Monday, October 24, 2005

War News for Monday, October 24, 2005 Bring 'em on: Senior Kurdish politican seriously injured and his bodyguard killed in roadside bomb attack in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi policemen killed in suicide car bomb attack on a police patrol in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Twelve Iraqi construction workers gunned down in Mussayyib. Bring 'em on: Iraqi police also reported that one US soldier was killed and one wounded when a roadside bomb hit a US patrol in central Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Iraqi police colonel and his two sons killed in bomb attack in Tikrit. Bring 'em on: Twenty Iraqis killed in US airstrikes near the Syrian border. Bring 'em on: Two children, aged seven and nine, killed in explosion in the same attack in Tikrit above. Bring 'em on: US officers say the typical “kill rate” from an IED used to be one American dead or wounded. The more sophisticated devices that appeared early this year now kill three or four. Bring 'em on: Four Iraqis, including two policemen, killed in car bomb attack in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two civilians killed and thirteen injured in car bomb attack on a US convoy in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Four sabotage blasts have brought oil exports from northern Iraq to a halt and it could take up to one month for repairs. Bring 'em on: Five US soldiers injured in attacks on three convoys in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Drive-by shootings claim the lives of a policeman, three civilians and a student cleric in Baquba. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi truck drivers gunned down in Taji. Bring 'em on: Anti-Saddam Shi'a leader and his driver gunned down in Amarah. Done Deal: Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi leader accused of giving the Bush administration flawed information about Saddam Hussein's weapons program, will visit Washington in November amid speculation that U.S. officials view him as an acceptable candidate for Iraqi prime minister. Election Update: While no official result has been announced yet in the October 15 referendum on the draft Iraqi constitution, US officials are claiming it was endorsed by the majority of Iraqis. The count, however, is already surrounded by accusations of ballot-rigging and fraud and will to be regarded as illegitimate by wide sections of the Iraqi population. Clueless: A report prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that the government's counter-terrorism strategy is failing, a newspaper reported yesterday. Key policies aimed at preventing Al Qaeda attacks and rooting out terrorists are "immature" and "disjointed", the prime minister's delivery unit concluded. Resigned Commission: The Sunday Telegraph has revealed that Lieutenant Colonel Nick Henderson, commanding officer of the Coldstream Guards in Basra, who is in charge of security in the region, has resigned. He recently voiced concerns over a lack of armoured vehicles for his men, one of whom was killed in a bomb attack in Basra last week. Opinion and Commentary Endgame for the British:
Attacks against British soldiers in southern Iraq are likely to increase in the coming months. These attacks are primarily motivated by one factor alone: the British are no longer needed in southern Iraq. The south is largely peaceful and the security structures created by Shi'ite militias have proved highly effective. Much of the tension between the UK military and the militias is rooted in the almost universal wish in the Shi'ite south that the British begin withdrawing immediately. While the British government has hinted that it might start withdrawing substantially from May 2006 onwards, no firm guarantees to this effect have been given to Iraqi authorities in the south. But there is a deeper reason why Iraq is now such a dilemma for UK foreign policy. From a British perspective, the country has invested significant resources in the Iraq conflict, but has reaped very few benefits apart from consolidating the "special relationship" with the US. Indeed, British prestige in the region and the wider world has declined since the war and the Iraq conflict may have even been the decisive factor that propelled four young British Muslim suicide bombers to attack their own country in July. Instinctively, the Blair government wants to stay in Iraq as long as the Americans, if only to reap the final rewards of a "democratic" and "stable" Iraq. But evidence on the ground suggests that while a stable Iraq is, at best, 10 years away, a democratic Iraq may forever remain a neo-conservative fantasy. From a wider geostrategic perspective, if the British government is hoping to apply pressure on Iran in the nuclear stand-off, then it has completely misread events in Tehran over the past few months. While this kind of pressure might have had an impact on the previous Mohammed Khatami government, the new government of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is stridently nationalist and has made it clear that Iran will not make any concessions over its right to master the nuclear fuel cycle. The message from the Ahmadinejad administration, and the Iranian nationalists who stand behind him, is clear: even if the British believe in their own propaganda there is not much that they can do about it. Given this state of affairs, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the British government has badly miscalculated. Indeed, if the British government wanted to portray itself as a key player in the nuclear stand-off, the uncompromising message from Tehran leaves little doubt that the UK is merely a pawn in an escalating geostrategic conflict between the Islamic Republic and the United States.
Excuse me. Are all rightwingers this stupid or is this guy just uniquely ignorant. You don't have to take my word for it, just read The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's PreWar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq (July 2004), pages 43-47. However, you'll have to read carefully because the Republican staff who wrote this report tried their best to obfuscate and confuse the matter. These are the clear facts: 1. Prior to Joe Wilson's trip to Niger, most of the U.S. intelligence community (the CIA and State Department's INR) did not believe Iraq was trying to buy uraniusm from Niger. The intelligence community had received two intelligence reports from the same source (the Italian intelligence service)in the previous six months and did not find them credible. 2. Joe Wilson and the U.S. Ambassador to Niger both told the Senate investigators that they each concluded separately that there was nothing to the story that Iraq was trying to buy uranium, or could even do so, because of the local controls in place. (See p. 42 of the Senate report). 3. Joe Wilson returned from his Niger trip in March of 2002 and was debriefed by CIA officers on March 5. They in turn produced an intelligence report based on Ambassador Wilson's trip. He was not provided a chance to review or approve the report. The CIA's Directorate of Operations gave the report based on the Ambassador's debriefing a grade of good. 4. According to the Senate report, the results of Joe Wilson's trip to Niger were not shared with the Vice President because it did not provide any new information to clarify the issue. In other words, the intelligence community discounted the notion that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger. They continued to hold this position even in the now discredited October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. Moreover, even though the British Government provided a "white paper" that seemed to bolster the claim that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa, the intelligence analysts also dismissed the British paper as not credible. Senior CIA officials repeatedly briefed U.S. policymakers and legislators that there was no substance to the reports claiming that Iraq was up to no good in Africa. Those are the facts. Unfortunately, guys like Hinderaker prefer neocon fantasies. The desperation of Hinderaker and his ilk should serve as a strong reminder that the group who got us into war in Iraq have learned nothing in the last four years.
Fitzmas Week:
"It's not personal," Fitzgerald said, according to Sauber. "It's my job." Miller chose jail, setting the stage for the last piece of Fitzgerald stagecraft. Periodically calling lawyers, he eventually learned from Miller attorney Robert S. Bennett that she might relent if she received a clear and personal waiver from Libby. In three single-spaced pages, the special counsel wrote Libby attorney Joseph A. Tate that it would be seen as "cooperation with the investigation" if Libby reiterated the confidentiality release he had previously given Miller. But in a twist apparently designed to get Libby's attention, Fitzgerald said twice that he suspected Libby may have preferred Miller to keep quiet about their talks. Libby, after months of silence, quickly wrote Miller. He told her she was missed. He declared that he would be better off if she testified, and he made clear he was freeing her from her pledge. Miller testified, and Fitzgerald prepared to wrap up his inquiry, but not without a final surprise. A lawyer familiar with Miller's grand jury testimony said the special counsel asked her to discuss all relevant conversations she had with Libby before Novak published Plame's name. When Miller detailed two July 2003 discussions and said she could not remember any others, Fitzgerald begged to differ. He showed her a page from a White House logbook that recorded a June 23 visit by Miller to Libby at the Old Executive Office Building. Miller corrected herself and soon produced for the grand jury her notes from that meeting.
Saddam Trial:
The real problem is that the United States was closely allied to Saddam Hussein during the 1980s when he was committing the worst atrocities against the Iranians and the Kurds. At that time, the Reagan administration saw the revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran as a far greater threat to U.S. interests, and when Saddam's war against Iran started going badly it stepped in to save him. It was U.S. intelligence photos from spy satellites and AWACS reconnaissance aircraft that provided the raw information about Iranian positions, and U.S. Air Force photo interpreters seconded to Baghdad who drew Saddam the detailed maps of Iranian trenches that let him drench them inpoison gas. It was the Reagan administration that stopped Congress from condemning Saddam's use of poison gas, and that encouraged American firms and NATO allies to sell him the appropriate chemical feedstocks, plus a wide variety of other weapons. It was the U.S. State Department that tried to protect Saddam when he gassed his own Kurdish citizens in Halabja in 1988, spreading stories (which it knew to be false) that Iranian planes had dropped the gas. It was the U.S. that finally saved Saddam's regime by providing escorts for tankers carrying oil from Arab Gulf states while Iraqi planes were left free to attack tankers coming from Iranian ports. Even when one of Saddam's planes mistakenly attacked an American destroyer in 1987, killing 37 crew members, Washington forgave him. So the U.S. doesn't want any of Saddam's crimes that are connected with the Iran war to come up in his trial.
Why Dujail?
The proceedings raise more than one question mark. Iraqis wonder why the court insists on trying Saddam only for the Dujail killings at a time the list of his crimes is too numerous to be counted. Many Iraqis say the killings in Dujail were connected with the members of a party in power currently in Iraq. This is why, they add, the authorities have focused on Dujail. Saddam Hussein executed thousands of ordinary Iraqis who were members of no political party or faction. It was better for the court to start with these cases at least to do justice for the hapless relatives of these victims. In this case no one would have attempted even to allege that the proceedings were somewhat politically orchestrated. The killings in Dujail are a crime and any one involved in them must be tried and punished. But to only try Saddam for these killings sends the wrong message to the relatives of tens of thousands of other victims. And now the court itself goes to what it has described as the only witness on Dujail killings. Al-Sheik will testify from his death bed hospital in seclusion without the glare of media cameras and most probably in the absence of defense lawyers, raising even more questions about the whole trial.
Changing Tact:
Failing to spread its control and restore order, the U.S. is changing tact. But halt. It is not for the interest of the Iraqi people. The U.S. now realizes the country is on the brink of a civil war and it is utilizing the status quo for its own benefit in the hope it will eventually lead it to a way out of its Iraqi quagmire. Iraqi casualties and losses are mounting, the country’s infrastructure, which the U.S. was supposed to modernize, is creaking as a result. But these issues are no longer a matter of concern for those who once called themselves “the liberators.” The past few months have seen a shift in U.S. Iraq strategy. It has abandoned the traditional military means it pursued against armed groups opposing it. The U.S. has become a principal player in the “match of terror” going on in the country. The U.S. is now in fact feeding violence in Iraq by using the country’s disparate sectarian, ethnic and religious factions in a way that will eventually help it realize some of its aims of coming to Iraq. The U.S. is now sowing seeds of strife and civil war. It wants Iraqi factions to do the fighting instead of its troops. The U.S. is fueling sectarian tensions in the hope that the groups, who previously directed their guns almost solely against its marines, would now shoot Iraqis instead. The U.S. now believes if it can set Iraqi factions against each other, it will then withdraw – not from Iraq – but to safe Iraqi havens and watch from there the disintegration of the country in a civil strife that will leave no faction strong enough to put up a fight against its troops.


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