Friday, May 06, 2005

War News for Friday, May 6, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Seven Iraqi policemen killed, 15 wounded by car bomb in Tikrit. Bring ‘em on: Thirteen Iraqis killed, 15 wounded by bomber at Iraqi recruiting center in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi commandos killed, five wounded by car bomb in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Ten Iraqi policemen killed in two Baghdad ambushes. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier and six Iraqis killed by car bomb at Baghdad’s Green Zone. Bring ‘em on: Turkish truck driver killed in ambush near Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline ablaze near Balad. Bring ‘em on: Insurgents execute fourteen Iraqis in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Mortar attack on joint US/Iraqi checkpoint near Fallujah. 250 Iraqis killed in the last week. Two Bulgarian soldiers killed in vehicle accident in Iraq. Baghdad ambush. “Burnt wreckage on the road marks the place in south Baghdad where insurgents poured fuel over a bullet-riddled police car with the driver dead or badly wounded still at the wheel and set it on fire. The attack took place yesterday at about 6am in the al-Shebab district of the capital as police in their blue-and-white patrol cars were setting up a checkpoint. By the time the shooting had ended, a further nine policemen had been killed, adding to the total of 616 killed so far this year. Another two policemen were wounded. The battle is typical of the fighting between insurgents and Iraqi security forces raging across Iraq every day but it is sparsely reported even when many are killed.” Bulgarian parliament votes to withdraw troops from Iraq. Bremer’s legacy. “Rapid turnover and a shortage of experienced U.S. staff in Iraq managing billions of dollars of contracts is wreaking havoc on a rebuilding plan already slowed down by violence. Companies working in Iraq, auditors and the U.S. government office running the $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding program all say contracting staff shortages in Baghdad are a problem as overworked employees struggle to oversee and award contracts in a stressful, hostile environment. ‘The big elephant in the room is we don’t have enough procurement staff (in Iraq),’ said Professor Steven Schooner, a procurement specialist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.” Cleared and busted. “Karpinski's rank was reduced to colonel, and she was issued a reprimand and relieved of her command. But the Army's inspector general recommended the sanctions based on a broad charge of dereliction of duty, as well as on a charge of shoplifting, essentially clearing her of responsibility for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. As commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Karpinski oversaw more than a dozen prison facilities in Iraq in 2003. ‘Though Brig. Gen. Karpinski's performance of duty was found to be seriously lacking, the investigation determined that no action or lack of action on her part contributed specifically to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib,’ according to an Army news release. Instead, Army sources said, Karpinski was punished for leadership lapses and for failing to properly train and prepare her brigade in Iraq.” Rogue battalion. “A battalion of Iraq's elite commando troops was pulled out of the rebel bastion of Samarra last month after repeated incidents of looting, culminating in the torching of a home, several US officers said Thursday. The battalion, headed by a colonel named Jalil, was widely perceived as running amok, officers said. US soldiers regularly referred to the commandos as "thieves" and said there were several incidents where Jalil's men looted homes. In an incident in the second week of March that sealed the unit's fate, the commandos searched a home near Samarra, found no incriminating evidence and then set it on fire, officers said on condition of anonymity.” Abu Ghraib. “Kenneth Allard said he is certain the abuses by US military personnel at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay are linked. ‘I think it's pretty clear that they're playing by the same playbook. I don't think there's any question about that whatsoever.’ Allard, who spoke with RFE/RL from Daphne, in the US state of Alabama, is a retired US Army colonel and former intelligence officer. He said that while the world first learned about the trouble at Abu Ghraib, and only later about Guantanamo, he believes it was the guards in Iraq who copied the methods of the jailers in Cuba.” May is Warblogger Appreciation Month. Commentary Editorial: “The abuse at Abu Ghraib, despite some attempts to dismiss it as akin to fraternity pranks, was serious on several levels. The first is that military discipline could be so loose and U.S. soldiers could do such things. Second, however, whether it was logical or not, the revelation of those abuses probably did more to discredit U.S. policy in Iraq among more people on a deep emotional level than all the anti-war activities at home and abroad and even the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. For most people, for better or worse, images, especially squalid images, are more powerful than words or logic. The guilty pleas and sentencing of England and other Abu Ghraib guards should also raise questions about policy and responsibility at higher levels of government. Are these enlisted personnel scapegoats? Should more be made of the fact that government lawyers, well before Abu Ghraib, busied themselves with memos and legal opinions that crept right to the edge of justifying torture?” Editorial:
Pohl's logic for invalidating England's guilty plea and declaring a mistrial is simple but profound. "Guilt," in the strictest military context, would mean England and others knowingly defied explicit orders from their superiors. But England's testimony makes it plain she was doing exactly as instructed. Humiliating prisoners sexually, using attack dogs to frighten them and forcing them to maintain "stress positions" for prolonged periods were not mere frat pranks dreamed up by insubordinate soldiers, as the Pentagon and administration officials have claimed. There is ample evidence strongly suggesting that such tactics were part of an organized campaign that can be traced directly up the military to the chain of command — and beyond. So far that trail of evidence has not been followed. While Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told Congress that he accepted full responsibility for what happened at Abu Ghraib, in reality separate probes into the case conducted at the Pentagon's behest have predictably absolved top brass of any culpability. That's why Congress has a constitutional, and yes, moral obligation to look deeper
. Editorial: “President Bush's unquestioning followers have been inundated with slogans—No Child Left Behind, Culture of Life, Mission Accomplished, Ownership Society and other such snake oil jingoisms. One needs to be updated to read, ‘Support the Troops, Excuse the Brass.’ A new investigative report shows that the Pentagon engineered another outrageous assault on the public trust.” Editorial: “Perhaps more important, the dissolving trial could hint that the responsibility for prisoner treatment, including the use of the leash and taking photos of the treatment, were not solely the demented antics of a small group of rogue soldiers. There have been suggestions from the scandal's beginning that humiliation of prisoners was ordered as part of a "softening-up" process prior to interrogation.” Opinion: “Sgrena believes she was the victim of a Pentagon hit because she was trying to establish what really happened in the offensive against Fallujah in November, 2004. This may be very difficult to prove. But the worldwide perception of Pentagon unaccountability remains strong. The Pentagon is unaccountable for the death of Calipari and the wounding of Sgrena, unaccountable for the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, unaccountable for obliterating a whole city and turning its residents into refugees, unaccountable for Abu Ghraib. It will take more than a cut and paste job for the whole truth to emerge.” Opinion:
The only time I recall a senior administration official saying, "I am accountable; I take full responsibility," was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, at Senate hearings a year ago on the Abu Ghraib scandal. So let's look at what Rumsfeld's use of "accountable" meant. Back then, the world got a glimpse of the hideous photos of Iraqi prisoners hooded, naked, piled in a pyramid, led around on a leash. These revolting images blackened America's reputation in Arab countries, where the Bush administration wants to promote democracy. They became a recruiting poster for Islamic radicals; I saw them painted on a wall last spring in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City, where Shiite radicals used them to gin up attacks on U.S. forces. After a year of various investigations, a high-level Army probe has now issued the final word on who was responsible. It was (almost) all the grunts' fault
. Opinion: “Here it is. The smoking gun. The memo that has ‘IMPEACH HIM’ written all over it. The top-level government memo marked ‘SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL,’ dated eight months before Bush sent us into Iraq, following a closed meeting with the President, reads, ‘Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.’ Read that again: ‘The intelligence and facts were being fixed....’” Analysis: “The new Iraqi cabinet sworn in Monday remains incomplete, with several key ministerial positions - including those for oil and defense - yet to be filled. The partly formed cabinet reflects one of Iraq's most persistent problems: how to bring in representatives from the minority Sunni community. The community dominated Iraq under former leader Saddam Hussein, but mostly boycotted the January election of the new National Assembly. The Shi'ite coalition that won most seats in the election is willing to give several key posts to Sunnis, including the crucial Defense Ministry. But negotiators so far have failed to agree on who should have the post.” Casualty Reports Local story: Missouri soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: California soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Michigan soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Minnesota Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: New Jersey Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: California soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Michigan soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Georgia soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Colorado soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: California soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Arizona soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: New York soldier wounded in Iraq.


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