Saturday, April 16, 2005

War News for Saturday, April 16, 2005 Bring 'em on: Sunni insurgents seize town of Madaen, take 60 hostages. Bring 'em on: One US Marine killed during fighting in Ramadi. Bring 'em on: Four car bombs kill one Iraqi, wound 14 Iraqis and one US soldier in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Kurdish journalist assassinated in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: US convoy attacked by car bomb near Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed by roadside bomb near Tuz. Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb wounds several US soldiers near Abu Ghraib. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed by mortar fire in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Balad. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed by car bomb near Hilla. Bring 'em on: Two Filipino workers wounded in small arms ambush near Baghdad airport. Bring 'em on: Latifiyah mayor assassinated by insurgents. Fuzzy math. "The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered. Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism. Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a revision of the report, 'Patterns of Global Terrorism.' But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered 'Patterns of Global Terrorism' eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism." Reconstruction report. "The Halabja project, worth around $10 million, accounted for a small fraction of the $18.4 billion that Congress approved in 2003 for the reconstruction of Iraq, including $4 billion for water and sewage projects. But with the outbreak of insurgency in central and southern Iraq last year, the United States shifted $3.4 billion from water, electricity and oil projects to pay for training and equipping the Iraqi Army and police forces. The implications of that shift are only now becoming clear as individual projects are canceled in scores of communities across the country. Some of the largest cuts have come in waterworks: of 81 water projects that were to be financed through the Public Works Ministry, all but 13 have been canceled, with many of the rest reduced in scale, ministry officials say. The project in this northern Kurdish town, where Mr. Nuradeen has been head of water and sewage projects since 2001, was one of those to lose out." Recruiting. "The number of foreign nationals enlisting in the U.S. military is dropping, even though service now provides a fast track to American citizenship, an Associated Press review of military data shows. The decrease in non-citizen enlistees, who hail from countries such as the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria and Germany, has hit all branches of the armed services, which already are struggling with recruitment as the U.S. presence in Iraq enters year three. While U.S. citizen enlistments also have fallen, the drop is more pronounced among non-citizens - legal immigrants the military has long let serve as everything from cooks to front line soldiers, though not generally as officers….Instead, the annual number of non-citizen enlistees has fallen nearly 20 percent from fiscal year 2001 - the last full year before the changes - to fiscal year 2004, according to military data. Much of the decline, from 11,829 to 9,477 recruits, came last year alone. By comparison, annual enlistments among citizens dropped 12 percent, from 264,832 to 232,957 recruits." WMD update. "International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Mohammed ElBaradei has told the UN Security Council since the US-led invasion two years ago that sites surveyed for radioactive materials had been looted or sold as scrap abroad, even when contaminated. In his latest half-year report, Mr ElBaradei said satellite imagery indicated that at least one site containing buried contaminated rubble had been 'extensively excavated'. Before the invasion, the Vienna-based IAEA kept track of radiation and other materials to clear up any lingering questions about Baghdad's now-defunct nuclear arms program and watch for illegal trafficking in radioactive material. Mr ElBaradei said that the IAEA was monitoring by satellite 141 of the 175 locations that had contributed to Iraq's clandestine program or had 'technical capabilities of some value for the resumption of a nuclear program'. 'This assessment has revealed significant dismantling and removal activities at 37 of the most capable sites since March 2003,' Mr ElBaradei said….Mr ElBaradei reported in October that Iraqi authorities told his agency they could not account for 377 tons of high explosives that had been subject to IAEA monitoring and could be used to fire a nuclear weapon." Missing US soldier promoted. Commentary Analysis: "The questions related to America's motives about invading Iraq are too cumbersome and grim for the majority of Iraqis to demonstrate any enthusiasm about the continued presence of foreign troops in their country. US forces, indeed, were envisaged as liberators, but that window was very narrow, and disappeared soon after the fall of Saddam. Too much has happened since then for most Iraqis to maintain a positive attitude toward the US. (It should be noted that the Kurds are the exception to these observations.) A majority of Iraqis remain convinced that the real purpose of the US invasion of their country was to acquire control of its vast oil reserves. They quickly recall the connections of the Bush presidents (both father and son) with big oil. In addition, they refuse to forget that Halliburton, the former employer of Vice President Dick Cheney, has earned hundreds of millions of dollars since the toppling of the Saddam regime. Now, the Iraqi thinking is that the US is really interested in making their country its colony, as it has already done to Afghanistan. The United States' Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has left a terrible legacy of governing Iraq, especially when it so cavalierly abolished the Ba'athist Party and the Iraqi army, thereby making many thousands of Iraqis unemployed almost instantly. The Iraqi insurgent movement rose from the ashes of those ruinous decisions." Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: New York Marine wounded in Iraq. Awards and Decorations Local story: Alabama National Guard MP Company awarded Presidential Unit Citation. Rant of the Day Intelligence failure. "The declassified documents undermine the Bush administration's claims regarding Iraq's involvement in training al-Qaeda operatives and the likelihood of a meeting between September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001, Senator Levin said in a statement. In October 2002, Mr Bush said: 'We've learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.' But a June 2002 CIA report, titled Iraq and al-Qa'ida: Interpreting a Murky Relationship, said 'the level and extent of this is assistance is not clear.' The report said that there were "many critical gaps" in the knowledge of Iraq-al-Qaeda links due to 'limited reporting' and the 'questionable reliability of many of our sources,' according to excerpts cited by Senator Levin. The October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons programs said much of the information on Iraqi training and support for al-Qaeda was 'second-hand' or from sources of 'varying reliability.' And a January 2003 CIA report indicates some of the reports of training were based on 'hearsay' while others were 'simple declarative accusations of Iraqi-al-Qaeda complicity with no substantiating detail or other information that might help us corroborate them.'" Let's make this perfectly clear: there was no intelligence failure on any of the issues Lieutenant AWOL used to justify making war on Iraq. Instead, there was a deliberate and systematic manipulation of intelligence by top elected officials and policy makers in the Bush administration, followed by a massive failure of the American press to point out those deceptions. Nicholas Kristoff recently wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times lamenting the loss of public confidence in the American press. Clueless as ever, Kristoff offered this solution: "More openness, more willingness to run corrections, more ombudsmen, more acknowledgement of our failings - those are the kinds of steps that are already under way and that should be accelerated. It would help if news organizations engaged in more outreach to explain themselves, with anchors or editors walking readers through such minefields as why we choose to call someone a 'terrorist,' or how we wield terms like 'pro-life' or 'pro-choice.' We also need more diverse newsrooms. When America was struck by race riots in the late 1960's, major news organizations realized too late that their failure to hire black reporters had impaired their ability to cover America. In the same way, our failure to hire more red state evangelicals limits our understanding of and ability to cover America today." I've got a shit-hot news flash for you, Nick, (Can I call you "Nick?") Americans lost confidence in you and your media butt-buddies precisely because you waste too much newsprint and broadcast gasbaggery debating propagandist terms like "pro-life" and "pro-choice." You can’t even define “journalist.” Journalists and propagandists are synonymous in your pop-media vocabulary. If you want to re-establish journalistic credibility, try this: Stand up to power. Call "Bullshit!" when powerful people offer lies on matters of war. Journalists, by definition, are seekers of truth. You and your colleagues have transformed American journalism into an entertainment industry. Try functioning as a Fourth Estate within the context of a democracy. Other journalists in other democratic countries have tried this solution and found personal success and public respect. I hate to bust your bubble, Nick, but giving a louder voice to "red state evangelicals" won't enhance your credibility. They’re already plenty loud and they’ve got tax-free, non-profit, money-making public pulpits to preach hate for you, your faith, your family and your country. Instead of reaching out, call those people by their true identity: persistently whining, loony-assed religious fundamentalists who comprise less than 20 percent of America but control the Republican Party agenda in our one-Party state. These fundamentalists hate the United States Constitution because that Constitution lawfully restricts their intentions to use the Federal government to persecute other beliefs and establish their vision of a "moral" America. Have the stones to call out James Dobson, Nick. Tell Donald Rumsfled he is an incompetent SECDEF. Tell Dick Cheney he’s corrupt. Call George W. Bush a liar on the front page of the New York Times. Nick, until you function as a Fourth Estate, until you write as a journalist and defend your profession against the Limbaughs, Hannity’s, O’Reillys, and Scarborough’s, you’re simply a cheap titty-dancer kicking your legs in the air for wealthy drunks on the Kaiserstrasse in Frankfurt. YD


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