War News for Monday, May 16, 2005
Bring 'em on: Thirty four bodies found in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two drivers taken hostage in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi journalists and their driver killed in ambush in Mahmudiya
Bring 'em on: Two civilians killed in bomb attack on Iraqi convoy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi troops killed by mortar attack in Khan Bani Saad
Bring 'em on: Three civilians injured in mortar attack in Baqubah
Bring 'em on: Iraqi policeman and his wife gunned down in Aalgaya
Bring 'em on: Four gunmen killed in failed assassination attempt on Iraqi army general in Baghdad
Sir John Scarlett, head of MI6, has been accused of trying 'to sex up' a report by the Iraq Survey Group, the body charged with finding weapons of mass destruction after Saddam Hussein was toppled.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Rod Barton, a former senior weapons inspector in Iraq, has revealed extraordinary details of how Scarlett and a top Ministry of Defence official intervened in a report by the ISG early last year.
Barton, who has worked for Australian intelligence for more than 20 years, was a special adviser to the ISG in 2004 as it prepared to report that they had found no WMD or any programmes to build them. Such a report would have been politically damaging in London in the aftermath of the David Kelly affair.
Speaking from Canberra, Barton describes how in January last year he received a visit in Baghdad from Martin Howard, deputy chief of defence intelligence at the MoD. Howard had been criticised for helping to 'out' Kelly as the source of Andrew Gilligan's BBC story alleging Downing Street had 'sexed up' the September dossier on Iraq's WMD.
Barton alleges Howard 'spelt out' that Britain's preferred option was that a proposed 200-page ISG interim report should not be published at that stage. Barton claims the CIA overruled their UK counterparts. He alleges that after this Scarlett, then chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, tried to get 'nuggets' placed into a shorter report to imply that Saddam did have a WMD programme.
According to Barton, these were based on old evidence that had been investigated and shown to be false. It is understood to include suggestions that Saddam was developing a smallpox weapon and using research to create a nuclear programme.
Barton added: 'The US has finally come to terms with the fact they got it dead wrong. The UK is lagging far behind. They still haven't come to terms with it.'
Rice the Revisionist (or liar?) "This war came to us, not the other way around."
Appearing Sunday in one of Saddam's former palaces, Rice received loud cheers and applause from U.S. troops and diplomats.
"I want you to keep focused on what you are doing here," Rice told them.
Although the U.S. decision to launch the war in 2003 was condemned in many nations and the original justification -- Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction -- turned out to be based on flawed intelligence, Rice said, "This war came to us, no the other way around."
Referring to the attacks of September 11, 2001, Rice said, "The absence of freedom in the Middle East -- the freedom deficit -- is what produced the ideology of hatred that allowed them to fly airplanes into a building on a fine September day."
The old policies of the United States and "the rest of the free world" allowed "ideologies of hatred" to fester, she said.
What about the new policies Condi? e.g. Flushing Korans down toilets.
As the death toll of troops mounts in Iraq and Afghanistan, America's military recruiting figures have plummeted to an all-time low. Thousands of US servicemen and women are now refusing to serve their country. Sergeant Kevin Benderman cannot shake the images from his head. There are bombed villages and desperate people. There are dogs eating corpses thrown into a mass grave. And most unremitting of all, there is the image of a young Iraqi girl, no more than eight or nine, one arm severely burnt and blistered, and the sound of her screams.
Commentary: "The battlefield is a great place for liars"
Iraq is a bloody no man's land. America has failed to win the war. But has it lost it?
And in Afghanistan, the Taliban rises again for fighting season
"The battlefield is a great place for liars," Stonewall Jackson once said on viewing the aftermath of a battle in the American civil war.
The great general meant that the confusion of battle is such that anybody can claim anything during a war and hope to get away with it. But even by the standards of other conflicts, Iraq has been particularly fertile in lies. Going by the claims of President George Bush, the war should long be over since his infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on 1 May 2003. In fact most of the 1,600 US dead and 12,000 wounded have become casualties in the following two years.
The ferocious resistance encountered last week by the 1,000-strong US marine task force trying to fight its way into villages around the towns of Qaim and Obeidi in western Iraq shows that the war is far from over. So far nine marines have been killed in the week-long campaign, while another US soldier was killed and four wounded in central Iraq on Friday. Meanwhile, a car bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in central Baghdad yesterday, killing at least five Iraqis and injuring 12.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the leader of one of the Kurdish parties, confidently told a meeting in Brasilia last week that there is war in only three or four out of 18 Iraqi provinces. Back in Baghdad Mr Talabani, an experienced guerrilla leader, has deployed no fewer than 3,000 Kurdish soldiers or peshmerga around his residence in case of attack. One visitor was amused to hear the newly elected President interrupt his own relentlessly upbeat account of government achievements to snap orders to his aides on the correct positioning of troops and heavy weapons around his house.
Could it be that we've misclassified the insurgency in Iraq--that it's an invertebrate, able to absorb bone-crushing blows because it has no bones to crush? It seems to be more like a dandelion, which, when smashed, only spreads more seeds. Seven months after U.S. forces leveled the enemy stronghold, the insurgents are causing as much trouble as ever. The lull in violence that followed the January elections was taken to mean the rebels were in disarray. If so, they've regrouped, and Iraq has reverted to chaos. Nearly twice as many Iraqi security personnel died in attacks in March as in January. April was almost as bad. May looks worse still.
The last couple of weeks have been among the bloodiest since the U.S. invasion, with more than 420 people killed. The insurgents have been mounting an average of 70 attacks a day, compared to 30 or 40 in March.
Fallujah was supposed to make a difference, and so is the recent U.S. offensive in western Iraq. But someone forgot to tell the insurgents. American commanders were surprised at the strength and sophistication of the resistance in this latest campaign.
But this war has been full of surprises, none of them pleasant. In April, even before the latest expansion of violence, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency testified, "The insurgency has grown in size and complexity over the last year." Grown in size? We are spawning terrorists faster than we can kill them.
This offensive may illustrate why. On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that residents of Qaim were angry at American forces for hitting the town with air strikes and artillery. "They destroyed our city, killed our children, destroyed our houses," one man said.
The insurgents, said New York University law professor Noah Feldman, a former official of the U.S. occupation authority in Iraq, "are getting stronger every passing day." Contrary to assumptions in this country, he told Newsday, "there is no evidence whatsoever that they cannot win."
Opinion Poll: Nearly two-thirds say Iraq now not worth it
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