Wednesday, June 29, 2005
War News for Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed by a car bomb near Tikrit. New US offensive, involving about 1,000 Marines and other US troops supplemented by Iraqi forces launched in the Euphrates river valley between Hit and Haditha.
Bring ‘em on: Iraqi television executive shot and killed by US troops when he drove near their convoy in
Same as the old boss: Days after
Faik Baqr, the director and chief forensic investigator at the central
Raad Sultan, an official in
Officials in the Interior Ministry's intelligence division deny having detainees, saying they only question those in Iraqi prisons. But one investigation by the Human Rights Ministry found 32 detainees, and another found 67 in Interior Ministry intelligence facilities. The majority of the detainees had been tortured, Sultan said.
Most of those who were tortured had their hands cuffed behind their backs, were blindfolded and had been beaten by cords or subjected to electrical shock, Sultan said. Baqr, at the morgue, said the bodies that have been brought to him handcuffed and blindfolded had been similarly abused.
Asked who he thought was behind the upsurge in such executions, Baqr said, "It is a very delicate subject for society when you are blaming the police officers. ... It is not an easy issue.
"We hear that they are captured by the police and then the bodies are found killed ... it's obviously increasing."
Baqr said he's been unable to catalog the deaths because so many bodies have been brought through his morgue and because he doesn't have enough doctors. Before March 2003, he said, the morgue handled 200 to 250 suspicious deaths a month, about 16 of which included firearm injuries. He said he now sees 700 to 800 suspicious deaths a month, with about 500 having firearm wounds.
Many Iraqis say the giveaway that the abductors are at least connected to the police is the preponderance of reports involving Land Cruisers, Glocks and other expensive equipment.
Double dilemma: For weeks, Sheik Adnan Fahd had been avoiding meeting U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ross A. Brown. Going to see the officer at his base would be extremely dangerous, given the intelligence network of Iraqi insurgents. To invite him to his home would be courting death.
Finally, Brown came north, traveling six miles in a heavily armed convoy of four Humvees for a June 21 meeting in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad – a strained get-together that summed up the conundrum facing the U.S. military and Sunni Arabs in Iraq.
For the American officer, the objective was to win Fahd’s cooperation in the fight against insurgents in Mahmoudiya in an area south of the capital known as “The Triangle of Death.”
But for Fahd, a Sunni tribal leader heading a clan of 30,000, the meeting highlighted his double dilemma: He must keep at bay both the insurgents who watch his every move and the
Water: Lubna Ali was resigned to the daily electricity shortages that cut off the lights, shut down the air conditioning and left her family sweltering in the summer heat.
She coped with her terror of the bombs, drive-by shootings and kidnappings by deciding, at the start of this year, to venture no further than her garden gate.
But the final straw for the 42-year-old housewife from the middle-class New Baghdad district in the Iraqi capital came when a rebel attack on a water plant cut off supplies to two million people.
With the temperature above 50C, this brought Mrs Ali "the true knowledge of despair".
"I didn't think it could get worse - and then it did," she said, her kitchen filled with dirty plates and the lavatories unflushed. "The children are crying. All we want is to pour some water on our bodies.
"I now wish we could go back to Saddam's time. We suffered then, but not like the suffering nowadays. There is no water or electricity. I can't sleep because of the heat. How are we to live these lives of misery?"
The Return Of The
More of the same: President Bush on Tuesday appealed for the nation's patience for "difficult and dangerous" work ahead in
In an evening address at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in
"Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real," Bush said, according to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House. "It is worth it."
Just keep saying it and it's the same as if it’s true: Twelve days ago, The Washington Post reported that the Bush White House had concluded that George W. Bush--who was facing sinking polling numbers regarding the war in
It would be funny if so many people's lives weren't at stake: Iraqis were divided Wednesday over U.S. President George W. Bush's rejection of a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, which came a day after insurgents bent on starting a civil war marked the country's first year of sovereignty by killing more than a dozen people.
Bush's speech at a U.S. Army base in North Carolina was broadcast live on several Arab television networks, but most Iraqis were asleep because it began at about 4:00 a.m. local time Wednesday. TV newscasts replayed portions of the speech later in the morning, drawing a wide range of reactions from Iraqis.
"Iraq cannot be stable if the American and coalition forces left it because Iraqi forces don't have the required level of training to protect the country," said Baghdad University engineering professor Moayad Yasin al-Samaraie, 55.
But other Iraqis still believe the presence of about 138,000
How much effort is really being made?: In tonight's speech, President Bush will no doubt once again cite 'training of security forces' as one of the success stories of the Iraqi adventure. Completing that mission will probably be one of the criteria for withdrawing
Contribution (Trainers, Funding, Force Protection)
| || |
Offered five to 10 military driving instructors for a German-led training mission for Iraqis in the
| || |
Pledged to send five instructors to
| || |
Offered up to 30 instructors to train outside
| || |
Pledged to send five instructors and train up to 100 Iraqi military police in the
| || |
Offered 10 trainers and seven soldiers for force protection. Sent pistols, radios, binoculars and other equipment for Iraqi forces.
| || |
One officer serving on NTM-I and has pledged $65,000 in support funds.
| || |
Will send one officer to help mission coordination at NATO headquarters in
| || |
Offered to train Iraqi military personnel in
| || |
Has contributed approximately $376,000 in support funding.
| || |
Sixteen officers currently in
| || |
Public information officer will serve with NATO mission in
| || |
Eight officers currently serving in support of NTM-I mission in
| || |
Plans to host Iraqi soldiers for bomb disposal training. Contributing $65,000 to NTM-I trust fund. Sending equipment to Iraqi forces.
| || |
Two trainers serving in
| || |
Offered $196,000 in support funds.
| || |
10 military police and 15 trainers currently serving on NTM-I mission. Considering sending more.
| || |
Sending 10 trainers to
| || |
Plans to send up to 10 trainers and a transport platoon of about 30. Considering sending force protection unit. Decision pending expiration of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 and elections scheduled for September 2005.
| || |
Sending up to 10 soldiers to
| || |
Two instructors in
| || |
Sending two instructors to
| || |
Offered to support training outside
| || |
Plans to train groups of 25 Iraqis in mine clearance at a center outside
| || |
Two officers serving in
| || |
Eleven soldiers now serving with NTM-I mission. Pledged $330,000 in support funding.
| || |
Commands the operation under Lt. Gen. David Petraeus. 60 instructors and a force protection company with NTM-I mission in
It doesn't inspire confidence that so many of the offered contributions from the NATO allies involve training sessions outside
(I lifted this post entry intact from Needlenose. Damn, those boys are good.)
Nasty little poser: The United States is already suffering higher casualties than we were at the same stage of the Vietnam War. So, okay,
And just two years ago George Bush pulled his little airplane stunt on the USS Abraham Lincoln, and had a big
Tonight he will use a captive audience of soldiers, who he commands, and who will be ordered to smile and cheer and shout hooahs at the appropriate points in this latest Karl Rove production, and I find that offensive. More than offensive, it is obscene.
I find it offensive that the very people he would send to death, disfigurement and despair in the service of this administration’s lengthening list of lies, are now required, – when they could be home tonight with the loved ones they have missed so much in the last two years – to serve as stage props so George W. Bush can add one more bit of cheerleading hype, one more publicity stunt, to his resume. And in Iraq, every time the poll numbers spook the White House, they add one more so-called counter-offensive, each promising that there is light at the end of this tunnel, and each dispatching more military sedans to the homes of those who wait to hear the terrible news that someone they loved is no longer in the world.
George W. Bush is using troops as props, but he doesn’t show up for the funerals of the troops who have been killed in his war. This is about as clear as things get.
Support the props...er, troops!: I finally had a chance to watch a few clips of Bush speaking. And there was something almost uniquely contemptible about the way the Rovians used the troops as political props -- worse, even, than the flight deck follies on the Abraham Lincoln.
Back then, Bush was basking in what he thought was a famous victory, and sharing a little of his reflected glory with the swabbies. He was happy to be there and they were, too. It may have grated on those of us who understood how many unwritten constitutional rules Bush was breaking by dressing up in a military costume. But the sailors genuinely seemed to enjoy it.
Last night, by contrast, seemed about as enjoyable as a root canal for all parties concerned. When the only way you can get a hand from a handpicked military audience is by having a ringer in the audience start clapping, you know you're bombing (so to speak.)
The problem, I guess, is that while Bush was using the troops as a visual backdrop, politically speaking he was trying to hide behind them. And it showed.
Phony through and through: ABC's Terry Moran just reported that the only time Bush got applause was in the middle of his speech when a White House advance team member started clapping all on their own in order to cajole the soldiers into clapping, which they dutifully did. So even the applause was fake.
Billmon nails it: If you go back and look at the old party lines (versions 1.0 and 2.0) you can quickly see that something new has been added. Heretofore, the "anti-Iraqi forces" have consisted of:
1.) Foreign Terrorists (aka "assassins") 2.) Regime Remnants (aka "dead enders") 3.) Criminal Elements (aka "thugs")
But now we have a fourth category, one with a nice neutral name that doesn't allude to hacking people's heads off or gassing your own people or hating our freedoms:
4.) Iraqi Insurgents (aka "negotiating partners.")
From there on out, the speech carefully and repeatedly distinguished between the terrorists and the insurgents, who are now -- in the fantasy world of the White House propaganda shop at least -- two unique and different populations, where before they were one and indivisible:
Iraqi forces have fought bravely – helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf,
To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents (emphasis added).
Today Iraqi Security Forces are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves. (emphasis added.)
We are building up Iraqi Security Forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents. (emphasis added)
And so on. It would seem the error in the historical record has been rectified (although the gang still hasn't gotten that memory hole thing completely down yet.) But the policy -- "no nation can negotiate with terrorists" -- hasn't changed one bit. It remains as a monument to our leader's moral clarity and unflagging resolution.
It really is amazing what you can do with -- and to -- the English language.
The public seems unimpressed: The televisions at VFW Post 2500 in
Just Say Whatever You Think They Want To Hear
A man of steadfast moral clarity: George W. Bush, 4/9/99: “Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
George W. Bush, 6/5/99: “I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”
George W. Bush, 6/24/05: “It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”
Veterans and Servicepeople's Affairs
How they really feel about the props: This just in from the Hill. On the same day President Bush will use the soldiers at
The backstory: Last week, the Washington Post revealed that the budget for veterans’ health care was suffering a billion dollar shortfall this year, a fact unearthed “only during lengthy questioning” of a Veterans Affairs undersecretary.
The Bush administration had claimed on multiple occassions that the current budget was enough to provide full care. Back in February, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson testified that he was “satisfied that we can get the job done with this budget.” Later, when Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) tried to add funds into the VA budget, Nicholson wrote her a letter assuring that the VA did not “need emergency supplemental funds in FY2005 to continue to provide timely, quality service that is always our goal.”
Yet today, even after the administration’s misleading claims had been exposed, and despite brand new data showing that demand for veterans health programs had grown twice as fast as the VA predicted earlier this year, House conservatives still voted to block any additional funding for veterans’ care.
Moments ago, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), the ranking minority member on the House Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs, proposed making up the shortfall for vets’ care in a foreign aid bill that is still being considered. According to the AP, conservatives shot down the measure on a 217-189 vote.
"Budget shortfalls": Nicholson and other VA officials on Tuesday will testify before Congress "to explain why the department has just now revealed budget shortfalls of at least $1 billion" in health care funding in the current and next fiscal years,... CQ Today reports (Allen/Starks, CQ Today, 6/27). The shortfall came to light during an administration mid-year budget review and was noted during lengthy questioning of Jonathan Perlin, VA undersecretary for health, by House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chair Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) at a hearing Thursday. Perlin said VA has used more than $300 million on health care from a fund that had been expected to be carried over into the fiscal year 2006 budget. Further, he said as much as $600 million originally intended for capital spending will go toward the shortfall.
In light of the shortfalls, the Senate Appropriations Committee has delayed its scheduled markup of its version of the FY 2006 VA spending bill to late July. The House already has passed its version of the VA spending bill. The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee has scheduled an emergency hearing on the budget shortfall, and the House VA Committee is expected to hold its own hearing later this week (CQ Today, 6/27). In other congressional action on the funding shortfall, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has reintroduced a bill that would provide emergency health funding (Bernton, Seattle Times, 6/27). In its earlier form, the bill was an amendment to appropriations legislation for the
How can any military person still take the Republicans seriously?: By now, it should be obvious that the "pro-defense" party doesn't give a damn about our troops, least of all veterans.
House Republicans ousted fellow conservative Chris Smith as chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs for his tireless advocacy of veterans rights. Current Chairman Steve Buyer was promoted, in the words of one Republican aide, "to tell the veterans groups, 'Enough is enough.'"
Senate Republicans have repeatedly voted down funding increases for vets to keep pace with inflation and meet rising needs.
The Bush Administration tried to add an enrollment fee and double the prescription co-payment for VA health care.
And now the VA admits it is $1 billion short on health care funding for this year alone.
After months of dodging Congressional questioning, VA undersecretary for health Jonathan Perlin finally gave the House VA Committee an unexpectedly honest answer last week. It turns out the $1.6 billion spending increase promised last year has been a matter of accounting trickery, achieved by shifting money from one account to another, and cutting almost $1 billion for medical administration, facilities and prosthetic research.
Maybe they’re seeing the light: June is the month in which
My class, that of 1969, set a record with more than 50 percent resigning within a few years of completing the service commitment. (My father's class, 1945, the one that "missed" World War II, was considered to be the previous record-holder, with about 25 percent resigning before they reached the 20 years of service entitling them to full retirement benefits.)
And now, from what I've heard from friends still in the military and during the two years I spent reporting from
The mistake the Army made then is the same mistake it is making now: how can you educate a group of handpicked students at one of the best universities in the world and then treat them as if they are too stupid to know when they have been told a lie?
Ways To Take Action
Write a letter for MoveOn: The president addressed the nation about
Sign a petition for WesPac: For generations, the
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has squandered our legacy of moral leadership.
I need your help to protect the honor of our men and women in uniform and to set us on the right course to win the war on terror. Although the President has said the
Set up a Town Hall Meeting for Conyers: The Brad Blog has learned that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and a number of other Congressional Members will announce their intention to hold open Town Hall Meetings across the country on July 23rd to discuss the "Downing Street Documents" with constituents.
The meetings, to be held on the same day around the country in the members' various Congressional Districts, will mark the third year anniversary of the creation of the original Downing Street Minutes document. That document, released nearly two months ago, revealed that the Bush Administration had determined at least eight months prior to the War on
Our Creeping Stalinism
Abuse of power: The federal government held 70 men as potential grand jury witnesses in terrorism investigations after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but nearly half were never called to testify, according to a new study by two advocacy groups.
The report, released yesterday by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, concluded that the government's use of "material witness" warrants in the months after the attacks was excessive and frequently unlawful because many of the detainees were never questioned by a grand jury or were denied access to attorneys for extended periods of time. Most were never charged with a crime.
The report also said the witnesses "were typically arrested at gunpoint, held round the clock in solitary confinement and subjected to the harsh and degrading . . . conditions" usually reserved for more dangerous criminal suspects. It also said the Justice Department used the special warrants primarily "to buy time to conduct fishing expeditions."
The Justice Department declined to say whether the study's tally of 70 material witnesses in terrorism investigations was accurate. A Washington Post survey in November 2002 identified at least 44 such cases.
The 101-page study is the latest in a series of reports by advocacy groups and media organizations raising questions about many of the hundreds of people detained by the Justice Department or other law enforcement agencies after the attacks on the
Spitting on international law: Italian prosecutors want to extradite 13 CIA officials accused of kidnapping a radical Muslim cleric and transporting him to Egypt where he reportedly was tortured, and they've asked Interpol to help track down the Americans, a court official said Tuesday.
A man identified as the former CIA station chief in
The Egyptian preacher was snatched in 2003, purportedly as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible ill treatment.
The order for the arrests in the transfer of the cleric — made public last Friday — was a rare public objection to the practice by a close American ally in its war on terrorism.
Disappearing ‘suspects’: The United Nations says it has learned of serious allegations that the
The special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak said the accusations were rumours at this stage, but urged the
He said the UN wants lists of the places of detention and those held.
The comments come five days after the UN accused the
Investigators have been asking to visit the jail in
The UN said for over a year there had been no response to its requests, and it would begin an inquiry into alleged abuses with or without
We Are Spreading Democracy Throughout The Benighted
Within limits, of course: She may be America’s most powerful woman but Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, made clear during her tour of the Middle East last week that she is not about to become its most outspoken supporter of women’s rights.
During her week-long sweep through Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Rice steered clear of confrontation over one of the region’s most volatile issues — the role of women in Islamic societies.
Her admission that there were “boundaries” to the US drive for democratic reform in the region — notably in Saudi Arabia, where she declined to take up the cause of women, who are barred from driving cars — spurred accusations of American hypocrisy.
Gold Star Mothers
I'm really glad they did this: The history of American Gold Star Mothers dates to the World War I era. It parallels the nation's military triumphs and tragedies, and its growing pains, too. The latter point was made abundantly clear at the organization's
"I fought a good fight, and I won," Florida Gold Star chapter head Georgianne Carter-Krell, whose branch put the rule change on the convention agenda. Earlier, national Gold Star President Ann Herd maintained that admitting noncitizens was "not feasible" and would cause "devastatingly many" ill repercussions. After the about-face, Carter-Krell said: "I am very pleased for Gold Star Mothers. We have finally done what is right."
According to government data, more than 28,000 noncitizens wore
Warning: Barf Bag Required
College Republicans: In interviews, more than a dozen conventiongoers explained why it is important that they stay on campus while other, less fortunate people their age wage a bloody war in
Collin Kelley, senior at
Edward Hauser, senior at
Justin Palmer, vice chairman of the Georgia Association of College Republicans,
Cory Bray, senior from the
And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."
No, Mr. Bray, you have it wrong. You don’t do shit. You are shit. Chickenshit.
Rove Republicans prepare for war - A twelve-step program
1. Deploy 101st Fighting Keyboarders
2. Cut taxes for the $300,000-and-up income bracket
3. Tell citizens to continue shopping
4. Cut taxes on capital gains
5. Begin “fixing” intelligence and facts
6. Undermine Secretary of State with humiliating U.N. presentation
7. Repeal estate tax
8. Alienate remaining international allies
9. Distribute magnetic “support the troops” ribbons
10. Prepare U.S.S. Lincoln for critical photo op
11. Dispatch preparatory rose-petal-cleanup detail for
and finally, most important:
12. Blame failure on liberals.
Arundhati Roy: To ask us why we are doing this, you know, why is there a World Tribunal on
While I listened to the testimonies yesterday, especially, I must say that I didn't know -- I mean, not that one has to choose, but still, you know, I didn't know what was more chilling, you know, the testimonies of those who came from Iraq with the stories of the blood and the destruction and the brutality and the darkness of what was happening there, or the stories of that cold, calculated world where the business contracts are being made, where the laws are rewritten, where a country occupies another with no idea of how it's going to provide protection to people, but with such a sophisticated idea of how it's going to loot it of its resources. You know, the brutality or the contrast of those two things was so chilling.
But at the end of it, today we do seem to live in a world where the United States of America has defined an enemy combatant, someone whom they can kidnap from any country, from anyplace in the world and take for trial to America. An enemy combatant seems to be anybody who harbors thoughts of resistance. Well, if this is the definition, then I, for one, am an enemy combatant. Thank you.
Local story: Former
Local story: Former