Saturday, March 05, 2005

War News for Saturday, March 5, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Four US soldiers killed fighting in al Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Seven insurgents killed by Iraqi civilians near Wihda. Bring ‘em on: Bulgarian soldier killed in ambush near Diwaniyah. Bring ‘em on: Five Iraqi soldiers killed in mortar attack near Duluiyah. Bring ‘em on: US convoy ambushed by roadside bomb in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi soldier killed, three wounded by roadside bomb near Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis wounded by motorcycle bomb in Baghdad. Insurgents release Italian journalist in Baghdad; US troops fire on her car, wounding her and killing Italian intelligence officer. Daytime curfew imposed in Samarra. Detainees. “Relatives of the thousands of Iraqis in American-run detention centres in Iraq are protesting at overcrowding. Pre-election sweeps have swollen the prison population to breaking point, they say. At Abu Ghraib prison, where eight Americans were charged last year with abusing detainees, more than 3,100 are interned. US officials admit that their ‘ideal limit’ for the facility is 2,500. Rule of law. “An Army intelligence sergeant who accused fellow soldiers in Samarra, Iraq, of abusing detainees in 2003 was in turn accused by his commander of being delusional and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in Germany, despite a military psychiatrist's initial judgment that the man was stable, according to internal Army records released yesterday. The soldier had angered his commander by urging the unit's redeployment from the military base to prevent what the soldier feared would be the death of one or more detainees under interrogation, according to the documents. He told his commander three members of the counterintelligence team had hit detainees, pulled their hair, tried to asphyxiate them and staged mock executions with pistols pointed at the detainees' heads….Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, asked about detainee abuse yesterday on CNN's ‘Wolf Blitzer Reports,’ said he was not surprised. Gonzales said that he presumed the military used lawful interrogation techniques but that ‘sometimes people do things that they shouldn't do. People are imperfect . . . and so the fact that abuses occur, they're unfortunate but I'm not sure that they should be viewed as surprising.’” Of course Abu Gonzales wouldn’t be surprised American soldiers are torturing detainees since he provided the legal opinion that torture isn’t torture. Reconstruction. “Hundreds of new projects have begun in recent weeks and $3.6 billion of $18.4 billion Congress provided in November 2003 has been spent so far - up from $1.7 billion four months ago, the officials said. But much of the money has gone to pay for security. Insurgents have frequently sabotaged the country's oil pipelines, electric power plants and water facilities. They also have kidnapped and killed contractors working on reconstruction. Consequently, of the $3.6 billion spent, ‘the single largest component’ has gone for "security and law enforcement," said William Taylor, director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office. Such costs include ‘personal security details for contractors’ on projects, ‘the cost of hard (armored) cars, of concertina wire around bases’ and other protective measures, he said.” Calling Jonah Goldberg. “When Ann Swann's twin sons were deployed to Iraq with the Marine Corps Reserve last year, she fired off a letter to President Bush. Her eldest son already was serving there with the Army Reserve, she explained, and she wanted one of her boys brought home. ‘This letter is from a concerned mother,’ wrote Swann, 53, principal of Gladys Noon Spellman Elementary in Prince George's County. ‘I request that if at all possible, you conference with me to discuss the reason that all three of my sons (my only family left) are serving in Iraq.’ What Swann discovered since sending her letter in the fall has surprised her. The Department of Defense has no prohibition on sending every child in a family into combat -- even in the same unit at the same location. The only way to get her sons back early would be if one were killed, captured, maimed or missing.” Calling Ben Shapiro. “The Army’s wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in black enlistments over the last four years, which internal Army and Defense Department polls trace to an unpopular war in Iraq and concerns among blacks with Bush administration policies. The Army is straining to meet recruiting goals in part because the number of black volunteers has fallen 41 percent — from 23.5 percent of recruits in fiscal 2000 down steadily to 13.9 percent in the first four months of fiscal 2005.” Fisher House. As more troops return from war zones needing long-term medical care, the Fisher House Foundation has shifted its focus on where to build houses that accommodate the wounded and their visiting families, officials said. ‘We have made supporting servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families, our No. 1 priority … which includes building Fisher Houses at medical centers where they’re going to be receiving their long-term care,’ said Jim Weiskopf, foundation spokesman. The nonprofit foundation founded in 1990 by philanthropists Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher originally built houses only at military treatment facilities. Ten years ago, it expanded and built its first Department of Veterans Affairs facility house in Albany, N.Y. There now are six VA Fisher Houses, and a seventh near completion.” Dead tiger media. “Now enter stage left (or right) the American Society of Newspaper Editors, represented by general counsel Goldberg. Evidently bent out of shape because Judge Quarles cited Fisher's column three times to illustrate that the Sun was not speaking for all media, Goldberg wrote last Saturday that Fisher had ‘done a disservice to his reporting brethren’ by ‘publicly’ stating his views. Acknowledging Fisher's right to state his beliefs, Goldberg declared, incredibly, that ‘the responsibility that accompanies that right mitigates against stating them in this situation.’ This from the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Now who's trying to stifle the free flow of information to the public?” Commentary Editorial: “Military veterans are crying foul over President Bush's budget proposals to cut spending on their health care. The budget must not be balanced ‘on the backs of veterans,’ wrote Stephen P. Condon, the chairman of the Air Force Association, in a recent letter to The Times, a point that was echoed by other veterans at Congressional hearings last month. We agree with the veterans - but for somewhat different reasons than they have put forth. The veterans' goal is to block the president's attempt to impose new hospital fees, higher prescription co-payments and other spending constraints - all of which would add up to an estimated 16 percent reduction in veterans' benefits in 2010. (The estimate is from the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities because the administration, breaking with 16 years of budget tradition, did not provide five-year projections for specific programs.) But if veterans succeed in preserving only their own benefits, they will have been outfoxed by the administration.” Editorial: “Despite this shocking record, Congress has abdicated its responsibility to oversee the agency and prevent it from violating fundamental American standards of decency. The Republican chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), have been resisting Democratic requests for an investigation of the CIA's handling of its secret detainees. Such an investigation need not be a witch hunt or compromise the handling of senior al Qaeda prisoners. On the contrary, it should form the basis for belated action by Congress to set legal standards for the detention of all foreign prisoners by the United States in keeping with international treaties and human rights laws. In the absence of such standards, the Bush administration has allowed abuses that have tarnished the image of the United States around the world and impeded its ability to fight Islamic extremism. The time to correct the CIA's excesses is long overdue.” Editorial: “Despite the appalling toll, applicants keep showing up at police stations around the country to apply for duty. And despite the danger, thousands of black-clad Iraqis demonstrated outside the medical clinic in Hillah the day after the bombing, protesting the violence. It's time Iraq's government and U.S. forces insisted on better protection for these brave Iraqis willing to serve their country. Concrete barriers used so effectively to safeguard voters in the country's recent elections need to be used at police headquarters, recruiting stations and wherever large numbers of police or guard units have to gather. Convoys and checkpoints need greater protection. U.S. success is dependent on Iraq training enough of its own citizens to provide security. Their protection must be a top priority.” Casualty Reports Local story: Two New York Guardsmen killed in Iraq. Local story: Iowa Guardsman dies from wounds received in Iraq.


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