Tuesday, March 29, 2005
War News for Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Mortar rounds land on bank of
Bring ‘em on: Three Romanian journalists feared kidnapped in
Bring ‘em on: Seven Shiite pilgrims killed and nine wounded in car bombing on the road to
Bring ‘em on: Suicide car bomber killed when he detonated his vehicle in the path of an American convoy in
Bring ‘em on: A policeman and a road cleaner killed by roadside bomb in
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi driver killed when he pulled in front of a
The ink's wearing off their fingers: Iraqi politicians delayed the start of a session of parliament on Tuesday for last-minute talks to try to overcome an impasse over forming a government two months after historic elections.
Officials said the sitting, the second since the assembly was elected, would now start at midday (4 a.m. EST) after talks to try to reach a deal on who would be parliament speaker.
The Shi'ite Islamist alliance that came top in the election and the Kurdish coalition that came second have been haggling for weeks over cabinet posts and the principles that should guide the new government, but little progress has been made.
Officials had hoped at least to appoint a speaker and two deputies on Tuesday, a basic step that would allow the parliament to start discussing issues even if no government was in place. But consensus was still proving elusive.
Job opening: Help wanted: A prominent Sunni Arab to take on the risky job of leading the new National Assembly — and joining the fight against
A prediction: It may take a few years, but
Iraqi Kurds are hardly happy with this arrangement, though. Whatever the result of negotiations over
Kurds feel the
Security's not so hot but free enterprise is thriving: While Westerners are transfixed by the occasional kidnapping of one of their own here, Iraqis are far more vulnerable. As many as 5,000 Iraqis have been kidnapped in the last year and a half, according to Western and Iraqi security officials.
Some of the kidnappings are of Iraqis who work with Westerners, said Col. Jabbar Anwar, head of a major crimes unit in
Scattered anecdotal evidence suggests that the epidemic of kidnapping, especially of children, is a force like no other in driving from
The head of the office of kidnapping in the major crimes unit, Col. Faisel Ali, called kidnapping "the first and biggest problem in
This should go over well with the Sunnis:
Dr Ahmad Ibrahim, the assistant director of the city's paediatric hospital, told Aljazeera on Saturday that the soldiers entered the hospital on Friday after an explosion on Ramadi's main road. The soldiers ordered medical staff and patients to leave, he said, before destroying the hospital's doors and detaining members of staff.
The assistant director also said US troops raided Ramadi and Haditha general hospitals a few days ago, and questioned whether doctors had become military targets and if the raids were aimed at closing hospitals.
Women's rights: Female students strolled in the balmy spring afternoon through the grounds of the humanities faculty at
"There is a fire inside me when I see them. You could throw ice into my chest and still you would not cool it down," said Thi al-Faqar Jassim, 25, his eyes following women with uncovered heads.
He did not know who they were but knew what they were: flouters of his strict version of Shia Islam. "It is not right, they should wear the headscarf."
Mr Jassim, a third-year student of physical education, spoke not just for himself but for the conservative Shias who hope to transform the university and, eventually,
Religious minority rights: There is another war going on today in
Though Iraqi Christians are a minuscule minority, they suffering unrelenting Muslim persecution. The Iraqi Christian population, once was more than 15 percent, decreases daily due to emigration to safety in Western countries.
Last August, five churches in
No doubt this will fuel the fires of the 'clash of civilizations' fools...
Falah al-Naqib Speaks
An optimist: As Iraqi lawmakers got ready for the second meeting of the new National Assembly since it was elected nearly two months ago, interim Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib outlined progress by the country's fledging security forces, predicting that U.S. troops would be able to slowly begin pulling out of parts of the country and that, ''hopefully, within 18 months at the most we will be capable of securing Iraq.''
''We hope that next summer, there will be a huge reduction in the numbers of multinational patrols,'' he said. ''In some cities, there will be no foreign troops at all.''
He said Iraqi police have better intelligence on local insurgents and criminal gangs that have flourished since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion, helping reduce the number of causalities caused by car bombs and other attacks. ''I think it will collapse very soon,'' he said of the insurgency. At the same time, al-Naqib warned Iraqis to expect violence aimed at today's gathering.
How can you be two places at once when you’re really nowhere at all?: The interior minister added that Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, "has been surrounded in more than one area, and we hope for the best."
We shot them so the terrorists wouldn't blow them up:
Interim Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, likely to be out of job once the new government takes over, said the protest was among "attempts to destabilize the situation" in Iraq. He accused the protesters of trying to enter the office of Science and Technology Minister Rashad Mandan Omar and said the bodyguards where just doing their job by protecting the official.
Haithem Jassim, one of three people injured in the melee, said the demonstrators were unarmed.
First We Exported Freedom To Iraq And Now They're Exporting Stuff Too
Another big surprise: Over the last three years, starting even before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Jordanian terrorist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi and groups close to him developed a sort of underground railroad to smuggle zealous fighters from Europe through Turkey and Syria into Iraq—and home again, if they survived. Now those recruits have been joined by a stream of young Islamists from
"We're watching very closely," says Gijs de Vries, the European Union's counterterrorism coordinator. "It only takes one or two dedicated individuals to create serious damage." All over Europe, in fact, investigators now face the threat of terrorists who are virtually self-taught, organized in groups with little or no central command and united by their obsession with the jihad against Americans in
Another Rhetorical Question
How many guys like this: Cpl. Isaiah Ramirez endured the rigors of Marine Corps basic training and two tours of high-risk duty in
But since his lower right leg was shot off in January, Ramirez says he'll be happy just to walk again.
Ramirez was on foot patrol in Ramadi on Jan. 11 when he was hit above his right ankle by an anti-tank round. He said he was alert while a combat medic quickly performed a crude amputation on the city street.
"I've learned that I've got to stop thinking about the things I could have done," said Ramirez, who had planned to be a career Marine. "I'm just glad to be here."
Came to this place: The Air Force Theater Hospital, located 50 miles north of
Now they handle deep flesh wounds, burst eardrums, shattered teeth, perforated organs, flash burns to the eyes, severed limbs. In addition to tending to American soldiers, the hospital treats many Iraqi National Guard members, Iraqi civilians and insurgents.
Over four days last November, when these photographs were taken, doctors and staff members at the 332nd saw a flood of injuries and casualties from counterinsurgency operations in Falluja and insurgent strikes elsewhere in the country. That month, the hospital cared for 620 patients and performed 510 operations, a 65 percent increase from the previous two months. ''These young kids are heroes,'' says Col. Joseph Brennan, a head and neck surgeon. ''Somebody's got to pay the price. And these kids are paying the price.''
A very good photo gallery with this article. I’m surprised the Pentagon let it be published.
Because of this?: In June 2003, the U.S. Army realized that it didn't have enough armored Humvees in
Why did it take the government almost two years to remedy a deficiency that the Army acknowledges was costing soldiers' lives?
An examination of Army records, correspondence with members of Congress and Pentagon documents shows that the military repeatedly underestimated the need for more armored Humvees. Even after recognizing its miscalculations, the Army was slow to order more armored Humvees, and then transported them to
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested the lack of armored Humvees was simply beyond the Pentagon's control.
Rumsfeld declined to comment for this story.
But it’s not his fault!: Newsweek: Do you take responsibility for any mistakes made in planning for the war in
Paul Wolfowitz: There's so much finger-pointing that goes on. It's a long exercise to dissect all the things that are wrong [in what has been] said about why this has proven to be difficult. And the notion that there was no planning is simply wrong.
Now, Paul, we're not claiming there was no planning, we're just saying that the planning you did do was a miserable failure. It doesn't take long to dissect at all.
Suck It Up
Suck it up, John: Sgt. John J. Savage III, an Army reservist, was about to climb onto a troop transport plane for a flight to
Sergeant Savage recalled, "There was not a thing I could do; I had to jump on the plane and boil for 22 hours."
He had reason to be angry. A longstanding federal law strictly limits the ability of his mortgage company and other lenders to foreclose against active-duty service members.
But Sergeant Savage's experience was not unusual. Though statistics are scarce, court records and interviews with military and civilian lawyers suggest that Americans heading off to war are sometimes facing distracting and demoralizing demands from financial companies trying to collect on obligations that, by law, they cannot enforce.
Suck it up, Ali:
Zafar Khan, chairman of the Limbless Association that arranged Ali’s treatment, said the 14-year-old was suffering for the Department for Work and Pensions’ “incompetence and negligence”.
Ali applied for Disability Living Allowance last October, Mr Khan said, but received a letter early this month saying he was not entitled to back payments because his disability could not be proved before that date.
You remember this kid…lost both arms and his whole family in an air raid…but hey, he’s getting almost 75 pounds a month disability - that's like 150 bucks American! - and his country is a thriving purple-fingered democracy now, so what’s he got to bitch about…
Oil And Money, Money, Money
Big bucks: The biggest oil price boom of a generation is under way, proving wildly wrong predictions by the U.S. Department of Energy last year that oil prices would decline to $23.57 a barrel.
Instead, prices hit all-time highs last week, with light crude topping $56.46 a barrel in New York — a whopping 50 percent increase from a year earlier — and some analysts are saying the days of $80-a-barrel may not be far off.
Every time motorists fill up at $2.15 a gallon in the
The ones who got caught: By many accounts, Custer Battles was a nightmare contractor in
Yet when the two whistle-blowers sued Custer Battles on behalf of the U.S. government—under a U.S. law intended to punish war profiteering and fraud—the Bush administration declined to take part. In recent months the judge in the case, T. S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court in
The administration's reluctance to prosecute has turned the
(Many thanks to alert reader a fan of this site for the link.)
Britain and America
Documented lies: The Hutton inquiry and Lord Butler's review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction established beyond doubt that in the year before the invasion a tightly knit group at Downing Street controlled, finessed and manipulated the advice and information supplied by the executive to the Prime Minister, ostensibly so that he could decide whether to go to war.
In a country where legal advice on these matters still counts, Blair could not possibly have backed
This is where the issue of trust turns. In his desperate need to oblige
The issue of Lord Goldsmith's advice is about the trustworthiness of the Prime Minister and not about the war. Though Blair is apparently bewildered by such accusations, the evidence accumulates that in the ruthless suppression of the Executive's prudence and wisdom, he betrayed our trust and his duty to good governance. That is an issue for all of us, and will remain so until Blair leaves
And the British people and media actually care about it!: Everything should be going so well for Tony Blair. The pre-election campaign seems mostly to be about the troubles in the Conservative camp, the opinion polls are favourable to Labour.
Yet decisions his government took more than two years ago, in the run-up to the invasion of
Why does Pat Roberts hate America?
More Weasel Wolfowitz
What a pud: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 3/27/05:
[T]he real problem is that the conflict hasn’t ended…I think people shouldn’t have been surprised that a regime that had burrowed into Iraqi society over 35 years and killed and tortured and intimidated people so effectively didn’t quit just because they were driven out of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.
Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03:
I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators…I think it will go relatively quickly…(in) weeks rather than months.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03:
It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
(This post swiped more or less intact from Think Progress. Thanks guys, I’d give you a trackback if I had any idea how to do it.)
Our Creeping Stalinism
We don’t need no stinking trials: Tonght's evening news broadcast on French public television carried an account of "Terror in the Hands of Justice," a series that is running twice a day on Al Iraqiya, the state-controlled television financed by the U.S., and operated under a contract to a major Republican party contributor. This is one of the most appalling TV shows one could possibly imagine, for it blatantly encourages lynch-mob justice and individual acts of revenge against alleged "terrorists"--who are presented as such without benefit of any trial or judicial proceeding.
However, it is the use of
Or no stinking evidence neither: A federal judge has criticized a secret military tribunal for keeping a German national jailed in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely based on a flimsy unsigned memo, despite information suggesting he had no terror ties, the Washington Post reports.
In a declassified portions of a January ruling obtained by the Post, the judge criticized the panel for ignoring the conclusions of
We don't need no stinking Geneva Convention: Government documents released last week say the abuse of prisoners in
An officer found that detainees ''were being systematically and intentionally mistreated" at a holding facility near
Earlier records released by the Army have detailed abuses at Abu Ghraib and other sites in
''There is evidence that suggests the 311th MI personnel and/or translators engaged in physical torture of the detainees," a memo from the investigator said.
And we don't need no stinking rule of law: The Bush administration is desperately trying to keep the full story from emerging. But there is no longer any doubt that prisoners seized by the
These atrocities have been carried out in an atmosphere in which administration officials have routinely behaved as though they were above the law, and thus accountable to no one. People have been rounded up, stripped, shackled, beaten, incarcerated and in some cases killed, without being offered even the semblance of due process. No charges. No lawyers. No appeals.
Arkan Mohammed Ali is a 26-year-old Iraqi who was detained by the
No charges were ever filed against Ali, and he was eventually released. But what should be of paramount concern to Americans is this country's precipitous and frightening descent into the hellish zone of lawlessness that the Bush administration, on the one hand, is trying to conceal and, on the other, is defending as absolutely essential to its fight against terror.
And no one's gonna be punished for it: When the world first saw photos of the sexual abuse and humiliation of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, apologists for the
This is a stain on the reputation of the
Of course, a serious crime is a different matter: Ten members of an Army military police unit should be disciplined for staging a mud-wrestling match at a
One thing that's going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose. Randall Terry, a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents, hasn't killed anyone, but one of his former close associates in the anti-abortion movement is serving time for murdering a doctor. George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case, needs armed bodyguards.
Another thing that's going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right.
And the future seems all too likely to bring more intimidation in the name of God and more political intervention that undermines the rule of law.
Opinion: I can't tell whether
The despair, I suspect, keeps many people who are bitterly opposed to this war at home - and deflates turnout at those underpublicized and undercovered antiwar rallies.
Americans, it seems, would just as soon ignore the fact that 150,000 of our troops remain stationed in Iraq; that tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women, and children have died in the crossfire; that some inadvertently have been gunned down at checkpoints where American troops - fearful, with good reason, of suicide attacks - sometimes shoot first and ask questions later; that the tens of billions of dollars we're investing there each year could handily cover health insurance for the millions of uninsured American children. And that even so, corruption in Iraq is rampant, unemployment stands near 50 percent, electricity is off more than on, and that nearly two years after the end of "major combat" reporters are still writing about the dangerous drive from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone a few miles away.
Local story: Two Louisiana soldiers, one from Natchitoches and one from New Orleans, killed in Baghdad in incident where two more Louisiana troops were wounded.
Note to Readers: I'd like to take a moment from reading these depressing and discouragingly endless reports of mayhem and inhumanity to offer a salute to one of our long time loyal readers and commenters, Susan - USA. She is a voice of conscience and humanity and her focus on positive action is genuinely inspirational. Thanks, Susan, for the efforts you are making to restore justice and the rule of law to our country and for all you have given to us who come to this blog. And thanks for your loyalty - your regular remembrances of the badly missed Not Anonymous get me every time.