operation Swarmer or any of the "tactical interviews."
Meanwhile on Sunday, fresh
from a relaxing weekend at Camp David, Mr. Bush said of Iraq, "I'm
encouraged by the progress," while talking to reporters on the
South Lawn of the White House.
Bush, his comments sticking
to the talking points of his administration which surround this three
year anniversary of the launching of Operation Iraqi Freedom, nearly
mirrored those made recently by General Peter Pace. Pace, as you recall,
when asked on "Meet the Press" about Iraq, said things were
"going very, very well from everything you look at."
Operation Swarm of Lies is
part of yet another Cheney administration media blitz to put a happy
face on this horrendously failed misadventure in Iraq. All too aware
of the plummeting US public support for the war effort, and with approval
ratings for the so-called president at an all time low, Bush had been
sent out on the campaign trail to apply fresh gloss to the tattered
sheen of the US occupation of Iraq. Sticking with their talking points
of having Iraqi forces take over security responsibilities, the primary
purpose of Operation Swarm of Lies was obviously to send the message
to Americans that the US military are allowing Iraqis to "take
the fight to the enemy."
But this operation of mass
distraction has served other purposes as well.
Operation Swarm of Lies served
well in diverting media attention in the US from US/UK covert operations
in Iran last Friday.
Even the Canadian Broadcasting
that Iran's national police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddamm, accused
US and British agents of playing a role in the deaths of 21 people in
southeastern Iran. Moghaddamm accused the intelligence services of both
the US and UK of encouraging attacks by Iranian rebel groups against
Operation Swarm of Lies also
effectively distracted media attention from the arrest of an American
"security contractor" in Tikrit last week. According to the
Joint Coordination Center between the US and Iraqi military in Tikrit,
"the man is described as a security contractor working for a private
company," and he "possessed explosives which were found in
his car" when he was arrested
This incident was also reported
on al-Sharqiyah Television on March 14th , where they added that the
man was arrested during an imposed curfew, and "he had explosives
in his car, noting that contacts are being held between officials in
Salah al-Din Governorate and US Army officials regarding the incident."
Meanwhile back in the Motherland,
"Vice" President Cheney said this past weekend that Iraq is
not in a civil war, but that terrorists there were involved in desperate
tactics to stop Iraq's move towards democracy.
"What we've seen is
a serious effort by them to foment a civil war," Cheney said during
an interview on the CBS program "Face the Nation" recently,
"But I don't think they've been successful."
He's right - the Iraqi people
have thus far managed, miraculously, to thwart the ongoing attempts
by the occupiers to "foment civil war."
Because the recent incident
in Tikrit is but one example of many which have shown who the real terrorists
are in Iraq. Even just last September, two undercover British SAS soldiers
were detained by Iraqi police in Basra. The Brits were dressed as Iraqis,
traveling in an unmarked civilian car, and "Iraqi security officials
... accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces
or trying to plant explosives. Photographs of the two men in custody
showed them in civilian clothes."
According the same article
by the Washington Post, the British military promptly razed the Iraqi
jail in order to free their two soldiers. In response, Mohammed Walli,
the governor of the province, told news agencies that the British assault
was "barbaric, savage and irresponsible."
Barbaric, savage and irresponsible
are words that can also be used to describe the true nature of Operation
Swarm of Lies.
Just this past Sunday, the
Director of the Monitoring Net of Human Rights in Iraq (MHRI), Muhamad
al-Deraji, issued an appeal to the UN mission in Baghdad regarding violations
committed by the US military operation near Samarra.
"We have received information
from citizens and human rights activists in Samarra stating that the
region, under American and Iraqi military operation ... is witnessing
dangerous human rights violations, which is confirmed by the following:
1 - The Red Crescent aiding
missions are not allowed to enter the region.
2 - [Independent] Press and
media are, as well, forbidden from entering the region.
3 - Women and children are
not allowed to leave the region of military operations.
4 - Receipt of news indicates
presence of violations and assault for citizens aiming to terrorize
them and forces them to emigrate from this region, through arresting
the men and forcing women and their horrified children to escape later,
on and leave the region aiming to build a military base there."
Most importantly, however,
is the human tragedy which Operation Swarm of Lies has both generated
as well as diverted attention from.
The UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs, via the Integrated Regional Information Networks
(IRIN) reported on Sunday, "Hundreds
of families displaced due to major offensive."
The report says "hundreds
of families have fled the city of Samarra" as the result of Operation
Swarmer. Barakat Muhammad, a resident and father of five who lives in
Samarra told IRIN, "When they started to hit our city I didn't
take anything. I just took my family and ran like hell. We don't have
anything to eat or wear."
Despite claims by the US
military that no shots were fired, obviously bombs were dropped on civilians.
The IRIN report adds that
"local doctors say that at least 35 civilians, including women
and children, have been treated at the local hospital with injuries
caused by the air strikes. In addition, 18 bodies had been taken to
the hospital since 17 March."
Yet there have been ongoing
air strikes north/northeast of Baghdad since at least last Wednesday.
According to the aforementioned
Iraqi NGO MHRI, as well as AP reporters, "eleven people - most
of them women and children - have been killed after US forces bombed
a house during a raid north of Baghdad." The US
military acknowledged the raid which occurred near Balad,
about 50 miles north of Baghdad, but said only four people were killed
- a man, two women and a child.
Relatives, however, said
11 bodies wrapped in blankets were driven in the back of three pickup
trucks to the Tikrit General Hospital, about 40 miles north of where
the air strike occurred.
As usual, reality contradicted
the claims by the US military of only four dead, when AP photographs
showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered figures
arriving at the hospital accompanied by grief-stricken relatives.
Even a police captain from
nearby Samarra, Laith Mohammed, said that American warplanes and armor
were used in the strike which flatted the house, killing all 11 people
An AP reporter at the scene
of the bombing in the rural area of Isahaqi said "the roof of the
house collapsed, three cars were destroyed and two cows killed."
Riyadh Majid, the nephew
of the head of the family who was killed, told the AP that US forces
landed in helicopters and raided the home early last Wednesday. Ahmed
Khalaf, the brother of the deceased head of the household, said nine
of the victims were family members who lived at the house and two were
"The killed family was
not part of the resistance, they were women and children," said
Khalaf, "The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get
As per their now standard
operating procedure, the US military claimed the strike targeted an
individual "suspected" of supporting al-Qaida. And as usual,
the military claimed they were under attack from the house.
"Troops were engaged
by enemy fire as they approached the building," according to Tech.
Sgt. Stacy Simon, "Coalition forces returned fire utilizing both
air and ground assets."
And the al-Qaida suspects
killed by this particular air strike were of the younger
variety this time around, again as usual for the US military
But of course, all of this
was effectively overshadowed by Operation Swarm of Lies.
To view more photos of the
results of the US air-strike on the home in Balad, click here