Friday, September 09, 2005

War News for Friday, September 9, 2005 Bring 'em on: US security contractors targeted by car bomb in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Heavy fighting reported in Tal Afar. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi policeman killed, three wounded in Baghdad patrol ambush. Bring 'em on: Sixteen Iraqis killed by car bomb in Basra. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed by roadside bomb near Tikrit. Bring 'em on: AP cameraman wounded in Samarra. Bring 'em on: One Iraqi killed, three wounded in car bomb attack on US convoy in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Five Iraqis wounded by car bomb in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: US aircraft bomb two Euphrates river bridges near Karabilah. American hostage rescued near Baghdad. Dickhead Watch.
Asked by Ms. Walters how painful this was for him, Mr. Powell replied: "It was painful. It's painful now." Asked further how he felt upon learning that he had been misled about the accuracy of intelligence on which he relied, Mr. Powell said, "Terrible." He added that it was "devastating" to learn later that some intelligence agents knew the information he had was unreliable but did not speak up. Mr. Powell also implied in the interview that the United States did not go to war in Iraq with sufficient troops to secure the country and failed to keep sufficient Iraqi forces to help stabilize the country. "What we didn't do in the immediate aftermath of the war was to impose our will on the whole country with enough troops of our own, with enough troops from coalition forces or by re-creating the Iraqi forces, armed forces, more quickly than we are doing now," he said.
Progress report. "It was not a good summer in Iraq. After the midwinter bright spots - reductions in violence, greater economic vitality, the famous purple fingers of voters - the situation worsened as the weather warmed. Most worrisome, the constitutional process has failed to bring aboard Sunni Arabs, who remain the core of the insurgency. While Shiites and Kurds wisely compromised on some key points, they favor an oil-allocation scheme that Sunnis fear could deprive them of their fair share of Iraq's natural wealth." Reconstruction report.
Key rebuilding projects in Iraq are grinding to a halt because American money is running out and security has diverted funds intended for electricity, water and sanitation, according to US officials. Plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24bn (£13bn) budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task. "We have scaled back our projects in many areas," James Jeffrey, a senior state department adviser on Iraq, told a congressional committee in Washington, in remarks quoted by the Los Angeles Times. "We do not have the money." Water and sanitation have been particularly badly hit. According to a report published this week by Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, $2.6bn has been spent on water projects, half the original budget, after the rest was diverted to security and other uses.
Re-up. "Army officials are upping enlistment bonuses for 15 MOS’s to boost numbers in those hard-to-get specialties. The latest change, which went into effect on Tuesday, is the eighth time this year Army officials have increased the enlistment incentives, designed to attract more recruits to the service." Rule of law.
The United Nations raised the alarm on Thursday about mounting violence in Iraq blamed on pro-government militias and urged the authorities to look into reports of systematic torture in police stations. In a bi-monthly human rights report, released on a day when 14 more victims of "extrajudicial executions" were found near Baghdad, the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq also said "mass arrests" by U.S. and Iraqi forces, and long detentions without charge, could damage support for the new political system. "Corpses appear regularly in and around Baghdad and other areas. Most bear signs of torture and appear to be victims of extrajudicial executions," it said, noting incidents reported after arrests by "forces linked to the Ministry of Interior". "Serious allegations of extra-judicial executions ... underline a deterioration in the situation of law and order."
Commentary Opinion:
In Iraq, the administration displayed a combination of paralysis and denial after the fall of Baghdad, as uncontrolled looting destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure. The same deer-in-the-headlights immobility prevailed as Katrina approached and struck the Gulf Coast. The storm gave plenty of warning. By the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, the flooding of New Orleans was well under way - city officials publicly confirmed a breach in the 17th Street Canal at 2 p.m. Yet on Tuesday federal officials were still playing down the problem, and large-scale federal aid didn't arrive until last Friday. In Iraq the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran the country during the crucial first year after Saddam's fall - the period when an effective government might have forestalled the nascent insurgency - was staffed on the basis of ideological correctness and personal connections rather than qualifications. At one point Ari Fleischer's brother was in charge of private-sector development. The administration followed the same principles in staffing FEMA. The agency had become a highly professional organization during the Clinton years, but under Mr. Bush it reverted to its former status as a "turkey farm," a source of patronage jobs. As Bloomberg News puts it, the agency's "upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management." By now everyone knows FEMA's current head went from overseeing horse shows to overseeing the nation's response to disaster, with no obvious qualifications other than the fact that he was Mr. Allbaugh's college roommate. All that's missing from the Katrina story is an expensive reconstruction effort, with lucrative deals for politically connected companies, that fails to deliver essential services. But give it time - they're working on that, too.
There are an increasing number of sectarian killings all over Iraq. The police in Baghdad said yesterday they had found 15 bodies dressed in civilian clothes near the town of Mahmoudiyah, a militant Sunni stronghold 20 miles south of Baghdad. All had been shot dead. Two other bodies, blindfolded and handcuffed, were found closer to Baghdad. Last month 36 Sunnis arrested in Baghdad by Shia security men were found dead near the Iranian border. US military operations frequently exacerbate sectarian tensions. In the city of Fallujah, much of which was destroyed when US Marines stormed it last November, insurgent fighters are reasserting control because of the arrival of Shia units of the Iraqi army, which are detested by local people. In the Sunni city of Tikrit, US troops are being reinforced by mainly Kurdish Iraqi army soldiers.
Can a story really be "censored" in the Internet age, when information from millions of sources whips around the world in a matter of seconds? When a single obscure journal article can be distributed and discussed on hundreds of blogs and Web sites? When partisans from all sides dissect the mainstream media on the Web every day? Absolutely, says Jhally. "The Internet is a great place to go if you already know that the mainstream media is heavily biased" and you actively search out sites on the outer limits of the Web, he notes. "Otherwise, it's just another place where they try to sell you stuff. The challenge for a democratic society is how to get vital information not only at the margins but at the center of our culture." Not every article or source Project Censored has cited over the years is completely credible; at least one this year is pretty shaky (see sidebar). But most of the stories that made the project's top 10 were published by more reliable sources and included only verifiable information. And Project Censored's overall findings provide valuable insights into the kinds of issues the mainstream media should be paying closer attention to.
Casualty Reports Local story: Two Florida soldiers killed in Iraq. Local story: Michigan soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Illinois soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Arizona sailor dies in Iraq. Local story: Canadian security contractor killed in Iraq. Local story: Alabama security contractor killed in Iraq.


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