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
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
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
Bring ‘em on: Prominent Sunni politician and former member of
Bring ‘em on: Five Bechtel Corporation employees abducted near Tuz.
The war to keep weapons from terrorists: Some 90 sites in
Before they left
"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.
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
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
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.
This one will be deep sixed: The U.S. military lost its dominance in
A report by the U.S. Army official historian said the military was hampered by the failure to occupy and stabilize
"In the two to three months of ambiguous transition,
The report was authored by Maj. Isaiah Wilson, the official historian of the U.S. Army for the
(Scroll down for article)
Hey, it’s only been two years:
Brigadier General Thomas Bostick, the senior Army Corps of Engineers officer in the Persian Gulf region, says the amount of power production in
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
"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
"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
"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
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
Resettlement is opposed by some Turkoman and Sunni Arab leaders from
Your tax dollars at work: A $33,000 food order in
Documents unearthed as part of a whistleblower suit against
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.
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
"The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving
"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
"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
All those foreigners look alike:
A Bulgarian inquiry into the shooting last Friday found that soldier Gurdi Gurdev --
On the same day,
Actually, we just treat everyone the same: Jawdat Abd al-Kadhum was not surprised that
The 23-year-old says fear, confusion and misunderstandings on all sides have made roads in
"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.
Several casualties a day in just one hospital: They're told every day across
Friendly fire — often at
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
A common occurrence: It's a common occurrence in
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
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
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
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
To identify cases of TBI, doctors at Walter Reed screened every arriving servicemember wounded in an explosion, along with those hurt in
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
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
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
Military doctors describe Radhay's injuries as the emerging signature wound of the
The second battle: Jim Hruska fought one war when he went off to
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
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
He's an Army recruiter trying to coax young men and women into volunteering to serve at a time when
Nearly two years into an
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
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:
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
You think it sucked in ’75?: Oil-rich
"The first to suffer will be Europe and the
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
An exercise: Picture yourself in this scenario:
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
Jose Padilla, a
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
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
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
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
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
Idiots And Scoundrels
Rewarding failure: Bolton "has overseen this Administration's flawed proliferation policy that has seen
Attempting to defuse opposition, Rice on Monday stressed
But Bolton also led the
What an embarrassment to the nation: Two community colleges have ended their study-abroad program in
Trustees of the South Orange County Community College District, comprising
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
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
Opinion: The most striking image in the tragic death of Italian security agent Nicola Calipari, killed by
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
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.
Local story: Nearly 2,000 people gather to remember 28 Hawaii-based servicemen killed in
Local story: Two soldiers killed in
Local story: Family plans memorial service for soldier from
Local story: Soldier from