Thursday, January 06, 2005

War News for Thursday, January 6, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute 18 Iraqis for seeking work at US base near Mosul. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqis killed in fighting in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed in car bomb attack on US convoy in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Six Iraqis killed, 13 wounded in car bomb attack on ING checkpoint near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Four US military contractors killed in Samarra ambush. Bring ‘em on: Two ING soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi policemen killed by car bomb near Tikrit. Rummy’s Army. “The Army Reserve is unable to meet its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan because of ‘dysfunctional’ personnel policies that senior Army and Pentagon officials have refused to change, its top general has told senior Army leaders. The officer, Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, said in a memorandum that the demands of overseas commitments combined with restrictive mobilization policies were hampering the Reserve's ability to fill such essential jobs as engineers, truck drivers and civil affairs specialists….The Reserves, General Helmly said, are ‘rapidly degenerating into a “broken” force.’” Torture policy. “When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke last spring, officials characterized the abuse as the aberrant acts of a small group of low-ranking reservists, limited to a few weeks in late 2003. But thousands of pages in military reports and documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to the American Civil Liberties Union in the past few months have demonstrated that the abuse involved multiple service branches in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba, beginning in 2002 and continuing after Congress and the military had begun investigating Abu Ghraib. Yesterday, in response to some of the documents, the Pentagon said it would investigate F.B.I. reports that military interrogators in Guantánamo abused prisoners by beating them, grabbing their genitals and chaining them to the cold ground.” Abu Gonzales. “A dozen former military officers, including retired Army General John Shalikashvili, are challenging the nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to be U.S. attorney general because he endorsed detaining suspected terrorists without protections accorded prisoners of war.” Tell me another fairy tale, Unka Dick. “Our sources are firm in that they conclude this ‘good news only’ directive comes from Bush himself; that is, it is not a trap or cocoon thrown around the President by National Security Advisor Rice, Vice President Cheney, and DOD Secretary Rumsfeld. In any event, whether self-imposed, or due to manipulation by irresponsible subordinates, the information/intelligence vacuum at the highest levels of the White House increasingly frightens those officials interested in objective assessment, and not just selling a political message.” Fallujah. “Sullen and anxious, tens of thousands of residents have passed through stringent checkpoints over the last week to find out, after agonizing weeks of uncertainty, whether their homes and shops were reduced to rubble or merely ransacked. Even if their houses are still standing, they are pondering whether a family can resume any decent life in a place devoid of electricity, running water, schools or commerce, in a debris-strewn city with a strict 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, conspicuously occupied by American marines and Iraqi troops who still have daily firefights with guerrillas. So far, only the hardiest and the luckiest are choosing to stay. Most leave in the afternoon, saying they will wait until repairs, now started in earnest by the Americans and the Iraqi government, are further along. Some, returning to scenes of complete devastation, are in despair.” Shut up! “A U.S. Army doctor in Iraq has been ordered to shut down his Internet diary, or blog, on claims it contravened a breach of unspecified regulations. Maj. Michael Cohen, a doctor with the 67th Combat Support Hospital unit, chronicled life in a modern MASH unit, treating troops and wounded Iraqi insurgents alike. The 35-year-old was chief emergency room doctor when the Mosul mess tent was bombed Dec. 21, and 22 people died. That and a year's worth of accounts were replaced with a short notice on his site, 67cshdocs.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.” Guide to Iraqi political groups. Sen. Kerry in Baghdad. “Sen. John Kerry, whose seemingly shifting positions on the U.S. war in Iraq plagued him throughout his presidential campaign, came to this war- torn capital Wednesday to see for himself whether the country was moving toward stability or deeper into chaos. Kerry, who repeatedly charged during the presidential campaign that President Bush had botched the war effort, was greeted warmly by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad.” And he didn’t prance around with a goddam plastic turkey. Lovely. “Kuwaiti officials said on Monday they had uncovered a plot by members of the kingdom’s army to attack US and other foreign forces in the country. Some soldiers have been arrested and many more were being questioned. Kuwaiti Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah told the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency that the plot had been directed against military targets associated with the US-led occupation coalition in Iraq, most likely against the US military itself, as it was the largest contingent.” (Emphasis added.) FUBAR. “The commander of an Army Reserve detachment in Iraq is begging friends back home to send food for Iraqi police dogs. Capt. Gabriella Cook said in e-mails that the 13 dogs at the Iraqi Police Academy in Baghdad are living on table scraps and garbage. She said some of the dogs are sick -- and there's no way to get real dog food.” Thanks to the alert reader who sent me this story. The Poor Man says it best. Commentary Editorial: “As things stand now, Americans frequently have reason to wonder about the value of Saudi friendship. An Arab newspaper reported Monday that the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a U.S. mess hall in Mosul was a medical student from a Saudi family. The student's family is part of a large Saudi clan, from which three members of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijack teams hailed. Since then, Saudi Arabia has taken some important steps against terrorism. But it has done far less than it could to protect the U.S. troops in Iraq.” Editorial: “Our justice system relies on an attorney general willing to defend civil liberties as ardently as he pursues criminals and terrorists. That person must be someone who respects both the power and the limits of law. Gonzales' record as White House counsel is not just a series of unfortunate missteps; rather, it is a troubling window into the man's morality and his fitness to be the nation's chief lawyer. Democratic senators will surely ask Gonzales sharp and embarrassing questions about the principles that guided his tenure in the Office of Legal Counsel. These lawmakers then ought to demonstrate that they understand the principles at stake by actually voting no.” Editorial: “Across a range of areas, in short, Mr. Gonzales appears to have given the president legal advice that may have empowered him in the short term -- to lock up people he deemed dangerous, to try detainees using a system untested for decades, even to torture -- but that have a great disservice to the president and the country in the long run. Positions he has advocated have damaged U.S. prestige, courted judicial rebuke and greatly complicated the long-term goal of establishing legal regimes that will stand over the course of a long war.” Opinion: “Naming the inaugural ball ‘Patriotic’ doesn't make it so. That's especially true now that the war is overlaid with massive human suffering and deprivation in South Asia. If you were looking for the opposite of planting a victory garden, you couldn't do better than to have sitcom star Kelsey Grammer emcee the military ball. If you want to laugh at human suffering then go trip the light fantastic at the Liberty Ball. (Visiting the black hole of devastation in Sumatra, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, ‘I've never seen anything like it.’ Of course, nothing Powell says will change anything. Powell's involvement in an issue is confirmation that the president doesn't care about it.)” Opinion: “The basic problem is that we are asking a downsized military to handle an oversize task--not for a brief emergency, but for months and years on end. We might have avoided this crisis had we expanded the military before the invasion, or if the administration had not blundered so badly in the ensuing occupation. But it's too late now. Someone has to pay dearly for those mistakes, and it's not the people who made them.” Opinion: “Rummy continued on his oblivious, dissembling path, refusing to admit that he's tapped out the Army and broken the Army Reserve with what Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the frustrated chief of the Army Reserve, calls ‘dysfunctional’ policies. We've gotten so numb on Iraq that when eight American soldiers and over 80 Iraqi police officers get killed, when the governor of Baghdad gets assassinated, and when our puppets plead with Mr. Bush to delay the elections, it all seems like just another week of pre-election maneuvering.” Casualty Reports Local story: Missouri soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Louisiana Marine wounded in Iraq. Local story: Washington State soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Maine Guardsman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Two Louisiana Guardsmen wounded in Iraq.


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