Tuesday, May 10, 2005
War News for Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians found shot to death outside their vehicle in western
Bring ‘em on: Japanese national apparently kidnapped by militant group in western
Bring ‘em on: Deadline set by militants for the execution of an Australian hostage has passed with no word of his fate.
Bring ‘em on: At least four car bombs exploded in
Bring ‘em on: Six Shiite men kidnapped and killed south of
Bring ‘em on: Seven people killed and at least 16 wounded, including three
Bring ‘em on: At least nine people killed and 30 wounded in car bombing aimed at two US Humvees on Baghdad’s Sadoun Street.
Another record: Total
All three were killed by roadside bombs, the
According to news reports compiled by Pat Kniesler of the Web site iCasualties.org, more than 2,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and guardsmen have been killed since U.S.-led troops began working with Iraqis to build a security force under the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003.
The number of Iraqi civilians killed in the war remains unclear. Data compiled by the Web site iraqbodycount.org suggests that between 21,000 and 25,000 civilians have been confirmed killed.
Operation Matador: American troops have killed about 100 insurgents in the first 48 hours of a large-scale offensive against the hideouts of foreign militants and arms smuggling routes in a remote border area of western
The operation involved marines, sailors (!? just medics or what?) and soldiers backed by US air support. A US military spokesman told the Associated Press the operation began overnight on Saturday in the town of Qaim, near the border with Syria about 200 miles west of Baghdad. At least three marines had also been killed.
A correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, embedded with US forces in the area, reported that more than 1,000 US soldiers supported by jet fighters and helicopter gunships had swept through villages on the edge of the city of Obeidi, near the Syrian border, on Sunday.
The announcement of the offensive came as US forces and Iraqi authorities tried to wrest the propaganda initiative from insurgents who have unleashed a wave of attacks in Iraqi cities in an attempt to destabilise the government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, which took office last month.
Not so easy: The Marines who swept into the Euphrates River town of Ubaydi confronted an enemy they had not expected to find — and one that attacked in surprising ways.
As they pushed from house to house in early fighting, trying to flush out the insurgents who had attacked their column with mortar fire, they ran into sandbagged emplacements behind garden walls. They found a house where insurgents were crouching in the basement, firing upwards through slits hacked at ankle height in the ground-floor walls, aiming at spots that the Marines’ body armor did not cover.
The shock was that the enemy was not supposed to be in this town at all. Instead, American intelligence indicated that the insurgency had massed on the other side of the river. Marine commanders expressed surprise Monday not only at the insurgents’ presence but also the extent of their preparations, as if they had expected the Marines to come.
Still no government!: More than 300 people, including American forces, have been killed in a torrent of attacks since
Parliament approved all six of the nominees placed before it Sunday by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
The position of human rights minister was rejected by its nominee, but once it is filled, only one vice premiership will remain open. Al-Jaafari said he hopes to name a woman to that job, filling out a Cabinet after more than three months of political wrangling since the country's landmark democratic elections.
Less than half of parliament — 112 of the 115 lawmakers present — approved al-Jaafari's nominations. The poor showing underscored the persistent ethnic and religious tensions that have hampered the new government.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari had announced the cabinet was complete after months of bickering to agree the balance of power between competing sectarian and ethnic blocs, and vowed to crack down on an escalating insurgency.
But proposed human rights minister Hisham al-Shibli told Reuters he had been picked purely to placate
"This post was given to me without anyone consulting me. I was surprised when they nominated me. It was just because I am a Sunni," he said. "This is something I reject completely. I am a democratic figure ... and I am completely against sectarianism."
Hot footing it: Former Iraqi ministers are fleeing the country because of reports that the new administration may prevent them going abroad while accusations of corruption are being investigated.
The incoming government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who completed his cabinet yesterday, has pledged to fight pervasive corruption among officials. The outgoing administration of Iyad Allawi was regarded as highly corrupt by Iraqis.
Officials say that some former ministers have left
Speaking of corrupt frauds: Ahmad Chalabi,
Mr Chalabi, 60, is said to be expecting a ruling from the Jordanian government that will quash his sentence of 22 years' hard labour, passed in absentia after the collapse of Petra Bank in 1989.
Such a ruling would restore the political reputation of Mr Chalabi, an exile from Saddam Hussein's regime who was instrumental in persuading
His political stock in the
Accusations of corruption, kidnapping and spying for
This could get ugly: Several members of a Sunni Arab political bloc that had participated in negotiations over a new Iraqi government were carted off during the ransacking of its headquarters early yesterday morning.
Neither Iraqi nor
Members of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council spent yesterday investigating overnight raids of a member's home and the group's headquarters at a religious school in
The Dialogue group was involved in negotiations with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to garner cabinet posts for Sunni Arabs. However, the council withdrew from talks after Jaafari's advisers rejected several of its candidates because of their alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
So could this: The death of a Shiite Muslim student activist last week has convulsed
"Anyone who benefited from the Saddam regime is a criminal and deserves what they get," said Haidar Mahdi, a 21-year-old pharmacy student who described the unrest as a "student revolution against the Baath." "The college was like a room full of gas, and Masar's death was the spark that ignited it," he said. Classes at the university's Bab Muadham campus resumed Sunday for the first time in five days. But many professors have stayed away, fearing the wrath of the activist, Islamist student union, which some faculty members say is on a witch hunt.
So not funny you have to laugh: The CIA has so far refused to hand over control of Iraq’s intelligence service to the newly elected Iraqi government in a turf war that exposes serious doubts the Bush administration has over the ability of Iraqi leaders to fight the insurgency and worries about the new government’s close ties to Iran.
The director of
Iraqi leaders complain that the arrangement violates their sovereignty, freezes them out of the war on insurgents and could lead to the formation of a rival, Iraqi-led spy agency. American officials counter that the new leaders’ connections to
Wow. You really need to go back and re-read those three paragraphs a couple times to get the full impact.
Remember the current party line - we never invaded
And now we don’t trust that government to run its own intelligence functions because they might give secrets away to
And the Iraqis are threatening to start a rival intelligence organization. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Words fail. The ineptitude is beyond description.
Irrelevant milestones: Don't ask
Good luck finding someone in the administration to make that guess.
Nothing is going the way it was supposed to. Almost as soon as the formation of a new Iraqi government was announced on April 28, suicide bombings began again. By the end of last week, the death toll since then had passed 270. "The elections were held up as a milestone," says Tom Donnelly, a military expert at the think tank most closely aligned with the administration, the American Enterprise Institute. "And politically they were. But as regards the insurgency, they're evidently not particularly relevant at all." Nevertheless, other analysts argue that the surge of attacks reflects a growing sense of desperation among the insurgents.
Recall after the story comes out. Sweet.: The Marine Corps issued to nearly 10,000 troops body armor that military ballistic experts had urged the Marines to reject after tests revealed life-threatening flaws in the vests, an eight-month investigation by Marine Corps Times has found.
In all, the Marines bought about 19,000 Interceptor outer tactical vests from Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Point Blank Body Armor. According to a government memo, the vests failed tests because of "multiple complete penetrations" of 9mm pistol rounds and other ballistics or quality-assurance tests.
After being questioned about the safety flaws for this story, the Marines ordered the recall of 5,277 Interceptor vests on Wednesday. Many of the vests were issued to Marines in
Maybe America’s youth aren’t as dumb as they look: The Army missed its goals for signing up recruits in April and expects to do so again in May, and the Marines also fell short, officials said today, as the Iraq war further strained the all-volunteer U.S. military.
The active-duty Army missed its April recruiting goal and was 15 percent behind its year-to-date target, officials said. An internal forecast indicated the active-duty Army and part-time Army Reserve and Army National Guard also will miss their May goals.
The active-duty Army, striving to attract 80,000 recruits in the 2005 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, has now missed its recruiting targets for three straight months.
The Marines also missed their goal for signing up new recruits in April for the fourth straight month, said Marine Corps Recruiting Command spokesman Maj. David Griesmer. He said 2,711 recruits signed contracts in April to begin serving within a year, but the Marines now trailed their year-to-date goal by 2 percent.
Good comment on this article here.
Whew! That’s a relief! Now we can get back to American Idol: The United States said in a report on Friday it was abiding by global anti-torture rules and any abuses of detainees in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were not systemic but critics charged the report was a whitewash.
"When allegations of torture or other unlawful treatment arise, they are investigated, and if substantiated, prosecuted," it said.
Jumana Musa, an advocacy director for the human rights group Amnesty International, said the report "denied or minimalized allegations against the
"We've seen examples of short punishments or administrative punishment for what amount to serious war crimes," she said.
"This is an exculpatory document that hardly represents coming clean," said John Sifton, a military affairs and counter-intelligence researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Winners and Losers
Some are getting hurt by this whole endless war bit: The US is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting the US because of a tarnished image overseas and more bureaucratic visa policies, travel industry leaders have warned.
“It's an economic imperative to address these problems,” said Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, tourism's main trade body, which concluded its annual convention this weekend in New York.
Mr Dow stressed that tourism contributed to a positive perception of the
Others are doing ok: On the second anniversary of the invasion of
For the year 2004, Bechtel brought in more than $17.4 billion, a record haul for the company. That makes two record years in a row. Last year Bechtel earned more than $17 billion for the first time. Both peaks were all the more impressive given the senescent condition of the economy.
Much of that robust income stream is coming from its operations in
Really ok: As Americans struggle at the pump, oil companies are raking in record profits and giving their executives fat raises. According to the Wall Street Journal, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch/Shell Group "both reported huge increases in first-quarter income, benefiting from the industry wide bonanza also swelling the coffers of their peers: high prices for the oil they pump and high margins for refining it." Of course, those profits do have their drawbacks: Exxon's "soon-to-retire CEO suddenly has a new anxiety: how to spend the windfall wrought by $55-a-barrel oil," Fortune Magazine reports. "If oil simply stays where it is now, Exxon's cash could approach $40 billion in 12 months. By then [Exxon's CEO] is expected to have handed off the top job – and the headache of what to do with all that cash." And the recent Wall Street Journal compensation survey found that oil and gas executives' total direct compensation (2004) averaged about $16.5 million (median). The median percent change from 2003 to 2004 was 109.1 percent, by far the highest of the industries profiled.
The doomsday scenario, dubbed by the National Security Agency, Petroleum Scorched Earth (PSE), would give the Saudis the ability to fend off attacks by threatening to blow up the prized oil facilities and oil supplies which the attackers presumably would want to get their hands on. In the event an attack was carried out, the Saudis would be able to guarantee that little of value fell into the hands of their enemies. The Saudis reportedly were worried about attacks from both
Yet another critical victory. Yay team.: The capture of a supposed Al-Qaeda kingpin by Pakistani agents last week was hailed by President George W Bush as “a critical victory in the war on terror”. According to European intelligence experts, however, Abu Faraj al-Libbi was not the terrorists’ third in command, as claimed, but a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organisation.
Al-Libbi’s arrest in
Bush called him a “top general” and “a major facilitator and chief planner for the Al- Qaeda network”. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, said he was “a very important figure”. Yet the backslapping in
I’ll Bet The Saudis Loved It Too
How stupid do you have to be?: Pakistani officials say they are "deeply dismayed" over reports that the Koran was desecrated at the
The latest edition of the American Newsweek magazine said such tactics were used to rattle suspects.
It says that US personnel on one occasion flushed a copy of Islam's most holy book "down the toilet".
Insulting the Koran and Islam's Prophet Mohammed is regarded as blasphemy and punishable by death in
Maybe it was General Boykin’s idea. His god is bigger: Thousands of Afghans took to the streets Tuesday, May 10, to protest against US interrogators in the notorious
Holding up an effigy of US President George W. Bush and shouting “Death to Bush”, the protestors called for bringing to justice the perpetrators of such a grisly act, Reuters reported Tuesday.
“Americans should apologize for this,” one student at the protest in Jalalabad city, about 130 km east of the Afghan capital,
“Whoever has done this should be brought to justice and the Afghan government should condemn it.”
Untidy: The Blogs on Rumsfeld Selected and with an introductory essay by Tom Sumner
This collection of critical commentary examines Rumsfeld’s oversight of the
Taken as a whole, these blog posts tell a lively and informative story of one of the most powerful men in the country.
This can’t be a perfect collection because our own Yankeedoodle is conspicuous by his absence on the blogroll on the front cover – still, it looks like good stuff and it’s great to see our fellow bloggers getting more of the attention they deserve. Let’s hope this is the first of many such collections.
Editorial: In March, the Pentagon conceded that it was investigating 25 other inmate deaths it has classified as homicides in American custody in
Yet that's the upshot of 11 investigations and reports of what went wrong. Some of the reports judged the Pentagon severely and called for corrective action and punishments. But it was up to the Army to act, because President Bush refused to give anyone else authority to do more than advise.
So the Army judged (and protected) its own. The Army has cleared four of the top five officers overseeing prisons in
That's it. That's where
Interview: The voices of veterans who have served in
Zeese: What did you see in
Resta: Pretty much everything I saw in
Comment: Americans seem incapable of grasping our enemies' concept of time. We are an impatient people; they are not. We want results fast; they please Allah by simply carrying on the struggle, leaving results in his hands. To Americans, "oldies" are ten years old; Osama bin Laden muses about the loss of
In his new book, The Fourth Power, which argues that
"The war in
Patient indeed, as you can be when you have, literally, all the time in the world.
It could be years before a suitcase nuke goes off in an American city. It may be several decades before
We need to wake up as individuals and as a community of journalists and start asking the hard and scary questions. Questions we may not really want to know the answers to about ourselves, about our government, about what is being done in our name, and hold the responsible individuals accountable through due process in our legal or electoral system.
Beautiful, important column. Strongly recommended.
Comment: When Bob Woodward asked President Bush if he had consulted with his father about the decision to go to war in
It might have been better if Mr. Bush had stayed in closer touch with his earthly father. From the very beginning the war in Iraq has been an exercise in extreme madness, an absurd venture that would have been rich in comic possibilities except for the fact that many thousands of men, women and children have died, and tens of thousands have been crippled, burned or otherwise maimed.
If President Bush had consulted with his father before launching this clownish, disastrous war, he might have gotten some advice that would have pointed him in a different direction and spared his country - and the families of the many thousands dead - a lot of grief.