Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Editorial: Let’s clear away the propaganda and concentrate on the meaning of Memorial Day. Since the Civil War, it has been a day to remember those who died in action. They are the heroes we celebrate this day, and more than 1,800 have joined the memorial rolls since the outbreak of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. A nation mourns their loss and honors their memory.

They were men and women serving on the treacherous front lines and working the dangerous supply routes. They were 19-year-olds out of high school and "weekend warriors" old enough to be their fathers.

They died for America and Americans. That they were ill-served and exploited by the government that sent them into action has nothing to do with their sacrifice.

Except this - a government that was either smarter or more honest would not have squandered so many lives. The war in Iraq could have been avoided. Or, once launched, enough troops could have been deployed to ensure a successful occupation. Body armor and Humvee armor could have been provided. Familiarity with Arabic and with Arab customs could have become a top priority. American officials could have handled the crucial early weeks after the fall of Baghdad with finesse and good sense, rather than doing everything possible to earn the hostility and contempt of so many Iraqis.

That's not, of course, the story we hear from the White House. The people running this war have signed on to a different narrative altogether: feel-good, strutting, flag-waving. Naturally, it plays to the image of brave, heroic troops in the field - but, quite unnaturally, it values fiction over reality.

At the beginning of the Iraq war, Pfc. Jessica Lynch's story was so overspun and distorted as to become ridiculous. In Afghanistan, we now know, Ranger Pat Tillman was mistakenly killed by U.S. soldiers, but the Army seized upon his death to try to create a fighting legend - out of whole cloth. These PR blunders serve neither of those soldiers well. Lies have marked these wars from the beginning, and besides being ultimately self-defeating, they are an affront to all Americans, most especially those whose bravery and sacrifice have gone unheralded.

If the Bush administration truly wanted to memorialize the war dead, it wouldn't spirit them into Dover Air Force Base under cover of a photo blackout - as if the White House were ashamed of those who died abroad. If the president truly wished to honor their memory, he would demonstrate to the nation that the government that has botched so much of the war at least has some inkling as to how to draw it to a successful conclusion - so that the dead will not have died in vain.

But critics of the war have a particular responsibility, too. The best way to honor the memory of all those American heroes who have been killed in action is not to lose faith, or hope, but to remain engaged, to hold the administration to account, to seek out and advocate ways to achieve a real peace in Asia. It still must be possible - and it would be a lasting monument to those who gave their lives for their country.

War News for Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed in bomb attack on security position in Mosul.

Bring ‘em on: Governor of Al Anbar province killed in clashes between US forces and the guerillas who abducted him. Four guerillas were killed and three wounded in the battle. A US spokesman identified all as foreign fighters.

Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi soldiers killed and nine wounded in truck bomb attack on military checkpoint in Baquba.

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi journalist for state-run TV station killed in Mosul. Two Iraqi army soldiers killed by suicide car bomber at a checkpoint near Buhriz. Four Iraqi policemen wounded in drive-by shooting in Baghdad’s Doura district. Bullet-riddled bodies of four Iraqi soldiers who had been kidnapped last week found in Hit.

Bring ‘em on: Senior Kurdish official slain by gunmen in Kirkuk. Sunni tribal leader shot to death in Mosul. Iraqi civilian killed by roadside bomb in Baquba. Six insurgents shot to death by Iraqi police in Mosul and northern Anbar province. US helicopters and warplanes attacked suspected insurgents near Husaybah, casualty figures unavailable because the bodies were buried in the rubble of buildings.

Helicopter crash: One Iraqi and four US Air Force servicemen killed in helicopter crash near Baghdad, cause unknown.

Helicopter crash: Four Italian military personnel killed in helicopter crash southeast of Nasiriyah, cause unknown.

Prelude?: Explosions rip through marketplaces, scattering blood and vegetables and leaving women wailing in the alleys. Bodies bob in rivers and are dug up from garbage dumps and parks. Kidnappers troll the streets, sirens howl through morning prayers and mortar rounds whistle against skylines of minarets. Iraqis awake each day to the sounds of violence. With little respite, many wonder whether strange, terrible forces are arrayed against them. They fear that weeks of sectarian and clan violence, claiming the lives of all types from imams to barefoot fishermen, are a prelude to civil war.

Nearly 700 people have been killed in car bombings and by shootings and beheadings in the last month. What concerns U.S. officials and ordinary Iraqis is that militant leaders such as Abu Musab Zarqawi are attempting to instigate a two-track war: one, the continuing battle between insurgents and American and Iraqi forces, and another between Shiite and Sunni Arabs that could possibly draw in Kurds from the north.

Smooth move: US troops outraged Iraq's new government yesterday by arresting one of the country's foremost Sunni leaders only to release him later and call the whole episode a mistake.

Firing stun grenades, American soldiers burst into the home of Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, head of the largest Sunni Arab political party, shortly after dawn. They forced a hood over his head and dragged him away along with his three sons.

A number of Sunni politicians and religious leaders have been accused of links to Iraq's insurgency - but never Mr Abdul-Hamid.

A Sunni Kurd, he is widely considered a moderate and played a leading role in bringing Sunni Arabs who boycotted January's elections back into the political process.

He was freed 10 hours later, but the US military offered no explanation for his detention and stopped short of apologising.

Iraq's constantly bickering Sunni Arabs, Shias and Kurds were united in condemnation of what was generally perceived as an outrage.

It appeared that the Americans had not sought permission for the raid from the Iraqi government, again raising questions about its supposed sovereignty. It also threatened the most serious rift between Washington and Baghdad since the administration was sworn in a month ago.

Three quarters gone: The chief of police in Basra admitted yesterday that he had effectively lost control of three-quarters of his officers and that sectarian militias had infiltrated the force and were using their posts to assassinate opponents.

Speaking to the Guardian, General Hassan al-Sade said half of his 13,750-strong force was secretly working for political parties in Iraq's second city and that some officers were involved in ambushes.

Other officers were politically neutral but had no interest in policing and did not follow his orders, he told the Guardian.

"I trust 25% of my force, no more."

Qaim: More families are reportedly leaving the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim in fear because of fighting, according to local aid agencies.

Hundreds of families remain displaced on the outskirts of the town, 320 km west of the capital, Baghdad, following clashes between US forces and insurgents in the second week of May.

According to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) nearly a thousand families were displaced and living in the desert of al-Jazera'a, west of al-Qaim but were returning when the offensive ended, leaving only 100 families there.

However, aid workers now say that hundreds more have started to flee the town again because of the possibility of another conflict starting in coming days.

Another story they can't get straight: Saddam Hussein could go on trial for crimes against humanity within two months, far earlier than expected, Iraq's new president, Jalal Talabani, said on Tuesday.

Asked in an interview televised on CNN when Saddam's trial would begin, Talabani said: "I hope within two months."

Leading Iraqi politicians have said several times that the trial could start within months. But Iraqi prosecutors and their U.S. advisers say a trial is more likely in 2006, after several of Saddam's lieutenants have been tried, to help build the case against the former dictator.

Iraqi leaders hope that trials of Saddam and his allies will help restore public confidence, sapped by relentless insurgent violence and political bickering that delayed the formation of a cabinet for months.

Maybe not in its last throes: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Syria must do more to block the movement of terrorists into Iraq, while asking the United Nations Security Council to authorize the continued presence of U.S.-led forces.

The insurgency, described as in its ``last throes'' by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Cable News Network's ``Larry King Live'' program last night, isn't going to fade away soon, Zebari told the Security Council. He said violence might escalate as Iraq's transitional government begins to draft a constitution and prepare for elections later this year.

``We anticipate that the campaign of destruction and intimidation will continue, perpetuated by a deadly mix of remnants of the former regime determined to turn back the clock, and foreign elements, whose sole agenda is to destroy the ongoing political process,'' Zebari said.

Fallujah: Today, I did what few internationals have dared to do, I went to Fallujah. Fallujah is completely surrounded by US Forces, the only way in or out is through one of four very restrictive checkpoints. People normally have to wait hours, but since we had our magic US passports, we made it through in about 45 minutes. We did not observe them searching any cars, soldiers just held-up traffic and slowly checked IDs. Like Palestine, these checkpoints seem to have little to do with security and more to do with harassment and intimidation. Fallujah is devastating to drive through. There is more destruction and rubble than I've ever seen in my life; even more than in Rafah, Gaza. The US has leveled entire neighborhoods, and about every third building is destroyed or damaged from US artillery. Rubble and bullet holes are everywhere, the city is indescribably ravaged. It looks like it's been hit by a series of tornados; it's hard to believe that humans could actually do this. I have a new understanding of the destructive potential of modern warfare. See more destruction pictures. US troops, Iraqi military, and Iraqi police have an overwhelming presence in the city. I've never seen such dirty looks directed at the passing forces; I guess in most places people get used to the occupier, but in Fallujah, the hate is still very alive. 16,000 Fallujan police lost their jobs after the US attacks and were replaced by Shiite from the South. The US intentionally sends Shiite to patrol Sunni strongholds to breed resentment and abuse, and it works.

Big Dick Speaks

A pre-Dick-tion: The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday, and he predicted the fighting would end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Big Dick’s Iraq Credibility – A Trip Down Memory Lane

“There's overwhelming evidence there was a connection between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government. I am very confident that there was an established relationship there." - Vice President Cheney, 1/22/04

“There was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03

“We believe Saddam has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” – Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03

“[Saddam] is actively pursuing nuclear weapons at this time.”- Vice President Cheney, 3/24/02

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” –Vice President Cheney, 8/26/02

“I think has been fairly significant success in terms of putting Iraq back together again…and certainly wouldn't lead me to suggest or think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed.” – Vice President Cheney, 9/14/03

“We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly... (in) weeks rather than months.” – Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03

Damn, Looks Like Amnesty International Really Struck A Nerve!

Commander Codpiece squeals: President Bush on Tuesday dismissed a human rights report as "absurd" for its harsh criticism of U.S. treatment of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying the allegations were made by prisoners "who hate America."

"It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world," Bush said of the Amnesty International report that compared Guantanamo to a Soviet-era gulag.

With the death toll climbing daily in Iraq, he said that nation's fledging government is "plenty capable" of defeating insurgents whose attacks on Iraqi civilians and U.S. soldiers have intensified.

"I think the Iraqi people dealt the insurgents a serious blow when we had the elections," Bush said. "In other words, what the insurgents fear is democracy because democracy is the opposition of their vision."

On the Amnesty International report, Bush said, "It seemed like to me they based some of their decisions on the word of the allegations by people who were held in detention, people who hate America."

Big Dick squeals: Vice President Dick Cheney says he's offended by a human rights group's report criticizing conditions at the prison camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay.

The report Amnesty International released last week said prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba had been mistreated and called for the prison to be shut down. Cheney derided the London-based group in an interview set to be broadcast Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live."

"Frankly, I was offended by it," Cheney said in the videotaped interview. "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."

“Bantz Craddock” squeals (What kind of parents would name their kid “Bantz” anyway?): Calling it "a shrill assessment," Army Gen. Bantz Craddock on Friday rejected Amnesty International's characterization of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as a "gulag."

Craddock lamented criticism of the Pentagon's premier prison for terror suspects in his first on-the-record U.S. news conference since taking charge of U.S. military activities in Latin America and the Caribbean six months ago.

He bristled at the language the human rights group used in its third annual and harshest rebuke of the U.S. detention camp, which holds about 520 terror suspects.

The London-based human rights group said the prison violates law through a practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention of men the Pentagon says are al-Qaida or Taliban members or sympathizers.

Little Dick squeals: Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. has done a good job of humanely treating detainees. Muslims in several countries have protested in recent weeks about allegations that a Quran was flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo as part of an interrogation of a prisoner.

The human rights group Amnesty International released a report last week calling the prison camp "the gulag of our time."

Myers said that report was "absolutely irresponsible." He said the U.S. was doing its best to detain fighters who, if released, "would turn right around and try to slit our throats, slit our children's throats."

"This is a different kind of struggle, a different kind of war," Myers said on "Fox News Sunday."

A Different Kind Of Struggle, A Different Kind Of War

Bladder failure: One Guantanamo prisoner told a military panel that American troops beat him so badly he wets his pants now. Another detainee claimed U.S. troops stripped prisoners in

Afghanistan and intimidated them with dogs so that they would admit to militant activity.

Tales of alleged abuse and forced confessions are among some 1,000 pages of tribunal transcripts the U.S. government released to The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — the second batch of documents the AP has received in 10 days.

The testimonies offer a glimpse into the secretive world of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where about 520 men from 40 countries remain held, accused of having links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network. Many have been held for three years.

Due process: A year after the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal erupted, Iraqi anger has flared anew over the growing numbers of detainees held without charge at the notorious detention center and another prison in the south. In the battle against the insurgency, U.S. military sweeps net many guerrillas, but also thousands of people whose offenses are nonexistent, minor or impossible to prove. They are often held for months, only to be released without explanation.

The population of long-term detainees at Abu Ghraib and the larger Camp Bucca, near Basra, has nearly doubled since August and now tops 10,000. With a large operation by Iraqi security forces underway in Baghdad, that number could rise. The military has established a multitiered system to ensure that innocent people caught up in chaotic events are not held for extensive periods. Records provided by the military, however, show that the evidence against suspects justifies prolonged detention in only about one in four cases. Nonetheless, more than half are held three months or more before being freed. The men are detained as security risks under the U.N. Security Council resolution that gives coalition forces the authority to maintain order in Iraq. After secret reviews of their cases, some are released. But the futures of those who remain in custody is unclear. There is no limit to how long they can be held. U.S. military officials did not respond to questions from The Times about why so many detainees have been held so long before being freed.

Air CIA: While posing as a private charter outfit - "aircraft rental with pilot" is the listing in Dun and Bradstreet - Aero Contractors is in fact a major domestic hub of the Central Intelligence Agency's secret air service. The company was founded in 1979 by a legendary C.I.A. officer and chief pilot for Air America, the agency's Vietnam-era air company, and it appears to be controlled by the agency, according to former employees.

Behind a surprisingly thin cover of rural hideaways, front companies and shell corporations that share officers who appear to exist only on paper, the C.I.A. has rapidly expanded its air operations since 2001 as it has pursued and questioned terrorism suspects around the world.

Some of the C.I.A. planes have been used for carrying out renditions, the legal term for the agency's practice of seizing terrorism suspects in one foreign country and delivering them to be detained in another, including countries that routinely engage in torture.

A long list: A report published by the New York Times on May 1, 2005, cited a former American interrogator who corroborated early accounts by several detainees alleging that guards at Guananamo had tossed copies of the Koran into a pile and stepped on them. The International Red Cross Committee also confirmed that it has received complaints from Guananamo prisoners concerning Koran desecration long before the Newsweek broke the news.

Evidently, the Bush administration has not been able to come to grips with the ramifications of such actions on the image and credibility of the United States. The United States, which stood prior to 9/11 as the defender of human rights, is now as guilty of violating human rights as any of the authoritarian regimes it repudiates.

And let us be clear, the image of the United States as a country guilty of human rights violations and of Muslim bashing was not created by the Newsweek account, but emerged as a result of a long list of missteps and abuses. Let us recall the most serious ones:

In 2001 and 2002, bigotry and intolerance were elevated to a tolerable national discourse by leading evangelical leader who insulted Islam and its prophet, and did it with impunity. Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson described Islam as "wicked, violent and not of the same god," and called the Prophet of Islam a “terrorist” and “paedophile,” and were allowed to get away with it. Little has been done so far to reign in Christian and Jewish extremists.

In November 2002, John Ashcroft, then the US attorney general, got away with similar bigoted remarks when he asserted that “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him,” while “Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” Ashcroft never denied that he made the statement, nor did he apologize despite demands by several American Muslim organizations to retract his statement.

In the same year Ashcroft made his remarks, The Department of Justice embarked on a massive detention and deportation of thousands of innocent Muslim immigrants in the name of fighting terrorism. Many of those who were detained were denied visitation by family members, and representation by lawyers. Deprived from the due process enshrined in the US constitution, they were eventually deported on minor violations.

In October 2003, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, was allowed to keep his job after telling church gatherings that the Christian God is “real” and the Muslim is “idol." Secretary Rumsfeld defended Baykin’s bigoted remarks by citing the latter's freedom of speech.

In December 2003, the military accused Col. James Lee, a dedicated Muslim Chaplain and West Point graduate, of spying, and ordered his incarceration in a maximum security facility, but failed to provide any evidence to back up these serious charges. Chaplain Yee was eventually found innocent of all charges laid against him, including charges of adultery and pornography concocted when the spying charges were withdrawn. The army refused to issue an apology and Lee resigned.

In May 2004, Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim lawyer and former Army officer, was arrested by FBI agents in connection with the Madrid terrorist bombing. The FBI maintained its certainty that Mayfield’s fingerprints matched those found on bags left behind by the terrorists even after Spanish authorities said that the original image of the fingerprint did not match Mayfield’s. He was eventually released after spending two weeks in prison.

In December 2004, the open season on Islam and Muslims by extreme Religious Right pundits reached a new low, when the Washington Times, a leading American newspaper, published an article by Sam Harris, entitled "Mired in a Religious War." The article declared Islam the enemy, and openly advocates an all-out war on Islam and Muslims.

In December 2004, 46 American Muslims were fingerprinted, searched and held 6 hours by U.S. border agents upon returning from a religious conference in Canada. The incident is the latest in a series of overzealous ethnic and religious profiling, and of the targeting of law-abiding American Muslims in the name of national security.

The above list, though far from being complete, reveals disturbing patterns of Muslim bashing and abuse, and underscores the troubling fact that some public officials in various departments and at highest levels espouse prejudices toward Islam and Muslims. While the number of bigots and zealots is still limited, the damage they have done to both American Muslims and the reputation of the United States is enormous.

Highly disturbing: The latest FBI documents detailing allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay are, like previous FBI documents, highly disturbing. They contain prisoners' descriptions of beatings, strippings and abuse of the Koran. Detainees variously claim the Muslim holy book has been thrown on the floor, thrown against a wall and, yes, flushed in a toilet. There are also references to these kinds of events having led to an "altercation" between detainees and guards.

But the status of these documents is nearly as disturbing as their content. They can be found, again like previous FBI documents, only on the Web site of the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained them by suing the government under the Freedom of Information Act. They did not, in other words, appear in the context of a government or military investigation. After the ACLU released the documents Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence T. Di Rita implied that such an investigation would be unnecessary, since these "fantastic charges about our guys doing something willfully heinous to a Koran for the purposes of rattling detainees are not credible on their face." But then, on Thursday, the commander of the Guantanamo facility, Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, acknowledged that incidents "broadly defined as mishandling of a Koran" had in fact taken place. Brig. Gen. Hood made this announcement following an investigation that he said had begun 12 days earlier -- which points to the deeper problem.

For the fact remains that although one has been promised, no independent military, Pentagon or other body has yet published an extensive investigation into the multiple accounts of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay.

The Times, Are They A’Changin’?

Lining up: In the last few months, the small commercial air service to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been carrying people the military authorities had hoped would never be allowed there: American lawyers.

And they have been arriving in increasing numbers, providing more than a third of about 530 remaining detainees with representation in federal court. Despite considerable obstacles and expenses, other lawyers are lining up to challenge the government's detention of people the military has called enemy combatants and possible terrorists.

A meeting earlier this month in New York City at the law firm Clifford Chance drew dozens of new volunteer lawyers who attended lectures from other lawyers who have been through the rigorous process of getting the government to allow them access to Guantánamo.

The increase in lawyers for Guantánamo detainees was set in motion last June when the Supreme Court ruled against the Bush administration and said the prisoners there were entitled to challenge their detentions in federal courts.

The rate at which lawyers have stepped forward for the task may be a reflection of the changing public attitudes about Guantánamo Bay and its mission.

The Downing Street Memo

Please go sign this letter: We the undersigned write because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a Downing Street Memo in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed, by the summer of 2002, to attack Iraq, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify the war.

Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action. Yet, a month later, you stated you were still willing to "look at all options" and that there was "no timetable" for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that "[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with Iraq."

In addition, the origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remain a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a "massive intelligence failure," in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:

1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?

2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?

3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?

4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?

5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.

More details: The RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make “regime change” in Iraq legal.

Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that “the US had already begun ‘spikes of activity’ to put pressure on the regime”.

The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did.

An inescapable burden: Ever since Watergate we've had a fairly established narrative of scandal. First you have revelation: the press, usually with the help of various leakers within the government, reveals the wrongdoing. Then you have investigation, when the government -- the courts, or Congress, or, as with Watergate, both -- constructs a painstaking narrative of what exactly happened: an official story, one that society -- that the community -- can agree on. Then you have expiation, when the judges hand down sentences, the evildoers are punished, and the society returns to a state of grace.

What distinguishes our time -- the time of September 11 -- is the end of this narrative of scandal. With the scandals over weapons of mass destruction and Abu Ghraib, we are stuck at step one. We have had the revelation; we know about the wrongdoing. Just recently, in the Downing Street memo, we had an account of a high-level discussion in Britain, nearly eight months before the Iraq war, in which the head of British intelligence flatly tells the prime minister – the intelligence officer has just returned from Washington -- that not only has the President of the United States decided that "military action was...inevitable" but that -- in the words of the British intelligence chief -- "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." This memo has been public for weeks.

So we have had the revelations; we know what happened. What we don't have is any clear admission of -- or adjudication of -- guilt, such as a serious congressional or judicial investigation would give us, or any punishment. Those high officials responsible are still in office. Indeed, not only have they received no punishment; many have been promoted. And we -- you and I, members all of the reality-based community -- we are left to see, to be forced to see. And this, for all of us, is a corrupting, a maddening, but also an inescapable burden.

In Memoriam

Colonel David H. Hackworth: His courage under fire was the stuff of Hollywood, such as once ordering his helicopter pilot to land in the middle of a firefight so he could rescue his wounded men.

As an orphan shining shoes at a military base in Santa Monica, Calif., he lied about his age to join up in the waning days of World War II. That started a career that led him to Korea, where he survived a gunshot to the head, and a whopping four tours of duty in Vietnam, where his daring and swagger became the inspiration for Robert Duvall's Colonel Kilgore character in the movie ''Apocalypse Now."

Tomorrow, the US military will lay to rest Colonel David H. Hackworth -- among its most decorated heroes of all time -- at Arlington National Cemetery.

The top brass is not expected to attend.

Corporal Christopher Zimny: Last Memorial Day, Cpl. Christopher Zimny visited his parents, Ted and Barbara, in Glenview, enjoying the three-day weekend before heading back to Iraq. On Memorial Day this year, his parents plan to visit his grave. For the Zimny family, the holiday is not a kickoff to summer, but a time to remember their son, beginning with a pre-Memorial Day gathering at the Marine's former high school in Glenview. "It's like what was on the news today," Barbara Zimny said Friday evening. "They were talking about Memorial weekend traffic and travel plans. And I think that's what we were like before." That was before Christopher Zimny, 27, their elder son, died Jan. 31. He was killed instantly when a roadside bomb exploded underneath his patrol vehicle in Iraq. Christopher Zimny decided to join the Marines because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. With his death, the Zimnys' lives changed, as did their view of Memorial Day and its meaning. More than 1,800 families find themselves in the same position, their sons and daughters, husbands and wives having been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "To a lot of people, it's just a holiday," said Barbara Zimny, a hospital secretary. "Not anymore for us. You have to go through the experience to know."


Opinion: This Memorial Day is not a good one for the country that was once the world's most brilliant beacon of freedom and justice.

State Department officials know better than anyone that the image of the United States has deteriorated around the world. The U.S. is now widely viewed as a brutal, bullying nation that countenances torture and operates hideous prison camps at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in other parts of the world - camps where inmates have been horribly abused, gruesomely humiliated and even killed.

The huge and bitter protests of Muslims against the United States last week were touched off by reports that the Koran had been handled disrespectfully by interrogators at Guantánamo. But the anger and rage among Muslims and others had been building for a long time, fueled by indisputable evidence of the atrocious treatment of detainees, terror suspects, wounded prisoners and completely innocent civilians in America's so-called war against terror.

Amnesty International noted last week in its annual report on human rights around the world that more than 500 detainees continue to be held "without charge or trial" at Guantánamo. Locking people up without explaining why, and without giving them a chance to prove their innocence, seems a peculiar way to advance the cause of freedom in the world.

Editorial: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likes to talk about transforming America's military. But the main transformation he may leave behind is a catastrophic falloff in recruitment for the country's vital ground fighting forces: the Army and the Marine Corps. The recruitment chain that has given the United States highly qualified, highly skilled and highly motivated ground forces for the three decades since the government abandoned the draft has started to break down.

This is astonishing, even allowing for the administration's failure to prepare Americans honestly for how long and difficult the occupation of Iraq would be. There are over 60 million American men and women between 18 and 35, the age group sought by Army recruiters. Getting the 80,000 or so new volunteers the Army needs to enlist each year ought not to be such a daunting challenge. There are obvious attractions to joining the world's most powerful, prestigious and best-equipped ground fighting forces, and in so doing qualifying for valuable benefits like college tuition aid.

But Army recruitment is now regularly falling short of the necessary targets. Recruiters are having even more trouble persuading people to sign up for Army National Guard and Reserve units. The Marine Corps has been missing its much smaller monthly quotas as well. Unless there is a sharp change later this year, both forces will soon start feeling the pinch as too few trainees are processed to meet both forces' operational needs.

Why this is happening is no mystery. Two years of hearing about too few troops on the ground, inadequate armor, extended tours of duty and accelerated rotations back into combat have taken their toll, discouraging potential enlistees and their parents. The citizen-soldiers of the Guard and Reserves have suddenly become full-time warriors. Nor has it helped that when abuse scandals have erupted, the Pentagon has seemed quicker to punish lower-ranking soldiers than top commanders and policy makers. This negative cycle now threatens to feed on itself. Fewer recruits will mean more stress on those now in uniform and more grim reports reaching hometowns across America.

Opinion: Back in September 2003 a report by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the size of the U.S. force in Iraq would have to start shrinking rapidly in the spring of 2004 if the Army wanted to "maintain training and readiness levels, limit family separation and involuntary mobilization, and retain high-quality personnel."

Let me put that in plainer English: our all-volunteer military is based on an implicit promise that those who serve their country in times of danger will also be able to get on with their lives. Full-time soldiers expect to spend enough time at home base to keep their marriages alive and see their children growing up. Reservists expect to be called up infrequently enough, and for short enough tours of duty, that they can hold on to their civilian jobs.

To keep that promise, the Army has learned that it needs to follow certain rules, such as not deploying more than a third of the full-time forces overseas except during emergencies. The budget office analysis was based on those rules.

But the Bush administration, which was ready neither to look for a way out of Iraq nor to admit that staying there would require a much bigger army, simply threw out the rulebook. Regular soldiers are spending a lot more than a third of their time overseas, and many reservists are finding their civilian lives destroyed by repeated, long-term call-ups.

Comment: There is a strange disconnect in America at the moment, with the press partly to blame but in the position to do something about it, or at least explain it. You may be surprised to learn that nearly 6 in 10 Americans feel the Iraq war is "not worth it," according to a recent Gallup poll. Exactly 50% feel that President Bush "deliberately misled" them on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and virtually the same number call the war an out-and-out "mistake." More than 56% now say the war is going badly for the United States. Gallup also recently found that 46% of those polled say we should start withdrawing troops. Yet there are few marches in the streets (or anywhere else), and even fewer editorials in major newspapers calling for a phased pullout or setting a deadline for withdrawal. But that's not my main concern here. No matter where you stand on the Iraq war, you've got to wonder: What's going on here at home? Yet few in the press have set out to explore this gap between what appears to be wide public anger and apathy: the enormous number of Americans who support our troops while, at least indirectly, devaluing their service by claiming this is a war not worth fighting.

Robert Parry: One benefit of the new AM progressive talk radio in cities around the United States is that the call-in shows have opened a window onto the concerns – and confusion – felt by millions of Americans trying to figure out how their country went from a democratic republic to a modern-day empire based on a cult of personality and a faith-based rejection of reason.

“What went wrong?” you hear them ask. “How did we get here?”

You also hear more detailed questions: “Why won’t the press do its job of holding George W. Bush accountable for misleading the country to war in Iraq? How could the intelligence on Iraq have been so wrong? Why do America’s most powerful institutions sit back while huge trade and budget deficits sap away the nation’s future?”

There are, of course, many answers to these questions. But from my 27 years in the world of Washington journalism and politics, I would say that the most precise answer can be summed up in one word: fear.

It’s not fear of physical harm. That's not how it works in Washington. For the professionals in journalism and in intelligence, it’s a smaller, more corrosive fear – of lost status, of ridicule, of betrayal, of unemployment. It is the fear of getting blackballed from a community of colleagues or a profession that has given your life much of its meaning and its financial sustenance.

Interview: [Thom Hartmann] Yeah. George Galloway, Member of Parliament in the, in Great Britain, of the House of Commons. Why do you believe that Tony Blair decided to join president Bush in waging war when, as has recently emerged with this Downing Street memo, he knew that the case was flimsy, and do you think that either Blair or Bush or people in their administration should be prosecuted on any, on any level for this activity?

[George Galloway] Well, first of all I am sure that they will not be prosecuted, because it is only losers that are prosecuted. In the international system that we have there's no chance of the likes of Henry Kissinger, for example, the greatest living war criminal in the world today with the blood of millions of people in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos and Chile and East Timor or in many other places on his hands. He will never appear in a court or be behind bars. That's for the tin pot tyrants, the tiny tyrants like Milosevic; they get sent there. The big tyrants never face justice.

I wish I knew the answer to your first question, why did Tony Blair join it? Certainly, it's been utterly ruinous to his political reputation. He will, he will be followed into the history books and into the grave with this mark of Cain on his forehead. He will be remembered for nothing other than that he followed George W. Bush over a cliff; took the rest of us with them, and we haven't yet reached the bottom, I'm afraid. All I can say from my own conversations with Mr. Blair, man to man, are that I think that both him and George W. Bush are possessed of a kind of messianic belief that somebody, God perhaps, gave them the job of shouldering the white man's burden, which is the world. That someone gave them the right to step outside of international law; go anywhere, do anything, pay any price in other people's blood, to reshape the world in their image; in the image that they want to see. And I think that both men will be damned in history. Both men have made their respective countries the two most hated countries in the world. They have endangered the lives and safety of our citizens. They have damaged our economic and cultural and social interests, and they should face prosecution, but never will.

Editorial: Nothing young Americans can do in life is more honorable than offering themselves for the defense of their nation. It requires great selflessness and sacrifice, and quite possibly the forfeiture of life itself. On Memorial Day 2005, we gather to remember all those who gave us that ultimate gift. Because they are so fresh in our minds, those who have died in Iraq make a special claim on our thoughts and our prayers.

In exchange for our uniformed young people's willingness to offer the gift of their lives, civilian Americans owe them something important: It is our duty to ensure that they never are called to make that sacrifice unless it is truly necessary for the security of the country. In the case of Iraq, the American public has failed them; we did not prevent the Bush administration from spending their blood in an unnecessary war based on contrived concerns about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. President Bush and those around him lied, and the rest of us let them. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes. Perhaps it happened because Americans, understandably, don't expect untruths from those in power. But that works better as an explanation than as an excuse.

Casualty Reports

Local story: Duluth, MN, helicopter pilot killed in crash north of Baghdad.

Local story: Rochester, MN, military policeman killed in Baghdad in March, honored by Rochester police.

Local story: Sun Prairie, WI, soldier killed when his helicopter was shot down over central Iraq.

Local story: Sandusky, OH, soldier, killed in Iraq one year ago, remembered by his family.

Local story: West Cowick, East Yorkshire, UK, soldier killed in roadside bombing in Al Amarah province.

Local story: Four Mississippi Army National Guard soldiers killed in roadside bombing in Iraq.

Local story: Northampton, NJ, Marine killed in helicopter crash last January in Iraq honored in Memorial Day service.

Local story: Albany, VT, Marine, killed January 26 in a gun battle northwest of Baghdad, interred on Memorial Day.

Local story: Two Gulfport, AL, soldiers killed May 23 in the area of Haswa to be honored in separate military rites later this week.

Local story: Long Beach, CA, soldier killed in mortar attack in Mosul.

Local story: Vancleave, MS, soldier killed in explosion in Iraq remembered by his eight-year-old daughter.

Local story: Louisville, KY, Marine killed last week in Hadithah remembered and interred.


Monday, May 30, 2005

War News for Monday, May 30, 2005 Bring 'em on: British soldier killed by IED and four injured in al-Amarah. Bring 'em on: Twenty five sacked ex commandos queuing for back pay killed and one hundred injured in twin suicide bomb attack in Hilla. Bring 'em on: Iraqi police general critically injured after attempted assassination in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Leader of largest Sunni political party, considered a moderate, arrested along with his three sons and four guards in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Two Iraqi police sergeants working for the Iraqi Cabinet gunned down in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Fifty insurgents launched a sustained attack on Sunday on the detention center run by the Interior Ministry's major crimes unit in Amariya, according to an unconfirmed account by an Amariya resident who was reached by telephone, insurgent bands roaming the district after the battle claimed to have captured weapons from the detention center's armory. Bring 'em on: Five suicide bombs in six hours kill twenty members of Iraqi security forces in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Oil infrastructure attacked on the outskirts of Baghdad. Bring 'em on: South Korean base comes under fire in Irbil. War Crimes: It emerged yesterday that up to 11 members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment could be charged under war crimes legislation enacted in 2001 after the establishment of the international criminal court. The soldiers would face trial in the UK under the ICC act. Averting Civil War: Iraq's religious leaders are intensifying efforts to heal the rifts between the country's Sunnis and Shias amid a spate of sectarian killings that has raised fears of civil war. A weekend meeting between senior figures from the Sunni Association of Muslim Clerics and the Shia Badr Brigades - the militia of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the biggest Shia party - sought to ease tensions caused by the killing of at least 14 Sunni clerics in the past month. Doctors Leaving: In the past year, about 10 percent of Baghdad's total force of 32,000 registered doctors, both Sunnis and Shiites, have been driven from their jobs, according to the Iraqi Medical Association, which licenses practitioners. The exodus has accelerated in recent months, said Akif Khalil al-Alousi, a pathologist at Kindi Teaching Hospital and a senior member of the association. The vast majority of those fleeing, he said, are the most senior doctors. The Interior Ministry has already responded to the threats: It simplified gun license procedures for doctors. They can get licensed weapons faster than other Iraqis. Dr. Omar al-Kubaisy, one of the doctors who stopped going to work at the cardiac hospital after he was threatened, kept going to work at his own clinic, watched over by his 23-year-old son Ali, who stood guard with a large and always visible semi-automatic gun. But last week, Kubaisy, one of Iraq's top cardiologists, left for France. Emergencies are nonstop. Civilian deaths have jumped five-fold since the new government took power late last month. One physician estimated that about 250 Iraqi doctors had been kidnapped over the past two years. The simple quest for money which fuels the country's serious, widespread kidnapping industry appears to be the biggest motivation. Opinion and Commentary Operation Lightning: Is Iraq another Honduras?
In the interview above Carafano states that there's little chance that this will round up real terrorists, because they were given plenty of notice and have probably already taken off for part or parts unknown. So what is the real purpose of Operation Lightning? Perhaps it is a continuation of a tactic used by John Negroponte in Honduras, i.e., use "elite" militias within the larger indigenous force to terrorize the locals and round up, imprison, interrogate and maybe "disappear" alleged bad guys without a search warrant approved by a judge or the benefits of a lawyer to argue the case. Ah, but who cares? It's not as if the other guys bleed or feel anything but hate, right? For all intents and purposes, due to the bungling at the beginning of the occupation, every Iraqi has become the "enemy" and young Americans, who went to Iraq believing that they were the good guys fighting the people who attacked us on 9-11, find themselves in an intolerable situation. They now know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. There were no WMDs. The Iraqi Army turned out to be a ragtag paper tiger. And the "enemy" fights the same kind of war we would fight if someone invaded our country. (I refer you to the movies "Red Dawn" and "V".) Recent studies show that 15-17% of returnees need psychiatric help for a variety of post-traumatic stress disorders.
Operation Lightening: Starting a Civil War?
If this Baghdad offensive is launched, it will result in an escalation of U.S. war crimes and outrage against the U.S. and the new Iraqi "government." Obviously, the Americans are unwilling to take the casualties of house-to-house searches. That job falls to the Iraqi troops who are being set against their own people. If insurgents remain and fight, U.S. airpower will be used to pulverize the buildings, and "collateral damage" will be high. If insurgents leave and cause mayhem elsewhere, large numbers of innocent Iraqis will be detained as suspected insurgents. After all, you can't conduct such a large operation without results. As most households have guns, which are required for protection as there is no law and order, "males of military age" will be detained from these armed households as suspected insurgents. The detentions of thousands more Iraqis will result in more torture and abuses. Consequently, the ranks of the active insurgency will grow. Neocon court historians of empire, such as Niall Ferguson, claim that the U.S. cannot withdraw from Iraq because the result would be a civil war and bloodbath. However, a bloodbath is what has been going on since the ill-fated "cakewalk" invasion. Moreover, the planned Baghdad offensive is itself the beginning of a civil war. The 50,000 troops represent a Shi'ite government. These troops will be hunting Sunnis. There is no better way to start a civil war. As George W. Bush has made clear many times, he is incapable of admitting a mistake. The inability to admit a mistake makes rational behavior impossible. In place of thought, the Bush administration relies on coercion and violence. Nevertheless, Congress does not have to be a doormat for a war criminal. It can put a halt to Bush's madness. The solution is not to reduce Iraq to rubble. The U.S. can end the bloodshed by exiting Iraq. A solution is for Iraq to organize as a republic of three largely autonomous states or provinces - Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurd - along the lines of the original American republic. The politicians within each province will be too busy fighting one another for power to become militarily involved with those in other provinces.
Do more than mourn on Memorial Day:
The Constitution, according to its preamble, was "ordain(ed) and "establish(ed)" by "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union (and) ... provide for the common defense." Defense. The military exists to defend Americans against those who threaten us. It is not intended to be an instrument of offense against sovereign nations, however despotic their regimes. And the exploitation of our soldiers doesn't end when their tours are over. How do our leaders show their gratitude to those who are lucky enough to make it home? By pinching pennies on veterans' benefits and forcing them to pay more for the health care they need because they were put in harm's way for the rest of us. If the war's human cost is not compelling enough, consider the economic cost to the nation. The price tag for Iraq has now climbed above $200 billion, in a nation buckling under the strain of debt and still neglecting many domestic priorities in areas like education and health care. The social, political and economic reconstruction of Iraq must continue to be a priority. But that is a development task, not a military mission, which cannot be accomplished in the context of an occupation. Furthermore, there must be accountability in the reconstruction process, which has been marred by reports of mismanagement and corruption. Earlier this month, government investigators revealed that nearly $100 million in construction money has disappeared and was possibly embezzled. Let's make this Memorial Day more than the traditional day of mourning and tribute. Let's make it a day of action. Let's dedicate ourselves, as a nation, to ending this violent, unnecessary conflict.
Baghdad Matters:
If people happen to have been discussing constitutions anywhere in the world recently, it's a fair bet they were talking about the EU, not Iraq. Yet what is happening in Baghdad probably matters much more than any knife-edge referendums in Paris or The Hague. Iraqis, facing an insurgency that has killed 600 people this month, have to do what the French, Dutch and other Europeans - looking beyond the nation state to something new - no longer have to worry about: build a working democracy from scratch now that the Ba'athist system of Arab socialism, freedom and unity has gone the way of all tyrannies. It really doesn't matter what you think of George Bush, Tony Blair, or their case for war. This - along with an awful lot of other things - has to be done if the occupation is to end and the country is to come out of it in reasonable shape. But US neocons willing a new Middle East to emerge from the rubble make it sound far too easy, fantasising about a Philadelphia-on-the-Tigris, where the founding fathers of free Iraq will be moved by the vision of 1787 to overcome their differences and strike grand bargains as they look, misty-eyed, to some shining city on a hill. Words like "democratic", "pluralistic" and "inclusive", bandied about by an anxious Condoleezza Rice, ring hollow behind the heavily guarded walls of the Green Zone in Baghdad while mass unemployment, power shortages, sectarian incitement and suicide bombings continue outside. Momentum was lost after the January 30 elections in haggling over a government dominated by Shia Muslims and Kurds, and it will be hard to meet the August 15 deadline for completing the constitution. Opting for a six-month delay is possible, but more uncertainty might help keep violence going. Process is vital, since writing a constitution is the only non-violent opportunity to build a workable compromise. Last week, a 55-strong parliamentary drafting committee was expanded, at US urging, to become a 101-member commission. It will permit greater representation for the Sunni minority, which lost most with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, largely boycotted the elections and forms the backbone of the insurgency.
And the Winner is?
Iran! That's at least one surprising answer to the question of who is coming out on top in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Everything has gone very well for the Iranians," says Juan Cole, a professor specializing in Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, a view echoed by many others who study the region. "They had two major geopolitical enemies on the region. One was the Taliban and the other was Saddam Hussein," Cole says. "So from their point of view, the United States has very helpfully removed their major problems. "And not only has it removed those major problems, it has installed regimes that have strong traditional alliances with the Iranians," he says. It can certainly be assumed that it was not the intention of the Bush administration when it embarked on these military adventures to aid a member of the so-called "axis of evil." Bush put Iran on that axis, along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea. But that's the way it has worked out. "It's a very odd outcome," says Shibley Telhami, professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. "I don't think the administration ever thought we would be where we are today." Where we are is not only were Iran's enemies vanquished by the U.S.-led forces, but the government now in power in Baghdad has longstanding ties to Iran, turning those former enemies into potentially strong allies. "Iraq was the major competitor with Iran in the Persian Gulf," Telhami says. "The intentional strategy of the United States for decades was to maintain that balance of power, not to allow one of them to dominate, to use one against the other. "What you have now is Iraq really disappearing as a strategic player in the gulf for the foreseeable future," he says. "It will not be able to threaten anyone militarily. And that leaves Iran as the sole power in the gulf, except for the American military presence."


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Today In History May 29, 1453. Mehmet II took Constantinople and ended the Roman Empire. The slaughter was horrendous. Read John Norwich's history of Byzantium. May 29, 1453 was a Tuesday. **** Istanbul was Constantinople Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople Been a long time gone, Constantinople Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night Every gal in Constantinople Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople So if you’ve a date in Constantinople She’ll be waiting in Istanbul Even old New York was once New Amsterdam Why they changed it I can’t say People just liked it better that way So take me back to Constantinople No, you can’t go back to Constantinople Been a long time gone, Constantinople Why did Constantinople get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks Thanks to They Might Be Giants for a tune often played in the officers' club, 528th US Artillery, Cakmakli, Republic of Turkey. And thanks to the proud Turkish people who welcomed me into their country and treated me like a brother. I'll never forget you. YD

War News for Sunday, May 29, 2003 Bring 'em on: Two suicide bomb attacks kill five and injure forty five outside a US base in Sinjar. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqis killed in IED attack targeting US troops in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Ten pilgrims found murdered near the Syrian border. Bring 'em on: Moderate Sunni leader gunned down in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: US Marine killed by roadside bomb in Haqlaniyah. Bring 'em on: Two killed and nine wounded in suicide bomb attack near Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: Japanese hostage confirmed dead. Giving Iraq Back
"We want to hand it over to them. But when it comes down to it, the (Iraqi police) we're hiring are all bad," said Army Sgt. Nicholas Radde, 21, of LaCrosse, Wis., as his soldiers took a break in the parking lot of an abandoned storage area. Despite two interim Iraqi governments, a national election and the graduation of thousands of Iraqi soldiers, U.S. troops remain the ultimate security force in most of Iraq, more than two years after the U.S.-led invasion. Earlier this month, when U.S. Marines led a major assault against insurgents near the Syrian border and lost nine troops, the Iraqi forces played a secondary role. As the elected Iraqi government tries to coax a wary Sunni Arab population into joining the new political system, American soldiers continue to raid homes, patrol neighborhoods and hurriedly train Iraqi soldiers -- the faster the better if they are to get home soon. But a resilient Sunni-led insurgency has effectively stalled progress, killing thousands of Iraqis.
Journalism in the USA From Chicken Yoghurt:
Hersh is firm in his assertion that the war in Iraq has never ended despite the ostentatious proclamation by Bush from the deck of an aircraft carrier. He said the term "insurgency" used to describe those fighting coalition troops is a misnomer because the coalition is still fighting the same people they were engaging before the fall of Baghdad. In April 2003, Hersh says, around 6000 military commanders and soldiers, Baathist bureaucrats and other leaders of the regime (including those who ran the public utilities and oil infractructure) simply disappeared from Baghdad over a short period of days. It's these same commanders and soldiers that are still fighting now. Jihadists have come to the country but the bedrock of the "insurgency" remains Republican Guard units and the like. Hersh also maintains that Iraq is already in a state of civil war and has been for some months, it's merely that a timid American press is afraid to use the term. Bogeyman of the moment Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a useful figleaf to the Iraqi commanders leading the insurgency, said Hersh. In adopting the tactic of killing civilians in an attempt to turn the population against the occupation, the former Baathists find Zarqawi's status as terrorist-in-chief deflects the blame away from them and gives succour to their hope of reassuming control of the country again some time in the future. Their thinking is that the civilian population being told by the coalition to blame Zarqawi for Baathist atrocities will make their task easier.
760 Iraqis Dead in May 2005 for what?
"There are some who, uh, feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." - George W. Bush, July 2, 2003.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Note to Readers Evidently, Friendly Fire and I can't keep our schedules straight because we both prepared today's news post. It's probably my fault since Friendly and Matt have been kindly covering for me for the last week. Scroll down to read Friendly's news summary. I've eliminated redundancies from my summary. Thanks, YD War News for Friday, May 27, 2004, Extra Edition Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi policemen killed in Mosul. Bring 'em on: Five Iraqis killed, 15 wounded in bomb attack on police patrol in Baghdad. Bring 'em on: Three Iraqi civilians, two US soldiers wounded by roadside bomb in Kirkuk. Bring 'em on: US troops and insurgents clash in Fallujah. "Insurgents in Iraq attached explosives to a dog and tried to blow up a military convoy near the northern oil centre of Kirkuk." Knucklehead. "Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn got himself in trouble with his superiors as a Pentagon civilian public affairs official during the first three and one-half years of the Bush administration by telling the truth. He is still at it in private life. He says not to blame the military recruiters for the current recruiting 'scandal.' Blame the war. "Army recruiting is in a death spiral, through no fault of the Army," Krohn told me. Always defending uniformed personnel, he resents hard-pressed recruiters being attacked for offering unauthorized benefits to make quotas. In a recent e-mail sent to friends (mostly retired military), Krohn complained that the 'Army is having to compensate for a problem of national scope…' In contrast, Krohn is a lifelong Republican who actively supported George W. Bush's presidential candidacy in 2000. He specified in his e-mail that 'I'm not now blaming' President Bush or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the situation. 'We have a problem that transcends politics,' Krohn added." What a fucking moron. I bet this "lifelong Republican" was one of those clowns howling for Les Aspin's resignation after the Battle of Mogadishu. But a truly incompetent defense secretary "transcends politics." IOKIYAR. Rummy's Army. "Last year, Army lieutenants and captains left the service at an annual rate of 8.7% — the highest since 2001. Pentagon officials say they expect the attrition rate to improve slightly this year. Yet interviews with several dozen military officers revealed an undercurrent of discontent within the Army's young officer corps that the Pentagon's statistics do not yet capture. Young captains in the Army are looking ahead to repeated combat tours, years away from their families and a global war that their commanders tell them could last for decades. Like other college grads in their mid-20s, they are making decisions about what to do with their lives. And many officers, who until recently had planned to pursue careers in the military, are deciding that it's a future they can't sign up for. The officers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan just wrapped up a year of grueling counterinsurgency operations — a type of combat the U.S. largely avoided after its struggle in Vietnam and that many in the Pentagon believe is the new face of war. They were in Iraq during last spring's uprisings in Fallouja and Najaf, June's transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government and block-to-block fighting during the retaking of Fallouja in November. These officers have, in most cases, more counterinsurgency experience than any of their superiors. And they are the people the Army most fears losing." The good news from Iraq that the media fails to notice: "So, to summarize the good electricity news: Due to lack of maintenance, electricity production fell from 9000 MW in 1991 to 4400 MW before the war. Since then, there have been many announcements of improved generating capacity and production has fallen further to 3560 MW." Courtesy of Brad De Long. Wounded. "The number of service members wounded in Iraq has surged past 12,000, half of them injured so badly that they cannot return to duty. Many of the most critical cases end up here at the National Naval Medical Center, established in the early days of World War II. On the worst nights at the Bethesda hospital complex, ambulances and casualty buses deliver up to 100 wounded Marines and sailors from Iraq. Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, more than 1,700 have arrived, most of them young and suffering from the devastating damage inflicted on human tissue by explosives, bullets and shrapnel. Some, like Bryan Trusty, stay only a few weeks. Others, like Eddie Ryan, stay longer. The soldiers are surrounded by attentive nurses and skilled surgeons, and by loved ones who cling to hope and share an ordeal that can be both traumatic and uplifting, their lives in turmoil and forever altered. If not for Eddie's tattoos, Angela Ryan would not have recognized her son after she and her husband flew to see him at a military hospital in Germany. His face and body were grotesquely swollen. Before he was wounded, Eddie was lean and fit, 6 feet tall and 195 pounds. He had ballooned to 250 pounds because of severe swelling and fluid accumulation caused by injuries." "A Fayette County (Pennsylvania) veteran blinded in Iraq said he is finally getting help and having to deal with the reality of his injuries. And he's looking forward to starting his new life in a new home being built for him…Ross, a former combat engineer with the 82nd Airborne Division, was wounded on May 18, 2003, while disposing of munitions near Baghdad. He was carrying a mine in a sand-filled shovel to a disposal pit when it exploded. The accident left him with no sight and a prosthetic leg. Since returning home, he's had several run-ins with the law, and said the pressure just got to him. But Ross said he still had dreams of moving out of his trailer home and into a new home and now that's becoming a reality. The Massachusetts-based group Homes For Our Troops is building a handicap-accessible home for Ross." Class warfare. "Given the deteriorating security in Iraq, it had been obvious for months that the Guard unit - E Troop, Second Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment - would be called up. Still, the deployment was tough on the soldiers and their families. The National Guard, as many have noted, is not a cross-section of America. Since the draft was abandoned in 1973, the Guard has drawn overwhelmingly from the working class, like the Army itself. The incomes of members of E Troop cluster around the Tennessee median income, about $38,000. Few are well-to-do, the kinds of people who often joined the Guard to avoid going to Vietnam. Few are among the very poor, who often manned the front lines in that war." Watch the slide show accompanying this short article, read the comments from these Guardsmen and their families, and then ask yourself, "Where the hell are those two sperm-burping Bush brats?" Commentary Analysis:
The Northeast Intelligence Network also gave its own English translation of the Arabic statement, which is annexed below. A careful reading of the translation shows, firstly, there is no reference to Zarqawi by name. It merely talks of a "sheikh", which has been presumed to be a reference to Zarqawi. Why can't it be a reference to Osama bin Laden, who is also referred to by his followers as a sheikh. The statement, according to this translation, does not say that the sheikh is injured, so pray for him. It says should the sheikh be injured, pray for him. Why should the information section put out a statement that all Muslims should pray if their sheikh is injured? This is inexplicable unless the poster has no personal information on Zarqawi and had made his posting on the basis of the reports discussed above which speculate about the possibility of Zarqawi having been injured. Where are we after reading and analyzing all these reports and comments on them by various analysts? Nowhere. We are as much in a state of confusion as we have always been since the US-led coalition invaded and occupied Iraq. All that one knows for certain is: More than two years after the occupation, the Arab Sunni resistance to the US-led occupation shows no signs of abating. There has been an unending flow of volunteers - from Iraq as well as outside - for the resistance movement, with many of them volunteering themselves for suicide missions. Iraqis - many of them from deposed president Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party and armed forces - and Saudis, recruited by al-Qaeda, spearhead the resistance movement. The Iraqi resistance has shown remarkable coordination, even if it has been operating separately. There is a common brain behind all the anti-American operations in Iraq. The Americans project Zarqawi's as that common brain, but their evidence in this regard is far from conclusive. The Americans, with their penchant for demonization and dramatization, have made Zarqawi appear as the source of most of what has been happening in Iraq, just as, post-September 11, they had made bin Laden appear as the source of most of the anti-Western jihadi terrorism taking place in the Islamic world.
Asia Times Online has learned that the US, instead of training up a regular professional Iraqi army, will create what in effect will be armed militias, acting under US central command, to take the militias of the resistance on at their own game. Recent meetings of the so-called Higher Committee for National Forces (a grouping of Iraqi resistance bodies) and the 16th Arab National Congress held in Algiers played a pivotal role in building consensus among various Iraqi communist, Islamic, Ba'athist and nationalist groups on several issues, such as the right of Iraqis to defend themselves against foreign aggression and imperialism, and the right of Iraq to demand a political process untainted by occupation and which reflects the uninhibited will of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic and democratic Iraq. The groups also condemned the continued occupation of Iraq and the establishment of any permanent US bases in the country, the privatization of the Iraqi economy and foreign corporations' unrestricted access to Iraq's resources. On this common ground, the central command of the resistance reorganized its activities, a key to which was merging mohallah-level (street-level) Islamic groups scattered in their hundreds across Iraq to work toward a common goal - defeating the occupation. In turn, these militias would co-opt common folk into their struggle, so that, literally, the streets would be alive with resistance. Aware of this development, the US has accepted that no conventional military force can cope with such a resistance, and therefore similar mohallah-level combat forces are needed. According to Asia Times Online contacts, these US-backed militias will comprise three main segments - former Kurdish peshmerga (paramilitaries), former members of the Badr Brigade and those former members of the Ba'ath Party and the Iraqi army who were part of the Saddam regime but who have now thrown in their lot with the new Iraqi government.
In fact, Sinclair has hopped on the "tribute" bandwagon this time around, and has even changed its story about why it yanked the program last year — not unlike the way the administration changed its story about why we launched the war. In a statement posted Tuesday on its Website, Sinclair said it "applauds Nightline for paying tribute to those service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by reading their names on Memorial Day." And why is it such a noble undertaking in 2005 when it was such a scandalously unpatriotic act in 2004? Well, Sinclair now says, "Unlike Nightline's reading of the names last year, which coincided with the start of the May ratings sweeps, we feel that this year's Memorial Day selection is the appropriate setting to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to keep all Americans safe and free." What? Sinclair last year blocked a tribute to those who had "sacrificed their lives" because it was "May ratings sweeps"? In other words, to protect the few pennies it might have lost in advertising dollars by yielding two hours of airtime to honor the dead? It's not only a new excuse, but a repugnant one.
Casualty Reports Local story: Michigan soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Tennessee Guasrdsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Kentucky Marine killed in Iraq. Local story: Four Iowa Guardsmen wounded in Iraq. Local story: Texas soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Utah airman wounded in Iraq. Local story: Florida soldier wounded in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania soldier wounded in Iraq.


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