Monday, February 07, 2005

News Thread February 7, 2005 Bring ‘em on News Bring ‘em on: Insurgents attacked a police station south of Baghdad under cover of darkness Sunday, killing 22 Iraqi police and soldiers. Bring ‘em on: The death toll from a suicide bomb last in a hospital compound in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul this morning has reached 12. All 12 victims were policemen. Bring ‘em on: Fourteen Iraqis were killed and at least 13 others were wounded on Monday in a suicide bombing attack outside a police station in Baquba, a town north of Baghdad, hospital sources said. Bring ‘em on: One U.S. soldier from Task Force Baghdad was killed and two others were wounded Sunday afternoon in a roadside bombing north of the capital. Bring ‘em on: Separately, from the same link above, an Iraqi civilian was wounded Sunday by a roadside bomb that exploded but missed an Iraqi police patrol in the southern port city of Basra. Attackers gunned down an Iraqi contractor who apparently worked with the U.S. military, and police in the Shiite city of Karbala reported that a suicide car bomber struck a U.S. convoy south of the city Sunday morning, destroying a U.S. vehicle. Elsewhere in the city, gunmen fired rifle shots at a gasoline tanker truck, and the vehicle exploded into a huge ball of fire. No one was hurt, said police Capt. Mushtaq Talib, adding that the tanker was heading to an illegal port used by oil smugglers in the city. In another attack, gunmen fired on a group of Iraqi policemen working to dismantle a roadside bomb on a main street in central Baghdad, injuring two officers. Election News Protests: Hundreds of Iraqis have gathered outside Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone to protest alleged voting irregularities in Mosul that they say prevented tens of thousands from casting ballots. The demonstrators were mainly Iraqi Christians, Turkmen and Yazidis -- members of a small religion in the north. Shouting slogans and waiving Iraqi flags, they claimed polling centres never opened in their neighbourhoods in the turbulent northern city and in the surrounding province, disenfranchising some 200-thousand people. Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have acknowledged that many polling sites never opened or opened late for the historic national assembly election January 30th. Some of those that did open could not be supplied with ballots and other election materials. A team of independent lawyers is investigating various complaints in the city and is to report back to the electoral commission. Legitimacy? The future Iraqi government would lack the needed legitimacy, being formed under occupation and being the outcome of “semi-legitimate” election, a spokesman for Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr said on Sunday, February 6. “I’m afraid that the new Iraqi government will be a replica of the US-handpicked and now dissolved Interim Governing Council, it would also lack the needed legitimacy to exist, which must be derived from the people’s consent and not from the occupation troops. In Mr. Sadr’s words: ‘The occupiers are doctoring the election results,’ and therefore we don’t believe in the fairness of the polls,” Theocracy or Democracy?The spiritual leader of Iraqi Shiites, who are set to dominate the new government, has demanded a major say for Islam in lawmaking as the abduction of four Egyptians heightened fears for foreigners. Amidst new insurgent violence that left at least 13 dead, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and another top Shiite cleric staked out a radical demand that the constitution must refer to Islam as the sole source of legislation. Sistani is also the guiding light of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shiite parties that leads in the vote count after Iraq's historic January 30 election. The new national assembly is to oversee the writing of a new constitution and the role of Islam has been at the heart of months of debate between rival parties and factions as well as by US officials. A surprise statement released Sunday by Sheikh Ibrahim Ibrahimi, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq al-Fayad, one of the five key marja, or Shiite religious leaders, set out the demand. "All of the ulema (clergy) and marja, and the majority of the Iraqi people, want the national assembly to make Islam the source of legislation in the permanent constitution and to reject any law that is contrary to Islam," said the statement. A source close to Sistani announced soon after that the spiritual leader backed the demand. PR News Let’s cut back on our $1.5bn plan for an Embassy in Iraq: By comparison, one of the largest U.S. missions is in Moscow, where an embassy spokesman said there are 350 Americans. Assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo are 250 Americans from 20 government agencies, a spokesman there said. A diplomatic compound being built in Beijing is estimated to cost $275 million. Those constructed in 2003 in Kenya and Tanzania — where terrorists bombed the embassies in 1998 — cost $68 million and $40 million, respectively, officials said at the time. It was unclear whether the higher expenses in Baghdad would stem from the need for housing inside the compound, the high number of employees or some other cause. The site is expected to be in the heavily fortified Green Zone, where U.S. government employees live and work. That would put it near where the United States had its embassy before diplomatic relations were broken with Iraq in 1990 over its invasion of Kuwait. The new compound would not be far from the temporary U.S. mission, a former palace of ousted ruler Saddam Hussein. Though U.S. diplomats toured potential sites as much as a year ago, the administration held off asking for funds as the insurgency grew ever more violent and businesses, aid workers and international agencies reduced their presence in Iraq. The idea of building a large permanent facility in Iraq has detractors, who say this may not be the time, and Baghdad not the place, for such a project. "A huge U.S. Embassy does not fit the political mood of Iraq and I think it sends the wrong message," said Frederick Barton, a former official of the U.N. refugee agency and U.S. Agency for International Development who now is with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Clueless? "It's interesting to me that some people think they know that because it's not knowable," Rumsfeld said. Discussing the two resignation letters he wrote President Bush at the height of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal last year, Rumsfeld said he believed he still could be an effective Pentagon chief but wanted the president to make that call. "I told him I really thought he ought to carefully consider it. But he made a conscious decision, and life goes on, and here we are," Rumsfeld told ABC's "This Week." Well, he really hasn’t a clue! Prescott Bush? The CIA, under pressure from Congress, has agreed in principle to release new documents detailing its ties to former Nazis who aided U.S. Cold War espionage against the Soviet Union, officials said on Sunday. Facing demands for public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, CIA officials have conceded that records on former Nazis who have not been accused of war crimes, including members of the German SS, should be subject to the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998, the officials said. "This means the information we thought would come out when we wrote the law, will now come out," said Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican who co-authored the disclosure legislation. Blogwatch The myth of liberation: Etherzone writes that the proposed U.S.-Iraqi agreement contains language in which the U.S. government "insists on retaining primary jurisdiction" over crimes committed by the Americans in "carrying out their official duties." This means that the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib and throughout the complex of prisons maintained by the U.S. – as well as everyday acts of wanton murder, such as the drowning of Zaydun al-Samarrai – will go unpunished. Iraqi citizens brutalized by occupation forces cannot sue. The Iraqis can hold all the elections they want, but it still won't give them what any real government, "democratic" or monarchical, must have: jurisdiction over its own territory and a corresponding ability to protect its own people. Iraq, according to the terms of this agreement, will not be a sovereign state, but a vassal of the United States. In Japan, this question of vassalage is put to the side, just as the American troop presence has been pretty much put to the side in Okinawa, but that isn't going to be possible in Iraq any time soon. The Iraqis can vote until they're blue in the face – or blue all the way up to their elbows – but there are certain bounds beyond which they will not be allowed to go, and the proposed status agreement maps out some of those constraints. Iraq today is a province of the American Empire, and its status is not changed by any election. Oscar material for Harrison Ford? “You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them." This is fairly complicated stuff, when you think about it. On the one hand you want to be outraged by what appears to be a calloused statement -- on the other, you wouldn't put someone in uniform that found shooting people so reprehensible he (or she) couldn't fight. Then too, there's the truth about combat: in the American Civil War those dispatched to collect rifles from the battlefield found that most of them had not been fired. Large numbers of Civil War commanders spent hours attempting to get large masses of soldiers to fire as rapidly as possible: because commanders knew that a large percentage of their troops found killing so ugly that they purposely fired high -- or not at all. The idea, I suppose, was to convince the faint of heart that if they killed they at least wouldn't go to hell alone.


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