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Friday, April 22, 2005

War News for Friday, April 22, 2005 Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, four wounded, in a suicide bomb attack aimed at Iyad Allawi’s convoy in Baghdad. Allawi escaped injury. At least two Iraqi civilians killed and eight wounded in three other bombings in the capital. US and Iraqi National Guard base in Ramadi attacked by two car bombs, no word on casualties. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, one wounded in roadside bombing north of Talafar. At least six other people, including three foreign civilians, killed in additional bombings and shootings in Ramadi and Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One Australian, one Canadian, and one US security guard killed in ambush on Baghdad’s airport road. (Note: These are likely the three foreign civilians referenced in the post above.) Bring ‘em on: Bodies of 19 executed Iraqi soldiers found near Beiji and it is reported that two other soldiers had been shot to death when the 19 were taken hostage three or four days ago. (Note: This appears to be a different incident than the one reported a few days ago of 19 Iraqi soldiers executed in a soccer stadium in Haditha.) Four Iraqi border guards, including a colonel, wounded in a roadside bombing near Basra. Two US Marines killed in bombing in Al-Anbar province. Bring ‘em on: Ten Iraqi civilians dead and 15 wounded in car bombing of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad. Two interior ministry employees and one police officer killed, one police officer and two civilians wounded in suicide car bombing of an Iraqi police checkpoint in Baghdad If you’re not happy with the reality you have just pull a new one out of your butt: Despite a two-week upswing in the level of violence, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita said Thursday the average number of attacks remained inferior to those before the United States returned sovereignty to Iraqis in June. "The commanders wonder whether (the insurgents) are marshalling their dwindling capacity on being able to conduct ... what appears to be better coordinated attacks -- more spectacular and perhaps fewer more spectacular attacks," he said. "But the fact is that the security and coalition are developing some capacity to interrupt these things or to stop them before they cause real damage," he added. The upbeat assessment followed a week of multiple car bombings, an assassination attempt against outgoing Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, killings of top Iraqi officers and reports of dozens of bodies pulled from the Tigris river. The price of money: Six Blackwater bodyguards were among 11 civilians killed Thursday when a helicopter was shot down about 12 miles north of Baghdad. A seventh Blackwater guard was killed near Ramadi the same day, when a bomb exploded next to one of the company's armored personnel carriers. It was the largest toll in a single day for the military contractor since its armed guards entered Iraq to protect American diplomats. At least 18 Blackwater guards have died in Iraq, including four whose slaying and mutilation in Fallujah made international news in March 2004. Two of the corpses were hung from a bridge, triggering a bloody three-week siege of the Sunni Muslim city west of Baghdad If the Iraqis don't need 'em, I bet they can find work at Guantanamo: Iraqi leaders trying to rebuild the country's government are struggling over whether to enlist some of Iraq's most experienced intelligence operatives. The problem is that the officers' training comes from working at the fear-inspiring agencies once run by Saddam Hussein's ruling party. "There is a fear among some Iraqis that I talk to that ex-Baathists are burrowing into these organizations with the express purpose of waiting for the opportune moment, such as when the U.S. leaves, to use these security organizations to make a big move," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert with the Congressional Research Service, which provides analysis to lawmakers. He said he believes the fears are well founded. Maybe they could interrogate this guy - again: Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a little-publicized lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of an Iraqi immigrant falsely imprisoned by U.S. officials. The story of Abdul Ameer Yousef Habeeb has largely escaped the public’s eye, but it speaks volumes about the real cost of the United States’ ongoing war on terrorism. Habeeb fled his native country in 2002, gaining refugee status in the U.S. after years of persecution under Saddam Hussein. While traveling by train from Seattle to Washington, D.C., in April 2003, Habeeb was confronted by U.S. Border Patrol agents at a stop in northern Montana. After brief questioning, he was arrested and charged with failing to comply with U.S. requirements that nonimmigrants from certain countries be photographed and fingerprinted. U.S. officials began deportation proceedings within 24 hours, and Habeeb spent the next eight days behind bars. By all indications, Habeeb’s only crimes that day were his broken English and Arab appearance. The case might not be the most egregious example of the war on terrorism trampling the very freedoms it aims to protect, but it does have an ugly irony that should make U.S. officials cringe. Habeeb was imprisoned twice under Saddam and has the scars to prove it. So April 1, 2003, while U.S. troops were advancing toward Baghdad in a campaign to liberate Iraqis from tyranny, zealous Border Patrol agents were stripping Habeeb of his hard-won civil liberties. Marla Ruzicka’s last: In my two years in Iraq, the one question I am asked the most is: "How many Iraqi civilians have been killed by American forces?" The American public has a right to know how many Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war and as hostilities continue. In a news conference at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in March 2002, Gen. Tommy Franks said, "We don't do body counts." His words outraged the Arab world and damaged the U.S. claim that its forces go to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties. During the Iraq war, as U.S. troops pushed toward Baghdad, counting civilian casualties was not a priority for the military. However, since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations over and the U.S. military moved into a phase referred to as "stability operations," most units began to keep track of Iraqi civilians killed at checkpoints or during foot patrols by U.S. soldiers. Here in Baghdad, a brigadier general commander explained to me that it is standard operating procedure for U.S. troops to file a spot report when they shoot a non-combatant. It is in the military's interest to release these statistics. Casualty Reports Local story: Fountain, CO, contractor working for Blackwater killed outside of Baghdad. Local story: Danville, KY, contractor working for Blackwater killed outside of Baghdad. Local story: Lexington, KY, contractor killed on Baghdad’s airport road.

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