Wednesday, November 16, 2005
War News for Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Three U.S. soldiers killed by a roadside bomb that hit their patrol northwest of
Bring ‘em on: One US Marine killed yesterday in a car bomb explosion about 50 miles west of
Bring ‘em on: Five US Marines killed and 11 reported wounded in a firefight in Obeidi.
Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi policemen from the Facility Protection Service, a government-run security force, killed by gunmen in
Bring ‘em on: Three bodies found shot dead in the area of Mukaithif, south of Tikrit.
Operation Steel Curtain: U.S. and Iraqi forces fighting insurgents near the Syrian border ran into fierce resistance Tuesday, with troops encountering dozens of explosive booby traps and killing at least 30 insurgents, the military said.
The U.S.-Iraqi attack on Obeidi was the latest stage of an offensive to clear al-Qaida-led insurgents from a string of towns and cities in the
White phosphorus: The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops used white phosphorus during last year's offensive in the northern Iraqi city of
"It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants," spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC - though not against civilians, he said.
Melted skin: Abu Sabah knew he had witnessed something unusual. Sitting in November last year in a refugee camp in the grounds of Baghdad University, set up for the families who fled or were driven from Fallujah, this resident of the city's Jolan district told me how he had witnessed some of the battle's heaviest fighting.
"They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud," he said. He had seen "pieces of these bombs explode into large fires that continued to burn on the skin even after people dumped water on the burns".
As an unembedded journalist, I spent hours talking to residents forced out of the city. A doctor from Fallujah working in Saqlawiyah, on the outskirts of Fallujah, described treating victims during the siege "who had their skin melted".
The Ghost Devil of
"There is a huge network of intelligence operatives over there who are watching our every move. And they are watching every time we recruit an Iraqi to come back and inform to us about where he has been and what he has seen," said one U.S. Justice Department counter-terrorism official, who is familiar with the campaign to track down Zarqawi. "And every time we have been able to do that, the person has ended up dead."
Exporting terror: Amid allegations that foreign fighters flow through
"In this sense, Zarqawi is actually fulfilling the old strategy of al-Qaida, not just to globalize the struggle all over, but first and foremost against the so-called Arab infidel governments," meaning countries with friendly relations with America or Israel, said Reuven Paz, an expert on Islamist movements at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism near Tel Aviv. "He wants to export the Iraqi issue ... all over the Arab world."
The safest city in
One year after marines launched the most ferocious urban assault since the Vietnam War - emptying the city in order to root out entrenched insurgents - the
Last February, US commanders declared Fallujah the "safest" city in
Security forces: Among the varied armed security men on
One such group, the Volcano Brigade, is operating as a death squad, under the influence or control of
Not the only torture room:
Omar Heikal of the Iraqi Islamic Party said it was now clear that majority Shiites in the U.S.-backed government were trying to suppress minority Sunnis ahead of the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.
"Our information indicates that this is not the only place where torture is taking place," he said, reading an official party statement. The party "calls on the United Nations, the Arab League and humanitarian bodies to denounce these clear human rights violations, and we demand a fair, international probe so that all those who are involved in such practices will get their just punishment."
After the liberation: Life in occupied Iraq today is so grim that many Iraqis say it was better during the deadly years of United Nations sanctions and Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. In much of the country, there is less electricity than before the March 2003
Despite the billions handed for reconstruction work to George W. Bush's friends at Bechtel and Halliburton, "[n]early half of all Iraqi households still don't have access to clean water, and only 8 percent of the country, excluding the capital, is connected to sewage networks," USA Today reports.
"It's definitely worse now than before the war," Eman Asim, who oversees 185 public hospitals, told the Times. "Even at the height of sanctions, when things were miserable, it wasn't as bad as this."
Ravages of war: Hundreds of Iraqi civilians were killed in September and October, while large parts of
"Random killings and terrorism have claimed hundreds of lives and injured many others, including children, in several parts of the country," the report stated. According to UNAMI, over 30,000 civilians have been killed in
The report, which focused primarily on the period between 1 September and 31 October of this year, noted that more than 10,000 civilians had been displaced in September alone.
Growing unease: The GOP-controlled Senate rejected a Democratic call Tuesday for a timetable for withdrawing
The overall measure, adopted 98-0, shows a willingness to defy the president in several ways despite a threatened veto. It would restrict the techniques used to interrogate terrorism suspects, ban their inhuman treatment and call for the administration to provide lawmakers with quarterly reports on the status of operations in
People who call this site unpatriotic – tell it to Hagel. Then kiss my ass.: Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) strongly criticized yesterday the White House's new line of attack against critics of its
With President Bush leading the charge, administration officials have lashed out at Democrats who have accused the administration of manipulating intelligence to justify the war in
"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in
What a punk: Monday Bush claimed that Senators such as Jay Rockefeller, Carl Levin, and Harry Reid, who have apologized for granting Bush authorization to use force in Iraq, "spoke the truth then and they're speaking politics now." On June 16 of this year, Bush's spokesman Scott McClellan dismissed Congressman John Conyers criticisms because he was "an individual who voted against the war in the first place." Hence, the Bush administration's message sums up as follows: Whether Democrats voted for force against Iraq and later realized and admitted their mistake, or knew invading Iraq was a mistake all along, they should just shut up and let one party rule every facet of society.
Backfire: President Bush's efforts to paint Democrats as hypocrites for criticizing the
Polls show marked declines in support for the war, notably among moderate Republicans, especially Republican women, and independents — voting blocs that the GOP needs to woo or keep in their camp.
If Bush castigates Democrats for changing their minds on the war, he might wind up alienating Republicans who have done so, too.
The administration has been engaging in a rhetorical high-wire act in its efforts to defend its use of prewar intelligence — so much that some analysts have likened it to President Clinton's remark in his deposition on the Monica Lewinsky case: "That depends on what the definition of 'is' is."
Senator Pat Roberts puts party over nation: Yesterday was the deadline for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to report its progress on Phase II of the investigation into the administration’s use of pre-war intelligence. The prognosis is not good, according to Senators Rockefeller, Levin and Feinstein. They have released a letter, and here is its main finding:
“At this time, we are unable to provide an estimated completion date of the Phase II investigation given the substantial amount of work that remains to be done.”
This assessment differs greatly from the one offered by Sen. Pat Roberts on November 1st: “It isn’t like it’s been delayed. As a matter of fact, it’s been ongoing. As a matter of fact, we have been doing our work on Phase 2.” In reality, as the letter makes clear at various points, the work of the committee has been stonewalled by an unwillingness on the part of conservatives to investigate the administration.
US Military News
Pitfalls: The return to civilian life for U.S. Soldiers deployed in
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that for the first three quarters of 2005, nearly 15 percent of veterans aged 20-24 are jobless -- three times the national average.
The government is also worried about the number of veterans without a permanent address.
A small step in the right direction: The children of soldiers killed in
Instead, the children would remain covered at no extra cost until they reach age 21, or 23 if they are still enrolled in school. Previously, the children of soldiers killed in combat had to pay a premium equal to what's paid by retired veterans' dependents if they wanted to keep the coverage more than three years after the soldier's death.
Belgium, Please Leave This Law Alone
Don't be wussies:
The law allows Belgian courts to pass judgment on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, regardless of where the alleged acts took place or the nationality of the accused.
Critics have warned that a case against President Bush could be filed under the law, known as universal competence, and
"I expect there to be, any day, a suit against President Bush in
And the problem with this is…? Sounds like a damn fine idea to me.
Our Creeping Stalinism
Ending habeas corpus: The Center for Constitutional Rights condemns the Graham-Levin Amendment to the Military Authorization Bill, passed today by the United States Senate. This bill is directed at those persons held at the
It is particularly disturbing that this legislation was enacted stealthily and without any meaningful deliberation by the Senate or its Judiciary Committee. As happens so often, it is easy to carelessly give up our rights and much more difficult to get them back, once lost.
We believe that this blow to our fundamental rights is just the beginning. ‘Enemy combatants’ are an easy target and therefore it is easy to erase their rights. However, this Administration is no friend of the Bill of Rights and this bill will serve as a model for the future as the president and Congress attempt to undermine our most basic rights by stripping federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases raising issues of free speech, freedom of religion, racial discrimination and countless other rights for which the American people have struggled so long and so hard.
A very slight improvement: The U.S. Senate on Tuesday agreed to let terrorism suspects at the
Senators passed a bipartisan compromise 84-14 to give inmates at the
Graham said the compromise "allows every detainee under our control to have a day in court," but prevents them from filing court petitions that he said were often frivolous and were clogging the courts.
But most Democrats said the Senate was wrong to overturn a 2004 Supreme Court decision that gave the Guantanamo inmates the ability to use habeas corpus petitions to challenge their indefinite detentions.
Demand your Representative take action
Colin Powell, John McCain and 89 additional Senators support the McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, which bans torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Sadly, Vice President Cheney is lobbying furiously behind the scenes to stop the ban.
Torturing prisoners is inconsistent with American values - and it puts our troops at risk, undermines our relationships with our allies, and simply doesn't work.
Tell Your Senators and Representative to support the Anti-Torture Amendment - no exceptions.
Thomas Oliphant: According to The Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey last week, 57 percent of the sample believe Bush deliberately misled the country on the way to war, more than 20 points above the numbers asserting he was straight with the country.
In denying the charge, however, it is fascinating that the White House spin machine has avoided giving examples of its nuanced rhetoric on the subject of the alleged threat posed by
Instead, there has been an entertaining chorus of claims that the charge is false but that everybody else did it -- other countries' intelligence services, assorted politicians in this country (especially Democrats). Lacking a defense, Bush's operatives have sought to construct a Potemkin universe of intelligence dupes.
In this blizzard of disinformation, though, the unique nature of Bush and his top advisers is conveniently overlooked. Everyone else in the world with the possible exception of Tony Blair recognizes the corollary to the now-accepted wisdom that
The corollary would be that knowing then what is known now, an essentially unilateral invasion of
Steven Laffoley: Americans in the post 9/11 Age of Unreason are Dylan's metaphoric John the Baptist after their mass conversion to President Bush's absolutist religion: 'You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists.'
Lest we be deemed 'with the terrorists,' we marched blindly behind the Commander-in-Chief, a would-be messiah who promised us deliverance from our perceived enemies and fears. Under his leadership, we willingly destroyed nations and murdered people - by the thousands, and then by the tens of thousands - in the hopes that our enemies would be vanquished and our fears finally dispelled.
But instead, over time, the Commander-in-Chief only dredged up more enemies and more fears from our collective imagination. And consequently, over time, the dead bodies only continued mounting. And consequently, over time, we descended into an immoral black hole, with no way out.
It was then, with blind rage and near religious righteousness, that we started torturing others. It was then, in the darkest of ironies, that we become the enemy we feared.
John Aravosis: The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House. For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:
President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in
Matt Drudge adds on his site:
The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.
So basically Bush is melting down. (Or, at the very least, the number one propaganda organ of the GOP wants us to think Bush is losing it - that's just bizarre on its face, and shows had bad things are for Bush, and the party.) This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again. This man is running our country. And he won't speak to anyone - ANYONE - other than Condi Rice, his mom, and Karen Hughes? That leaves out the entire Dept of Defense - kind of important during war time - the CIA, every other agency and the entire White House staff. It honestly sounds like he's losing control. And he's in charge of our country. Not just worst president ever. But quickly becoming scariest president ever.
It sounds like he’s losing it. And he’s got three more years to go in office. So, what do we do if we have a mentally unstable president in office for three more years?
Well we have 2006 to put a few more grown-ups in charge as far as Congress is concerned. Other than that, I guess we just hope the ship of state stays afloat until then, and wait for the president’s public meltdown in the meantime.
I tell ya, it’s coming. I can just feel it.
NY Times Editorial Board: To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with
It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.
Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions. The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.
Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials. Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence. The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.
It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that
The administration had little company in saying that
The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That was based on two false tales. One was the supposed trip to
Mr. Bush has said in recent days that the first phase of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation on
Richard Kerr, a former deputy director of central intelligence, said in 2003 that there was "significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection" between
Mr. Bush and other administration officials say they faithfully reported what they had read. But Vice President Dick Cheney presented the
Mr. Cheney was not alone. Remember Condoleezza Rice's infamous "mushroom cloud" comment? And Secretary of State Colin Powell in January 2003, when the rich and powerful met in
The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that
Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.
Local story: The soldier son of an
Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, was struck Sunday by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of
Benson said her son's first four-year tour was over Oct. 31 and that he was forced to extend his service under the controversial Stop-Loss Program.
"My son is now fighting for his life with half a body left," Benson said.
Latseen lost his legs and possibly part of an arm on Sunday, and was in a coma Tuesday night in a hospital in
Local story: Two Marines from
Lance Cpl. Christopher M. McCrackin, 20, of
Local story: A former
Maj. Ramon J. "Ray" Mendoza, 37, died along with another Marine in Monday's bombing in New Ubaydi,
While in college,
Local story: Two Marines, including one from
Lance Cpls. David A. Mendez Ruiz, 20, of Cleveland, and Scott A. Zubowski, 20, of
They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force out of Twentynine Palms,
Local story: The son of a military man, Cpl. Donald E. Fisher II had always dreamed of serving his country.
"All he wanted to be was a soldier. He got his wish," said John McGinnis. "It's too bad it had to end so abruptly."
On Friday morning, Wright's daughter called from
"She took it hard, very hard," McGinnis said Tuesday. "They were very close."
Local story: Family and friends gathered beneath a dreary fall sky yesterday to bid farewell to Capt. Michael D. Martino, a Fairfax Marine who was killed in a helicopter crash in
Martino, 32, and Maj. Gerald M. Bloomfield II, 38, of
Local story: A soldier who was killed earlier this month in
The Army National Guard staff sergeant 28-year-old Kyle Wehrly was killed earlier this month in
Local story: An army officer was killed by a remote controlled bomb while travelling in an ambulance in
Captain David Martyn Jones from the First Queen's Lancashire Regiment was being treated for a stab wound when the bomb exploded on a road in
The 29-year-old from Louth in
Local story: U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Tyler Swisher, a native of Mariemont, was eulogized Tuesday as an "American hero" who believed the war in
Swisher, 35, was killed Oct. 21 by a roadside bomb in
Swisher also was recalled as a devoted family man. He leaves his wife, Stephanie, and three children, Ashleigh, 15; Madison, 7, and Jacob, 5.
Local story: Residents of one
"It makes me feel pretty proud and humble at the same time that people would be willing to put something like the memorial together for the guys who have given their lives," said the Rev. Michael Kilpela, father of Lance Cpl. Andrew Kilpela, who was killed June 10.
The memorial would honor Kilpela, Lance Cpl. Michael Hanks and Major Gerald "Jerry" Bloomfield II. All were graduates of
Kilpela was killed June 10 when his Humvee was hit by an explosive in Fallujah; Hanks died Nov. 17, 2004, in fighting in Al Anbar province; and
Local story: A Patterson native was killed in a convoy accident in
U.S. Army Pfc. Antonio “Tony” Mendez, 22, was one of two soldiers killed in
He became the 40th soldier from Patterson killed in action and the first local war casualty since the Vietnam War.
Local story: The awful news sent William and Pat Sutherland to the hospital Saturday: Their son, Stephen, had been killed in
The couple wound up in the Emergency Room at
They've been through a lot together in their 40 years of marriage. Both have bad hearts. Mr. Sutherland has had cancer and is getting ready to start dialysis treatments. One of their four children, Dawn Rowe, had died at age 34 in 2003 of viral meningitis.
And now this.