Saturday, March 26, 2005

War News for Saturday, March 26, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed, two wounded by roadside bomb in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed fighting in Al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed, four wounded in car bomb ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi Army general assassinated in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Abu Ghraib. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi colonel kidnapped near Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: US/Iraqi convoy ambushed by car bomb in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: US patrol ambushed near Baquba; three insurgents killed. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed in mortar attack near Suleiman Beg. Bring ‘em on: Turkish truck destroyed in mortar attack on convoy near Tikrit; driver missing. Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, 19 wounded by cat bomb at police station near Hilla. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi and US troops seize 131 insurgents and material in raid near Karbala. Two Iraqi civilians killed as US troops detonate booby-trapped car in Baghdad. Escape foiled. “U.S. military guards discovered a 600-foot tunnel dug with makeshift tools leading out of the main prison facility for detainees in Iraq before anyone had the opportunity to escape, officials said Friday. The tunnel at Camp Bucca was 12 to 15 feet deep and as wide as 3 feet and had reached beyond the compound fence, said Army Maj. Flora Lee, a spokeswoman at the Army's Combined Press Information Center in Iraq said by telephone. She did not know when guards discovered the tunnel.” Torture policy. “Newly released government documents say the abuse of prisoners in Iraq by U.S. forces was more widespread than previously reported. An officer found that detainees ‘were being systematically and intentionally mistreated’ at a holding facility near Mosul in December 2003. The 311th Military Intelligence Battalion of the Army's 101st Airborne Division ran the lockup.” Detainee deaths. “The Army has concluded that 27 of the detainees who died in US custody in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002 were the victims of homicide or suspected homicide, military officials said in a report released yesterday. The number is higher than Pentagon officials have previously acknowledged, and it indicates that criminal acts caused a significant portion of the dozens of prisoner deaths that occurred in US custody.” Accountability. “Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army. Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations.” Political notes. “The delay in forming a new government in Iraq has stalled important projects at ministries and is sowing confusion among current government workers about their duties, senior Iraqi officials say. After the Jan. 30 elections, the office of the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, ordered the country's more than two dozen ministries not to start any long-term projects or make any major policy decisions because the new government was expected to be installed quickly. Last week, as negotiations over a new government dragged on, Dr. Allawi's office rescinded its order. But some ministry officials say they were not aware of that change or remain hesitant about pushing ahead with long-term projects. Many government employees are also working at a slower pace because they are distracted by the political negotiations and insecurity of their own jobs, the officials say.” Ambush. “The April 9, 2004, mission is best-known for the kidnapping and dramatic escape of its leader, Mississippi dairy farmer Thomas Hamill, whose safe return weeks later was cause for celebration. But others weren't so lucky. Six truck drivers for Halliburton Co. were killed that day, and nine were injured. One trucker remains missing. Two U.S. soldiers escorting the convoy were killed, and one is missing. Of 43 men on the convoy, 25 were killed or injured. It remains the deadliest incident involving American contractors in the war in Iraq. Interviews with surviving drivers and families of the dead, and a U.S. Army report obtained by the Los Angeles Times, show that the U.S. military and Halliburton missed numerous warnings in sending the men on the ill-fated mission. From the moment it left the gate, the convoy may have been doomed by a series of errors that escalated into disaster.” Fobbits. “The war beyond the wire is so draining that each of the more than 100 fobs in Iraq is a hardened refuge for the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops here. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, a 3rd Infantry Division commander based at the Baghdad airport's FOB Liberty, calls them ‘little oases in the middle of a dangerous and confusing world.’ This is a war without a front but with plenty of rear. Many soldiers spend a year in Iraq without ever leaving their fortified bases. Others may never meet an Iraqi, much less kill one. A soldier may patrol for months without ever seeing the enemy, yet risk death or disfigurement at any moment. Each day in Iraq will end, almost without exception, with an American on patrol losing an arm, a leg, an eye or a life to an earth-shattering detonation of high explosives. That these bombs are embedded in the most prosaic emblems of Iraqi life — a car, a donkey cart, a trash pile, a pothole — only intensifies the dread that attends every journey outside the wire.” Huckster. “The Army expects to miss its recruiting goals this month and next and is working on a revised sales pitch appealing to the patriotism of parents, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey said Wednesday.” Why don’t you start by appealing to those patriotic Bush brats? Fallujah report. "Four months after American bombs and guns pounded much of this city into ruins, some signs of life are returning. A kebab shop and a bakery have reopened on the bullet-scarred main boulevard. About a third of the city's 250,000 residents have trickled back since early January. American marines and Iraqi police officers patrol the streets, and there has been little violence. But the safety has come at a high price. To enter Falluja, residents must wait about four hours to get through the rigid military checkpoints, and there are strict nightly curfews. That has stunted the renascent economy and the reconstruction effort. It has also frustrated the residents, who are still coming to grips with their shattered streets and houses. Many have jobs or relatives outside the city. Falluja is safe,’ said Hadima Khalifa Abed, 42, who returned to her ruined home in January with her husband and 10 children. ‘But it is safe like a prison.’ American military officials here say they face a difficult choice. Easing the harsh security measures might help revive the economy and cut the 50 percent unemployment rate; it could also allow the return of the insurgents who ran Falluja from last April until the American intervention in November. Even now, insurgents lob occasional mortar shells into the city, and a number of contractors have been killed here. There are other obstacles. Falluja still lacks a mayor and a city council because of the new Iraqi National Assembly's failure to form a government. The American military is reluctant to make decisions that will shape the city for decades, and the resulting power vacuum has been crippling.” Commentary Editorial: “Mr. Bush's re-election hasn't announced the end of unilateralism. And if the Europeans, knowing they have the ability to do so and knowing that numerous NGO's are demanding them to do so, veto Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination, they will bear the responsibility for a new crisis with the United States. In short, Mr. Bush's proposal makes a warming of trans-Atlantic relations all the more difficult.” Analysis: “The Turkish anti-Americanism today is based on the George W. Bush administration's attitude towards Iraq and the Palestinian issue. The Bush administration's patronizing attitude towards everyone, ignoring all advice, and its tendency to impose its will has produced a reaction in Turkey, just like everywhere else in the world. This attitude of the Bush administration, intentionally or not, is reflected in the attitude of the U.S. bureaucracy. The expectations and stance of the White House affect the posture of the entire bureaucracy, starting from the State Department.” Analysis: “Indeed, from Europe to Asia to Latin America, the formative experiences of those in or rising toward political power were no longer those of Lee Hong Koo in Seoul or Helmut Kohl in Germany, but of another generation forged in opposition to American-backed military governments, or the American war in Vietnam, or the installation in the 1980s of American missiles in Europe. The paradigm for this generation was less America-the-liberator than America-the-imperialist. It was therefore not surprising that darker images of the United States nursed over time blossomed like some bitter harvest as bombs fell on Baghdad. The fact that America's power had, by 2001, become exponentially greater than that of any other country only reinforced this tendency. Countries around the world that had become liberal democracies under American protection wanted equal treatment just as America's reason to regard them as equals, or anything close to that, had eroded. Karen Hughes, the close aide to Bush appointed this month to the job of repairing America's image in the world, would, I suspect, be well advised to pay attention to these underlying trends. What allies from Europe to Asia want, above all, is to be treated as equals. Rough translation: please, listen to and respect us. Asking for gratitude, or expecting it, will get America nowhere. The cold war is history - even if relics like North Korea remain - and people live in the present. The struggle to defeat the Soviet Union is part of a heroic American narrative, but in the Middle East, as in Asia and Latin America, that victory involved acts of hypocrisy, ruthlessness or worse that are more alive in the minds of many people than the heroism. Those people form the generation in power.” Opinion: “Compulsory military service is politically unpalatable -- even more so in an unpopular war. Although the administration has done a masterful job of shielding the public from photos of the coffins of the dead flown into the Dover, Del., military mortuary, the reality of war is getting through. If the Army continues to be all-volunteer and enlistments keep falling, the good side of the equation is that it could force Bush and his saber-rattling strategists to slow down before launching another pre-emptive foreign adventure. Bush may then try something new -- such as peacemaking.” Rant of the Day Other than twelve years of education in Catholic grammar and high school, I have no real theological training. I never went to Divinity school. My university degrees are in history and criminal justice. I'm Catholic, so I'm not supposed to believe in any of that Protestant "Rapture" crap. Still, I've got a theory. I have a suspicion that the Rapture has already happened. No way to prove my theory, of course, but how else can you explain the moral degeneracy of the so-called evangelical Christians in America today? YD


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