Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The View From Inside The Bubble Vindication: Two years after his much-maligned "mission accomplished'' speech aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, President Bush and his foreign policy team are trumpeting developments in the Middle East as a vindication of his Iraq policy. The notion that the world is more peaceful as a result of the U.S. invasion, let alone that the mission was a success, is far from universally accepted. In the two years since Bush declared an end to "major combat operations,'' thousands of Iraqis and nearly 1,500 Americans have been killed; U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $200 billion to secure the peace; troops discovered no weapons of mass destruction, which was the principal reason stated by Bush to justify the attack; and a majority of Americans now say they disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq. Yet the perception by critics that the mission is unproductive, or a debacle, shows no sign of resonating at the White House, where, quite to the contrary, it is evident that Bush feels emboldened by the past two years' experience. Meanwhile, In The Real World: War News For Tuesday, April 26, 2005 Bring ‘em on: At least 16 people killed and 57 wounded in double bombing in Baghdad’s al-Shu’lah neighborhood. At least six killed and 26 wounded in double bombing at Iraqi police academy in Tikrit. Three insurgents killed in premature detonation of a roadside bomb in Mahawil. One US sailor killed in combat operations in Fallujah. Seven Interior Ministry commandos wounded in mortar attack in the al-Baiya neighborhood of Baghdad. One AP cameraman killed and an AP photographer wounded in a crossfire between guerillas and US forces in Mosul. Nine Iraqi soldiers killed and 20 wounded in roadside bombing near Abu Ghraib. One Iraqi contractor working for the US military shot to death in Baghdad’s Jami’a neighborhood. (Note: This entry includes some attacks previously reported in posts on Sunday and Monday, but with additional information or changes in casualty counts.) Bring ‘em on: One Jordanian businessman and six Sudanese drivers working for the US military abducted by militants. Bring ‘em on: The toll from Sunday’s two double bombings in Baghdad and Tikrit has risen to 24 dead and 58 wounded. Bring ‘em on: Oil pumps blown up near Kirkuk. Desertions: Iraqi army and police units are deserting their posts after the recent escalation in insurgent attacks, according to reports from around the country yesterday. The end of a relative period of calm after the election has posed the first real test for the embryonic security forces since coalition troops started cutting back on their military operations in February. On average 20 Iraqis and two coalition soldiers have died every day this month. We never thought they were right to begin with: Just a few weeks after US military officials optimistically predicted that the Iraq insurgency was 'fizzling' because the number of attacks per day was down, many of those same officials now believe they were wrong, and that the insurgency is strengthening again. More troublesome is that these same military experts also believe that the insurgents "are making inroads toward sparking a full-blown sectarian war," and that it may not be possible for the US to reduce its troop strength as quickly as some recent Defense Department statements have indicated. The Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday that internal US Army analysis, written for US troops going to Iraq to prepare them for the kind of dangers they will face, concludes that the number of attacks in recent months haven't lessened very much, but have shifted away from US troops to attacks on Iraqi civilians. The Washington Post reports that many of the attacks have gone unchallenged by the Iraqi forces, particularly in areas of the country largely controlled by insurgents. US officials are also privately saying that "violence is getting much worse." Airport road: Samson has been delivering supplies to US military bases for a year. It's a good business that sends him to Baghdad International Airport daily. He reads Psalm 91 before every trip. He prays because the four-lane, six-mile stretch of road leading from central Baghdad to the country's main airport remains one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in Iraq, if not the world. It functions as a critical supply line into and out of the country, traversed daily by US military convoys as well as Iraqi and foreign businessmen, journalists, and aid workers. So why is this vital strip of concrete, which takes only minutes to travel, still so difficult to protect? Irreplaceable: It is two years since looters ravaged one of the world's most important museums, in central Baghdad. Saddam Hussein's power had collapsed and the newly arrived US-led coalition forces were unable to prevent a crime against history. Professional smugglers connected to the international antiquities mafia managed to break some of the sealed doors of the Baghdad Museum storage rooms. They looted priceless artifacts such as the museum's entire collection of cylindrical seals and large numbers of Assyrian ivory carvings. More than 15,000 objects were taken. Many were smuggled out of Iraq and offered for sale. There will be no end to the destruction of Iraq's heritage, unless the country's leaders take a political decision to consider archaeology a priority. For this, the ring of dealers in Baghdad has to be seized, looting in the south has to be effectively confronted and coalition forces have to be prevented from setting up base on archaeological sites. The longer Iraq finds itself in a state of war, the more the cradle of civilization is threatened. It may not even last long enough for our grandchildren to learn from. And all for lies: In his final word, the CIA's top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has "gone as far as feasible" and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion. "After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted," wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall. "As matters now stand, the WMD investigation has gone as far as feasible." In 92 pages posted online Monday evening, Duelfer provides a final look at an investigation that occupied over 1,000 military and civilian translators, weapons specialists and other experts at its peak. His latest addenda conclude a roughly 1,500-page report released last fall. Iraqi Politics White House pressure: Worried about a political deadlock in Iraq and a spike in mayhem from an emboldened insurgency, the Bush administration has pressed Iraqi leaders in recent days to end their stalemate over forming a new government, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney personally exhorting top Kurdish and Shiite politicians to come together. The White House pressure, reported by Iraqi officials in Baghdad and an American official in Washington on Sunday, was a change in the administration's hands-off approach to Iraqi politics. The change was disclosed as insurgents unleashed a devastating technique, with twin double bombings at a police academy in Tikrit and an ice cream parlor in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad that killed 21 and wounded scores more. The impact of the White House pressure was unclear. On Sunday, Shiite leaders once again predicted they were on the verge of announcing their new government, perhaps as soon as Monday. Similar predictions have been proved wrong several times in recent weeks. Momentum sapped: The protracted delay in forming an Iraqi government is imperiling the appointment of its prime minister, providing a new impetus for the insurgency and fanning renewed suspicion of the U.S. role here, Iraqi and Western observers say. Doubts are growing that the government, once formed, will have time to complete the constitution-writing process — its principal task — by the mid-August deadline. Almost three months since lawmakers were chosen in the landmark Jan. 30 election, they have yet to agree on the composition of a government. The transitional National Assembly has held several meetings but, stymied by ethnic, religious and political divides, has yet to set its bylaws or begin discussing the constitution. The violence may well have surged even if a government had been in office. U.S. commanders say that peaks and troughs in attacks have characterized the 2-year-old insurgency. And there is a growing consensus that the insurgents will not be defeated for years. But on the streets and in the halls of power, Iraqis believe that the pro-democracy momentum of Jan. 30, when millions defied guerrilla threats and proudly displayed their ink-stained fingers after voting, has been sapped as negotiations for top posts have dragged on. One little step: Senior members of the Shia coalition with a majority in Iraq's parliament said yesterday they had agreed to have a Sunni Arab in the key post of defence minister. The decision follows weeks of political negotiations in which various Kurdish, Shia and Sunni parties that competed in elections in January have fought for representation in the new - and much delayed - government. Giving the defence post to a Sunni Arab is thought to satisfy one of their central demands. Sunni dominated the military and the ruling Ba'ath party under the regime of Saddam Hussein and now make up the bulk of Iraq's insurgents. It may be a step towards a long-sought political solution to the two-year guerrilla war. However, in a sign that the negotiations could be far from over, Mishaan al-Jaburi, a Sunni Arab legislator, said that while an agreement had been reached on the defence portfolio, there was still dispute over the number of cabinet posts allocated to Sunni Arabs. No Baathists: Sunni Muslim politicians have dropped their demand to include former members of Saddam Hussein’s party in Iraq’s new cabinet in a bid to get more ministries. As leaders of Iraq’s main Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions continued their backroom wheeling and dealing, Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari again put off his long-promised Cabinet announcement. Alliance members, who control 148 seats in the 275-member National Assembly, have refuse to give any top posts to members of the party that carried out Saddam’s brutal suppression of the Shiites and Kurds. The issue is just one of many obstacles that have bogged down negotiations since the January 30 parliamentary elections. Further complicating negotiations, a rival Sunni coalition entered the fray yesterday, saying it too should have a place in the Cabinet. The Council of Arab and Sunni Negotiators and the National Dialogue Council both include groups that boycotted the elections and could help open talks with insurgents. Supporting The Troops Noncombat duty: When Dustin W. Peters, an Air Force supply technician, arrived in Kuwait in January 2004, all he and his fellow airmen knew was that they would be supporting US troops in Iraq. But when their unit received its assignment, they recalled, they were stunned: They would be protecting supply convoys traveling along Iraq's violent roadways. Peters, 25, was killed last summer when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb near the town of Bayji, placing him among at least 13 Air Force and Navy members to die in Iraq while on assignments that were different from what they signed up for -- and with far less training than military personnel who usually performed those missions, according to a Globe analysis of Pentagon statistics. At least 3,000 Navy and Air Force personnel such as Peters -- trained mainly in noncombat specialties such as mechanics and construction -- are serving on the front lines of the Iraqi insurgency. The Iraq war is the first military engagement in which such large numbers of air and naval personnel are serving in combat roles on the ground, facing imminent threat of attack. Most of them have received only crash courses in basic combat, in some cases after they've arrived in the Middle East and then been stationed near the front lines because of shortages of troops in the Army and Marine Corps. Though technically defined as support units, their jobs -- guarding convoys and oil facilities, or defusing bombs under fire -- bear little resemblance to traditional ''noncombat" duty in the safety of a base. This is so revolting: Monday, the Supreme Court refused to review whether Iraq should be held accountable for torturing U.S. prisoners of war during the first Gulf War. A group of 17 active and retired U.S. service members who were captured and abused by Iraqi forces during the first Gulf War filed suit against the Republic of Iraq in May 2002. In May 2003, after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the president issued a determination that Iraq would no longer suffer sanctions under U.S. law as a terrorist state. The determination affected the statute under which the POW suit was filed. Two months later, a federal judge in Washington took jurisdiction in the suit and ruled against Iraq after that country's representatives failed to show up for trial. Total judgment for the former POWs and their families was $959 million. The Bush administration then filed to intervene, saying the presidential determination made the law -- under which the suit was filed -- inapplicable to Iraq. A federal appeals court eventually struck down the judge's verdict and dismissed the suit. The justices rejected the case without comment in a one-line order. American Moral Values A wall of impunity: Human Rights Watch's latest report on the use of torture in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and elsewhere claims "a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses." The only way to penetrate that wall is for Congress to name a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and ex-CIA Director George Tenet in cases of detainee torture and abuse. Great idea, won’t happen: Human rights groups expressed dismay yesterday over the Army's findings exonerating U.S. generals of prisoner abuse in Iraq, and renewed requests for an independent probe to examine the culpability of senior military and civilian defense officials. In a report released yesterday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the roles of all U.S. officials "who participated in, ordered, or had command responsibility for war crimes or torture." Human Rights Watch also asked Congress to launch an independent and bipartisan probe -- similar to that of the 9/11 commission -- to investigate the roles of senior leaders in abuse, including President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former CIA director George J. Tenet. But do they care?: Many adults in the United States think troops may have inflicted pain as a means of coercion during the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a poll by Harris Interactive. 66 per cent of respondents believe that prisoners captured in either country have been tortured by Americans. 30 different prisons but Sanchez knew nothing: Ali al-Shalal, nicknamed “clawman” by his US guards, said they attached electrodes to his body and tortured him at the height of the abuse scandal at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. And he describes going through the same agony as a man in an infamous photo of a black-hooded prisoner, dressed like the grim reaper, humiliated and standing on a crate, with wires running from his body that captured the spirit of sadism in the US-run detention centre. A year after the revelations of rampant sexual and physical abuse leaked to the media, the 42-year-old Shalal has rebuilt his life, fighting for those abused in Iraq’s US-run prisons. But he is haunted by his own memories from the autumn of 2003 in the notorious prison on Baghdad’s western outskirts. “I consider speaking out part of a peaceful jihad (holy war),” says Shalal, a big man, with a touch of grey to his hair. Shalal responded to his ordeal by forming a prisoners’ rights group and joining a class action law suit in the United States against translation firms CACI International and Titan Corp, whose representatives were allegedly involved in the notorious actions at the prison facility, once dreaded as the main execution ground of Saddam Hussein’s regime. The senior commander of the US military in Iraq at the time of the scandal, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, was cleared Friday of any wrongdoing by a US military probe. One Philadelphia-based attorney, Susan Burke, said the class-action suit, so far counts 120 former detainees, and spans incidents in some 30 prisons across Iraq. Italy Loyalty’s reward: A U.S. military investigation has cleared American troops of any wrongdoing in the shooting death last month of an Italian security agent in Baghdad, according to a senior Pentagon official. The agent's death strained relations between the United States and Italy, two stalwart allies in the Iraq war. The U.S. soldiers involved will face no disciplinary actions, the Pentagon official said Monday. News reports in Italy said officials there do not agree with the findings, the AP reported. Britain Wow, an opposition with a backbone - where could we get one?: Tony Blair was at the centre of a fresh row last night over the legality of the war in Iraq, as a new report claimed the Prime Minister was warned that the conflict breached international law. As opposition politicians and senior Labour figures intensified pressure on Mr Blair to publish in full the advice given by the Attorney General, the issue of the war in Iraq was propelled to the centre stage of the election campaign after a Sunday newspaper alleged that he was told the military action could be ruled illegal. Today's Mail on Sunday claims to list six "caveats" that were stripped from a summary of the advice published 10 days later on the eve of a crucial parliamentary debate on the war. They reportedly included warnings that only the United Nations could judge whether Saddam Hussein had defied its order to disarm and that Mr Blair could not rely on the American position that the war was legal. They'll even call a lie a lie!: Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under renewed pressure from his election rivals over the war in Iraq. Tory leader Michael Howard has accused him of lying about the conflict. Charles Kennedy says he must publish the attorney general's full legal advice on the war - after a newspaper claimed a memo raised legal concerns. The Lib Dem leader said the election could be a "referendum" on the decision to go to war. But Mr Blair insists the conflict was right and legal.==Speaking on Breakfast with Frost, Mr Howard said. "The intelligence that he had, as we know from the Butler report... was limited sporadic and patchy. "When Mr Blair came to report that to the country, he said he had intelligence that was extensive, detailed and authoritative. "Maybe you can reconcile those two different sets of words. I can't. I think that portraying the intelligence in that way was untrue." Romania Split: Romanians are split on whether to pull their troops out of Iraq, a demand of kidnappers holding three Romanian journalists there, a survey showed on Sunday. While 40 percent think the soldiers should go home, 42 percent think they should stay in Iraq, according to the poll by independent polling agency INSOMAR. The survey was carried out before Friday's threat by militants to kill the hostages unless Romania pulled out its soldiers within four days. Our Creeping Stalinism You paid for it but you can't see it: Federal agencies under the Bush administration are sweeping vast amounts of public information behind a curtain of secrecy in the name of fighting terrorism, using 50 to 60 loosely defined security designations that can be imposed by officials as low-ranking as government clerks. No one is tracking the amount of unclassified information that is no longer accessible. The public instead is losing access to large amounts of less-risky information through terms such as ''For Official Use Only," ''Sensitive But Unclassified," ''Not for Public Dissemination," and what Congress has estimated as 50 to 60 other designations developed by federal agencies to keep the public from seeing unclassified information. Although some of these secrecy terms predate the Bush administration, advocates of open government say their use has grown sharply over the past four years. Precise numbers of documents being shielded are unknown because the administration keeps no records. And there are only vague standards governing the types of documents that can be made secret. Florida leads the way, again: Everyone at Defense Tech HQ did a little hat dance after we heard about the demise of MATRIX, the far-flung, state-run, terrorist-profiling database. But it looks like we danced too soon. Officials in Florida -- who helped run the original data-mining effort -- have put out a call for information for MATRIX II, Defense Tech pal Ryan Singel reports in today's Wired News. And the sequel looks even more invasive than the original Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. That system "allowed law enforcement to search a centralized database populated with records collected by states -- including criminal history, driver's license photos, property deeds and fishing licenses -- and billions of commercial data records," Ryan writes. To that, MATRIX II's architects would like to see insurance and financial information added. That's a giant red flag. Came as a surprise: The National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on electronic communications around the world, receives thousands of requests each year from U.S. government officials seeking the names of Americans who show up in intercepted calls or e-mails — and complies in the vast majority of cases without challenging the basis for the requests, current and former intelligence officials said. The volume of requests and the NSA's almost reflexive practice of disclosing Americans' identities — which under federal law are shielded unless there is a compelling intelligence reason for releasing a name — have come as a surprise even to some members of Congress and government officials deeply involved in intelligence matters. "Significantly more than half" of the requests come from the CIA and other agencies in the U.S. intelligence community, the official said. The FBI and law enforcement agencies account for a tiny fraction of the total, while the rest come from policymakers such as Bolton and officials in other agencies. The NSA declined to answer questions about the scope of the practice, refusing to say how many requests it fields, what percentage are granted or which agencies account for the largest number. Slightly OT Item #58398345934 in the annals of Republican hypocrisy: File this under, priceless. Senator Isakson R-GA) on the floor of the United States Senate extolling the virtues of the filibuster to protect the rights of the minority from being overrun by the majority. "Don't you fear that the Shi'ites inevitably being in the majority, that you will be overrun? And he says, 'oh no, we have a secret weapon.' Mr. President, this is a Kurdish leader, in the middle of Iraq in the 21st century who said he had a secret weapon. And when asked what it was, he said one word, 'filibuster'" [...] "It is one of their minority leaders, proudly stating one of the pillars and principles of our government, as the way they would ensure that the majority never overran the minority." Commentary Opinion: A new State Department report to Congress earlier this month cited the "poor performance" in Iraq of the Kellogg, Brown & Root subsidiary of the Texas-based firm Halliburton. The Department of Defense had previously questioned $212 million of $1.69 billion in charges that KBR submitted for payment for fuel imports into Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The poor performance this time involved major cost overruns on a $1.2 billion KBR contract to repair Iraq's southern oil fields. Last week Vice President Dick Cheney, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Halliburton for the five years preceding his election, released his 2004 tax return. It showed $194,852 in deferred compensation for Mr. Cheney from Halliburton, only slightly less than the $203,000 he earned as vice president. No one is asking Mr. Cheney to take his $194,852 from Halliburton and give it to the poor. At the same time, the coincidence of a company that pays the vice president a lot of money each year while chiseling on U.S. government contracts isn't exactly complimentary - to him or to Halliburton. Personal story: In November 2003, my Guard unit was called up and I was deployed to Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. During my first R & R break, in June 2004, I flew to Miami, where I boarded a charter flight to Cuba. There was a special urgency about this visit. I was serving in a war zone, where U.S. troops were being attacked and killed almost every day. But I was not allowed to fly to Havana. The Bush administration had recently announced its intention to severely limit travel to Cuba, even for family visits, to once every three years. Even though I arrived in Miami two days before the travel restrictions went into effect on June 30, the charter company said it was not allowed to take any more passengers to Cuba. The calculations behind the travel restriction were simple. While U.S. troops were trying to bring democracy to Iraq, President Bush was trying to ensure his reelection by catering to a small but politically powerful group of anti-Castro extremists who demand complete isolation of Cuba as the price of their support. Bush met their demands, but it is average Cubans, and families like mine, that have paid the price. Editorial: No matter what else George W. Bush does in office, historians will define his presidency primarily by his Global War On Terror, initiated after the terrorist attacks of September 11. Yet the Bush administration is trying to hide important data that might very well lead historians and the American public to conclude that the GWOT has been disastrous for U.S. and global security. Since the Iraq war went south, mainstream U.S. media feel safe in prominently displaying some of the unpleasant facts about that conflict—for example, allegations that the Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to exaggerate Iraq’s efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Yet the searing effect of 9/11 still makes the press leery of criticizing similar administration pressure on intelligence analysts to hide the apparent failure of the GWOT. Such media skittishness is reminiscent of their behavior prior to the Iraq invasion, when it was impolitic to question the administration’s march to war. The media buried in its back pages a declassified CIA report indicating that Saddam Hussein was unlikely to use any weapons of mass destruction against the United States or give them to terrorists unless backed against the wall during a U.S. invasion. Apparently, the nation’s leading intelligence agency destroying the main rationale for its boss’s misguided and aggressive policy wasn’t headline news. Alas, the same is now occurring with data indicating that the administration’s grandiose GWOT may very well be counterproductive. If the U.S. news media weren’t so timid about covering such explosive facts, perhaps the American public would just say “no” to government policies that endanger Americans and other people everywhere. Opinion: Spring has come again 30 times since the last April agonies of the Republic of South Vietnam. None of us who were there in that final collapse are likely to forget it: The seemingly endless columns of refugees snaking ever southward, the infectious fear that ran through the streets of Saigon, the sudden suicides, some of them in public places, the rumors and pathetic false hopes that some kind of deal would be made, that the Communists would not come after all. The American armed forces had already left in the summer of '73. There was supposed to have been peace. But peace did not come, and 30 years of American policy was going up in smoke before our eyes. Today, 30 years on, we are embarked in another military action. Like Vietnam, the war in Iraq began with a falsehood. The Tonkin Gulf incident, the alleged firing upon American ships, turned out to be as bogus as weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda links would be in the present war. And in this war as it was then, there were towns that had to be destroyed in order to save them. Back then another powerful secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, succumbed to hubris, and would later admit he knew nothing of the land of his adversary. He was warned, of course, but chose not to listen as Donald Rumsfeld refused to listen when he was offered advice by experts whom he thought to be ideologically wanting. We cannot foresee the end of the Iraq war, but the real trouble will come, as it did in Vietnam, after American troops have left. In reality we have invaded three countries in Iraq, and war between factions would demolish all our hopes. The Kurds see us now as liberators, but will not wish to be thwarted in their hard-won autonomy. The Sunnis will probably never be reconciled to what the United States wants for them, and that leaves the Shia who will tolerate us as long as power is within their grasp, but not for long afterwards. The democracy we seek to impose may not be to our liking as the forces of militant Islam may yet win out in the end. Bob Herbert: In a horrifying incident that occurred in the spring of 2003, an Iraqi woman threw two of her children, an infant and a toddler, out the window of a car that had been hit accidentally in an American rocket attack. The woman and the rest of her family perished in the black smoke and flames of the wreckage. The toddler, whose name was Zahraa, was severely burned. She died two weeks later. The infant, named Harah, was not badly hurt. She was photographed recently on the lap of Marla Ruzicka, a young humanitarian-aid worker from California who was herself killed a little over a week ago in the flaming wreckage of a car that was destroyed in a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad. The vast amount of suffering and death endured by civilians as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has, for the most part, been carefully kept out of the consciousness of the average American. I can't think of anything the Bush administration would like to talk about less. You can't put a positive spin on dead children. There's been hardly any media interest in the unrelieved agony of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq. It's an ugly subject, and the idea has taken hold that Americans need to be protected from stories or images of the war that might be disturbing. As a nation we can wage war, but we don't want the public to be too upset by it. So the public doesn't even hear about the American bombs that fall mistakenly on the homes of innocent civilians, wiping out entire families. We hear very little about the frequent instances of jittery soldiers opening fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding men, women and children who were never a threat in the first place. We don't hear much about the many children who, for one reason or another, are shot, burned or blown to eternity by our forces in the name of peace and freedom. Out of sight, out of mind. Casualty Reports Local story: Long Beach, CA, soldier killed in Mosul. Local story: Nevada, IA, contractor killed in helicopter crash in Iraq. Local story: Portland, OR, sailor killed in Fallujah. Local story: South Amherst, OH, Marine seriously injured while clearing unexploded mortar shells in an area northwest of Baghdad. Local story: Willards, MD, Marine killed in nonhostile incident in Karmah. Local story: Swarz Creek, MI, soldier killed in Iraq.


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