Tuesday, October 18, 2005
War News for Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Two US Marines and four guerillas killed in fighting near Rutba.
Bring ‘em on: Two police officers killed in drive-by shooting in
Bring ‘em on: Three civilians killed and seven wounded when gunmen attacked the al-Rahman mosque in Mahaweel. An adviser to the Iraqi Industry Minister killed by gunmen outside his home in
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed and seven wounded when a roadside bomb struck a joint U.S and Iraqi army patrol in Baiji. Eleven insurgents killed and 57 suspects arrested in a joint U.S and Iraqi army operation in Mahmudiya. Three men shot dead by U.S. Marines, who claimed the men had planted a roadside bomb near Haqlaniya. Aircraft then destroyed caves where weapons were said to be stored and made. About 12 insurgents killed in attack on US Marine base near Qusayba. Three guerillas killed by Marine helicopters in Karabila.
Bring ‘em on: Senior member of the Anbar provincial government and his bodyguard shot dead by gunmen in Ramadi.
Bring ‘em on: One civilian killed and two others injured Tuesday when a mortar shell slammed into their house in
Bring ‘em on: At least five Iraqis were killed by militants on Tuesday. At least one of these deaths is documented in a post above, unclear on the others. In addition, the handcuffed and mutilated bodies of six Iraqis who had been kidnapped and killed in captivity were found in three locations of the capital.
Bring ‘em on: A U.S. fighter jet bombed a crowd gathered around a burned Humvee on the edge of a provincial capital in western Iraq, killing 25 people, including 18 children, hospital officials and family members said Monday. The military said the Sunday raid targeted insurgents planting a bomb for new attacks.
In all, residents and hospital workers said, 39 civilians and at least 13 armed insurgents were killed in a day of
At Ramadi hospital, distraught and grieving families fought over body parts severed by the airstrikes, staking rival claims to what they believed to be pieces of their loved ones. Iraqi Politics
The “democratic process”: For Iraq's Shia Muslims, Saturday's referendum on a new constitution was reason for celebration - the consecration of their rise to power.
For the angry Sunnis, it was a motivation to participate for the first time in the "democratic process" devised by US occupation forces, albeit to say No.
In the Shia slums of
The scene was different in the Sunni cities of Anbar and Salaheddine provinces, which are believed to have delivered a massive No to the US-backed charter.
"Statements coming from most provinces indicating such high numbers ... require us to recheck, compare and audit them, as they are unusually high according to the international standards," the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said in a statement.
In at least six provinces, the turnout to vote on the measure appears to have topped 95 percent, said Izzadin al Mohammadi, a senior commission official.
The audit announcement came amid allegations by the nation's Sunni minority, some 20 percent of
Much of the attention has focused on Ninevah province, home to
If there was ballot-box stuffing in Ninevah that affected the outcome of the swing province's vote for or against the constitution, it could create a politically explosive situation in a nation already teeming with sectarian strife.
Ninety-nine percent: A sandstorm that had closed
The investigation by
Meanwhile, insurgents resumed attacks that had fallen sharply during Saturday's vote at heavily protected polling stations across the country.
Fancy footwork required:
Tempting the Sunnis further toward politics and away from revolt will take skilful bargaining by other Iraqi leaders -- and
The likely "Yes" result in Saturday's constitutional referendum may prompt an upsurge in violence; but the vote has also forged a Sunni political movement that, for the first time, will fight its corner in a parliamentary election in December.
Quandary: For most of the 30 months since American-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has argued that as democracy took hold in
Over time, President Bush told troops at
But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen. And that possibility has created a quandary for an administration that desperately wants to equate democracy-building with winning the war, but so far has not been able to match the two.
National reconciliation conference: A much-anticipated Arab League-sponsored conference to promote national reconciliation in
Secretary General Moussa had been widely expected to open the two-day conference to spearhead the Arab League's first major initiative in
It is not known why the secretary general was absent from the session. But it is widely believed that security concerns may have prevented him from attending. Earlier this month, an Arab League delegation preparing for Mr. Moussa's visit came under attack in
Saddam Hussein Trial
Trial begins: Saddam Hussein and seven members of his Baath party, including his half-brother, will file into a marble-lined, chandelier-hung courtroom in
Two years after he was found hiding in a hole near where he was born, the former Iraqi president and his co-defendants go on trial for their lives on charges of crimes against humanity for the killing of more than 140 Shi'ite Muslim men two decades ago.
No better: Very few Iraqis want Saddam back in charge at the
Supporters: The Yihyas are not former Baath Party officials in the Sunni Arab clique which dominated
"I hope Saddam is freed," said family matriarch Rajha Saleh, whose Sunni Muslim sons all married Shi'ite Muslim women to make the clan a sectarian mix typical of
"During Saddam's time we could go out at night. We slept in the garden on hot nights," she said at the run-down family home. "Now I wouldn't dare. The sound of a cat would scare me."
For the Yihyas, seeing Saddam take the stand will be a stark reminder of the contrasts between his rule, marked by wars with neighbours and great powers, and a new life plagued by suicide bombings, shootings, kidnappings and rampant crime.
When the final page is written on
The American-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority could well prove to be the most corrupt administration in history, almost certainly surpassing the widespread fraud of the much-maligned UN Oil for Food Program. At least $20 billion that belonged to the Iraqi people has been wasted, together with hundreds of millions of
From The American Conservative magazine! This savage attack on the occupation’s endemic corruption is well worth a read.
Support the troops!: Wounded US soldiers who have returned home are increasingly finding that they are being referred to credit agencies by the US military because of discrepancies in pay or "failure to pay" for lost equipment.
The Roanoke Times writes in an editorial that this is the latest in a string of problems that the Bush administration has had in dealing with soldiers, both full-time military and National Guard and Reserve troops. The Times pointed to a recent cut of a billion dollars in the Veterans Affairs budget, and the problems outfitting soldiers in war zones with proper equipment. The pay issue just compounds the situation.
The GAO found that more than 90 percent of the soldiers in some Reserve and Guard units have incurred payroll errors during deployment. Organizations such as the Wounded Warriors Project in
Crisis of morale: Recent comments by the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, that British forces might have to stay in an increasingly volatile conflict for up to 10 more years have exacerbated fears among British forces that the conflict in which they are engaged is open-ended and lacking a credible exit strategy. There are currently 8,500 British troops in
According to Combat Stress, the military charity dedicated to helping soldiers suffering psychological problems, the seemingly indefinite struggle has created the greatest crisis of morale among British troops for decades.
Allison Barber strikes again: Armed Forces Radio (AFR) is a station that is broadcast to American troops overseas through “over 1,000 outlets in more than 175 countries.” It currently features an hour of programming from right-wing host Rush Limbaugh. There is no comparable progressive program.
Today, that was supposed change. Ed Schultz – the most popular progressive radio show in the country — was supposed to start broadcasting on Armed Forces radio. Jones Radio, the company that syndicates the Ed Shultz show, received an email on September 29 from an Armed Forces Radio official confirming that one hour of the Ed Schultz show would begin airing today, October 17.
But morning this at 6AM, the producer of the Ed Schultz show, James Holm, received a call from Pentagon communications aide Allison Barber. She told Holm that she was calling so early to let Schultz know his show would not begin airing on AFR today. You’ll remember Barber as the aide caught coaching troops before a photo-op with President Bush last week.
The Rule of Law
Analysis: On 19 March 2003 President Bush Jr. commenced his criminal war against
This brings the analysis to the so-called Constitution of Iraq that was allegedly drafted by the puppet Interim Government of Iraq under the impetus of the
Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of
Sponsoring torture in the United States Senate: The Conference Committee that will consider and reconcile the Senate and House defense appropriations bills is scheduled to meet this coming week. The Senate bill contains the "McCain Amendment," which would prohibit all U.S. personnel from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees -- i.e., engaging in conduct that would "shock the conscience" under Due Process Clause doctrine -- anywhere in the world.
It's increasingly clear that the strategy of McCain's opponents -- the Vice President and his congressional supporters -- will be to amend the McCain Amendment in the Conference Committee so as to exempt the CIA from the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees. The Senate delegation to the Conference Committee presumably will include three of the nine Republicans who voted against the McCain Amendment -- Ted Stevens, Thad Cochran and Kit Bond. A recent Congressional Quarterly article reports Stevens -- who would "lead the Senate's conferees" -- as saying that "he can support McCain's language if it's augmented with guidance that enables certain classified interrogations to proceed under different terms." "'I'm talking about people who aren't in uniform, may or may not be citizens of the United States, but are working for us in very difficult circumstances,' Stevens said. 'And sometimes interrogation and intimidation is part of the system.'"
What this barely veiled statement means is that Senator Stevens will support inclusion of the McCain Amendment in the final bill only once it has been "augmented" to exempt the CIA from the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. (Stevens's reference to persons who "may not be citizens of the
Practicing torture in
Starvation policy: A senior United Nations official has accused US-led coalition troops of depriving Iraqi civilians of food and water in breach of humanitarian law.
Human rights investigator Jean Ziegler said they had driven people out of insurgent strongholds that were about to be attacked by cutting supplies.
Mr. Ziegler, a Swiss-born sociologist, said such tactics were in breach of international law.
When will there be accountability?: It’s not yet clear whether senators will succeed in their effort to force the Bush administration to give up the use of "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of foreign detainees, despite a 90-9 vote by the Senate. Resistance by House Republicans and the White House threat of a veto means this badly needed restoration of the American commitment to human rights faces an uphill battle in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, the outcome of another legislative initiative stemming from the hundreds of documented cases of prisoner abuse is even cloudier. Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Michigan) so far has won no Republican support for a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the treatment of detainees since 2001. Given what is known -- and still unknown -- about this shocking and shameful record, the rejection of accountability by the administration and Congress is a scandal in its own right.
A number of senior Army officers, most notably former Iraq commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and former Guantanamo commander Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, have been implicated in serious offenses, including ordering or approving prisoner mistreatment. Yet the only direct investigation of these still-active generals, by the Army inspector general, resulted in no sanctions or charges. The head of the U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, refused to follow a recommendation by the Army's own investigators that Gen. Miller be held accountable for the "degrading and abusive treatment" of one
We're willing to make a prediction: Some day there will be an exhaustive investigation of how and why prisoners were abused after 2001, and accountability will be assigned to the senior officers and officials who now hide behind their subordinates and inspector generals. Like the internment of ethnic Japanese during World War II or the CIA's involvement in Cold War-era coup plots and assassinations, government acts so at odds with fundamental American standards will eventually be exposed and disowned by our democracy. Yet it would be much better for the legacy of President Bush, and this Republican Congress, if that honest accounting were to begin now, rather than after they have left office. The opportunity exists: Mr. Levin and his amendment are waiting.
Strategerizing: In refocusing the nation's attention on the war on terror in past weeks, both the president and his critics in Congress are increasingly turning to a fundamental yet frequently overlooked aspect of the
Time and again, the Bush administration has stated that the way to ultimately break the insurgency is to create a strong and democratic
This conflict is the sort that the armed forces have avoided since
Now, pressed by Congress and an impatient public, President Bush and Pentagon leaders have begun to articulate the vision behind their current course - casting
A good question: So, why isn't character on the table this time?
Character, we were all so piously told seven years ago, was what elevated Bill Clinton's lie about an extramarital dalliance to an issue of national gravity and justified his impeachment. It was a lie that, to those of us who were not hyperventilating with rage, seemed trivial compared to matters concerning the ship of state, even if it was a lie told under oath in a trumped-up civil trial.
No, no, no, we were scolded; it goes to the character of the man. If you can't rely on a leader to confess before the entire ogling world that he dropped his pants for the wrong woman, how could you trust anything he said? Our children would abandon all respect for honesty, integrity and propriety, using the excuse, "Well, the president did it. Why can't I?"
These dire predictions of social anarchy struck me as absurdly exaggerated, but the standard was set. Or so we thought.
In rode a new administration and party promising to raise the bar on character. As I see it, they've splintered that bar into toothpicks.
And yet, isn't it curious how in the public discourse today one rarely hears references to character as a material issue with respect to political leadership? If an extramarital affair was proof of a vacant character, wouldn't questionable actions that actually affect people - soldiers, covert agents, Congress, storm victims and the like - be exponentially more serious?
False premises: In a New York Times article published on Sunday, columnist Frank Rich buried the dart right in the center-black. "What matters most in this case," wrote Rich, "is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in
That last sentence strikes sparks, for it takes us beyond the minutiae of a case surrounding two senior White House aides. However important Rove and Libby may be to this administration, neither represents the end of the story. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, with deliberation and intent, took this country to war in
Rich, in his article, details the existence of the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. "Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of
WHIG, and its intention to sell an unnecessary war to a shell-shocked public, is only half the story. The other half of the manipulative sales team could be found in the neighborhood occupied by the Department of Defense. The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in
Local story: A soldier and a Marine from