Wednesday, October 26, 2005
War News for Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Three people abducted by gunmen on the road outside Tikrit. Two policemen killed when gunmen attacked a police station in Ramadi. Three policemen killed and two wounded when a roadside bomb exploded beside their patrol in central Falluja. Four bodies found in northeastern Haditha, three of them wearing army uniforms and the other a contractor working with U.S companies. The corpses were bound, gagged and had gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Gunmen killed an official at
Bring ‘em on: At least nine people killed when a car bomb exploded in Sulaimaniya. A member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan escaped assassination when two car bombs targeted his motorcade near his home in western Sulaimaniya, one of his guards was killed and two were injured in the attack. Three corpses of Iraqi army soldiers wearing civilian clothes found in Ramadi. The bodies had gunshot wounds to the head. Two policemen killed and another seven wounded when gunmen ambushed a vehicle transferring prisoners in the western Ghazaliya district of Baghdad,. It was not clear if there were casualties among the prisoners. A suicide car bomber targeted a
Technology marches on: After 31 months of fighting in
The bombs range from massive explosives capable of destroying five-ton vehicles to precision "shaped charges" that bore softball-size holes through thick armor, the main defense of troops in the field, and they are becoming a key factor in the fast-rising
Democracy in Iraq: After 10 days of audit, a draft Iraqi constitution was finally ratified with 78 percent of "yes" votes, surpassing the 21 percent "no" votes with a huge margin, as announced by the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission on Tuesday.
The long-awaited but much anticipated result of the Oct. 15 referendum, which was to pave the way for a parliament election in mid December, was embraced by majority of the 9.8 million voters despite a narrow fate of being defeated by opposing Sunnis, who managed strong "no" votes in two provinces, falling short of only one in order to veto it.
Some disagree: When election officials proclaimed yesterday that Iraqi voters had approved a constitution in this month's referendum, the
But the vote result also deepens a dangerous divide that could inflame the insurgency by Sunni Arabs, who voted massively against the constitution. "This result ... is a big fraud operation by the government," declared Saleh Mutlaq, a leading Sunni politician who served on the commission that drafted the constitution.
Societal fracture lines: In final results for the October 15 referendum released yesterday, some 78.6 per cent of voters cast Yes ballots and 21.4 per cent voted against - but voting appears to have split along ethnic and sectarian lines.
In the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab governorates of Anbar and the predominantly Sunni Arab Salaheddin, 97 and 82 per cent of voters rejected the document, while in the swing governorate of Ninawah, about 55 per cent of ballots rejected it.
But the result in Ninawah, which was only announced yesterday, means opponents of the draft narrowly failed to reach the two-thirds majority in three provinces that would have been needed to block the charter.
The predominantly Shia south and Kurdish north meanwhile supported the document by margins of more than 95 per cent, while more divided results in the mixed governorates such as Baghdad, in which 78 per cent of voters approved it, Kirkuk, in which 63 per cent did, and Diala, in which only 51 per cent voted Yes, also appeared to reflect the demographic balances in those governorates.
May they find consensus: Three Sunni Arab parties on Wednesday set up a coalition to contest December's parliamentary elections after a big turnout of Sunni voters failed to block
The move comes after the
In forming their new coalition, the Iraqi People's Gathering, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Iraqi National Dialogue hope to give Sunni Muslims, who had boycotted previous elections, a bigger voice in a permanent political structure expected to emerge from the December poll.
It also may provide Sunnis more leverage in discussions over constitutional amendments under a deal brokered by
The Number Of The Beast
Round number: The American military death toll in the Iraq war reached 2,000 Tuesday with the announcements of three more deaths, including an Army sergeant who died of wounds at a military hospital in Texas and a Marine and a sailor killed last week in fighting west of Baghdad.
The 2,000 mark was reached amid growing doubts among the American public about the
A report by Iraq Body Count in July said nearly 37 percent of the Iraqi deaths it had recorded were caused by U.S.-led forces, with the rest caused by insurgents and criminal gangs.
According to icasualties.org, a web site run by a non-governmental group that tallies U.S. and Iraqi casualties, more than 3,400 Iraqi police and soldiers have been killed in postwar Iraq, including more than 2,100 this year alone.
Numbers game: The US military has revived the discredited "bodycount" method of measuring success in
Unlucky number: Adel Abed Hammed was a skinny 31-year-old so withdrawn he sometimes went days without talking to anybody and would let only his mother touch him.
Mentally ill since childhood, he used to wander the streets of
"I wouldn't feel such misery if he wasn't so sick but that makes it double for me," said his mother. "He was like a child."
Comparing numbers: "The nearly 2,000 Americans killed in combat (1,998 on October 24, 2005) in
Statistics: The real human cost, of course, is far greater than 2,000. It includes the 198 members of the "coalition of the willing" who have died, almost 300 private contractors, 73 journalists, the 15,220 Americans who have been wounded, and the invisible dead from what the Guardian's Julian Borger called the "extraordinarily high number of accidents, suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have gone largely unreported in the media."
And then there's the sad fact that those deceased Americans and allies are a fraction of the number of Iraqi dead.
Another estimate: Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution who has closely followed the war's casualties, said an average of 1,500 to 2,000 Iraqis have been killed per month, about half of them insurgents.
While American troops are killed at the rate of about 60 to 70 per month, the new Iraqi military suffers that many deaths in a week, mainly from insurgent attacks that rose to about 90 per day in September, O'Hanlon said.
Exacerbating the carnage is the Iraqi crime rate, now the highest in the
The total of Iraqi deaths - including insurgents - from all manner of war-related violence could run as high as 70,000, said O'Hanlon, who teaches a course at
One in four: Since the March 2003 invasion, at least 487 National Guard or Reserve troops have died in
"The Guard is different in the respect that these folks are seen around town every day, driving a deputy sheriff's patrol car or working at the 7-11 or teaching high school," said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. "These are everyday folks who have been commanded to go to war."
Folks like James Kinlow, who survived just six weeks in that hostile land.
“An artificial mark”: AP said the 2,000th military fatality was an Army sergeant who was wounded by a roadside bomb north of
Specific agendas and ulterior motives. What, the Bush administration set the artificial mark? Shove it, Steve.
Invisible numbers: The human toll for the
Military doctors say
Military statistics showed that while 23 percent of
But military doctors said some troops who may have died in previous wars are surviving, but with grievous injuries such as multiple limb amputations. More than 300 troops have undergone at least one limb amputation. By far the single biggest cause of combat wounds are blasts from IEDs.
Not numbers at all: Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Auchman was the 1,294th service member killed in
On Tuesday, nearly a year after his death, the nation mourned the 2,000th
"To me, it's not so much the number, it's the person, because I couldn't tell you what the number was for my husband," said his widow, Jenny, sitting in her home off
"I really don't care what his number is. He's a person, not a number."
“Negligible”: Imagine a major mainstream media figure stating that the deaths of American soldiers in
How many service age children or grandchildren do you have, Brit? How many are actually serving?
Some other numbers: On top of these human costs, the financial costs are soaring as well. Before the war started, administration officials argued that the total cost would be $50 billion. But the latest spending will lift the tab to $250 billion, bringing the average yearly spending to $86 billion. This amounts to every man, woman and child in the
Congress and the Pentagon have fallen down on the job of keeping tabs on the money being spent. In late September the Government Accountability Office issued a report concluding, "neither [the Department of Defense] nor Congress ... can reliably know how much the war is costing and details on how appropriated funds are being spent."
Here are some of those spending details: When the Pentagon went shopping for seven armored cars for senior Iraqi policemen,
After spending nearly $1 million, here's what they got: Six vehicles with bad armor and run-down mechanics. They also were a little more than slightly used: The newest model was a 1996; the oldest a 1994.
According to the special inspector general for
In a report released Monday, the inspector general said the Pentagon couldn't get its money back because it did such a bad job negotiating the no-bid deal.
Only a down payment: In the weeks ahead, Congress will formally sign over to the Pentagon about $50 billion to run the war in
Same old stuff from numero uno: President Bush tried Tuesday to begin reviving
"I know this is a trying time for our military spouses," Bush said at a Joint Armed Forces Officer Wives' luncheon at Bolling Air Force Base. "We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror."
"And the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom," he said.
Number 2001: An American soldier was killed Tuesday in a vehicle accident near
Two thousand and one Americans. Tens of thousands of Iraqis. Five or ten times that many wounded, twenty times that many lives irreparably shattered. Billions of wasted dollars.
Complete the mission. Stay the course.
What are we buying with all this blood, all this wasted treasure?
Torture: The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in
"This is the first time they've said explicitly that the intelligence community should be allowed to treat prisoners inhumanely," said Tom Malinowski, the
Murder: At least 21 detainees who died while in
The analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union, released today, looked at 44 deaths described in records obtained by the ACLU. Of those, the group characterised 21 as homicides, and said at least eight resulted from abusive techniques by military or intelligence officers, such as strangulation or "blunt force injuries", as noted in the autopsy reports.
The 44 deaths represent a partial group of the total number of prisoners who have died in US custody overseas; more than 100 have died of natural and violent causes.
Starvation: UNICEF recently conducted a rapid assessment survey to determine the current rate of malnutrition among children under the age of five, with the results being released 10 days ago.
The results showed that acute malnutrition among children had almost doubled since before the war, jumping from 4 per cent to 7.7 per cent. Children who are acutely malnourished are literally wasting away, and for severe cases their condition can be fatal. Acute malnutrition sets in very fast and is a strong indicator of the overall health of children.
And an America that should shame every one of its citizens: Congressional negotiators are feeling heat from the White House and constituents as they consider whether to back a Senate-approved ban on torturing detainees in U.S. custody or weaken the prohibition, as the White House prefers.
Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, the Bush administration is floating a proposal that would allow the president to exempt covert agents outside the Defense Department from the ban.
What mission?: In November 2003, McKee quietly ordered up a new plan for
Fighting The Only War They Know
The PR war: President George W. Bush's nominee to be the Pentagon's chief public affairs official told Congress on Tuesday he hoped to encourage more positive stories about the Iraq war by encouraging the practice of embedding reporters with U.S. troops in Iraq.
Dorrance Smith, a former television producer who spent nine months in
In the article, Smith concluded that the United States was "losing badly" the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and said ethical questions were raised by the practice of U.S. networks airing videos of hostages obtained by Al-Jazeera, a popular Arab-language television channel.
He told the Senate Armed Services Committee one way to get out more positive stories about U.S. troops in Iraq would be to "reinvigorate" the Pentagon's practice of embedding reporters with military units, which was widely used during the invasion of Iraq 2-1/2 years ago but is done only sporadically now.
They better move fast though: A new Harris Interactive poll shows American sentiment about the situation in Iraq remains generally gloomy, with fewer than a quarter of Americans saying they are confident U.S. policies in Iraq will be successful.
For the first time, a majority of Americans (53%) feels that military action in
At the same time, 66% of
This one might already be lost: The Bush administration and the
With the death toll reaching 2,000, those two goals are colliding as escalating public impatience with the war is triggering demands for more progress in
Unless they open a second front: As the war in
But the news from
That would be a good diversionary tactic: Of course it’s deeply disturbing that
But Bush’s UN call is not without specific purpose. In fact, it’s likely part of a two-pronged argument that we’re about to hear:
It is highly doubtful that such an invasion will take place, especially given how stretched
That is, get everyone whipped up about the pros and cons of another invasion, including, especially, the costs, in dollars and lives. And, about the goals and appropriateness of the action. Almost by definition, news organizations must always place military issues and possible hostilities ahead of other matters. And the reality is that wars play better: it’s just too darned hard to explain to the public the intricacies of corruption cases – unless the corruption involves something we all get, like a blue dress that needs dry cleaning. Plus, resources, space and time are limited. So all of these creeping –gates, PlameGate, LobbyistGate, DonorGate, etc, can momentarily be shunted away to the inside pages where only the most hardy pay attention to them.
To be sure, an actual arrest and prosecution of someone of Rove’s ‘stature’ would lead the news. But don’t bet on it remaining the topic of conversation once a clarion call is sounded for
Good thing the media won't let them get away with it! Umm...: It’s finally dawning on the New York Times how thoroughly it was spun on the fictions about
“Some deeply troubling facts about the murder of
But the problem with the Times editorial is that the report by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis is anything but “meticulous,” reading more like a compilation of circumstantial evidence and conspiracy theories than a dispassionate pursuit of the evidence.
Cut their funding!: As the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq reaches 2,000, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) this week will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to deploy United States Armed Forces to Iraq. The bill will allow funds to be used for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops; for transitional security provided by other countries – including international organizations like NATO and the United Nations; and for continued support for Iraqi security forces and international forces in
Take back the media!: With the Bush administration on the defensive, with rationalizations for the war fading, with public opinion shifting, with talk of troop withdrawals all the buzz even as the Pentagon hardens "permanent" bases in the mess it has made of ‘Messopotamia,’ it's time for those who oppose the war to think about where our pressure and protest might hasten the war's end.
The Administration is locked into its own imperial logic with Condoleezza Rice even now refusing to rule out new wars in
Protests to the ideologues and neocon warheads, in what a former Colin Powell aide now calls "The Cabal," are fruitless. That seems clear.
The Democrats as a party also seem too compromised and incapable of mounting the kind of opposition that is needed. We all know why. They drank the "Kool Aid" of war early on and uncritically backed the invasion. Some have now moved away from their earlier positions. Some politicians have admitted they were wrong, but as the war machine grinds on, most remain, uncomfortably perhaps, part of it.
We need to move beyond narrow partisanship. We need a new citizen-based campaign to make the war and its coverage an issue. We need to reach out to the existing anti-war movement, and beyond it.
Who should be targeted? Who can we turn to, and who can we turn on?
Why not the media!
Here’s something encouraging – one of the following pieces was written by well-known liberals and the other two were written by people with impeccable conservative credentials. Can you tell which is which?
Opinion: As of today, the principal winner of the
In 2001, Iranians demonstrated in support of the
But with Bush declaring
A second winner of the
Among the other beneficiaries of
As George Bush's place in history is riding on the outcome of this war, he is right to be angry and alarmed. But this war is not the doing of any subordinate.
Opinion: We'll never know how many Iraqis have been killed at checkpoints, how many were caught in crossfires, how many were killed by roadside bombs. We'll never know how many Iraqi babies have died because of unclean drinking water from bombed out water systems, how many sick Iraqis died because hospitals were looted of critical equipment, how many Iraqis died because so many doctors have fled the country. Some say tens of thousands; others, like the survey in the medical journal, Lancet, say over 100,000. We don't know; we'll never know.
The Bush administration insists we must "stay the course" to help the Iraqi people. But a national survey conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team for the British Ministry of Defense found 82 percent of Iraqis "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops; less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security, and 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation.
But why should we expect the Bush administration to listen to the Iraqis, when they don't even listen to their own constituents? Since the summer of 2005, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans oppose this war, think it's unwinnable, think it makes us less safe at home and want a timetable for troop withdrawal. How many of our soldiers need to die before our elected officials start listening to us?
Opinion: From managing the environment to securing sufficient energy resources, from dealing with trafficking in human beings to performing peacekeeping missions abroad, governing is vastly more complicated than ever before in human history.
Further, the crises the
Local story: South Haven, MI, soldier killed in a roadside bombing in Ramadi.
Local story: Catawba, NC, Marine killed by a roadside bomb southwest of