Sunday, January 16, 2005

War News for Sunday, January 16, 2005 Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed fighting in Babil province. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi soldiers killed in two attacks near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians wounded in ambush of US troops near Kut. Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed by insurgents near Latifiyah. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, four wounded in attack on checkpoint in Kirkuk. US helicopter makes “emergency landing” near Mosul. Coalition of the Wobbly. “Portugal will withdraw its paramilitary force from Iraq on February 12, after extending its stay to help provide security for the January 30 elections, a government spokesman said today.” Graphics. “While the daily toll is noted by the news media in headlines and video clips, many Americans have a hard time incorporating these individual pieces of information into a coherent image over time. This map, based on Pentagon data and news reports, shows the number killed and wounded since Jan. 1. Because of the limits placed on reporters and the military's need to inform families, there may have been additional casualties during this period that are not noted here. The map also does not include Iraqi civilians accidentally killed by coalition forces. Still, it is our attempt to visually depict the human cost of a fortnight in an embattled land.” Election update. “With only two weeks to go to before the vote, scheduled for Jan. 30, guerrillas have stepped up their attacks and driven most candidates deep indoors, and on Saturday, the authorities said they would restrict traffic and set up cordons around polling places on election day. A result, in large swaths of the country, is a campaign in the shadows, where candidates are often too terrified to say their names. Instead of holding rallies, they meet voters in secret, if they meet them at all. Instead of canvassing for votes, they fend off death threats.” Candidates. “The Americans found Wijdan al-Khuzai's body on Dec. 24, on the airport highway, a grim stretch rife with insurgents. Ms. Khuzai had been shot five times, once in the face. Her shoulder blades had been broken, and her hands had been cuffed behind her back so tightly that her wrists bled. ‘The police said she had been tortured,’ said her brother, Haider Jamal al-Khuzai. Ms. Khuzai's fate is indicative of the risk borne by nearly all the 7,400 candidates in this country, where the prospect of democratic elections has inspired insurgents to embark on a new wave of intimidation. The violence has sent most of the candidates into hiding. Few have publicly identified themselves.” A father’s grief. “Every bit of Arredondo's skin is coated with antibiotic cream. His left palm has glass in it from when three Marines informed him that Alex was dead and he began smashing the windows of their van. His lower legs, which received the worst of the burns from when he splashed gasoline in the van and ignited it, are stained the color of cranberries. His hair, cut off in the hospital, is only now starting to grow back. His fingernails, ruined when he used his hands to claw holes in Alex's grave for flowers, are all gone.” Case closed. “The jail term meted out to Army Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr. for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison may prove to be the stiffest criminal punishment that emerges from the entire scandal, according to experts on military justice. To some, the low-level Army reservist may look like the fall guy in a debacle that embarrassed the United States throughout the world and tainted the image of American forces in Iraq. Yet analysts said that for now, at least, it was doubtful that higher-level officials would be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal wrongdoing at the Iraqi prison where Graner ran a notorious, late-night guard shift.” Commentary Editorial: “Mr. Gonzales stated for the record at his hearing that he opposes torture. Yet he made no effort to separate himself from legal judgments that narrowed torture's definition so much as to authorize such methods as waterboarding for use by the CIA abroad. Despite the revision of a Justice Department memo on torture, he and the administration he represents continue to regard those practices as legal and continue to condone slightly milder abuse, such as prolonged sensory deprivation and the use of dogs, for Guantanamo. As Mr. Gonzales confirmed at his hearing, U.S. obligations under an anti-torture convention mean that the methods at Guantanamo must be allowable under the Fifth, Eighth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. According to the logic of the attorney general nominee, federal authorities could deprive American citizens of sleep, isolate them in cold cells while bombarding them with unpleasant noises and interrogate them 20 hours a day while the prisoners were naked and hooded, all without violating the Constitution. Senators who vote to ratify Mr. Gonzales's nomination will bear the responsibility of ratifying such views as legitimate.” Editorial: “Another day in the life of Iraq. Thursday was a typical day - unfortunately. What did this day bring? Yes, it brought more death, destruction and grieving. What specifically? It brought the assassination of two aides to the leading Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, which is particularly disturbing since this signals a deliberate attempt to deepen an emerging Sunni-Shiite division. This typical day also brought the kidnapping of a Turkish businessman (not the first) and the murder of seven of his Iraqi employees. U.S. forces have, once again, intensified their military operations against the insurgency. It is an ongoing tale of woe without end. This, in fact, is one of the great concerns, one of the great worries shrouding the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq: that this conflict is one that will drag on and on for years and will have a destabilizing effect throughout the region, indefinitely. This, surely, is the message of Thursday's ‘typical day’ in the life of Iraq. And this, just as surely, is a slap in the face of the legacy, the folly, of U.S. President George W. Bush, on the eve of Iraq's crucial elections.” Opinion: “The facts on the ground indicate that the violence will continue past the upcoming elections on Jan. 30, no matter what the result. This worsening state of affairs has prompted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to announce a bottom-up review of US policy. This review is long overdue. Two years into America's occupation of Iraq, it is high time to rethink our goals and ask whether our current strategy is helping to achieve those goals.” Opinion: “Or is Mr. Williams merely the first one of his ilk to be exposed? Every time this administration puts out fiction through the news media - the ‘Rambo’ exploits of Jessica Lynch, the initial cover-up of Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire - it's assumed that a credulous and excessively deferential press was duped. But might there be more paid agents at loose in the media machine? In response to questions at the White House, Mr. McClellan has said that he is ‘not aware’ of any other such case and that he hasn't ‘heard’ whether the administration's senior staff knew of the Williams contract - nondenial denials with miles of wiggle room. Mr. Williams, meanwhile, has told both James Rainey of The Los Angeles Times and David Corn of The Nation that he has ‘no doubt’ that there are ‘others’ like him being paid for purveying administration propaganda and that ‘this happens all the time.’ So far he is refusing to name names - a vow of omertà all too reminiscent of that taken by the low-level operatives first apprehended in that ‘third-rate burglary’ during the Nixon administration. If CNN, just under new management, wants to make amends for the sins of ‘Crossfire,’ it might dispatch some real reporters to find out just which ‘others’ Mr. Williams is talking about and to follow his money all the way back to its source.” Casualty Reports Local story: North Dakota soldier wounded in Iraq.


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