Now, I Am the Terrorist by William Rivers Pitt / Truthout
Greetings from Baghdad! by John Ross
April 4, 2003

Now, I Am the Terrorist
by William Rivers Pitt / Truthout

Children amid ruins of their Basra neighborhood after US missile attack. Credit: CNN
(March 21, 2003) -- The city of Baghdad, founded in 762 AD under the name Madinat as-Salam - "City of Peace" - is this day a lake of fire. The opening stage of the Bush administration's "Shock and Awe" attack plan began as night fell on Iraq and lived up to its terrible name. CBS News is reporting that great swaths of residential neighborhoods within Baghdad have been engulfed in flames.

Baghdad is a city of 5 million people, half of whom are under the age of fifteen, most of whom are too poor to flee. Now, a great many of those people are dead, burned in their homes and on their streets.

The American television media provided all of us with a Dresden-eye view of the attack. Huge mushroom clouds bloomed from the streets as buildings blazed and fell. The thunder of the explosions was so loud that television speakers became distorted with the sound of the concussion. The sky lit up as though the sun was rising. It was a fitting image, for a new day in world history has dawned.

Much has been made of the precision of our vaunted arsenal of bombs and missiles, as if they can go into a building and find the second door on the left before they explode. The truth is far more dire.

When a B-2 bomber drops a 2,000-lb. JDAM munition, everyone and everything within a 120-meter radius is instantly killed. Anyone within a 365-meter radius risks severe shrapnel wounds. To be totally safe, one must be 1,000 meters away from the epicenter of the explosion. Imagine how many homes can fit into 1,000 meters -- and never mind the firestorm.

If Iraqi forces do not surrender soon, American forces will attack Baghdad from the ground. The loss of life among our people will grow exponentially if a Stalingrad-style fight unfolds in Baghdad and Tikrit. On the CBS News broadcast, the father of one of the soldiers killed in the helicopter crash held a picture of his son to the camera and shouted, "Take a look, Bush."

Those who stand against this attack are dunned as "Not supporting the troops." One might suggest the best way to support troops is to see them brought home safely. One might also suggest that support continues after the shooting stops. This does not appear to be on the agenda for the Republican Party. A vote along party lines today in the House Budget Committee slashed $9.7 billion from veterans disability compensation programs, as well as from other programs. These cuts, pushed through the committee by the majority-holding Republicans, are part of the plan to see Bush's new $1.57 trillion tax cut through. Wave that flag, George.

Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, when asked by a reporter whether the Iraqi people would cheer Americans after this attack, stated that Baghdad's civilians would welcome us. This defies known history in Japan and Germany and Vietnam; those populations, after absorbing saturation bombing, hardened their resistance. American television purported to show Iraqi civilians cheering a soldier who tore down a picture of Hussein, but a Sky News reporter walking Baghdad's streets reported that, to a man, everyone he spoke with spat hatred and derision for this American attack.

On September 11th, I sat in numb horror as the images of carnage unfolded before me on the television. On that day, I was the victim of terrorism, along with every other American. Today, I sit in numbed horror as more carnage unfolds. Hundreds of massive missiles have rained down on a city far away, killing indiscriminately among the young, the infirm, the old and the innocent. My government did this. My nation did this. My leaders did this. Today, I am the terrorist.

So are you.

There is no justification for this attack. Saddam Hussein and his forces had been effectively disarmed by the first Gulf War, by the UNSCOM inspections, and by the more recent UNMOVIC inspections. According to Hussein Kamel, son-in-law to Saddam Hussein whose comments to the UN in 1991 were recently reported in a buried Newsweek story, Iraq was pretty much disarmed of mass destruction weapons even before the first war. The Bush administration, in pushing for this war, has foisted lie after lie after lie upon the American people and the world. The world didn't buy it, but they weren't dependent upon lapdog media sources like ours for their data.

We are the terrorists now -- stupid underinformed terrorists who dance to the tune of a corporate media machine that will profit wildly from this attack. NBC, MSNBC and CNBC are owned by General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors on earth. They will be paid handsomely in military contracts because of this, as they always have been. Yet GE gives us the news we need to understand what is happening.

Americans are not often afforded the opportunity to witness a war crime live on television. The poverty of the Iraqi people leaves them bound, unable to escape the wave of steel. We have blown their brains out. We have incinerated them in place. We will continue to do so, and you can watch it from your couch. Today, you are the terrorist.

So am I.

William Rivers Pitt is the bestselling author of War On Iraq (with Scott Ritter) and The Greatest Sedition is Silence. He teaches high school in Boston, MA. Scott Lowery contributed research to this report. © Copyright 2003 by

Greetings from Baghdad!
by John Ross

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Tijuana border was teeming with humanity the afternoon I crossed north, disguised as a tipico day-tripping turista armed with a slim jim of Gusano Rojo mezcal and a frilly piñata to establish my identity as a US citizen.

A small knot fisted up inside my gut as I approached the US Border Patrol window. "US citizen," I boasted, without producing a shred of evidence. "I believe you," yawned the agent and waved me through.

My appearance on the Mexico-US border obeyed a necessary evasion of possible prosecution under the USA PATRIOT Act. I had just returned from three weeks as a Human Shield in Baghdad -- a war crime according to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (a war criminal himself).

Ever since five organizers of the Human Shield Action (including this poor sinner) were ushered out of Iraq March 7, my goal was to reach the Saturday anti-war rally in San Francisco's Civic Center. Now I was speaking to a sea of 50,000 and the words roared out of my throat.

I bring you greetings and solidarity from the workers and 30 Human Shields on site at the Daura Refinery in West Baghdad!

Greetings and solidarity from the dozen Shields on site at the Taje Food Storage and 20 more at the Baghdad South power plant!

Greetings from another score at Aldurah Power and ten more down the road at the Water Treatment plant, not to mention the 16 on the April 7th Water Treatment facilities -- all UN --certified civilian sites bombed by the first Bush!

Over a hundred Shields in Baghdad await his son's bombs! The blood will be on his hands!

The Global Peace Movement Flexes Its Muscles
The dark facade of the San Francisco Federal Building loomed over the Civic Center like a malignant monolith. Thirty-nine years ago, I was dragged off those premises in chains to serve a two-year sentence for refusing to report for induction in the US Army. When I went to jail that long-ago summer, there was no one in the streets to say no to war. This time around, millions have marched even before the bombs began to drop.

What we measure here as the most significant anti-war thrust since the 1960s, is dwarfed by the exponential growth of European numbers. More than 3,000,000 on the streets of Spain alone this past February 15.

Gathered on an atoll in the eastern Atlantic to escape the peace mobs in the streets, this unholy troika formulated ultimatums that would justify re-conquest of their once-upon-a-time empires.

I audited the Bush ultimatum during a vigil at the Israeli consulate to commemorate the life of Rachel Corrie, the 23 year-old US activist murdered by Israeli army bulldozers while trying to stop a home demolition in Rafah camp, Gaza. The bulldozer, which deliberately rolled over Rachel twice, was paid for by US tax dollars. [See Around the Bend, The-Edge, March 28, 2003]

Rachel was the best of them -- the young and the old and the not-so-old who have come to put their bodies between the barbarian invaders and the people to whom the land belongs. "Peace activists" they are called in Palestine; "human shields" in Baghdad.

Remember These Names: They Are Standing in for Us
Hundreds of volunteers stand beneath the US bombs in Baghdad. Here are some of their names:

Faith Fippinger heard about the Human Shields in a copy shop in north India while on a spiritual trek that had taken her to Tibet. In Baghdad, she smuggled medical supplies to Christian hospitals during the day.

At night, she sleeps under Bush's bombs at the Daura oil refinery/ Eric Levy, 75, and Karl Dallas, a 72 year-old folksinger, installed under the stacks at Daura and at the Aldurah power plant, respectively. Not surprisingly, it is the grandfathers who understand most keenly what mortality is all about.

Angel O., a slim, tough Norwegian and failed boxer who grew up in power plants all over Scandinavia and has lived for weeks at the Baghdad South electricity distribution unit. Baghdad South was bombed in '91 with nine reported casualties. Now Angel's life hangs by a thread as a George Bush, obsessed by both petroleum products and winning his father's approbation, lobs 3,000 missiles into the heart of Baghdad.

On the night the US president unleashed his his long ballyhooed "Shock and Awe" show, Antoinette McCormick, a gray-haired Scottish socialist, mounted the roof of the Taje food storage site and cursed Bush's bullying. "Bastards!" she shouted in her fine angry burr to the exploding heavens.

The movement will change radically in the dark days ahead. Some will fall away, demoralized because we have not stopped Bush from launching his demonic pyrotechnics, but the commitment of others will deepen. Now we must fill the streets of the planet and bring down presidents who do not heed the voices of the people. We must take creative, emphatic mass action, so costly to those who wage war that they will calculate an early truce.

The sandstorms are swirling out in the blighted desert and the heat will fry the brains of the invaders, the oil fires will blaze and the toxins rise and resistance will spread from block to block in the cities. The body bags will soon be returning home. In between, you will not hear a lot about the destruction your tax dollars have brought the Iraqi people.

The news will be all "our boys," an invading army with 500 reporters "embedded" amongst the troops to spread the Big Lie and wave a flag that will forever be stained with the blood of the innocents. With Baghdad bereft of reporters on the ground, word of the inevitable and heroic resistance of the Iraqi people will never be written -- at least by the living. I shall never know what has happened to my compa?ros at the refinery.

On the morning after the Bush death bombs began to rain down upon Baghdad, thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of San Francisco, determined to shut this gleaming city down. All day, we threw our bodies into downtown intersections and in front of freeway off-ramps, snarling traffic and impeding commerce.

Hundreds of us descended on the Bechtel Corporation, which has billion-buck contracts to reconstruct Iraq once Bush's bombers have deconstructed it. My instant affinity group took the backdoors, our arms locked to stop Bechtel from doing business as usual. By 10 AM, management, frustrated by the blockade, called the million-dollar-a-minute workday off.

I burn with shame at what the country on my passport has just done. I am on fire with rage and mourning for my comrades under Bush's bombs in Baghdad.

John Ross is a widely traveled author, poet, activist and reporter. Email at

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