Friday, September 30, 2005

War News for Friday, September 30, 2005 Bring 'em on: Seven Iraqis killed, 30 wounded by car bomb in Hilla. Bring 'em on: Sixty-five Iraqis killed, 80 wounded by three car bombs in Balad. Bring 'em on: Five US soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Ramadi. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed, three wounded in Baghdad ambush. Bring 'em on: Suicide bomber captured in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Anglican Church leaders in Iraq kidnapped, feared dead. Bring 'em on: Car bomb detonates at US installation in al Makhaweel. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqi policemen killed, one wounded in ambush near Basra. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi killed in mortar attack on Balad checkpoint. One battalion. "The Iraqi military has only one battalion — about 500-600 soldiers — capable of fighting on its own, U.S. commanders told lawmakers Thursday. Many Iraqi police are not being paid, and insurgents are infiltrating Iraqi police and military forces, the commanders acknowledged. Even so, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq, said U.S. troops could start leaving next year if Iraqi voters back a proposed constitution and form a government." But clueless Lieutenant AWOL says: "The growing size and increasing capability of the Iraqi security forces are helping our coalition address a challenge we have faced since the beginning of the war. And General Casey discussed this with us in the Oval Office. See, it used to be after we cleared the terrorists out of a city, there wasn’t enough qualified Iraqi troops to maintain control — so when we left to conduct other missions, the terrorists would move back in. Now, the increasing number of more capable Iraqi troops has allowed us to better hold on to the cities we have taken from the terrorists. The Iraqi troops know their people, they know their language, and they know who the terrorists are. By leaving Iraqi units in the cities we’ve cleared out, we can keep the cities safe while we move on to hunt down the terrorists in other parts of the country." Support the troops! "Nearly a year after Congress demanded action, the Pentagon has still failed to figure out a way to reimburse soldiers for body armor and equipment they purchased to better protect themselves while serving in Iraq. Soldiers and their parents are still spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for armor they say the military won’t provide. One U.S. senator said Wednesday he will try again to force the Pentagon to obey the reimbursement law it opposed from the outset and has so far not implemented. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said he will offer amendments to the defense appropriations bill working its way through Congress, to take the funding issue out of the hands of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and give control to military unit commanders in the field. 'Rumsfeld is violating the law,' Dodd said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'It’s been sitting on the books for over a year. They were opposed to it. It was insulting to them. I’m sorry that’s how they felt.'" Baloney. "Asked whether the insurgency has worsened, Casey said it has not expanded geographically or numerically, 'to the extent we can know that.' But he noted that current "levels of violence are above norms,' exceeding 500 attacks a week. 'I'll tell you that levels of violence are a lagging indicator of success,' he added. 'And what's really important is the fact that the Iraqis are at 98 percent registered to participate in the referendum, in the elections.'" Former Iraqi generals sound off. "It was meant to be a moment of reconciliation between the old regime and the new, a gathering of nearly 1,000 former Iraqi army officers and tribal leaders in Baghdad to voice their concerns over today's Iraq. But it did not go as planned. General after general rose to his feet and raised his voice to shout at the way Iraq was being run and to express his fear of escalating war. "They were fools to break up our great army and form an army of thieves and criminals," said one senior officer. "They are traitors," added another. The sense of hatred felt by these influential men, mostly Sunni Arabs, towards the new order installed by the US since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 is palpable and it bodes ill for Iraq. The country is entering a critical political period that will see a deeply divisive referendum on the constitution on 15 October, the trial of Saddam four days later and an election for the National Assembly on 15 December. The Sunnis fear the constitution means the break up of Iraq and their own marginalisation." Rendition. "Italian authorities have ordered the arrests of a former U.S. Embassy official here and two other people in connection with a "rendition" case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where, he has said, he was tortured. The new arrest warrants bring to 22 the number of people sought on suspicion of planning and executing the plot and apparently are the first direct connection to the U.S. Embassy in Rome. U.S. intelligence officials in Washington, though refusing to acknowledge the operation publicly, have sought to portray it as conducted by the spy-world equivalent of contractors." Whitewash. "The conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq, including increasing detention and accidental shootings of journalists, is preventing full coverage of the war reaching the American public, Reuters said on Wednesday. In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate. The letter from Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise widespread media concerns about the conduct of U.S. troops with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday." Another whitewash. "An Army inquiry has found no evidence to prove that American military personnel sent graphic photographs of Iraqi war dead to an Internet site in exchange for online pornography, Army officials said Wednesday." That was the fastest investigation I've ever seen. Commentary Analysis:
If the referendum on Iraq's draft constitution next month is conducted fairly, it now appears very likely that the document will be defeated by a two-thirds majority in the three Sunni-dominated provinces of Anbar, Salahadeen and Nineveh, plunging Iraq into a new political crisis. However, one way such a defeat could be averted is by massive vote fraud in the key province of Nineveh. According to an account provided by the US liaison with the local election commission, supported by physical evidence collected by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), Kurdish officials in Nineveh province tried to carry out just such a ballot-stuffing scheme in last January's election.
We've been treated to the spectacle of a Republican-controlled House and Senate abdicating their constitutional responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of actions and failings of the executive branch of government. This has gone on for the four-plus years that George W. Bush has occupied the White House, and it looks as if we'll get more of the same for three more years and a bit. There have been 17 separate investigations of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other prisoner abuse scandals. All have gone straight to the bottom of every case. All have consistently claimed that no one higher up the chain of command, including the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, bears any responsibility for any of this. Hogwash. BS. Nonsense. If the lowest private fails, then others have failed in training, leading and directing that private. The chain runs from sergeant to lieutenant to captain to lieutenant colonel to colonel to one, two, three and four stars, on to the longest serving, most arrogant secretary of defense in our history, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and beyond him to the commander in chief, President Bush. It's long past time for responsibility to begin flowing uphill in this administration. It's time for our leaders to take responsibility for what's being done in all our names and under our proud flag. It's time for Congress to do its job if the administration won't do its job. The Teflon is wearing off this administration in a hurry. It's past time for an end to strutting, victory laps, crowing to the skies and boasting "Bring 'em on!" Now is the time to provide the leadership our troops deserve. Now is the time to state plainly and unequivocally that we are Americans, and we live by a rule of law that protects everyone, even the worst terrorist who ever fell into our hands. Maybe especially the worst terrorist who ever fell into our hands.
Though most Americans have lost confidence in Bush as a war president and believe that the war was a mistake and we should start bringing our troops home, no elected leader of national stature is demanding an end to U.S. involvement or a new policy for victory. Our political elite is in paralysis. Sen. McCain talks of more troops, but has not broken with Bush on his refusal to send them. Sen. Feingold calls for a withdrawal timetable, but passed on the antiwar demonstration in Washington last weekend. Critics fear this war could end badly, if not disastrously, for the United States. No one wants to say anything that can be used to substantiate a future charge of having given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war and helping to ensure an American defeat.
Casualty Reports Local story: Florida airman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Ohio soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Guardsman killed in Iraq.


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