Wednesday, December 01, 2004

War News for December 1, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi children, aged three, four, and five, killed by mortar fire in Baqouba Bring ‘em on: From one little article in the Detroit Free Press: A resurgence in armed action broke out Tuesday in areas west of Fallujah along a key highway leading to Jordan weeks after a massive U.S.-led military offensive in the city. Heavily armed anti-American insurgents on Tuesday took over and briefly held nine police stations and highway checkpoints, blowing up two buildings, police said. Drivers reported that insurgents took control of large sections of the highway leading west out of Iraq, stopping traffic and shaking down passengers. The takeover of police installations came on a day of bombings against U.S. military convoys elsewhere. The worst was in Beiji, an oil-refining town 110 miles north of Baghdad, as a U.S. military convoy went through a bustling area of shops. A car bomb killed seven civilians and wounded at least 15 people. Two of the wounded were U.S. soldiers. In a simultaneous attack elsewhere in Beiji, insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. tank, wounding a soldier. Five U.S. soldiers were wounded when a suicide bomber blew up his car along the perilous road from Baghdad to its international airport, destroying an armored military truck. U.S. forces also said a U.S. soldier died late Monday after an explosion hit his patrol north of Baghdad. Insurgents blew up two badly damaged buildings Tuesday in Khaledia, between Fallujah and Ramadi, a small city on the highway leading to Jordan, police said. Insurgents also took over six checkpoints west of Ramadi, al Delemi said. It’s a good thing the offensive in Fallujah broke the back of the insurgency. Otherwise there could be real problems. Horror: Fuad Kubaysi, one of those staying at the Red Crescent compound, said, "What has happened to Falluja is a horror beyond anything imaginable. We don't want it anymore. Let them have it. Let whomever wants it have it. We cannot ever call this city home again." Red Crescent volunteer Sabri Abd Almalek said the restrictions imposed by the Marines are hindering their humanitarian efforts to bring relief to families throughout the city. "We are stuck here," he said. "We came here to help the people, treat the sick, and they won't let us leave -- only when we have permission." US Media: A review of international media coverage reveals that, in general, the US press, as in this instance, focuses on battle tactics and keeps score of US casualties, while elsewhere in the world the press is emphasizing the human costs of the war. Since the initial attack on Fallujah, the mainstream US press has failed to mention the civilian casualties—though they number, according to international reports, in the thousands.The US press has focused instead on ‘team sports’ reporting, assuring the US public that their ‘team’ is winning, limiting statistics only to those of the ‘team,’and reporting the US military officers’ next plans. The tone of these stories is clinical, cold and distant. From such lopsided media coverage of the Fallujah story, an observer can only conclude that the so-called “free press” no longer exists in the US. Either that, or the US press is choosing to mirror the worst in US society: indifference, cruelty, greed and selfishness. Which of these conditions, one wonders, is more difficult to cure? U.S. Troop Deaths: The Department of Defense has identified 127 U.S. service members who died supporting U.S.-led operations in Iraq in November. At least eight more have died but remain unidentified, according to the military. The total of 135, which includes non-combat related deaths, matches April of this year for the deadliest month since fighting began in March 2003. US Troops Hospitalized: About 21,000 American soldiers, most of them from units sent to Iraq, have been treated at the biggest U.S. military hospital outside the United States since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, the hospital said Monday. Landstuhl doctors treated 17,878 U.S. soldiers from Iraq and 3,085 from Afghanistan through Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Marie Shaw told The Associated Press. A Slight Difference of Opinion: Disintegrating security in Baghdad was underlined in a sombre warning yesterday from the British embassy against using the airport road or taking a plane out of Iraq. The embassy says a bomb was discovered on a flight inside Iraq on 22 November. It shows that insurgents have been able to penetrate the stringent security at Baghdad airport. The embassy says its own staff have been advised against taking commercial planes. The warning is in sharp contrast to more optimistic statements from US military commanders after the capture of Fallujah in which they have spoken of "breaking the back of the insurgency". I recommend reading the whole article. The British embassy no longer allows any travel on the Baghdad airport road. The reference to the use of shaped charges should give US commanders a cold chill. Still No Roses: Faced with the real threat of terrorist attacks during Iraqi elections next month, U.S. military officials tell NBC News the Pentagon is now planning to raise the number of American troops in Iraq by 10,000-11,000 to provide additional security. That's twice the number of needed reinforcements first anticipated and will temporarily raise the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to about 150,000. That means soldiers from the Army's 1st Infantry and 1st Cavalry and some U.S. Marines who were scheduled to leave Iraq this month may be ordered to stay longer, while soldiers from the 3rd Infantry and 82nd Airborne could be ordered into Iraq earlier than scheduled. Even then, it would seem impossible to protect all 9,000 polling places in Iraq from terrorist attack. Building Democracy: Block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood, Iraq's election process is unfolding in starkly different ways. In areas populated by Shiites, who are the majority in Iraq, the process is going relatively smoothly. In contrast, intimidation and fear are rampant in some areas where Sunnis reside. The success of the registration drive - and the success of the parliamentary election itself - matters greatly. If enough Sunnis don't register, the Shiite population is certain to dominate the election, leaving the minority Sunnis without a voice or incentive to support the government. After such an election, Iraq might be rocked by charges of minority disenfranchisement, weakening hopes for quelling violence and reducing sectarian strife. American World Leadership Rumsfeld Sued for Alleged War Crimes: Alleging responsibility for war crimes and torture at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, a human rights group has filed a criminal complaint in Germany against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association said they and five Iraqi citizens mistreated by US soldiers were seeking a probe by German federal prosecutors of leading US policymakers. U.N. panel disputes U.S. invasion of Iraq: An influential United Nations-appointed panel on Tuesday challenged the Bush administration's right to use military force against an enemy that does not pose an imminent military threat. The 16-member panel, appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, said in a long-awaited report that only the U.N. Security Council has the legal standing to authorize such a "preventive war." U.S. generals told of detainee abuse early: A confidential report to Army generals in Iraq in December 2003 warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees, a finding delivered more than a month before Army investigators received the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison that touched off investigations into prisoner mistreatment. The report, which was not released publicly and was recently obtained by The Washington Post, concluded that some U.S. arrest and detention practices at the time could "technically" be illegal. It also said coalition fighters could be feeding the Iraqi insurgency by "making gratuitous enemies" as they conducted sweeps netting hundreds of detainees who probably did not belong in prison and holding them for months at a time. The Human Cost Deaths in combat ricochet here at home: The love affair of Deborah and Donald May began in September 1999 as a happy collision of two hearts. It ended March 25, 2003, during the first days of the Iraq war, when the tank commanded by Staff Sgt. May, 31, plunged into the Euphrates River and sank to the bottom. He and his three tankmates drowned, trapped inside. Iraq Fighters: Then, with humility and pride, 39-year-old Abu Mohammed began his story _ a tale of death, life and prospective martyrdom. Unlike so many accounts of a conflict that has reshaped Iraq, it came not from the U.S. forces prosecuting the war, but from among the ranks of the men they fought. A blacksmith turned insurgent, Abu Mohammed undertook an odyssey this month that took him from the battlefields of Fallujah, roiled with religion, to a harrowing escape across the Euphrates River, to a lonely exile in Baghdad, where he waits to fight another day. It began with the death of his son, Ahmed, whose short life was ended by an American bullet. "He was only 13, but he was the equal of a thousand men," Abu Mohammed said, in words that served as an epitaph. GI threatens suicide over return to Iraq: A serviceman, apparently distraught over the prospect of being sent back to the war in Iraq, threatened to kill himself as he stood naked and screaming outside his house. Police took the man into custody at his Fernwood Drive house. He was taken for treatment to Bridgeport Hospital. Great response from Chris in yesterday’s Comments: "'He was taken for treatment to Bridgeport Hospital. ' Treatment for what? Sanity?" Requiem Mass for Iraq hostage as husband clings to faint hope: A mutilated body discovered in Fallujah a fortnight ago was not Margaret Hassan, the missing British aid worker believed murdered earlier this month, British sources in Baghdad said yesterday. Although DNA testing has yet to be completed, dental records prove that the body was not Mrs Hassan’s, leaving her exact fate still uncertain. …video received by al-Jazeera television channel in mid-November shows a blindfolded woman in an orange boilersuit being shot. The British Ambassador in Qatar and one family member concluded that it most probably did show Mrs Hassan’s killing. But others in Iraq, including her husband, cling to the slim hope that she may still be alive. Casualty Reports Local story: 100 Texas service members dead in Iraq since beginning of war. Local story: One NYC firefighter killed in Baghdad, another wounded in same incident.


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