Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Milestones: This week, another milestone was passed in the war in
Monday marked the 1,000th day of the war, a war whose human and financial toll grows day by day.
Nearly 2,200 American military men and women have died. Nearly 16,000 have been wounded. Estimates of Iraqi civilians killed range from 30,000 to more than 100,000.
There are about 158,000
One in five are returning from
More Americans have died so far in
Then there are the other deaths. Sixty journalists have killed in
The war in
One always struggles to find meaning in the sacrifice of blood and treasure on the battlefield. The struggle is particularly hard in this war, because all of the reasons why the
Major kudos to Mike at Born at the Crest of the Empire, both for alerting us to the existence of his excellent blog and for the picture above – a fallen American soldier coming home as freight. Please drop by Mike’s site and tell him thanks.
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier wounded in a suicide attack targeting
Bring ‘em on: One U.S soldier was killed when a patrol was struck by a roadside bomb south of
Bring ‘em on: Gunmen in Ramadi killed Sunni Arab political candidate Mezher al-Dulaimi while he was filling up his car at a gas station. A roadside bomb targeted the convoy of Sheik Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, a Shiite member of the National Assembly who was elected with the governing United Iraqi Alliance. The Iraqi army said the explosion in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of
Bring ‘em on: Four U.S. Army soldiers were killed Tuesday in a roadside bombing northwest of
Kidnappings: Iraqi and British officials said Sunday they had no word on the fate of four Christian peace activists, more than a day after the expiration of a deadline set by kidnappers to kill them if all prisoners weren't released. Interior Minister Bayan Jabr and British Defense Secretary John Reid said separately that their governments had no information about the hostages - who include an American, a Briton and two Canadians.
The New Iraq ™
1,000 prisons in a nation the size of
Sunni political leaders charge that similar incidents of torture are occurring at other Interior Ministry detention facilities and have identified some of the sites by name.
Severe torture?: Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari yesterday said he would not tolerate torture by the Shi'ite-dominated government police forces, renewing his condemnation of the practice after US and Iraqi forces found abused, starved detainees at an Interior Ministry detention center.
US and Iraqi officials on Sunday said they had discovered at least 12 cases of what an Iraq official called ''severe torture" at a prison run by the Interior Ministry's special police commandos.
Prisoners had their bones broken and their fingernails pulled out, were subjected to electric shocks and had burning cigarettes crushed into their necks and backs, said the Iraqi official, who US officials said had first-hand knowledge of the torture.
No, just a few slaps: The Iraqi Interior Ministry insisted Monday that none of the 625 prisoners discovered last week in an Iraqi detention center had been tortured or abused, despite assertions by American officials to the contrary.
"Only a few guys were slapped on their faces," Mr. Anbagi said. "The prisoners who were taken to the hospital didn't have any serious injuries. They suffered from headaches only."
True story or Washington Times agitprop? You decide: An Iraqi general formerly in charge of special Interior Ministry forces said yesterday that a senior Iranian intelligence officer was in charge of a network of detention centers where suspected insurgents were routinely tortured and sometimes killed.
Gen. Muntazar Jasim al-Samarrai spoke to The Washington Times just as Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said he had widened an urgent investigation into complaints of abuse and torture in the country's detention facilities.
Gen. al-Samarrai said the Iranian intelligence officer, Tahseer Nasr Lawandi, works directly under the Kurdish deputy minister, Gen. Hussein Kamel, and is known throughout the ministry as "The Engineer."
"The Engineer was behind the torturing and killing in the ministry and was also in charge of Jadriya prison," said Gen. al-Samarrai, who left the ministry after a dispute with superiors and is now living in
More Iranian influence: An Iranian-backed militia, the Badr Organization, has taken over many of the Iraqi Interior Ministry's intelligence activities and infiltrated its elite commando units,
That has enabled the Shiite Muslim militia to use Interior Ministry vehicles and equipment - much of it bought with American money - to carry out revenge attacks against the minority Sunni Muslims, who persecuted the Shiites under Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, current and former Ministry of Interior employees say.
The officials, some of whom agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity for fear of violent reprisals, said the Interior Ministry was running Iranian-backed death squads and operating a network of secret prisons.
The militia's secret activities represent a dangerous obstacle to U.S.-backed efforts to persuade Sunnis to abandon the violent insurgency and join Shiites and Kurds in
Analysis: In its National Strategy for Victory in
The procedures for the December 2005 election of
Kurdish influence to shrink?: With less than a week to go, there are fears young Kurds will snub the polls in protest at corruption, poor services and lack of jobs and housing in their northern self-rule region. In the January polls, the alliance won 77 seats, making Kurds the second-largest bloc in parliament. But this time round the number of Kurdish seats is expected to shrink as Sunni Arabs vote en masse for the first time.
Against this backdrop, every last Kurdish vote will be crucial to maintaining influence and representation in
The discovery was the first instance of an election irregularity announced by the commission as the country prepared for the vote on Thursday.
The commission said experts conducting an audit of voter lists found that there had been an unexpected surge in voter registration in the area. When the experts scrutinized the voter registration forms, the commission said in a written statement, they found that many had been filled out incorrectly. Some had missing signatures and others had more than one signature. In some cases, the same name appeared on several forms.
Bare knuckle politics: The political battle is being fought in the mosques, on the streets and in the news media, sometimes with appeals to sect loyalty and other times with rough tactics. Iraqis on Thursday will choose members of parliament for four-year terms, ending another period in their transition since the
There have been more than 100 allegations of violations of campaign rules submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. Most concern the illegal use of religious symbols and the destruction of campaign posters, which are pasted on every piece of wall space in the capital, including high concrete blast walls.
In at least two separate incidents over the past two weeks, men hanging United Iraqi Alliance posters were shot at, and one was killed.
Centrifugal forces: Iraqis are preparing to cast ballots on Thursday, for the third time this year.
Despite continuing violence and vast challenges in the rebuilding of their battered country, many Iraqis are convinced that, if nothing else, an end to the political turmoil is in sight -- at least for the four-year term of the new Iraqi parliament.
But almost everyone acknowledges that a single Iraqi state with a unified central government cannot contain the competing aspirations of religious Shi'ites, tribal Sunnis, and Kurds looking for independence from
Poll results: Most Iraqis disapprove of the presence of
More than two-thirds of those surveyed oppose the presence of troops from the United States and its coalition partners and less than half, 44 percent, say their country is better off now than it was before the war, according to an ABC News poll conducted with Time magazine and other media partners.
But Iraqis are surprisingly upbeat on many fronts, the poll suggests.
Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week. More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.
A majority of both the Sunni and Shiite population say they favor a unified country, however.
Ballots cast: Iraqi soldiers cast some of the first ballots in national elections yesterday, cheering and waving pictures of firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as they trooped to the polls.
The soldiers, most of them Shi'ites from
Satan’s own election: Soldiers, patients and prisoners began voting Monday in national elections, three days ahead of the general population, while insurgents denounced the balloting as a "satanic project" but did not threaten to attack polling stations. The early voting went ahead despite the sound of detonations rumbling across the capital and at least 15 deaths in ongoing violence.
Qualified candidates: Four days before Iraqis vote for a new parliament, election officials Sunday turned down a government request to disqualify nearly 100 candidates suspected of having held mid-level leadership posts in Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
The decision, swiftly denounced by members of the ruling coalition, said the disputed candidates' names would remain on Thursday's ballot because a government panel set up to purge ex-Baathists from public office had failed to offer proof of rank in the now-outlawed party.
In a separate statement Sunday, the officials said they were investigating a five-fold increase in the number of new voters in
Observers: Two Iraqi organizations on Sunday announced that they assigned 2500 observers to monitor elections in all Iraqi provinces, including the Kurdistan Region.
Muhannad Al-Kanani, head of Shabakat Al-Ayn for Monitoring Elections, told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that the organization assigned 1500 observers, who completed their training two days ago, to monitor the elections in
Analysis: According to Global Policy Forum, Giant U.S. and
This comes from the site BAGnewsNotes, courtesy of Michael Shaw, Ph.D., the site’s proprietor. His blog is dedicated to the analysis of news images and if you are not familiar with it, check it out. He is doing a series of analyses of Iraqi political posters, well worth a look.
Yes?: The United States and
British and American officials regard this week's election for
No?: Four days before parliamentary elections in Iraq that the Bush administration has portrayed as a "significant milestone," the American ambassador there and a Republican lawmaker cautioned today against assuming that the vote would produce quick and dramatic improvement or lead to a rapid withdrawal of United States forces.
Maybe: Arab diplomats said Sunday that Vice President Dick Cheney will visit the region this month to persuade leaders to dispatch Arab and Muslim forces in
Arab diplomatic sources told United Press International that Cheney will hold talks with Arab leaders to urge them to deploy forces in
Bad habits: In a video conference from
Training and equipping the Iraqi forces was at various stages, Dempsey said, but "corruption is another matter. I guess I would describe it as some bad habits that have to be overcome here."
"Spectacularly corrupt," said Zacchea, who was senior adviser for a battalion of the 5th Iraqi Division based in Taji east
At any given time, 25 percent of the troops were on leave, Zacchea said. "They're ghost soldiers. They'll enlist in two different units to draw more pay," he said.
Zacchea's mixed review was echoed in the differing viewpoints of Little and Capt. Ryan Wylie of the 3rd Infantry Division on the situation in
For the third time,
Wylie said in an e-mail that
But Little, who returned home to Staten Island last month, called Samarra a "failed city" with a "long way to go" in achieving civil order.
The Spread Of Democracy
Looks like Egypt imported the American system: More than 200 opposition supporters protested in
The demonstrators from the Kefaya Movement also condemned the deaths of 12 people in violence during the elections, which took part in three stages over a month and ended last week.
"This is the first protest after the elections, against what happened in the elections -- the forgery and the beatings that occurred," Kefaya coordinator George Ishak told Reuters.
Monitoring groups said the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) resorted to bribery and coercion to secure votes.
London-based Amnesty International said it was calling on the government to launch an independent inquiry into police shootings on the last day of voting, December 7, in which Amnesty and other rights groups say at least eight people died.
Bubble boy speaks: In a rare, unscripted moment, President Bush on Monday estimated 30,000 Iraqis have died in the war, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the high price Iraqis have paid in the push for democracy.
In the midst of a campaign to win support for the unpopular war, Bush unexpectedly invited questions from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia after a speech asserting that
He immediately was challenged about the number of Iraqis who have lost their lives since the beginning of the war.
"I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," Bush said. "We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in
Another questioner challenged the administration's linkage of the
"I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I'd make the decision again," Bush said. "Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and
Flabbergasting. Knowing that
No shit, Sherlock: US President George W. Bush warned that
"No nation in history has made the transition to a free society without facing challenges, setbacks and false starts," including the
(Yeah, remember all the wagon bombs that went off in downtown
"This week's elections won't be perfect, and a successful vote is not the end of the process," he cautioned, warning that those targeting US and Iraqi forces "aren't going to give up because of a successful election."
A majority of Americans draw a logical conclusion: Despite a series of recent speeches spelling out the administration's policies on
Fifty-eight percent of those polled said Bush doesn't have a clear plan on
Murtha talks sense: With public support for the
"You heard the president talk today about terrorism," Murtha told reporters at a Dec. 7 news conference. "Every other word was 'terrorism.'" Speaking as a lawmaker in close touch with the Pentagon's top military leaders, he went on to confront the core of the administration's current argument for keeping American soldiers in
"Let's talk about terrorism versus insurgency in
Murtha threw cold water on the storyline that presents
It might not help but it sure won’t hurt, so go do it.
Support The Troops!
Homeless vets: According to many contemporaneous media sources, there are almost 300,000 homeless veterans in the
Recently, media sources have reported that veterans from the Persian Gulf War, the Bosnian Crisis, and now the
120,000 casualties?: This morning, Salon.com published details of an October ‘05 Veterans Affairs report showing that 119,247 off-duty Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are receiving health care from the V.A.
“[T]he statistics seem to show that a lot of those health problems are war-related. For example, nearly 37,000 have mental disorders, including nearly 16,000 who have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Over 46,000 veterans of
These men and women have suffered injuries that will impact them for the rest of their lives. The Bush calculation: better to have higher
Our pathetic excuse for a media enables torture: Like the Center for Victims of Torture's calls for an end to torture by American forces, the bar associations' vigorous attempt to shed sunlight on our shame—for the president's acts, however covert, are done in our name—has been almost entirely ignored by this nation's media watchdogs of our liberties.
The press itself has also been shamed more fundamentally. As the American Bar Association report emphasizes, "The American public still has not been adequately informed of the extent to which prisoners have been abused, tortured, or rendered to foreign governments which are known to abuse and torture prisoners. [We] urge the
Only an aroused American people—or enough of them—can force this Republican-dominated Congress to stop this shame of these
British questions: The government may be breaking the law by refusing to question the
Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said yesterday "careful research by officials" had failed to identify any request from the Bush administration for the passage through
Extraordinary rendition – we are becoming an international pariah:
Ivan Eland: The Shi’ite religious parties in
In short, the now desperate Bush administration’s attempt to achieve “victory in Iraq” and pledge to take the Iraqi democratic experiment on the road to other autocratic Arab countries really amount to letting U.S. soldiers die to make the world safe for theocracy. In fact, such future theocracies in
Joshua Holland: The administration's reluctance to allow a truly Iraqi solution to develop is mostly about not losing control of
What else, besides the deep-seated belief that we're culturally superior to the locals could lead so many to believe that our presence on the ground is by definition a net plus for the country's stability? After all, those backwards Iraqis have only their knowledge of the region's history, their familiarity with the country's competing cultures and an understanding of all the key players to guide them.
Only an ideology like American exceptionalism could lead so many to conclude that the only country that can bring
Brad Kennedy: Effective prosecution of the War on Terror must include taking a hard line against the Saudis, the neo-con doctrine goes, but no
Joseph L. Galloway:
It was a disaster to invade
They can surround themselves with uniforms and wrap themselves in the flag and spin the message day after day, but they can't ignore their Republican friends in the House and Senate who must face the voters in 2006.
They can talk tough all day long, but watch to see if there's a drawdown of troops in
This isn't about victory over the terrorists. This isn't about supporting our soldiers. This is about politics and power.
Joe Conason: Covert manipulation of the Iraqi news media certainly must have seemed like a brilliant idea to some civilian genius in the Pentagon. In a conflict that is costing us billions every week, even the projected cost of $300 million must have seemed cheap. What could possibly go wrong with a plan to pay journalists in
The practical problem with such schemes — as any historian of the Cold War might have told the Bush administration’s eager beavers — is their inevitable exposure. That’s what happened decades ago, when C.I.A.-financed journalists and publications were exposed at home and abroad. Certainly that was the predictable conclusion of this misadventure, too, which relied rather heavily on the tradecraft of inexperienced and arrogant young Republican boobs at an outfit called the Lincoln Group.
Unlike their Cold War forebears, the Lincoln Group flacks couldn’t keep the secret for months, let alone years. But the end result is always the same: international embarrassment and severely diminished credibility.
Ray McGovern: Never in the sixty years since World War II has an American secretary of state been received with such hostility by our erstwhile friends in
It is no secret that Cheney bears primary responsibility for making our country a pariah among nations by punching a gaping hole in the (until now) absolute ban on torture under international and US law. Under international treaties, including treaties ratified by the US Senate and thus the supreme law of the land, civilized societies have long since prohibited practices widely recognized as torture. No matter. At the instigation of the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal, the inherent human right to physical integrity and personal dignity has become an early casualty of the
We did not need Col. Wilkerson to tell us that. What he has revealed in tracing responsibility for the US rogue policy on torture to the office of the vice president and Rumsfeld merely confirmed much of what is already known, but reported meagerly - if at all - in US media.
Helen Thomas: How long will the American people tolerate the shaming of their nation by the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war and the spiriting of detainees to secret prisons outside the
Is it any wonder that other countries believe that
While Rice insists that the
Torture under the law is described as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Waterboarding or mock drownings, sleep deprivation, beatings, shackles and other horrors apparently do not fall into the administration's definition of torture.
This is the same administration that is threatening a presidential veto of pending legislation that would explicitly prohibit the use of torture. The White House led by Vice President Dick Cheney insists on an exception for the CIA.
The ban is being pushed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was tortured when he was a prisoner of war in the
How do you compromise torture?
driftglass: And, yes, to anyone who might be reading this twenty years hence, instead of saying “Fuck this. We’re Americans. Americans don’t torture. Period.” we really are having an internationally public hairsplitting Republican Tent Show about torturing people in custody. Not pulling a gun on a man in the field where the tick of a clock right there, on the spot, might make the difference between living and dead Americans, but prisoners who have been spirited away to American gulags and are helpless. Men who are tortured according to time tables. Who are shackled to the floor in windowless cells year after year. Who have Gantt charts on clipboards detailing exactly how they have been abused and humiliated hanging on nails outside of their star chambers. Fareed seems to understand that as we set the moral standard for the world, so shall we be held to that standard by the world. The Party that feverishly impeached one President for blowjobs and yawns as another lies and lies and lies and sends our children to their graves seems to think the rest of the world will sit still for their sickening hypocrisy. He seems to understand that wars come and go, but what the GOP is throwing away by picking nits over something as primally evil as torture will damage us irreparably and for generations.
Local story: Jeanice Galin was with family members attending the birth of her grandson in
Her youngest son Travis Nelson, 41, a member of the 101st Airborne Division out of
Nelson's death is the first involving a
Local story: The tragedy of war touched down in
Atkins was a military police officer on her second tour of duty in the war. She was scheduled to leave
Local story: The principal, several teachers and fellow 2004 classmates from
Local story: A soldier assigned to the 101st Airborne was killed Saturday in
Sgt. Clarence L. Floyd Jr., 28, of
Local story: A memorial service for two South Dakota National Guard members killed in
Local story: Every time 1st Lt. Kevin Joseph Smith left home, he left something behind.
Socks. Wallet. Once, he even left his Army uniform, and his father and stepmother had to send it to him by overnight mail.
When Smith, 28, died last week in
Smith was killed by an insurgent's bomb as his unit of engineers traveled along the
Local story: James and Thelma Moudy say they never really worried about their son, though sometimes they could hear gunfire when he telephoned from
Sgt. 1st Class James "Shawn" Moudy, 37, was on a mission for his country, his grieving parents said.
Local story: A soldier in his second tour of duty in
Local story: Sgt. Adrian Orosco, 26, was doing unspecified combat operations when the IED exploded, said Fort Irwin Public Affairs Officer Maj. John Clearwater.
Orosco was an infantryman with the 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed at
Orosco leaves behind a wife, Elizabeth, and three children between the ages of 3 and 7, who still live at