Friday, October 29, 2004

War News for Friday, October 29, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in ambush near Balad. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute eleven Iraqi soldiers. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier wounded in patrol ambush near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, one wounded in attack on police station near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Deputy governor of Diyalah assassinated near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed, three Iraqis and two US soldiers wounded by car bomb in Mosul. Allawi sends negotiating team to Fallujah. “Iraq's prime minister will send a team to insurgent-held Fallujah to discuss clearing the city of insurgents and heavy weapons in a last-ditch bid to avert a full-scale military assault, officials said on Friday. The comments came as some 1,000 US and Iraqi troops who have encircled the city for more than two weeks, said they were prepared for action if ordered.” US prepares for major assaults in Fallujah and Ramadi. More weapons and explosives looted. “Many U.S. officials and other experts blame the massive disappearance of Iraqi weapons-related materials on the Pentagon's failure to anticipate the waves of looting and lawlessness that convulsed Iraq after Saddam's ouster in April 2003. They also cited decisions by Rumsfeld and former Gen. Tommy Franks, the overall commander of the invasion, to deploy far fewer U.S. troops to stabilize the country than U.S. ground commanders had sought. Al Qaqaa was on a classified list of Iraqi weapons facilities that the CIA provided to Pentagon and military officials before the invasion, said the U.S. intelligence official. But when the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command produced their own list of sites that a limited number of U.S. ‘exploitation teams’ should search, priority was given to those identified by exiled Iraqi opposition groups, he said. Al Qaqaa wasn't one of them.” British medical journal estimates 100,000 Iraqis killed. Wounded troops. “Since the war started in March 2003, more than 8,000 U.S. troops have been wounded - roughly seven for every death. And about half of the wounds have occurred in the last six months. The 31st Combat Support Hospital is in the former Ibn Sina Hospital, a private hospital built by Saddam Hussein for the exclusive use of his family and closest friends. It is located inside the heavily fortified Green Zone and admits about 10 patients a day, though that number changes according to insurgent activity, officials said.” Cheneyburton. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating whether the Army's handling of a large Iraq contract with the Halliburton Company violated procurement rules, according to lawyers for an Army official who made the charges of improprieties. F.B.I. agents have requested an interview with the official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, the chief of contracting with the Army Corps of Engineers, on her allegations regarding a 2003 contract with Halliburton to repair Iraqi oil fields, her lawyer, Michael D. Kohn, said in an interview yesterday. Ms. Greenhouse, in an Oct. 21 letter to the acting Army secretary, charged that officials had shown favoritism toward Halliburton, the Houston-based conglomerate formerly led by Vice President Dick Cheney, in the awarding and oversight of the oil contract. She also said officials at the Army Corps of Engineers had tried to remove her as chief contract monitor after she raised persistent questions about Halliburton contracts. The Army says it has referred her letter to the Pentagon's inspector general for review.” War costs. “The economic cost incurred so far may be as large as - or larger than - what has actually been spent directly on the war. (While estimates vary, the official figure for spending stands at around $120 billion since the conflict began.) And there are likely to be major economic costs as long as the war continues. But start with the economic impact to date. Two economists, Warwick J. McKibbin of the Brookings Institution and Andrew Stoeckel of the Center for International Economics in Australia, have calculated that the war may have already cost the United States $150 billion in lost gross domestic product since fighting began in March 2003. That is close to one percentage point of growth lost over the past year and a half. If that figure is correct, the nation's annual economic growth rate, which has been 3.7 percent during this period, could have been nearly 4.7 percent without the war.” Commentary Editorial: “He went to war without serious thought to dealing with the aftermath. Because we lacked enough troops and even rudimentary plans to secure and rebuild the country, a variety of enemies have been able to fight for control of Iraq and hope to bleed America dry. That violence and our response to it are creating more terrorists and more terrorist sympathizers. Instead of encouraging democracy in the Middle East, the war is making it less likely.” Editorial: “But Kerry has one huge advantage over Bush, and that is his willingness to recognize the situation in Iraq for what it truly is - a rapidly deteriorating crisis that is teetering on the brink of chaos. Bush has yet to demonstrate that he grasps either the reality of what is happening in Iraq or his mistakes and miscalculations that helped create that reality.” Editorial: “There are few more telling symbols of the Pentagon's disastrously misplaced priorities than this week's debut of the F/A-22 Raptor, the most expensive fighter ever built. This gold-plated cold war plane enters service some 23 years after it was first designed and at four times its originally projected price, even after adjusting for inflation. Every F-22 will cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The Air Force plans to buy 277….But this is Air Force money, and there would be shock, awe and anger among military bureaucrats and defense contracting executives if it was redirected to different services, like the Army and Marines, and different needs, like more ground troops for Iraq. These budgeting dogmas are as bipartisan as they are dysfunctional. It is the responsibility of this administration, and the one to be elected next Tuesday, to shut down these extravagant and unjustified programs. That is the best way to ensure that America can afford what it really needs.” Opinion: “In May of 2003, President Bush thought the war was over. It had barely begun. Many thousands have died in the long and bloody months since then. Even now, Dick Cheney, with a straight face, is calling Iraq ‘a remarkable success story.’ One of the worst things about the management of this war is the way we've treated our men and women in uniform. The equipment shortages experienced by troops shoved into combat have been unconscionable. Soldiers and marines, in many cases, have been forced to face enemy fire with flak jackets from the Vietnam era that were all but useless, and sometimes without any body armor at all. Relatives back home have had to send the troops such items as radios and goggles, and even graphite to keep their weapons from jamming.” Opinion: “When this economic record is combined with recent events in Iraq – over 1,000 U.S. troops killed, 7,000 wounded with thousands of amputees, 27,000 total medically-related discharges, and thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths – the picture of a government out of control comes into focus. So why is Bush, as of this writing, projected as the possible winner in this November’s general election?” Letter to the Editor: “There are more holes in George Bush’s Christianity than there are in his military service record.” Analysis: “What would a Kerry presidency bring to the table in Iraq? Above all a renewed commitment to competence. It is difficult to imagine that his administration could possibly make as many mistakes as the Bush administration. From the start, the Pentagon ignored State Department plans for the postwar occupation, expecting instead that the Iraqi people would ‘greet us as liberators,’ as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz predicted in 2003. This disdain for expertise continued throughout the occupation, as the Coalition Provisional Authority was stacked with political appointees rather than actual experts, and fatal decisions such as disbanding the Iraqi army were made over the objections of military personnel. The advisers in Kerry's inner circle, by contrast, are known for prizing competence and facts over mere ideology. Consider Richard Holbrooke, who is on the short list for Secretary of State in a Kerry administration. When tasked with managing the occupation in Bosnia during the 1990s, Holbrooke ‘scoured the Foreign Service, the military, and the civilian bureaucracy for experts who knew the Balkans, who could speak the local language, and who could do the jobs for which they were recruited,’ according to then-Croatian ambassador Peter Galbraith.” Analysis: “The fight this time is expected to be just as bloody, experts say. And the spread of the insurgency - with its greater destructive expertise, numerous cells, and as many as 20,000 recruits across Iraq - means that a Fallujah triumph alone may not end the insurgency. ‘The logic is: You flatten Fallujah, hold up the head of Fallujah, and say “Do our bidding, or you're next,”’ says Toby Dodge, an Iraq analyst at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. ‘The reason for such [threats] is because there are not enough troops, which creates a security vacuum, which fuels the insurgency.’” Analysis: “Inexplicably, the looting in Baghdad was not halted after a few days, but went on for weeks. Hospitals, museums, ministries and even some of Saddam Hussein's palaces were looted and, in some cases, burned. The U.S. inaction was bewildering and a source of great anger and frustration to most of the Iraqis I knew. There have been few public explanations from U.S. officials about this, but, off the record, senior U.S. military officers have told me they did not intervene because they had insufficient numbers of troops.” Analysis: “How does the Bush administration get away with all this? Once again, thanks to the media. Apart from the New York Times, CBS News and the blogosphere, US corporate media are doing what the can to shun the story - duly following the White House line. The entire Bush administration spin now consists of ‘proving’ the explosives had already disappeared before April 3, 2003. But accumulated evidence from the ‘reality-based community’ - ie the real world, as compared with the Bush administration's fantasyland - keeps interfering.” Casualty Reports Local story: South Carolina Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Virginia soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Texas soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Colorado Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Georgia contractor killed in Iraq. Note to Readers I don't know if many readers read the local stories linked under Casualty Reports. The stories of today's three wounded soldiers not only give you insight into the nature of the wounds - a double amputee, a triple amputee and a Marine partially blinded and disfigured - but they are well written and also give some insight into the character of these casualties. Rant of the Day Al QaQaa (prounonced al ca ca) A. ca-ca: 1. A hispanic term meaning shit. 2. Used mainly by hispanic parents as a way to deter young children from touching things. (1.) Damn that smells like ca-ca. (2.) Ca-ca, don't touch that! B. ca-ca: 1. spanish for "poop" (1.) there's no way you have to ca-ca AGAIN! If any of you saw today's Pentagon press conference with Larry Di Rita and MAJ Pearson on the fiasco at Al Qa-Qaa, you witnessed Lying Larry being repeatedly dipped in shit by the good Major. Truly a sight to behold. YD 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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