Tuesday, March 15, 2005
War News for Tuesday, March 15, 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: Kurdish cameraman for satellite channel KurdSat killed by gunmen in northern
Bring ‘em on: One child killed and four people, including one policeman, wounded in suicide bomb attack in northeastern
Bring ‘em on: Three civilians, a woman and two children, inadvertently killed, and two others wounded, in crossfire when a
Bring ‘em on: At least four people wounded in car bombing near Sunni mosque in
Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in action in Al Anbar province.
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in suicide bombing in Telafar.
Bring ‘em on: Four civilians killed, at least seven wounded, including two police officers, in car bombing on Baghdad’s airport road. Unconfirmed reports indicate that some
Vehicle accident: One
Potemkin government: Kurdish and Shiite leaders agreed Monday to convene
The Shiite clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance and a Kurdish coalition, which won the two biggest blocks of seats in Jan. 30 elections, agreed last week to form a coalition government with Islamic Dawa party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister. In return, Jalal Talabani will become
Frustration: With Iraqis increasingly concerned about a security vacuum, the man who is expected to become the next prime minister on Saturday defended the winning blocs, which have not formed a government nearly six weeks after millions of people risked their lives to vote. In an interview, Ibrahim Jafari, the nominee of the slate that won the most votes in the Jan. 30 election, said it could take two more weeks to close a deal.
Shopkeeper Mohammed Saddoun stood in front of his storefront grocery last week with several friends, lamenting the delay. "I am not only frustrated, I am ready to burst with anger," Saddoun said. "We put our souls in the … palms of our hands and went to the ballot centers. You remember the threats there were that they would kill people who voted. "Well, if they cannot form a government, then I think they are not qualified to manage the country's affairs. This vacuum of power increases the number of terrorist acts, it opens the way for the terrorists."
Into the sewer: With hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars pledged to overhaul
Kirkuk disputes: Mr. Ahmed's plight encapsulates the growing struggle over
In April 2004, the Americans created the Iraqi Property Claims Commission to rule on restitution. By the end of 2004, the commission had received 10,044 claims from
The head of the commission said in an interview that only two judges, both Kurds, were working on cases in
Anti-Jordanian demonstration: The Jordanian Embassy was broken into and its flag torn down yesterday as thousands of Shiites protested after hearing reports that relatives of an alleged Jordanian suicide bomber who killed 125 people celebrated him as a martyr.
Hundreds protested in
Anti-Jordanian sentiment has spread since Iraqis read newspaper reports that Raid al-Banna blew himself up beside people lining up for jobs in the Shiite town of
New viceroy: President Bush has named Zalmay Khalilzad, the ambassador to
Khalilzad, an Afghan-American citizen, will replace John Negroponte, who is said to have found the job so “aggravating” he left after less than a year there. Last month, Bush named Negroponte as
Shrinking coalition: The first group of the Ukrainian peacekeepers stationed in
Interfax earlier reported, citing the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, that about 140 Ukrainian servicemen are expected to arrive in Mykolayiv on two defense ministry planes later on Tuesday.
Iraqi Security Forces
Petraeus blows smoke: In
Asked how many are elite fighters, Petraeus replied, "It certainly has got to be on the order of 50,000 or so at this point." He described those as being "in the fight directly" against the insurgents. Later, Petraeus said he preferred not to provide an estimate, saying his 50,000 figure was a "totally off-the-cuff number."
There are this many (except for the ones that aren’t there): Iraqi security forces who are trained and equipped now number 142,472, defense officials told a House panel Monday. Congressional investigators criticized the number as unreliable.
"Without reliable reporting data, a more capable Iraqi force and stronger Iraqi leadership, the Department of Defense faces difficulties in implementing its strategy to draw down
As of March 7, defense officials said, there were 81,889 trained and equipped police, highway patrol and other forces in the Ministry of Interior Forces and 60,583 troops in the Ministry of Defense Forces.
But the GAO said Monday the number of police forces is unreliable because it includes police who may be absent from duty without authorization. "The Ministry of the Interior does not receive consistent and accurate reporting from the police forces around the country," the GAO written testimony said.
Damn that cultural relativism: Iraqi security forces, whose buildup is seen as the linchpin of the
But a senior military official downplayed the importance of the findings by the Government Accountability Office, saying that high numbers of Iraqi police officers absent without leave was "a cultural thing."
Our Creeping Stalinism
16 million secrets in 2004: In
A 1966 federal law is supposed guarantee access to that information. But so far, he and other residents have received nothing but documents blacked out to the point of uselessness. The citizens of
Welcome to the world of post-9/11 secrecy, where bureaucrats are turning the notion of open government on its head. Federal, state and local officials are clamping down on information that would have been accessible just four years ago.
In 2004, the government created 16 million new secrets, 75% more than in the year ending in September 2001. Sixteen million! And each new "classification decision" can involve many documents.
That level of secrecy itself poses a security threat. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, which works to open records, said the system is so busy classifying that it can no longer "tell the real threat from the decoys."
Fake news: A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.
Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.
"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.
Rule of men, not law: What's especially interesting here, however, is the way in which some of those plea bargains seem to have been achieved. According to defense attorneys, the defendants were threatened with the prospect of being classified as "unlawful combatants," the new Bush-administration-defined status which entails imprisonment without end as well as the loss of the right to a lawyer and to communicate with anyone in the outside world. Nor did these appear to be idle threats. There were frightful precedents. The administration had seen no reason for restraint, for example, when, in 2002, it labeled Jose Padilla and Yasser Esam Hamdi, both American citizens, as "enemy combatants" and placed them in military detention and (so far) beyond the reach of the law.
The use of such "leverage" -- itself completely outside the normal justice system -- would at any other moment have qualified as an obvious kind of extra-legal coercion. While plea bargains are certainly useful tools with which prosecutors can obtain information, the question needs to be asked: If there is coercion, can whatever information is obtained be trusted? Or are we here facing a very pale version of the more directly coercive and illegal methods used against alleged terrorists at our detention centers in Guantanamo and other places not on American soil.
The Balance Sheet
Profit: Pentagon auditors have questioned more than $108 million in costs claimed by Halliburton on its $875 million contract to provide fuel in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, including a payment of $27.5 million to transport $82,000 worth of propane, according to records released yesterday.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency also faulted Halliburton subsidiary KBR for failing to provide the records necessary to evaluate spending on the contract. The data KBR gave the auditors didn't match the company's internal accounting records, the agency said.
Loss: Michael Warren, a native of Port Jefferson, L.I., is suing International Business Machines Corp. for firing him because since 9/11 he's been called up too often by the Army Reserves.
The firm, Custer Battles is being charged in a lawsuit of defrauding the Coalition Provisional Authority of tens of millions of dollars during work in
Two former employees sued the company last year under the False Claims Act, seeking to recover damages on behalf of the
Loss: President Bush stated that we would treat Iraqi oil money as a solemn trust to be disbursed solely for the benefit of the Iraqi people. Now nine billion dollars of Iraqi funds are missing. Over forty cents ($.40) of every Iraqi dollar supervised by the
Profit: Excess billing for postwar fuel imports to
In one case, according to the report, the company claimed that it had paid more than $27 million to transport liquefied petroleum gas that it had purchased in
The report, by the Defense Contract Audit Agency, was one of nine audits involving a subsidiary of Halliburton: Kellogg, Brown & Root. The audits were completed in October 2004, the month before the presidential election. But the administration has kept all of them confidential despite repeated requests from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
Loss: On Oct. 14, as Eric Cagle drove up to an Iraqi national guard compound in Huwijah, northern
Shrapnel knifed through his cheek under his left eye and embedded in his brain. For the
In surgery, his carotid artery burst, leading to a massive stroke. An infection caused swelling, and doctors were forced to remove the right side of his brain.
His right eye is sutured shut to allow an ulceration of the cornea to heal, and his left eye has only a sliver of sight.
Of the more than 270 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division (Light) and U.S. Army,
Profit: The world's major oil companies are dusting off their Baghdad Rolodexes as
Through 15 years of conflict and sanctions, major oil companies never lost sight of
Loss: You have to stand a ways back, but from a certain angle these look like the lucky ones. In any other war, they would be dead, having bled to death on the battlefield or died in a hospital from wounds so grievous that their armor could not protect them and the doctors could not save them. In World War II, 1 in 3 wounded soldiers died; in
Every war mutilates in its own way, leaves its distinctive marks. In this war, unlike battles past, only 16% of injuries were caused by gunshots, according to a study; 69% were from explosions--the roadside booby traps, the car bombs, the rocket-propelled grenades. The vast majority of injuries are to arms and legs left vulnerable even as body armor is protecting vital organs. The amputation rate of 6% of wounded soldiers is twice that of earlier wars. But in addition, doctors are seeing new injuries, some of them inconspicuous compared with the shredded flesh of bombing victims. Traumatic brain injury occurs when the shock from an explosion damages neurological fibers. Soldiers may survive a blast with scarcely a cut, only to find over time that they suffer coordination and memory loss, dizziness, insomnia. Some have to learn to walk again--or to recognize their wives and children.
Profit: Soon after interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi took office last summer, he announced plans to create a tank division for the new Iraqi army.
The $283-million project was supposed to display the power of
The case raises concerns about the
Loss: In wartime, the silence of the American dead is a vacuum that the powerful in
This month the Defense Department released data showing that the official number of
Profit: Median CEO pay at the 37 largest defense contractors rose 79 percent from 2001 to 2002, while overall CEO pay climbed only 6 percent, according to a new report from United for a Fair Economy, More Bucks for the Bang: CEO Pay at Top Defense Contractors, by Chris Hartman and David Martin.
Median pay was 45 percent higher in 2002 at defense contractors than at the 365 large companies surveyed by Business Week magazine. The typical U.S. CEO made $3.7 million in 2002, while the typical defense industry CEO got $5.4 million.
The jump in median defense contractor CEO pay far exceeded the increase in defense spending, which rose 14 percent from 2001 to 2002.
Compared with an army private’s pay of $19,585, the average CEO at a major defense contractor made 577 times as much in 2002, or $11,297,548. This is also more than 28 times as much as the Commander in Chief’s salary of $400,000.
Loss: They were prepared to die, even the truck drivers and supply clerks; any American who sets foot in
VA health care: U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., chairman of House Veterans Affairs Committee, says the medical and rehabilitation needs of a new generation of war veterans leave him more certain than ever that Congress erred in 1996 when it opened VA health care to any veteran willing to pay modest fees.
"While some veterans organizations like to create a theme, that 'a veteran is a veteran and there is no difference,' I disagree," Buyer said.
Buyer's comments came days after his committee voted to impose an enrollment fee of $230 to $500 a year on 2.4 million veterans in priority categories 7 and 8, those who are not poor and have no service-connected disability.
In January, Republican leaders removed Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., as committee chairman for being too close to veterans groups, too supportive of expanding benefits and too dismissive of Bush administration plans to slow VA spending and impose fees on low-priority veterans.
The MTV War
A lot of pictures: Today, video cameras are lightweight and digital technology has cut out the need for processing. Having captured a firefight on video, a soldier can create a movie and distribute it via e-mail, uncensored by the military. With editing software such as Avid and access to Internet connections on military bases here,
Take Action Now
Stop the funding: The beginning of the end of the Vietnam War came only when Congress refused to continue funding it. This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the president's request for $82 billion to pay for the ongoing military occupation of
Urge your member of Congress to insist on a clear exit strategy before approving the $82 billion supplemental funding bill for the
Comment: The top
Sgrena, herself, has provided photographic evidence of the use of cluster bombs and the wounding of children there. I have searched in vain to find these reports in any major corporate media. The American population, for the most part, is ignorant of what its military is doing in their name and must remain so in order for the
Information, based upon intelligence or the reporting of brave journalists, may be the most important weapon in the war in
Comment: The General Accounting Office released a study on February 17, 2005 revealing the pitfalls and the convoluted process required by our wounded upon returning stateside, further illuminated by reservists before the House Government Reform Committee. According to the GAO, the problem originated with the obsolete Active Duty Medical Extension program, set up in 2000. It was not staffed to accommodate the vast number of presently mobilized reservists. Not only has there been an unprecedented influx of continually returning reservists given the ongoing War on Terror, but many, many wounded who require aftercare.
However, unlike active-duty soldiers or non-reservist personnel returning to
Whether one agrees or not with our military participation in
Opinion: Did I miss something? Where did all the “not since
Just a year ago, in the Irving Kristol Lecture at the annual AEI dinner, columnist Charles Krauthammer rhapsodized about
We have “overwhelming global power,” said Krauthammer. We are history’s “designated custodians of the international system.” When the
Well, reality does have a way of intruding upon one’s fantasies, and, looking at our world today, it would seem multipolarism is making quite a comeback.
Local story: Mechanicsville, IA, soldier killed in Talafar.
Local story: Glendale, AZ, soldier killed near Ramadi.
Local story: Newark, DE, soldier killed in roadside bombing in Ramadi.
Local story: Rochester, NY, Marine killed in