Saturday, December 03, 2005

WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY DECEMBER 3, 2005 Bring ‘em on: Iraqi insurgency strong and could get stronger. Despite US claims of progress in quelling the insurgency in Iraq, it remains as robust as ever and could grow a good deal stronger, according to a new study released Thursday. (Picture above came with this article. The Iraqis try so hard to express themselves in ways we can understand, with little hope of getting their ideas across – because America does not want to listen. – Susan) Bring ‘em on: A major Sunni clerical group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, appealed to the Arab League and human rights organizations to intervene with the Americans to stop "the massacres in Anbar." The Association is believed to have ties to some Sunni insurgent groups and is an outspoken critic of the American role in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Two civilians wounded on Friday in a car bomb explosion in Samarra. One Iraqi Policeman wounded during clashes with insurgents in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: US soldier died of wounds from a rocket attack in Ramadi. Bring ‘em on: Kidnappers threaten to kill peace activists unless demands are met. Bring ‘em on: Eleven Iraq soldiers killed by roadside bomb north of Baghdad. (Another article says north of Baquba.) Bring ‘em on: UPDATE: 15 Iraqi soldiers ambushed in patrol north of Baghdad, near Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi and US forces captured 18 suspected terrorists in various parts of north-central Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Chronology of Deadliest Incidents for US troops in Iraq. Bring ‘em on: Three US soldiers die in vehicle accident. REPORTS NEWS: Al Jazeera Staffers start their own blog (DON'T BOMB) in response to alleged bombing threat from Mr. Bush. (They have good reasons to be paranoid, I think. And rest assured: this blog, Today in Iraq, will publish any results of any investigation on these threats. – Susan) THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Their War, My Memories. At the time, U.S. authorities—notably L. Paul Bremer III, the U.S. administrator and de facto proconsul—were dismissing the mounting attacks as desperation acts by "bitter enders" who would soon be annihilated by superior U.S. forces. But it never felt like that in Fallouja or elsewhere in western Iraq, where anger was building, arms and munitions were abundant and there was no shortage of volunteers—many unemployed young men gravitating in their discontent to militant mosques—to take on the U.S. troops. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: UN Detects Farming Near Hazardous Iraqi Arms Site. Iraqis have begun farming at a shut-down chemical weapons plant where thousands of tonnes of hazardous compounds were once produced, stored or destroyed, U.N. weapons inspectors warned on Friday. "There may well be health, safety and security hazards associated with the agricultural activities," the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC, said in its latest report on weapons of mass destruction activities inside Iraq. UNMOVIC left Iraq just before the 2003 invasion, and the United States prevented its inspectors from returning after the war. But the agency lives on with a $12 million annual budget paid for with Iraqi oil money. While Iraq and the Security Council discuss its future, it has continued to study satellite images to determine the extent of widespread looting of Iraqi weapons sites sealed by its inspectors before the war. (Now, why oh why, wouldn’t the US let the UN inspectors back into Iraq in 2003? That fact tells you a lot about what they expected to find in the way of WMDs in Iraq. – Susan) INSIDE IRAQ: Kurd Oil Deal Alarms Iraqi Sunnis. News that a foreign firm has begun drilling for oil in Iraq’s Kurdish north has sparked new fears of secession among Sunni leaders. INSIDE IRAQ: US Military Plans Surprise Inspections of Suspect Iraqi Prisons. (So, why did they announce it? – Susan) THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: In Iraq, Even Sectarian Unity Can Be Deadly. In a country ravaged by sectarian bloodshed, Sunni Abu Alaa believed contesting elections on a list with Shi'ites would promote unity. Then his brother ended up like so many other Iraqis -- kidnapped and murdered. And he came to a conclusion shared by many other Sunnis whose relatives have been abducted and killed. "I am 99 percent sure it was Shi'ite militiamen connected to the government," he said, looking over photographs of his brother Abu Akeel's corpse in the morgue. "They tortured him and put a bullet in his head." "They drilled his face. One of his eyes is missing. Part of his head was crushed, probably by a vice. He took a Shi'ite friend to the hospital and this is what happened to him." INSIDE IRAQ: Shi’ite Leader Urges Pullout. Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is accusing U.S President George W. Bush of violating international opinion by failing to give a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. (China media does not refer to al Sadr as a “radical” or “firebrand”.- Susan) THE AFTEREFFECTS OF WAR: Iraq War is “New Prism of Pain” Through Which Arabs View US. On the question of whether the Iraq war has brought more or less peace to the Middle East, 81 percent said it has brought less peace, 6 percent said more peace, and 12 percent said neither. Also, 78 percent said the Iraq war has brought more terrorism, while 10 percent said it has brought less terrorism, and 11 percent said neither. The Iraq war has brought less democracy, according to 58 percent of those polled, while 9 percent said the war has brought more democracy, and 29 percent said neither.Seventy-seven percent said the Iraqi people are now worse off after the war, while 6 percent said Iraqis are now better off, and 13 percent said Iraqis are about the same as before the war. Asked to rank the importance of American objectives in the Middle East, 76 percent of the respondents cited oil, 68 percent said "to protect Israel," 63 percent cited a U.S. desire to dominate the region, 59 percent cited a U.S. goal of weakening the Muslim world, 25 percent said "preventing weapons of mass destruction," while only 8 percent cited "peace and stability, 6 percent cited democracy and 6 percent cited "spreading human rights". THE AFTEREFFECTS OF WAR: Arab Nations Deeply Suspicious of US Motives. "America's presence in Iraq is seen as a negative. It is scaring people about American intentions and having the opposite intended impact on Arab public opinion," Telhami said in an interview. Interviewers polled 800 people each from Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia; 500 each were questioned in Jordan and Lebanon and 217 were interviewed in the United Arab Emirates. The margin of error was 3.5 percentage points to 4.5 percentage points in all the countries, except for the United Arab Emirates, where it was plus or minus 6.8 points. THE WAR AT HOME: FACT CHECK: President George W. Bush: "Of these, about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side by side with coalition forces and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight." Fact Check: The president has the numbers right, but are they really stand-up troops fighting side by side with U.S forces? The bureau chief for Time Magazine, who has been embedded in every major battle this year, says whoever said that hasn't been in the fight. Michael Ware, Time Magazine: "I was in a battle just two weeks ago when some of the Iraqis refused to fire when we came under attack. This is a man who puts down his weapon and curls up in a ball. I mean, I've seen that on many, many occasions." The president acknowledged that a year ago Iraqi forces played a supporting role in the battle for Falluja. He says this year in Talafar it was a different story. President George W. Bush: "The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions backed by five coalitions forces mainly providing support." The Times bureau chief says that part of the president's speech was extraordinarily misleading. Michael Ware: "I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading, they were being led by the U.S. Green Beret special forces with them." ABC reporter Stephanie Sy is in Baghdad and told me this afternoon that it is better there than a year ago. Stephanie Sy, ABC News Baghdad: "And you certainly see a lot more Iraqi police and security officers in general on the street and you do get the impression that Iraqis are starting to take control over city infrastructure projects and that sort of thing." But as far as combat ready troops are concerned, she says there are only 700 Iraqi troops that are combat ready, and they can't stand without the U.S. Stephanie Sy: "They don't have reliable payroll for example, they don't have a procurement program for military equipment, so they are still heavily reliant on the U.S. military not only for training, but also for the equipment that they need." Fact Check: There are multiple stories coming out of Iraq. The picture painted by the president shares some elements with the picture we're getting from a couple of reporters on the ground, but that's about all. THE WAR AT HOME: Hampton University Punishes Protesters. Several students who handed out fliers at a private university criticizing the Iraq war and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina were ordered to perform community service after appearing Friday before a campus disciplinary panel. No one was expelled from Hampton University, but seven students were charged with a minor procedural violation for posting unauthorized handbills and failing to register a protest with the school, the university said in a statement Friday. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq." (This article is a report on how the US corporate media mainly did not cover these autopsy reports uncovered by the ACLU, and raises the question of how can Americans make good decisions about our government and military’s actions when we don’t even know what is happening - unless we read widely on the internet. – Susan) More: So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website – evidence of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004. Anthony Romero, executive director of ACLU stated, "There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths." ACLU attorney Amrit Sing added, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations." Additionally, ACLU reported that in April 2003, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorised the use of "environmental manipulation" as an interrogation technique in Guantánamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt Gen Sanchez also authorised this technique for use in Iraq. So responsibility for these human atrocities went directly to the highest levels of power, Phillips said. (This story is being ignored by the corporate press, while the story of the US military paying for articles in Iraqi papers is a big news item. Are they trying to distract us? - Susan) ELECTIONS IN IRAQ NEWS: Ayatollah al Sisstani issued instructions to followers urging them to vote in the election and to cast their ballots in favour of religious candidates from the principle lists. NEWS: Iraq Bars Entry by Non-Iraqi Arabs Before Election. Iraq has barred non-Iraqi Arabs from entering the country as it beefs up security ahead of parliamentary elections in two weeks, a government official said on Thursday. No date for lifting the restrictions has been set, an official at Iraq's Interior Ministry said. "This is part of security procedures for the elections and applies to all non-Iraqi Arabs," the official said. (But are they keeping Iranians out too? – Susan) NEWS: Female Politicians Demand Greater Representation. Rafeda al-Jeburi, member of the al-Umma al-Iraqiah party, agreed. "Men dominate the parties," she said. "We want to be able to nominate women both for internal party elections and parliamentary elections." Iraq is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on 15 December. Al-Jeburi complained that women party members were often used merely to fill quotas for female participation on party lists, saying: "We want equal representation in all party activities." NEWS: Panel Proposes Ban on 90 Iraq Poll Candidates. The organisation in charge of removing senior members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party from government posts has sent the elections committee nearly 90 names of people it says should be banned from running in the December 15 elections, an official said on Thursday. The Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification has already sent three separate lists of names of candidates planning to run the parliamentary ballot, the commission’s executive director, Ali Al Lami, said. One list included 21 names, another had 47 while the last carried 18, Al Lami said. He added that a fourth list with 60 names will be sent in the next few days. On top of the names that the de-Baathification committee does not want them to run are former defence minister Hazem Shaalan and Adnan Al Janabi, a senior member in former prime minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord. COMMENTARY OPINION: Bullet Points Over Baghdad. What about the security situation? During much of 2004, the document tells us: "Fallujah, Najaf, and Samara were under enemy control. Today, these cities are under Iraqi government control." (Are we to infer from Bush’s statements that the Iraqi government is killing our Marines? Already? I know we have a habit of funding our future enemies, but isn’t this really quick turnaround? – Susan) Najaf was never controlled by the "enemy," if that means the people we're currently fighting. It was briefly controlled by Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The United States once vowed to destroy that militia, but these days it's as strong as ever. And according to The New York Times, Mr. Sadr has now become a "kingmaker in Iraqi politics." So what sort of victory did we win, exactly, in Najaf? Moreover, in what sense is Najaf now under government control? According to The Christian Science Monitor, "Sadr supporters and many Najaf residents say an armed Badr Brigade" - the militia of a Shiite group that opposes Mr. Sadr and his supporters - "still exists as the Najaf police force." There's a lot more like that in the document. Refuting some of the upbeat assertions about Iraq requires specialized knowledge, but many of them can be quickly debunked by anyone with an Internet connection. (Same was true for the WMDs claims. – Susan) So Mr. Bush's new public relations offensive on Iraq is a test. Are the news media still too cowed, too addicted to articles that contain little more than dueling quotes to tell the public when the administration is saying things that aren't true? Or has the worm finally turned? There have been encouraging signs, notably a thorough front-page fact-checking article - which even included charts showing the stagnation of oil production and electricity generation! - in USA Today. But the next few days will tell. OPINION: “Pacified” Fallujah. Remember the reasons given by the US military and puppet interim Iraqi government for Operation Phantom Fury against Fallujah? Just prior to the November, 2004 assault on that city, the primary reasons given for the massacre in Fallujah were: to provide “security and stability” for the upcoming January 30 “elections” and to rid Fallujah of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Let us judge the success or failure of this massacre by their own yardstick. The “security and stability” generated for the elections on January 30, 2005 by the siege of Fallujah looked like roughly 40 dead Iraqi bodies and 200 wounded, on that day alone. As for Zarqawi, since not one resident of Fallujah has seen or reported evidence of this individual in their city before, during or after said siege, his existence at all in Iraq remains in question…aside from living large in US military propaganda, which is happily trumpeted by corporate media outlets in the US. Yesterday morning on NPR (National Pentagon Radio) their reporter in Baghdad was asked if he felt what Mr. Bush said in a recent speech was true-was the US military strategy in Iraq working? He replied that he felt what Mr. Bush said was true in some cases, like in Fallujah. The NPR reporter referred to Fallujah as “pacified.” “Pacified” Fallujah looks like a dead six year-old child in that city, shot by a US sniper in the Al-Dubbat neighborhood on December 1st, according to Al-Sharqiyah. “Pacified” Fallujah looks like “two US soldiers were killed by sniper fire on Wednesday [30 November] in the city of Al-Fallujah, [60 kilometers] west of Baghdad, according to eyewitnesses. A tense atmosphere prevailed in the city after the US forces besieged some of its quarters and blocked the main street, while National Guard forces closed shops and asked the residents to stay in their homes.” Again according to Al-Sharqiyah. “Pacified” Fallujah looks like 10 Marines killed and 11 wounded by a roadside bomb while on a “foot patrol near Fallujah” on Thursday December 1st, which was the deadliest attack on American troops in nearly four months. So if you want to keep thinking there is peace in Fallujah, you’d better ignore the facts on the ground and keep listening to NPR “presstitutes” talking on the radio from their hotel rooms in Baghdad. Surprised to hear this about NPR? Don’t be. (Does the recent killing of US Marines mean we are going to “liberate” Fallujah for the FOURTH time? And Camp Taqaddum, close to Fallujah, saw two US troops killed this past week, one from a vehicle accident and one from an IED attack. – Susan) OPINION: Letter: Weapons of mass destruction? I’m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we’ll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of “democracy” and “freedom” touted by our leadership at home and overseas. This deception is furthered by our armed forces’ belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and “laissez-faire” society. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald’s, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again. I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn’t exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans “feel good” about the “War on Terrorism.” The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, “bring ’em on” so we can get our “mission accomplished” and get out of this mess. Capt. Jeff PirozziCamp Taqaddum, Iraq (This writer, if still alive, surely knows someone who is newly dead. This is from Stars and Stripes, and there are other good letters on that site, from our military. And actually, to answer his question about Saddam – beyond the 9/11 war making rationale – Saddam wasn’t as bad as most of the dictators in Africa. – Susan) OPINION: A Cabal of Criminality. Iraq, like Vietnam before it, has served to remind us that, like the war on communism, the war on terror is but a charade, a fear engendering escapade, designed to control populations and empower the elite, unleashing fear onto the citizenry while delivering enormous profit to the military-industrial complex. Using Arab men as bogeymen, hidden in the shadows, without faces, countries and, with the help of Hollywood and the corporate media, with a growing brutal reputation, dark skinned Muslims replaced white Soviet Reds as the new American enemy, the new cash cow granting the government and military industrial complex a new generation of destructive war from which to bleed the American taxpayer dry, providing misallocation of resources to the former and enormous profit to the latter. What the Iraq/Bush war shows the world is how a Cabal of Criminality, numbering less than a few hundred individuals, can bamboozle a nation into a war whose ramifications on our future we cannot yet fully comprehend. The Bush war, the single-greatest blunder in America’s foreign policy history, was spawned by greed-addicted corporatists and treasonous neoconartists, presstitute lackeys and political hacks, placed in charge of US foreign policy and the propaganda acting as corporate media, easily in control of a nitwit, ignorant puppet, possessing his bully pulpit from which to spew the fabrications and manipulations needed to con America. Delusional, incompetent, dangerous and trapped in bubbles of naked grandeur, expecting fictional flowers and candy to flow from Iraqis expected to greet Americans as liberators, the Cabal of Criminality had no qualms sacrificing thousands of American soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, for greed, power, profit, wealth and ego. For they are the Cabal of Criminality, not knowing, not caring and not understanding that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, that for every Iraqi resistance fighter killed a dozen more take his place, that negative energy always boomerangs back, that karma is a powerful bitch and that, in the end, the truth always rises from the ashes of lies to shed light on a new, glorious day. OPINION: Who’s Fooling Whom? It’s hard to know which to admire more, the choreography or the chutzpah. White House spinmeisters put up banners that blared PLAN FOR VICTORY in case anybody missed the message in President Bush’s latest iteration of his Iraq policy in a speech on Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Academy. Bush says he won’t rest until there is complete victory and the Iraqis can take care of their own security, which nitpickers might wish to point out Iraqis were able to do under Saddam. (Nitpickers? or reality based citizens? I report. You decide. – Susan) OPINION: Keep US Goals Realistic in Iraq. Yet toward the end of the speech, Bush spoke as if he intended to keep U.S. forces in Iraq until the last enemy had been killed or captured. "I will settle for nothing less than complete victory," Bush declared, and even went on to draw parallels to World War II. At this point, he seemed to have returned to Texas bravado as military strategy. Let's be realistic. Iraq is not World War II. The American public certainly does not have -- and will never have -- the commitment that it had to total victory over Nazi Germany and expansionist Japan. OPINION: Bush in Iraq, Slouching Toward Genocide. Despite pretty words about democracy and freedom, George W. Bush's "victory" plan in Iraq is starting to look increasingly like an invitation to genocide, the systematic destruction of the Sunni minority for resisting its US-induced transformation from the nation's ruling elite into second-class citizenship. "Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation," New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins reported from Baghdad. "Some Sunni males have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills," Filkins wrote. "Many have simply vanished." [NYT, Nov. 29, 2005] OPINION: Bush Offers “Clear Strategy” for Disaster. He says "victory." But the bromide-heavy speech that President George W. Bush gave yesterday at the Naval Academy presents a clear strategy for quagmire and eventual disaster. Despite the gathering storm of opposition to his approach to the war in Iraq, the speech was bereft of new ideas, calling to mind the words of Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." The problem is that this hobgoblin has consequences. Bush's renewed warning of a future "Islamic empire from Indonesia to Spain" at first seemed to me as outlandish as President Ronald Reagan's warning that the Russians planned to transit Nicaragua to invade Texas. On second thought, Bush's concern may become self-fulfilling prophecy, since the course he is on could hardly be better designed to usher in an eventual Islamic, rather than American, "empire." Those of us with experience on Vietnam remember only too well that the Pentagon kept the count of Vietnamese Communist forces at an artificially low level, lest its claims of "real progress" be given the lie. It is hard to know which is worse - artificially low numbers, or none at all. It is, in fact, quite telling that Rumsfeld and the president prefer to leave enemy strength in the Rumsfeldian category of "known unknowns." And it is small solace that this category is one step higher than the "unknown unknowns" in his lexicon. Still, does it not seem odd that no figures are ever offered on the "insurgents" that are causing such havoc in Iraq; or on whether we are "killing or capturing more terrorists each day than are being recruited against us" - the question Rumsfeld posed to Pentagon brass more than a year ago? OPINION: If America Left Iraq At some point—whether sooner or later—U.S. troops will leave Iraq. I have spent much of the occupation reporting from Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul, Fallujah, and elsewhere in the country, and I can tell you that a growing majority of Iraqis would like it to be sooner. As the occupation wears on, more and more Iraqis chafe at its failure to provide stability or even electricity, and they have grown to hate the explosions, gunfire, and constant war, and also the daily annoyances: having to wait hours in traffic because the Americans have closed off half the city; having to sit in that traffic behind a U.S. military vehicle pointing its weapons at them; having to endure constant searches and arrests. Before the January 30 elections this year the Association of Muslim Scholars—Iraq's most important Sunni Arab body, and one closely tied to the indigenous majority of the insurgency—called for a commitment to a timely U.S. withdrawal as a condition for its participation in the vote. (In exchange the association promised to rein in the resistance.) It's not just Sunnis who have demanded a withdrawal: the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is immensely popular among the young and the poor, has made a similar demand. So has the mainstream leader of the Shiites' Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, who made his first call for U.S. withdrawal as early as April 23, 2003. If the people the U.S. military is ostensibly protecting want it to go, why do the soldiers stay? Would the withdrawal of U.S. troops ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites? No. That civil war is already under way—in large part because of the American presence. But if American troops aren't in Baghdad, what's to stop the Sunnis from launching an assault and seizing control of the city? Sunni forces could not mount such an assault. The preponderance of power now lies with the majority Shiites and the Kurds, and the Sunnis know this. Wouldn't a U.S. withdrawal embolden the insurgency? No. If the occupation were to end, so, too, would the insurgency. What about the Kurds? Won't they secede if the United States leaves? Yes, but that's going to happen anyway. What about the goal of creating a secular democracy in Iraq that respects the rights of women and non-Muslims? Give it up. It's not going to happen. What can the United States do to repair Iraq? There is no panacea. Iraq is a destroyed and fissiparous country. PEACE ACTION: Win Without War, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, Peace Action and others are calling for a national call in day on the Iraq War. They are asking everyone to call their Representative and Senators and ask for an immediate withdrawal form Iraq. They feel that this is the time to continue the pressure on our elected officials. Phone numbers are 888-818-6641 or 888-355-3588. The White House comment line is 202-456-1111. PLEASE CALL. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Oregon Marine one of 10 killed by roadside bomb. Local Story: Two Minnesotans among 10 Marines killed in Iraq Local Story: Soldier from West View (Pennsylvania) killed in Iraq. Local Story: Macon (Georgia) Marine Killed in Iraq Local Story: Soldier from Wichita Falls (Texas) Killed in Iraq by IED Local Story: Marine from Southern Michigan dies in Iraq. Sybesma, a Vietnam veteran, said he and Watson discussed their combat experiences when Watson returned from an earlier tour of duty in Iraq. "The enemy we were fighting during the day looked like everybody else and at night they were the ones trying to kill you," Sybesma said. "It's the same thing over there (in Iraq)." Watson believed in the U.S. mission in Iraq, Sybesma said. "He was anxious to go back. I know he was really proud to be a Marine." Local Story: Texas Marine dies in vehicle accident in Iraq. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform. This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years."- Chuck Hagel


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