Questions for General Petraeus

By David Swanson,

Are you here to communicate your own view, that of the White House, or both?

Please name all the people with whom you have had communications in preparing for this testimony.

What does the White House expect from your testimony?

Are you submitting a written report to this Congress? Did you ever plan to do so? What changed your mind?

Are you submitting a written report to the White House? Why not?

Are you aware that the President is required by law to submit a written report on progress in Iraq to this Congress by September 15th? Have you been or do you expect to be involved in the preparation of that report?

Are you aware that it is a felony to intentionally mislead or defraud the Congress, for example in the manner the White House did in making its case for this war in 2003?

Do you feel completely free to speak openly and honestly with us here today?

What do you believe is the ultimate goal of the current occupation of Iraq?

Do you believe that goal can ever be achieved?

How long would you estimate it would take?

How many lives would it be worth sacrificing to achieve that goal? Please specify the number of Iraqi lives and the number of American lives?

In the process of achieving that goal, will actions of the U.S. military and mercenaries have the overall results of making Americans and others in the world less safe or more safe?

According to National Intelligence Estimates, the occupation of Iraq is serving as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. Do you believe that is true?

If you were Osama bin Laden and you had the opportunity to dictate American policy, what would you have us do differently from what we are currently doing?

Polls suggest that people around the world, Iraqis, Americans, and active duty American troops all favor ending the occupation of Iraq. Clearly the corporations profiting from the occupation and the major oil companies still hoping to get their hands on Iraq’s oil disagree. Major General Smedley Butler testified before this Congress 73 years ago. He had come to believe that war was a racket and that he and the US military were acting as enforcers for criminal corporations interested purely in profit even at the cost of human life. It took Butler many years to come to that conclusion. Have you reached the same conclusion yet?

Are you aware that Iraqi oil workers have threatened to go on strike if the Iraqi parliament passes the draft hydrocarbon law?

Why do you suppose Iraqis would go on strike over a law that our newspapers tell us over and over again is all about fairness and equality?

Are you completely unaware that the draft oil law was drafted with the input of US oil corporations and would turn more than two-thirds of Iraq’s oil over to foreign corporations?

Isn’t that something the person in your position should be aware of? Who on your staff is charged with informing you of such things?

Are you familiar with international law, including the Hague and Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter?

Why did you feel compelled to produce a counter-insurgency manual that seems to be written as if there were no existing law governing the interaction of nations?

The Government Accounting Office’s recent report contradicts the White House line on most of the benchmarks, saying that at most 3 of 18 have been met. The GAO has a record of credibility. The White House, in contrast, told us that Iraq had WMDs and was tied to 9-11. In fact the White House originally wanted you to make this presentation tomorrow because it will be 9-11. Are you aware that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001?

The GAO has put its report down in writing. You have refused to do so. According to the Washington Post you persuaded the intelligence community to modify a National Intelligence Estimate to paint a picture of progress. Were you to now cite that NIE or the sections of the GAO report that have been modified by the Pentagon, you would simply be quoting yourself, would you not?

The Congressional Research Service says that attacks from al Qaeda are only a small percentage of the violent incidents in Iraq, and criticizes the Bush administration for increased use of false claims about Al Qaeda in Iraq since the so-called “surge” began. But you have argued that al Qaeda is “public enemy number one” in Iraq. Is that according to the Iraqi public? In what sense is a group that is responsible for only a small fraction of the violence the number one enemy?

In your opinion, how many months or years could an escalated occupation drag on before it would become inaccurate to keep calling it a “surge”?

According to the Associated Press the death rate from war in Iraq is double this year what it was last year. According to Just Foreign Policy an estimated 1,032,938 Iraqis have died as a result of the invasion and occupation, counted as deaths above the death rate under the pre-war sanctions and bombings. According to numerous sources, over 4 million Iraqis have been displaced, at least half of them outside their country. According to numerous sources, part of your so-called “surge” has involved placing many more Iraqis behind bars. The Bush Administration has claimed that US troop deaths in Iraq are down, which might have been expected from the increased aerial attacks, but it isn’t true. More US troops died in Iraq last month than in August of 2006, more in July of 2007 than in July of 2006, more in June of 2007 than in June of 2006, and so on for every month of this year. Factors that must be considered in any reduced violence in Baghdad are population displacement and ethnic cleansing. If all of these facts were wrong, and things were actually looking up, do you think the Iraqi people would be aware of it?

Do you think the American people would be aware of it?

Do you have access to knowledge that nobody else can see?

Let’s just assume that, contrary to all credible evidence, everything really is looking up in Iraq. Please explain why that is not a good reason to announce that the occupation will end and to begin ending it?

What effect would it have on the Iraqi people were the United States to announce a timeline for complete withdrawal from Iraq?

What basis do we have to believe you are in touch with the beliefs of the Iraqi people?

Are you aware that Iraq is now ranked second in a list of the world’s most badly failing states, that Iraq meets only 50% of its electricity demand, that 70% of Iraqis (and rising) lack adequate water, that Oxfam says a third of Iraqis need emergency aid, and that 28 percent of Iraqi children are malnourished?

Are you aware that Iraqis will be made aware that you are claiming success here today, and that many of them will find this offensive?

The President argued for what he called a “surge” on the grounds that it would improve the political situation in Iraq and bring about reconciliation. By all accounts that has not come to pass. The Congressional Research Service reports that the Iraqi government is near collapse. In fact, nearly half of Iraq’s cabinet members have withdrawn. Is the so-called “surge” then a failure?

Do you sleep well?

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