U.S. Shows Iraq What It Meant By “Freedom”

The march of freedom continues in Iraq:

The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.

Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Marine commanders working in unheated, war-damaged downtown buildings are hammering out the details of their paradoxical task: Bring back the 300,000 residents in time for elections without letting in insurgents, even though many Fallujans were among the fighters who ruled the city until the US assault drove them out in , and many others cooperated with fighters out of conviction or fear.

One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.

“You have to say, ‘Here are the rules,’ and you are firm and fair. That radiates stability,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dave Bellon, intelligence officer for the First Regimental Combat Team, the Marine regiment that took the western half of Fallujah during the US assault and expects to be based downtown for some time.

Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, “ ‘What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?’ All this Oprah [stuff],” he said. “They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, ‘I’m with you.’ We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.”

More on our tribal benevolence can be found at TomDispatch.com, which gives a brief history of aerial bombardment on the way to telling about “the great missing story of the postwar war.”

A section from Bruce Bartlett’s paper Tax Reform Agenda For The 109th Congress notes that tax evasion seems to be on the rise:

At the same time that the corporate income tax is being undermined largely by legal tax avoidance, the personal income tax is increasingly being eroded by tax evasion. The best data we have on this comes from comparing the Internal Revenue Service’s measure of adjusted gross income taken directly from tax returns to the Commerce Department’s measure of AGI compiled from data on wages, interest and dividends paid by businesses. In , the gap between these two figures reached $961.1 billion or 13.7 percent of the Commerce Department’s estimate of AGI. This is the largest gap . It suggests that the federal government is losing at least $100 billion per year just due to the non-reporting of taxable income on personal tax returns.

At How to Save the World, Dave Pollard explores the role of imagination and storytelling in shaping the contours of your life and your effect on the world:

Courage, imagination, dissatisfaction, and willingness to make a commitment to yourself. If you have these four qualities, your future story is waiting to be written. Leave it unwritten, or let others write it for you, and you will merely get to where you are already headed. Write your own story, and you just might find you’re on your way to What Could Be.

More torture disclosures from Gitmo:

FBI agents witnessed “highly aggressive” interrogations and mistreatment of terror suspects at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba starting in  — more than a year before the prison abuse scandal broke in Iraq — according to a letter a senior Justice Department official sent to the Army’s top criminal investigator.

In the letter obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI official suggested the Pentagon didn’t act on FBI complaints about the incidents, including a female interrogator grabbing a detainee’s genitals and bending back his thumbs, another where a prisoner was gagged with duct tape and a third where a dog was used to intimidate a detainee who later was thrown into isolation and showed signs of “extreme psychological trauma.”

One Marine told an FBI observer that some interrogations led to prisoners “curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain,” according to the letter dated .