Wednesday, October 05, 2005
War News for Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier shot to death in Taqaddum. Iraqi security forces backed by US helicopters fought about 40 insurgents in house-to-house battles in south
Bring ‘em on: Ten guards arrested and one wounded when Iraqi soldiers raided an office of Arab Sunni political leader for the Iraqi National Dialogue said. One
Bring ‘em on: Two civilians killed and three wounded during a battle between Iraqi forces and insurgents in Yusufiya and Rashid. A car bomb attack critically wounded six security guards for the North Oil Company, south of
Bring ‘em on: Forty-two insurgents and five
As with the earlier
Knight Ridder reporter: So, this was my Tuesday:
Woke up, 7 a.m., gunfire outside. Decided to read in the windowless bathroom, then take shower and brush teeth, using bottled water, of course.
11 a.m. - We leave the 10-foot-high blast walls that surround the hotel complex in a two-car convoy. The rear car's job is to run interference in case "bad guys" try to intercept "the package" (that would be me).
Noon - Dropped off several blocks from the Green Zone and walk to Checkpoint 3 (the main entrance). Walking because on Monday Iraqi army soldiers pushed me back inside the car, while pointing a machine gun at my head and shouting. They fired at reporters - warning shots, the reporters think - from National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal. The three incidents prompted a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman to start a briefing with journalists by saying, "OK, raise your hand if you were shot at today."
As I'm walking, phone rings. I answer. My Iraqi colleague Mohammed, who reports full time for Knight Ridder, takes the phone from my hand, whispering fiercely, "No English here. Be very, very afraid here."
12:10 p.m. - Get inside National Assembly building. Someone steals my watch at the final security check.
1 p.m. - On phone with the major, who's apologizing for being late when a car bomb explodes at Checkpoint 3 entrance. Gunfire ensues.
1-3 p.m. - Locked down in National Assembly building with legislators while bomb debris and bodies are cleared from the street.
3:15 p.m. - The major calls back. Come on out, he says. I join him walking to Checkpoint 3.
3:25 p.m. - We step around football-sized chunks of bomber hanging like gruesome Christmas ornaments from the razor wire. I point out the journalists' security fears, being forced to walk through a dangerous area to get to Iraqi government and U.S. Embassy briefings. He is concerned. "Wow, that's dangerous," he says, pushing aside a smoking piece of car interior with a booted toe. "I think the problem is, the guys here are nervous whenever cars come near, especially if they stop, like yours do, to drop you off."
"No kidding," I say, just avoiding treading on an eyeball.
4:30 p.m. - Walk a razor-wired path under gunpoint for several blocks to find waiting driver. He was 100 yards away and watching the entrance during the explosion, then hiding as bullets started raining down. He's happy to leave.
5:30 p.m. - Arrive back inside hotel blast walls, go to room and write story about Iraqi politics.
9 p.m. - The booms are now pretty constant in southern part of town. Kev says it's no big deal. Last night he said the same thing, "It's a gun battle across the street. No big deal."
Tonight he notes, "The heavy stuff is a ways away." I look at a map. Three miles.
10 p.m. - And so to bed.
The same suicide atack – Washington Post reporter: Pressing his foot to the gas pedal as he closed on the white Mercedes-Benz in front of him, the bomber sped toward his target: a senior Iraqi official.
A burst of white light followed, and a boom, muffled by the concrete blast walls that ring
The unknown attacker ended his life on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan, when some radical Muslims believe the gates of Heaven open and those who die in the name of the faith have their entrance to
It was the opening of a month in which ever-more-weary and ever-less-hopeful Iraqis fear that violence here -- already risen to a level of carnage few imagined when U.S. troops entered 2 1/2 years ago -- will only get worse.
Basic misunderstanding: Iraqi and international election monitors have flatly rejected a surprise ruling by Iraq's parliament that aimed to tilt the odds even further against the No side in next week's referendum on the constitution.
Trying to fine-tune vote counting procedures, the National Assembly decided this week to adopt two different definitions for "voter", creating a built-in bias in favour of passing the draft constitution.
But the ruling showed a basic "misunderstanding" of election rules, which should define voters only as "those who go to the ballot box and put their paper in", according to
Government officials and parliamentary leaders were in talks with UN officials on Tuesday over the controversial ruling, which threatened to destroy the credibility of the referendum amid deep sectarian divisions over the draft.
For the referendum to pass, only half of those who vote must tick the Yes box, the assembly confirmed.
However, Shia and Kurdish legislators, aiming to make a No victory even harder, opted for a wider definition of "voter", based on registered, rather than actual, voters.
With low turnout expected in the provinces where Sunni Arabs predominate, because of poor security conditions, this would have given the No side no serious chance of blocking the draft.
Compromise the exercise: The United Nations has condemned a late change to the rules governing
The alteration was made by the country's National Assembly, which is dominated by Kurds and Shias. Sunnis, who are campaign-ing against the federal constitution, accused the assembly of manipulating the rules to ensure a "yes" vote. They are now threatening to boycott the vote, due to take place on 15 October.
Under the old rules the constitution could be rejected if two-thirds of those polled voted "no" in three provinces. Sunni leaders had maintained they would be able to achieve this. The change means a "no" vote would require two-thirds of all registered voters to reject the constitution.
A UN legal adviser, Jose Aranaz, said: If this goes ahead it would seriously compromise the exercise."
U.N. officials welcomed the reversal, saying it helped restore integrity to the crucial Oct. 15 referendum and urged all Iraqis to participate.
The United Nations, which was supervising the referendum, and
''We're very happy about the National Assembly's action. We will now have a referendum law that follows international standards. It provides the ground for a fair referendum, and we call on all Iraqis to come forward to use a democratic right to give their opinion,'' said Michael Schulenburg, deputy head of the U.N. mission in
Constitution distribution: The United Nations has begun distributing millions of copies of
U.N. officials on Monday sought to downplay the leaked internal analysis written on Sept. 15 that looked at the document's weaknesses. Newsweek reported that the memo warned that the constitution is a "model for the territorial division of the State."
But the officials said it did not mean the U.N. was backing away from the constitution, which was the result of weeks of intense negotiations.
"As far as the U.N. is concerned, the constitution itself will have to be judged by the Iraqis on the 15th of October during the referendum," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "It should come as no surprise that within the U.N. staff who deal with
Many officials both inside and outside Iraq have warned that the constitutional process, meant to unite Iraq, instead underscored divisions among Iraq's three main communities. Sunni Arab leaders fear the constitution will fragment
Attacks denounced: Iraqi National Assembly speaker Hajim al-Hasani denounced the
''Frankly, I am against these operations," he told Aljazeera.
"In this respect, I have called before these attacks for halting these operations so that people will not believe the attacks are aimed at preventing them from participating in the referendum," al-Hasani said.
"There must be alternative solutions instead of later talking about low turnout for the referendum, just like what occurred in the elections,'' he said.
Killing civilians: From
Militants such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq , with his declaration of all-out war on Shi‘ite Muslims and willingness to slaughter Iraqi civilians in Allah‘s name, have dismayed even their own original religious mentors.
Most jihadists support suicide attacks on U.S.-led forces "occupying"
"Martyrdom operations related to civilians, whatever their nationality, can cause big divisions," said Egyptian lawyer Muntasser Zayat, who has represented Islamist defendants. "They do not have majority approval in Islamic and jihadi groups."
Here’s A Bright Idea
If your only tool is a hammer every problem looks like a nail: President Bush, stirring debate on the worrisome possibility of a bird flu pandemic, suggested dispatching American troops to enforce quarantines in any areas with outbreaks of the killer virus.
Bush asserted aggressive action could be needed to prevent a potentially crippling
The president has already indicated he wants to give the armed forces the lead responsibility for conducting search-and-rescue operations and sending in supplies after massive natural disasters and terrorist attacks — a notion that could require a change in law and that even some in the Pentagon have reacted to skeptically. The idea raised the startling-to-some image of soldiers cordoning off communities hit by disease.
"The president ought to have all ... assets on the table to be able to deal with something this significant," Bush said during a 55 minute question-and-answer session with reporters in the sun-splashed Rose Garden.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, called the president's suggestion an "extraordinarily draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu, and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.
"The translation of this is martial law in the
US Recruiting Woes
Lowering the standards: Facing recruiting shortages brought on by the conflicts in
The Army until now allowed no more than 2% of its recruiting class to be from the Category IV level, fearing that letting too many low-achieving recruits into the Army might dilute the quality of the nation's largest military branch.
Comment: Such pervasive contempt for international law and human rights -- from
If the U.S. government maintained as accurate records of Iraqi casualties as it does of U.S. fatalities, would a U.S. Marine have shot dead three injured and unarmed supposed ex-combatants in a Falluja mosque (one incident was captured on film) and be cleared by a military inquiry for conduct “consistent with … the law of armed conflict”?
Opinion: Remember in September of 2001, when the U.S. President dissembled to the American public about why the Middle Eastern "terrorists" hate
"Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
How ironic that the man who utilized his brother's governorship, Katherine Harris's lust for power, and a corrupt decision rendered by the Supreme Court to steal the 2000 presidential election would pontificate to Americans about democratic elections in the U.S. and self-appointed leaders in the Middle East. It is obvious that temporary amnesia prevented him from recalling voter disenfranchisement, his regime’s plans to strip its citizens' freedoms with the Patriot Act, and his nearly absolute intolerance for dissent.
Why do the "terrorists" and other people of the
Opinion: While the nation focuses on monster hurricanes that seem to harbor some terrible grudge against the
Opinion: The president and his generals are still offering gauzy assessments of our fight against an insurgency that grows ever more vicious, and dishing out loopy justifications for the war.
Before Mr. Bush was dragged out of Crawford this summer, he was making the case that we had to keep killing in
Wolfie and fellow hawks turned
Here's the weirdest perversion: First Rummy, as President Reagan's Mideast envoy, was photographed with Saddam, supporting him in the war against
The president spent years saying that Al Qaeda was on the run, and Rummy spent years saying we just had to finish off a few Saddam "dead enders." But four years after Mr. Bush promised to get "the people who knocked these buildings down," they are finally talking about Al Qaeda as a threat again.
Opinion: The president who slept through the early days of the agony in
If that's true, the entire nation should be mobilized. But, of course, it's not true. This is a reckless, indefensible war that has been avoided like the plague by the children of the privileged classes.
Even the most diehard defenders of this debacle are coming to the realization that it is doomed. So the party line now is that the Iraqis at some point will have to bear the burden of Mr. Bush's war alone.
Talk about a cruel joke. On the same day that Senator McCain faced off with General Myers, more than 100 people were killed in a series of car bombs in a town north of Baghdad; five U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi; and the American general in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq, George Casey, admitted before the Armed Services Committee that only 1 of the Iraqi Army's 86 battalions was capable of fighting the insurgency without American help.
The American death toll in
You never want to say that brave troops died for the mindless fantasies spun by a gang of dissembling, inept politicians. But what else did they die for?
Local story: Deford, MI, soldier killed in IED explosion near Ar Rustimayah.