Wednesday, August 31, 2005
War News for Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Bring ‘em on: As many as 1,000 people dead and hundreds injured in a stampede when Shia religious marchers panicked, thinking there were suicide bombers among them. At least seven people had been killed when mortar rounds were fired into the crowd earlier, and 36 others were injured in a mortar attack on the shrine to which the pilgrims were marching. There were also reports that some of the worshipers had been poisoned.
(Note to readers: Some may question whether this incident belongs in our catalog of mayhem inflicted by combatants in Bush’s war. It does. While it is true that the deaths were not directly the result of an attack, they would not have occurred had the conditions – fear of attacks against Shiite celebrations, the earlier deadly attack on the same gathering, the ubiquity of suicide bombings, and
Bring ‘em on: An update to the above story states that US helicopters fired on individuals suspected of launching the mortar attacks on the shrine and deployed ground troops in the area. In addition, six people were wounded when gunmen opened fire on Shiite marchers in
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in a roadside bombing in Iskandariyah. (Hidden deep in the story.)
Pointing fingers: Iraqi Health Minister Abdul Mutalib Mohammed Ali demanded Wednesday the resignation of the ministers of interior and defence, holding them responsible for the stampede which killed almost 820 Shiite pilgrims.
"I hold my colleagues in the ministries of interior and defence responsible for what happened today," Ali told reporters.
"I call upon my colleagues in the interior and defence to either bear full responsibility or resign."
The Interior Minister Bayan Baker Solagh said a "terrorist" triggered the stampede that caused hundreds of deaths near a Shiite shrine in
"There was a huge crowd on the bridge and what happened was that one terrorist spread a rumour that led to the stampede," Solagh told state-owned Iraqia television.
"The terrorist pointed a finger at another person saying that he was carrying explosives... and that led to the panic," Solagh said.
Shortages: Iraqis are still suffering from power shortages countrywide – receiving less than four hours of electricity daily – despite the government's recent announcement that more money would be spent on this sector.
"The government has forgotten about essential services like water and power," said Farah Mustany, a mother of four in
This summer has been the worse since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003. Shortages in power supplies have resulted in millions of residents being forced to sleep outside because there is not enough power to run air conditioners.
On 26 August, protests took place on the streets of
Doctors in the Iraqi capital have complained of the increase in cases of dehydration and diarrhoea among children and the elderly, caused by the constant heat inside homes without cooling systems.
"We have at least 10 cases of dehydration caused by the summer season every day in our hospital. During the last regime it was rare, but now it has become a daily occurrence here," Dr Mustafa Rawi, at
Constitutional follies: Political leaders warned Tuesday that dozens of thorny issues deferred in an effort to placate ethnic and religious groups during the debate leading to Iraq's draft constitution could come back to haunt lawmakers early next year.
The latest version of the text includes more than 50 items that were left to next year's National Assembly, which will be charged with filling in the blanks of the constitution with dozens of new laws.
"All these problems are still there," said Hassan Bazzaz, a
Frantic efforts to reach consensus collapsed on Sunday when a blueprint for a new democratic state lacking the support of Sunni leaders was submitted to parliament, triggering what promised to be a bitter referendum battle.
Months of talks and weeks of deadlock ended when government officials gave up trying to placate Sunni negotiators, despite warnings of greater violence.
The President, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, declared the document complete. "The constitution is left to our people to approve or reject. I hope our people will accept it despite some flaws."
He said rejection in the October 15 referendum would not derail the political process. "This is part of democracy. If the people do not approve it we will draft another constitution."
Detentions: A Reuters cameraman was freed on Wednesday after being held for three days by
Haider Kadhem, 24, was questioned about "inconsistencies" in his statements after he was taken from the car in which soundman Waleed Khaled was killed on Sunday by multiple shots to the head and chest while on a news assignment.
Reuters' cameraman in the city of
A military spokesman said on Wednesday that a joint
No accusation has been made public and Mashhadani will be allowed no visits, including from an attorney, for two months.
He must be guilty of something: Lawyers plan a lawsuit seeking the release of an Iraqi-born
The Washington Post reports that Numan Adnan Al Kaby's lawyers say he remains in detention even after a military tribunal found that he had nothing to do with the attack.
Birth Of A New Rationale
Protect them oil fields: President George W. Bush, facing waning support for his
With Americans already worried about sharply sharply rising oil prices, Bush said a pull-out would allow al Qaeda to take hold of Iraq's oil fields to fund new attacks, as well as damage America's credibility.
Of course, the only reason there are terrorists in Iraq is because of Bush: President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.
The president, standing against a backdrop of the USS Ronald Reagan, the newest aircraft carrier in the Navy's fleet, said terrorists would be denied their goal of making
Morale problem: Ever since Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, National Guard troops from Gulf coast states serving in
"It's a significant emotional event. Their families are on the forefront of the disaster," said Lt. Col. Jordan Jones of the 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard.
"They're all watching TV and some have seen their neighborhoods completely submerged in water."
War or infrastructure?:
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in
Dateline August 1, 2005: When members of the Louisiana National Guard left for
According to current estimates, the cost of the Iraq War could exceed $700 billion. In current dollars, the Vietnam War cost
Operations costs in
Since 2001, the
Broken down per person in the
The number of journalists killed reporting the Iraq War (66) has exceeded the number of journalists killed reporting on the Vietnam War (63).
More than 210,000 of the National Guard’s 330,000 soldiers have served in
Guard mobilizations average 460 days.
Nearly a third of active-duty troops, 341,000 men and women, have served two or more overseas tours.
At least 23,589 to 26,705 Iraqi civilians have been killed.
On average 155 members of the Iraqi security forces have died every month since the January 2005 elections, up from an average of 65 before they were held.
Suicide attack rates rose to 50 per month in the first five months of 2005, up from 20 per month in 2003 and 48 in 2004.
The State Department reported that the number of “significant” terrorist attacks reached a record 655 in 2004, up from 175 in 2003.
The Iraq War has weakened the UN’s authority and credibility.
Opinion: Cindy Sheehan continues to ask George W. Bush what the "Noble Cause" was for which her son died in
While Bush talked to us about WMDs, an imminent "mushroom cloud," and tried to link Saddam and Iraq to 9/11 (when it was 14 Saudis who hit the World Trade Center), those all fell apart and were exposed (by no less than Paul Wolfowitz) as intentional lies. When Bush shifted his Noble Cause to invading
It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004.
It's apparently just that simple, just that banal, and ultimately just that traitorous to the traditional ideals of
This is why the greatest political threat that Cindy Sheehan represents to George W. Bush and his Republican Party is in her ability to point this out.
Comment: As his poll numbers sink, Bush is getting desperate. From his address today in
“They looked at our response after the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa, and the attack on the USS Cole. They concluded that free societies lacked the courage and character to defend themselves against a determined enemy… After September the 11th, 2001, we’ve taught the terrorists a very different lesson:
(Conveniently, Bush doesn’t mention any terrorist attack that occurred during his father’s administration.)
Once upon a time, the President didn’t believe in playing the blame game:
“Well, the President is not one that focuses on blame or finger pointing. The President focuses on what we need to do to address challenges.”
It appears that statement is inoperative.
Opinion: A few days ago, I was one on of those TV pundit shows, and the host of this gabfest—Derek McGinty—asked all the panelists whether George W. Bush's recent rah-rah speeches about the war in
Bush is stuck. There is little he can say to affect public opinion. It's been two years since "shock and awe" led to morass and misadventure. The problem these days is not the rhetoric, but the policy. And no matter what Bush says before a hand-picked audience, he cannot escape the original sin.
Hoffmania: So far, the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina is $25 billion.
25 billion dollars to rebuild after this horror. You can see the fear that's gripping the people there. They'll be depending on the government and the insurance companies for that rebuilding money. It's your guess how difficult their ability to get that will be.
25 billion dollars. Think of that. Now think about how Bush's Iraq Nightmare has cost (so far) $300 billion.
That's right. They could have rebuilt the Katrina-affected areas TWELVE TIMES for what we've spent on
Oh - and according to what Aaron Brown is asking on CNN, seems the National Guard's presence in
So to our visitors from the right, we ask: NOW do you understand us when we say that we needed to keep
And we know you're not as stupid as he is.
Opinion: When President Bush praised the new Iraqi constitution as protecting the rights of minorities and women and forming the basis of a "free society," he was glossing over the document's rejection by Sunnis—divisive language that may well lead to its defeat in a coming referendum—and the worries of women and minority groups in Iraq that, in fact, the document sets up an oppressive Islamic theocracy. Shiite religious parties who helped draft the constitution saw to it that, despite assurances of religious and individual freedom, Islam will be the official religion of
The failure of American efforts to transform
Interview: Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna: Colonel Pheneger, thank you for meeting with me on such short notice. Let me jump right in and ask you about the government's case in attempting to conceal detainee abuse evidence.
The government's argument hinges on two points, as I see it: a). that the release of documents could inflame passions and increase attacks on US troops and b). That the release of documents could be used as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. The testimony you submitted addresses these two points. Can you elaborate on your argument?
However, Iraqi and al-Qaeda insurgents already conduct over 70 attacks a day and will continue to do so as long as they have the will and the capability. In my declaration, I note that General Myers himself, in a press interview, denied that the Newsweek article resulted in the riots and casualties. According to General Myers, the events resulted from the playing out of events leading to the September election. Opinion polls have always indicated that most Iraqis (80 – 85 percent) want the
The groups of insurgents are hard-core opponents; they do not need further provocation beyond our presence. I doubt that they could be more inflamed or that the photos would spur individuals on the margin to join them.
Opinion: The unbridgeable divide between the left and right’s approach to Iraq and the WoT is, among other things, a disagreement over the value of moral and material strength, with the left placing a premium on the former and the right on the latter. The right (broadly speaking) can’t fathom why the left is driven into fits of rage over every Abu Ghraib, every Gitmo, every secret rendition, every breach of civil liberties, every shifting rationale for war, every soldier and civilian killed in that war, every Bush platitude in support of it, every attempt to squelch dissent. They see the left's protestations as appeasement of a ruthless enemy. For the left (broadly speaking), America’s moral strength is of paramount importance; without it, all the brute force in the world won’t keep us safe, defeat our enemies, and preserve our role as the world’s moral leader.
War hawks squeal about America-haters and traitors, heaping scorn on the so-called “blame
The antiwar critique of
Local story: Marine born in
Local story: Proctor, VT, soldier who was killed by a sniper in Ramadi will be laid to rest on Friday.