Friday, July 15, 2005

War News for Friday, July 15, 2005 Bring 'em on: Six Iraqis killed, 20 wounded by five car bomb attacks in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two US Marines killed by roadside bomb near Trebil. Bring 'em on: Five Iraqi employed at US base killed in Baquba. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi soldier killed by insurgents near Taji. Bring 'em on: Iraqi driver killed after driving too close to US convoy in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Fighting reported in Samarra. Bring 'em on: Mortar fire reported in Baghdad. Fallujah.
Transformed into a police state after last winter's siege, this should be the safest city in all of Iraq. Thousands of American and Iraqi troops live in crumbling buildings here and patrol streets laced with concertina wire. Any Iraqi entering the city must show a badge and undergo a search at one of six checkpoints. There is a 10 p.m. curfew. But the insurgency is rising from the rubble nevertheless, eight months after the American military killed as many as 1,500 Iraqis in a costly invasion that fanned anti-American passions across Iraq and the Arab world. Somewhere in the bowels of Falluja, the former guerrilla stronghold 35 miles west of Baghdad, where four American contractors were killed in an ambush, and the bodies of two were hanged from a bridge, in March 2004, insurgents are building suicide car bombs again. At least four have exploded in recent weeks, one of them killing six American troops, including four women. Two of five police forts being erected have been firebombed. Three members of the nascent, 21-seat city council have suddenly quit and another member has stopped attending meetings, presumably because they have been threatened. Just as disturbing, even Falluja residents who favored purging the streets of insurgents last November are beginning to chafe under the occupation
. Profiteering. "The Iraqi Defense Ministry has squandered more than $300 million buying faulty and outdated military equipment in what appears to be a massive web of corruption that flourished under American-appointed supervisors for a year or longer, U.S. and Iraqi military officials said this week. Vendors are suspected of vastly overcharging for substandard equipment, including helicopters, machine guns and armored vehicles, and kicking back money to Iraqi Defense Ministry buyers. The defective equipment has jeopardized the lives of Iraq's embattled security forces and exposed a startling lack of oversight for one of the country's most crucial rebuilding projects. . . . Investigators are looking at purchases dating back to the June 28, 2004, transfer of sovereignty from American administrator L. Paul Bremer III to the caretaker government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Many Iraqi administrators hired under Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority kept their jobs after the handover of the ministry, but after that the U.S. military no longer had the final say in awarding contracts. However, Americans still ran the show behind the scenes, said several Iraqi bureaucrats involved with the ministry at the time. It's implausible to them that U.S. officials, who held daily briefings with Iraqi defense chiefs, didn't catch wind of the alleged wrongdoing." Collateral damage reports. "Nearly 40,000 Iraqis had been killed as a direct result of combat or armed violence since the US-led invasion, a figure considerably higher than previous estimates, a Swiss institute reported today. The public database Iraqi Body Count, by comparison, estimates that between 22,787 and 25,814 Iraqi civilians have died since the March 2003 invasion, based on reports from at least two media sources. No official estimates of Iraqi casualties from the war have been issued, although military deaths from the US-led coalition forces are closely tracked and now total 1937. The new estimate of 39,000 was compiled by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies and published in its latest annual small arms survey, released at a UN news conference." Thanks to alert reader cervantes. Truth Tour. "The U.S. Army is investigating the death of 49-year-old Kent State Professor Salah Jmor, who was shot and killed by a soldier in Iraq, NewsChannel5 reported. NewsChannel5's news partners at the Akron Beacon Journal said details are sketchy as to why Jmor was in Baghdad, but he had been mentioned as a candidate for a job with the new Iraqi government." Jody calls.
After surviving the chaos of Iraq, thousands of soldiers have become casualties of a fight they were poorly trained for: keeping control of their family lives during the separation of war. Men and women who feel lucky their units suffered few fatalities say they can name dozens who returned to empty houses, squandered bank accounts, divorce papers and restraining orders. The Army divorce rate has jumped more than 80% since the fighting began overseas in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The courts around Ft. Hood, the Army's largest post, may have to add another judge to handle the caseload. Divorce lawyers hire extra staff whenever a division prepares to come home. To a soldier in battle, the threat of a family falling apart can be a dangerous distraction. "That's probably the worst part about being over there," said Hall, now back at Ft. Hood and facing a marriage so damaged it may not survive. "Your wife's cheating on you, you know she's been spending all your money the entire time, and there's nothing you can do about it. You think about that more than you do a bomb on the side of the road."
Torture policy. Three top military lawyers said yesterday that they lodged complaints about the Justice Department's definition of torture and how it would be applied to interrogations of enemy prisoners captured by U.S. forces, the first time they have publicly acknowledged that they objected to the policy as it was being developed in early 2003. At a Senate hearing yesterday, the judge advocate generals (JAGs) for the Army, Air Force and Marines said they expressed their concerns as the policy was being hashed out at the Pentagon in March and April 2003. Though their letters to the Defense Department's general counsel are classified, sources familiar with them said the lawyers worried that broadly defined, tough interrogation tactics would not only contravene long-standing military doctrine -- leaving too much room for interpretation by interrogators -- but also would cause public outrage if the tactics became known. 'We did express opposition,' said Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig, the Army's top lawyer. 'It was accepted in some cases, maybe not in all cases. It did modify the proposed list of policies and procedures.'" Civil war.
The almost daily appearance of bodies is fuelling Iraq’s already boiling sectarian hatreds, and Shia leaders, whose community has been slaughtered in car bombs by Sunni insurgents and their al-Qaeda allies, are struggling to prevent powerful Shia militias such as the Mahdi Army from seeking revenge, effectively triggering a civil war. “Every day we find innocent people killed and their bodies dumped on the streets. We don’t know who’s responsible,” said Major-General Hussein al-Kamal, head of the Interior Ministry’s intelligence department. “The minister has ordered that a special committee look into this explosive issue.” In the present tinderbox, even the smallest incident can spark tragedy. Last week a Shia family of nine were killed by gunmen in their home in Baghdad. The father, who was away when his wife and children were murdered, said the killing was sectarian. Three months earlier he had become embroiled in an argument with a local Sunni barber who had mocked pictures of the Shia saint Imam Ali that he saw on the screen of his son’s mobile phone. The father remonstrated with the barber, who was later killed by unknown gunmen. The father said he believed his family had been attacked in revenge.
Access to evil. "Let us remember the real reason that White House political enforcer Karl Rove was chatting with selected reporters in the summer of 2003. It was not necessarily to blow the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame. It was not, entirely, to mete out vicious retribution against her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, for writing an op-ed article in The New York Times that discounted administration claims about an alleged Iraqi effort to acquire uranium from Niger. The malevolence was more fundamental. Rove was trying to sustain the lies that led America into Iraq." Expanding war. "Turkey said it reserves the right to make military incursions into neighboring northern Iraq to pursue Turkish Kurd rebels and renewed criticism of the United States for failing to clamp down on the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Back in Iraq, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Green Zone government compound, killing a civilian, as U.S. forces announced the capture of a suspect in the murder of Egypt's top envoy." Support the troops!
With all that's been learned from combat veterans in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, Dr. Dewey believes we have the clinical expertise to successfully diagnose and treat PTSD. But he worries about a shortage of resources -- of money -- to deal with the coming caseload. He says the local VA medical center in Boise is a case in point. The mental health department has a budget of about $4 to 5 million but Dr. Dewey says there's still not enough money to fill five critical vacancies on his staff. "We've got a budget that is inadequate for the task we need to face right now," he said. And it is not just doctors like Larry Dewey who are voicing concern. A Government Accountability Office report found that six out of seven VA medical facilities surveyed late last year said they "may not be able to meet" the increased demand for treatment.
Commentary Editorial:
It appears that Mr. Rove was so intent on smearing a White House critic that he launched a personal attack on Mr. Wilson and his wife. Mr. Rove should have known better than to expose a CIA agent without knowing the harm that it could cause, particularly at a time when WMD intelligence was a deciding factor in the decision to go to war. Instead Mr. Rove sought to discredit critics. Mr. Rove used similar tactics in a campaign against Sen. John McCain after the senator bested Mr. Bush in the Republican primary in New Hampshire in 2000. Now Mr. Rove's defenders are doing the same: attacking his critics. Are these the values that Mr. Bush endorses? It's no secret that Mr. Rove plays hard-ball politics. Fair enough. Politics isn't always nice. But such tactics cross the line when they put people's lives and well-being at risk. President Bush promised that, ''If somebody did leak classified information . . . we'll take appropriate action.'' It's time that he made good on that promise.
Americans deserve an explanation. They need to hear why any member of the Bush administration would compromise a CIA agent and why any of its members would be so intolerant of the concerns of a diplomat to put his wife's life at risk. Bush vowed the White House official responsible would be fired. As mounting evidence points to Rove, that prospect doesn't seem so certain. Despite growing calls from the media and other quarters for Rove to come clean, he has been silent. It is an odd position for the Bush administration. After all, the White House has been explicitly critical of news organizations that use unnamed sources. The administration publicly chastised Newsweekmagazine for its report of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which relied on an anonymous source. The abuse allegations, however, were largely substantiated. Now the White House is forced to defend an anonymous source who sought to punish Wilson for speaking out.
Opinion: "When forced to choose between protecting its reputation and protecting Ms. Plame so that she could continue her work, the White House valued its own security first. Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, had gone to Niger in 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had sought uranium there. He reported that it had not, but in his 2003 State of the Union Address, Mr. Bush said, "Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," a claim the White House later retracted." Analysis:
Islamist militant suicide bombers are likely to wreak havoc in Iraq for years to come, even if Iraqi leaders manage to calm a broader insurgency by drawing alienated Sunni Arabs into democratic politics. ''We see many more years of violence from certain groups, whatever political accords are made with the Sunnis and however much Iraqi forces are improved,'' said a senior Western diplomat. US and some Iraqi leaders, encouraged by millions of voters braving suicide bomb threats to vote in January polls, hope an inclusive approach can curb violence among minority Sunnis who dominated Iraq until Saddam Hussein's fall in 2003. But the strategy may have no appeal for hardline Baathists or the foreign Islamist groups blamed for many of the suicide bombings that have killed thousands of people, mainly Iraqis.
Casualty Report Local story: Georgia soldier killed in Iraq.


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