War News for Saturday, April 30, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Fifty Iraqis killed, 114 wounded in 17 bomb attacks across Iraq
Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed by car bomb near Diyara
Bring ‘em on: Four US soldiers killed, two wounded by roadside bomb near Tal Afar
Bring ‘em on: Seven US soldiers wounded in multiple attacks in the Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed, 10 wounded in car bomb attack on US/Iraqi patrol in Baghdad
Bring ‘em on: US convoy attacked by car bomb in western Baghdad
Four US soldiers injured in vehicle accident near Abu Ghraib
Copping a plea
. “Pfc. Lynndie R. England, the woman seen holding an Iraqi prisoner on a leash in the iconic photo from the Abu Ghraib prison, will plead guilty to seven charges stemming from abuse of prisoners there, her attorney said yesterday. With a general court-martial scheduled to begin Monday at Fort Hood, Tex., England agreed to a plea agreement yesterday, Rick Hernandez said. The deal will reduce the maximum sentence she faces to 11 years in prison. On Monday, he said, England will make a personal appeal to a military jury for a lighter sentence.”
Copping a promotion
. “Wojdakowski recently was named acting deputy commander of U.S. Army Europe, filling in for Lt. Gen. William Ward, the State Department's designated monitor of Israel-Palestinian peace efforts. Wojdakowski is one of five senior Army officers who have faced criticism for leadership lapses in connection with Abu Ghraib. However, the Army said last week that after thoroughly reviewing all the circumstances it could substantiate allegations against only one of the five officers _ Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who has been given a letter of reprimand.”
. "The government's poor management of private contractors is partially responsible for last year's Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a study released Friday by the investigative agency of Congress found. The report came after U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., sent a letter nearly a year ago to the Government Accountability Office, which audits the federal government, requesting that it investigate the Department of Defense's use of private contractors in Iraq. The letter, signed by more than 100 other congressmen, cited the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in which contractors allegedly participated as justification for a deeper examination of private companies' roles in war-related work. ‘They have confirmed our concerns,’ Price said. ‘There is confusion about the tasks assigned to contractors, a lack of oversight to ensure their safety, question as to their chain of command and inadequate information on their cost and effectiveness.’”
Taxpayer funded professional sports training
. “A new policy is poised to go in place that could change the face of West Point athletics, allowing Army athletes in any sport who sign a pro contract to serve two years active duty and six in the reserves upon graduation. The proposal is expected to be approved by Army officials within weeks. Former Army baseball/football player Josh Holden, an outfield prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, would be the first West Point graduate granted his release. He should finish his active duty on May 31. Reds assistant director of player personnel Grant Griesser expects Holden to report that day to Cincinnati's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla. Holden used leave time to attend a portion of spring training. ‘I've got most of the paperwork and it's signed by (Secretary of the Army) Francis J. Harvey,’ Griesser said. ‘It's a brand new policy. Josh has a dream of making it to the big leagues and we hope he gets to live it.’” Who needs an officer corps when military academies can devote their resources to training professional football players? Pat Tillman would be so proud of this policy
. “Nationally, African-Americans dropped from 23.5 percent of active Army recruits in 2000 to 15.9 percent in 2004. Female recruits dropped from 22.1 percent to 19.2 percent during the same period, Smith said. In February, the Army was 6 percent below the year-to-date recruiting target, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, spokesman for the Army Office of the Chief of Personnel.”
Guardsman sounds off
. “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 recently had 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 re-election 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.”
. “Italy asked its state prosecutors on Saturday to step up their probe into the killing of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq after the two allies failed to reach agreement in a joint investigation. The dispute over the killing of intelligence officer Nicola Calipari in Baghdad on March 4 has strained ties between the two countries and prompted fresh criticism of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's staunch support for the war in Iraq.”
Makes me want to puke
. “At a ceremony on a Pentagon parade ground that overlooks the Potomac River, Wolfowitz reviewed a military honor guard and was presented with a Defense Department medal for distinguished public service which cited him as an ‘internationally recognized voice for freedom.’ Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld praised his top deputy for intellectual firepower and perseverance, noting that he was a leading force in Rumsfeld's drive to modernize the military. ‘The threatened, the oppressed and the persecuted around the world must know in their hearts that they had a friend in Paul Wolfowitz,’ Rumsfeld said. ‘You are one of those rare people who, as the Talmud puts it, would rather light candles than curse the darkness.’”
: “The last refuge of those who continue to insist that Saddam Hussein must have had weapons of mass destruction was virtually eliminated by the chief weapons inspector this week. Not willing to accept the unpalatable truth that the search for W.M.D. in Iraq had come up empty, die-hard supporters of the war had clung to the possibility that Mr. Hussein might have shipped his weapons off to Syria to avoid their capture. Never mind that American military leaders said that he could not have pulled that off during the war, when his regime was collapsing too fast to salvage much of anything, and that reconnaissance craft had seen no major arms shipments at the borders. Perhaps the wily dictator had spirited off the weapons before the war began.”
: “If high-ranking military officers have escaped legal censure, so has the civilian leadership at the Pentagon and elsewhere in the Bush administration. In fact, some officials who either knew of the abuse or should have known about it have been retained or promoted. There was a time in this country's history when officials were fired or demoted when they were caught up in scandal. There also was a time when soldiers were called on to protect those in their charge. No less than Gen. Douglas MacArthur admonished his subordinates in 1946: ‘The soldier, be he friend or foe, is charged with the protection of the weak and unarmed. It is the very essence and reason for his being.’ Today, thousands of men and women in uniform share this noble commitment. It is they, among others, who have been repudiated and insulted by this wretched and dishonorable whitewash.”
: “The Iraqis have thrown us another curveball. Ahmad Chalabi - convicted embezzler in Jordan, suspected Iranian spy, double-crosser of America, purveyor of phony war-instigating intelligence - is the new acting Iraqi oil minister. Is that why we went to war, to put the oily in charge of the oil, to set the swindler who pretended to be Spartacus atop the ultimate gusher? Does anybody still think the path to war wasn't greased by oil?”
Lt. Col. Ross Brown, Thunder Squadron commander _ a man I greatly admired for his openness, honesty and deep, abiding concern for the men serving under him _ said it first over dinner one evening.
"You know what gets me," he said, engaging me eye-to-eye, as he is prone to do, "is very few people back home even know we are at war."
It first struck him, he said, in his everyday experiences as he prepared to head to Iraq. He'd go to, say, the supermarket and forget for a moment that America was at war. Only when a soldier dies, he said, does a headline appear.
I figured this was, well, just soldier-talk. And then Tuesday morning, I went to the Internet pages of the newspapers I read every morning: The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and both local newspapers.
Not a single story on the Iraq war made the front page of any of them. Amazing.
I realize now, what I hadn't before, why I keep volunteering in my job to go to Iraq.
I have wanted to understand, firsthand, since that first bomb intended for Saddam Hussein went off more than two years ago, why we truly are there.
I also wanted to understand, up close and personal, the sacrifice so many Americans charged with prosecuting this war are making, why so many are so willingly giving up their lives and body parts.
And here is the thing: The reason America invaded Iraq changes like the leaves of trees in fall. We are first told of weapons of mass destruction and imminent danger to the homeland. Somewhere down the line comes this fostering the spread of democracy and freedom in the Middle East.
What is immutable has been the considerable cost of it all in American blood and treasure.
: “Some call it tribal revenge, others have dubbed it ethnic cleansing, but with dozens of Iraqis killed every day in attacks on homes, mosques and in the street, some officials are starting to utter the ultimate taboo in Iraq’s multi-ethnic politics: civil war. ‘The war is not between the Iraqis and the Americans. It is between the Shia and the Sunni,’ Colonel Salem Zajay, a police commander from one of the frontline districts in southern Baghdad, said — on a day when at least 24 people were killed in a string of car bombs in the capital.”
Local story: Iowa
soldier killed in Iraq.
Local story: California
soldier wounded in Iraq. (Scroll down to the end of this story.)
Local story: Iowa
Marine wounded in Iraq.