Tuesday, January 18, 2005

War News for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bring ‘em on: Three US Marines killed in Al Anbar province.

Bring ‘em on: Eight ING soldiers killed by gunmen in Buhriz. Seven policemen killed in car bombing in Beiji. US Marines attacked by car bombing in Ramadi, number of casualties undisclosed. Bodies of five civilians and one Iraqi soldier found in Ramadi with notes identifying them as collaborators.

Bring ‘em on: Militants reportedly setting up checkpoints on roads south of Baghdad and executing suspected collaborators on the spot.

Bring ‘em on: Eight Chinese nationals kidnapped by militants.

Bring ‘em on: Four designated polling sites mortared in Basra, including at least one kindergarten. No injuries reported.

Bring ‘em on: Election candidate from Allawi party killed in Basra.

Bring ‘em on: Four guards killed, eight wounded in car bombing of SCIRI party headquarters in Baghdad. Fighting between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers on main highway near al-Dura, south of Baghdad, casualties reported.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi Catholic archbishop of Mosul kidnapped at gunpoint Monday, freed on Tuesday.

Bring ‘em on: Lebanese national kidnapped by militants.

Bring ‘em on: Bursts of heavy machine gun fire and small explosions reported in south Baghdad.

Election security: Iraqi land borders to be closed from January 29-31 for security during the elections.

Not a piece: Intelligence and congressional officials say they have not seen any information — never "a piece," said one — indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere.

President Bush and top-raking officials in his administration used the existence of WMD in Iraq as the main justification for the March 2003 invasion, and throughout much of last year the White House continued to raise the possibility the weapons were transferred to another country.

Still credible: President George W. Bush said the United States had not lost credibility after issuing poor assessments about Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

He said he still would have made the decision to go to war against Saddam's regime knowing what he knows today.

British casualties: Almost 800 British soldiers have been injured in Iraq since the US-led war began there in March 2003, reports Xinhua. However, it was not clear how many soldiers were seriously injured, the paper reported. So far, 75 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq.

Kurdish elections: Thirteen years ago, a coalition of Kurdish parties held elections in northern Iraq amid the rubble of 4,000 villages destroyed by Saddam Hussein’s army.Young and old queued for hours to vote for a Kurdish parliament in a poll judged free and fair by international monitors.Yet, after 14 years of self-rule, in which the Kurds have rebuilt their villages and modernised their cities, there is little enthusiasm for Iraq-wide elections only two weeks away.

88 percent: US officials, who were rapturous over what they called a massive turnout in Afghanistan’s presidential election last October, made no predictions for Iraq’s first vote after the ouster of the old regime. Indeed, the numbers did not look promising, with the main party representing Iraq’s Sunnite Arab minority boycotting the polls. An internal State Department poll showed 88 percent of Sunnites might stay away if voting was too dangerous.

Retention specialist: Horvath leaves Sunday to join the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, a 700-member unit that has been deployed since April in the Baghdad area. The Salem man will try to persuade many of these weekend warriors- turned-yearlong servicemen to re-enlist.

"The first order of business," Horvath joked, "is to take their weapons away."

Retention rates: Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who served in Iraq are leaving the military at a significantly higher rate than normal, according to The Oregonian.The newspaper said preliminary figures show that fewer than half -- between 180 and 190 -- of the Iraq veterans in the Oregon Guard's 1st Battalion, 162nd Infantry, decided to re-enlist after the unit returned home in April.

Retention rates typically are about 80 percent.

Recruitment goals: Such people as Kilburn are a dream for military recruiters, who are finding it a tougher sell these days to persuade people to put on the uniform. The Mississippi Army National Guard, for instance, didn't reach its 2004 recruiting objective for the first time in five years, officials said. It ranked 11th in the nation, though, for per-capita recruiting among state Army National Guards.


Opinion: Conditions in Baghdad are worse than in the north or south of Iraq. But Baghdad contains a fifth of the country's population. The main north-south and east-west roads in Iraq are still impassable because of terrorists and bandits, and a large swath of the country is subject to regular violence.

It's easy to see how Iraqis slip into conspiracy theories. Three Iraqi friends have already told me they can't believe the United States would permit such chaos unless it wanted to weaken Iraq to maintain control of the country.

If I didn't know better, I could almost buy into such a theory, too.

Opinion: As the administration says, this is a new kind of war. Yet its plan to keep an old POW rule -- hold suspects until the war's over -- while denying these men its other rules -- no torture, access to international observers -- is unreasonable. If they are soldiers, they should be treated as such. If they are not soldiers, perhaps they would be better considered gangsters and prosecuted in civilian courts. And if they are simply drivers, accountants and other civilians caught up in the terrorism dragnet, why not release them?

Opinion: First off, let's be clear about the fact that there was never any credible evidence to suggest that Iraq had a serious WMD program -- let alone the "stockpiles" of already-produced weaponry that the president and his aides suggested. Twenty-three members of the Senate and 133 members of the House rejected the intensive lobbying by the administration and the pliable press for the use-of-force resolution that Bush would use as his authorization to launch a preemptive war. Among those who voted "no" were the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and key members of the Senate and House committees responsible for intelligence, armed services and foreign relations -- all of whom had followed the issue for years and saw no evidence of a threat sufficient to justify an invasion of Iraq. Former President Jimmy Carter and others with long-term knowledge of the issues involved were critical of the rush to war, as were dozens of prominent players in the nation's political, foreign service, intelligence and military elites.

Editorial: Regardless of whether Spc. Charles Graner's 10-year sentence was too harsh or too light - many Iraqis apparently think he should be executed in front of his victims - his trial should be the first of many involving military personnel who took part in or condoned the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Spc. Graner was not a scapegoat.

He abused detainees and directed others to do so. But he and his low-level colleagues who face judicial hearings are not the only ones who should be punished. In the words of Mr. Graner's lawyer, Guy Womack, "they are going after the order-takers" not "the order-givers."

Pentagon reviews have implicated high-ranking military officials in the abuse scandal. None of them has faced disciplinary action.

Opinion: One has to marvel at the ability of Mr. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the other clamorers for war against Iraq to have managed the truth and their own distortions of it with such success that they are still in power today.

Casualty Reports

Local story: Bronx, NY, soldier killed in Mosul.

Local story: Oberlin, LA, soldier killed in Iraq.

Local story: Wakefield, VA, Marine killed in northern Iraq.



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