Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
GOD SAVE HRC, FROM REALITY — Jeffrey St. Clair on Hillary Clinton’s miraculous rags-to-riches method of financial success; LA CONFIDENTIAL: Lee Ballinger on race, violence and inequality in Los Angeles; PAPER DRAGON: Peter Lee on China’s military; THE BATTLE OVER PAT TILLMAN: David Hoelscher provides a 10 year retrospective on the changing legacy of Pat Tillman; MY BROTHER AND THE SPACE PROGRAM: Paul Krassner on the FBI and rocket science. PLUS: Mike Whitney on how the Central Bank feeds state capitalism; JoAnn Wypijewski on what’s crazier than Bowe Bergdahl?; Kristin Kolb on guns and the American psyche; Chris Floyd on the Terror War’s disastrous course.
Blowback From Iraq

Giving Terrorism a Reason to Exist

by CAMILO MEJIA

According to a report by 16 U.S. Spy agencies leaked to The New York Times, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped create more global terrorism and energize jihadist ideology throughout the world since the 9/11 attacks. The intelligence report, completed in April of this year but still classified, contradicts more optimistic assessments by both The White House and the House Intelligence Committee, which have claimed that America and its Allies are safer since the September 11 attacks. The report, however, also supports what critics of the war, especially dissenting U.S. veterans, have been saying all along, that the war in Iraq is actually creating more terrorism.

On March 15, 2004, just before surrendering to military authorities after refusing to return to the war, I gave a press conference to both national and international media. A reporter from Univision asked me if there was a difference between what was being reported in the U.S. about soldiers in Iraq and my experience there. I told her that morale amongst U.S. troops, contrary to media reports, was really low because we lacked a sense of mission and because "we were all lied to about weapons of mass destruction and connections between Iraq and terrorism to justify the war. In reality, we’re giving terrorism a reason to exist with this war." Fast forward to the New York Times article and you have the exact same thing, only this time reported by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, two and a half years later!

Part of the problem is that the public tends to believe what the government and the corporate media present, through its hordes of loyal analysts and experts, as fact, while readily dismissing the first-hand experience and information brought back by the very same service men and women they allowed their government to send to war without a real justification. A more serious problem, however, would be for the people of the United States to allow this "new report" to be misused for political gain rather than for a more appropriate action: the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq.

If unchallenged, the misuse of the report would simply aid top Republicans in bashing their second-term president in order to secure their party’s next presidential nomination. Only six weeks away from national elections, the intelligence report would also aid Democrats in their quest to regain control of both houses of Congress. But regardless of which party takes home the trophy, what constituents should not lose from sight, during either election, is that with the Iraq War increasing terrorist threats to the United States, there could be no better reason–nor a more appropriate time–to demand from the government the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

At the heart of this mess is not simply which party is to blame for sending our troops into a bound-to-fail military adventure that actually energized global terrorism–in reality both parties obediently stood behind the president as his administration led the country to war–but also how to best utilize the information to do right by both the Iraqi people and our own military, all while making the world a safer place. The choice is clear, end the occupation of Iraq and bring all the troops home.

Camilo E. Mejia, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, served nine months in a U.S. Army jail for refusing to return to his Florida Guard Unit in Iraq. His Iraq War memoir, Road From Ar Ramadi The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, will be published by The New Press in the spring of 2007.

© 2006 Camilo E. Mejia