The Iraq war: lingering issues and questions

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The last American combat troops are finally out of Iraq.  Finally!  We thank the troops and their families for their service, as we welcome our troops home.

As we’ve said before, we never agreed with this war, but the fact remains that the troops and their families make the same sacrifices, be it for a “good war” or one of questionable purpose.   I applaud President Obama for honoring the Bush administration’s agreement with Iraq to pull out combat troops out by August 31, of this year.   This, among other facts is lost on Bushites like John Bolton who declared victory in Iraq, (See video below) but remain opposed to the Bush administration’s agreement to pull out of Iraq.  It’s not the first time, the GOP wore flip-flops when it comes to policy and we can bet it won’t be the last.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TTUOFZELOk[/youtube]

Aside from the very real sacrifices that our troops made, this war cost every one of us much more than the billions of dollars spent on that war when the GOP didn’t care about fiscal responsibility.  We learned about the Bush administration’s torture policy because of Abu Ghraib.  Before you read further, please be advised that the link in the next sentence contains very graphic pictures.  Please be prepared before clicking on the link. These very graphic pictures of how we treated prisoners at  Abu Ghraib were the epitome of a picture telling a 1,000 words.   At the time, the Bush administration claimed Abu Graib was just random acts by “a few bad applies.” That was before the torture memos were released, before we learned about torture at Guatanamo Bay.  We also learned that even if we can get past the moral and legal issues, contrary to the Bush administration’s “justification” torture did not result in actionable intelligence.  In fact, conventional interrogation methods were more effective.  This was before we learned about the rendition program which allowed other countries to do our torturing for us.  It was before the DOJ under the Obama Administration concluded that Bush attorneys who provided legal cover for torture did so  because they were “blinded by their ideology.”

There is also the question of Xe (formerly Blackwater).  Xe paid $42 million in fines to avoid facing criminal charges.  In addition, the company was supposed to be precluded from completing current contracts or entering into new ones with the government.  So, why does the government continue to do business with Xe?

The company formerly known as Blackwater achieved notoriety in 2007 when its agents opened fire in downtown Baghdad and killed 17 people, a number of civilians among them.  The company no longer provides security in Baghdad, but still has contracts in Afghanistan with the State Department and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

For more on Blackwater’s history see here, here and here.

President Obama did the right thing in terms of ending the war of Iraq. That doesn’t change the reality that there is still some unfinished business regarding issues related to the Iraq war.

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