Tuesday, August 30, 2005
War News for Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Bring ‘em on: US airstrikes near Qaim kill seven people identified by the
Bring ‘em on: At least 35 people killed and ‘dozens’ wounded in fighting between pro and anti-government tribes in the Qaim area.
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed and one wounded when their helicopter was shot down in the area of Tal Afar. Fifteen Iraqis killed by unknown gunmen between
Bring ‘em on: One Oil Ministry employee wounded in rocket attack on Oil Ministry building. Italian armored vehicle hit by US fire on
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi police colonels killed in separate attacks in
Taking it to the streets: After battling over
As many as 6 million copies of the draft are being printed for distribution to Iraqi citizens before the Oct. 15 vote. Kurdish and Shiite politicians, who finalized the text over the weekend despite the objections of Sunni Arabs, vowed to make a strong push for passage.
"We will use everything," said Jawad Maliki, a Shiite politician who helped draft the charter. "We will use mosque preachers. We will even use Christian churches. We will use everything we need to make a great campaign for this constitution."
But Sunni Arabs, bitterly opposed to a document they view as a recipe for dismembering
But what about the final, final, final draft?: The U.S. ambassador suggested Tuesday there may be further changes to the draft constitution in order to win Sunni Arab approval, saying he believed a "final, final draft" had not yet been presented.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad spoke two days after Shiite and Kurdish negotiators bypassed Sunni Arab negotiators and finished the draft, despite Sunni objections to federalism, references to former president Saddam Hussein's Baath party and the country's identification as an Islamic but not Arab state.
However, influential Shiite legislator Khaled al-Attiyah, a member of the constitution drafting committee, insisted that "no changes are allowed to be made to the constitution" except for "minor edits for the language."
Demonstration: Thousands of Sunni demonstrators rallied in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Monday to denounce
The absence of Sunni endorsement, after more than two months of intensive negotiations, raised fears of more violence and set the stage for a bitter political fight ahead of the referendum. A political battle threatened to sharpen communal divisions at a time when relations among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds appear to be worsening.
Warning: Thousands of Arab Sunnis took to the streets of
On Sunday, Shia and Kurdish negotiators gave up trying to win over the Sunnis and endorsed a constitutional text that will be presented to voters on October 15.
The Sunni delegates said it was a recipe for breaking up
Yesterday, however, the Iraqi Islamic party, a moderate group, said that although the draft did not represent its hopes and aspirations, there was still room for negotiation.
"We might say yes to the constitution if the disputed points are resolved," it said.
Some observers interpreted this as a veiled plea for a yes vote. With 5m copies to be printed this week, changes to the draft are unlikely.
A senior western diplomat said some moderates saw the constitution as balanced - albeit flawed - thanks to eleventh-hour changes that deferred contentious details to the next parliament. But they did not dare speak out openly. One politician has received a warning note that included the line: "Regards to your two daughters."
Recipe: Parts of the Iraqi draft constitution are a "recipe for chaos", Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has said.
He told the BBC the Arab League shared Sunni Muslim concerns over federalism and the fact the charter does not identify
The US and
The costs spiral up: Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in
This conflict has already cost each American at least $850 in military and reconstruction costs since October 2001.
If the war lasts another five years, it will cost nearly $1.4 trillion, calculates Linda Bilmes, who teaches budgeting at the Kennedy School of Government at
But even in stripped-down terms, looking only at military costs and using current dollars, the war's cost for the
Desperate measures: Twelve 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators here are preparing to leave in early September to support convoy operations in
These predominantly first-term airmen will undergo rigorous training at
Since 2003 when the Army chief of staff requested base operating support augmentation, airmen have been supporting convoy operations in the war on terrorism.
The Air Force pulling convoy detail...we're in worse shape than I thought.
Heartbreak high school: On the first day of school, students returned to
But the mood is changing...: For Bush, the start of a two-day departure from his Texas vacation allowed him to refocus, however briefly, on domestic issues after peace demonstrations outside his ranch this month drew sustained attention to the Iraq war. But even on this day, he was not able to escape the topic.
Hundreds of protesters lined his motorcade routes in Arizona and California, holding up signs such as "Bush the Lying Turd" and "Chicken George," a reference to his refusal to meet again with Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who set up camp near his Texas ranch demanding an audience.
More Bush lies and spin: The Bush administration has consistently portrayed
President Bush praised the proposed charter, delivered to the country's National Assembly on Sunday, as "a document of which the Iraqis and the rest of the world can be proud."
But many analysts say the document, which is scheduled to go before a national referendum in less than two months, is anything but a step toward a safer, more stable
A distinctly Islamic cast: It was a smart bit of spin by
The draft does contain language guaranteeing freedom of religion, association, speech and conscience, and an independent judiciary. It refers to crimes against the Iraqi people during decades of Ba'athist tyranny. It establishes principles, of accountability and the separation of powers, which are taken for granted in the west but are still rare in the Arab world. But it also turns the Iraqi state moulded by Saddam Hussein from one with secular republican institutions controlled by a powerful central government to one with a weak central government and a distinctly Islamist cast that worries the secular-minded and women.
The American Taliban gets its knickers knotted: In an Aug. 18 statement, Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, wrote on that group's Web site: "I have sent a letter to President Bush encouraging the Administration to redouble its efforts to ensure that the Iraq Constitution provides genuine religious freedom for all Iraqi citizens. An Iraqi Constitution that does not protect religious liberty will seriously undermine
Reached by phone on Thursday, Perkins said he wanted to make sure that the end result of the
"Let me speak as a veteran of the Marine Corps who has been supportive of the military action taken in
I don’t know what amuses me more – the sight of the Bush wingnut coalition imploding or the pathetic attempt of whackjob Perkins to portray himself as a supporter of religious freedom.
Logic versus George Bush: The Iraqis are having a hard time pulling together a constitution quickly enough to meet President Bush's public-relations timeline. As I am not an Iraqi, I have no interest in meddling in the affairs of that troubled land. Of course, I would prefer that the Iraqis establish a system of self-governance that, like ours in the United States, seeks to erect a wall of separation between church and state, preserve the rights of small states and political minorities, protect against military and police abuses, and guarantee freedom of speech, freedom of the press and all the other basics of a functioning democracy. If I was really writing a wish list, I might also recommend that the Iraqis do a better job than we do of limiting the power of corporate monopolies, keep special-interest money out of their politics, treating healthcare and education as basic rights and establishing reliable electoral systems. But as an American, I should not be worrying about perfecting the Iraqi constitution before I go about the work of getting things right here at home. This seems like basic logic to me. But that logic escapes our president.
Torture: Last month, Americans were given a new and persuasive reason for objecting to the use of torture as a tool in administration policy; namely, its potentially harmful impact on any viable counterterrorism strategy that values information as essential in combating Islamic fundamentalist terror. This strategic concern was raised in a set of memos released by the government in its latest "dump" of documents into the public arena.
Since the spring of 2004, the government has been making public previously classified documents nearly weekly, often in response to Freedom of Information Act law suits (though the numbers of newly classified documents are increasing at a rate that more than nullifies any sense of transparency such releases might suggest). Many of these memos have been about torture—whether to use it; how to use it; and, most of all, how to protect government agents and agencies against prosecution for using it. Among these documents have been memos from the Judge Advocate General's Corps (or JAG), written by military lawyers from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines, and these constitute a welcome oasis of sanity in a desert of compliance with the government's decision to use torture as a weapon in its "war on terror."
First brought to public attention in Senate debate on July 25, 2005, these JAG memos have seen the light thanks to a request from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. They were written in February 2003 as recommendations to a Pentagon working group on "interrogation policy." Collectively, they express a clear opposition to the use of the sorts of harsh interrogation techniques that White House lawyers had not only recommended but declared legally viable. Indeed, by August of 2002, lawyers for the administration had infamously suggested, as a basis for reducing legal culpability for the mistreatment of detainees, that the definition of torture itself be narrowed to include only ""[p]hysical pain …equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
The JAG memos, on the other hand, warned that abusive interrogation techniques—contrary to the advice administration lawyers were generating—might well be found illegal in courts of law: As one put it, "Our domestic courts may well disagree with [the administration's lawyers'] interpretation of the law." The courts, the JAG memos warned, might find that the use of torture, however redefined by the administration, violated not just international law, but domestic criminal law and the laws of the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well.
These memos have earned praise from critics of the Bush administration and its war on terror, who have been pleased to discover strong organizational resistance to administration policy within the military. But the terms of the disagreement have been little explored. It's not just the fact of the dissent that is noteworthy, but its nature; for these documents provide us with something other than the usual notes of protest against torture that critics of the administration are wont to express. The JAG criticism is not so much moral as strategic. What the JAG lawyers suggest—and it is a position no less significant today than when it was shaped in 2003—is that a policy of torture is sure to constitute a fatal flaw in any war against jihadi terror.
Comment: In 1942, at the beginning of World War II, the Sullivan family of
That generally became the practice on the ground as well as at sea, with commanders striving to protect mothers and fathers from the devastating loss of multiple sons or daughters in combat.
One can only wonder why current military leaders would allow the possibility of the same tragedy occurring. Yet not only are four sons of Tammy Pruett of Pocatello, Idaho, serving in Iraq, another son and her husband have just returned. President Bush singled out Mrs. Pruett the other day while stumping in defense of his
Gee, and it’s so out of character for him, too…
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing to request that you investigate the Secretary of the Army's decision to remove Bunnatine Greenhouse, a career civil servant in the Senior Executive Service, from her position as principal assistant for contracting for the Army Corps of Engineers. The decision to remove Ms. Greenhouse from her position and demote her appears to be retaliation for her June 27, 2005 testimony before Congress.
In her June 27 testimony, Ms. Greenhouse detailed her objections to improper and potentially illegal conduct in the award of contracts for
On July 14 - less than three weeks after her testimony - the Secretary of the Army approved Ms. Greenhouse's removal. The dismissal is to take effect on August 27, 2005.
Opinion: In September 2003, the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs constructed the
In April 2005 I had the chance to visit the center, the world's largest international police training camp. I am a military officer and have been deployed throughout Europe, Africa, and the
There are three main reasons why these forces will never be ready to defend their country: The wary, uncommitted recruits are immature and lackadaisical about the mission; the parsimonious training is inadequate; and accountability once recruits return to
Helen Thomas: It's time for the Democratic Party to take a courageous stand and call for the withdrawal of troops from the senseless war in
Editorial: The news media are failing to acknowledge their own responsibility for the invasion of
Americans are told all about Sheehan's son, Casey, a soldier killed in
But the news media ought to explain why they broke their moral covenant with the American people to provide complete, balanced, fair and accurate information about the charge to war.
Some editorial pages — such as those of The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times — did not take a pro-war stance. They called on the administration to do what Cindy Sheehan wants the administration to do now: tell why an invasion was necessary.
The sound journalism, however, was simply overwhelmed by the bad journalism.
Americans have a right to ask journalists how they intend to ensure that sound journalism prevails in the future for all kinds of news.
They have a right to ask what journalists will do the next time they get caught up in an administration's strategy to market a war or other action that can harm the American people.
Local story: East Tennessee soldier killed in
Local story: Body of a Filipino worker, killed in a roadside bombing along with two Iraqis, recovered and will be returned to the