Tuesday, March 08, 2005

War News for Tuesday, March 08, 2005

There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003

Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers and at least 13 others killed, 23 wounded in suicide bomb attack at the home of an Iraqi army officer in Balad. Five soldiers and one assailant killed in attack on Iraqi army checkpoint in Al-Muradiyah in an operation reported to involve twenty attackers in five vehicles. Two police, two others killed and 11 wounded in bombing in Baquba. Interpreter killed in Tuz. Rebel killed by US soldiers in Mosul. Jordanian businessman kidnapped in Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: A total of 15 persons reported killed in and around Baquba in assaults that included a car bombing, three roadside bombings, and small arms attacks on three checkpoints. Presumably the deaths and woundings in Baquba referenced in the post above are part of this total. Two police officers killed, one wounded in attack in Baghdad. Two civilians killed in roadside bomb attack against a joint US/Iraqi convoy in Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriyah. Former Iraqi army officer assassinated by gunmen in Baghdad’s Douri district. Man killed by mortar attack in Qaim.

Bring ‘em on: Two people killed and two wounded in clashes between US troops and insurgents in Ramadi. Deputy Chief of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department assassinated in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad. Three civilians killed in assault by gunmen on truck convoy in Salman Pak. Deputy head of Hay Alfulat hospital shot dead in Baghdad. Two men identified by the US military as terrorists killed in Ad Duja. Another man was wounded and detained with five others.

Bring ‘em on: Prominent Sunni politician and former member of Mosul’s city council assassinated by gunmen while leaving her home in Mosul. More than 60 suspected insurgents arrested by US/Iraqi forces in Haswa.

Bring ‘em on: Five Bechtel Corporation employees abducted near Tuz.

The war to keep weapons from terrorists: Some 90 sites in Iraq that the United Nations had monitored for unconventional arms materials have been razed or looted since the U.S. intervention, according to a new U.N. inspection report.

Before they left Iraq, U.N. inspectors had examined 411 sites, the report said. After the war, they examined 353 sites and determined that 70 of them were "subjected to varying degrees of bomb damage."

"The continuing examination of the imagery has revealed that approximately 90 of the total 353 sites analyzed containing material of relevance have been stripped and/or razed," Perricos said in the report.

A safer place? Where would that be?: Incessant attacks against Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison may force the U.S. military to return the facility to Iraq's government and take their own high-security prisoners to a safer place, a U.S. military official said.

As the U.S. mulls over a plan to pull out of the notorious facility, located on the outskirts of the capital, U.S. military figures show that a crackdown against insurgents before and after Jan. 30's landmark parliamentary elections has bloated Iraq's prison system to the breaking point.

At 3,200 inmates, Abu Ghraib has already surpassed the 2,500 people it was designed to incarcerate. Camp Bucca has 5,750 detainees, 550 more than its capacity. Camp Cropper, which holds 110 high-profile detainees, including former dictator Saddam Hussein, is the only prison that is not yet overpopulated.

Not a chickenhawk among them: They die now so often that their names, even their jobs, escape us. Judge Barwez Mohammed Mahmoud was shot dead along with his son -- so often, the sons die with their fathers -- as he left his home last week. He was a lawyer working on the special tribunal set up to try Saddam Hussein and his henchmen for crimes against humanity.

A judge, before a senior police officer in Mosul, police chiefs, government clerks, economists from the Ministry of Finance, junior civil servants -- "collaborators" in the eyes of the ruthless men who are destroying so much of the infrastructure of "new" Iraq -- fall almost every day to the insurrection.

What makes them do these jobs? They know, these men and women, they are going to be called collaborators by their enemies. They know, too, they can be betrayed by those who work with them. Repeatedly in Baghdad, I have visited the location of these ambushes, only to find that the cops and officials who were targeted were taking a new route to their offices, driving a different car, leaving from a different house. And almost always, they are killed.

One year to replace 850 men?: Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said Thursday that the Iraqi government wants its forces in Muthanna province to be ready to take over in 12 months from the Australian troops.

Australia now maintained about 950 military personnel in the Middle East, with 400 in Iraq. Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced last week that Australia will send 450 more troops to Iraq's southern province of Muthanna to protect Japanese engineers and help train local forces.

This one will be deep sixed: The U.S. military lost its dominance in Iraq shortly after its invasion in 2003, a study concluded.

A report by the U.S. Army official historian said the military was hampered by the failure to occupy and stabilize Iraq in 2003. As a result, the military lost its dominance by July 2003 and has yet to regain that position.

"In the two to three months of ambiguous transition, U.S. forces slowly lost the momentum and the initiative gained over an off-balanced enemy," the report said. "The United States, its Army and its coalition of the willing have been playing catch-up ever since."

The report was authored by Maj. Isaiah Wilson, the official historian of the U.S. Army for the Iraq war. Wilson also served as a war planner for the army's 101st Airborne Division until March 2004, Middle East Newsline reported. His report, not yet endorsed as official army history, has been presented to several academic conferences.

(Scroll down for article)

Hey, it’s only been two years: Iraq can't rebuild its economy without reliable power but American officials say despite their best efforts, the supply is still less than half of the estimated demand.

Brigadier General Thomas Bostick, the senior Army Corps of Engineers officer in the Persian Gulf region, says the amount of power production in Iraq fluctuates each day but it averages about 35-hundred megawatts -- less than half the daily demand for 8-thousand megawatts of power.

Women's rights: The women at Nasar's beauty salon were Christian and Muslim, Sunni and Shiite, but they spoke with one voice on an issue that worries them all.

"I'm sure they will form an Islamic government and our freedom will be gone," Suzan Sarkon, 30, said as she settled in to get her long black hair trimmed. "We've never lived freely in Iraq, and now I think we never will."

"I will commit suicide if that happens," vowed Karama Saeed, 27, who said she cried when she heard that the group led by the secularist interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi won only 14 percent of the vote in Iraq's landmark election. "No," she said, reconsidering. "I will leave the country."

The war to bring democracy to the middle east: Five weeks ago, Hasan Khatab Omar defied dire warnings and cast a ballot in Iraq's first free elections in almost half a century. Insurgents branded him a traitor and bombed his house, he said, and neighbors called him a government agent.

"We thought it would be for a noble cause," said Omar, 55, the owner of a small food shop in this predominantly Sunni city about 90 miles north of Baghdad. "Now we are weeks later, and what has changed? Nothing. I think I risked my life for nothing."

"They turned their backs on the people because they're busy dividing shares in the government," said Yousif Mohammed Tahir, 30, an electrician in the northern city of Mosul. "The security situation is worse than before. They promised a better life, but they lied."

Turkey is gonna like this: Kurdish parties have asked for a written promise that Iraq's next government will promote the resettlement of Kurds in the disputed province of Kirkuk as the price of their support for a new governing coalition.

In a sign that such a promise may be forthcoming and that a government may soon be formed, members of the United Iraqi Alliance, which won 140 of 275 seats in the next parliament, expressed sympathy for the Kurds' demands. The Shia-dominated Alliance needs the Kurds' 75 parliamentary seats to get the two-thirds majority needed to form a new government.

Resettlement is opposed by some Turkoman and Sunni Arab leaders from Kirkuk, who fear Kurds will flood Kirkuk and seize control of the oil-rich province.

Your tax dollars at work: A $33,000 food order in Mosul was billed to the U.S.-led interim government of Iraq at $432,000. Electricity that cost $74,000 was invoiced at $400,000. Even $10 kettles got a 400 percent markup.

Documents unearthed as part of a whistleblower suit against Fairfax, Va.'s Custer Battles reveal for the first time the extent to which the defense contractor is accused of gouging the Coalition Provisional Authority, which governed Iraq following the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003.

Among those documents is a spreadsheet that appears to show the company billing the government nearly $10 million for dozens of items, including food, vehicles, and cooking pots. The total cost to Custer Battles, according to the spreadsheet, was less than $4 million -- a profit margin of 150 percent, far higher than the 25 percent margin allowed under its contract.

Makes a $600 hammer look like a deal.

Checkpoint Shootings

I don't know if this is true but you can bet a lot of people believe it: The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday leveled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.

"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."

Italian reactions: Most Italians have never supported the war in Iraq, nor liked having their troops there. But their misgivings found a physical form on Sunday, in the shape of a coffin lying in state and holding the body of an Italian intelligence officer killed in Iraq - by an American bullet.

"There is something behind all this," Marta Belziti, 31, a distant relative of the dead intelligence agent, Nicola Calipari, said as she left the white marble of the Vittoriano monument in Rome, where thousands of Italians paid their respects to Mr. Calipari's body and his widow. "The Americans aren't telling the truth."

But could they photograph the coffin?: Italy paid homage Monday to an intelligence officer killed by U.S. fire in Iraq while escorting an ex-hostage to freedom, with a state funeral in a Rome basilica drawing as many as 20,000 mourners — some bringing flowers, some waving flags — and all of the country's top officials.

The killing of Nicola Calipari, 50, fueled anti-American sentiment in a country that was strongly opposed to war in Iraq, and prompted Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a staunch supporter of the U.S.-led military campaign, to demand that Washington provide a full explanation of the shooting in Baghdad.

All those foreigners look alike: U.S. ally Bulgaria blamed U.S. troops on Monday for the fatal shooting of one of its soldiers in Iraq and demanded punishment of those responsible.

A Bulgarian inquiry into the shooting last Friday found that soldier Gurdi Gurdev -- Bulgaria's eighth casualty since the start of the war in March 2003 -- was almost certainly killed by "friendly fire" from nearby U.S. forces.

On the same day, U.S. soldiers shot dead an Italian secret service agent as he was taking freed hostage journalist Giuliana Sgrena to safety.

Actually, we just treat everyone the same: Jawdat Abd al-Kadhum was not surprised that U.S. troops opened fire at a car carrying a freed Italian hostage to safety. He lost a leg to an American bullet fired from a convoy traveling ahead of him.

The 23-year-old says fear, confusion and misunderstandings on all sides have made roads in Iraq's capital perilous. Now he says he makes sure that any car he is in stops when a U.S. military convoy transporting soldiers or equipment nears.

"There is no safety on the roads. Everyone should expect anything to happen on these roads. Foreigners, Iraqis we are all exposed to the same risks," said al-Kadhum, his left tracksuit trouser leg tied around the stump of his leg.

"Now if I see an American convoy, I stop until it has gone."

Do we track how many cars actually had bombs?: The deadly shooting of an Italian intelligence officer by U.S. troops at a checkpoint near Baghdad on Friday was one of many incidents in which civilians have been killed by mistake at checkpoints in Iraq, including local police officers, women and children, according to military records, U.S. officials and human rights groups.

U.S. soldiers have fired on the occupants of many cars approaching their positions over the past year and a half, only to discover that the people they killed were not suicide bombers or attackers but Iraqi civilians. They did so while operating under rules of engagement that the military has classified and under a legal doctrine that grants U.S. troops immunity from civil liability for misjudgment.

Several casualties a day in just one hospital: They're told every day across Iraq — tragic stories of people dying in hails of gunfire, shattered windshields and car seats covered in blood.

Friendly fire — often at U.S. military checkpoints — is taking a toll on the United States and its allies, as the shooting deaths of an Italian intelligence agent and a Bulgarian soldier highlight the terrifying reality of Iraqi roads. "They're just cowboys,'' an infuriated Abdullah Mohammed said Monday of U.S. troops who killed his brother Feb. 28 in Ramadi. Mohammed said his brother edged too close to an American patrol. "They killed him without any reason, they suddenly shot at his car.''

In a country where insurgents strike daily, there's no doubt some of the force is justified. But Iraqi civilians are getting tangled up in the violence as well, at an alarming rate. Yarmouk hospital — just one of several large medical facilities in Baghdad — receives several casualties a day from such shootings, said Dr. Mohamed Salaheddin.

A common occurrence: It's a common occurrence in Iraq: A car speeds toward an American checkpoint or foot patrol. Soldiers fire warning shots; the car keeps coming. Soldiers then shoot at the car. Sometimes the oncomer is a foiled suicide attacker. Others, it's an unarmed family.

As an American journalist here, I have been through many checkpoints and have come close to being shot at several times myself. I look vaguely Middle Eastern, which perhaps makes my checkpoint experience a little closer to that of the typical Iraqi. Here's what it's like:

You're driving along and you see a couple of soldiers standing by the side of the road -- but that's a ubiquitous sight in Baghdad, so you don't think anything of it. Next thing you know, soldiers are screaming at you, pointing their rifles and swiveling tank guns in your direction, and you didn't even know it was a checkpoint.

If it's confusing for me -- and I'm an American -- what is it like for Iraqis who don't speak English?

In situations like this, I've often had Iraqi drivers who would step on the gas. It's a natural reaction: Angry soldiers are screaming at you in a language you don't understand, and you think they're saying "get out of here," and you're terrified to boot, so you try to drive your way out.

US Military News

Pesky logistical details: The war in Iraq was hardly a month old in April 2003 when an Army general in charge of equipping soldiers with protective gear threw the brakes on buying bulletproof vests.

The general, Richard A. Cody, who led a Pentagon group called the Army Strategic Planning Board, had been told by supply chiefs that the combat troops already had all the armor they needed, according to Army officials and records from the board's meetings. Some 50,000 other American soldiers, who were not on the front lines of battle, could do without.

In the following weeks, as Iraqi snipers and suicide bombers stepped up deadly attacks, often directed at those very soldiers behind the front lines, General Cody realized the Army's mistake and did an about-face. On May 15, 2003, he ordered the budget office to buy all the bulletproof vests it could, according to an Army report. He would give one to every soldier, "regardless of duty position."

But the delays were only beginning. The initial misstep, as well as other previously undisclosed problems, show that the Pentagon's difficulties in shielding troops and their vehicles with armor have been far more extensive and intractable than officials have acknowledged, according to government officials, contractors and Defense Department records.

The signature wound: A growing number of U.S. troops whose body armor helped them survive bomb and rocket attacks are suffering brain damage as a result of the blasts. It's a type of injury some military doctors say has become the signature wound of the Iraq war.

Known as traumatic brain injury, or TBI, the wound is of the sort that many soldiers in previous wars never lived long enough to suffer. The explosions often cause brain damage similar to "shaken-baby syndrome," says Warren Lux, a neurologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

To identify cases of TBI, doctors at Walter Reed screened every arriving servicemember wounded in an explosion, along with those hurt in Iraq or Afghanistan in a vehicle accident or fall, or by a gunshot wound to the face, neck or head. They found TBI in about 60% of the cases. The largest group was 21-year-olds.

From January 2003 to this January, 437 cases of TBI were diagnosed among wounded soldiers at the Army hospital, Lux says. Slightly more than half had permanent brain damage. Similar TBI screening began in August at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., near Washington. It showed 83% — or 97 wounded Marines and sailors — with temporary or permanent brain damage. Forty-seven cases of moderate to severe TBI were identified earlier in the year.

Never the same: Marine Cpl. Shaun Radhay, 22, survived a mortar blast near Fallujah on Nov. 27. After suffering brain damage in the explosion, he had to learn to walk and talk and dress himself again.

"He wants to be the person he was before," says Radhay's mother, Dollie, who moved from Jersey City to a hotel near the Veterans Administration hospital here.

In each war, a new wound emerges — an injury or illness that comes to typify the conflict, says Craig Hyams, a doctor and Veterans Administration official who has done a study of war wounds. In World War I, poison gases damaged lungs. In World War II, radiation from atomic bombs caused cancer. In Korea, the intense cold led to circulation problems. And in Vietnam, Agent Orange led to skin disorders.

Military doctors describe Radhay's injuries as the emerging signature wound of the Iraq war. And they say the wound — called traumatic brain injury — carries many consequences.

The second battle: Jim Hruska fought one war when he went off to Vietnam in 1970 as a special-forces infantry leader for the U.S. Army.

He began fighting another in 1988, when a severe episode of post-traumatic stress disorder forced him to retire on disability from his job as a federal training specialist for counterterrorism and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.

This time, however, his battle was against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the very agency veterans turn to for help after military service has left them psychologically damaged or physically injured.

"What they do is they make us veterans fight to get our benefits," said Hruska, a Quincy resident who calls the VA's treatment of veterans the nation's "dirty little secret."

Disappearing the news: Knight Ridder investigative reporters Chris Adams and Alison Young wrote a lengthy news article claiming more than 13,000 veterans died during the past ten years while awaiting word from the Department of Veterans Affairs about their disability benefits.

Their investigative news article also profiled several veterans and their problems dealing with VA and provided many interesting statistics resulting from a lawsuit by Knight Ridder against VA. The article detailed how some veterans' families may have lost tens of thousands of dollars due to unreasonable delays at VA.

VA Secretary Robert James Nicholson had no comment about the serious difficulties experienced by veterans uncovered by Knight Ridder.

Unfortunately, the article vanished from dozens of Knight Ridder newspaper web sites yesterday during the time between when veterans sent links to Veterans for Common Sense and then VCS staff went to post the news to VCS.

Make the soldiers pay for serving their country: Republican majorities on the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees have voted to impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans - one of every three now eligible for Veterans Affairs Administration health care.

Those targeted are in priority categories 7 and 8, meaning they are neither poor nor suffering from service-connected disabilities. Half of the 2.4 million used the VA health system last year.

The Bush administration proposed the enrollment fee to hold down costs. The VA committees rejected another Bush proposal to raise co-payments on VA-filled prescriptions for these same priority 7 and 8 veterans.

Recruitment difficulties: Staff Sgt. Richard Guzman is on the front lines of one of the U.S. Army's toughest battles in years, and he's not in Iraq.

He's an Army recruiter trying to coax young men and women into volunteering to serve at a time when U.S. ground forces are engaged in a war halfway around the world.

Nearly two years into an Iraq war that has left more than 1,500 U.S. troops dead and another 11,200 wounded, recruiters like Guzman are having to work hard as the Army strives to sign up 80,000 recruits this year to replace soldiers leaving the service.

The Army in February, for the first time in nearly five years, failed to achieve its monthly recruiting goal. It is in danger of missing its annual recruiting target for the first time since 1999.

Can’t wait to see how Powerline handles this one: The Army's wartime recruiting challenge is aggravated by a sharp drop in enlistments by black people during the past four years. Internal Army and Defense Department polls trace that to an unpopular war in Iraq and concerns among black citizens with Bush administration policies. The Army strains to meet recruiting goals in part because black volunteers have fallen 41 percent. They've gone from 23.5 percent of recruits in fiscal 2000 down to 13.9 percent in the first four months of fiscal 2005.

Officer recruiting is hit, too. Black soldiers enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program is down 36 percent since 2001.

The Home Front

Suck it up, red staters: Montana is at such high risk for a wildfire "blowup" this summer that Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) wants at least some of the 1,500 National Guard soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere to return home for the wildfire season.

The governor has asked the Pentagon to return some of the Montana National Guard troops and aircraft called to active duty. Montana Guard spokesman Maj. Scott Smith said 10 of the state's 12 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, each capable of carrying a 600-gallon water bucket or 11 firefighters, are not back from Iraq.

Foreign Affairs

You think it sucked in ’75?: Oil-rich Iran has raised the stakes in the standoff over its nuclear program, warning that any attempt to impose sanctions on its activities would lead to an energy crisis in the US and Europe. Referring the Islamist state to the UN Security Council, as the US had urged, would be "playing with fire", Iran's top nuclear official said yesterday.

"The first to suffer will be Europe and the US themselves," Hassan Rowhani said at a Tehran conference on nuclear technology and sustainable development. "(It) would cause problems for the regional energy market, for the European economy and even more so for the US."

It’s not just the middle east: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced that low oil prices are a thing of the past and asked everyone to be ready for high prices.

The announcement of increasing oil prices came from the leader of significant oil producing country Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, answering press questions during his visit to India, where he signed a total of six agreements, two of which for energy. Chavez said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would stabilize the oil prices between $40 and $50 per barrel. Chavez noted: "The world should forget about low-priced oil from now on. Oil will never fall to $10 levels like in the old days."

The Growing Parallels With The Stalinist State

An exercise: Picture yourself in this scenario:

You're a U.S. citizen landing at a major airport from abroad. You're pulled out of line at customs, arrested, thrown in jail for a month and then spirited off to a military prison.

Nearly three years later, you're still there, never charged with any crime. The government claims it can hold you forever without answering to any judge or court.

The scenario is not fiction. It's happening now. Only a federal judge in South Carolina is standing in the way. At stake is the constitutional guarantee of every American to be free from arbitrary imprisonment.

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen born in Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in May 2002. He's still being held. No charges have been filed.

Despite the clear language of the Constitution that prohibits detention without trial, the Bush administration insists that it can indefinitely hold Padilla - or anyone else it chooses - as an "enemy combatant" without trial or even formal charges.

Disappearing the news, part 2: Immediately after the VP debate, when the question of which countries comprise the "Coalition" to invade Iraq became an issue, the White House removed the webpage listing members of the Coalition. When people wrote the webmaster to point out that the page had gone 404, the White House reponded--not by putting the page back online--but by removing the link to the now-missing page.

As has happened before during inept website-scrubbing, a webmaster had removed a page but had forgotten to erase the link to that page.

But again, as with other incompetent attempts to erase webpages, different versions of the page escaped the webmaster's notice and, thus, still exist on the site.

Uncontrolled intelligence operations: While military contracting for construction or weapons manufacturing is nothing new, the privatization of intelligence instruction is a new and rapidly expanding sector that came about less than four years ago. One estimate in Mother Jones magazine, compiled from interviews with military experts, suggests that as much 50 percent of the $40 billion given annually to the 15 intelligence agencies in the United States is now spent on private contractors.

Among experts, especially those who have worked in the intelligence business, there is growing concern that privatization also means the government has less control over its own operations and that the costs of privatization may outweigh its benefits.

Outsourcing torture by Presidential directive: The Bush administration's secret program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation has been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials.

The unusually expansive authority for the C.I.A. to operate independently was provided by the White House under a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said.

The process, known as rendition, has been central in the government's efforts to disrupt terrorism, but has been bitterly criticized by human rights groups on grounds that the practice has violated the Bush administration's public pledge to provide safeguards against torture.

Psychiatric "care" for dissidents: 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.

In another case detailed in the Army files, soldiers in a Florida National Guard unit deployed near Ramadi in 2003 compiled a 20-minute video that depicted a soldier kicking a wounded detainee in the face and chest in the presence of 10 colleagues and soldiers positioning a dead insurgent to appear to wave hello. The video was found in a soldier's computer files under the heading "Ramadi Madness," and it initially prompted military lawyers to recommend charges of assault with battery and dereliction of duty for tampering with a corpse.

The unit's commander told Army investigators he was concerned about the images becoming public and promised to take steps to "minimize the risk of this and other videos that may end up in the media."

Controlling the herd: The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.

"I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of this research," says Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, UK. "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown."

Idiots And Scoundrels

Rewarding failure: Bolton "has overseen this Administration's flawed proliferation policy that has seen North Korea quadruple its nuclear arsenal and seen Iran take dangerous steps toward the development of nuclear weapons," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Attempting to defuse opposition, Rice on Monday stressed Bolton's previous service as the assistant secretary of state who dealt with the United Nations and his successful 1991 campaign to persuade the U.N. to repeal a resolution that equated Zionism with racism.

But Bolton also led the U.S. withdrawal from International Criminal Court jurisdiction and encouraged U.S. opposition to Europe's decision to lift its arms embargo on China, two initiatives that fanned tensions with allies.

What an embarrassment to the nation: Two community colleges have ended their study-abroad program in Spain, citing the country's troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Trustees of the South Orange County Community College District, comprising Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College, voted 5-2 last week to cancel the 14-year-old summer program.

"Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support," said trustee Tom Fuentes, a former head of the Republican Party in Orange County. "I see no reason to send students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history."


Comment: You have to wonder what Eason Jordan thinks about last Friday's attack on the car that took Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from her kidnapping ordeal to her close call at the Baghdad airport.

Jordan is the CNN news chief who in January made controversial remarks about U.S. troops targeting journalists, comments which led to his resigning "to prevent CNN from being unfairly tarnished by the controversy over conflicting accounts of my recent remarks regarding the alarming number of journalists killed in Iraq."

Alarming indeed: at least 73 and counting.

Analysis: The American military simply lacks the tools it needs to fight the guerrillas, just as in the 1970s the Big Three automakers lacked the production system needed to produced fuel-efficient automobiles, and the French army lacked the technology it needed to defeat German tanks in 1940. In response, military leaders are doing exactly what their organizational forbears did: They continue to develop theories about how to win the war "with the army they have." This backward logic leads inevitably to imagining an enemy that might be far more susceptible to defeat with the tools at hand; that is, an opponent with long supply lines (from Syria, for example) and a command-and-control leadership (Zarqawi and his Saddamist allies, for example) capable of being "decapitated." This portrait of the enemy then justifies a military strategy that seeks, above all, to kill or capture the theorized leaders. Such tactics almost always fail (even when leaders are captured); and in the process of failing, only alienates further the Iraqi population, producing an ever larger, more resourceful enemy.

Personal story: I do not doubt that Fallujah had its share of weapons caches and resistance fighters. I do not doubt the personal goodwill of many soldiers, some of whom, an Iraqi Red Crescent leader told me, gave their rations to help Fallujan civilians survive the siege. But I also do not doubt the testimonies of the Iraqi men, women, and children whose lives were irreparably traumatized (or ended) by the U.S. military's overpowering assault on the city. The reality of a violent resistance cannot legitimize such an overwhelmingly violent response. What's more, the military response does not work--it only solidifies hatred and deepens resolve. One young Fallujan who saw Iraqi women and children dead in the streets said to me, "Please, tell your U.S. military families what their children are being ordered to do."

Opinion: The most striking image in the tragic death of Italian security agent Nicola Calipari, killed by U.S. troops on the road to the airport with freed hostage/journalist Giuliana Sgrena, is simple and striking: national mourning. Americans avoid it. Our leaders avoid it. Our trained seal national media avoids it. Have you paused to watch a national prayer service for our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two bloody years? No, because it hasn't happened. Do you recall that national day of mourning for the 1,500 killed in the Iraq incursion? No, because President Bush has never named one.

Yeah, we have local stories about "our heroes" killed in Fallujah, Baghdad, and Mosul - local funerals, local ceremonies of grief, local newspaper stories about the high school athlete or the volunteer fireman who went to war and never came home. Nothing national. Nothing American. All of Italy is mourning Calipari's death. His body is lying in state at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome, where visitors have been paying their respects, and a state funeral was planned for Monday. President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said he would award Calipari, a married father of two, the gold medal of valor for his heroism.

In war zones, horrendous mistakes among jittery, scared, and heavily-armed troops will always lead to mistaken death and injury. It is part of the cost of war that our society has decided to accept, following the path laid out by our national leadership. What we don't have to accept is the national silence that greets the dead from an administration that doesn't want photographs taken of the coffins arriving Stateside.

Why don't we mourn as a nation? The reason is simple and shocking and damning: because our leaders don't care.

Casualty Reports

Local story: Nearly 2,000 people gather to remember 28 Hawaii-based servicemen killed in Iraq.

Local story: Illinois honors residents killed in the line of duty in Iraq.

Local story: Two soldiers killed in Iraq laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Local story: Grand River, OH, Marine killed near Baghdad.

Local story: Family plans memorial service for soldier from Waterloo, IA, killed in roadside bombing in Iraq.

Local story: Soldier from Kenosha, WI, killed by roadside bomb outside of Ramadi.

Local story: Southfield, IL, soldier killed by roadside bomb outside of Ramadi.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?