Tuesday, September 27, 2005
War News for Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Five Shiite schoolteachers and their driver murdered by gunmen as classes ended at the Al-Jazeera Elementary School in the village of Muelha, 30 miles south of Baghdad. Six people wounded in suicide car bombing in Iskandariyah. Senior official from SCIRI kidnapped and murdered in Qurna. Two
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi policemen and five civilians killed, 30 wounded in suicide car bombing at the gates of the Iraqi police academy. One person killed and four wounded when
Bring ‘em on: Eight people, including some Mahdi army militiamen, killed in long-running gun battle between US and Iraqi soldiers and Sadrist militiamen in
Bring ‘em on: Egyptian engineer working for Iraqna Mobile Company kidnapped in western
Bring ‘em on: Two guards killed, two guards and five bystanders wounded when robbers attacked a column of armored vehicles and made off with over half a million British pounds worth of cash.
Bring ‘em on: Bodies of 22 men, blindfolded and with their hands bound, found near Kut. All had been shot to death.
Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting rages in Ramadi, two people reported killed and eight wounded. US armored vehicle reported destroyed in the fighting. One
Another lost opportunity: In the chaotic, hopeful April of 2003,
Now, with the end of the third and in many ways hardest summer of the U.S.-led occupation, the lights of Karrada are dimmer. The collapse of
The crowds on the sidewalks have thinned -- kidnapping and other forms of lawlessness since the invasion mean
Car bombings and other insurgent attacks, as unknown in
Leaving the house for work each day has become a matter of turning the key and consigning one's fate to God, said Jassim Mohammed, 41, a Karrada merchant who has lost two of his closest friends and one of his lighting shops in car bombings since the Americans came.
Change of policy?: Shiite leaders have called on their followers to refrain from revenge attacks against Sunnis, fearing a civil war could result, though Sunnis have accused Shiite militias of carrying out some killings of Sunni figures.
But in one of the first public calls for individual Shiites to take action, a prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaaqubi, issued a religious edict Monday allowing his followers to "kill terrorists before they kill."
"Self-restraint does not mean surrender. ... Protecting society from terrorists is a religious duty," al-Yaaqubi said.
Government by militia: A leading Iraqi voice in favor of a negotiated power-sharing arrangement between Sunni and Shiite forces in Iraq charged this weekend that militias in the service of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government in Baghdad tried to kill him, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and other secular Iraqi nationalists by planting a car bomb in the Baghdad neighborhood where they live.
Aiham Al Sammarae, a former minister of electricity in Allawi's government, says that the bomb was discovered and defused. "I live next door to Allawi," says Sammarae, who returned to
Constitutional flaws...there might be one or two...: Iraq's proposed constitution -- and the process used to draft it -- have deepened the divide among Iraq's factions and will likely trigger civil war unless changes are negotiated quickly to accommodate the concerns of Sunni Muslims, warned a new report by the International Crisis Group.
The report comes less than three weeks before an Oct. 15 referendum on
"Unless the flaws of its draft constitution can be corrected in the next few weeks before the Iraqi people vote on it, Iraq is likely to slide toward full-scale civil war and the break-up of the country," says the ICG, an independent, nonprofit nongovernmental organization working to resolve conflict in 50 countries on four continents.
The group charges that the constitution was rushed, which cost the process any possibility of consensus. Critical parts of the constitution -- notably on the federal arrangements that will decentralize power -- are also so vague that they already "carry the seeds of future discord," the report says.
This is the good news: Up to 200 Iraqi Sunni politicians and scholars have pressed for voting down the draft constitution in the October referendum and threatened to declare civil disobedience if the US-led onslaughts on Sunni towns continue.
Wrapping up a two-day meeting in the Jordanian capital Amman on Saturday, September 24, Sunni leaders from Al-Anbar province sought the formation of a committee to collect five million signatures to block the charter, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Sunday, September 25.
"We are mobilizing Sunnis to vote down the draft if our demands were ignored," by the Shiite and Kurdish blocs, Ali Al-Sadoun, a Sunni politician and member of the Iraqi Council for National Dialogue (CND), told the mass-circulation daily.
As Juan Cole points out, if they started a campaign of civil disobedience it would be a major improvement…
Iraqi Security Forces
Still need work: But while it has provided evidence that the capabilities of
Because the ranks of the Iraqi police and army are filled mostly with Shi'ite Arabs and ethnic Kurds, they are perceived in many Sunni sections not as national forces, but as factional hit squads bent on persecution. The tensions were evident in Tal Afar, a city of 200,000, largely Sunni Turkmens.
Most of the forces ''are from the Badr Organization and the peshmerga," said Ibrahim Khalil, 20, one of about 4,000 Tal Afar residents, almost all of them Sunnis, living in a camp established by the Iraqi Red Crescent outside the city. He was referring to the Shi'ite and Kurdish militias.
''They wear the military uniform for disguise," he said. ''Their treatment is very bad. They were taking people to detention prisons just because they are Sunnis."
The Iraqi soldiers from the peshmerga, which for many years was targeted by the Sunni-led army of Saddam Hussein and has long supported Kurdish forces fighting the Turkish government, spoke openly of their zeal to fight the Tal Afar insurgency, led by Sunni Turkmen, according to US soldiers who worked with them.
Meanwhile, US commanders grounded the mostly Shi'ite police commandos a few days into the operation, alleging overly aggressive tactics.
I’ll bet this makes Rustamiya residents happy as hell: NATO inaugurated an officer academy on the outskirts of
NATO, which was nearly torn apart in 2003 in a row over the US-led war, has no combat role in
The 26-member alliance will shift the bulk of its training mission in
Oh Boy! We Got An Al Qaeda Guy! We’re Winning!
People who follow Bush’s war closely know that this has to be the 50th or 60th really important al-Qaeda bigwig claimed to be killed or captured. Yippee. It means jack to the insurgency, which is Iraqi. It means jack to the overall “War on Terror” since al-Qaeda has mutated into a decentralized network fueled by Islamic rage against US policies – losing one guy, no matter how important to a local effort, isn’t going to deal them a knockout blow. And we don’t even know if it’s true. I mean, check it out – as mentioned further on in the article, 500 detainees were just released from Abu Ghraib as a goodwill gesture to placate Sunnis. Which means there was dick to charge them with. But you can bet that CENTCOM claimed all those people were ‘suspected terrorists’ when they were detained, that is, if there was any public mention of it at all. So excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical about this claim. And anyway…
Why Killing An Al Qaeda Leader Means Jack In
One reason why is that driving an ambulance in
As he says, "Who do you fear more, insurgents or soldiers? Soldiers. American or Iraqi."
Hamoodi drives one of only 35 working ambulances in this city of more than 5 million people. In one makeshift dispatch center, four phones ring almost constantly — when the phones are working. The call log of one center reads like an emergency room nightmare: shooting, baby born, shooting, shooting, shooting.
And just getting to an emergency can take up to an hour if the ambulance gets there are all.
Where the educated classes are fleeing as fast as they can: One of Iraq's most precious resources -- doctors -- are fleeing the country in increasing numbers, scared off by persistent violence and drawn to safer, better paying jobs abroad, officials say.
A steady trickle of skilled workers has been flowing out of the country since the 2003 invasion, but in the past year, with the sharp rise in assassinations and kidnappings by insurgents, the exodus of doctors has picked up, they say.
"Iraq is like a battlefield, doctors face danger just getting to work because of terrorist acts," said Aakif al-Alusi, a senior member of the Iraqi Doctors' Syndicate, the official medics' register, who worries about the long-term social impact of the medical brain-drain.
The syndicate estimates 1,500 medical professionals -- doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists -- have fled in the past year alone, although precise numbers are difficult to obtain. Almost as many left in 2003 and in 2004, Alusi said.
Where thousands of people are displaced from their destroyed homes: The United Nations and its partners have delivered food and non-food items to over 16,000 people in the northern Iraqi city of
Working with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration, the prime minister's office, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and national NGOs, the UN had provided food, water, non-food items and tents to more than 4,000 displaced families in towns surrounding Talafar, the statement noted.
The UN, however, said it was concerned access to food, water and medical services had continued to be hindered by the presence and activities of armed elements. "The UN asks that all actors follow international humanitarian law and guidelines for civil-military interactions," said the statement.
On Wednesday, the IRCS said nearly 1,500 displaced Iraqi families had returned to the city after Coalition forces ended an operation to rout insurgents hiding there. Returnees said dozens of their homes had been totally destroyed.
Despite the returns, however, thousands of displaced people were still living in camps surviving on aid from various humanitarian organisations.
Where the quisling government and occupying forces are destroying the economy: The failure to rebuild key components of
Engineering mistakes, poor leadership and shifting priorities have delayed or led to the cancellation of several projects critical to restoring
And where insiders make out big while everyone else pounds sand: Corruption in
So pardon me if I don’t get too excited about one dead terrorist. Granted, Iraq would be much better off without an al-Qaeda presence but it would still be a basket case and the US invasion and occupation is the reason. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until we went in. This is why we don’t give a lot of play to these ‘success’ stories. You want to read happy crap about
Speaking Of Rebuilding A Destroyed Nation
Bound to get it right sometime: The U.S. military plans to take over responsibility from the State Department for providing assistance to
Getting the ministries to exercise effective control over Iraq's fledgling security forces remains key to enabling those forces to operate on their own and allow the withdrawal of U.S. troops. But while the number of Iraqi forces has grown steadily to more than 192,000, the ministries have yet to put in place many of the budgeting, contracting, personnel management and other systems necessary to administer the country's military and police units,
Responsibility for the ministries has rested with the State Department's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, while the Pentagon has overseen training of
The State Department office has struggled to fill all the adviser slots allotted to it, especially at the Interior Ministry, where at least 10 of 51 positions remain vacant. Several
And what the hell, it’s not like we can’t just throw more money at it: The Senate would give President Bush $50 billion more for wars in
The House already has approved $45 billion more for the wars as part of its $409 billion version of the bill providing money for the Defense Department for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
Both the Senate and House versions provide for a 3.1 percent pay raise for the military, but the bills differ in other areas. The conflicts must be sorted out before Congress sends the final bill to the president for his signature.
Overall, Congress already has given the president about $350 billion for combat and reconstruction in
The Bush administration has not yet asked for more war money, but lawmakers are reluctant to wait for a formal request. Costs are certain given that there's no end in sight to involvement in
And you know our expenditures will be most carefully monitored: When Joseph E. Schmitz took over as the Pentagon's inspector general in 2002, the largest watchdog organization in the federal government was under fire for failing to fully investigate a senior official, falsifying internal documents and mistreating whistle-blowers. He publicly pledged to clean it up. Three years later, similar accusations now surround Schmitz.
Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general's office, congressional investigators and a review of internal e-mail and other documents. The case has raised troubling questions about Schmitz as well as the Defense Department's commitment to combating waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers' money, especially in politically sensitive cases.
Our New American Values: Torture, Death, And Porn
A sacred trust: "Command is a sacred trust. The legal and moral responsibilities of commanders exceed those of any other leader of similar position or authority. Nowhere else does a boss have to answer for how subordinates live and what they do after work."
-- Dep't of the Army, Field Manual 22-100, sec. 1-61.
With a sense of timing that can only be described as exquisite, the Secretary of the Army, Francis J. Harvey, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Schoomaker, have published a defense of the Army's handling of the torture and prisoner abuse scandal in the National Review Online, just as another, particularly gruesome, chapter in this seemingly endless saga breaks across the front pages of the nation's newspapers. We are rapidly arriving at the point where the denials of military senior brass and political appointees who supervise them can only be viewed either as shirking responsibility or as confirmation that torture and abuse are official
The Army is the oldest of the nation's institutions, antedating the Presidency, the Congress and the courts. It played a unique role in defining and unifying the nation and in fixing the traditions with which the country has been associated since its founding. First among these may well be the tradition of humane warfare, articulated by George Washington after the Battle of Trenton, December 24, 1776. "Treat them with humanity,"
Shirkers at the Top
The torture and abuse saga has now raged on the public stage for 18 months, and a comparison of the Harvey/Schoomaker article with the current newspaper headlines suggests strongly that the Pentagon views the problem as little more than a public relations squabble. This scandal exposes an assault on core values of the Army by senior policymakers -- for the most part political appointees outside the scope of military investigation. The doctrine of humane treatment has been all but eviscerated. But for the long term, the damage done to the doctrine of command responsibility may be even more troubling.
Under both military doctrine and
This is an outstanding article, well worth reading in its entirety.
A sacred trust, part 2: U.S. Army troops subjected Iraqi detainees to severe beatings and other torture at a base in central
Leadership Failure - Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
Silence: Where do American religious leaders stand on torture? Their deafening silence evokes memories of the unconscionable behavior of German church leaders in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Despite the hate whipped up by administration propagandists against those it brands "terrorists," most Americans agree that torture should not be permitted. Few seem aware, though, that although President George W. Bush says he is against torture, he has openly declared that our military and other interrogators may engage in torture "consistent with military necessity."
For far too long we have been acting like "obedient Germans." Shall we continue to avert our eyes -- even as our mainstream media begin to expose the "routine" torture conducted by US forces in
The ramifications have not yet begun to unfold: This could become a public-relations catastrophe. The Bush administration claims such sympathy for American war dead that officials have banned the media from photographing flag-draped coffins being carried off cargo planes. Government officials and American media officials have repeatedly denounced the al-Jazeera network for airing grisly footage of Iraqi war casualties and American prisoners of war. The legal fight over whether to release the remaining photographs of atrocities at Abu Ghraib has dragged on for months, with no less a figure than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers arguing that the release of such images will inflame the Muslim world and drive untold numbers to join al-Qaeda. But none of these can compare to the prospect of American troops casually bartering pictures of suffering and death for porn.
If American soldiers in the field are always considered representatives of their government, international law clearly prohibits publishing and ridiculing images of war dead. The First Protocol of the Geneva Conventions states that "the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities ... shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained, and marked." The first Geneva Convention also requires that military personnel "shall further ensure that the dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged."
No one can reasonably expect a war without war crimes. But thanks to modern communications technology, photographic evidence of its brutality will always be with us. Roughly two hundred soldiers in
Representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights First even refused to comment, although both organizations ostensibly exist to condemn just this kind of practice. Perhaps no one wants to give Chris Wilson more publicity, or daily editors are too sensitive about being viewed as unpatriotic. Or perhaps the story is just too ugly to contemplate.
Americans have thousands of media outlets to choose from. But they still have to visit a porn site to see what this war has done to the bodies of the dead and the souls of the living. One of the pictures on
But don’t worry – we’ll punish the responsible parties!: Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.
The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves to the sentencing phase, which will be heard by the same jury beginning Tuesday.
The World Is Full Of Scumbags
Arrogant scumbags: Tony Blair is at now at odds with the public over keeping troops in
The poll also shows rapidly rising dissatisfaction with Mr Blair's leadership. Only 41% of voters are persuaded by the prime minister's argument that troops have a duty to remain in the country until things improve. By contrast, a majority of voters, 51%, want the government to set out plans to withdraw troops from
Yesterday Mr Blair again argued that no arbitrary date should be set for withdrawal. In a BBC interview he said: "I have absolutely no doubt as to what we should do. We should stick with it."
But the poll, taken after last week's attack on British troops in Basra, shows that a clear majority, 64%, believe the situation in the country is worsening despite the presence of British forces. Just 12% now share Mr Blair's belief that British troops are actually helping to improve the security situation.
Cowardly scumbags: But on Iraq, a big disconnect exists between what registered Democrats believe about the war and what elected Democratic officials and alleged party leaders like Howard Dean are willing to do. Only two Democratic officeholders -- Representatives John Conyers of
Forget about standing up alongside Michael Moore. Merely speaking up against the war in
Democratic senators who are in the presidential contender mix, such as Clinton, Kerry, and Joseph Biden of Delaware, have yet to label their votes to authorize war a mistake, even though the underlying rationale -- weapons of mass destruction -- was long ago revealed as false. Given the reluctance to admit mistakes in
But There Are Still Some Heroes In Our Country
Ian Fishback: When Army Capt. Ian Fishback told his company and battalion commanders that soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention, he says, they told him those rules were easily skirted.
When he wrote a memo saying Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was wrong in telling Congress that the Army follows the
And when Fishback found himself in the same room as Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey at
Contrast this honorable young man with the Air Force generals who are afraid to protest against the new
Jed Rakoff: A federal judge Monday rejected a government argument that he was interfering with the president's constitutional authority to wage war by insisting that
The government raised the objection after U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff last month ordered the Defense Department to pose the question to detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base.
The judge wrote that the argument was without merit, and that it was offered improperly after he had already rejected the government's other reasons for insisting that the information not be released to The Associated Press.
In April, the AP filed a lawsuit asking for transcripts of 558 tribunals conducted in the last year to give detainees a chance to challenge their incarceration. The government released the documents but redacted facts about each detainee's identity.
In his ruling last month, Rakoff noted that the government had argued the identities should be kept secret to protect the privacy of the detainees rather than for national security reasons.
The judge said each detainee could answer "yes" or "no" to the question of whether he wanted his identity revealed.
"One might well wonder whether the detainees share the view that keeping their identities secret is in their own best interests," he wrote last month.
The speech, made Sept. 19 outside the District Courthouse in
Speaking of the four protesters who spilled their own blood at a military recruiting center, Hinchey said "what they were protesting was the conspiracy of the Administration of George W. Bush to bring about an attack and then an occupation of the country of Iraq, and as a result making the world a much more dangerous and difficult place than it was prior to those actions."
"It is that conspiracy," he added, "that conspiracy which has now been documented by among other things official British documents called the Downing Street Memo which are communications between the highest ranking officials of the British government – the head of the British Intelligence, the foreign officer, the prime minister himself."
Analysis: Posted on a bulletin board at Centcom headquarters here is a 1918 admonition from T.E. Lawrence explaining what he learned in training Arab soldiers: "It is better to let them do it themselves imperfectly than to do it yourself perfectly. It is their country, their way, and our time is short."
That quote sums up an important shift in
I had a rare opportunity to hear a detailed explanation of U.S. military strategy this weekend when the Centcom chief, Gen. John Abizaid, gathered his top generals here for what he called a "commanders' huddle." They described a military approach that's different, at least in tone, from what the public perceives. For the commanders,
The commanders' thinking is conveyed by a set of "Principles for a Long War" for combating the main enemy, al Qaeda and affiliated movements. Among the precepts they discussed here: "use the indirect approach" by working with Iraqi and other partner forces; "avoid the dependency syndrome" by making the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security and governance; and "remove the perception of occupation" by reducing the size and visibility of American forces. The goal over the next decade is a smaller, leaner, more flexible
This article is by David Ignatius – I thought it was quite interesting but don’t really have a very good sense of whether he is a real journalist or another Beltway tool. Readers?
Opinion: Ms. Greenhouse and Mr. Greenfeld are only two of the many whistle-blowers done in by this administration so far. (Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, lists nine on his Web site.) Even top government officials who are not whistle-blowers, merely truth-tellers, are axed. Lawrence Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, was pushed out after he accurately projected the cost of the
Their errors were compounded when the administration staffed the post-Saddam American occupation with exactly the same kind of appointees it would later bring to homeland security: the two heads of "private sector development" in
The damage done to the mission in
Opinion: George W. Bush will go down in history as the president who fiddled while
Bush used deceit and hysteria to lead
Focused on a concocted "war on terrorism," the Bush administration diverted money from the
US efforts to isolate
The Iraqi war has three beneficiaries: (1)
Everyone else is a loser.
Local story: Two Wisconsin National Guardsmen, one from
Local story: Two California National Guardsmen, one from Antioch and one from Oceanside, killed in roadside bombing in Baghdad; and one California Marine, from Vista, killed in a bombing in Taqaddaum.
Note to Readers: I’d like to extend a warm personal welcome to our new blog colleague Helena. Her website is a valuable resource which I’ve constantly failed to take adequate advantage of and now that she’s going to be cross-posting here, I can stop feeling guilty about it. She’s going to be a great asset to the site. Welcome aboard,