Friday, September 30, 2005
If the referendum on Iraq's draft constitution next month is conducted fairly, it now appears very likely that the document will be defeated by a two-thirds majority in the three Sunni-dominated provinces of Anbar, Salahadeen and Nineveh, plunging Iraq into a new political crisis. However, one way such a defeat could be averted is by massive vote fraud in the key province of Nineveh. According to an account provided by the US liaison with the local election commission, supported by physical evidence collected by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI), Kurdish officials in Nineveh province tried to carry out just such a ballot-stuffing scheme in last January's election.Opinion:
We've been treated to the spectacle of a Republican-controlled House and Senate abdicating their constitutional responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of actions and failings of the executive branch of government. This has gone on for the four-plus years that George W. Bush has occupied the White House, and it looks as if we'll get more of the same for three more years and a bit. There have been 17 separate investigations of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other prisoner abuse scandals. All have gone straight to the bottom of every case. All have consistently claimed that no one higher up the chain of command, including the civilian leadership in the Pentagon, bears any responsibility for any of this. Hogwash. BS. Nonsense. If the lowest private fails, then others have failed in training, leading and directing that private. The chain runs from sergeant to lieutenant to captain to lieutenant colonel to colonel to one, two, three and four stars, on to the longest serving, most arrogant secretary of defense in our history, Donald H. Rumsfeld, and beyond him to the commander in chief, President Bush. It's long past time for responsibility to begin flowing uphill in this administration. It's time for our leaders to take responsibility for what's being done in all our names and under our proud flag. It's time for Congress to do its job if the administration won't do its job. The Teflon is wearing off this administration in a hurry. It's past time for an end to strutting, victory laps, crowing to the skies and boasting "Bring 'em on!" Now is the time to provide the leadership our troops deserve. Now is the time to state plainly and unequivocally that we are Americans, and we live by a rule of law that protects everyone, even the worst terrorist who ever fell into our hands. Maybe especially the worst terrorist who ever fell into our hands.Opinion:
Though most Americans have lost confidence in Bush as a war president and believe that the war was a mistake and we should start bringing our troops home, no elected leader of national stature is demanding an end to U.S. involvement or a new policy for victory. Our political elite is in paralysis. Sen. McCain talks of more troops, but has not broken with Bush on his refusal to send them. Sen. Feingold calls for a withdrawal timetable, but passed on the antiwar demonstration in Washington last weekend. Critics fear this war could end badly, if not disastrously, for the United States. No one wants to say anything that can be used to substantiate a future charge of having given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war and helping to ensure an American defeat.Casualty Reports Local story: Florida airman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Texas Guardsman killed in Iraq. Local story: Ohio soldier killed in Iraq. Local story: Pennsylvania Guardsman killed in Iraq.
- Shiite firebrand Moqtada Sadr is still trying to call for a coalition with the Iraqi Sunnis despite all the attacks Sunni extremists have made against Shiite civilians
- Ayatollah Sistani is still calling for the Shias to refrain from undertaking revenge attacks. (Both of these are good news, but...)
- It looks as though the US military is continuing to maintain a hostile, very confrontational attitude to most Iraqi Sunni communities in the lead-up to the October 15 referendum, and this may lead to low Sunni participation in that poll and a prolongation of sectarian tensions in the country (bad news).
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
War News for Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Bring ‘em on: One policeman killed by gunmen in northeastern
Bring ‘em on: One police major with a counterterrorism unit killed, one other police officer wounded in an attack by armed men in
Bring ‘em on: At least 10 Iraqis killed and 28 injured in a suicide bomb outside a police recruiting centre in Baquba. Bodies of three Iraqis, bound and blindfolded, found dead with gunshot wounds near Latifiya. One Iraqi civilian killed and two policemen injured in a roadside bombing directed at a police patrol in
Bring ‘em on: Local official killed by gunmen in the Hashimiya district of western Baquba. A pipeline junction on
Bring ‘em on: Four police officers and two detainees killed and eight detainees wounded when gunmen fired on a minibus bound for Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Police officer killed in
Bring ‘em on: Seven people killed and 37 wounded in suicide bomb attack on an army recruitment center in Tal Afar. One person killed and 14 wounded in suicide car bomb attack on a police patrol in Baquba. One US Marine dead from a “non-hostile” gunshot wound suffered Monday near Fallujah.
Bring ‘em on: Seven bodies, shot to death, handcuffed and blindfolded, found in Taji.
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed when a vehicle carrying a Jordanian diplomat came under fire in
Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed and one wounded by a roadside bomb in Safwan.
It marked the first time since an insurgency by Sunni Arabs began that a female suicide bomber had launched an attack in
Another first- at least, that they've admitted...: A car bomber penetrated the heavily fortified Green Zone in the center of the capital on Tuesday but was stopped by U.S. Marines at a checkpoint before he was able to detonate the vehicle, the military said.
CBS gets a clue: Behind the blood and chaos of the insurgents' bombs, there is an undeclared civil war already underway in
Workaday life: “I get used to mutilation: it’s like lunch and supper for us — something you get twice a day,” says Ismail Fadhil, blank-faced, stubbing out another cigarette butt. “It is usual to load up body parts, half bodies. Once, in Al-Amel, most of the victims were kids and they were in bits.”
Working 24-hour, day-on day-off shifts, Ismail, 39, drives an ambulance for Yarmouk Hospital, and is usually scrambled to emergencies alone, without even a radio. His decrepit Saddam-era ambulance, pocked with bullet holes, has not so much as a bandage: the hospital’s equipment, looted in 2003, has yet to be replaced.
“I’ve got no first-aid measures at all,” says Ismail. “It’s like driving a cab. The best I can do if I find a guy with his guts hanging out is stuff them back in and shove him into the vehicle.”
When his work is done he slops the blood out with a bucket of water. “We haven’t even got disinfectant. It is like cleaning out a garage.”
For every sick person, Ismail collects ten victims of violence. He has been shot at by insurgents, US soldiers, Iraqi police and national guards. At the scene of one suicide bomb attack last year he saw ambulance crews hit by a second bomber.
Peace, Fallujah-style: Iraqi and
They hailed the full-scale assault on the town as a success and said they had brought Tal Afar, which
But previous military operations against insurgency strongholds have not led to peace, and sectarian violence continued on Wednesday.
Such signs have been reported in other cities around the region, which includes Husayba, New Ubeydi, Karabila and Sa'dat, Col. Stephen Davis, whose forces operate in the western Al Anbar province, told CNN.
The Marines have also received reports of fliers telling residents of Sa'dat, west of Qaim, to leave the city or die, said Davis, the commander of the Marines Regimental Combat Team 2. And Marines have seen civilians leave, he added.
With the Iraqi army: Juwad's battalion has responsibility for northwest Fallujah, a sector called the Jolan. With its centuries-old souk, or marketplace, a twisting labyrinth of alleys and cluttered shops, the Jolan was infamous during 2004 as the lair of arch-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Down the street from Juwad's makeshift fort stood the abandoned warehouse where in May 2004 Zarqawi had beheaded the easygoing Californian entrepreneur/adventurer Nicholas Berg. Zarqawi timed and videotaped the murder so that Al Jazeera television received the tape in time for its evening news.
The jundis are under no illusions about the attitudes of the Sunni residents of the Jolan. A year ago, about 5,000 Kurds, some of whom had lived in the Jolan for generations, were forced to flee for their lives when the Sunni fundamentalists temporarily ruled the city, Taliban-style. Practically all the jundis in Juwad's company are Shiites who feel unwelcome in the city.
Of the 140 jundis in Juwad's company, 10 are Kurds and the rest are Shiites from southern
Old news worth repeating: About 30,000 fighters are believed to be involved in the insurgency in
Of the estimated 3,000 foreign fighters, the largest number -- about 20 per cent -- are from
About 350 Saudis entered
Admitting the obvious: The nation’s top military officer said Tuesday that the killing last weekend of a senior leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq organization will hurt the terrorists but perhaps only in the short term.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked at a Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about the killing of Abdullah Abu Azzam on Sunday.
“It will have some effect, but over time they will replace people,” Myers said.
“There are others, foreign fighters, marching to the guns on a regular basis,” who can be promoted to leadership roles, he added, although in many cases they are less experienced and qualified in planning and executing attacks.
Whack a mole: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network of al Qaeda-linked insurgents is emerging as a self-sustaining force, despite repeated blows by
The Zarqawi network, responsible for some of the Iraqi insurgency's bloodiest attacks, has grown into a loose confederation of mainly native Iraqis trained by former Baath Party regime officers in explosives, small arms, rockets and surface-to-air missiles.
"The suggestion is that this has shifted from being a terrorist network to a guerrilla army," said Vali Nasr, a national security affairs expert at the
But intelligence officials said the death of Zarqawi himself would not mean al Qaeda's defeat in
"If he died in the cause, that's huge. That's what everybody wants. Then he's a giant figurehead and everybody can do something in his name," one intelligence official said.
"He has enough force in place to sustain operations," the official added. "Al Qaeda in
Gee, I Feel Better Already
Because this kind of thing is so worrisome: When it comes to ominous warnings about the future of
If what he envisions were to come true, U.S. troops would not be able to maintain control and would be pulled out; the Shia government, facing defeat by Sunni insurgents, would ask the Shia clerics ruling Iran for help and Iranian troops would cross the border to fight Sunnis; Kurds would pull away into an independent state and Turkey, fearing its own Kurdish guerrillas would find a safe haven, would invade Kurdistan.
Good thing we have a big strong man to protect us!: President Bush on Wednesday warned there will be an upsurge in violence in Iraq before next month's voting, but said the terrorists will fail. "Our troops are ready for them," he said.
Bring ‘em on!
And his ultracompetent administration is our first line of defense: The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (Fincen) has shut down its QuikNews e-mail messaging system after unidentified hackers used it to broadcast disturbing images of civilian casualties in
The breach of security is a huge embarrassment for the US Treasury Department agency, which is responsible for enforcing regulations against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The mass e-mail to Fincen subscribers included photos of pools of blood and an Iraqi child in a hospital bed and contained the message: "take back your monsters (army)/you killed my father and mother/what you want???/ i know (oil) [sic]."
In a statement, Fincen sought to reassure subscribers that "Bank Secrecy Act data and all other sensitive information maintained on internal systems by Fincen are secure and were in no way, shape or form compromised by this incident."
Rule Of Law
The Germans get it: Just a few weeks ago, a highly significant judicial decision was handed down by the
Further, they meticulously demonstrated that the German government, in contrast to its public protestations, had assisted in the aggression against
The decision was made in relation to legal proceedings initiated by a German army officer who had refused to obey an order following the invasion of Iraq by the US-led coalition of forces because he feared that he would in effect be supporting the war. As a result, he was demoted from major to captain and the army filed a criminal complaint against him for insubordination. In its latest judgement, the
Freedom of the press: The conduct of
Kidnapping: A branch of the U.S. Navy secretly contracted a 33-plane fleet that included two Gulfstream jets reportedly used to fly terror suspects to countries known to practice torture, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
At least 10
Two of the companies — Richmor Aviation Inc. and Premier Executive Transport Services Inc. — chartered luxury Gulfstreams that flew terror suspects captured in Europe to Egypt, according to U.S. and European media reports. Once there, the men told family members, they were tortured. Authorities in
While the Gulfstreams came under scrutiny in 2001, what hasn't been disclosed is the Navy's role in contracting planes involved in operations the CIA terms "rendition" and what Italian prosecutors call kidnapping.
Disgusting trade: An Islamic civil-rights group has asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to investigate an Internet site on which
“This disgusting trade in human misery is an insult to all those who have served in our nation’s military,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a letter to Rumsfeld.
The Washington-based group brough the Web site to national attention in a statement to the media Sept. 27. Army and Pentagon officials said they are investigating.
“Obviously, it is an unacceptable practice,” said Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for Rumsfeld.
The lightning investigation: The Army is investigating complaints that soldiers posted photographs of Iraqi corpses on an Internet site in exchange for access to pornographic images on the site, officials said Tuesday.
An Army spokesman, Col. Joseph Curtin, said the Criminal Investigation Division recently began investigating the matter on behalf of Lt. Gen. John Vines, commander of the Multinational Corps in
Another Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said later that the preliminary criminal inquiry determined, based on available evidence, that felony charges could not be pursued. But the matter, including the possibility of disciplinary action, was being handled in coordination with other military services, he said.
It’s because they’re decisive: US Army has ALREADY concluded that they won't press charges against soldiers based on the death-photos-for-porn scandal. Gee that was fast.
Fast, and rather disgusting. And rather poorly timed, the same day Lynndie
Our Helena gets around: The story of NTFU and its unusual exchange of free porn for gory war photos was first picked up by an Italian blogger named Staib, and then the Italian news agency ANSA. Blogger/journalist Helena Cobban, who pens a column for the Christian Science Monitor, asked her blog readers for an English translation of the ANSA article and quickly received many versions that clarified what the site was about.
Cobban was horrified by the gory photos, but tried to make sense of the motivation of people who posted them -- and tried hard to grasp the idea of a serious discussion of war on a porn site. She told me that taking and posting "trophy" photos of dead Iraqis was a gross show of disrespect and a violation of the Geneva Conventions. But she put the blame on the direction of military leadership.
"The important thing is for the
The Geneva Conventions include Protocol 1, added in 1977 but not ratified by the
When I contacted military public affairs people in the
"The glorification of casualties goes against our training and is strongly discouraged," said Todd Vician, a U.S. Defense Department spokesman. "It is our policy that images taken with government equipment or due to access because of a military position must be cleared before released. While I haven't seen these images, I doubt they would be cleared for release. Improper treatment of captured and those killed does not help our mission, is discouraged, investigated when known, and punished appropriately."
Capt. Chris Karns, a Centcom spokesman, told me that there are Department of Defense regulations and Geneva Conventions against mutilating and degrading dead bodies, but that he wasn't sure about regulations concerning photos of dead bodies. He noted that the Bush administration did release graphic photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein to the media.
Good point: The American administration has failed to issue a satisfactory response to the fact that its army violates the laws of war. It has suggested successfully, according to American public opinion, that the units of military police that were photographed humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib were not obeying any order of the army or the intelligence services. With soldier Lynndie
The American pacifist movement has not seized on these questions. Its principal and laudable concern epitomized by the image of Cindy Sheehan, traumatized by her son’s death in
While authorizing its army to perpetrate what international law describes as "serious violations of the laws of the war," such as "torture" or "inhumane treatment" of prisoners and "war crimes" in the case of executions - the United States placed itself in a position of illegality in the service of the cause that they allege to defend: freedom, justice and democracy faced with the "the madness of Allah." But every time an Afghan or Iraqi is killed wrongly or tortured, and precisely because the
More pragmatically, the use of torture is one less chance for
Opinion: More than a third of the
August was the deadliest month for citizen soldiers. Five Pennsylvania Guardsmen died when the second-class humvee they were in was blown up. They had requested permission to use some of the 12 brand new, fully up-armored vehicles issued to a nearby active duty unit. The request was denied. The trucks stood idle when the Guardsmen died.
A total of 46 National Guard and Reserve soldiers were killed in August, more than half the 83 troop deaths. The disproportionately high -- and rising -- casualty rates of citizen soldiers are part of a trend. Pentagon statistics released at the end of 2004 showed losses sustained by Army National Guard soldiers in
Long, hazardous duty is one reason why Army National Guard and Army Reserve recruitment numbers are off by 23 percent and 20 percent, respectively. In the first half of 2005, the Seattle Army Reserve office missed its target of about 100 recruits by 75 percent.
Half the soldiers leaving active duty service have traditionally joined the Guard, but since that likely means a quick trip back to
While the Guard and Reserve are particularly hard hit, our entire country is suffering from the
It's time we add Homeland Security to the growing list of casualties of the war in
A related story: The 69 Iowa National Guard mechanics at
Opinion: A marketing campaign, launched shortly after the war began and continuing to this day, has sought to link support for the men and women serving in this country's military forces with support for even the most foolhardy and dangerous of the president's policies. There are even bumper stickers that declare: "Support President Bush and the Troops."
But this is just political gamesmanship, nothing more.
How do we know?
Because House Majority Leader Tom DeLay tells us so.
Back in 1999, after President Bill Clinton had ordered
The leading opponent of the resolution was DeLay, who dismissed the notion that opposing the war was in any way an affront to the troops. In a visceral floor statement delivered in March of that year, DeLay declared, "Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for
As the war progressed, DeLay condemned "(President Clinton's) war," and grumbled in April 1999, "There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the president started this thing, and there still is no plan today."
Opinion: If you need yet another reminder why the Democrats continue to teeter on the verge of becoming a permanent minority party, I suggest you pick up the Boston Herald and watch CBS News. At the same time the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, with CBS reporting on the "undeclared civil war" raging between Shiites and Sunnis and the Saudi Foreign Minister telling the world that Iraq is "going toward disintegration," there was John Kerry giving a speech arguing that "progress" was being made. As the Boston Herald put it, Senator John Kerry "back-pedalled on blistering criticism of the war."
Andrew Gumbel's latest HuffPost turns a flashing red spotlight on why we need to reform our voting systems. But even the most corruption-free voting system in the world isn't going to help Democrats if they keep offering up candidates who make the kind of absurd pronouncements on Iraq Kerry did this week.
Editorial: After a day of stunningly large antiwar demonstrations that surrounded a beleaguered White House while its occupant attended to a more natural disaster, the
''We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves," observed Lincoln long ago in a written message to Congress after the gore of Antietam but just a month before the Emancipation Proclamation. ''No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even here, hold the power and bear the responsibility."
Indeed. The inspiring words of the past mock the poses of the present.
Earlier that day, there had been a demonstration downtown that dwarfed official expectations. In an interesting abandonment of post-9/11 paranoia, the parade permit allowed a virtual encirclement of the White House by a throng that easily exceeded 300,000 peaceful souls from around the country. I have either been in or covered every peace demonstration around here since 1967, and this one was more than reminiscent of the whoppers in the Nixon years.
The people are currently leagues beyond the politicians. The link between the ongoing war and the literal storms of the past month is in the opinion polls, with solid majorities not only of the opinion that the invasion of Iraq wasn't and isn't worth its cost but demanding that money being sent overseas be invested in reconstruction at home. The problem is that no one prominent in politics is really listening.
Opinion: As far as
Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Faisal warned that
What's more, the
Cervantes: This is the truth. There is no good news from
[Matt just told me he'd missed this little post when I first posted because I didn't put a bold headline on it. So he went ahead and posted the whole text of the Fishback letter, which you'll see above. I'm cool with that. It's a fine letter! Note to self, though: Blogger is different from the software I use over at JWN, so here I have to remember to insert a special headline. Also, how come I ain't seeing "underline" here? Oh well. Blogger does also have its strong points... ~HC]Hi. Today over at Just World News I give nearly the whole text of the fine letter that Ian Fishback, a captain in the 82nd Airborne and West Point grad, wrote to Sen. McCain about the way that-- as Fishback has seen in Iraq and Afghanistan-- the "confusion" over the Geneva Conventions at the highest levels of the US command has led to the commission of major abuses in the field. In his letter, Fishback described the search he had made up the chain of command for some clarity on what, in fact, was allowed and what not allowed in the treatment of detainees. And also, the frustration he experienced in that search. He argued:
we can learn from our mistakes and ensure that this does not happen again. Take a major step in that direction; eliminate the confusion. My approach for clarification provides clear evidence that confusion over standards was a major contributor to the prisoner abuse. We owe our soldiers better than this. Give them a clear standard that is in accordance with the bedrock principles of our nation.Fishback was almost certainly the informant described only as "C" in the recent Human Rights Watch report on torture and abuse. On JWN, I also have a post noting that the story on the solicitation of body-part photos from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan by the "Nowthatsfuckup" porn website is finally starting to make its way into the MSM. A number of bloggers, I among them, had started writing about this in English more than a month ago. What took the highly paid MSM types so long?
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
War News for Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Bring ‘em on: Five Shiite schoolteachers and their driver murdered by gunmen as classes ended at the Al-Jazeera Elementary School in the village of Muelha, 30 miles south of Baghdad. Six people wounded in suicide car bombing in Iskandariyah. Senior official from SCIRI kidnapped and murdered in Qurna. Two
Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqi policemen and five civilians killed, 30 wounded in suicide car bombing at the gates of the Iraqi police academy. One person killed and four wounded when
Bring ‘em on: Eight people, including some Mahdi army militiamen, killed in long-running gun battle between US and Iraqi soldiers and Sadrist militiamen in
Bring ‘em on: Egyptian engineer working for Iraqna Mobile Company kidnapped in western
Bring ‘em on: Two guards killed, two guards and five bystanders wounded when robbers attacked a column of armored vehicles and made off with over half a million British pounds worth of cash.
Bring ‘em on: Bodies of 22 men, blindfolded and with their hands bound, found near Kut. All had been shot to death.
Bring ‘em on: Heavy fighting rages in Ramadi, two people reported killed and eight wounded. US armored vehicle reported destroyed in the fighting. One
Another lost opportunity: In the chaotic, hopeful April of 2003,
Now, with the end of the third and in many ways hardest summer of the U.S.-led occupation, the lights of Karrada are dimmer. The collapse of
The crowds on the sidewalks have thinned -- kidnapping and other forms of lawlessness since the invasion mean
Car bombings and other insurgent attacks, as unknown in
Leaving the house for work each day has become a matter of turning the key and consigning one's fate to God, said Jassim Mohammed, 41, a Karrada merchant who has lost two of his closest friends and one of his lighting shops in car bombings since the Americans came.
Change of policy?: Shiite leaders have called on their followers to refrain from revenge attacks against Sunnis, fearing a civil war could result, though Sunnis have accused Shiite militias of carrying out some killings of Sunni figures.
But in one of the first public calls for individual Shiites to take action, a prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaaqubi, issued a religious edict Monday allowing his followers to "kill terrorists before they kill."
"Self-restraint does not mean surrender. ... Protecting society from terrorists is a religious duty," al-Yaaqubi said.
Government by militia: A leading Iraqi voice in favor of a negotiated power-sharing arrangement between Sunni and Shiite forces in Iraq charged this weekend that militias in the service of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government in Baghdad tried to kill him, former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and other secular Iraqi nationalists by planting a car bomb in the Baghdad neighborhood where they live.
Aiham Al Sammarae, a former minister of electricity in Allawi's government, says that the bomb was discovered and defused. "I live next door to Allawi," says Sammarae, who returned to
Constitutional flaws...there might be one or two...: Iraq's proposed constitution -- and the process used to draft it -- have deepened the divide among Iraq's factions and will likely trigger civil war unless changes are negotiated quickly to accommodate the concerns of Sunni Muslims, warned a new report by the International Crisis Group.
The report comes less than three weeks before an Oct. 15 referendum on
"Unless the flaws of its draft constitution can be corrected in the next few weeks before the Iraqi people vote on it, Iraq is likely to slide toward full-scale civil war and the break-up of the country," says the ICG, an independent, nonprofit nongovernmental organization working to resolve conflict in 50 countries on four continents.
The group charges that the constitution was rushed, which cost the process any possibility of consensus. Critical parts of the constitution -- notably on the federal arrangements that will decentralize power -- are also so vague that they already "carry the seeds of future discord," the report says.
This is the good news: Up to 200 Iraqi Sunni politicians and scholars have pressed for voting down the draft constitution in the October referendum and threatened to declare civil disobedience if the US-led onslaughts on Sunni towns continue.
Wrapping up a two-day meeting in the Jordanian capital Amman on Saturday, September 24, Sunni leaders from Al-Anbar province sought the formation of a committee to collect five million signatures to block the charter, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Sunday, September 25.
"We are mobilizing Sunnis to vote down the draft if our demands were ignored," by the Shiite and Kurdish blocs, Ali Al-Sadoun, a Sunni politician and member of the Iraqi Council for National Dialogue (CND), told the mass-circulation daily.
As Juan Cole points out, if they started a campaign of civil disobedience it would be a major improvement…
Iraqi Security Forces
Still need work: But while it has provided evidence that the capabilities of
Because the ranks of the Iraqi police and army are filled mostly with Shi'ite Arabs and ethnic Kurds, they are perceived in many Sunni sections not as national forces, but as factional hit squads bent on persecution. The tensions were evident in Tal Afar, a city of 200,000, largely Sunni Turkmens.
Most of the forces ''are from the Badr Organization and the peshmerga," said Ibrahim Khalil, 20, one of about 4,000 Tal Afar residents, almost all of them Sunnis, living in a camp established by the Iraqi Red Crescent outside the city. He was referring to the Shi'ite and Kurdish militias.
''They wear the military uniform for disguise," he said. ''Their treatment is very bad. They were taking people to detention prisons just because they are Sunnis."
The Iraqi soldiers from the peshmerga, which for many years was targeted by the Sunni-led army of Saddam Hussein and has long supported Kurdish forces fighting the Turkish government, spoke openly of their zeal to fight the Tal Afar insurgency, led by Sunni Turkmen, according to US soldiers who worked with them.
Meanwhile, US commanders grounded the mostly Shi'ite police commandos a few days into the operation, alleging overly aggressive tactics.
I’ll bet this makes Rustamiya residents happy as hell: NATO inaugurated an officer academy on the outskirts of
NATO, which was nearly torn apart in 2003 in a row over the US-led war, has no combat role in
The 26-member alliance will shift the bulk of its training mission in
Oh Boy! We Got An Al Qaeda Guy! We’re Winning!
People who follow Bush’s war closely know that this has to be the 50th or 60th really important al-Qaeda bigwig claimed to be killed or captured. Yippee. It means jack to the insurgency, which is Iraqi. It means jack to the overall “War on Terror” since al-Qaeda has mutated into a decentralized network fueled by Islamic rage against US policies – losing one guy, no matter how important to a local effort, isn’t going to deal them a knockout blow. And we don’t even know if it’s true. I mean, check it out – as mentioned further on in the article, 500 detainees were just released from Abu Ghraib as a goodwill gesture to placate Sunnis. Which means there was dick to charge them with. But you can bet that CENTCOM claimed all those people were ‘suspected terrorists’ when they were detained, that is, if there was any public mention of it at all. So excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical about this claim. And anyway…
Why Killing An Al Qaeda Leader Means Jack In
One reason why is that driving an ambulance in
As he says, "Who do you fear more, insurgents or soldiers? Soldiers. American or Iraqi."
Hamoodi drives one of only 35 working ambulances in this city of more than 5 million people. In one makeshift dispatch center, four phones ring almost constantly — when the phones are working. The call log of one center reads like an emergency room nightmare: shooting, baby born, shooting, shooting, shooting.
And just getting to an emergency can take up to an hour if the ambulance gets there are all.
Where the educated classes are fleeing as fast as they can: One of Iraq's most precious resources -- doctors -- are fleeing the country in increasing numbers, scared off by persistent violence and drawn to safer, better paying jobs abroad, officials say.
A steady trickle of skilled workers has been flowing out of the country since the 2003 invasion, but in the past year, with the sharp rise in assassinations and kidnappings by insurgents, the exodus of doctors has picked up, they say.
"Iraq is like a battlefield, doctors face danger just getting to work because of terrorist acts," said Aakif al-Alusi, a senior member of the Iraqi Doctors' Syndicate, the official medics' register, who worries about the long-term social impact of the medical brain-drain.
The syndicate estimates 1,500 medical professionals -- doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists -- have fled in the past year alone, although precise numbers are difficult to obtain. Almost as many left in 2003 and in 2004, Alusi said.
Where thousands of people are displaced from their destroyed homes: The United Nations and its partners have delivered food and non-food items to over 16,000 people in the northern Iraqi city of
Working with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration, the prime minister's office, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) and national NGOs, the UN had provided food, water, non-food items and tents to more than 4,000 displaced families in towns surrounding Talafar, the statement noted.
The UN, however, said it was concerned access to food, water and medical services had continued to be hindered by the presence and activities of armed elements. "The UN asks that all actors follow international humanitarian law and guidelines for civil-military interactions," said the statement.
On Wednesday, the IRCS said nearly 1,500 displaced Iraqi families had returned to the city after Coalition forces ended an operation to rout insurgents hiding there. Returnees said dozens of their homes had been totally destroyed.
Despite the returns, however, thousands of displaced people were still living in camps surviving on aid from various humanitarian organisations.
Where the quisling government and occupying forces are destroying the economy: The failure to rebuild key components of
Engineering mistakes, poor leadership and shifting priorities have delayed or led to the cancellation of several projects critical to restoring
And where insiders make out big while everyone else pounds sand: Corruption in
So pardon me if I don’t get too excited about one dead terrorist. Granted, Iraq would be much better off without an al-Qaeda presence but it would still be a basket case and the US invasion and occupation is the reason. There was no al-Qaeda in Iraq until we went in. This is why we don’t give a lot of play to these ‘success’ stories. You want to read happy crap about
Speaking Of Rebuilding A Destroyed Nation
Bound to get it right sometime: The U.S. military plans to take over responsibility from the State Department for providing assistance to
Getting the ministries to exercise effective control over Iraq's fledgling security forces remains key to enabling those forces to operate on their own and allow the withdrawal of U.S. troops. But while the number of Iraqi forces has grown steadily to more than 192,000, the ministries have yet to put in place many of the budgeting, contracting, personnel management and other systems necessary to administer the country's military and police units,
Responsibility for the ministries has rested with the State Department's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, while the Pentagon has overseen training of
The State Department office has struggled to fill all the adviser slots allotted to it, especially at the Interior Ministry, where at least 10 of 51 positions remain vacant. Several
And what the hell, it’s not like we can’t just throw more money at it: The Senate would give President Bush $50 billion more for wars in
The House already has approved $45 billion more for the wars as part of its $409 billion version of the bill providing money for the Defense Department for the budget year that begins Oct. 1.
Both the Senate and House versions provide for a 3.1 percent pay raise for the military, but the bills differ in other areas. The conflicts must be sorted out before Congress sends the final bill to the president for his signature.
Overall, Congress already has given the president about $350 billion for combat and reconstruction in
The Bush administration has not yet asked for more war money, but lawmakers are reluctant to wait for a formal request. Costs are certain given that there's no end in sight to involvement in
And you know our expenditures will be most carefully monitored: When Joseph E. Schmitz took over as the Pentagon's inspector general in 2002, the largest watchdog organization in the federal government was under fire for failing to fully investigate a senior official, falsifying internal documents and mistreating whistle-blowers. He publicly pledged to clean it up. Three years later, similar accusations now surround Schmitz.
Schmitz slowed or blocked investigations of senior Bush administration officials, spent taxpayer money on pet projects and accepted gifts that may have violated ethics guidelines, according to interviews with current and former senior officials in the inspector general's office, congressional investigators and a review of internal e-mail and other documents. The case has raised troubling questions about Schmitz as well as the Defense Department's commitment to combating waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers' money, especially in politically sensitive cases.
Our New American Values: Torture, Death, And Porn
A sacred trust: "Command is a sacred trust. The legal and moral responsibilities of commanders exceed those of any other leader of similar position or authority. Nowhere else does a boss have to answer for how subordinates live and what they do after work."
-- Dep't of the Army, Field Manual 22-100, sec. 1-61.
With a sense of timing that can only be described as exquisite, the Secretary of the Army, Francis J. Harvey, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Schoomaker, have published a defense of the Army's handling of the torture and prisoner abuse scandal in the National Review Online, just as another, particularly gruesome, chapter in this seemingly endless saga breaks across the front pages of the nation's newspapers. We are rapidly arriving at the point where the denials of military senior brass and political appointees who supervise them can only be viewed either as shirking responsibility or as confirmation that torture and abuse are official
The Army is the oldest of the nation's institutions, antedating the Presidency, the Congress and the courts. It played a unique role in defining and unifying the nation and in fixing the traditions with which the country has been associated since its founding. First among these may well be the tradition of humane warfare, articulated by George Washington after the Battle of Trenton, December 24, 1776. "Treat them with humanity,"
Shirkers at the Top
The torture and abuse saga has now raged on the public stage for 18 months, and a comparison of the Harvey/Schoomaker article with the current newspaper headlines suggests strongly that the Pentagon views the problem as little more than a public relations squabble. This scandal exposes an assault on core values of the Army by senior policymakers -- for the most part political appointees outside the scope of military investigation. The doctrine of humane treatment has been all but eviscerated. But for the long term, the damage done to the doctrine of command responsibility may be even more troubling.
Under both military doctrine and
This is an outstanding article, well worth reading in its entirety.
A sacred trust, part 2: U.S. Army troops subjected Iraqi detainees to severe beatings and other torture at a base in central
Leadership Failure - Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
Silence: Where do American religious leaders stand on torture? Their deafening silence evokes memories of the unconscionable behavior of German church leaders in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Despite the hate whipped up by administration propagandists against those it brands "terrorists," most Americans agree that torture should not be permitted. Few seem aware, though, that although President George W. Bush says he is against torture, he has openly declared that our military and other interrogators may engage in torture "consistent with military necessity."
For far too long we have been acting like "obedient Germans." Shall we continue to avert our eyes -- even as our mainstream media begin to expose the "routine" torture conducted by US forces in
The ramifications have not yet begun to unfold: This could become a public-relations catastrophe. The Bush administration claims such sympathy for American war dead that officials have banned the media from photographing flag-draped coffins being carried off cargo planes. Government officials and American media officials have repeatedly denounced the al-Jazeera network for airing grisly footage of Iraqi war casualties and American prisoners of war. The legal fight over whether to release the remaining photographs of atrocities at Abu Ghraib has dragged on for months, with no less a figure than Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Meyers arguing that the release of such images will inflame the Muslim world and drive untold numbers to join al-Qaeda. But none of these can compare to the prospect of American troops casually bartering pictures of suffering and death for porn.
If American soldiers in the field are always considered representatives of their government, international law clearly prohibits publishing and ridiculing images of war dead. The First Protocol of the Geneva Conventions states that "the remains of persons who have died for reasons related to occupation or in detention resulting from occupation or hostilities ... shall be respected, and the gravesites of all such persons shall be respected, maintained, and marked." The first Geneva Convention also requires that military personnel "shall further ensure that the dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged."
No one can reasonably expect a war without war crimes. But thanks to modern communications technology, photographic evidence of its brutality will always be with us. Roughly two hundred soldiers in
Representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights First even refused to comment, although both organizations ostensibly exist to condemn just this kind of practice. Perhaps no one wants to give Chris Wilson more publicity, or daily editors are too sensitive about being viewed as unpatriotic. Or perhaps the story is just too ugly to contemplate.
Americans have thousands of media outlets to choose from. But they still have to visit a porn site to see what this war has done to the bodies of the dead and the souls of the living. One of the pictures on
But don’t worry – we’ll punish the responsible parties!: Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.
The jury of five male Army officers took about two hours to reach its verdict. Her case now moves to the sentencing phase, which will be heard by the same jury beginning Tuesday.
The World Is Full Of Scumbags
Arrogant scumbags: Tony Blair is at now at odds with the public over keeping troops in
The poll also shows rapidly rising dissatisfaction with Mr Blair's leadership. Only 41% of voters are persuaded by the prime minister's argument that troops have a duty to remain in the country until things improve. By contrast, a majority of voters, 51%, want the government to set out plans to withdraw troops from
Yesterday Mr Blair again argued that no arbitrary date should be set for withdrawal. In a BBC interview he said: "I have absolutely no doubt as to what we should do. We should stick with it."
But the poll, taken after last week's attack on British troops in Basra, shows that a clear majority, 64%, believe the situation in the country is worsening despite the presence of British forces. Just 12% now share Mr Blair's belief that British troops are actually helping to improve the security situation.
Cowardly scumbags: But on Iraq, a big disconnect exists between what registered Democrats believe about the war and what elected Democratic officials and alleged party leaders like Howard Dean are willing to do. Only two Democratic officeholders -- Representatives John Conyers of
Forget about standing up alongside Michael Moore. Merely speaking up against the war in
Democratic senators who are in the presidential contender mix, such as Clinton, Kerry, and Joseph Biden of Delaware, have yet to label their votes to authorize war a mistake, even though the underlying rationale -- weapons of mass destruction -- was long ago revealed as false. Given the reluctance to admit mistakes in
But There Are Still Some Heroes In Our Country
Ian Fishback: When Army Capt. Ian Fishback told his company and battalion commanders that soldiers were abusing Iraqi prisoners in violation of the Geneva Convention, he says, they told him those rules were easily skirted.
When he wrote a memo saying Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was wrong in telling Congress that the Army follows the
And when Fishback found himself in the same room as Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey at
Contrast this honorable young man with the Air Force generals who are afraid to protest against the new
Jed Rakoff: A federal judge Monday rejected a government argument that he was interfering with the president's constitutional authority to wage war by insisting that
The government raised the objection after U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff last month ordered the Defense Department to pose the question to detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base.
The judge wrote that the argument was without merit, and that it was offered improperly after he had already rejected the government's other reasons for insisting that the information not be released to The Associated Press.
In April, the AP filed a lawsuit asking for transcripts of 558 tribunals conducted in the last year to give detainees a chance to challenge their incarceration. The government released the documents but redacted facts about each detainee's identity.
In his ruling last month, Rakoff noted that the government had argued the identities should be kept secret to protect the privacy of the detainees rather than for national security reasons.
The judge said each detainee could answer "yes" or "no" to the question of whether he wanted his identity revealed.
"One might well wonder whether the detainees share the view that keeping their identities secret is in their own best interests," he wrote last month.
The speech, made Sept. 19 outside the District Courthouse in
Speaking of the four protesters who spilled their own blood at a military recruiting center, Hinchey said "what they were protesting was the conspiracy of the Administration of George W. Bush to bring about an attack and then an occupation of the country of Iraq, and as a result making the world a much more dangerous and difficult place than it was prior to those actions."
"It is that conspiracy," he added, "that conspiracy which has now been documented by among other things official British documents called the Downing Street Memo which are communications between the highest ranking officials of the British government – the head of the British Intelligence, the foreign officer, the prime minister himself."
Analysis: Posted on a bulletin board at Centcom headquarters here is a 1918 admonition from T.E. Lawrence explaining what he learned in training Arab soldiers: "It is better to let them do it themselves imperfectly than to do it yourself perfectly. It is their country, their way, and our time is short."
That quote sums up an important shift in
I had a rare opportunity to hear a detailed explanation of U.S. military strategy this weekend when the Centcom chief, Gen. John Abizaid, gathered his top generals here for what he called a "commanders' huddle." They described a military approach that's different, at least in tone, from what the public perceives. For the commanders,
The commanders' thinking is conveyed by a set of "Principles for a Long War" for combating the main enemy, al Qaeda and affiliated movements. Among the precepts they discussed here: "use the indirect approach" by working with Iraqi and other partner forces; "avoid the dependency syndrome" by making the Iraqis take responsibility for their own security and governance; and "remove the perception of occupation" by reducing the size and visibility of American forces. The goal over the next decade is a smaller, leaner, more flexible
This article is by David Ignatius – I thought it was quite interesting but don’t really have a very good sense of whether he is a real journalist or another Beltway tool. Readers?
Opinion: Ms. Greenhouse and Mr. Greenfeld are only two of the many whistle-blowers done in by this administration so far. (Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, lists nine on his Web site.) Even top government officials who are not whistle-blowers, merely truth-tellers, are axed. Lawrence Lindsey, the president's chief economic adviser, was pushed out after he accurately projected the cost of the
Their errors were compounded when the administration staffed the post-Saddam American occupation with exactly the same kind of appointees it would later bring to homeland security: the two heads of "private sector development" in
The damage done to the mission in
Opinion: George W. Bush will go down in history as the president who fiddled while
Bush used deceit and hysteria to lead
Focused on a concocted "war on terrorism," the Bush administration diverted money from the
US efforts to isolate
The Iraqi war has three beneficiaries: (1)
Everyone else is a loser.
Local story: Two Wisconsin National Guardsmen, one from
Local story: Two California National Guardsmen, one from Antioch and one from Oceanside, killed in roadside bombing in Baghdad; and one California Marine, from Vista, killed in a bombing in Taqaddaum.
Note to Readers: I’d like to extend a warm personal welcome to our new blog colleague Helena. Her website is a valuable resource which I’ve constantly failed to take adequate advantage of and now that she’s going to be cross-posting here, I can stop feeling guilty about it. She’s going to be a great asset to the site. Welcome aboard,