Sunday, December 05, 2004

War News for Sunday, December 5, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Seventeen Iraqis killed, thirteen wounded by gunmen in Tikrit while on the way to work for coalition forces. Three Iraqi national guardsmen killed and eighteen wounded in car bombing in Beiji. One Iraqi national guardsman killed and four wounded near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed, four wounded by guerilla attack in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Seventeen Kurdish pershmerga militiamen killed, forty wounded in car bombing in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Four slain men wearing Iraqi National Guards uniforms found in Tal Afar, raising to at least 70 the number of remains discovered in and around that town and Mosul since Nov. 18. Mortars were fired at a police station in Samarra, wounding two officers. Gunmen injured two policemen in another attack at about 10 a.m. Third country national truck driver killed by improvised explosive device near Beiji. One Iraqi National Guard officer killed and another wounded in Abayach. (Scroll to bottom)<> Good question: Common wisdom holds that if U.S. troops withdraw anytime soon, Iraq will descend into civil war, as Lebanon did in the late 1970s. But that ignores a question posed by events of recent weeks:<> Has a civil war already begun? Partial answer: More than 1 500 members of an Iraqi Christian group have gone to northern Iraq to try to protect Christians following attacks on churches in Baghdad and Mosul, the leader of the group said pm Saturday. In an interview, Yonadem Kana, the leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq and a member of the Iraqi National Council, said the fighters have been deployed in Baghdida near the northern city of Mosul. "We do not want to transform our movement into a militia," he said. "But if needed, we can arm more than 10,000 people." Three Soldiers' Stories The bomb's impact was devastating. As West's body lurched forward, three vertebrae and five other spinal bones were fractured. On the left side of his pelvis, a horseshoe-shaped structure called the ischium cracked in two places. His left heel bone fractured. His right fibula, in the lower leg, was broken. His right lung ruptured. The blast ripped the skin and fat from his lower back, and tore his scrotum. Later, his pancreas and gallbladder became infected. "I think he was very lucky," said Dr. Timothy Kuklo, the orthopedic surgeon who operated on West at Walter Reed. The spinal injury nearly paralyzed him. Cornier last spoke to his worried family a week ago. "Richard called me on Thanksgiving to say, 'Guess what, Mom? I'm coming home for the holidays,'" his mother said. "That was the best Thanksgiving I've ever had." Four days later, the young man was on a ventilator, in a medically induced coma, his brain pierced by shrapnel, his prognosis unclear. Chuck Bartles took heart when President Bush pinned a Purple Heart to his chest this year, lauding him for courage and determination despite grievous wounds. Sgt. Bartles, then struggling to recover from having his right arm blown off in Iraq, felt even better when Bush made a stirring speech. Just because a soldier has lost a leg or an arm in combat, the president said, doesn't mean he's useless. "Today, if wounded service members want to remain in uniform and can do the job, the military tries to help them stay." Easy words. Inaccurate words. Bartles was wounded in October 2003 by a roadside bomb blast that killed a fellow soldier. A civil affairs specialist with a master's degree, fluency in Russian and a Bronze Star for heroism in battle, he's the kind of man the Army would want to keep. He sweated for months to qualify for duty. This summer, his Army doctors finally certified him fit. His commander wanted him back. Jubilant, Bartles re-enlisted. The next day he got a form letter from the Army. "Your medical condition prevents satisfactory performance of duty," it said. The verdict: "permanent disability." A Reporter's Story My 26th birthday party was perfect. Stars glittered over the Baghdad hotel where I blew out the candles on a cake decorated by my four closest Iraqi friends. We stayed up, telling stories and debating the future of a country I'd grown to cherish, until the dawn call to prayer rang from a nearby mosque. A year later, only one of those friends is alive. The poolside patio where they sang Happy Birthday in Arabic is empty most days, because foreign guests are afraid of snipers and mortars. The hotel has become a prison, and every foray outside its fortified gates is tinged with anxiety about returning in one piece. Baghdad has never been tougher for journalists. Treacherous roads and kidnapping squads restrict travel. "Embedding" with the military or going with Iraqi government officials is the safest way to leave the capital. Our ability to uncover and tell the truth about Iraq -- good and bad -- has suffered terribly. American Moral Leadership Torturers: Lawyers for Sgt. Javal Davis and Spec. Sabrina Harman said there was a breakdown of leadership and that their clients were scapegoats for the failures of a system that reached through the highest levels of the military bureaucracy and the Bush administration. That same system also allowed for the abuse of prisoners in order to extract intelligence information, they said. Supervisors: Senior defense officials exercised little oversight over interrogation practices at military detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a newspaper report, citing a classified Pentagon report. The New York Times Times said it had obtained a draft summary of a 400-page report by Vice Admiral Albert Church, the naval inspector general, on interrogation techniques at military detention centers in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq. By January 2003, military interrogators in Afghanistan were using techniques similar to those that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had approved for use only at Guantanamo Bay, including stress positions and sleep and light deprivation, the Times said. Commanders who submitted a list of interrogation techniques to the military's Joint Staff and Central Command "never heard any complaints," leaving them to interpret that the techniques were acceptable, the report said. The situation was similar in Iraq, according to the report, which blamed "a breakdown in good order and discipline." Punishments: Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commander in Iraq during the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, returned to his base in Germany in October to a 15-gun salute. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz praised Sanchez on behalf of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his "courage, his perseverance, and his concern for his troops." Major General Geoffrey Miller, the head of Guantanamo Bay from October 2002 until April this year, who advised Abu Ghraib how to treat prisoners, has been shuffled to a new job in the Pentagon to help run housing at Army bases. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz remain in their jobs. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice has been nominated by Bush to be the next secretary of state. Last and not least, there is Alberto Gonzales, Bush's pick to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general. Gonzales is the White House counsel who advised Bush that alleged Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners can be held outside the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners on war. Gonzales said the war on terror is such a "new kind of war" that the need to quickly obtain information renders "obsolete" and "quaint" Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and providing them commissary privileges. Gonzales wrote to Bush that by declaring such prisoners to be outside the reach of the Geneva Conventions, it would eliminate "any argument regarding the need for case-by-case determinations of POW status." Such a declaration, Gonzales wrote, "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act." Translated, Gonzales and Bush used the war on terror to justify the United States being a law unto itself. Lynndie England may get nearly four decades in jail. Alberto Gonzales is about to get four years to rewrite our laws. If England is the face of abuse, Gonzales is the hidden hand. If he becomes attorney general, you should not be shocked if new abuses of civil liberties occur in your school, your library, perhaps even in your home. Results: US military review panels can use evidence obtained through torture in deciding the fate of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the US Government has conceded. About 70 years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled evidence gained through torture was inadmissible. Deputy associate Attorney-General, Brian Boyle, has told the District Court in Washington DC, that the Guantanamo review panels are allowing such evidence. Michael Ratner, a human right lawyer with the Centre for Constitutional Rights, says he was shocked by the Bush administration's admission. "Never in my 30 years of being a human rights lawyer would I ever expected to be in the state that we've arrived at," he said. Casualty Report Local story: Medart, FL, Marine killed in Iraq .


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