Wednesday, June 01, 2005

War News for Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Bring ‘em on: At least 15 Iraqis wounded in suicide car bomb attack on the main checkpoint to Baghdad International Airport. The bombing was followed by militants firing machine guns at security forces.

Bring ‘em on: Police station in the Amiriyah district of Baghdad attacked by 50 guerillas, of whom 12 were killed and 38 captured, according to an Iraqi government statement. One US Marine killed near Ramadi. One Iraqi policeman killed and nine left seriously ill after they were given poisoned watermelon at checkpoints north of Baghdad. One policeman shot to death in Dur.

Update: Almost 200 more Iraqis were killed in May than in April because of a spike in militant attacks, government statistics showed Wednesday.

Overall figures show that at least 670 Iraqis were killed in May; 485 were killed in April.

Among them were 434 civilians, up from 299 killed in April, according to Health Ministry figures. Some 775 civilians were also wounded last month, compared with 598 in April.

Police were also severely targeted, with 151 killed in May compared with 86 in April. At least 325 policemen were also wounded, compared with 131 in April, the Interior Ministry said.

Some 297 insurgents were also killed in May, an almost 400 percent increase on the 60 militants killed in April, according to statistics obtained by The Associated Press from the interior, defense and health ministries.

The government did not provide year-on-year figures for comparison or for the months before April.

Dahr Jamail reports: At least 740 Iraqis have been killed since the new “government” took power in late April, and with the ongoing operations sparking more attacks each day, it doesn’t look like there is an end in sight. Keep in mind, the vast majority of the Iraqi security forces are either Shia or Kurdish battling against a primarily Sunni resistance (for now). It can easily be argued that we are witnessing a US-backed Iraqi government who is deliberating using its power to wage a civil war. On that note, today Major General Ahmed al-Barazanchi, a Kurdish man who was the director of internal affairs of Kirkuk province died this morning after being shot yesterday. My sources in Baghdad also said there have been fierce clashes today in the al-Amiriya district of Baghdad between resistance fighters and Iraqi and US soldiers. “Open gun battles in the streets,” as one friend told me, “And as soon as the Iraqi and US soldiers leave the area, the resistance takes it back over.” Keep in mind that all of this is against the backdrop of well over 50% unemployment, horrendous traffic jams, and an infrastructure in shambles that continues to degrade with next to no reconstruction occurring in Baghdad.

Weapons Intelligence Team: The engine sitting upright on the tarmac, about 10 yards from the crater, gets the once-over from Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Tyson. It's the largest piece of an Opel sedan that a couple of hours earlier exploded into shreds that tore through nearby cars and people in this enclave southeast of Baghdad.

Over in the roadside dust, some bits of the bomber, including a foot, turn up. "We went to one and we got a hand, so we could fingerprint it," Tyson says. In this case, however, the number on the engine might be the most useful clue.

Tyson, 32, is part of a new team, one of six in Iraq, that Army intelligence has sent to look at roadside and car bombs in a different way. "We try to look at it the way the terrorist looks at it," he says.

The Weapons Intelligence Team is trying to help the military keep up with the constantly changing insurgent tactics and techniques.

Operation Lightning

Getting ugly: Thousands of Iraqi forces have thrown a security net over Baghdad to snare insurgents, who quickly struck back with a string of car bombings said to have been masterminded by Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Four car bombs in and around the capital killed 16 people, most of them security personnel, Sunday in a swift response to Iraq's widest homegrown clampdown since the fall of Saddam Hussein over two years ago.

Nine soldiers taking part in Operation Lightning died in a suicide car bombing at their roadblock just south of the capital, while two policemen were killed when a suicide car bomber targeted their patrol in southwestern Baghdad.

In western Baghdad, a car bomb targeting police commandos killed three people and wounded 20, an interior ministry source said, adding that police had then fought a firefight with men in the area.

An earlier suicide bombing near the oil ministry left two dead, while violence elsewhere claimed the lives of a British soldier and seven Iraqis.

Iraqi government summaries: As the Iraqi-led anti-insurgent Operation Lightning enters its fourth day in and around Baghdad, a partial picture of the results is starting to emerge.

The Associated Press has obtained Iraqi summaries of the operation from a U-S military source. The documents say more than 700 hundred arrests have been made, most of them last week before the operation was officially announced.

Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior numbers break the arrests down this way: 627 "suspected terrorists," eleven "suspected foreign fighters," and 82 others who are classified as "wanted by judicial authorities."

The documents also report the seizure of scores of explosives.

The summaries say at least two car bomb attacks have been foiled and more than more 860 false documents have been confiscated along with Syrian currency and fake military uniforms.

Hard to know: What we should find out from Operation Lightning is whether Iraqi security forces are any closer to the organizational competence needed reduce the load on U.S. forces.

The new government said it has committed 40,000 Iraqi troops to the Baghdad operation. Of course, it’s hard to know how many of those troops are actually infiltrated insurgents.

The massive sweep of Baghdad’s streets began Sunday to counter the attacks of militants responsible for killing more than 760 people in less than a month.

The violence showed no sign of slowing down on Tuesday, the third day of the offensive.

At least 1,662 U.S. military members have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count, and that number is sure to go up in coming days of Operation Lightning.

Political News

Syria: Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani denied claims that Syria is aiding the infiltration of insurgents into Iraq, saying that his country is "concerned" about its neighbour's security situation.

Earlier Tuesday Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari called on Damascus to help "put an end to the flow" of terrorists he says are entering his country from Syria.

"These are false accusations instigated by enemies," defence minister Turkmani countered here, in comments in line with earlier denials from Damascus.

"There is no proof of such allegations," he continued, adding however that his country wants "the end of the occupation in Iraq, and is concerned over its security and unity".

"We denounce these accusations, spread by the enemy, that Syria lends its support to people infiltrating the Iraq-i-Syrian border," Turkmani was quoted as saying by the official Sana news agency, without identifying the "enemies".

UN Mandate: The UN Security Council agreed to extend the mandate of multinational forces in Iraq "until the completion of the political process."

Iraq had requested the council extend the mandate, which it did informally in a statement to the news media, without adopting a resolution.

The statement said council members "welcomed the progress made in recruiting, training and equipping Iraqi security forces and look forward to those forces progressively playing a greater role and ultimately assuming responsibility for Iraq's national security."

Bush Lies, US Politics, And The American Military

Honor the dead, screw the living: Speaking at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, President Bush stated: “[W]e take comfort from knowing that the men and women who are serving freedom’s cause understand their purpose and its price.” For all its rhetoric about advancing freedom’s cause, the Bush administration has done precious little to honor those servicemen and women who have put their lives on the line to advance democracy for the rest of us. The failure to maintain adequate health benefits for returning veterans during a time of war is particularly shameful.

President Bush’s 2006 budget proposal included legislation that would raise veterans’ premiums over 100 percent on prescription drugs and add an annual $250 enrollment fee for veterans who want care for conditions not directly caused by military service and who generally earn more than $25,000 a year. The user fee would increase costs for nearly 2 million veterans nationwide.

Right-wing leaders in Congress recently blocked $2 billion in emergency funding for veterans health care from the $82 billion supplemental funding bill to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the Bush administration requested a mere 2.7 percent increase in VA spending, hardly sufficient to deal with an expected influx of Afghanistan and Iraq-war veterans in the coming years. Nearly 28,000 soldiers who served in Iraq and were discharged have already sought care at a VA facility. Of the nearly 245,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan already discharged from service, 12,422 have been in VA counseling centers for readjustment problems and symptoms associated with PTSD.

The deteriorating condition of VA health care has elicited plenty of criticism from the nation’s veterans. The American Legion called Bush’s budget, “the wrong message at the wrong time to the wrong constituency.” The Vietnam Veterans of America said the budget did a “disservice to those of us who donned the uniform to defend the rights, principles, and freedoms that we hold dear.” And the Veterans of Foreign Wars decried Bush’s decision as “especially shameful during a time of war.”

Latinos wising up: A total of 215 Latino soldiers serving in the U.S. army have already died in Iraq, but according to anti-war activists, this bad news comes with a silver lining: an ever smaller number of young people of Latin American descent are enlisting in the armed forces.

”I'm glad that the army is no longer able to recruit as many soldiers, and that more people are raising their voices against this criminal invasion,” said Camilo Mejía, a Nicaraguan-born former staff sergeant in the U.S. army who refused to return to his unit in Iraq after spending five months stationed there in 2003.

While Mejía declared himself a conscientious objector, the United States deemed him a deserter, and sentenced him to nine months in prison.

Last year, 9,477 foreign-born residents of the United States signed up for the U.S. armed forces - 2,352 fewer than in 2003, according to official statistics from the George W. Bush administration.

”There are so many people dying in this senseless, criminal war that going to jail to oppose it or refusing to join the army are not very big sacrifices when you compare them to all the innocent people killed in the war,” Mejía told IPS.

Mid-point: On the one hand, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and his chief ''transformation'' advisers could not be more excited about the new opportunities for Washington to sustain its full-spectrum military dominance through space-warfare inventions, such as lasers and ''rods from gods'' that will hurl death-dealing metal from the heavens at more than 100,000 kilometers per hour onto precise, geo-orbitally located targets far below.

On the other hand, more than two years after conquering Iraq, an occupation force of 140,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines still are unable to secure the highway that runs between the Green Zone, the center of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, and the city's airport just 10 kilometers away against guerrilla attacks and their increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices.

Thirty years after its ignominious withdrawal from Vietnam, senior military officers find themselves at a kind of mid-point between their dreams of glory -- achieved with stunning speed in their lightning-like, two-week dash to Baghdad in 2003 -- and nagging nightmares of ultimate defeat, be it in the form of the war of attrition that kills 15 or 20 of their troops each week, or in the outbreak of a full-scale civil war in Iraq that would make their continued presence untenable.

The war of attrition is damaging enough, according to the latest polls which show a steady drop, since a brief resurgence four months ago in the wake of the January 30 Iraq elections, in public approval both for the original decision to go to war and in President George W. Bush's handling of the war. The latter has now fallen to an all-time low of just 37 percent.

Two years and two months: It's two years and two months since we invaded Iraq to bring down its dictator, Saddam Hussein. Our military quickly rolled into Baghdad, sent the government oppressors fleeing, and shortly thereafter, on May 2, 2003, President Bush, in a shiny new flight suit, with a huge "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him, announced from the deck of an aircraft carrier that "major combat operations have ended." As we now know, that was premature declamation. Or worse, just fodder for his re-election campaign.

The latest war news is an announcement that 40,000 Iraqi troops backed by 10,000 U.S. soldiers are surrounding Baghdad to seal it off, clean out the insurgent nests that are all over the place, and make the city safe. Two years and two months after the mission was accomplished, the capital city itself is still not secured.

The Bush administration says the press has hurt its mission by telling too much truth. That's why every time the press makes a mistake, the White House celebrates and demands apologies and retractions and atonement. Yet the president and his people—who made deadly mistakes and misrepresentations to cheerlead the country into war—have never allowed any contrition or apology to get close to their lips.

Priorities: For the first time since the war in Iraq began twenty-six months ago, the House of Representatives debated the need for US troops to exit Iraq. The modest amendment, introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California last Thursday evening, called on President Bush to develop a plan for the withdrawal of US forces. With virtually no prior notice or lobbying, 123 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted for Woolsey's amendment. But with no support from either the Democratic or Republican leadership, and thus no chance of passing, no major US newspaper felt obligated to cover the unprecedented proceedings.

Instead, the House added $49 billion more for the Iraqi occupation--on top of the $82 billion recently appropriated--as part of the $491 billion 2006 National Defense Authorization Act. The massive defense bill establishes a new fleet of nuclear submarines, provides millions for new aircrafts and ships, adds $100 million for a missile defense system and expands research for bunker-busting bombs. All of this the House could easily support. But not a non-binding call for a withdrawal plan.

Department of No Shit, Sherlock: Continued combat in Iraq poses difficulties for rebuilding and development in the country, Paul Wolfowitz, the new president of the World Bank, says.

Wolfowitz, the former No. 2 official at the Pentagon, on Wednesday begins a five-year term as head of the 184-nation development institution. Its stated mission is to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in developing countries. It lends about $20 billion a year for various projects.

The installation of Wolfowitz enables the Bush administration to put its imprint on the bank, which employs about 10,000 people worldwide. He replaced James Wolfensohn, whose 10 years at the helm of the bank came to an end Tuesday.

Some international aid and other groups worry that Wolfowitz will use the development bank to spread American values — political, economic or other. They also fear he will use the institution to reward America's friends and punish its enemies.

Critics, including the 50 Years is Enough Network and The Mobilization for Global Justice, are organizing a protest outside the World Bank on Wednesday, Wolfowitz's first day on the job.

(Many thanks to alert reader DJ)

Our golden moment: At his meeting with reporters today, President George W. Bush's comment that, despite recent setbacks, he is pleased with the progress in Iraq, adding "I think the Iraq government will be up to the task of defeating the insurgents," drew wide play. But another question and answer near the end of gathering drew little notice. From the official transcript: Q At the Naval Academy last week you spoke of a midshipman named Edward Slavis, who graduated and has served in Iraq. And you quoted him as saying that the mission will be a success, and 20 or 30 years from now historians will look back on it and consider it America's golden moment. I'm wondering, sir, if you agree with that assessment, and, if so, why? THE PRESIDENT: I do, David, because I believe that as a result of the actions we have taken, we have laid -- begun to lay the foundation for democratic movement that will outlast this administration; a democratic movement that will bring peace to a troubled part of the world. ...

The rewards of failure: Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said.

The civilian analysts, former military men considered experts on foreign and U.S. weaponry, work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), one of three U.S. agencies singled out for particular criticism by President Bush's commission that investigated U.S. intelligence.

The Army analysts concluded that it was highly unlikely that the tubes were for use in Iraq's rocket arsenal, a finding that bolstered a CIA contention that they were destined for nuclear centrifuges, which was in turn cited by the Bush administration as proof that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

The problem, according to the commission, which cited the two analysts' work, is that they did not seek or obtain information available from the Energy Department and elsewhere showing that the tubes were indeed the type used for years as rocket-motor cases by Iraq's military. The panel said the finding represented a "serious lapse in analytic tradecraft" because the center's personnel "could and should have conducted a more exhaustive examination of the question."

If The Religious Right Is So Offended By Gay Sex…

Why aren’t they screaming about the hour-long hummer Big Dick got from Larry King right there on CNN? More on the subject from The Rude Pundit.

More Big Dick

He takes power seriously: Cheney denied American wrongdoing at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which Amnesty International compared to a "gulag."

"Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. ... I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently," Cheney said. "Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment.

"But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who has been inside and been released ... to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated."

Schulz responded to Cheney's comments: "It doesn't matter whether he takes Amnesty International seriously.

"He doesn't take torture seriously; he doesn't take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn't take due process rights seriously; and he doesn't take international law seriously.

"And that is more important than whether he takes Amnesty International seriously."

The FBI begs to differ: Amnesty International's report contains numerous allegations by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (scroll down to section 12 for starters), and I suppose, if, like the Vice President of the United States, you're not inclined to trust brown people, you might not believe a word of what any of the large number of them said. Surely, though, you would be less inclined to disbelieve your own Federal Bureau of Investigation:

An FBI document from December 2004, originally classified as secret for 25 years, included the following prior observations by FBI agents:[...] Guantanamo Bay

A detainee’s mouth was duct taped for chanting from the Koran…military employee who applied the duct tape found it amusing;

A detainee being isolated for substantial periods of time;

Agents heard of detainees being subjected to considerable pain and very aggressive techniques during interrogations;

Agents aware of detainees being threatened…by dogs;

Agents have seen documentary evidence that a detainee was told that his family had been taken into custody and would be moved to Morocco for interrogation if he did not begin to talk.

That FBI agent must a bleeding-heart liberal, right Mr. Vice-President? Probably this one too:

An FBI memorandum dated 14 July 2004 stated the following about the treatment of a Guantánamo detainee:

"In September or October of 2002 FBI agents observed that a canine was used in an aggressive manner to intimidate detainee #63 and, in November 2002, FBI agents observed Detainee #63 after he had been subject to intense isolation for over three months. During that time period, #63 was totally isolated (with the exception of occasional interrogations) in a cell that was always flooded with light. By late November, the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma."(329)

The Vice President says that he doesn't take Amensty International seriously. Well, it's hard to take the Vice President seriously if he is so willing to lie about undisputed facts.

But what I find really outrageous about the Vice President's statement is its cowardice.

Many on the right have defended the harsh interrogation practices that the US has used in the "war on terror;" they downplay the practices as no worse than a fraternity hazing or claim it is a necessary evil. This viewpoint, while repellent, is at least intellectually consistent and courageous in its stupidity. In order to downplay the significance of prisoner abuse, the abuse must be conceded to exist. There is no such consistency or courage in Vice President Cheney. He is unwilling to face the reality of the situation for which he is, in part, responsible. It is morally bankrupt.

The Downing Street Memo


Announcement: A coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups announced a campaign today to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials.

The organizations forming the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition include: Global Exchange, Gold Star Families for Peace, Democrats.com, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, and Democracy Rising. These organizations, beginning today, will be urging their members to contact their Representatives to urge support of a Resolution of Inquiry.


Comment: Did President Bush know about it? If not, why not? After all, this was the most prominent soldier to die since Bush took office four years earlier, a prize recruit for his controversial spate of foreign invasions. In any case, the White House has refrained from making any public apologies for the cover-up. Indeed, Mary Tillman said she was particularly offended that even after the facts were known, Bush exploited her son's death with a message played before an Arizona Cardinal game last fall before the election. "Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," Patrick Tillman said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has." For the Tillmans, as with Pfc. Lynch and the 9/11 widows, the path to true patriotism means confronting your government when it lies.

Opinion: As a longtime fan of both George Bushes' eccentric grasp of English, I naturally enjoyed this gem from W.: "See, in my line of work, you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." (Bush in Greece, N.Y., May 24, once more explaining his Social Security plan to a town hall meeting of perfectly average citizens -- except they had all been pre-screened to allow only those who agree with him into the hall.)

"Catapulting the propaganda" would explain his performance at the press opportunity that same day at which he appeared surrounded by babies born from frozen embryos. He used the phrase "culture of life" at least 27 dozen times (I think I exaggerate, but maybe not). "The use of federal dollars to destroy life is something I simply do not support," he said to the press the following day.

Meanwhile, back in Baghdad, federal dollars are being used to destroy life at pretty good clip because Bush decided to wage an entirely elective war against a country that presented little or no threat to us. And according to the Downing Street memo, he damn well knew it, too.

The destruction of life in Iraq is more dramatic than taking a blastocyst smaller than a pinpoint out of a petri dish. The 1,600 American dead so far -- not much culture of life there. The 15,000 wounded, many of them irreparably -- not so good there, either. Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths are all over the lot: a British medical journal claimed 100,000 last year, the Iraq Body Count website says between 21,000 and 25,000. The U.S./U.N. sanctions are widely believed to have killed hundreds of thousands, most of them babies, even after the Oil for Food Program was instituted.

The New York Times reports that the doctors in Iraq are now being threatened by insurgents and so are fleeing what was a showcase system under Saddam. I think we'd all have to agree, so far there's no progress on bringing a culture of life to Iraq.

Opinion: The Bush administration contends that by invading Iraq, the US has prevented terrorists from attacking the Americans on their soil. The terrorists, they say, are all concentrated in Iraq. Even if this stratagem proves correct, which is far from being the case, it is worth remembering that this works the other way round, too. The Americans in Iraq are also concentrated in an area where terrorists can attack them with greater ease.

In recent weeks the US military in Iraq has stepped up efforts to track down Zarqawi. With reports that the Jordanian insurgent leader is seriously injured and probably dying — if not already dead — the bad news is that Zarqawi’s demise will not put an end to the daily attacks and growing insurgency, as is hoped by the military planners.

Zarqawi’s strength is in fact his very weakness. Far from being a great political thinker, a military tactician, or a man with deep religious beliefs, he is easily replaceable. His claim to infamy was the beheading of hostages; not a great military feat by any revolutionary means. In short, he is a thug who learned his tricks on the street. Identifying someone within his ranks able to step up to the plate should not be too difficult a task in an environment as exists in Iraq today.

Reports from the Middle East indicate that a race among his top lieutenants — five according to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper — is already under way to replace him.

Report: Perhaps no single policy is more at odds with President Bush’s pledge to "end tyranny in our world" than the United States’ role as the world’s leading arms exporting nation. Although arms sales are often justified on the basis of their purported benefits, from securing access to overseas military facilities to rewarding coalition allies in conflicts such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these alleged benefits often come at a high price. All too often, U.S. arms transfers end up fueling conflict, arming human rights abusers, or falling into the hands of U.S. adversaries. As in the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to its rival India, U.S. arms sometimes go to both sides in long brewing conflicts, ratcheting up tensions and giving both sides better firepower with which to threaten each other. Far from serving as a force for security and stability, U.S. weapons sales frequently serve to empower unstable, undemocratic regimes to the detriment of U.S. and global security.

The greatest danger emanating U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs is not in the numbers, but in the potential impacts on the image, credibility and security of the United States. Arming repressive regimes in all corners of the globe while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign for democracy and against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States in international forums and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues. Arming undemocratic governments all too often helps to enhance their power, frequently fueling conflict or enabling human rights abuses in the process. These blows to the reputation of the United States are in turn impediments to winning the "war of ideas" in the Muslim world and beyond, a critical element in drying up financial and political support for terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Last but not least, in all too many cases, U.S. arms and military technology can end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries, as happened in the 1980s in Iraq and Panama, as well as with the right-wing fundamentalist "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan, many of whom are now supporters of al-Qaeda.

Editorial: President Bush was among the 260,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery when he said it. But it was clear Monday that the president was referring to the more than 1,650 Americans killed to date in Iraq when he said, "We must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives; by defeating the terrorists."

Bush insists on clinging to the thoroughly discredited notion that there was any connection between the old Iraqi regime -- no matter how lawless and brutal -- and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. military action against an Afghan regime that harbored al-Qaida was a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Iraq was not.

As of Memorial Day 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and that U.S. forces were in the process of stabilizing Iraq. One hundred sixty U.S. troops had died.

The U.S. death toll has grown more than tenfold. No weapons of mass destruction were found. More than 700 Iraqis have been killed since Iraq's new government was formed April 28.

Bush said of the insurgents at a news conference yesterday, "I believe the Iraqi government is plenty capable of dealing with them."

Of course, this is the same president that assured the world that military intervention in Iraq was a last resort and that the United States would make every effort to avoid war through diplomacy. Giving lie to that as well is the so-called Downing Street War Memo, which shows that as early as July 2002, "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."

Perhaps all presidents' remarks in military graveyards are by nature self-serving. But few have been so callow as the president's using the deaths of U.S. troops in his unjustified war as justification for its continuance.

Casualty Reports

Local story: Mt. Washington, OH, Marine killed in Iraq.

Local story: Mine Hill Township, NJ, killed in Baghdad June 7, 2004, honored in Memorial Day ceremony.

Local story: Albuquerque, NM, Air Force Special Forces lieutenant killed in plane crash in northern Iraq on Memorial Day.


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