Tuesday, August 24, 2004

War News for August 24, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting continues in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded in Baghdad RPG ambush. Bring ‘em on: More air strikes reported in Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi education and environment ministers targeted in two separate attacks. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents establish roadblocks near Basra, attack oil company offices. Bring ‘em on: US troops and Iraqi police foil five roadside bomb attacks near Mosul. Rummy’s fungible cannon fodder. “Under growing pressure to ship Marines to Iraq, the Marine Corps is cutting in half the rigorous field combat training it gives units preparing to deploy, senior officers say. The Marines hope to make up the time by intensifying this final, pre-deployment training and focusing it on skills needed to survive and prevail in Iraq's brutal combat conditions. This means practicing more nighttime operations, ambushes, city fighting and guarding of convoys.” Aside from cutting unit combat training time in half, note that the training emphasis has shifted to precisely those combat tasks Rummy predicted would never happen. Ultimatum. “‘We are in the last hours. This evening, Iraqi forces will reach the doors of the shrine and control it and appeal to the Mehdi Army to throw down their weapons,’ Sha'alan told a news conference, according to Reuters. ‘If they do not, we will wipe them out.’ The warning came as the most intense fighting in days raged between U.S. forces and members of al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia. U.S. tanks rolled through the streets around the Shiite Muslim shrine as artillery, machine-gun fire and mortars rattled through the heart of the city. At times, thick black smoked billowed above Najaf's old city area.” “Iraqi forces,” my ass. Those are US troops. Iraqi insurgents. “The resistance to US and foreign troops in Iraq is becoming unified and now controls 70 percent of attacks, one of its leaders told AFP, adding that Jordanian extremist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi had been given an ultimatum for violating its ideology. ‘There is one leadership comprising Iraqis and other Arab nationals which heads 70 percent of the operations being carried out in Iraq against the Americans and those who cooperate with them,’ said the source, who had close ties to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden up until three years ago.” Whitewash. “The report, set to be released Tuesday, does not explicitly blame Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for the misconduct or for ordering policies that condoned or encouraged it. But the panel implicitly faults Mr. Rumsfeld, as well as his top civilian and military aides, for not exercising sufficient oversight over a confusing array of policies and interrogation practices at detention centers in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq, officials said. The military's Joint Staff, which is responsible for allocating military resources among the various combatant commanders, is criticized for not recognizing that military police officers at Abu Ghraib were overwhelmed by an influx of detainees, while the ratio of prisoners to guards was much lower at the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The report also criticizes the top commander in Iraq at the time, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, for not paying close enough attention to worsening conditions at Abu Ghraib, delegating oversight of prison operations to subordinates.” What else can you expect from a panel Rumsfeld appointed to investigate himself? Baghdad medics. “Before the fall of Saddam Hussein, Red Crescent paramedics in Baghdad were used to responding to heart attacks and car accidents, house fires and falls. Now they drive to the aftermath of car bombs and mortar attacks, gathering up body parts and risking their own lives. They say they have had to grow accustomed to seeing mutilated men, women and children and coping with large numbers of casualties at a time. Since an insurgency against US-led forces began 16 months ago, hardly a day goes by in Baghdad without an explosion, which rattles the soot-covered windows of the headquarters and sends the paramedics rushing to their ambulances.” Al-Anbar. “Echo Company has lost 22 of its 185 men, more than any other Marine or Army company. It's had more than 40 wounded. U.S. soldiers and Marines have stopped patrolling large swaths of Anbar. After losing dozens of men to a ‘voiceless, faceless mass of people’ with no clear leadership or political aim other than killing Americans, the U.S. military had to re-evaluate the situation in and around Ramadi, said Maj. Thomas Neemeyer, the head intelligence officer for the 1st Brigade of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, the main military force in the area.” Latifaya. “This small farming town, en route from Baghdad to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, has become Iraq's capital of kidnapping and murder, a place where police live in constant fear of brutal death. ‘The area is very dangerous for us and we don't go out in our uniforms. We don't even want to eat in a restaurant for fear of being shot down at every street corner,’ said a senior police officer in Latifiya. Refusing to give his first name and jumping back in horror when asked if he could be photographed, he went to great lengths to explain that the daily attacks carried out in the area were the work of unknown ‘Arab fundamentalists’, not Iraqis.” Commentary Opinion: “Printing as many names and as often as possible is a gloomy task. These are the deaths that the president and his people try to sneak past the country. The dead were brave men. The president is craven. He buries the war, and the news reporters, indolent and in fear of authority, follow like cattle going into pens. For so long, the public believed the news it was given. Saddam Hussein was going to blow us up with an atom bomb! The Muslims of Iraq love us!” Opinion: These are not anonymous bomb throwers sending notes to the media. These are Iraq's favorite sons, stars of the national sport. Yet they all seem to be saying the same thing: America's military is not wanted on our land. Another team member, Ahmed Manajid, demanded to know: ‘How will [Bush] meet his God having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes.’ The athlete added that were he not playing for his country he would ‘for sure’ be fighting in the Iraqi resistance. ‘I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?’ Manajid asked. That is a legitimate question that no one in the Bush administration and few in Congress want to grapple with. And yet we wonder why, 15 months after the United States ‘liberated’ Iraq, are there so many people there who hate us?” Analysis: “Little did the Iraqis know that the reality was quite the opposite: by August, the UN mission had grown very distant from the Americans. The intense early relationship that Sergio, the world's most brilliant negotiator of post-conflict crises, had fashioned with Paul Bremer, the US proconsul, had already fractured. Contact was intermittent once Bremer's coalition provisional authority (CPA) could deal directly with the Iraqis whom it had appointed, with Sergio's help, to the governing council. General dismay over occupation tactics aside, Sergio had already parted company with Bremer over key issues such as the need for electoral affirmation of a new constitution, and the arrests and conditions of detention of the thousands imprisoned at Abu Ghraib prison. The low point came at the end of July last year, when, astonishingly, the US blocked the creation of a fully fledged UN mission in Iraq. Sergio believed that this mission was vital and had thought the CPA also supported it. Clearly, the Bush administration had eagerly sought a UN presence in occupied Iraq as a legitimizing factor, rather than as a partner that could mediate the occupation's early end, which we knew was essential to averting a major conflagration.” Casualty Reports Local story: Ohio Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Washington State Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Mississippi Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Illinois Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: New York soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Oklahoma Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Ohio soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: New York Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania soldier wounded in Iraq. Pop Quiz In May, the White House announced that George W. Bush would deliver five weekly speeches intended to shore up support for his Iraq policies. How many of the five did he deliver before abandoning the effort? (a) One. (b) Two (c) Three (d) Four (Answer here.) 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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