War News for Saturday, July 30, 2005
Bring 'em on: Two security contractors killed by roadside bomb near Basra
Bring 'em on: One Iraqi killed in roadside bomb ambush of US convoy in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Insurgents blow up Iraqi police station in Fallujah
Bring 'em on: US convoy ambushed by roadside bomb in Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Health Ministry official kidnapped in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Bodies of three kidnapped airport employees found in Baghdad
. "The death toll rose Saturday to 40 in the Friday suicide bomb attack outside a military conscription center in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the Iraqi police said. An Iraqi police source said in a press statement that up to 60 people were wounded in the blast."
. "One of the few senior Sunni officials who had urged Sunni Arabs to join Iraq's political process has been fired, the government said Saturday. The death toll from a suicide attack on Iraqi army recruits rose to 44. Adnan al-Dulaimi was dismissed July 24 as head of the Sunni Endowment, the government agency in charge of the upkeep of Sunni mosques and shrines, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's office said. It declined to speak further on the matter. Al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press he was fired for defending Sunnis, who dominated Iraqi politics under Saddam Hussein but feel marginalized by the current U.S.-backed, Shiite-dominated government. Drawing Sunnis into the political process is seen as key for legitimizing any Iraqi government. 'I think that the reason behind my dismissal is that they want to silence a voice that is speaking against unjustified practices against Sunnis such as arrests, torture in the prisons, and also for my calls to release innocent detainees and to save Iraq from sectarianism, insecurity and divisions,' al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press."
: "Hundreds of Iraqis are demonstrating in Baghdad for a second day against alleged police brutality and arbitrary arrests. The demonstration, called by the Iraqi Islamic Party, followed Friday prayers and was staged outside the Green Zone, a heavily protected area which is home to the Iraqi US-backed government, the US army and the US embassy. The zone was the site of the Iraqi republican palace, built in the 1960s. Protesters, who included many women, carried banners urging the authorities to respect human rights and acted out scenes depicting Iraqi soldiers torturing a Muslim cleric. They also called on the Iraqi government and the US army in Iraq to release Iraqi detainees. Reports suggest that thousands of Iraqis are being detained for indefinite periods and without trial. 'It is shameful to see our innocent fellow citizens being arrested, tortured and even killed by some in the security services which claim to be acting in the name of the law,' Aala Makki, an Islamic Party official, told the crowd."
Good work if you can get it
. "In May 2004, Jochim, who has lived in Orange County for 30 years, most recently in Orange, reported for duty in the Green Zone - the heavily fortified U.S. administrative headquarters in Baghdad. His title: chief auditor for the Iraq Commission for Public Integrity. His job: teaching Iraqis how to detect corruption. The job comes with a 'danger bonus' - 25 percent on top of his salary, which he wouldn't disclose, although it ranges between $70,000 and $120,000 a year. But Jochim said the perils of Baghdad don't bother him. 'I have less stress over there because I am not driving on California freeways,' he said."
. "The father of Army Pfc. LaVena L. Johnson says his daughter had a disfigured lip, loose teeth and a wound on the left side of her head when he reviewed her body this week. John Johnson said those discoveries are key reasons why he fears that foul play may have been involved in his 19-year-old daughter's death July 19 near Balad, Iraq." Waveflux has more.
Over at JWN
, Helena contrasts the British reaction to 7/7 and Bush's actions after 9/11. She also has some interesting observations on the practical efficacy of torture policy.
. "Iraq's transportation minister, a Shiite Muslim, has ordered a ban on alcohol sales at Baghdad International Airport, declaring that the facility is "a holy and revered" piece of Iraq, a spokesman said Friday. The airport duty-free shop so far has refused to comply with the order by Salam Maliki. Airport officials said Maliki threatened to have the store's $800,000 supply of alcoholic beverages destroyed."
. "For the past seven months, barely any guests have stayed in the sand-coloured concrete block that occupies a corner of a central Baghdad square, across from the Palestine Hotel. On Friday, just 9 of the Sheraton's 307 rooms were occupied. Some nights it is empty. The staff sit around disconsolate. The bell captain smokes with his feet up. The pool is drained. 'We have gone from 95 or 100 percent occupancy to less than three percent,' Mohanid Tamween, the reservations supervisor, said this week as he stood forlornly behind the front desk, wearing a threadbare jacket with a Sheraton emblem sewn on."
General Rives and the other military lawyers argued strongly against declaring that Mr. Bush was above the law when it came to antiterrorism operations. But the president's team ignored them, offering up a pretzel logic that General Rives and the other military experts warned would not fool anyone. Rear Adm. Michael Lohr, the Navy's judge advocate general, said that the situation at the American prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba might be so legalistically unique that the Geneva Conventions and even the Constitution did not necessarily apply. But he asked, "Will the American people find we have missed the forest for the trees by condoning practices that, while technically legal, are inconsistent with our most fundamental values?"
General Rives said that if the White House permitted abusive interrogations at Guantánamo Bay, it would not be able to restrict them to that single prison. He argued that soldiers elsewhere would conclude that their commanders were condoning illegal behavior. And that is precisely what happened at Abu Ghraib after the general who organized the abuse of prisoners at Guantánamo went to Iraq to toughen up the interrogation of prisoners there.
The White House ignored these military lawyers' advice two years ago. Now it is trying to kill the measure that would define the term "illegal combatants," set rules for interrogations and prohibit cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The president considers this an undue restriction of his powers. It's not only due; it's way overdue.
Local story: Wisconsin
soldier killed in Iraq.
Local story: Missouri
soldier killed in Iraq.
Local story: Two Ohio
Marines killed in Iraq.
Local story: California
soldier dies in Iraq.
Local story: Wisconsin
soldier dies in Iraq.
Rant of the Day
It was the best of times
. "Those with much to gain from the repeal include the President and his Cabinet. Based on estimates of the net worth of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and each of the Cabinet members, the President, Vice President, and the Cabinet are estimated to receive a total tax benefit of between $91 million and $344 million if the estate tax repeal is made permanent. The President himself is estimated to save between $787,000 and $6.2 million, while Vice President Cheney is estimated to save between $12.6 million and $60.7 million."
It was the worst of times
. "Sweethearts since their days at Lincoln County High School, the couple had moved to McDuffie County seven years ago to raise their family. Sunday night, Spc. Kinlow - a reservist with the Georgia National Guard - died while on patrol in Iraq, the victim of a roadside bomb that demolished the Humvee he was in. His death came just weeks before the 35-year-old soldier was set to return to McDuffie County on a two-week hiatus from the rigors of battlefield life. 'I feel like I've just been cheated out of my life,' his wife said through tears Tuesday night. 'We were supposed to grow old together. ... When you can finally smooth out the edges and you are supposed to have the American dream, he's gone. You are supposed to buy your house and your white picket fence and ... he's gone.' Spc. Kinlow is survived by his wife and two children - Chauncey, a rising sophomore at Thomson High School, and Chelsea, a rising fifth grader at Norris Elementary School in Thomson. His parents, Alchester and Carrie Mae Kinlow, his sister, Sophia, and his niece, Kendra, live in Lincoln County."
It was the age of wisdom
“Senior military lawyers lodged vigorous and detailed dissents in early 2003 as an administration legal task force concluded that President Bush had authority as commander in chief to order harsh interrogations of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, newly disclosed documents show. Despite the military lawyers' warnings, the task force concluded that military interrogators and their commanders would be immune from prosecution for torture under federal and international law because of the special character of the fight against terrorism. In memorandums written by several senior uniformed lawyers in each of the military services as the legal review was under way, they had urged a sharply different view and also warned that the position eventually adopted by the task force could endanger American service members.”
It was the age of foolishness
. "Study after study has replicated the findings that human activity is the cause. Americans, with our exponentially disproportionate consumption of fossil fuels and our resulting belch of pollution, bear prime responsibility for it. Yet Barton, the House member most beholden to energy interests, keeps telling us to wait a few hundred more years and it will get cold again. He wants to probe the financial records, study methods, sources, proof of objectivity and proof of ethical independence of climate change researchers. He asked them: ``In the area of climate or paleoclimate research, are you aware of any violation of requirements or obligations concerning the sharing and dissemination of data and research, pursuant to applicable agency and federal policies? If so describe each violation.''
It was the epoch of belief
. "There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism. What was required in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was an intense, laserlike focus by America and its allies on Al Qaeda-type terrorism. Instead, the Bush crowd saw its long dreamed of opportunity to impose its will on Iraq, which had nothing to do with the great tragedy of Sept. 11. Many thousands have paid a fearful price for that bit of ideological madness."
It was the epoch of incredulity
. "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile."
It was the season of light
. "Even as Maxwell recovers physically and psychologically, he patrols military hospitals and barracks to comfort and counsel a handful of the U.S. service members injured in Iraq, which number about 14,000. Sometimes Maxwell's speech is halting, and often his right foot 'flops,' as he puts it. He struggles to recall mundane words, like 'strawberry' or 'compass.' But Maxwell, who has endured depression and self-doubt during his recovery, says he is determined to make sure that no wounded Marine is left alone to sink into depression or despair. 'People who haven't been wounded can't possibly understand the sense of loneliness and abandonment you feel,' Maxwell, a slender, sharp-featured figure in a tan Marine uniform, said as he hustled through the therapy ward. Maxwell, one of the highest-ranking U.S. service members wounded in Iraq, recalls encountering a 20-year-old Marine sitting alone inside a Camp Lejeune barracks in May. 'The kid couldn't use his arm. He'd seen his buddy killed. His family was in Florida,' Maxwell said. 'And he told me he felt so lonely and lost. I decided no Marine was going to be left all alone like that.'"
It was the season of darkness
. "Iraq was supposed to be a first step. Iran was also in the neoconservatives' sights. The neocons envisaged U.S. control of the region (and its oil), to be followed inevitably by the realization of their ultimate dream, a global American empire. Of course it sounds like madness, which is why we should have been paying closer attention from the beginning. The madness took a Dr. Strangelovian turn in the summer of 2002, before the war with Iraq was launched. As The Washington Post first reported, an influential Pentagon advisory board was given a briefing prepared by a Rand Corporation analyst who said the U.S. should consider seizing the oil fields and financial assets of Saudi Arabia if it did not stop its support of terrorism. Mercifully the briefing went nowhere. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it did not represent the 'dominant opinion' within the administration."
It was the spring of hope
. "Marsh & McLennan Cos. the world's largest insurance broker, on Friday said it will pay Chief Executive Michael Cherkasky at least $3.5 million in salary and bonus for 2005 under a new three-year employment contract. Cherkasky became chief executive last October, replacing Jeffrey Greenberg less than two weeks after New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer accused Marsh of conspiring with other insurers to rig bids. Marsh in January agreed to pay $850 million to settle the bid-rigging probe."
It was the winter of despair
. "But the miracle metamorphosis didn't happen. Ayad thought he was going to get a new eye; instead he got a contact lens. And the laser surgery that was promised to erase his facial scars will only lighten them, unless he can receive follow-up treatment in the United States or another modern country, which is highly unlikely once he leaves behind the silky sheets and first-class hotels for his mud hut. Just the sight of an Iraqi flag yesterday, at the Iraqi mission to the United Nations, jolted his father back to reality. 'Can't I stay here and work?' he asked Ambassador Samir Shakir M. Sumaida'ie, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations. When the ambassador gently shook his head, Ayad's father covered his face and cried."
We had everything before us
. "The Senate agreed to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits on Friday, as Congress broke for a monthlong recess after sending President Bush energy and transportation bills that had been years in the making. Long sought by the gun lobby, the Senate measure - approved 65 to 31 - would prohibit lawsuits against gun makers and distributors for misuse of their products during the commission of a crime. Senate supporters said the plan was needed to protect the domestic firearms industry from a rash of lawsuits that threatened its economic future."
We had nothing before us
. "According to the Marine Corps League, one Bush administration 2006 budget proposal would have charged one group of veterans a $250 application fee. Another would have doubled individual prescription medication costs from $7 to $15. A Veterans Affairs study in 2002 showed that nationally 310,000 veterans were waiting for appointments, half for more than six months, and veterans filing disability claims waited an average of six months for service - and sometimes as long as two years. Steve Robertson, legislative director of the American Legion, said of Bush administration VA proposals in a Washington Post write-up earlier this year: 'Their policies are inconsistent with a nation at war" and violate the basic military value of "an army of one, teamwork, taking care of each other.'"