Wednesday, March 30, 2005
War News for Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One person killed and seventeen others wounded, five seriously, in
Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi soldiers injured in car bombing east of
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers and four guerillas killed in two hour firefight in Al-Touz. Three Iraqi truck drivers executed by guerilla group, video of killings released.
Bring ‘em on: Four civilians killed in bomb attack aimed at a US Humvee on a bridge in
“Non-hostile”: One US Marine killed in a “non-hostile incident” in
Executions: A video surfaced Tuesday on the Internet showing three drivers who said they worked for a Jordanian trucking company being shot by gunmen claiming to belong to a militant Islamic group in
The three men were shown being shot in the back of the head in a desert-like area. The identities and nationalities of the men were unclear due to the poor quality of the tape, but their accents appeared to be Iraqi.
"We don't see any difference between them and the Americans," a statement attached to the video said. "On the contrary, they work night and day in aiding the Americans to find the houses and locations of the mujahedeen (holy warriors)."
Kidnapping: One of three Romanian journalists abducted Monday night near their
Iraqi security forces: Over the past 18 months,
In April of 2004, for instance, the Defense Department estimated that 206,000 Iraqi security forces were in place. But that number simply reflected personnel on the payroll - many of whom were either administrative officials, or otherwise unprepared to fight. So a year ago the Pentagon revised its Iraqi force figure downward, to 132,000.
By September of 2004, the number had crept back up to 160,000. But further investigation proved that this figure included substantial numbers of people who protect facilities - in essence, night watchmen. In addition, some trained forces did not have equipment rendering them able to fight.
So last fall the number was revised downward again, to 90,000, Rear Adm. William Sullivan, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House hearing. "We are just now beginning ... a qualitative assessment of how the various Iraqi security forces are doing, modeling it after the kinds of systems we use for our own military to measure unit readiness," said Adm. Sullivan.
Due to missteps and a misjudgment about the strength of the insurgency at its onset, the
That melee on March 15 and its fallout have redrawn the debate that has shadowed
When parliamentarians were told that despite last-minute talks that delayed the session no agreement had been reached, even on the post of parliamentary speaker, several stood up to say leading politicians were letting down the Iraqi people.
"The Iraqi people who defied the security threats and voted -- what shall we tell them?" Hussein al-Sadr, a politician in the bloc led by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, asked the assembly before the news blackout.
As the meeting grew heated, the interim speaker ordered journalists to leave and Iraqi television abruptly switched to Arab music. Allawi walked out of the session shortly afterwards.
"You can say we are in a crisis," Barham Salih, a leading Kurdish politician, told reporters.
Allawi walks out: Prime Minister Iyad Allawi walked out of a meeting of
The speaker of parliament ordered journalists to leave and declared the meeting would be held in secret, after politicians -- one of them a leading member of Allawi's bloc -- denounced a failure to reach agreement two months after the historic Jan. 30 polls.
Deadlines move back: At immediate issue was the appointment of a speaker for the 275-member parliament. But the broader concern was the failure to form a transitional government and start work on a new Iraqi constitution.
With the setback yesterday, the seating of a government remains several days if not weeks away. And leading officials admitted that a mid-August deadline for the writing of the constitution now seems impossibly optimistic.
Instead, they predicted, the assembly ultimately would have to invoke a clause in the transitional law giving it an extra six months to work. That would delay full elections for a permanent government, perhaps until June 2006.
"Realistically you cannot write a constitution in three and a half months," said Hajem al-Hassani, the interim minister of industry and minerals who is a member of the largest — with only five seats — Sunni bloc in the assembly. "Some people say we have lots of things in common, but I think this is just wishful thinking. It is going to be very difficult. There are going to be lots of negotiations."
Writing the constitution is expected to be a far thornier process, with far greater implications, than setting up an interim government that is scheduled to hold office only until the end of 2005. Yet the Shiites and Kurds have spent weeks negotiating and renegotiating issues of authority, territory and money.
Public reaction: After a chaotic session yesterday that was delayed for nearly three hours, then abruptly closed to the public, the Sunni Arab minority – dominant under former dictator Saddam Hussein and believed to be the backbone of the insurgency – was given until Sunday to come up with a candidate to serve as speaker.
“We saw that things were confused today, so we gave (the Sunnis) a last chance,” said Hussein al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric and member of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s coalition. “We expect the Sunni Arab brothers to nominate their candidate. Otherwise, we will vote on a candidate on Sunday.”
Iraqis, already frustrated with drawn-out negotiations, were angered by the meeting.
“They haven’t been able to even name a parliament speaker, so how will they rule
More public reaction: Iraqi voters aren't happy. They don't care that some of the biggest political changes ever to happen in their lifetime are going on in their country. All they know is that the electricity still is off for hours every day, the water doesn't always flow out of the faucets, there are still long gas queues at the stations, and the situation still seems pretty lawless in the streets.
"We're very disappointed," said Hathem Hassan Thani, 31, a political science graduate student at
"The Iraqi people are very itchy. The street is very nervous," said Saad Jawar Qindeel, a spokesman for the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in
Commander Codpiece weighs in: President Bush, on a day of political turmoil in
In Baghdad, the fledgling parliament failed to agree on who would be its speaker in a chaotic session that exposed deep divides among the National Assembly's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish members who were elected Jan. 30.
Bush called Tuesday's session "another step on the road to a free society" and said the
So exactly why is it that the Iraqis must settle their internal differences through debate and persuasion but we got to settle our differences with
Our new model for the Arab world: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has alarmed many reformist Arabs with comments suggesting a new
Rice said in an interview with the Washington Post last week the
"This a very dangerous scheme. Anarchy will be out of control," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at
A liberal Arab diplomat, who asked not to be named, said: "They seem to be supporting chaos and instability as a pretext for bringing democracy. But people would rather live under undemocratic rule than in the chaotic atmosphere of
Helena Cobban, a writer on Middle East affairs based in the
"So it looks as though Arc of Instability may now actually be the goal of
Yes, that’s the same Helena who regularly graces our comments section. Kudos to her for being a voice of sanity. We might add to her analysis that that the interim rules established by the CPA all but guarantee a deadlock in forming a permanent Iraqi government and there are also credible reports that the Shiite votes were deliberately undercounted to ensure that they couldn’t muster a majority without a coalition, thus rendering the whole situation even more unstable.
Traitor Bob explains: Determination high in the Bush administration to begin irreversible withdrawal of
Amid the presidential campaign's furious debate over
Traitor Robert Novak is a revolting excuse for a human being and he belongs in prison but he does have excellent sources throughout the Bush administration. This column is worth a read to help put the above articles into a perspective. It would be just like the Busheviks to declare victory and pull out enough troops to make it look credible just in time for the 2006 elections. You can’t get more cynical than this crew.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
It’s final – it’s all the CIA’s fault: The final report of a presidential commission studying U.S. intelligence failures regarding illicit weapons includes a searing critique of how the CIA and other agencies never properly assessed Saddam Hussein's political maneuverings or the possibility that he no longer had weapon stockpiles, according to officials who have seen the report's executive summary.
The report particularly singles out the Central Intelligence Agency under its former director, George Tenet, but also includes what one senior official called "a hearty condemnation" of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, two of the largest intelligence agencies.
The report particularly ridicules the conclusion that Mr. Hussein’s fleet of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” which had very limited flying range, posed a major threat. All of those assertions were repeated by Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials in the prelude to the war. To this day, Mr. Cheney has never backed away from his claim, repeated last year, that the “mobile laboratories” were probably part of a secret biological weapons program, and his office has repeatedly declined to respond to inquiries about whether the evidence has changed his view.
But does the report address the pressure put on intelligence agencies by the administration? Does it discuss Cheney’s multiple completely unprecedented visits to CIA headquarters in the run up to the war? Does it address the stovepiping of overhyped intelligence from little Dougy Feith’s office to the highest levels? For that matter, does it even mention the construction of parallel intelligence analysis operations in the Pentagon intended to counter the conclusions of legitimate intelligence agencies?
Preconceived conclusions: The report examines factors that might have led to errors, the official said, such as whether policy-makers were seeking preconceived conclusions, whether foreign intelligence agencies had reached similar conclusions and whether analysts had little information to work with.
The panel considered a range of intelligence issues going beyond
New doubts: A presidential commission that's investigating U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq has concluded that many of the same weaknesses that plagued American efforts to investigate Saddam Hussein's regime are preventing the United States from collecting accurate intelligence on Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs.
One official who's intimately familiar with the commission's work described the report as "unusually blunt." It's expected to raise new doubts about the reliability of
We lost the real ones: The world now knows that
''There is nothing but a concrete slab at locations where once stood plants or laboratories," the Iraq Survey Group said in its final report. But that report from inside
Days after the report was issued last fall, for example, news leaked that tons of high-grade explosives had been looted a year earlier from the Iraqi complex at Al-Qaqaa. It was a potential boon to
Similarly, the main body of the
Speaking of hacks – Judith Miller: Bonnie Powell of the university’s news center reported that Miller acidly proclaimed journalists “are not perfect. We’re not saints. But try running a functioning democracy without a free press.” And who better to make the case regarding non-sainthood, following her dangerously wrong 2002-2003 reporting on WMD in
She repeated several times at
Despite her eloquent passion in defense of freedom of the press, her historical revisionism on the WMD story, when passing off such falsehoods, boggles the mind.
Not further substantiated:
There is no public record of such an attempt being made, although the
These accusations are contained in a two-page "summary of evidence" presented to the Iraqi for his appearance before a Combatant Status Review Board at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba late last year. The evidence was meant to convince the three-member review board — which has heard all 558 detainee cases at
The assertion that the Iraqi was involved in a plot against embassies in
The proof keeps piling up – this is official policy: The top U.S. commander in Iraq authorized prisoner interrogation tactics more harsh than accepted Army practice, including using guard dogs to exploit "Arab fear of dogs," a memo made public on Tuesday showed.
The Sept. 14, 2003, memo by Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the senior commander in
"The memo clearly establishes that Gen. Sanchez authorized unlawful interrogation techniques for use in Iraq, and in particular these techniques violate the Geneva Conventions and the Army's own field manual governing interrogations," ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh said in an interview.
Freedom of the Press
We don’t kill journalists and when we do it’s an accident: The US military has acknowledged it was responsible for killing two journalists working for Dubai-based satellite channel al-Arabiya who were shot close to a checkpoint in the Iraqi capital earlier this month.
Al-Arabiya cameraman Ali Abd al-Aziz died on 18 March from a gunshot wound to the head. Correspondent Ali al-Khatib died from his wounds in hospital the next day. Both were Iraqis.
On Monday, a
Or it’s their own damn fault: Amid the furor over the incident in which
On April 8, 2003, a
But studies of the incident by both Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists found that the military failed to alert troops to who was in the hotel. The CPJ report wonders how the tank crew managed to see the glint of binoculars—which the troops suspected were being used to spot them—but not the numerous TV cameras set up on the hotel's balconies.
Eighty? Wow…: The U.S. military's Abrams tank, designed during the Cold War to withstand the fiercest blows from the best Soviet tanks, is getting knocked out at surprising rates by the low-tech bombs and rocket-propelled grenades of Iraqi insurgents.
In the all-out battles of the 1991 Gulf War, only 18 Abrams tanks were lost and no soldiers in them killed. But since the March 2003 invasion of
At least five soldiers have been killed inside the tanks when they hit roadside bombs, according to figures from the Army's
Homeless vet: When "Iraqi Freedom" began, Private First Class Herold Noel was a soldier in the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, pounding a path into
Lost opportunity: Matthew Brown has wanted to be a police officer since he was 8 years old.
He came within 10 days of fulfilling that dream in December 2003, but his Army Reserve unit was called to duty in
Brown, serving as a first lieutenant with the Bartonville-based 724th Transportation Company, earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for leadership in
But the 26-year-old also lost his left eye during an ambush last year that killed two other members of his unit. As a result, he will never get a police badge in
Dying for Halliburton: Tony Johnson died in a gun battle near
On Tuesday, nearly one year after his death, Johnson's ex-wife and daughter brought a federal lawsuit against Halliburton. It is just the first of what is expected to be a string of lawsuits to be filed against the Houston-based company by families of the men who lost their lives on one fateful day in April, 2004.
Johnson was one of 19 truck drivers carrying fuel for the
Johnson's daughter April and ex-wife Kim want the world to know that these men were willfully misled by Halliburton, both about the dangers of working in Iraq and their rights to protect their own lives.
Female soldiers: Death has claimed a record number of female soldiers serving in the
Despite rules that have prohibited women from fighting on the front lines, female soldiers in these conflicts are facing virtually the same risks as men because of the nature of these missions and because of overall troop shortages in
The report -- due this spring -- has stirred debate on how female soldiers should serve alongside men and whether the military can and should uphold rules meant to minimize women's risks.
This Is Pathetic
We got a “D”: Since 1977, the United States State Department has issued an annual global report card called the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.
The document has long been a thorn in the side of authoritarian governments, including
This is revolting. The bloody-handed perpertrators of the Teineman Square massacre can castigate the US for human rights violations and it's actually credible. This is where George Walker Bush has brought us.
Comment: At the end of this week’s edition of ABC’s “This Week,” in a discussion that felt like the discussion the week before and the week before that, it was noted that the Hill seems strangely silent in protesting the war.
In fact, as an InterPress Service report noted, “No leading politician from the opposition Democratic Party participated in the anti-war protests, nor made any speeches at the rallies. The event was organized by a nationwide coalition representing an array of grassroots community peace and social justice groups.”
Not surprisingly, the absence of members of the political elite in the streets was mirrored by the paucity of coverage in the elite press- which is not particularly partial to covering grass roots activism. The New York Times focused on one small civil disobedience protest at a military recruiting office in Times Square, just down the street from the Times office. A protest at the Times itself may have made real news.
There were more anti-war actions in more cities than ever but that proliferation of protest or the presence of military families at the protests seemed not too newsworthy. A media that routinely plays down the size of all protests in this case seemed to be obsessed with nothing more than their size, as in the protests were “smaller than ever.” What were they saying?
Editorial: News coverage of the unfortunate
And fact should raise concerns among people who expect the
Those who rely on the support of the
In the midst of the current turmoil in
Book review: Not since
Strikingly, the debate over
By contrast, the Democratic candidate in last year's presidential election, Senator John Kerry, emphasized primarily the costly and counterproductive nature of the war in
Of course, many people opposed the war in
Book review: Inside the Pentagon Papers tells a wonderful story, and it is a significant book today. For the effects that the Pentagon Papers controversy had on some institutions in our society seem to have worn off.
The press, for one, has retreated from the boldness it showed in 1971. The New York Times and The Washington Post have apologized for having failed adequately to examine the government's claims in the run-up to the
The crucial lesson of the Pentagon Papers and then Watergate was that presidents are not above the law. So we thought. But today government lawyers argue that the president is above the law—that he can order the torture of prisoners even though treaties and a federal law forbid it. John Yoo, a former Justice Department official who wrote some of the broad claims of presidential power in memoranda, told Jane Mayer recently that Congress does not have power to "tie the president's hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique." The constitutional remedy for presidential abuse of his authority, he said, is impeachment. Yoo also told Ms. Mayer that the 2004 election was a "referendum" on the torture issue: the people had spoken, and the debate was over. And so, in the view of this prominent conservative legal thinker, a professor at the