Tuesday, August 31, 2004
War News for August 30 and 31, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded by roadside bomb near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi education official assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: US Army convoy ambushed near Balad. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis killed, seven wounded in mortar attack near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi policemen wounded in ambush near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis killed, five wounded in US airstrike near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: US troops under heavy mortar attack near Baquba. Bring 'em on: Insurgent attacks near Basra stop oil exports. Bring ‘em on: Twelve Nepalese hostages executed by insurgents. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed near Mosul. British troops cease patrols in Basra. "After three deaths in as many weeks the British Army has stopped patrolling the streets of Basra, choosing instead to remain in barracks under daily bombardment despite pleas from residents to take on the Iraqi insurgents. With troops now moving only in Warrior armoured vehicles on patrols not more than 100 yards from base, forces loyal to the rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have stepped into the power vacuum, roaming the streets with rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s. Vital reconstruction has been halted and the citizens are suffering deprivations daily." Let freedom reign. "For journalists working in Iraq, it sometimes feels like trying to operate between a rock and a hard place. Last week around 60 of us covering the battle in Najaf were sitting in our hotel when the Iraqi police burst in. A man we later nicknamed 'the evil smurf' stormed into the lobby and fired a shot into the wall. Other policemen, some of them wearing balaclavas, then ran upstairs and went from room to room, yelling 'Yalla, Yalla '- 'Go, go.' It is hard to argue with someone who is pointing a Kalashnikov at you, and so we went - waiting outside the Sea of Najaf hotel while the police fired a live volley over our heads. They then herded us on to a truck. From there, I managed to phone London on my satellite phone and say: 'We've been arrested ... '; unfortunately, the evil smurf then grabbed it. The incident last Wednesday confirms an unwelcome truth: that despite the talk of democracy, Iraq's interim government shares many of the same authoritarian traits as its predecessor. The new police force is very like the old one. The same Ba'athist instincts – to threaten and intimidate people who cause you embarrassment - appear to be alive and well. Many of the rank-and-file police officers who served under Saddam Hussein are now back in uniform. The only organisation that inspires any confidence is the Iraqi National Guard (ING) - the new Iraqi army that started patrolling the streets of Najaf last Friday. So far Iraq's US-backed interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, himself a former Ba'athist, has offered no explanation or apology for last week's mass arrest, despite complaints from the Guardian, the BBC and other media organisations." Why should I believe this? "The meetings, some of which have occurred at Allawi's private home outside the highly fortified zone that houses the Iraqi government, are a risky and unconventional form of back-channel diplomacy. But they represent the most significant effort yet to address the insurgency through political rather than military means…Allawi did not identify the people with whom he met. He described them as not 'the hard-core criminals' but as 'people on the fringes who are disillusioned.' He insisted the meetings were not negotiations but opportunities for him to make a pitch to skeptics. 'I am meeting them and telling them there is one thing to do: It is the respect of law, the rule of law,' he said. 'If you want to use violence, we will face you violently and suppress you -- and we will bring you to justice.'" Allawi made this claim before. If he's not meeting with the leadership of the resistance with the aim of negotiating a political settlement, he's wasting his time. Informal cease-fire reported in Sadr City. "For the Americans and the interim Iraqi government, the goal is the disarmament of the militia, known as the Mahdi Army. That is the thorniest issue left unresolved by a settlement on Friday in the southern city of Najaf after three weeks of intense combat there." 100. “An Army fuel supply specialist has become the 100th soldier from Fort Hood to die in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began last year.” Foreclosure. “When she returned home on 10-day emergency leave in May, she found a life in disarray -- her husband had left her, family members were taking care of her four children, ages 10-16, and a mortgage company was foreclosing on her home. During leave, Curry filed for divorce, called the mortgage company and made arrangements for her kids. Then she traveled back to her station 30 miles north of Baghdad, where her unit tries to keep wounded soldiers alive long enough to get them to a hospital. But Curry is now back on another emergency leave, after the mortgage company, ABN Amro Mortgage Group, continued its foreclosure proceedings.” Planning failure. “About a dozen Oregon National Guard soldiers say they have languished for months here because the Army lacked a protocol to allow them to return to Oregon to convalesce…The problem arose from an oversight in the Army's war planning, which failed to anticipate the large number of wounded soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Col. Douglas Eliason, chief medical officer with the Oregon Guard.” Just when you think Lieutenant AWOL and the GOP festering pusbags can’t sink any lower. “Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them.” Maybe the GOP can go to Walter Reed and hand out a few of these little gimmicks. Commentary Opinion: “Facing such reversals in Iraq, what does the Bush administration plan to do in a second term? Will the United States double its bets in Iraq and fight a bloody new war to pacify the country, or will it tolerate more murky but pragmatic Iraqi solutions? Will it expand the war against Islamic militants by threatening Iran and Syria, or will it seek to enlist those nations as allies in maintaining regional stability? Will it accept a broad (and sometimes anti-American) coalition for change in Iraq and the Arab world -- broad enough to include even a Moqtada Sadr -- or will it hunker down with a narrower group of allies? The truth is that we don't know the Bush administration's plans. We see the twin towers looming in the background, as a powerful symbol of unity and resolve. But to what end? This week Bush should level with the nation about what's ahead. That's an obligation, surely, for a wartime president.” Opinion: “So what's the answer? Here's one thought: much of U.S. policy in Iraq - delaying elections, trying to come up with a formula that blocks simple majority rule, trying to install first Mr. Chalabi, then Mr. Allawi, as strongman - can be seen as a persistent effort to avoid giving Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani his natural dominant role. But recent events in Najaf have demonstrated both the cleric's awesome influence and the limits of American power. Isn't it time to realize that we could do a lot worse than Mr. Sistani, and give him pretty much whatever he wants?” Analysis: “The concentration of attacks in those areas is a reminder that the fiercest and most organized opposition to U.S. forces and the U.S.-backed interim government continues to be in Sunni-dominated cities, such as Fallouja. Nationwide, U.S. forces are being attacked 60 times per day on average, up 20% from the three-month period before the hand-over.” Analysis: “Rather than speaking blunt truths, investigators fall back on weasel words. Former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger, who headed one inquiry, ascribed Abu Ghraib to what he dismissively called "the night shift." Gen. Paul Kern, who directed the Pentagon inquiry that released a report last week, allowed that certain unnamed high-ranking officers might bear some responsibility for the prison abuse scandal, but he resisted the notion that any might be ‘culpable.’ In contrast, the My Lai massacre produced an investigative report that had no difficulty in calling a spade a spade. That report, issued in March 1970, was the work of Lt. Gen. William Peers. A crusty soldier of the old school, Peers refused to let the several echelons above Calley off the hook. Senior leaders — colonels and generals — had made My Lai possible and then had conspired to cover it up. Only by confronting their malfeasance, dishonesty and corruption could the officer corps as a whole begin to rehabilitate itself. So the Peers report bluntly called the chain of command to account and did not hesitate to name names. Peers wanted heads to roll…More important, at a time rife with moral confusion, Peers had reminded the officer corps of something fundamental: If lapses from professional standards have no consequences, then ‘responsibility’ becomes empty of meaning. For an army, that way lie indiscipline, dishonor and defeat.” Analysis: “Throughout its long-running fight with al-Sadr, the Bush administration has said it was battling a ‘radical cleric’ linked to terrorist Abu Musab al- Zarkawi, but most Iraqis saw the situation differently. Moderates have always opposed al-Sadr's confrontational stance, but for months they have demanded the Bush administration meet al-Sadr's basic demands. In Baghdad this spring, Shiite political leaders often echoed al-Sadr's public pronouncements, noting his willingness to agree to stop killing foreign troops if the U.S. Army withdrew from Najaf and agreed to leave the cleric's fate up to a future, elected Iraq government (exactly the terms al-Sistani negotiated).” Casualty Reports Local story: New York soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Iowa Marine killed in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Monday, August 30, 2004
Note to Readers I am very busy this morning, so I won't post an update until around 0900 PST. YD 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Sunday, August 29, 2004
War News for August 29, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Six Iraqi policemen killed by insurgents at checkpoint near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Seven Iraqis killed in continued fighting in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed, two wounded in Beiji mortar attack. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi policemen wounded in friendly-fire incident near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Two insurgents killed, 32 Iraqis wounded in two US convoy ambushes near Tall Afar. Bring ‘em on: Two insurgents wounded in attack on US observation post near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: More air strikes, ground fighting reported near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Two French journalists taken hostage in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Basra. Meanwhile, back in Al-Anbar province. “Both of the cities, Falluja and Ramadi, and much of Anbar Province, are now controlled by fundamentalist militias, with American troops confined mainly to heavily protected forts on the desert's edge. What little influence the Americans have is asserted through wary forays in armored vehicles, and by laser-guided bombs that obliterate enemy safe houses identified by scouts who penetrate militant ranks. Even bombing raids appear to strengthen the fundamentalists, who blame the Americans for scores of civilian deaths. American efforts to build a government structure around former Baath Party stalwarts - officials of Saddam Hussein's army, police force and bureaucracy who were willing to work with the United States - have collapsed. Instead, the former Hussein loyalists, under threat of beheadings, kidnappings and humiliation, have mostly resigned or defected to the fundamentalists, or been killed. Enforcers for the old government, including former Republican Guard officers, have put themselves in the service of fundamentalist clerics they once tortured at Abu Ghraib.” Supply lines. “Recently, Halliburton's convoys have been taking hits every day on some routes. The truckers endure sniper fire, car bombs, roadside explosions and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi insurgents mount ambushes to pick off trucks from behind. They throw bricks and drop 8-foot-long steel pipes from overpasses into the cabs. In the most horrific incident, in April, insurgents blocked a convoy near the Abu Ghraib prison. Four Halliburton truckers were killed, two remain missing, and another, Thomas Hamill, escaped from his captors. For an insurgency vastly outmatched by the U.S. military in firepower, shutting down supply lines has become an efficient alternative to direct confrontation.” Chickenhawks. More blowback. “Michael Howard issued a blistering rebuff to George W Bush yesterday after the President barred the Tory leader from the White House as punishment for his attacks on Tony Blair over the Iraq War. In a furious phone call earlier this year, Karl Rove, Mr Bush's closest adviser, told Mr Howard's aides: ‘You can forget about meeting the President. Don't bother coming. You are not meeting him.’” How do you measure this kind of loss? “The most difficult miles of Rosanna Powers' life are bringing her from Florida to the small Washington state farming community of Mansfield, Douglas County, for her brother's funeral tomorrow. Then she will fly back across the country to help bury her fiancé the next day. Both were U.S. Marines killed last week — one day apart — in Iraq.” Commentary Editorial: “President Bush could have avoided walking into the unfamiliar terrain by not going to war against a much smaller and weaker nation, in the first place. It's not known whether he will ever realise this simple point, but what he should be able to discern without any difficulty is that his war on terrorism has been far from successful. He may have diagnosed the disease, or even rightly worked out the remedy, but he applied it on the wrong target. Honestly speaking, he miscalculated everything right from the impact of the war on terrorism to the prolonged and stubborn resistance that his troops are facing. The war has done very little to dampen the enthusiasm of terrorists. Rather, it has worked as a stimulant to the elements that are vehemently opposed to the US presence in the Middle East and its rather one-sided drubbing of a nation that was never known as a breeding ground for terrorism.” Opinion: “We were to believe that young reservists from trailer parks, with minimal education and little military training, developed techniques of torture on their own and even turned them into games. It was a few renegades who decided to turn attack dogs loose on Iraqi teenagers to see how fast they would lose control of their bowels. There were plenty of pictures of fall guys who were unsympathetic characters with unappealing biographies. It would have been the perfect casting call for blame, if it wasn't quite so perfect. Last week, two investigative reports on the prison came out — one from a panel chaired by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger and another from three Army generals — and both reached the conclusion that the fault for the abuses goes much higher into the chain of command. The Schlesinger report traces it all the way to Washington.” Casualty Reports Local story: Indiana soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Rant of the Day I ain’t believin’ this item appeared on today’s WaPo editorial page.|
“ONLY A FEW years ago, it seemed the slightest suggestion of malfeasance by a presidential administration -- allegations of tampering with a minor administrative office, say, or indications that a cabinet secretary might have understated the amount of money given to a former girlfriend -- could trigger a formidable response from the other two branches of government: grand juries, special prosecutors, endless congressional hearings, even impeachment proceedings. Some of that auditing, especially during the Clinton administration, went too far. Yet now the country faces a frightening inversion of the problem. Though there is strong evidence of faulty and even criminal behavior by senior military commanders and members of President Bush's cabinet in the handling of foreign detainees, neither Congress nor the justice system is taking adequate steps to hold those officials accountable.”I ain’t believing it because WaPo should have run it in the goddam obituaries, announcing WaPo’s demise as a functioning member of the Fourth Estate. I’ve got a couple of hot news flashes for you folks on the editorial board. First, Dewey took Manila. I figured you hadn’t heard about it since you damn sure haven’t heard Republicans control Congress, Republicans control the Executive branch, Republicans control the Federal judiciary, and Republicans control the Justice Department. Do you think Republicans are going to hold other Republicans accountable for criminal behavior? Did the Reichstag hold Werner von Blomberg and Heinrich Himmler accountable for the murders of Ernst Roehm and Gregor Strasser? We’re living in a one-Party state, and you’re acting like you’re the editorial board of the Volkischer Beobachter. You people had no problem printing every rumor, calumny and innuendo generated by the fabled GOP slime machine during the Clinton administration and dutifully transcribed by your stenographer pool, and now you’re going to come whining to me that the country faces a lack of government accountability? Do your jobs, and put pressure on these assholes. You want to see some accountability? Stop serving as a GOP mouthpiece and start printing some criticism outside the “he said/he said” context. 86-43-04. Pass it on.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
War News for August 27 and 28, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting reported in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, six wounded in Baghdad mortar attack. Bring ‘em on: Ten Iraqis, one US soldier wounded by Mosul car bomb ambush. Bring ‘em on: Twelve US soldiers wounded in three Baghdad grenade attacks. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed, 32 wounded in US air strikes near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute Italian journalist. Bring ‘em on: University lecturer assassinated in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute two Turkish hostages near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline attacked near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline attacked near North Rumalia oilfield. Bring ‘em on: Municipal councilman assassinated near Hilla. Insurgents evacuate ruined Najaf, fail to disarm. “They stood in a scene of devastation. Hotels had crumbled into the street. Cars lay blackened and twisted where they had been hit. Goats and donkeys lay dead on the sidewalks. Pilgrims from out of town and locals coming from home walked the streets agape, shaking their heads, stunned by the devastation before them. As the Mahdi Army fighters did not surrender themselves, neither did they give up their guns. Instead, they took the assault rifles and rocket launchers with which they had commandeered the shrine and loaded them onto donkey carts, covering them with blankets, grain sacks and television sets, and sending them away. Hours later, Mahdi fighters, some still dressed in their signature black uniforms, could be seen stashing rocket launchers in crates and pushing them into roadside shops.” One US soldier killed, one injured in vehicle accident near Fallujah. Kuwaiti trucking company suspends operations in Iraq. Allawi vs. Chalabi. “US-backed Iraqi police forces on Friday raided the Baghdad office of the Iraqi National Congress of disgraced Pentagon favorite Ahmed Chalabi and expelled party members, an INC official said.” US congresscritters get the Wolfowitz Welcome in Baghdad. “A congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller got a close-up look at combat in Iraq when two mortar shells exploded about 500 yards from where the lawmakers were waiting to board a helicopter.” Lying Rummy. “In his first comments on the two major investigative reports issued this week at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday mischaracterized one of their central findings about the American military's treatment of Iraqi prisoners by saying there was no evidence that prisoners had been abused during interrogations.” Commentary Editorial: “Failures in U.S. occupation policy have increased anti-American feelings among the Iraqi people, making it even more difficult to initiate a process of national reconciliation. Al-Sadr's stubborn uprising against the interim government and U.S. forces is a stark reminder of how Iraqi and U.S. authorities have bungled the postwar management of Iraqi affairs. The flip-flop pattern of U.S. military operations also seems to have worsened the situation. In April, U.S. troops launched a major offensive against the Mahdi Army to bring al-Sadr, a staunch opponent of the occupation, to his knees. The operation appeared to have succeeded as the two sides agreed to a ceasefire. But, in early August, fighting erupted again between U.S. forces and Mahdi militiamen who had taken positions inside the Ali Imam shrine, one of the most sacred sites in the Islamic world. The gold-domed mausoleum is dedicated to Ali Muhammad, the cousin of the prophet Mohammed and the first imam (leader) of the Shiite branch of Islam. The Najaf standoff poses a major challenge for the Bush administration as well. Although how it is going to deal with the situation is unclear at the moment, there is no denying that a failure to resolve the crisis will affect not only the administration's policy in Iraq but also Mr. Bush's re-election campaign.” Editorial: “The poisoned seeds that flowered so darkly in Abu Ghraib were planted much earlier in the flawed, postwar planning of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his minions. Stubbornly insisting on the surreal premise that Iraqis would greet invading coalition forces with flowers and candy after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, there were insufficient troops to handle the homegrown insurgency that followed. Overwhelmed, undertrained and inadequately supervised, those assigned to Abu Ghraib were left to their own devices with predictably shameful results. It is also impossible to untangle the Abu Ghraib scandal from an earlier decision by the Bush administration to circumvent Geneva Convention protections for ‘enemy combatants’ being held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba. The tortured legal arguments concocted by White House lawyers to sidestep the international treaty were not specifically intended to be applied to Iraqi prisoners. However, some of the personnel who were transferred from Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib brought the same atmosphere of lawlessness along with them.” Analysis: "Najaf is hardly the only problem area facing U.S. commanders in Iraq. Less noticed during the Najaf battles have been ongoing clashes in several areas closer to the capital. U.S. warplanes have repeatedly hit Fallujah, where the Marines pulled back after another brokered settlement in the spring. North of Baghdad, the Army has all but withdrawn from Samarra, another Sunni Triangle hot spot. Fighting also continues in Baqubah. ‘Currently, the insurgents are in charge of both Fallujah and Samarra,’ said a senior Army commander in Iraq. ‘The status quo in Samarra is unacceptable, and the final outcome is still in question.’” Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan soldier dies in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Illinois soldier dies in Iraq. Local story: Texas Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Tennessee soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: California sailor wounded in Iraq. Local story: Idaho soldier and Marine wounded in Iraq. Rant of the Day This WaPo editorial represents the art of journalistic turd polishing at its best. Since this WaPo editorial severely frosted my tender hiney this morning, I’ve decided to provide some commentary.|
"AT BEST, PROGRESS in Iraq during the coming months will be uneven, and the options facing U.S. forces will range from unappealing to unthinkable. In that context, a brokered truce that yesterday appeared to have ended, at least for now, the weeks-long battle of Najaf represents as bright an outcome as could have been realized."WaPo got this part right. Thanks to consistent bungling, first by Bremer’s CPA and now by Nergoponte and Allawi, there are no good policy options left for the United States occupation of Iraq.
"The difficulties are well-known. The Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has performed relatively well since it took over in June, and it has at least one major factor on its side: Most Iraqis still seem to share the overall goal of shaping a coherent, multi-ethnic democratic state. Mr. Allawi's commitment to hold elections by early next year while seeking to restore as much security as possible is in sync with that goal. But he does not have a strong enough army or police force to deliver as much security as Iraqis expect, and the U.S. and allied troops he must therefore rely upon are deeply unpopular. Meanwhile the enemies of democratic transition, including foreign terrorists, Islamic militants and Saddam Hussein-trained Baathists, may comprise a small minority of the population, but they are ruthless and capable of terrible mayhem and intimidation. Mr. Allawi must navigate these currents while Iraqi forces continue to be trained."Since June 28th, Allawi’s government has performed as well as the CPA did before June 28th – they have screwed up everything except their effort to bamboozle the US media. Like the CPA, the Negroponte/Allawi gang has chosen to pursue a military solution to the insurgency while deliberately offering the insurgents unacceptable political solutions, except that Allawi provides more belligerent rhetoric than Bremer. As with the CPA, military solutions have failed miserably and served only to stiffen opposition. Worse, each failure reveals the weakness of the military option and encourages further insurgent violence. Allawi’s battleship mouth has only succeeded in revealing the weakness of his rowboat ass. The WaPo editorial board makes a tremendous leap of logic by assuming that because “most Iraqis still seem to share the overall goal of shaping a coherent, multi-ethnic democratic state,” most Iraqis support the Allawi regime. It appears that a growing majority of Iraqis do not support Allawi for the same reasons they gradually grew to resent and despise the former Iraqi Governing Council: Allawi is an outsider without any significant political base in Iraq, he has no intention of holding anything but a rigged election and his government is propped up only by the use of foreign troops who regularly bomb Iraqis at his direction. Allawi’s only success in navigating Iraqi "currents" has been his perversion of the Iraqi judicial system and his use of the few trustworthy police he controls in isolating and prosecuting his political enemy, Ahmed Chalabi’s exile faction.
"Moqtada Sadr, the firebrand young Shiite cleric whose militia had seized control of Najaf's revered mosque, sought to derail the process. He led an uprising that at one time seemed to be gaining strength through much of Iraq's southern Shiite heartland, and his goals, while never entirely clear, certainly did not include multi-ethnic democracy or a U.S. presence in Iraq. U.S. Marines and soldiers, fighting alongside a small and untested Iraqi force, performed bravely for the past several weeks, inflicting substantial losses on the Sadr forces while taking care not to damage the mosque. If the respected Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had not intervened, U.S. forces were prepared in the next few days to force a final battle, with Iraqi troops assigned to reclaim the mosque itself. Instead, Mr. Sadr was permitted to go free in exchange for vacating the mosque and ordering his militia to lay down their arms."Again, the WaPo editorial board draws a false conclusion from the events in Najaf. Aside from the notion that Sadr has never made his goals clear – he has, and those goals include an immediate end to both the US presence and the Allawi government – Sadr’s militia did not lay down their arms. They left the shrine and dispersed with their weapons. We will see them again.
"Is this a defeat for the government? Mr. Sadr is a murderous outlaw, and Iraq would be better off without him. But it's not certain that Iraqi forces could have prevailed in a final battle, at least not without harming the sacred shrine in a way that would have redounded against U.S. forces and the Iraqi government. Now the shrine has been reopened, thanks to the intervention of Mr. Sistani, who worked in cooperation with the Allawi government and who supports the same democratization schedule as Mr. Allawi and the international coalition. Mr. Sadr cannot be trusted to honor any agreement, but he has failed for a second time to derail the process."In one day, Sistani accomplished what the US military and the Allawi government have failed to do since April, and this should be a clear indication of the weakness of the Allawi government in general and military solutions in particular. Sistani has shown no support of the Allawi government. In fact, he pointedly refused to deal with the CPA, and only his implied threat to use his tremendous influence coerced Bremer to abandon the CPA’s plan to impose a Chalabi exile government through regional caucuses rather than direct elections. Sistani’s intervention in Najaf only shows that he wants Sadr and Allawi to go fight someplace else.
"Mr. Allawi should take credit for the reopening of the mosque and thank Mr. Sistani for his role. He and his U.S. allies should avoid any future threats they cannot back up, but they must move to regain control of Sunni cities as they moved in Najaf. They also must accelerate the dispensing of U.S. and allied aid in places such as Baghdad's Sadr City slum, which is named for Mr. Sadr's late -- and far more respected -- father, but where the young cleric remains popular. No one should think that yesterday's truce is a turning point toward stability in Iraq. But it has given the allied effort another bit of breathing room."While Allawi might thank Sistani for his role in saving the mosque, he can take credit for nothing but failure. Turd polishing, a speciality of the WaPo editorial board, is a phenomenon unique to American journalism and while the WaPo board might think their efforts shine up the debacle in Najaf, it's still a turd. The saddest part is that men and women, American and Iraqi, young and old, are dying and suffering for WaPo's bright and shiny turd. 86-43-04. Pass it on.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
War News for August 26, 2004 Local story: Florida Marine killed in Iraq. "Three Marines went to a house in Hollywood to tell the father and stepmother of Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo that their 20-year-old son had died Tuesday in Najaf, family members said. The father, Carlos Arredondo, 44, then walked into the garage, picked up a propane tank, a lighting device and a can of gasoline he used to douse the van, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van’s window, got inside and set the vehicle ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said. When the couple saw the Marines walking toward the front door, 'My husband immediately knew that his firstborn son had been killed — and my husband did not take the news well,' Melida Arredondo told reporters before police escorted her to the hospital." (Via Daily Kos.) Bring 'em on: Multiple atacks reported on oil pipelines near Berjasiya. Bring 'em on: Twenty-seven Iraqis killed, 63 wounded by mortar fire in Kufa. Commentary Editorial: "The Army's internal investigation, released yesterday, showed that the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib went far beyond the actions of a few sadistic military police officers - the administration's chosen culprits. It said that 27 military intelligence soldiers and civilian contractors committed criminal offenses, and that military officials hid prisoners from the Red Cross. Another report, from a civilian panel picked by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, offers the dedicated reader a dotted line from President Bush's decision to declare Iraq a front in the war against terror, to government lawyers finding ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, to Mr. Rumsfeld's bungled planning of the occupation and understaffing of the ground forces in Iraq, to the hideous events at Abu Ghraib prison." Editorial: "General Boykin has to be removed from his current job. He has become a national embarrassment, not to mention a walking contradiction of President Bush's own policy statement that the fight against terror is bias-free and not a crusade against Islam. (General Boykin preached of a 1993 fight against a Muslim warlord in Somalia: 'I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol.')" Opinion: "You can choose to connect these dots, or cast your vote in November based on whether Colonel Mustard was in a Swift boat with a lead pipe. But Abu Ghraib can't be blamed solely on bad apples anymore. It was the direct consequence of an administration ready to bargain away the rule of law. That started with the suspension of basic prisoner protections, because this was a 'new kind of war.' It led to the creation of a legal sinkhole on Guantánamo Bay. And it reached its zenith when high officials opined that torture isn't torture unless there's some attendant organ failure." 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
War News for August 25, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Four former Iraqi policemen killed in ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqis killed in fighting with British troops near Amarah. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis killed in fighting and air strikes near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Aid convoy ambushed near Latifiya; two Iraqis killed. Bring ‘em on: Italian journalist kidnapped by insurgents near Najaf. Bring ‘em on: British troops fighting insurgents near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Japanese troops under mortar fire near Samawah. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported in Kufa. One US soldier dies in road accident near Fallujah. Indonesia urges citizens to leave Iraq. Sistani returns, calls for march on Najaf. Najaf police chief says crisis will end today or tomorrow. “US-backed Iraqi forces have approached to the Imam Ali shrine and will end Najaf standoff ‘today or tomorrow,’ police chief of Najaf said Wednesday. ‘Our forces are very close to the revered shrine, and the Najaf crisis will end within today or tomorrow,’ police chief Brigadier Amer Hamza told reporters in a news conference in Najaf. US tanks and armored vehicles came closer to the shrine early in the morning as artillery and machine gunfire resonated throughout the area, Xinhua correspondent in Najaf Aziz al-Shammary said.” Commentary Editorial: “The comments would be bad enough from a buck private. From a three-star general whose job includes gathering information for the campaign against Islamic radicals, they are unforgivable. Let Boykin retire and speak out as much as he wants. But do not give others the chance to assume that the general speaks for the Pentagon, the administration and the nation. Two months ago, Bush told the graduating class at the U.S. Air Force Academy that a clash of ideologies should not be viewed as a fight between civilizations or religions. He called Islam a religion that ‘teaches moral responsibility that ennobles men and women.’ Fine words, those, and incompatible with letting one of his generals get away with preaching bigotry.” Opinion: “Thirty-eight years ago this very month, a young congressman told his colleagues that something was seriously amiss about huge wartime contracts awarded to a company with a big friend in a high place. ‘The potential for waste and profiteering under such a contract is substantial,’ he warned. It is ‘beyond me,’ he went on, why the contract ‘has not been and is not now being adequately audited.’ The war was Vietnam. The company was Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton that is now known as KBR. The big friend in a high place was Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. And the impassioned young congressman was Donald Rumsfeld.” Casualty Reports Local story: Arizona Marine dies in Iraq. Local story: New York Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: California Guardsman wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
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.|
Monday, August 23, 2004
War News for August 23, 2004 Bring ‘em on: One US soldier wounded in Najaf fighting. Bring ‘em on: Four US Marines killed in separate incidents in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, one wounded by roadside bomb near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Indonesian contractor, two Iraqis killed in ambush near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Japanese troops under mortar fire near Samawah. Bring ‘em on: One Turkish contractor, three Iraqis killed in ambush near Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Forty Iraqis killed in fighting in Kufa. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi truck driver killed in convoy ambush near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi policeman killed by insurgents in Basra. Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting continues in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: Kurdish politician assassinated near Kirkuk. Lieutenant AWOL, the Great Uniter. Nearly 100 prominent Muslims yesterday called on followers around the world to support resistance to American forces in Iraq and the government installed in June. In an appeal released by the offices of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the 93 figures from nearly 30 nations, from Germany to Indonesia, said the aim should be to ‘purify the land of Islam from the filth of occupation.’ The signatories included senior members of the brotherhood, Youssef al Qaradawi, a leading Qatari-based moderate; Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Lebanon, Hizbollah leader; Khaled Mashal, of the Palestinian group Hamas; two Egyptian opposition party leaders; Sheikh Abdeslam Yassine of Morocco's Justice and Charity Group; and Sheikh Abdullah al Ahmar, Yemeni speaker of parliament. Others came from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia, the Comoros, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan and Tunisia.” Fighting in Kufa. “In pre-dawn darkness, American tanks and Humvees also staged a raid on Kufa, trundling down the high street and past the library. Commander Hilu and his men were waiting. ‘The Americans went as far as the mosque then got out,' the commander said, having escorted me back to the scene of what, he suggested, was a heroic victory.” Reconstruction. “Ordinary Iraqis and U.S. officials have expressed growing concern that although the U.S. aid is finally arriving, it may have come too late to win the sympathy of the people, who have endured more than a year of haphazard electricity, water and other essential services. A program that was supposed to convince the Iraqi people that U.S. money and know-how would improve their lives has instead left many bitter and no better off materially than they were under Saddam Hussein.” Fallujah. “Blackwater Security Consulting violated its own standards in March by sending four contractors on an undermanned mission in Fallujah, Iraq, where they were ambushed, mutilated, burned and dragged through the streets, the company's contract for the job shows.” Mission accomplished. “A USA TODAY database, which analyzed unclassified U.S. government security reports, shows attacks against U.S. and allied forces have averaged 49 a day since the hand-over of sovereignty June 28, compared with 52 a day in the four weeks leading up to the transfer. Iraqi guerrillas are relying heavily on weapons that allow them to attack and then slip away, such as roadside bombs and mortars. In June and July, U.S. and Iraq forces were attacked with 759 roadside bombs and uncovered at least 400 others before they exploded.” The upbeat tone of this article is entirely inconsistent with the facts it contains. Déjà vu, all over again. “As many as 30,000 members of Iraq’s new police force are to lose their jobs in a radical shake-up aimed at weeding out troublemakers and officers considered unsuitable for employment. A $60 million (£33 million) fund has been set aside by the interim government in Iraq to pay off the sacked police officers, with the axe due to fall at the end of this month. They will receive an average pay-off of $2,000 (£1,100). But critics of the plan in Iraq say that it risks repeating the mistakes made when the Iraqi army was disbanded after the end of the war in 2003, when 400,000 disaffected soldiers were turned on to the streets with no source of income. Many joined the insurgency against the coalition forces.” Commentary Editorial: “The Abu Ghraib scandal above all was a failure of leadership, and although the inquiries multiply, the top brass have escaped direct discipline. At the time of last year's prison abuse, which included torture, sexual humiliation and suspicious deaths, U.S. forces in Iraq faced a deadly insurgency. U.S. commanders sought ‘actionable’ intelligence from Iraqi detainees. Despite Red Cross protests, U.S. intelligence officers seemed to have had a clear hand at Abu Ghraib to extract information as they pleased. The original, limited inquiry by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba found soldiers had committed ‘sadistic’ criminal acts. Last week, it was reported that Army reservist Joseph Darby, who tipped off investigators about prisoner abuse, received death threats and has been put in protective military custody.” Editorial: “Last fall, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ducked the embarrassing matter of grossly offensive, anti-Islamic remarks by Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin by asking the Defense Department's inspector general to examine his behavior. This was a ruse. The problem with Gen. Boykin's words was never the possibility that they violated this or that department regulation -- the sort of thing inspectors general are charged with investigating. The problem was that Gen. Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was delivering himself of bigoted remarks -- generally while in uniform -- that directly undercut President Bush's repeated insistence that America's war is not against Islam generally and is not a clash of religious civilizations. By unloading the matter on the inspector general, Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Bush avoided having to condemn the remarks forthrightly while seeming to take appropriate action.” Opinion: “It's interesting how we choose whether to root for a team or not. A dozen years ago in Barcelona, few people rooted for Iraq and many rooted against it. A dozen years ago almost everyone rooted for the U.S. basketball team and few rooted against it. Now it's just the opposite.” Casualty Reports Local story: Washington State soldier wounded in Iraq. Awards and Decorations Local story: Kansas soldier decorated for valor. Lieutenant AWOL's Military Decorations 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Sunday, August 22, 2004
War News for August 22, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting resumes in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi killed, two wounded in attempted assassination of Iraqi official near Tall Afar. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed, five wounded by roadside bomb near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, deputy governor wounded by car bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Explosions, smoke plumes reported near Green Zone in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Polish soldiers killed in ambush near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline ablaze near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Seven Polish soldiers wounded by mortar fire near Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi intelligence officer killed in Basra. Getting a grip on the obvious. "If there has been one message written in all that the insurgents have done, whether Sunnis or Shiites, these Iraqis say, it is a rejection of the very idea that Iraq's future can be chosen under an American military umbrella - more broadly, of the idea that America and its notions should have any place in reshaping Iraq at all. When they were done with their spinning, senior Western officials who briefed reporters on the developments in Najaf seemed to agree. Najaf, one said bluntly, represented as crucial a juncture as America has faced in Iraq: one from which Iraq could proceed, with the emasculation of Mr. Sadr's rebellion, to a new period in which Iraqi politicians, not gunmen, could begin to set the country's agenda; or, conversely, if the government became resigned to leaving Mr. Sadr's militia still rooted in the city, to a further slide into chaos. If the government takes a hit in Najaf, it would encourage the various armed groups to stand up and say, 'O.K., Najaf belongs to us,' 'Falluja belongs to us,' 'Ramadi belongs to us,' 'Samarra belongs to us,' the official said. In that case, he said, what would be left would not be a country with an accepted constitution and elections, but a ‘Lebanon-ization,’ a fracturing into separate, warlord-ruled fiefs, with the gun supplanting the rule of law.” The aftermath of April 6, 2004. Collateral damage. “Rasul shares his hospital room with another civilian casualty of the 16-month insurgency: Anmar Khalid, 8, who has hazel eyes and wispy blond hair. She was napping beside her mother, Suzan Adnan Latif, 34, at home on Monday at 4 p.m. when, relatives say, a rocket fired from an American plane or helicopter gunship pierced the lone window. But there are so many explosions one could never be sure how it really happened. ‘She doesn't know her mother is dead,’ whispered Anmar's aunt, Hadia Latif Mohammed, 48. Nor does Anmar's father, Khalid Raheem, 36, a photographer, who was critically wounded and lost an eye.” The Fallujah solution. "Sulaiman's death in large part ended the Regiment's restraint around the city. The Marines have invested so much time, energy and passion into training the two battalions of Iraqi National guards that were headquartered in and around the town. The enemy surrounded the two battalion headquarters and threatened to destroy them in total. They lured Sulaiman out with promises that they just wanted to talk and that if he exited, he could spare his men. Long story short, immediately after the commanders left their headquarters with the insurgents, the enemy poured into the buildings and beat the soldiers. After a beating, they chased the soldiers out of the headquarters and proceeded to steal all the weapons and ammunition that we had provided and loot all of the garrison property (trucks, TVs, air conditioners, etc...) that we had purchased to stand up the force. The weapons, ammunition and vehicles were taken and are now in the hands of the enemy. The garrison property was sold in the street. The leading insurgent and leading imam (go figure that) then declared that "the Iraqi National Guard no longer exists in Falluja" and that any soldiers seen in uniform should be killed. This same guy controls the Falluja Brigade as well as other insurgents inside the town.” I received this item in reader email. The writer of the article is a Marine officer serving near Fallujah. Coalition of the Wobbly. “Poland wants to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible, Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said on Sunday as he arrived at a Polish military base in southern Iraq, the PAP news agency reported. Szmajdzinski left Warsaw for Iraq overnight Saturday, on a mission to assess the political and military situation in the area under Polish command, his office said in a statement.” Send it FEDEX. “British Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the United States to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported on Sunday. US President George W Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honor in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.” Commentary Editorial: “But Col. Dana J.H. Pittard, who commands the combat team overseeing Capt. Estrada's unit, angrily labeled the article as "aiding the enemy" and, as first reported in the Army Times, summarily transferred him to a remote post near the Iranian border, thereby denying him a scheduled leave and forcing him to postpone his wedding. What a mistake. It's true that soldiers don't have the free speech rights civilians do -- they can't release confidential information or personally attack senior military leaders, which would harm the ability of the team to do its work. But Capt. Estrada wasn't doing those things; rather, he was raising legitimate questions, and his article did nothing to aid the enemy. He cleared his article with his immediate commanding officer before it was published. An Army spokesman says he should have known to get approval from a public affairs officer too. But soldiers have been encouraged by commanders to send letters to their hometown newspapers about how successful they are in rebuilding and how they're welcomed by smiling children; surely, then, it should be appropriate to send newspapers letters about possible flaws in U.S. strategy.” In the aftermath of the Plame affair, it’s reasonable to suspect that both CPT Estrada’s and CPT Josh Rushing’s punishments originated at a level much higher than an obscure colonel. Analysis: “Watching the gallant but doomed charge of the British light cavalry brigade against the Russian guns at Balaclava during the Crimean War, French Gen. Pierre Bosquet commented acidly, ‘It's magnificent, but it isn't war.’ The same might be said of recent military operations in Iraq. Observing them, Americans might be pardoned for wondering just what we think we're doing. One week our troops are clearing Fallujah of Baathist insurgents. The next week they aren't. A month later they're clearing Najaf of Shiite insur- gents. Then, a few days later, they aren't. Meanwhile, casualties and insurgents alike multiply. Somewhere behind all this, there must be some coherent strategic intention, but for most of us it isn't easily visible. As far as we are able to judge, the war in Iraq has become a sort of military perpetual motion machine, producing plenty of activity but not much evidence of progress.” Casualty Reports Local story: Ohio Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: North Dakota Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Indiana Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Saturday, August 21, 2004
War News for August 20 and 21, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Two US Marines killed in fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed, three wounded by roadside bomb ambush near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, four wounded in ambush of US convoy near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed, 107 wounded in fighting in Baghdad during last 24 hours. Bring ‘em on: Seventy-seven Iraqis killed, 70 wounded in fighting in Najaf during last 24 hours. Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting reported in Kufa. Bring ‘em on: Dutch patrol ambushed in Samawah; two Iraqis killed. Bring ‘em on: US Army patrol ambushed near Khalis. Bring ‘em on: One Polish soldier killed, six wounded by car bomb near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline sabotaged near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline sabotaged near Amarah. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, two wounded in Baghdad RPG ambush. Bring ‘em on: Senior Iraqi police official assassinated near Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Bulgarian troops shelled near Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed in bombing at Nasiriyah police station. Bring ‘em on: Two Polish soldiers killed, five wounded in ambush near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, eleven wounded in two US air strikes in Fallujah. Abu Ghraib. “U.S. military doctors working in Iraq collaborated with interrogators in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, an article in the British medical journal The Lancet said on Friday.” Iraqi Olympic soccer players sound off. “Speaking after winning their group stage at the Games in Greece, one player said he would take up arms against US troops in his country. And the team attacked Mr Bush for running re-election campaign adverts featuring the Iraqi team. ‘Iraq as a team does not want Mr Bush to use us for the presidential campaign,’ said midfielder Salih Sadir. ‘He can find another way to advertise himself.’ Sadir was angered at Mr Bush’s adverts, which show pictures of the Afghan and Iraqi flags with the words: ‘At this Olympics there will be two more free nations – and two fewer terrorist regimes.’” Morale. “Playing cards one recent evening while on call to respond to any sudden outburst of violence, Lance Corporal David Goward and the rest of his squad voiced two growing concerns: that the U.S. military would linger here indefinitely and that the troops' very presence was provoking the fighting it was meant to stop. They are ready for any battle, they said, but a pervasive sense that Iraqis do not want their help has killed their enthusiasm for the larger goals of introducing democracy and rebuilding the country.” Commentary Editorial: “As we write this, the outcome of the tense standoff at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf remains uncertain. What is clear is that this potentially decisive showdown began when and where it did because of serious lapses in the American military command structure in Iraq. As The Times reported earlier this week, the confrontation began when a newly arrived Marine Expeditionary Unit in Najaf started skirmishing with Moktada al-Sadr's Shiite militia without its officers first clearing that decision with top American commanders in Baghdad or with Iraqi political leaders.” Editorial: “We don’t see the flag-draped coffins of American soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base, thanks to the Pentagon’s rigid enforcement of a policy banning news photographers. And the media, either out of squeamishness or a desire not to be accused of being unpatriotic, have all but ignored those who have been seriously injured. In Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 there is a segment on soldiers who have lost limbs and who are undergoing slow, painful rehabilitation. What’s almost shocking is the realization of how little of this we’ve seen in the mainstream media. Young men and women are giving their lives and their limbs in a war that was launched under false pretenses, to ferret out weapons and terrorists that didn’t exist. And now those who actually paid the price for Bush’s war are being forgotten. The media must be held accountable for not showing the war’s true face, regardless of the obstacles. Their failure stands as yet another example of caving in to Bush and company.” Editorial: “Preparations for the elections cannot proceed without U.N. assistance. The Security Council resolution, mindful of the bombing of the U.N. office in Iraq, called for the creation of a force to protect U.N. staff. If this force remains neutral and independent of the multinational forces, it will be easier to win over the Iraqi people. But no country has yet raised its hand to take part in this plan. The Iraq war has left such a bad taste in people's mouths that countries feel reluctant to send forces-even if it is just to protect U.N. personnel. We must continue to question the responsibility of the Bush administration, which bulldozed its way toward war and occupation of Iraq. The global ramifications of a failed attempt to rebuild Iraq would be dire.” Analysis: “Self-censorship, conformity, and craven bowing to Bush administration propaganda of the sort admitted to by the Washington Post are, however, just the tip of the media iceberg. The Post, via Kurtz, is only not-apologizing for what was actually written and where it was placed in the paper. It remains beyond anyone's wildest dreams to hope that the United States' major papers would devote the slightest thought to stories that logically should have been covered but simply went missing in action (MIA). So for the rest of this dispatch, let me just focus on US Iraq reportage since the taking of Baghdad and offer my own little non-inclusive list of occupation/war stories that seem to me to have gone MIA - and these are only the ones that, with my limited public sources and limited knowledge, I can see from here. Then, because every war has its war words that are meant to bend embattled reality to someone's advantage, I want to consider a few recent examples of Iraq war words and how the press has dealt with them.” Casualty Reports Local story: Colorado soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Connecticut soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Washington State Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: California Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Tennessee Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Indiana soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Two California Marines killed in Iraq. Local story: Virginia Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Ohio soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Ohio Marine dies in Iraq. Local story: Virginia Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Oregon soldier injured in Iraq. Local story: Massachusetts Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Alabama Guardsmen wounded in Iraq. Local story: New York soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: New York airman wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Friday, August 20, 2004
Ivan Watson Is A Certified Shithead For the past two days, I’ve been listening to NPR’s Baghdad correspondent trying to explain the situation in Najaf. From his Green Zone command post, Ivan has breathlessly reported the confusing and contradictory statements from the Allawi gang, first promising a cease-fire, then threatening to kick some Sadr ass, now saying another cease-fire might happen. Meanwhile, an NPR Iraqi translator in Najaf has consistently reported heavy and unrelenting fighting for the last two days. The difference between Watson’s commentary and the reports from the Iraqi translator made me wonder if they were reporting from the same planet. Now, I just heard Watson try to explain the difference by beginning his broadcast wondering if all the bullshit he has heard from the Allawi gang is due to some clever psychological-warfare between the Allawi gang and al-Sadr, or whether it’s due to some understandable confusion. Ivan, here’s a clue: those bastards in Baghdad are lying to you. They’re spinning a story while your translator in Najaf is giving you the straight scoop. Next time you try playing war correspondent, invest in a bullshit detector. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
War News for August 17 and 18, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting resumes in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One British soldier killed, one wounded in fighting in Basra. Bring ‘em on: Senior police officer assassinated in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, several wounded in fighting in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi journalist killed in fighting near Fallujah. Bring ‘em on: Dutch troops ambushed near Ar Rumaythah. Bring ‘em on: Seven Iraqis killed in Baghdad mortar attack. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi civilians killed in heavy fighting near Kut. Bring ‘em on: Oil well destroyed by RPG fire near Amarah. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi army general assassinated near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Two Turkish truck drivers kidnapped near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: More fighting reported near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: British civilians ambushed by roadside bomb near Basra. US Army surveillance drone crashed near Balad. Press freedom. “An Iraqi police officer physically assaulted and threatened to kill a Kansas City Star photojournalist Monday after she took photos of officers beating a suspected pickpocket. Allison Long, 31, on rotation in Iraq for Knight Ridder newspapers, was walking inside a police cordon near the Baghdad Convention Center, where more than 1,000 Iraqi delegates met to pick a national assembly this week. Long and two Iraqi colleagues saw Iraqi policemen, guns drawn, running after a man just before 9 a.m.” Home front. “Warden Flanagan isn't alone. The biggest call-up of National Guard and Reserve members since World War II is creating manpower holes on factory floors and in government agencies across the country. From police precincts to firefighting units, public and private entities are struggling to cope with missing workers - often creating extra burdens for employees left behind. While everyone knew there would be adjustments to make, the magnitude of the call-up and the prolonged stay of many units is putting added stress on some agencies - particularly at a time of lean finances.” Rummy. “As many as 82 percent of personnel deserted from Iraqi Civil Defense Corps units deployed in Western Iraq and around the town of Fallujah last April, when anti-American guerrillas launched a spate of deadly strikes against coalition forces, according to a report released in late June by the Government Accountability Office. The desertion rate reached 49 percent in corps units deployed in and around Baghdad, while in towns like Baqubah, Tikrit, Karbala, Najaf and Kut, it stood at 30 percent. Police squads hardly fared better. During just one week of April 17 to 23, the force lost 2,892 personnel because some of the officers either turned out to be rebel sympathizers or proved to be incompetent and had to be sent for retraining, the report pointed out. The figure also included those killed in action. The defense secretary offered no specific evidence showing the situation had since improved.” Soldier in protective custody. “The Army reservist who tipped off investigators to abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison by his fellow soldiers is in protective military custody because of death threats, family members said on Tuesday. The reservist, Specialist Joseph M. Darby, 24, received the threats after his role in the scandal was publicly revealed in May, his sister-in-law, Maxine Carroll, said.” CheneyBurton. “The Army had said earlier Tuesday that it had decided that starting Wednesday it would withhold 15 percent of payments on future bills from the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root because it had not issued paperwork justifying its costs. But the Army later indicated it would continue to reimburse the company in full. Government contractors normally cannot be paid more than 85 percent of their invoices until they fully account for their costs. Twice this year, the Army set this rule aside for Halliburton as the company cataloged its costs and explained how it was billing the government. The most recent reprieve expired Sunday.” This will make Lieutenant AWOL howl about tort reform. “A member of the California Army National Guard filed suit in federal court here Tuesday challenging the Bush administration's so-called stop-loss policy, asserting that his pending deployment to Iraq ‘bears no relation to the threat of terrorism against the United States.’ Under stop-loss, military personnel can be prevented from leaving the armed forces upon completing their enlistment terms. The plaintiff in this case, identified as John Doe to protect his privacy, is believed to be the first soldier to challenge the legality of the policy's application to deployment in Iraq.” Casualty Reports Local story: Idaho soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Kansas soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Florida soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Michigan Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: California Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: California Marine wounded in Iraq. Awards and Decorations Local story: Arizona soldier decorated for valor. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Rant of the Day Last month I had to go to the doctor to get my biennial flight physical. Given my deep-seated and irrational hatred of the medical profession, this is a two-year ordeal that I seldom endure in a positive, upbeat manner. My Army retiree health insurance is provided by Tri–Care. Since I live more than 50 miles from a military installation or a VA hospital, I get to pick my own doctor from a list provided by Tri-Care. Of course I picked a flight surgeon - the only one in Lewis County. A basic flight physical costs $100. Tri-Care covers the cost except for a ten dollar co-payment that comes out of my pocket. This time, I also needed a physician’s statement for a state law-enforcement training course I’ll be attending in September. Basically, they wanted a doctor to give me a treadmill test and sign a standard form saying I probably won’t croak trying to do 20 push-ups. Attached to the form was another form saying my state health insurance, Group Health, would pay for the treadmill test which costs about 350 bucks. I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and get the flight surgeon to perform both procedures. So I went to see the flight quack. He tested my vision, (including that silly test that verifies you have a blind spot in each eyeball - everybody has one unless you’re completely blind. I’ve always suspected that part of the physical is just so the doctor can demonstrate some gee-whiz-ain’t-that-hot-shit, but otherwise useless knowledge) tested my reflexes, poked and prodded my tender body, told me to quit smoking, extracted a cup of piss and stuck his finger up my ass. All the usual shit that puts me in a foul mood for at least a week. He referred me to a different quack for the treadmill test, although I’m sure he’ll still get a cut of the action. Then he gave me some medical mumbo-jumbo about my urine, which I didn’t and still don’t understand, but the upshot was that he wanted another urine specimen and a stool sample so he could run some “tests.” Like an idiot, I agreed. (In fact I told him he could have my underpants, but he didn’t think that joke was very funny.) Today, two piss cups, assorted blood vials and a shit sample later, I go to the doctor and discover that neither Tri-Care nor Group Health intends to pay for any of this shit. It turns out that this particular quack is listed with Tri-Care’s approved A-list of medical shakedown artists but not with Group Health’s approved robbery roster. The nice lady in the patient billing office (she was so nice I didn’t even swear at her) explained that the military Tri-Care plan considers themselves a sort of back-up insurer if a military retiree has any kind of civilian health insurance. But they won’t pay a fucking nickle if I was stupid enough to go to a quack who isn’t approved by the civilian health plan even if Tri-Care approved that same bastard as a health care provider. So now I’m stuck with a bill for a couple thousand bucks worth of scientific shit and piss analysis, I still don’t know what - if anything - is wrong with me, and if I want to find out I’ll have to go to a different quack approved by Group Health to have the same tests repeated. Christ, I’m pissed. Oh, and just to put some frosting on that fucking cake, Tri-Care doesn’t plan to pay the other 90 bucks for the goddam flight physical so I’m gonna pay a hundred bucks to get a finger stuck up my ass. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|
Monday, August 16, 2004
War News for August 16, 2004 Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed fighting in Najaf. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed fighting in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed by roadside bomb near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, four wounded by mortar fire in Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: French-American journalist kidnapped near Nasiriyah. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed near Beiji. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi civilians wounded in ambush of US patrol near Khaldiyah. Bring ‘em on: Pipeline ablaze near Mussayyib. News blackout imposed on fighting in Najaf. “The Iraqi authorities ordered foreign journalists to leave Najaf yesterday, threatening to arrest or even shoot reporters as US marines and Iraqi government forces resumed the fight against Shia militants. Iraqi police told the journalists to leave because of a supposed threat by insurgents to bomb their hotel. The intimidation - including shots apparently fired by police at the hotel - came as Iyad Allawi, the interim prime minister, hailed the birth of democracy in Iraq at the opening of a national conference in Baghdad.” More desertions from Iraqi security forces. “Sunday's showdown in Najaf was troubled even before the fighting resumed. Several officials from the Iraqi defense ministry told Knight Ridder that more than 100 Iraqi national guardsmen and a battalion of Iraqi soldiers chose to quit rather than attack fellow Iraqis in a city that includes some of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Neither U.S. military officials nor Iraqi government officials would confirm the resignations. ‘We received a report that a whole battalion (in Najaf) threw down their rifles,’ said one high-ranking defense ministry official, who didn't want his name published because he's not an official spokesman. ‘We expected this, and we expect it again and again.’” Low Expectations. “With the conference in Baghdad, Dr. Allawi and the Americans saw an opportunity to demonstrate that, the violence across the country notwithstanding, it was possible to proceed with the timetable for democracy laid down earlier this year, when Iraq was still formally an occupied country. As well, in the context of the uprising in Najaf and the Sadr militia's attacks elsewhere, they wanted to show that a large number of politically active Iraqis - Shiites a majority among them - would defy threats of violence from Mr. Sadr's fighters and other insurgent groups and attend the gathering. By that measure, Iraqi and American officials said, they counted the conference a success, just for the fact that it had convened.” Ambush in Ramadi. “The first of 2nd Lt. John T. Wroblewski's three Humvees slowed as it entered the Ramadi marketplace where the insurgents were waiting. At the wheel was Lance Cpl. Kyle Crowley, 18, of San Ramon, Calif. With him in the unarmored green Humvee were radio operator Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield, 19, of Fremont, Calif.; Pfc. Christopher R. Cobb, 19, of Bradenton, Fla.; Lance Cpl. Anthony Roberts, 18, of Bear, Del.; Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Fernando A. Mendez-Aceves, 27, of San Diego, a medic; Staff Sgt. Allan K. Walker, 28, of Lancaster, Calif., and Lance Cpl. Deshon E. Otey, 24, of Louisville, Ky. In the back, manning the machine gun, was Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, 18, of Oneida, Wis.” Sen. Harkin spanks Snarlin' Cheney. “Sen. Tom Harkin called Vice President Dick Cheney a ‘coward’ for avoiding service in Vietnam and called on President Bush to end the ‘backdoor draft.’ The Iowa Democrat was responding Friday to the call-up of a Des Moines police officer who has already completed his eight-year military commitment. Harkin echoed comments earlier this week by Des Moines Police Chief William McCarthy, who said the military's treatment of Des Moines Police Officer Rodell Nydam was ‘evil.’ Nydam, 26, is being called back to Iraq despite finishing his National Guard commitment in April. He's being called up under the military's ‘stop loss’ exemption, which can extend duty in wartime.” Patriotism. “But as much as Jack and Angel stood by their son and every other American soldier in Iraq, working with other families to send food and gifts, they have never believed in this war. ‘We believe we can separate the politics from what's going on there, from what our soldiers are being asked to do,’ Jack said. ‘I agreed with why we went to Afghanistan. I think we needed to. But we misread what was going to happen in Iraq.’ But what do you say, I asked Jack, to those who think we must rally around the president? ‘The last time I looked, our right as United States citizens is to question our leaders,’ Jack said. ‘That is what my son died for us to do. We shouldn't just blindly follow along.’” Commentary Editorial: “The brutalities committed by US soldiers on innocent Iraqis made Iraqis not trust them. Iraqis hate them. The Muslim countries cannot remain indifferent to the atrocities in Iraq. A political solution must be sought to the problem in Iraq in the context of the Middle East. The part of endeavour has to be to make American people understand where lies the solution. Bush administration is the problem and not the solution for Iraq. The US help is no doubt needed. But under the umbrella of the United Nations the Muslim countries must play an active role for peace in Iraq and the Middle East.” Analysis: “The standoff in Najaf threatens not just the conference but the legitimacy of the Allawi government, say analysts. While most Iraqi Shiites aren't Sadr supporters, anger over the siege at the Shrine of Imam Ali threatens to drive most Iraqi Muslims away from supporting the interim government. Over the weekend, thousands of pro-Sadr demonstrators converged on Najaf and formed a ring around several hundred of Sadr's fighters, who are holed up in the shrine, one of the holiest sites for the world's 180 million Shiite Muslims.” Opinion: “And was invasion our last resort? Even the war-maker himself, President George W. Bush, never claimed that. In the beginning, he said, it was the last resort because the United Nations had pushed hard enough to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When there were no such weapons, he said Saddam was a very bad guy. That was true - and it was true 20 years ago when we were supplying him with weapons to use against Iran. But was he a great enough threat to go to war ourselves? Was killing Iraqis after the war our last resort? ‘I know what I'm doing when it comes to winning this war,’ said Bush last Wednesday. That's good to hear. What exactly are you doing in Najaf? Killing bad guys, I guess. If that is the criteria for putting the Marines around the shrine of the Imam Ali, then we will be at war forever, everywhere.” Opinion: “Am I angry about losing almost a 1,000 of our soldiers, the maiming of another 7,000 and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis in a war that was totally unnecessary, illegal and immoral? Aren't you? Who isn't furious that this administration, during wartime, has cut back on funding for military housing and substantially reduced VA money? They actually have the nerve to be closing 11 VA hospitals when so many wounded are returning. All this so they can give their billionaire friends and contributors, the ‘haves and the have mores,’ a giant tax break. Why even Bush himself refers to them as his base. You're not outraged?” Casualty Reports Local story: Pennsylvania soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Alabama soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Marine wounded in Iraq. 86-43-04. Pass it on.|