War News for Thursday, September 15, 2005
Bring 'em on: Sixteen Iraqi policemen, five civilians killed by car bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Nine Iraqi policemen killed, 17 wounded by two car bombs in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Green Zone mortared in Baghdad
Bring `em on: Four Iraqi soldiers killed, two wounded by roadside bomb on Baghdad - Hilla
Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi police killed, four wounded by roadside bomb near Kirkuk
Bring 'em on: Fighting reported in Ramadi
Bring 'em on: Three US soldiers wounded by car bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Seven Iraqi policemen killed by car bomb in Baghdad
Bring 'em on: Bulgarian troops under mortar fire near Diwaniyah
asks the question Rummy can't answer: "Where oh where is the responsible governance and protection of civilian populations that under international law is the responsibility of the power running the military occupation of the country?"
At their uncle Hamid Ghatti Fares' behest, the Rashid brothers left the desperation and unemployment of Nasiriya down south to look for construction jobs in the Iraqi capital.
And under their uncle's care, the two brothers, Hossein, 33, and Tahseen, 27, were returned to their home in the south Wednesday, their mangled bodies laid side by side in simple wooden coffins strapped atop a Korean-made minibus.
"What can I say? How can I describe this feeling?" said Fares, a 57-year-old Baghdad cigarette vendor, whimpering as he boarded the vehicle and prepared to deliver his nephews' remains to their father — his brother — in Nasiriya. "It will be a long ride."
The brothers were killed Wednesday when a suicide driver detonated a massive car bomb in a crowd of day laborers in the largely Shiite Muslim district of Kadhimiya. It was one of the deadliest days of insurgent attacks in the capital since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
How's that sovereignty
working out? "Iraq's justice minister has condemned the US military for detaining thousands of Iraqis for long periods without charge and wants to change a UN resolution that gives foreign troops immunity from Iraqi law. Speaking to Reuters, Justice Minister Abdul Hussein Shandal also criticised US detentions of Iraqi journalists and said the media, contrary to US policy in Iraq, must have special legal protection to report on all sides in the conflict. 'No citizen should be arrested without a court order,' he said this week, complaining that US suggestions that his ministry had an equal say on detentions were misleading."
. "Chicago on Wednesday became the nation's largest city to urge the Bush administration to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq at once. The resolution, approved 29-9, seeks an ''immediate and orderly'' withdrawal. The City Council has 50 aldermen. Chicago joins other cities -- including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Calif., 50 communities in Vermont and the Chicago suburb of Evanston -- in calling for the withdrawal of troops."
Don't blame Lieutenant AWOL
TONY JONES: A group purporting to be the Al Qaeda wing in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings in Baghdad that has killed as many as 150 people. The latest setback on the Iraq battlefront could only make things tougher for US President George W Bush. Iraq has already battered his approval ratings and they've been driven even lower by events on the home front. Where the President has reversed course and taken responsibility for the Federal Government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Norman Hermant reports and we should warn this story contains graphic images of the aftermath of a bombing.
NORMAN HERMANT: The latest carnage in Iraq will only add to the pressure building on George W Bush. A majority of Americans already disapprove of his handling of the war and for the last two weeks, the response to Hurricane Katrina has put his domestic leadership skills under the gun as well. The President's approval rating plummeted to its lowest level ever, while he remains steadfast. This was no time to talk about blame.
GEORGE W. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Look, there will be plenty of time to play the blame game - that's what you are trying to do. You are trying to say somebody is at fault.
You think Judy Miller's got problems
? "On April 5, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, an Iraqi cameraman for CBS News, was struck in the thigh by an American sniper's bullet while filming the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Mosul. As he recovered in a military hospital, the Americans arrested him. They later said the film in his camera suggested he was working for insurgents. More than five months later, Mr. Hussein is still in an American military prison. The Iraqi criminal authorities have reviewed his case and declined to prosecute him. Colleagues who were with him that day have produced affidavits supporting his innocence. The American military has not released any evidence against him, despite repeated requests for information by CBS producers, lawyers and even the network's president, Andrew Heyward."
. "An Article 32 hearing for a 37-year-old supply sergeant charged with murdering his company commander and operations officer has been set for Monday, officials said Wednesday. Staff Sgt. Alberto B. Martinez, formerly assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 42nd Infantry Division, will face two charges of premeditated murder during proceedings in a military courtroom on a base near Tikrit."
Do you approve or disapprove of George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?
Sept. 2005 Aug. 2005 Jun. 2005
Approve 38% 42% 43%
Disapprove 62% 57% 56%
Return of the Baghdad fashion maven
. "'I had a picture of this house on my computer desktop in Baghdad,' says Bremer, who also has a home in Chevy Chase. 'If someone asked, I'd say, 'That's where I'm building my dream kitchen.' " And that culinary incentive helped to keep him going in the pressure-cooker job as the controversial administrator of Iraq's reconstruction, because Bremer is also a classically trained French cook. Dressed in a white chef's jacket marked with some faded stains of memorable meals, Bremer is ready to prepare the French dinner he donated to a local charity auction. Tonight's dinner is typical of his cooking since returning from Baghdad -- classically French, but seasoned with ingredients he encountered during his days in Iraq."
Now that he's bitten the bullet and taken personal responsibility for the inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina, President Bush should employ a similar approach on Iraq.
After all, the American public still confronts an optional war for which all the original justifications evaporated and all the current rationales shift. Planning for the post-war occupation was grossly inadequate. Despite assurances that the insurgency is being defeated, rebel and terrorist violence grows worse. A dozen explosions ripped Baghdad yesterday and killed at least 160 people, making it the deadliest day in Iraq since March 2004.
Moreover, Mr. Bush cannot articulate a coherent strategy that, once implemented, would allow withdrawal of American forces in the foreseeable future. In fact, during this week's visit to Washington by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, the White House apparently compelled Mr. Talabani to retract his prediction that up to 50,000 U.S. soldiers could be pulled out by the end of the year.
The President owes Americans, and history, his view on whether the war was a mistake, or whether -- and why -- he would have waged it even if he knew then what he knows now.
He needs to offer a better purpose for continued loss of life than the desire to honor those who have already died.
Somewhat like it did with New Orleans, the White House prematurely thought the Iraq battle was won. The administration's May 2003 proclamation of "Mission Accomplished" was never more wrong than Wednesday, when suicide bombs killed at least 160 people in Baghdad alone.
That constituted the single worst day among many very bad ones for Baghdad residents since the U.S.-led invasion overthrew Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But it has been clear since the summer of 2003 that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has no idea how to provide security.
President Bush should take a page from his own New Orleans playbook, accept his share of responsibility in Iraq and focus on restoring security, decent living conditions and hope. He might start by proclaiming: "Rummy, you're doing a heck of a job."
President Bush has been wounded by his administration’s glaring mistakes on the Gulf Coast this month. His popularity has slipped a notch or two, and there is talk of pulling back on his aggressive conservative agenda: giving up on revamping Social Security, maybe even choosing a Republican moderate over an arch-conservative to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. Gas prices are a daily issue for many Americans, and that may get worse before it gets better. This week in The Washington Post, columnist E.J. Dionne declared: “The Bush era is over.”
Maybe, but this seems like wishful thinking. G.W. has three more years left behind the desk, and his team has never been one to surrender quietly. Which means the president isn’t likely to buckle on his commitment to his folly in Iraq. There are indeed some hopeful, if deeply flawed steps toward democracy there. (Women’s rights are very much at risk.) But the violence Bush has unleashed there, beginning with the misguided U.S. invasion, is staggering. On Wednesday, September 14, insurgents ignited a dozen suicide bombings (“homicide bombings,” to you Fox News devotees) across Baghdad, with Al Qaeda in Iraq declaring “war” on Shiites. These attacks caused another 150 deaths, even as U.S. troops staged attacks on insurgent strongholds in Tal Afar. Clearly, something isn’t working. And let’s not allow our fumbling president to think the rest of us have forgotten.
President George W. Bush has tried his hardest to frame his image as a strong-armed leader, fighting courageously against terrorism around the globe. But four years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, what has he accomplished? He's led us to invade two countries. He's led hundreds of young American soldiers to their deaths.
In reality, Bush has begun two wars but has failed to capture the biggest terrorist of them all: Osama bin Laden. The first war - you remember, that one in Afghanistan? - was supposed to eradicate the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The war should have focused on capturing bin Laden, the ringleader. But it didn't.
I don't care what the Department of Homeland Security says. Without the capture of bin Laden, I fail to think that the "War on Terror" has made America safer. The July 7 bombings in London reminded us that Al Qaeda is still a very real threat.
Instead of going full-force for bin Laden, Bush focused his efforts on a different war - Iraq. He has attempted to rhetorically shape Iraq into an anti-terrorism war. Documents such as the Downing Street memos show that Bush wanted to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, even though he lacked evidence demonstrating Iraq's nuclear capabilities or relationship to bin Laden.
This information has made me seriously consider Bush's dedication to the war against Al Qaeda - the real war on terrorism. More and more, it seems like the war in Afghanistan was a convenient stepping stool to finish what his father didn't.
Iraq and New Orleans now seem to be morphing into a single entity, New Oraq, to be devoured by the same limited set of corporations, let loose and overseen by the same small set of Bush administration officials. In President George W Bush's new world of globalization, first comes the destruction, and only then does one sit down at the planetary table to sup.
In recent weeks, news has been seeping out of Iraq that the "reconstruction" of that country is petering out, because the money is largely gone. According to American officials, reported T Christian Miller of the Los Angeles Times last week, "The US will halt construction work on some water and power plants in Iraq because it is running out of money for projects." A variety of such reconstruction projects crucial to the everyday lives of Iraqis, the British Guardian informs us, are now "grinding to a halt" as "plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24 billion budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task."
Water and sanitation projects have been particularly hard hit; while staggering sums, once earmarked for reconstruction, are being shunted to private security firms whose hired guns are assigned to guard the projects that can't be done. With funds growing scarce, various corporations closely connected to the Bush administration, having worked the Iraqi disaster for all it was worth (largely under no-bid, cost-plus contracts), are now looking New Orleans-ward.
From the mailbag:
I came across your weblog, and was wondering if you could add a link to the US Central Command website, http://www.centcom.mil. It features updated news and photos from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, so I thought it might be an interesting resource for you and your readers. You’re welcome to use any material you find on our site, please just include attribution to CENTCOM. I’m attaching a logo, in case you want to incorporate it with the link.
You can also subscribe to the monthly Coalition Bulletin magazine and weekly electronic newsletter at http://www.centcom.mil/newsletter/newsletter-signup.asp.
I hope the site proves helpful.
SPC C. Flowers
CENTCOM Public Affairs