Wednesday, November 23, 2005
War News for Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Seventeen people killed in a car bomb attack against a police convoy in
Bring ‘em on: A former senior traffic police officer was killed by gunmen in his home in the Yarmouk district of southwestern
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms broke into the home of a senior Sunni leader Wednesday and killed him, his three sons and son-in-law. A Sunni cleric and his brother were killed in Khan Bani Saad. Iraqi soldiers had arrested the two men two hours before they were found dead. Two Communist Party activists were killed by gunmen who broke into the party building in
Major General Rick Lynch, a spokesman for
Over the same period, the
Iraqi doctors and residents say civilians, including women and children, have been among those killed.
Steel Curtain: When people saw a ferocious assault was under way, they began to leave town. Women and children came out carrying white flags. It was eerie seeing columns of people appearing through the smoke and explosions, with no one knowing which direction the shooting was coming from. I am sure we will hear of more casualties.
All men of military age were detained. they had material sprayed on their hands to reveal whether they had handled explosives or gunpowder. Families were split up and loudspeakers were barking commands. Some of the detainees came back and some did not.
Iraqi politics: Our Iraqi Party Organization in Al-Thawra City in Baghdad held its first open mass event today as part of preparations for the elections, with a convoy of cars starting off from the party office in the district at 4.00 pm (22 Nov. 2005). One hour later, an armed group blocked the road leading to the party office, stormed the place and killed two comrades. The attackers then covered their withdrawal with a barrage of indiscriminate shooting. As a result of this cowardly terrorist and brutal attack, two of our comrades, Abdul Aziz Jassim Hassan and Yass Khudhayer Haider, were martyred. The two comrades who were victims of this treacherous attack have joined the martyrs of the Communist Party; the martyrs of Iraq.
Iraqi politics: Mahmoud Kaduri, 29, recalled bitterly how he was forced to work with the insurgency currently fighting US and Iraqi government troops. “They told me to work with them or my son would be killed,” he recalled. “I had no option, I had to save my child,” he added. After sending his son to neigbouring Jordan for safety, he told his tormentors that he would no longer work with them. “They wanted me to attack a police car with a mortar,” he recounted. “But when I saw there were children nearby, I refused.” They responded by shooting him in the stomach.
Iraqi politics: Such is the state of Iraqi politics just three weeks before the Dec. 15 elections for a full, four-year government. With officials like Muhammadi unable to travel anywhere unless accompanied by enough firepower to level a village, and with even the politicians expressing distrust of the electoral system, this vote is fraught with as much peril as the last one, in January. For one thing, politics here have scarcely left the bare-knuckles era. The continuing guerrilla war, coupled with leftover tensions from the Saddam Hussein era, have starkly polarized the country's ethnic and religious factions, and their political leaders.
The Ghost Devil of Iraq: US forces are closing in on top Al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and expects to capture or kill him "in the not too distant future", a US general said Wednesday. "We come close to Zarqawi continuously and at one point in time, in the not too distant future, we are going to get Zarqawi," Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for the US-led multinational force in Iraq told reporters.
Torture in Iraq: It was recently revealed, in a US-backed raid, that torture is going on under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior. Despite the apparent media blackout on the topic, torture has been an ongoing tactic of the counter-insurgency work in Iraq. At first it was employed at Abu Ghraib and possibly other US military establishments in Iraq, and it quickly became a prime tactic of the newly formed Iraqi Police and Iraqi National Guard.
The tactic became a regular tool in the Iraqi counter-insurgency toolbox and has since been used widely throughout Iraq. Ali Shalal Abbas and a number of former prisoners from Abu Ghraib formed the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons, or AVAOP to combat the issue of torture in Iraq. Ali’s organization alleges that there are at least 200 secret prisons similar to the one uncovered last week. They have many photos of Iraqis who have been tortured and are working on a full report about torture in Iraq.
The winner: Iran has pledged to give Iraq a $1 billion loan and help with tackling insecurity, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said at the end of a ground-breaking visit to the Islamic state. Talabani's three-day visit, the first by an Iraqi leader to Iran for nearly four decades, followed heightened accusations by Western and some Iraqi officials that Shi'ite Muslim Iran was linked to insurgent attacks in Iraq. Iran denies the charges.
Withdrawal plans: Despite mounting public pressure, the U.S. general in charge of helping Iraq create an army says training troops to replace coalition forces can't be rushed. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command, told CNN progress was mixed in re-creating a stable military and security force. "It's uneven across the country, it's uneven across units, it's uneven between the army and the police," he said.
War for decades: The war in Iraq could last for decades with British troops unlikely to withdraw without a "highly unlikely" split with Washington, a report says today. The Oxford Research Group non-governmental organisation, which assesses constructive approaches to dealing with international terrorism and the "war on terror", says the war in Iraq is only in its early stages. "Given that the al-Qaeda movement and its affiliates are seeking to achieve their aims over a period of decades rather than years, the probability is that, short of major political changes in the USA, the Iraq war might well be measured over a similar time span," the report concludes.
War history: The U.S. President George W. Bush was informed ten days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that there was no proof of ties between Iraq and al-Qaeda network, The National Journal reported. The magazine cited government papers as well as former and present Bush administration officials as saying that the president was briefed on Sept. 21, 2001 that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks or al-Qaeda network.
War history: Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
This is an essential article. Anyone who does not understand the complete lack of morality underlying Bush’s War should read it. A person who Comments here regularly might take note.
Oil: Iraq will likely begin to seek out deals with private companies to rebuild its destroyed oil and gas fields, officials said at the International Petroleum Technology Conference taking place in Doha, Qatar. Although security remains a problem, Iraq is set for another election and is looking at ways to rebuild, said Ibrahim Baher Al Olom, the Minister of Oil for Iraq. Any deals will have to preserve the interests of the people in the country.
Oil: Big oil firms may rob Iraq of billions and grab control of its oilfields unless ordinary Iraqis can have a greater say in how their country's riches are tapped, U.S. and British campaigners said on Tuesday. Big oil is being lured by the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), promoted by Washington and London, which gives them huge returns on investment, but deprives Iraq of up to $194 billion (113 billion pounds), according to "Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth".
War on terror: Four years after the terrorist attacks in 2001, the U.S. government has yet to settle on a consistent strategy for holding and punishing people it says are terrorists. Its efforts remain a patched-together work in progress, notable for false starts and a reluctance to have the executive branch's broadest claims tested in the courts.
The American majority: A majority of Americans do not think Iraq will be successful in establishing a stable democratic government and would like US troops to come home next year, according to a poll.
Of the 1,011 adults surveyed by telephone November 8-13, 61 percent answered "no" when asked if they were confident democracy and stability could come to Iraq, up four percent from August, the Harris Poll said.
Only a third, or 32 percent, thought Iraq would be successful in its quest for peace and fair government, up eight percent from August, the survey found.
Sixty three percent of those surveyed were in favor of bringing US troops home from Iraq in the next year, up two percent from August, while 35 percent thought they should be kept in large numbers until a democracy is established, down one point from August.
US politics - the pathetic opposition: Biden's speech, delivered to the Council of Foreign Relations, sketched out a strategy that included (1) forging better alliances between Iraqi factions (the senator said he thought the current constitution had the power to divide the country) (2) strengthen the Iraqi government and its reconstruction efforts and (3) accelerate the transfer of the country's security to Iraqis. Each of Biden's goals have already been embraced and trumpeted by the Bush Administration. Whether his specific vision -- which is illustrated in great detail -- provides a clearer articulation of the Democrats' Iraq position remains to be seen.
US politics – the loyal opposition: U.S. Rep. John Murtha, a key Democrat on military issues, on Monday defended his call to pull U.S. troops from Iraq, saying he was reflecting Americans' sentiment. "The public turned against this war before I said it," Murtha said. "The public is emotionally tied into finding a solution to this thing, and that's what I hope this administration is going to find out."
US politics: Representative John Murtha, the hawkish Democrat who spent his political career as a staunch Pentagon supporter, went home this week as something entirely different: an antiwar symbol. His call last week in the U.S. House of Representatives for an American troop withdrawal from Iraq within the next six months took aback many of his constituents and made the plainspoken former marine colonel's homecoming Monday a moment for re-evaluation: of the congressman as well as of the Bush administration's strategy for Iraq.
The few who sacrifice: Students at the East Union High School cafeteria Tuesday pierced a map of Iraq with colored pins — red for Marines, blue for the Navy and different colors for the other branches of the U.S. military. Each pin represented a family member serving in Iraq. They map was part of a JROTC gathering to honor and bring together East Union students with family in Iraq. From brothers of soldiers to cousins of Marines, about 180 students at the high school have relatives fighting in Iraq, East Union JROTC instructor Karl Knutsen said.
Comment: Among the shameful presses most vocal Bush-Cheney shills today, are those that played the largest part in helping the administration lie the nation to war in the first place. Perhaps the biggest shill of them all was the Washington Post. One of the nation's most respected papers actually -- after it became obvious there were no WMD in Iraq and never had been -- had to apologize to the public, for refusing either to print pre-war intelligence that contradicted the administration's official spin of a thousand lies; or burying deep within the paper, anything not in agreement with the Bush-Cheney intelligence falsities. Today, nothing has changed. Not satisfied with running a piece totally absent of reporting facts to Cheney's lies, Cheney Accuses Iraq Critics of Shameless Revisionism, the paper also included, unchallenged of course, the full text of Cheney's Rovian scripted speech to the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute. It isn't as though it is difficult to find facts, which directly refute the lies told by the Bush administration. Yet, the U.S. press seems incapable of making the effort. One would think the Washington Post, considering their pre-war assist given to the administration's willful deception and the current Woodward issue relating to Team Bush's CIA agent's identity leak, might be more willing to at least attempt to restore some of their reputation. That however, seems lost upon the paper's leadership. No, they'll continue being a card carrying member of the Coalition of the Willing Shillers.
Editorial: George W. Bush is the most powerful man in the world. He could also be the most dangerous.
Fanatical leaders like Osama bin Laden provoke terrible acts of terrorism. But President Bush has weapons of mass destruction as well as an unhinged attitude to using them.
Today the Daily Mirror reveals that he planned to bomb a TV station in a friendly Arab nation. An act that would have led to countless retaliatory attacks on Western states.
Fortunately Tony Blair was told of the insane plot and persuaded Mr Bush not to go ahead.
The president wanted to take out the main studios of the Arabic station al-Jazeera because of its coverage of insurgents and terrorism - though any good media outlet would have covered those stories if they had the access.
Mr Bush's plan was crazy enough against a high-profile civilian target. But to make it worse, the TV station is based in Qatar, a friendly nation where the US-UK invasion of Iraq was planned.
The secret memo revealed by the Mirror casts fresh doubt on claims that other attacks on al-Jazeera were accidents. It looks like these were planned assaults on civilian targets.
We must be thankful that Tony Blair stopped Mr Bush from the attack on Qatar.
But until the White House regime changes, the world should tremble with fear at what this president might do next.
Editorial: When reports of prisoner abuse at the hands of U.S. captors in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba first arose administration officials dismissed them as overblown. Then they said strong tactics were necessary to deal with such dangerous people. A United Nations Human Rights Commission team just last week canceled a trip to the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because the United States refused to let U.N. inspectors meet with prisoners in private. The head of the team, Manfred Nowak, told the BBC he didn't need "a guided tour," but wanted to talk freely with prisoners to determine if they are being mistreated. The U.S. refusal of an unconditional visit showed the country had something to hide, he added. When the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a measure banning the use of cruel and inhuman treatment against people in U.S. custody, President Bush threatened to veto the defense spending bill. Vice President Dick Cheney lobbied lawmakers to make an exception for the CIA. Then there was the memo saying detainees in the war on terror are not subject to the Geneva Conventions and that torturing someone up to but not past the point of "organ failure and death" is OK in order to make them talk. U.S. officials are right to quickly condemn the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi captors, but their words would carry more weight if they were not also arguing so forcefully that this country must be allowed to torture some people some of the time.
Anthony D. Romero: As our president well knows, the sad fact for all Americans is that many of the interrogations we have conducted are not within the law. As many current and former government and military officials recently told PBS' "Frontline," we have tortured - and even killed - prisoners in our custody. Like all Americans, I would like to believe otherwise. I take no pleasure in the fact that we have betrayed the best of American values by torturing and abusing prisoners. But the more than 77,000 pages secured by the ACLU and its allies in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit paint a dismal picture of the torture and abuse that have occurred in our name. Government documents obtained through our FOIA lawsuit describe hundreds of incidents of torture and abuse in excruciating detail. It is clear that these are not the actions of a few rogue soldiers. The mere existence of thousands of government documents on torture underscores the systemic nature of the problem. There are also videos and photos showing torture and abuse that government lawyers are fighting like mad to suppress. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, argued that the release of the photos and videos would jeopardize national security and put American soldiers at risk. But the judge in that ACLU lawsuit thought otherwise. He wrote, "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."
Ray McGovern: The colonels made their splash in a private, uncensored hearing with concerned senators John Warner, R-Va., chair of the Armed Services Committee, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Mark Dayton, D-Minn. Congressional staff members took part, but apparently absent were the civilian minders from Rumsfeld’s office who normally tag along.
The Army and Marine commanders reportedly were chosen for their experience on the battlefield rather than in the political arena. Battalion commanders represent the crucial link between operations and strategy and, as a group, are ideally positioned to deliver a reality check to Congress. They are at once close to their troops, responsible for implementing the strategy in Iraq, and, at the same time, somewhat insulated from the civilians in the Pentagon.
So their credentials are impeccable. They told the senators not only that they needed more troops, but that their repeated requests had been “turned down flat.” The battalion commanders indicated that, as a result, their units had to “leapfrog” around Iraq to keep insurgents from going back into towns that had been cleared by U.S. forces. They added that there are never enough explosive experts to deal with the roadside bombs responsible for the majority of U.S. casualties.
When confronted by ABC about the Time report, Rumsfeld roundly denied he had ever turned down a request for troop reinforcements in Iraq and claimed there are enough U.S. troops in Iraq to fight the insurgency. Said Rumsfeld, “Is it correct to suggest that General Vines or General Casey or General Abizaid have ever asked for more troops and got turned down? That is flat not true.” Indeed, Rumsfeld may be technically correct, since the colonels themselves complained to the senators that no general officer had been willing to go on record complaining about the need for more troops.
It all seems so surreal. It is abundantly clear that there are hardly enough U.S. troops in Iraq to defend themselves and the Green Zone, much less cope with the armed resistance forces. But where would reinforcements come from? The Army and Marines—active duty, reserve and National Guard—are stretched exceedingly thin, and all the money the Pentagon has plowed into national missile defense and the Navy are of little or no help.
David Sirota: I'm confused. We're now being told that the War in Iraq is being waged to promote freedom and democracy. Beyond the fact that such a rationale is an opportunistic departure from the rationale we were originally given (aka. Iraq's supposed possession of WMD), this freedom/democracy rationale is being undermined here at home by the same folks making the argument in the first place.
The latest example of this comes from the Washington Times, the Republican Party's paper of record. This rag today reports that unnamed Bush "Pentagon officials" (read: political appointees) are essentially claiming that critics of the war who have raised questions about the Iraq conflict are supposedly undermining the troops. But how is that possible? Aren't the troops fighting to spread freedom and democracy? And aren't the major tenets of freedom and democracy the right of citizens to challenge their government and raise questions about the decisions made by people in power? How can the troops be undermined by people at home who are exercising the very rights and privileges the troops are supposedly fighting for?
The questions are, of course, rhetorical. The troops aren't being undermined by war critics - they are being helped by war critics who are doing everything they can to end the ridiculous situation whereby American soldiers are being forced to carry out a misguided policy that has needlessly endangered their lives, and left them as sitting ducks in an Iraqi shooting gallery. The story's assertion that troops don't "understand" this is both a lie, and an insult to the intelligence of our soldiers.
Robert Scheer: You've got to hand it to Dick Cheney; no other modern politician has come so close to perfecting the theater of the absurd. Even as he protests his innocence of lying about matters of state, he lies about matters of state.
In two major speeches Friday and Monday, the vice president who has long insisted Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were allies, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, we would be greeted as liberators in Baghdad, and that the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes," again evidenced his trademark inability to speak the truth.
Continuing the administration's recent shrill defensive barrage over whose fault the Iraq mess is and with the truth chasing the lies in full public view, Cheney had the gall to smear the war's critics as "corrupt and shameless." Then, within a few sentences, he showed again why 52 percent of those recently polled by Newsweek believe Cheney deliberately "misused or manipulated" prewar intelligence.
First, he shamelessly repeated the absurd notion that a bum-rushed Congress, most of which does not have high security clearance, was privy to the same intelligence as he and his war-salesmen allies. In fact, not only was Cheney and his staff poring over the classified testimonials of an array of known liars, forgers, drunks, opportunists and desperate exiles we now know supplied White House speechwriters with their best lines, he also had access to the intelligence community's combined disclaimers, rebuttals and outright denunciations of these sources and their conveniently tawdry tales.
"Yes, more than 100 Democrats voted to authorize him to take the nation to war," wrote former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., in a devastating statement in the Washington Post on Sunday. "Most of them, though, like their Republican colleagues, did so in the legitimate belief that the president and his administration were truthful in their statements that Saddam Hussein was a gathering menace -- that if Hussein was not disarmed, the smoking gun would become a mushroom cloud."
Paul Krugman: Mr. Bush never asked the nation for the sacrifices - higher taxes, a bigger military and, possibly, a revived draft - that might have made a long-term commitment to Iraq possible. Instead, the war has been fought on borrowed money and borrowed time. And time is running out. With some military units on their third tour of duty in Iraq, the superb volunteer army that Mr. Bush inherited is in increasing danger of facing a collapse in quality and morale similar to the collapse of the officer corps in the early 1970's.
So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep the war going for another year or two, which is all the time we realistically have.
Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."
And there's a good case to be made that our departure will actually improve matters. As Mr. Murtha pointed out in his speech, the insurgency derives much of its support from the perception that it's resisting a foreign occupier. Once we're gone, the odds are that Iraqis, who don't have a tradition of religious extremism, will turn on fanatical foreigners like Zarqawi.
The only way to justify staying in Iraq is to make the case that stretching the U.S. army to its breaking point will buy time for something good to happen. I don't think you can make that case convincingly. So Mr. Murtha is right: it's time to leave.
Cenk Uygur: Up until today, I have never claimed the government was lying about why they were detaining Padilla in the first place. I thought he should have his constitutional rights as a US citizen whether he was rightfully detained or not. But now that the government has changed their story for the third time on why Padilla is so dangerous, there is no other conclusion left to draw -- they're making it up.
You see, that's what happens if you allow for secret detentions and no court review. This is precisely why we have the American justice system. It turns out, if you strip Americans of their rights, the government winds up committing heinous offenses. Three years they held this guy without presenting a shred of evidence against him. Jose Padilla is a United States citizen!
That used to mean something. What drives me crazy is how little attention people have paid to the Padilla case. The government took away the constitutional rights of its citizenry, and what did the media have to say about it? What did our elected representatives have to say about it? What did even the so-called liberals, some of whom still walk around with "Free Mumia" signs, have to say about it? Not much.
To be fair, a small minority of liberals were the only people who did fight on his behalf. And a small number of journalists did cover the case. The people who fought for Padilla will one day be seen as America's true protectors because they tried to protect what this country stands for. They weren't fighting for Padilla, they were fighting for all of us.
But most were afraid to speak out in favor of protecting Padilla's rights, especially the politicians, because he might have turned out to be a terrorist. They didn't want to be seen as fighting for terrorists.
But this isn't about whether we like Jose Padilla or not. I don't know a thing about Padilla (mostly because the government has never even tried to prove anything about Padilla). We're supposed to figure out if we should condemn him through an open and public trial. That's what the court system is for. If we abandon that idea now and castigate people based on rumors and innuendo, then we have lost the country.
Don't you get it? If they can take away Padilla's rights, they can take away our rights. Jose Padilla is a United States citizen. That used to mean something.
This administration has contempt for our constitution and the American justice system. We used to say our justice system was the best in the world. This government thinks it is inefficient and ineffective. Constitutional rights -- what a hassle!
The US constitution is under attack, not by al-Qaeda, but by our own leaders. And we slumber and our rights our stolen in the middle of the night. Jose Padilla is a United States citizen. That used to mean something.