Wednesday, June 15, 2005
War News for Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Bring ‘em on: At least 10 people killed and 29 wounded in car bomb attack on an Iraqi police patrol in southern
Bring ‘em on: Two gunmen killed by Iraqi police in
Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed in roadside bombing in Fallujah. One US Marine killed in roadside bombing in Rutbah. Unspecified number of guerillas killed in foiled car bomb attack on a security checkpoint in
Bring ‘em on: At least 23 Iraqi soldiers killed and 28 wounded by a suicide bomber wearing a national guard uniform who had managed to bypass security checks and enter a restaurant inside the Khalis national guard base. Five Iraqi policemen killed in suicide car bomb attack on a checkpoint outside of Baquba.
Bring ‘em on: Oil pipeline blown up between Beiji and Dora. One Iraqi civilian killed and six police wounded in gunbattle between police and gunmen in
Hostage freed: Iraqi and
Douglas Wood, a 64-year-old engineer who is a longtime resident of Alamo,
A spiffy new metric: US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that security in
Mr Rumsfeld told the BBC insurgents crossed
But he said
In an interview for the BBC's Newsnight programme, Mr Rumsfeld said
But asked if the security situation had improved, he admitted: "Statistically, no."
"But clearly it has been getting better as we've gone along," he added.
"A lot of bad things that could have happened have not happened."
This is not good: Police and security units, led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkomans in this intensely volatile city and spirited them to prisons in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, government documents and families of the victims.
Seized off the streets of
The detainees, including merchants, members of tribal families and soldiers, have often remained missing for months; some have been tortured, according to released prisoners and the
A confidential June 5 State Department cable, obtained by the Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in
Your Tax Dollars At Work
This should fix everything up: "The U.S. Special Operations Command has hired three firms to produce newspaper stories, television broadcasts and Web sites to spread American propaganda overseas." The contract may run $100 million over the next five years. The work was likely outsourced because there are "only one active-duty and two reserve psyops units remaining" in the
US Military News
Recruitment woes: The U.S. Army probably will come up well short of the 80,000 new recruits it needs during fiscal 2005, despite adding a thousand more recruiters, boosting enlistment cash bonuses to a record $20,000, spending $200 million on upbeat television ads and beginning to lower its standards.
Easing the strict standards that made the all-volunteer force such a success - in effect, trading quality for quantity - could complicate the Pentagon's ambitious plans to transform the Army into an agile, high-tech force in which ordinary soldiers are better equipped to act fast without waiting for orders from above.
Creating that force "will require more ability and more competence, not less, for the soldier in tomorrow's Army," said retired Lt. Gen. Marc Cisneros of
`"More troubling to me is the fact that lowering standards impacts on a moral issue," Cisneros said. "If young people aren't enlisting, that tells me we are not doing the right thing over there (in
Tell it to the Young Republicans, buddy.
A flier on the Web site of Pastor Fred Phelps'
"We're coming," Phelps said yesterday.
Westboro Baptist either has protested or is planning protests of other public funerals of soldiers from
Who’s the source?: Deep Throat now has an English accent.
Reporter Michael Smith of the Sunday Times of London scored an international scoop this weekend with a story about a sensational
The document, a British government briefing paper from July 21, 2002, informed Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet ministers eight months before the invasion of
The eight-page document labeled "PERSONAL SECRET UK EYES ONLY," whose authenticity has been confirmed by British government sources, also served as the basis of a Page 1 story in the Sunday Washington Post. Staff writer Walter Pincus emphasized a different passage in the document, which said "the
The Sunday Times story made headlines from
Pissy little fellas: After over a month of scant media attention, mainstream U.S. outlets have begun to report more seriously about the "Downing Street Memo," the minutes of a July 2002 meeting of British government officials that indicate the White House had already made up its mind to invade Iraq at that early date, and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" of invading rather than seeking a peaceful solution. A June 7 White House press conference with George W. Bush and Tony Blair offered the first public response from Bush to the memo, and with that came an upswing in U.S. media attention. But some in the media took it as a chance to lash out at the activists who have been bringing attention to the story all along. On June 8, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank referred to Downing Street Memo activists--some of whom were offering a cash reward for the first journalist to ask Bush about the memo--as "wing nuts."
Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley opted for sarcasm over serious discussion, deriding activists in a June 12 column for sending him emails "demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo." Kinsley kidded that the fuss was a good sign for the Left: "Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence."
First set a policy, then find reasons for it: In March 2002, the Bush administration had just begun to publicly raise the possibility of confronting
Foreshadowing developments in the year before the war started, British officials emphasized the importance of U.N. diplomacy, which they said might force Saddam Hussein into a misstep. They also suggested that confronting the Iraqi leader be cast as an effort to prevent him from using weapons of mass destruction or giving them to terrorists.
The new documents indicate that top British officials believed that by March 2002,
Although British officials said in the documents that they did not think Iraq's weapons programs posed an immediate threat and that they were dubious of any claimed links between the Iraqi government and Al Qaeda, they indicated that they were willing to join in a campaign to topple Hussein as long as the plan would succeed and was handled with political and legal care.
The documents contain little discussion about whether to mount a military campaign. The focus instead is on how the campaign should be presented to win the widest support and the importance for
237 and counting: President Bush and Administration Officials have offered 237 specific claims that intelligence had established not only a threat from Saddam Hussein, but a threat that his ''Weapons of Mass Destruction'' might be given to terrorists. Additionally, the Administration mentioned ''Saddam Hussein'' and ''9/11'' within a few words of each other over 100 times, falsely associating the two in the public's mind.
Consequently, even as late as Election Day 2004, a huge majority of Republicans, and a large minority of Democrats and Independents believed one, if not more, of three false things: Saddam had WMD; Saddam was working with al-Qaeda; Saddam was connected to 9/11.
In other words, most Americans voted believing that Bush had been acting to protect us from threats, when in fact those threats were known to be either ''weak'' or non-existent by the Administration. To this day, a majority of Americans believe one of these three false things, while huge minorities believe the other two. Nobody in the rest of the world outside of the
Just a little public relations problem: Prominent Senate Republicans said Tuesday that closing the Guantanamo Bay prison will not fix a U.S. image tarnished by allegations of American troops mistreating terrorism suspects.
"To cut and run because of image problems is the wrong, wrong thing to do," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said.
Human-rights activists and some lawmakers — mostly Democrats — want the administration to close the prison because of the allegations of torture and abuse of detainees. The prison holds about 540 terrorism suspects, including some who have not faced charges in three years.
Amnesty International has called the prison "the gulag of our time," and former President Carter also has said it should be closed.
Rendition: It is no secret that the
The treatment of prisoners in these places - including
But less well-documented is the process by which terror suspects are sent by the
This is known as "rendition" and is becoming increasingly controversial because many of these countries - including
Fourteen and in for life?: Five men who were juveniles when captured by US forces were held at
In a January 2004 BBC interview a Pentagon spokesperson said no juveniles were held at Guantánamo, where over 500 Muslim men are detained without charge or trial in conditions that have provoked worldwide concern.
But British lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who returned from visiting clients in Guantánamo last week, claims that at least five people held there were taken to the camp after being arrested, despite being under 18 at the time.
One youth, 14 when detained in October 2001 in
The investment’s been made: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday defended the
Asked to explain the advantage of keeping the
This is America?: Updating our coverage of last Friday's shameful performance by the U.S. House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), when he cut witness testimony short in the additional day of hearings on the Patriot Act as requested, under House Rule 11, by the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is introducing a resolution to rebuke the Chariman for his outrageous behavior. Included in Nadler's resolution, is condemnation of Sensenbrenner's gaveling of the hearings to an early close without hearing unanimous consent, debate or even a second; his refusal to allow witnesses to respond to questions; cutting questioning by minority Congressmen short; unprecedented convening of the hearings when Congress was not in session and other actions less-than-honorable for a United States Congressman.
Two Little Blurbs From The
This is curious. I’m sure most of you know that UPI and the Washington Times are owned by the Unification
A former Bush team member during his first administration is now voicing serious doubts about the collapse of the
Two years after President George W. Bush proclaimed "mission accomplished" in
Comment: Read the following 225 words from a Tuesday news story in the
“Sheehan ridiculed Bush for saying that it's ‘hard work’ comforting the widow of a soldier who's been killed in Iraq: ‘Hard work is seeing your son's murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you're enjoying the last supper you'll ever truly enjoy again. Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son, your first-born, your kind and gentle sweet baby. Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday. Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big (brother) into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both,’ she said ... "’We're watching you very carefully and we're going to do everything in our power to have you impeached for misleading the American people,’ she said, quoting a letter she sent to the White House. ‘Beating a political stake in your black heart will be the fulfillment of my life ... ,’ she said, as the audience of 200 people cheered.”
Opinion: Forty-three years ago last weekend, on June 11, 1962, President John Kennedy addressed the graduating class of the
At this moment in our country's history, it is appropriate -- indeed, necessary -- to reflect on the wisdom of his words. Recently, the secret "Downing Street memo" has proven what many Americans long suspected and what a few former Bush administration insiders (Dick Clarke and Paul O'Neill) have been publicly saying: President Bush -- contrary to pronouncements to the American public suggesting otherwise -- "had made up his mind to take military action" against Iraq as early as July 2002 and then worked to make sure "the intelligence and facts were being fixed" around this controversial policy.
The president's "deliberate, contrived and dishonest" comments about his desire to wage war deserve to be treated as "a great enemy of truth" by both Congress and the American public.
However, it is not enough to simply hold Bush accountable for his blatant disregard for the truth. We, as citizens, must also take to heart the second part of Kennedy's prescient advice and challenge the many myths that still shroud our policy in
Two myths are especially troubling. The first is that we sought to overthrow Saddam Hussein to establish a democracy in
A soldier’s story:"We were out of breath when we got to the gun-truck nearest to the black civilian truck. There were four Iraqis walking towards us from the black truck. They were carrying a body, a small boy no more than 3 years old. His head was cocked at the wrong angle and there was blood. So much blood. The Iraqi men were crying and asking me WHY?
"Someone behind me started screaming for a medic. It was the young soldier who had fired. He screamed for a medic until he was hoarse. A medic came just to tell us what we already knew: The boy was dead.
"I stood there looking at that little child, someone's child just like mine, and seeing how red the clean white shirt of the man holding the boy was turning. Then I realized I was speaking to them, speaking in a voice that sounded so very far away. I heard my voice telling them how sorry we were. My mouth was saying this but all my mind could focus on was the hole in the child's head. The white shirt covered in bright red blood. I couldn't stop looking even as I kept telling them how sorry we were.
"I can still see it all to this day. There were no weapons found and we accomplished nothing besides killing a child. I stayed as long as I could, talking to the man holding the child. I couldn't leave because I needed to know who they were. I wanted to remember. The man was the child's uncle, minding him for his father who had gone to the market. They were carpenters and what the soldier who had fired on the truck had seen was one of the Iraqi men standing in the truck bed, holding a piece of wood.
"Before I left I saw the young soldier who had killed the boy. His eyes were unfocused and he was just standing there, staring off into the distance. My hand went to my canteen and I took a drink of water. That soldier looked so lost, so I offered him a drink. In a hoarse voice he quietly thanked me.
"Later that day we were filling out reports about what we had witnessed. The captain who had led the raid was angry: 'Well, this is just great! Now we have to go give that family bags of money to shut them up ... '