Tuesday, June 14, 2005

War News for Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bring ‘em on: At least 22 people killed and 80 wounded in suicide bomb attack in Kirkuk. At least five policemen killed and five wounded in suicide car bomb attack on a police station in Kanaan.

Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers killed in roadside bombing near Ramadi. Eleven employees of American-Iraqi Solutions Group killed Sunday when one of its five-vehicle supply convoys was ambushed east of Ramadi by up to 20 heavily armed gunmen firing from an overpass. Seven badly decomposed bodies, including one Iraqi and six believed to be "Asians," were brought to Yarmouk hospital after being killed in a convoy ambush several days ago. Most had been shot in the face.

Bring ‘em on: Bodies of 17 Iraqi civilians, believed to be people who worked for foreign contractors, found in a desert in Habbaniya in Anbar province. Last Friday at least 17 bodies in civilian clothes were found outside of Qaim. In addition, three bodies were found Sunday under a bridge in northwest Baghdad, three bodies were found Sunday in southeast Baghdad's al-Baladiyat neighborhood , and another three men were found last Saturday shot to death in Baghdad’s Dora district. It is difficult to tell whether any of these discoveries are the same as some previously reported in earlier posts but my impression is that they aren’t.

Bring ‘em on: Ten Iraqis, including two children, killed and seven wounded in a car bomb attack north of Baghdad. This may be the same attack as the one in Kanaan mentioned in the first entry above.

Vehicle accident: One US Marine killed and three critically injured in Humvee rollover in Iraq.

Negotiating with terrorists: U.S. and Iraqi officials are considering difficult-to-swallow ideas — including amnesties for their enemies — as they look for ways to end the country's rampant insurgency and isolate extremists wanting to start a civil war.

Negotiations have just begun between U.S. and Iraqi officials on drafting an amnesty policy, which would reach out to Iraqi militants fighting U.S. forces, say officials in both the Iraqi and American governments.

Iraqi Politics

Kurd threats: Kurdish officials have threatened to withdraw from the Iraqi government if it does not amend its political program, an Arab newspaper reported Monday.

The London-based al-Hayat daily quoted Kurdish parliament members as saying they may pull out of the government if Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's unilateral decisions continued.

Sunni threats: Iraq's Shiite-dominated government has been in power less than two months, and minority Sunni Arabs - the dominant force in the nation's relentless and bloody insurgency - are struggling to find a place in the country's future.

But the once-powerful community, at its lowest point since the U.S.-led invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein, refuses to accept second-class status and believes it still has trump cards to play - chief among them: withholding approval of a new constitution in a fall referendum.

Under the provisional law now in force, Sunni Arabs can reject the draft constitution in October by voting against it in three of the four provinces where they have a majority. Such a move would force the dissolution of parliament and new elections held, throwing the entire political process a year behind schedule - as envisioned by Washington.

``If we don't like it in October, we shall vote against it and return the entire political process to point zero,'' said senior Sunni Arab politician and lawmaker Meshaan al-Jiburi.

Saddam: The tribunal that will put Saddam Hussein on trial released a video Monday showing the 68-year-old former dictator — looking drawn and tired but dressed in a pinstriped suit — being questioned about the killings of at least 50 Iraqis in a Shiite town.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal trying Saddam likely issued the new video to show that it is in control of the proceedings and to counter widespread beliefs that it was being directed by Shiites and Kurds who dominate the government and the 275-member National Assembly.

Iraq's Kurdish president and the Shiite-led government said last week that the ousted leader could appear before the tribunal within two months. They later backtracked after complaints from Saddam's legal team and the tribunal, which said no trial date has been set.

Life Under Occupation

TB on the rise: Iraqi doctors say they are concerned over an increase in Tuberculosis (TB) cases in the southeastern city of Amarah, fueled by a shortage of medicine and poor living conditions.

The disease, which has been under control in the area for more than 50 years, has been rising steadily since the conflict in 2003.

A survey on living conditions, released by the UN and the Iraqi government in May, stressed that standards had seriously deteriorated over the past two years with poor access to clean water and adequate healthcare.

Contractors kill 12 Iraqi civilians a week!: Iraq's interior ministry said yesterday it wanted to impose legal boundaries on the private security business after American contractors twice opened fire on US marines.

The move may be supported by the US military, whose patience with the contractors has been tested.

Soldiers have for some time been angered by the salaries earned by the estimated 20,000 armed contractors working in Iraq, many of whom are ex-servicemen.

They are even more unpopular with Iraqis. Interior ministry officials say at least 12 Iraqi civilians are killed by contractors every week in the capital.

"Enough is enough," said an official at the interior ministry. "We are looking at ways to tighten weapons licenses, and to punish the worst cases. The culture of impunity must stop."

Transit point: "There is no drug problem in Iraq," said Abbas Fadhil Mahdi, a former brigadier general in Saddam Hussein's army who is now a psychiatrist at the capital's Ibn Rushud hospital.

Iraqi government officials and a U.N. agency that monitors drug trafficking disagree. Hamid Ghodse, president of the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board, said that since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraq has become a transit point in the flow of hashish and heroin from Iran and Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium poppies, to Persian Gulf countries and Europe.

US Military Affairs

The draft: The United States would "have to face" a painful dilemma on restoring the military draft as rising casualties saw the number of volunteers dry up, a senator warned today.

Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the prediction after new data released by the Pentagon showed the US Army failing to meet its recruitment targets for four straight months.

"We're going to have to face that question," he said on NBC's Meet the Press TV show when asked if it was realistic to expect restoration of the draft.

"The truth of the matter is, it is going to become a subject, if, in fact, there's a 40 per cent shortfall in recruitment. It's just a reality," he said.

The comment came after the Department of Defence announced the army had missed its recruiting goal for May by 1661 recruits, or 25 per cent. Similar losses have been reported by army officials every month since February.

Experts said even that figure was misleading because the army has quietly lowered its May recruitment target from 8050 to 6700 people.

Why is a Democrat bringing this up? This is the result of a Republican president’s decisions approved by a Republican congress. Let them talk about how we need to bring back the draft!

And they can start it with these guys: They are young and bright and ardently right. They tack Ronald Reagan calendars on their cubicle walls and devote brown bag lunches to the free market theories of Friedrich von Hayek. They come from 51 colleges and 28 states, calling for low taxes, strong defense and dorm rooms with a view.

The summer interns of the Heritage Foundation have arrived, forming an elite corps inside the capital's premier conservative research group. The 64 interns are each paid a 10-week stipend of $2,500, and about half are housed in a subsidized dorm at the group's headquarters, complete with a fitness room.

Unusual in its size (and in its walk-in closets), the program, on which Heritage spends $570,000 a year, is both a coveted spot on the young conservative circuit and an example of the care the movement takes to cultivate its young.

Go look at the smug faces of these little shitweasels. Their brothers and sisters are dying in Bush’s war and these pissants’ priorities are to find a job where they don’t have to make coffee. I'll bet every single one of them thinks George Bush is god and not a one of them has the sac to put his ass on the line for his beliefs. These are the leaders of tomorrow? Our nation is doomed.

Like a bad penny: The body counts are back. For the first time since Vietnam, the U.S. military has begun regularly reporting the number of enemy killed in the war zone -- in contradiction, apparently, to prior statements by its own top brass.

"Marines Kill 100 Fighters in Sanctuary Near Syria" was a front page headline in the Washington Post last month. The body count, coming from a Marine spokesman, was carried in other major papers that day. What was striking about the factoid, besides the elegantly even number, was that it showed how the U.S. military has increasingly released body counts in reports depicting successful operations in Iraq -- despite decrees from the highest levels of the Pentagon, throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that "we don't do body counts."

Clark speaks truth: Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Sunday that the Bush administration's foreign policy is undermining the nation's support for its military. Clark, who was a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, said the president's use of the armed forces has hurt recruitment efforts and eroded public support for the military. "We have to make our legislators and president understand we believe in a volunteer force, and we expect him to have the leadership to guide our country in the right way in foreign affairs without wrecking the military institutions that keep us safe," Clark said while attending a fundraiser for Manchester Democrats. He also accused the administration of committing soldiers in Iraq without proper planning and support. "(Bush) used fear, the fear of the American people to take us into a war that was purely elective," Clark said.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

“Indications of fraud”: There is no centralized procedure for monitoring scores of contracting firms rebuilding Iraq with U.S. funds, according to the military. The controls that do exist have been criticized for failing to keep track of millions.

Instead, most contracts are monitored by the individual agencies that award them. The Army Corps of Engineers, for example, which issues the bulk of reconstruction work, has its own inspectors and quality assurance monitors. The U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency provides oversight on behalf of the Army for troop support contracts -- private firms that do everything from serving meals to washing combat fatigues.

Last month, investigators said incompetence and "indications of fraud" was responsible for nearly $100 million in cash not being accounted for by the CPA. That amount included more than $7 million that simply vanished, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, appointed in January 2004 to serve as a U.S. government watchdog for Iraqi reconstruction.

The Pentagon versus big finance? My world is shook to the core!: Besieged financial services giant American International Group Inc. repeatedly has sought to derail an effort by the Pentagon that could save taxpayers millions of dollars on reconstruction work in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq. For more than a year, AIG and industry allies have fought an initiative to cut the rates for workers' compensation insurance that U.S. contractors operating overseas are required to carry, according to interviews and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Rates have soared since the war in Iraq began, raising suspicions among government officials that the companies may be overcharging contractors and, ultimately, taxpayers who foot the bill. AIG and a handful of other companies dominate the highly specialized market — whose value since the Sept. 11 attacks has rocketed by more than $1 billion, according to some estimates.

The Tide Is Slowly Turning

Patience drops: Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.

Patience for the war has dropped sharply as optimism about the Iraqi elections in January has ebbed and violence against U.S. troops hasn't abated. For the first time, a majority would be "upset" if President Bush sent more troops. A new low, 36%, say troop levels should be maintained or increased.

The souring of public opinion presents challenges for the president, who has vowed to stay the course until democracy is established and Iraqi forces can ensure security. He hasn't suggested sending more U.S. troops.

"We have reached a tipping point," says Ronald Spector, a military historian at George Washington University. "Even some of those who thought it was a great idea to get rid of Saddam (Hussein) are saying, 'I want our troops home.' "

Bush says screw you: The White House rejected the idea Monday that the United States set a withdrawal timetable for troops in Iraq. The rejection was issued by spokesman Scott McClellan as the U.S. death toll in Iraq topped 1,700 and amid moves in Congress to introduce legislation this week calling for it.

"The president has answered that question (about a timetable). We'll leave when we complete the mission. We are not going to stay a day longer than is necessary," McClellan said.

But even Republicans are starting to wake up: A new Gallup Poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, up from 49 percent with that view in February, USA Today reported on Monday.

Some members of Bush's Republican Party are now joining in to call for a deadline to withdraw troops from Iraq, where a persistent insurgency has killed hundreds of American soldiers and Iraqis.

That duck is starting to limp: Faced with plummeting public support for the war in Iraq, a growing number of members of Congress from both parties are reevaluating the reasons for the invasion and demanding the Bush administration produce a plan for withdrawing US troops.

A bipartisan group of House members is drafting a resolution that calls on the administration to present a strategy for getting the United States out of Iraq, reflecting an increasing restlessness about the war in a chamber that 2 1/2 years ago voted overwhelmingly to support the use of force in Iraq.

The House International Relations Committee on Thursday approved a similar proposal, 32 to 9, with strong bipartisan support. Sponsored by Representative Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat who voted to authorize force in Iraq in 2002, the proposal represents the first time a congressional committee has moved to demand steps be taken so that US troops can start coming home.

The Downing Street Memo And More

More paper trail: Think Progress has posted the full text of six British background papers, about which they say: “When reading them, keep in mind that these Papers were written approximately a full year before the invasion of Iraq. The Papers present a shockingly accurate forecast of what has transpired in the years since, and suggest the Bush administration chose to ignore the advice of our key ally when it came to dealing with Iraq.”

Son of Downing Street: Just as the U.S. media -- albeit a month late -- scramble to get on top of the so-called “Downing Street Memo,” the Sunday Times in London unveiled another leaked document which confirms and goes behind the message of the memo. Meanwhile, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post has a related, front-page report on Sunday. “Ministers were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal,” the Sunday Times reports. The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Prime Minister Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier. The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal. This was required because the American military would be using British bases in any invasion, making England complicit in any illegal U.S. action. The paper was circulated to those present at the meeting, among whom was Blair.

Seven more memos: It started during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign last month, when details leaked about a top-secret memo, written in July 2002 — eight months before the Iraq war. In the memo, British officials just back from Washington reported that prewar "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" to invade Iraq.

Just last week, President Bush and Blair vigorously denied that war was inevitable.

“No, the facts were not being fixed, in any shape or form at all,” said Blair at a White House news conference with the president on June 7.

But now, war critics have come up with seven more memos, verified by NBC News.

Briefing paper of July 21: It is a safe bet that the British seemed a bunch of nervous Nellies in the eyes of the hard-nosed "neoconservatives" running our policy toward Iraq. The briefing paper of July 21 shows senior British officials preoccupied with the question of how to fix it so the war would be legal. The paper makes it clear that U.S. military plans assumed, "as a minimum, the use of British bases on the islands of Cyprus and Diego Garcia." Even this minimum gave rise to serious legal questions. Pervading the briefing paper is the British leaders' need to square a circle: how to render legal an illegal, unprovoked attack on Iraq—or in the words of the briefing paper, how to go about "creating the conditions...in which we could legally support military action."

The briefing paper of July 21, 2002, offers this clear picture of what the British see as the U.S. goal. "U.S. military planning unambiguously takes as its objective the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, followed by elimination of Iraqi WMD." But, alas, with the evidence of WMD "thin," and an invasion to bring about "regime change" illegal, the British found themselves between Iraq and a hard place—Washington. The document reeks not only of obsequiousness toward the United States, but also wonderment at Washington's policies—particularly with respect to international law.

The worms begin to turn: A number of citizen groups and Democratic politicians are launching an initiative to investigate information contained in newly unearthed British memos on the war in Iraq, and to demand answers from President Bush. The memorandums provide further evidence that Bush's administration had no reasonable plan for achieving stability or rebuilding Iraq after the war, and build on earlier memos that state it was "fixing" intelligence information to remove Saddam Hussein months before the war started.

Representative John Conyers, along with 89 members of Congress, have openly asked the administration to address claims it cooked the books to justify the war. On Thursday, June 16, Conyers and other Democrats will hold "Memogate hearings" in Washington D.C. to listen to testimony concerning the British documents and the administration's efforts to manipulate data concerning Iraq.

But it goes back even further: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."

And finally, the I word: Wisconsin Democrats are calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Loyalists at this weekend's state party convention in Oshkosh passed a resolution calling for Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against the three officials for their role in the war in Iraq.

The resolution contends that the administration "lied or misled" the United Nations, Congress, and the American public about the justification for the war. It cites the so-called "Downing Street memo" from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government, as well as reports from U.N. weapons inspectors as evidence of widespread deception.

Damn straight: It really could not be put much more clearly than this. A group within the executive branch had decided that war was the only option, and they then set out to rig the evidence in order to deceive Congress, the American people, and the world. Remember that even as late as early March 2003, Bush was telling us, "I've not made up our mind about military action [sic]." Such a deception would almost certainly constitute a "high crime and misdemeanor" under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, making it an impeachable offense.

Even though impeachment is unlikely given the Republican majority in Congress and the weak-kneed record of the Democrats, the public should continue raising the possibility. We as Americans must not consider how politically viable our demands are before making them, as that would make us little more than politicians. Sometimes, it is more important to be right and just than to state a popular opinion or executable solution.

If the liars and criminals who started this war get away without punishment, the legal ramifications will influence every prospective military adventure in the coming decades. One more signal will be sent that our executive branch can act with complete impunity, even at the cost of tens of thousands of lives. Instead, let us send a message of outrage, let us stand up and say that Americans are tired of being force-fed official fabrications. The first step is contacting your representatives and the media, and urging them to support the current attempts to uncover the truth.

Have you signed the letter? If you have, good work. If you haven’t, SIGN THE GODDAM LETTER please. We need a million signatures and we are going to get them. Thank you.

Civil Liberties

Big Dick: Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday he doesn't believe revelations about the treatment of prisoners at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay have become an image problem for the United States and that the facility should not be shut down.

Cheney did not mention the article in this week's issue of Time magazine based on an 84-page logbook of the interrogation and treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Guantanamo inmate U.S. officials believe intended to participate in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Time's article, authenticated by Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita, outlines al-Qahtani's treatment, which included being refused a bathroom break and forced to urinate in his pants, having a female guard straddle him, being forced to wear pictures of scantily clad women around his neck and being forced to bark and act like a dog.

But the vice president defended the treatment of Guantanamo's detainees, saying they have been treated "in a human fashion" but do not "qualify" for treatment under the Geneva Conventions "because they are unlawful combatants (who) have not operated in accordance with the laws of war: they haven't worn a uniform, they target civilians."

"In spite of that they are still treated with respect and dignity," he said.

Respect and dignity: Extracts from an interrogation log, Camp Xray, Guantanamo:

13 December 2002, 1115: Interrogators began telling detainee how ungrateful and grumpy he was. In order to escalate the detainee's emotions, a mask was made from an MRE box with a smily face on it and placed on the detainee's head for a few moments. A latex glove was inflated and labeled the "sissy slap" glove. The glove was touched to the detainee's face periodically after explaining the terminology to him. The mask was placed back on the detainee's head. While wearing the mask, the team began dance instruction with the detainee. The detainee became agitated and began shouting.

20 December 2002, 1115: Detainee offered water—refused. Corpsman changed ankle bandages to prevent chafing. Interrogater began by reminding the detainee about the lessons in respect and how the detainee had disrespected the interrogators. Told detainee that a dog is held in higher esteem because dogs know right from wrong and know how to protect innocent people from bad people. Began teaching the detainee lessons such as stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog. Detainee became very agitated.

Stealing our freedoms in secrecy: A closed-door vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week to expand law enforcement powers under the USA Patriot Act is prompting sharp criticism from some conservative leaders who are otherwise among the most vocal allies of President Bush and the Republican leadership in Congress. The conservative leaders — who have formed a coalition with critics on the left, including the American Civil Liberties Union — vowed to press their concerns in coming days with public statements, rallies and radio advertisements in key congressional districts.

The conservatives, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and political activists who have been long-standing critics of the anti-terrorism law, lashed out with particular force last week against the White House, members of Congress and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. They said they had expected a more open review of the Patriot Act in which lawmakers considered some limits in order to safeguard civil liberties.

"It is a slap in the face to the Constitution," said Barr, who leads a bipartisan coalition calling for limits on the act.

And they expect us to trust them: Soon after Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI learned that 18 Middle Eastern men had obtained licenses in Pennsylvania to haul hazardous materials across the nation's roadways.

Deeply concerned about another terrorist attack, prosecutors filed fraud charges against the men on Sept. 24, 2001. The next day, then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft appeared before Congress. Invoking the threat of attacks with poisons from crop-dusting aircraft or other hazardous materials, he said some of the defendants "may have links to the hijackers."

Within two days, the FBI was backing off that allegation. Two months later, prosecutors in Pittsburgh, where the men -- mostly Iraqis -- were convicted, said they had no apparent terrorist ties. The U.S. attorney's office later learned that the men never intended to buy the hazardous-materials permits.

Robert Cindrich, a former U.S. district judge who heard the case, said that he would "not continue to characterize this as a successful prosecution of a terrorism case, because it was not."

Yet the case still makes up the largest single portion of the government's list of terrorism prosecutions.


An open letter to the troops: You do not have to follow illegal orders EVER, under any circumstances, and you ARE bound by International Law. You should also be bound by what you know is right, by your sense of plain common decency.

One of the ways they will get you to do things that you will not want to live with for the rest of your lives is to impose that group-think on you. If one of us is guilty, we are all guilty. And “what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq.” This is one of the many ways they take that buddy-to-buddy loyalty and twist it into a way to control you, even when they are trying to get you to violate the law… and not only the formal law, but to violate what you know is right, to violate your own conscience and jeopardize your own peace of mind for the rest of your life.

And I’m telling you that you do not owe them or anyone else that kind of loyalty.

Take a little break to laugh at an idiot: For a fun example of a Bush dupe struggling to come to terms with Bush incompetence, go check out this Jim Hoagland column. Here are a couple representative sentences:

Yes, much of the criticism of President Bush comes from partisans with their own axes to grind, and from those who opposed the Iraq invasion under any circumstances and always will oppose it, no matter how much Iraqis are helped by it. Such complaints are white noise that Bush and aides no longer hear.

But the White House is too quick to find comfort in the ignorant partisanship of some foes and the partisan ignorance of others -- and in the reality that patience is required in all wars and particularly in one as amorphous and demanding as this struggle has become.

My emphasis. What a douchebag.

Comment: The war has taken a dangerous turn - not in Iraq but here at home. It has lost the support of a majority of Americans.

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News Poll, for the first time since the war began a majority of the American public doesn't believe the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime has made the United States more secure. The survey also found that nearly three- quarters of respondents say the casualty rate in Iraq is unacceptable; two-thirds believe the U.S. military is bogged down; 60 percent say the war was not worth fighting.

If we learned anything from Vietnam, it is that it's difficult to wage and win a protracted war without public support. Lyndon B. Johnson learned that the hard way; so will George W. Bush. Johnson used a North Vietnamese gunboat attack on U.S. vessels in the Tonkin Gulf to ask Congress for a blank check he used to dramatically escalate the war in Vietnam. Bush used the post-9/11 fear of terrorism and slanted intelligence to convince Americans Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened our security.

In both cases, the American people were had.

Opinion: With the war in Iraq going badly and allegations of abuse by military personnel widespread, young men and women are increasingly deciding that there's no upside to a career choice in which the most important skills might be ducking bullets and dodging roadside bombs.

The Army, frantically searching for solutions, is offering enlistments as short as 15 months and considering bonuses worth up to $40,000. But it may be facing a problem too difficult for any amount of money to overcome. Americans are catching on to the hideousness and apparent futility of the war in Iraq. Five marines were killed in a single bomb attack in western Iraq on Thursday. On Friday, a front-page Washington Post headline described the effort to rebuild the Iraqi military as "Mission Improbable."

Analysis: The Bush administration's confused and confusing foreign policy seems hard to decipher—especially regarding headline-grabbing reports on Abu Ghraib prison and the Guantanamo detainee camp.

Some op-eds on the right argue that abuses did not take place there and that, if they did, they were minor and undertaken by isolated individuals, a few rotten apples. Left-leaning pundits blame what they consider horrors on Mr. Bush and the Pentagon. These interpretations, while on the surface dissimilar, share one central false assumption: that the president and his closest aides are embarrassed by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo—so embarrassed that they don't want information about it to become public.

The fact of the matter, however, is that the administration, in its usual unsubtle way of dealing with foreigners, does want the outside world to be aware of what happens if you're "against us": you end up in prison or a detainee camp. Gruesome disclosures about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo serve a purpose: to create the kind of visceral fear abroad about the United States that the administration can exploit in its global "war on terror." It is far safer to be feared than loved, wrote Machiavelli, a far cry from the New Testament but what the Bible-reading president—a firm advocate of capital punishment—seems to ardently believe.

Comment: In evaluating the case for impeaching George W. Bush over the Iraq War, his deceptions about weapons of mass destruction most readily come to mind, but there is also the incompetence of his military strategy, especially Bush’s refusal to recognize how such a complex project might go terribly wrong.

Rather than look at the military prospects realistically, Bush and his advisers pursued a consistent policy of wishful thinking, deceiving the American public about the war’s cost in both money and blood, and ultimately deluding even themselves.

From the expected flower-strewn Iraq welcome in March 2003 to the cheery predictions after the Shiite election win in January 2005, the war has suffered from a macabre “Peter Pan” syndrome, that happy thoughts and some pixie dust of propaganda could lift the U.S. to victory – when instead it has sent tens of thousands of people to unnecessary deaths, including almost 1,700 American soldiers.

Reality was banished not only from the pre-war WMD justifications, it’s been barred from mid-war assessments, too. But the hard truth – recognized from the start by many military experts – was that U.S. chances for prevailing in Iraq were never very good and certainly would come at a high price.

As for the practicality of Bush’s impeachment over the Iraq debacle, the Republican control of Congress may make the debate more theoretical than realistic. But two interrelated arguments could reasonably create a foundation for impeachment: the lies that led the nation into the quagmire and the military negligence that left an American army bleeding in this death trap.

Comment: What we're talking about here is 1,700 dead Americans – based on a lie.

What we're talking about here is Lou Allen of Milford, Pa.; Brian Pavlich of Port Jervis; Eugene Williams of Highland; Irving Medina of Middletown; Doron Chan of Highland; Catalin Dima of White Lake; Brian Parrello of West Milford, N.J.; Kenneth VonRonn of Bloomingburg; Joseph Tremblay of New Windsor.

All dead – based on a lie,

What I can't understand – what's making my head pop off – is that so many Americans are indifferent to this kind of news. Is it because Americans expect presidents to lie, so it's not news when they do (unless it involves sex)?

Is it because this is simply confirmation of what we sort of knew all along anyway and – so what – we got Saddam (even though Osama is still at large)?

Is it because no one really cares what happens to our troops – even those of you with those stupid, yellow "Support Our Troops" magnets on your cars? Tell me, what have you done to support our troops other than put a stupid, yellow magnet on your car?

If you really want to support our troops, I have a suggestion: Demand a confession from George Bush.

Casualty Reports

Local story: Baltimore, MD, soldier killed in Al Taqaddum.

Local story: Two Mississippi National Guardsmen killed in roadside bombing in Iraq.

Local story: Funeral scheduled for Franklinton, LA, civilian killed in Camp Liberty rocket attack.

Local story: Schleswig, IA, soldier killed in roadside bombing near Ramadi.

Local story: Antigo, WI, Marine died from wounds received June 8 in Al Anbar province.

Local story: Wyoming, MI, soldier who was killed in Iraq honored statewide with US flags lowered to half-staff.

Local story: Brownwood, TX, killed in roadside bombing in western Iraq.


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