Tuesday, June 28, 2005
War News for Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Bring ‘em on: At least two people killed and two wounded when police opened fire on a crowd of unemployed workers demonstrating for jobs in Samawa.
Bring ‘em on: Bosnian national working for a US company killed June 15 in bomb attack some 60 kilometers from Baghdad. He was the first Bosnian to die in Bush’s war.
Bring ‘em on: Suicide car bomb attack near the entrance to a
Bring ‘em on: A senior member of
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier shot to death in
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed and one wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in Balad.
Bring ‘em on: Four killed and ‘dozens’ wounded in car bombing outside a theater southeast of
Helicopter crash: Two crew members killed in crash of US AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in Mishahda, no reason for the crash yet disclosed. Other reports indicate the aircraft was shot down by ground fire.
Al-Shammari told the pro-government paper that more than 7,000 families have left several towns in al-Qaim province in
While most families have taken refuge in several towns, hundreds of families are stranded in the desert, he said.
Voting change proposed: Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric appeared to offer a major concession to the Sunni Arab minority on Monday when he indicated that he would support changes in the voting system that would probably give Sunnis more seats in the future parliament.
In a meeting with a group of Sunni and Shiite leaders, the cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, outlined a proposal that would scrap the system used in the January election, according to a secular Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Yasiri, who was at the meeting. The election had a huge turnout by Shiites and Kurds but was mostly boycotted by Sunni Arabs.
Such a change would need to be written into
Under the proposal, voters in national elections would select leaders from each of the 19 provinces instead of choosing from a single country-wide list, as they did in January. The new system would essentially set aside a number of seats for Sunnis roughly proportionate to their numbers in the population, ensuring that no matter how low the Sunni turnout, they would be guaranteed seats.
Sunni Arabs welcomed news of the suggestion. "This should have been done from the beginning," said Saleh Mutlak, a member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni Arab political group that has pressed for a more active role in politics. "That election was wrong."
Firemen: Firefighters are Iraqi heroes in most parts of the country - battling blazes, giving first aid and even getting water to places where pipelines have been sabotaged.
But in regions where insurgents are waging a guerrilla war against US and Iraqi forces, they can face a different kind of fire.
The rattle of insurgent machine guns often greets them when they respond to emergencies, especially following the almost daily suicide car bombs targeting US and Iraqi military convoys, said Colonel Abdul Karim Messin Zayer, a fire station commander on
At other times, armed men show up at fire stations to warn firefighters not to respond to attacks against the
The prison population at three military complexes throughout the country — Abu Ghraib, Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper — has nearly doubled from 5,435 in June 2004 to 10,002 now, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq. Some 400 non-Iraqis are among the inmates, according to the military.
"We are past the normal capacity for both Abu Ghraib and
The burgeoning prison population has forced the
The facility, to be called
Tony Blair was warned that war-torn
"The Prime Minister was given a pretty depressing run-down of the prognosis for
"It's difficult to see how we can square that circle."
"Political solutions": Top
Gen. George Casey, the
The insurgents are responsible for 450 to 500 attacks a week around the country, Casey said during a Pentagon press conference. It's a pace on the level with much of last year, although officials reject any notion the fight has become a quagmire.
The violence has done away with much of the euphoria that arose after the Jan. 30 elections. While attacks ebbed for a time, they have since increased. That has military leaders now offering sober assessments of the insurgency, even as the Bush administration this week marks a year of Iraqi sovereignty by trying to highlight progress there.
Negotiating with terrorists: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his top general in
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of
Oh boy! Only two years left to blog! And then we all get ponys!: Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said yesterday that two years would be "more than enough" to establish security in his country, a task that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said may take up to 12 years.
After talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, al-Jaafari said that such goals as building up Iraq's own security forces, controlling the country's porous borders and pushing ahead with the political process would all play a part in ending the violence.
"I think two years will be enough, and more than enough, to establish security in our country," he told reporters.
Well, maybe a little longer: Iraqi leaders put on a brave face on Monday after
Asked about comments by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the insurgency in
"Politics is not mathematics," he told a
Soon to be reporting from Gitmo: "You have a great country," remarked a radio reporter, one of the five Iraqi journalists traveling with Jafari, as he and his colleagues snapped photos of one another before the event.
Minutes later, the same Iraqi journalist exposed a yawning expectations gap between the Iraqis and the Americans. "When will you begin the reconstruction in
"We are spending reconstruction money," Bush said. "But, you know, you need to ask that to the government. They're in charge. It's your government, not ours."
That didn't satisfy Jafari, who stood beside the natty Bush in creased suit pants and well-worn tasseled loafers. "We hope that Mr. Bush will try to redo a Marshall Plan, calling it the Bush Plan, to help
Too hard for Bunnypants: President Bush and his guest, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, reversed roles yesterday in the East Room. While the quiet Iraqi delivered a peppy sales pitch to the
It's "a difficult chore, and it's hard work" in
Bush alluded to high levels of difficulty no fewer than 19 times in his 33-minute appearance. The Iraqi government faces "monumental tasks," he said. "The way ahead is not going to be easy." In case somebody napped through that, he repeated: "It's difficult. . . . It's tough work, and it's hard."
The president hadn't had such a hard outing since last year's presidential debate, when he mentioned 22 times how very hard his job was, saying of one military widow: "It's hard work to try to love her as best as I can." "Saturday Night Live" spoofed Bush for that performance, showing him pondering Saturdays at the office and saying, "Frankly, I don't know why my opponent wants this job, because it's hard!"
And It’s 1,2,3,4 – What Are We Fighting For?
This, apparently: Physicians have been beaten for treating female patients. Liquor salesmen have been killed. Even barbers have faced threats for giving haircuts judged too short or too fashionable. Religion rules the streets of this once cosmopolitan city, where women no longer dare go out uncovered.
Unmarked cars cruise the streets, carrying armed, plain-clothed enforcers of Islamic law. Who they are or answer to is unclear, but residents believe they are part of a battle for
And this: Students in the Shi’ite Muslim religious Iraqi city of Najaf said the police recently arrested and beat several of them for wearing jeans and having long hair.
“They arrested us because of our hair and because we were wearing jeans,” said student Mr Mohammed Jasim, adding that the arrests took place two weeks ago in the city, the spiritual heart of Iraq’s newly dominant Shi’ite majority.
“They beat us in front of the people. Then they took us to their headquarters, beat us again, shaved our heads and tore our clothes.
“When we asked what we had done, they said that we had no honour,” he told Reuters this week.
The Big Pep Talk
Reinvigorate this, Bunnypants: As President Bush prepares to address the nation about Iraq tonight, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that most Americans do not believe the administration's claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces there for an extended time to stabilize the country.
The survey found that only one in eight Americans currently favors an immediate pullout of U.S. forces, while a solid majority continues to agree with Bush that the United States must remain in Iraq until civil order is restored -- a goal that most of those surveyed acknowledge is, at best, several years away.
The findings crystallize the challenges facing Bush this evening in his nationally televised address from Fort Bragg, N.C., an event the administration sees as a critical opportunity for the president to restate the case for his Iraq policies. The goal is to reinvigorate public support for a war that has grown unpopular over time and convince Americans the administration has a policy that will lead to success over time.
Optomist or bubble boy?: President George W. Bush is a self- styled optimist. That may be causing him political problems over
Bush is preparing to address the nation on
The address, which is designed to make his case for American policy, comes as critics such as Democratic Senator Joseph Biden of
A review of statements by the president and his top advisers since 2003 shows why such criticism seems to resonate with the public.
As recently as June 23, Vice President Dick Cheney insisted the Iraqi insurgency was in its ``final throes.'' The next day, at least five U.S. Marines and a sailor were killed in a car bombing near Fallujah.
Bush's credibility problem may have begun on May 1, 2003, when the president stood on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, in view of a banner that read ``Mission Accomplished, '' and said: ``Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.''
Increasingly doubtful: President Bush delivers a prime-time address Tuesday to a public that is increasingly doubtful of his justifications for going to war in Iraq and wants a timetable set for U.S. troops to come home — a step Bush has ruled out.
Just one in three Americans now say the
Chaos: Using the anniversary of the handover of power for his speech tonight, President Bush is expected to point to progress the nation has made in the past year, from training thousands of soldiers and police to maintaining a stable Iraqi currency.
But in the streets of
No banner this time?: President Bush is casting about for ways to turn the tide of public opinion on
A new stepped-up public relations effort has yet to show results. The next event is a prime-time speech Tuesday at
Bush administration officials see the speech as a chance for the president to clearly spell out his goals — and the stakes — of a continued U.S. military presence in Iraq, one year after it regained its sovereignty from the United States.
It will take more than a finely honed speech to revive flagging public support or to reverse an alarming slide in military recruitment, analysts suggest.
"I don't think anybody will be able to watch that speech without wondering where is the banner saying 'Mission Accomplished,' " said Anthony H. Cordesman, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The administration should clarify its intent in
“It’s a difficult thing today to be informed about our government even without all the secrecy. With the secrecy, it’s impossible. The American people will do what’s right when they have the information they need.”
“I do, however, believe it is important to the future of our Nation to recognize that there is a problem of credibility today.”
“…the people of the
“Accurate judgment is predicated on accurate information. Government has an obligation to present information to the public promptly and accurately so that the public’s evaluation of Government activities is not distorted.”
Only a billion?: Pentagon auditors have questioned more than $1 billion in costs by contracting giant Halliburton Co. for its work in
The report, based on Defense Contract Audit Agency documents and a briefing by DCAA officials, details $813 million in questioned costs on a Halliburton contract to provide logistical support to U.S. troops and $219 million on a no-bid contract to restore Iraqi's oil network.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency found an additional $442 million in Halliburton charges that were "unsupported," meaning the company had not provided enough documentation to justify the cost, the report said.
Among the costs that Pentagon auditors questioned were $152,000 in "movie library costs," a $1.5 million tailoring bill that auditors deemed higher than reasonable, more than $560,000 worth of heavy equipment that was considered unnecessary, and two multimillion-dollar transportation bills that appeared to overlap.
Free pass: Democratic legislators stepped up criticism of the Halliburton Company on Monday for what they said was "war profiteering," citing Pentagon audits that question more than $1 billion of the company's bills for work in
The estimates of excessive spending and improper billing by Halliburton, a Texas-based company that provides logistical support and oil-field repairs in
"The bottom line is, the Republican leadership in the Congress is giving Halliburton a free pass," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey.
Rewards few and risks high: In the spring of 2002, two weeks before British Prime Minister Tony Blair journeyed to
"The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few," Straw wrote in a March 25 memo to Blair stamped "Secret and Personal." "The risks are high, both for you and for the Government."
In public, British officials were declaring their solidarity with the Bush administration's calls for elimination of
The quote, passed from RAW STORY to the London Sunday Times last week, raises troubling questions of whether President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair engaged in an illegal war before seeking a UN resolution or congressional approval.
While the Downing Street documents collectively raise disturbing questions about how the Bush administration led the United States into Iraq, including allegations that “intelligence was being fixed,” other questions have emerged about when the US and British led allies actually began the Iraq war.
World Tribunal on
"Snipers hunt people in the streets. People attempting to go to health centers are shot at," testified Eman Kmammas, an Iraqi translator. "There are many crippled children. There are thousands of widows and orphans. There are no police for security and there are no courts. Even hospitals are occupied and bombed and burned."
Former US Air Force combat veteran Tim Goodrich stunned the jury by revealing his role in the "softening up" of
This gripping but unsettling revelation came on the second day of proceedings at the World Tribunal on
With all that, what's a little domestic surveiliance?: Three decades after aggressive military spying on Americans created a national furor, California's National Guard has quietly set up a special intelligence unit that has been given ''broad authority'' to monitor, analyze and distribute information on potential terrorist threats, the Mercury News has learned.
Known as the Information Synchronization, Knowledge Management and Intelligence Fusion program, the project is part of an expanding nationwide effort to better integrate military intelligence into global anti-terrorism initiatives.
Although Guard officials said the new unit would not collect information on American citizens, top National Guard officials have already been involved in tracking at least one recent Mother's Day anti-war rally organized by families of slain American soldiers, according to e-mails obtained by the Mercury News.
A Totally Unrelated Story That Doesn’t Even Belong In An Iraq War Blog
It’s not like we’re talking about oil: After weak prices in the 1990s due to oversupply, natural gas production in
"Gas production has peaked in
Asked whether production would continue to decline even if two huge arctic gas pipeline projects were built, Raymond said, "I think that's a fair statement, unless there's some huge find that nobody has any idea where it would be."
Veterans And Active Duty Soldiers, Report Here
Take it to Karl: This is a site set up for the purpose of receiving email from men and women serving currently in the
Let Karl Rove know that when it comes to defending the
Opinion: So the polls show most Americans don’t “think it was worth going to war in
The more that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claims he’s not worried about public opinion, the more obvious it is that he is. During hours of grilling by suddenly emboldened congressional skeptics yesterday, he claimed, lamely, that popular support would swing back behind the
A clear head and a calculator will tell you very quickly that the costs of this conflict in
Comment: The Army's recruiting shortfalls have put the future of the all-volunteer armed forces in jeopardy. Pressure is mounting in the Pentagon -- and perhaps on the Pentagon -- to put a happy face on its failure to achieve the needed enlistments for the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Marine Corps. The Army fell short of April recruiting objectives by 42 percent.
Three questions arise:
Can the all-volunteer force survive a sustained and unpopular war, regardless of who sits in the White House?
Will quantity in recruiting become a silent substitute for quality, leading to what is often referred to as a "hollow army?"
Were serious flaws built into the system more than three decades ago when the Gates Commission (named for its chairman, Thomas Gates) issued its report on creation of an all-volunteer armed forces?
The Gates Commission, in considering the transition from a draft to a volunteer force, optimistically assumed that young Americans would come to the colors if the nation went to war with any country that presented a conventional threat. Unconventional, non-state warfare didn't enter into the commission's calculus.
Editorial: Red flags flapping sharply in the wind signal our country is on the verge of a major political - and economic - setback.
We may now be only weeks away from a complete collapse of the Iraqi army and the withdrawal of British troops from
That is a realistic projection based on the reports of two Washington Post reporters, whose dispatches from inside Iraqi Army units and
Opinion: There should have been no doubt what would happen to anyone who questioned George W. Bush’s case for war. The dissenters would be baited, ridiculed, marginalized, and drowned out by accusations of disloyalty as well as epithets about “Saddam sympathizers.”
Which is, of course, what happened. War critics were treated like fringe nut cases, while nearly every major
Now, amid the rising death toll in
Does anyone believe that Bush will “address” how he “deliberately misled” the country to war? Or that if he did so, that would somehow earn him the credibility to explain how thousands of additional
Rather, Bush has already signaled how he intends to deal with the growing doubts about both his pre-war rationalizations and his foundering war policy. The American people can expect another round of baiting, not debating.
Comment: “Before we commit troops, there has to be a clear strategy.” Contrary to recent developments,
Those are not criticisms of the
One wonders at what point Mr. Bush decided that unclear, vague, aimless and endless deployments are actually good military policy. Perhaps they’re good when they seem -- “seem” being the operative word -- politically expedient. Or perhaps he still believes such deployments aren’t very smart, but hasn’t the foggiest notion of how to end one, stuck as he is in Tom Jefferson’s famous metaphor of the 1820