Wednesday, November 30, 2005

War News for Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bring ‘em on: Nine people killed and two wounded when a group of 10 masked men opened fire on a minibus near the town of Baquba, the latest in a series of brazen gun attacks on travelers in the area.

Bring ‘em on: Two security guards were wounded when snipers fired at the office of Salama al-Khafaji, a member of the National Assembly, in western Baghdad. She was not in the office at the time of the attack. An Iraqi army officer and two soldiers were seriously wounded when a makeshift bomb went off near their patrol in Manzilah village southwest of Kirkuk.

Bring ‘em on: Gunmen in the Sunni city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, shot and killed Sheikh Hamza Abbas Issawi, the imam of a local mosque. Police said he was sprayed with bullets by gunmen in a speeding car as he stepped out of the mosque after evening prayer Tuesday.

Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqis, two of them schoolboys, were killed when a mortar shell fell near the gate of a primary school in the city centre in Mussayab. In Kerbala a car bomb detonated by remote control exploded as a US military convoy was passing there. Police said a number of vehicles were damaged, but declined to say whether there were US casualties.

The occasional spot of good news: Two Iranian women, kidnapped north of Baghdad along with four Iranian men, were released Tuesday in the same region, a joint US-Iraqi military coordination centre said, according to AFP. The three (sic) women were released in the middle of the day on a road near the town of Balad. They were reported to be in good health.

Operation Iron Hammer: In western Iraq, about 2,000 U.S. troops and 500 Iraqi soldiers launched an operation Wednesday to flush out suspected insurgents and stabilize the region before the December 15 elections, the U.S. military said.

Operation Iron Hammer is targeting the area near the Euphrates River town of Hit, about 106 miles (170 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

Check out the juxtapositions in these first four paragraphs of this story. Think the reporter is getting a bit sick of Bush’s bullshit?: U.S. troops will be able to withdraw from Iraq as local forces gain competence, U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday, but near Baghdad the killing of nine people underscored a dire security situation two weeks before Iraq's milestone election.

In a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in which he outlined his Iraq strategy, Bush said the U.S. goal is for Iraqis to take the lead in the fight against insurgents and to take responsibility without major foreign assistance.

"As Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down, and when our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation," Bush said.

On the ground in Iraq, a group of 10 masked men opened fire on a minibus near Baquba, north of Baghdad, killing nine Iraqis and wounding two, police said. It was the latest in a series of brazen gun attacks on travellers in the area.

Kidnappings: After a monthslong hiatus in the kidnapping of foreigners, television footage on Tuesday once again showed westerners held captive: A German archaeologist - bound and blindfolded - knelt among masked gunmen in one video and four frightened peace activists, including two Canadians, were shown in another blurry tape.

The latest attacks are part of a new wave of kidnappings police fear is aimed at disrupting next month's national elections.

The brief, blurry tape was shown the same day a television station displayed a photo of the German hostage. The kidnappers threatened to kill Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi driver unless Germany halts all contacts with the Iraqi government.

Osthoff and her Iraqi driver were kidnapped Friday, and German's ARD public television said it obtained a video in which the kidnappers made their threats.

Iraqi Politics

Debating withdrawal: Outside Ramadi's city auditorium, the mortar rounds fell, two, then three, each rattling the concrete walls slightly. Inside, locked in an intense debate about what it would take for American troops in Iraq to withdraw, none of the camouflaged Marines or robed Sunni Arab tribal leaders even flinched.

"We all want the withdrawal," Nasir Abdul Karim, leader of Anbar province's Albu Rahad tribe, told scores of the armed Marines and Sunni sheiks, clerical leaders and other elders at the gathering Monday in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We all believe it is an illegitimate occupation, and it is a legitimate resistance."

The comments by the tribal leaders, and similar remarks to reporters Tuesday in Fallujah, 30 miles away, offered fresh evidence of how the debate in the United States about pulling out troops is also echoing through Iraq.

Talking past each other: A meeting between U.S. military officials and some 200 Sunni Muslims in the Iraqi city of Ramadi was hobbled by bad interpreters, The Washington Post reports.

The clerics in the audience said they came for one reason, and that was to hear the plans for a U.S. military pullout.

"We want them to withdraw from the province," Muhammed Dulaimy, an Arabic professor at Ramadi's Anbar University, said. "We didn't come to talk about the election. If it's about the election, we'll leave."

The U.S. military meanwhile, said they were there to encourage tribal members to join the military, so that Iraq's national forces can build to a strength that would allow U.S. forces to withdraw, and to discourage attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

What a surprise: Iraqi government officials failed Wednesday to deliver the promised results of an investigation into alleged torture at an Interior Ministry jail in Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi forces discovered 173 malnourished Iraqi detainees when they went into the facility on Nov. 13. Some inmates showed signs of torture, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. A U.S. general was so concerned with what he found that he took immediate control of the jail but the military has released few details about it since.

Bush’s War – Reaping The Whirlwind

Lebanon: On a quiet autumn night, a mosque loudspeaker shatters the silence in this poor Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.

"With all pride and grace, we announce to you the martyrdom of our mujahideen brothers Mohamed Ahmed al-Kurdi and Nidal Hussein Mustafa in the battlefields of jihad in Iraq," the speaker blares across the narrow streets of Ain el-Hilweh.

The deaths brought to three the number of residents from the camp killed in Iraq in November alone, making a total of five in the past four months.

One man in Ain el-Hilweh -- a crowded maze of narrow alleyways where gunmen from rival Palestinian factions roam freely and clash sporadically -- is eager to follow Zarqawi.

The 36-year-old, who used the alias Abu Dujana, said he was counting the days to return to Iraq to join the "martyrs in the name of Islam." He made no effort to hide his loyalty to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Belgium: A Belgian woman who converted to Islam after marrying a radical Muslim carried out a suicide attack in Baghdad earlier this month, say Belgian prosecutors.

Other European extremists are known to have travelled to Iraq to fight the US-led forces, but she is believed to be the first female European bomber.

On Wednesday, police detained 14 people in raids on the homes of people thought to have links with the unnamed woman.

Authorities said they wanted to break a network sending volunteers to Iraq. Nine of the suspects are Belgian, three are Moroccan and two are Tunisian.

Earlier this year, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said at least seven people from France have been killed in Iraq and elsewhere fighting for al-Qaeda.

Cynicism Or Delusion? Who Can Tell?

Cynicism: President Bush, facing growing doubts about his war strategy, said Wednesday that Iraqi troops are increasingly taking the lead in battle but that "this will take time and patience." He refused to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces.

Bush said the U.S. military presence in Iraq is set to change, by making fewer patrols and convoys, moving out of Iraqi cities and focusing more on specialized operations aimed at high-value terrorist targets.

"As Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop level in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists," Bush told a supportive audience at the U.S. Naval Academy. "These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington."

Bush's emphasis on the readiness of Iraqi security forces came at a time when continued violence in Iraq and the death of more than 2,000 U.S. troops have contributed to a sharp drop in the president's popularity.

Fred Kaplan: Brace yourself for a mind-bog of sheer cynicism. The discombobulation begins Wednesday, when President George W. Bush is expected to proclaim, in a major speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, that the Iraqi security forces—which only a few months ago were said to have just one battalion capable of fighting on its own—have suddenly made uncanny progress in combat readiness. Expect soon after (if not during the speech itself) the thing that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have, just this month, denounced as near-treason—a timetable for withdrawal of American troops.

And so it appears (assuming the forecasts about the speech are true) that the White House is as cynical about this war as its cynical critics have charged it with being. For several months now, many of these critics have predicted that, once the Iraqis passed their constitution and elected a new government, President Bush would declare his mission complete and begin to pull out—this, despite his public pledge to "stay the course" until the insurgents were defeated.

This theory explains Bush's insistence that the Iraqis draft and ratify the constitution on schedule—even though the rush resulted in a seriously flawed document that's more likely to fracture the country than to unite it. For if the pullout can get under way in the opening weeks of 2006, then the war might be nullified as an issue by the time of our own elections.

Delusion: Bush said many Iraqi forces have made real gains over the past year.

"As the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists," Bush said. "Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight against the terrorists."

He said that more than 120 army and police combat battalions are already in the fight against insurgents, and that 80 of those battalions are fighting side by side with coalition forces and 40 are taking the lead in the fight.

"They're helping to turn the tide in the struggle in freedom's favor," the president said.

PM Carpenter: The progress being made in training Iraqi troops to defend their own nation is about to achieve warp-drive. It’ll be nothing short of miraculous how suddenly these troops are declared by the Bush administration ready for counterinsurgency combat, even though there has been virtually no progress made along these lines in the last two and a half years.

What will account for this remarkable turnaround?

The seedy, dishonest politics of George W. Bush, who’s about to slither out of Iraq the same way he slithered in: without a dram of honesty.

As the New York Times reported Monday: “In public, President Bush has firmly dismissed the mounting calls to set a deadline to begin a withdrawal from Iraq…. ‘When our commanders on the ground tell me that Iraqi forces can defend their freedom, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.’

“But in private conversations, American officials are beginning to acknowledge that a judgment about when withdrawals can begin is driven by two political calendars – one in Iraq and one here…. Mr. Bush is under new pressure to begin showing that troop reductions are under way before the midterm Congressional elections next year.”

In brief, Americans will soon be waving bye-bye to ill-trained, ill-equipped Iraqi troops, but only after the former have lost tens of thousands of their own to death and mutilation in the most dishonest and destined-to-fail foreign venture this nation has ever engaged. It all will have been for naught, although “Mission Accomplished II” – otherwise known as “Cut and run” – will be sold as smarmily as “Stay the course.”

Cynicism: "Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to `stay the course,'" Bush said. "If by `stay the course' they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they're right. If by `stay the course' they mean we will not permit al Qaida to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven for terrorists and a launching pad for attacks on America, they're right as well. If by `stay the course' they mean that we're not learning from our experience or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong."

He did not say that the terrorists now in Iraq had anything to do with the 2001 terror attacks in the United States, but he powerfully linked the two, saying they "share the same ideology."

Delusion: President Bush will hear no evil on the Iraq war - even when the bad news comes from military brass and top government officials, a new report says.

Bush "remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq," according to The New Yorker magazine.

The article, echoing a Daily News story yesterday, says Bush and his inner circle are so determined to follow their own plan that generals fear saying what's wrong in Iraq - and senior advisers are snubbed if they have bad news.

"I tried to tell" the President about problems in Iraq, one former senior official told the magazine. "And he couldn't hear it."

Random News

The death of multilateralism, part six jillion: The Bush administration, responding to European alarm over allegations of secret detention camps and the transport of terror suspects on European soil, insisted Tuesday that American actions complied with international law but promised to respond to formal inquiries from European nations.

The administration's comments came after the new German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, raised concerns on Tuesday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about reported American practices in the handling and interrogation of captives, according to American and German officials.

In addition, European officials said the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, sent a letter to Ms. Rice on Tuesday on behalf of the European Union asking for clarifications. Britain currently holds the union's presidency.

Another “gross error”: The Air Force, under pressure from the Pentagon, committed a "gross error" last year when it rushed to sign a no-bid contract for advisers to help plan and implement Iraq's national elections and draft its constitution, the Government Accountability Office has ruled.

New York-based REEP Inc., a private translation company also known as Operational Support Services, was awarded two contracts worth more than $45 million. The firm was tasked with finding bilingual speakers "committed to a democratic Iraq" as part of a program a Pentagon official hoped would create "a nudge toward democracy," the report said.

The dispute offers insight into the Pentagon's continued use of Iraqi exiles and its strategy for bringing democracy to Iraq.

"Our Defense Department has continued to pay, through pliant contractors, for a flock of Iraqi political exiles as our paid political agents in Iraq," said Charles Tiefer, a government contracting professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Freudian slip: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, flubbed Monday and referred to Iraq as Vietnam while commenting on Fox News against an immediate troop withdrawal. "The Democratic Party seems to be taken over by the Michael Moore contingent in their attitude toward Vietnam, and they continually call for a withdrawal of troops at a time when we haven't finished the job," Hatch said on the network's morning show. Hatch's spokesman acknowledged the error, which was first reported on the American Prospect Web log.

The Bush Regime And The Fourth Estate

Armstrong Williams goes to Iraq: As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq. The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Can’t coopt ‘em? Blow 'em up!: The Falluja offensive was one of the bloodiest assaults of the US occupation of Iraq. On April 5, 2004, US forces laid siege to the city after the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries days earlier. When the US forces, led by the First Marine Expeditionary Force, attempted to take Falluja on April 7, they faced fierce guerrilla resistance. A US helicopter attacked a mosque, hitting the minaret and killing at least a dozen people. Within a week, some 600 Iraqis were dead, many of them women and children. By April 9, some thirty Marines had been killed and Falluja had become a symbol of resistance against the occupation.

What was more devastating than the direct resistance US forces encountered in Falluja was the effect the story of the local defense of the city and the US killing of civilians was having on the broader Iraqi population. A handful of unembedded journalists, most prominently from Al Jazeera, were providing the world with independent, eyewitness accounts. Al Jazeera's camera crew was also uploading video of the devastation for all the world, including Iraqis, to see. Inspired by the defense of Falluja and outraged by the US onslaught, smaller uprisings broke out across Iraq, as members of the Iraqi police and army abandoned their posts, some joining the resistance.

Faced with a public relations disaster, US officials did what they do best--they attacked the messenger. On April 11, with the unembedded reporters exposing the reality of the siege of Falluja, senior military spokesperson Mark Kimmitt declared, "The stations that are showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are not legitimate news sources. That is propaganda, and that is lies." A few days later, on April 15, Rumsfeld echoed those remarks calling Al Jazeera "vicious."

It was the very next day, according to the Daily Mirror, that Bush told Blair of his plan. "He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere," a source told the Mirror. "Blair replied that would cause a big problem. There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do--and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."


NY Times: Let us pause and count the ways the conduct of the war in Iraq has damaged America's image and needlessly endangered the lives of those in the military. First, multilateralism was tossed aside. Then the post-invasion fiasco muddied the reputation of military planners and caused unnecessary casualties. The W.M.D. myth undermined the credibility of United States intelligence and President Bush himself, and the abuse of prisoners stole America's moral high ground.

Now the use of a ghastly weapon called white phosphorus has raised questions about how careful the military has been in avoiding civilian casualties. It has also further tarnished America's credibility on international treaties and the rules of warfare.

White phosphorus, which dates to World War II, should have been banned generations ago. Packed into an artillery shell, it explodes over a battlefield in a white glare that can illuminate an enemy's positions. It also rains balls of flaming chemicals, which cling to anything they touch and burn until their oxygen supply is cut off. They can burn for hours inside a human body.

The United States restricted the use of incendiaries like white phosphorus after Vietnam, and in 1983, an international convention banned its use against civilians. In fact, one of the many crimes ascribed to Saddam Hussein was dropping white phosphorus on Kurdish rebels and civilians in 1991.

But white phosphorus has made an ugly comeback. Italian television reported that American forces used it in Falluja last year against insurgents. At first, the Pentagon said the chemical had been used only to illuminate the battlefield, but had to backpedal when it turned out that one of the Army's own publications talked about using white phosphorus against insurgent positions, a practice well known enough to have one of those unsettling military nicknames: "shake and bake."

Eric Mink: The dream is over, whether or not the Bush White House realizes or admits it. U.S. troops are going to leave, and Iraq will continue to be a mess. The only questions are how bad a mess it will be, how many more will be killed and injured and whether the president is capable of putting the welfare of the troops and the country before the unhealthy messianic fixation cited, most recently, in this week's New Yorker by several former and current U.S. military and intelligence officials. In 1984's "The March of Folly," the celebrated historian Barbara W. Tuchman reviewed centuries of calamitous statecraft, looking for examples that met three specific criteria: "To qualify as folly," she wrote, "it must have been perceived as counter-productive in its own time, not merely by hindsight. . . . A feasible alternative course of action must have been available. . . . (and) the policy in question should be that of a group, not an individual ruler, and should persist beyond any one political lifetime. . . ." Tuchman focused on the refusal of Renaissance popes to correct rampant abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, thus producing the Protestant Reformation; Great Britain's war with its American colonies, resulting in an independent United States of America and contributing to the end of the British Empire; and the Vietnam War, in which Democratic and Republican administrations betrayed American principles with enormous long-term costs. The continuing war in Iraq is poised to join Tuchman's tragic roster of dishonor.

The Nation: Everything that needs to be known is now known: The reasons the Bush Administration gave for the American war in Iraq were all falsehoods or deceptions, and every day the US occupation continues deepens the very problems it was supposed to solve. Therefore there can no longer be any doubt: The war--an unprovoked, unnecessary and unlawful invasion that has turned into a colonial-style occupation--is a moral and political catastrophe. As such it is a growing stain on the honor of every American who acquiesces, actively or passively, in its conduct and continuation.

The war has also become the single greatest threat to our national security. Its human and economic costs are spiraling out of control, with no end in sight. It has driven America's reputation in the world to a historic low point. In the meantime, real threats suffer terrible neglect. These include more terrorist attacks, jeopardized oil supplies, rising tension with China, the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and even natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. All are pushed aside as this Administration pours the country's blood, treasure and political energy into a futile war. In short, ending the Iraq War is the most pressing issue facing America today. Until it is ended, a constructive national security policy cannot be forged.

Americans are well on their way to a full appreciation of the dimensions of this debacle. In an October CBS news poll, 59 percent of citizens surveyed and 73 percent of Democrats now want an end to US military involvement in Iraq. But this growing majority has made its judgment with virtually no help from our nation's leaders. Most shameful has been the Democratic Party's failure to oppose the war. Indeed, support for it has been bipartisan: A Republican President and Congress made the policy, and almost all of the leading Democrats--most of the honorable exceptions are members of the House of Representatives--supported it from the outset and continue to do so.

LA Times: Padilla challenged the government's right to hold him, a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil, without ever proving charges in a court of law (as opposed to asserting them in a news conference). Facing an impending deadline to answer his petition before the Supreme Court — and no doubt mindful of an earlier decision requiring it to allow such enemy combatants captured on the battlefield to challenge their imprisonment — the Bush administration last week filed a criminal indictment against Padilla in federal district court. It is the first time the administration has charged Padilla with a crime. In a telling omission, that sensational "dirty bomb" plot is not mentioned. The Justice Department's 31-page indictment charges Padilla with conspiracy to murder, kidnap and harm people overseas and with supporting terrorists. Yet it is a far cry from the government's original accusations. The administration says that because it has now charged Padilla as a criminal and moved him from a military brig to a federal penitentiary, his pending case before the Supreme Court is now moot. Up against Monday's deadline to ask the court not to hear his case, it instead asked for an extension to file its petition, which the court granted. The Supreme Court should still hear the case, not only for Padilla's sake but for the sake of every American. The most recent lower-court decision on the case, from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, gives the administration the authority to detain enemy combatants such as Padilla indefinitely. That precedent cannot be allowed to stand. The question presented in the Padilla case, to paraphrase his brief before the court, is this: Can the president of the United States arrest any U.S. citizen in America and hold him indefinitely without charge in the name of the war against terrorism? As long as this war continues, it is a question that will remain relevant. And it is a question begging for a resounding "no" from the nation's highest court.

Casualty Reports

Ongoing: 2107 US soldiers, 201 Coalition soldiers, and approximately 27,115 to 30,559 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq from the beginning of the war and occupation to November 26.

Local story: Funeral services are set for two mid-Michigan soldiers, Anthony "Andy" R.C. Yost of Millington and John W. Dearing of Oscoda, killed in Iraq this month.

Yost, a 1984 Millington High School graduate, was two months from retiring with 20 years in the military when a suicide bomber killed him Nov. 18. The bomber detonated a vehicle near Yost's position during combat operations.

Yost, an Army Special Forces master sergeant, was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C. He and his wife, Joann, had lived in North Carolina, where he was stationed. They have a 2-year-old son, Anthony James.

Yost, 39, also had a daughter, Cheyenne, 13, by his first wife, Penny. Cheyenne attends Meachum Junior High School in Millington.

Dearing, 21, graduated from Oscoda High School in 2003 and moved to Hazel Park a year ago. The Army National Guard assigned Dearing to the Guard's 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment in Saginaw.

He died Nov. 21 in Habbaniyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle during combat operations.

He is survived by his wife, Amanda, 19, a 2004 Hazel Park High School graduate whom he married in June.

Local story: A Harrow man was among three British Muslims killed by gunmen while on a five-day pilgrimage to religious sites in Iraq.

They came under fire while on their way to Baghdad airport to fly home on Monday.

Another Harrow man and a woman from Wembley were injured.

Husain Mohammedali, 50, of Waverley Road, was married with three daughters and a son.

His eldest daughter, Zainab, 16, said: "We are completely gobsmacked and my Mum is finding it hard to cope.

"Our grandparents are trying to help us pull through this difficult time."

Local story: Nearly 300 friends and relatives paid their respects Tuesday at funeral and burial services for Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, who was killed Nov. 18 during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Military officials told the family that Terrazas died after the Humvee he was driving was hit by an improvised explosive device and crashed. Terrazas, who would have turned 21 on Dec. 10, was baptized as an infant at the South El Paso church.

Letter from Camp Taqaddum, Iraq Via Stars & Stripes
War based on a lie Weapons of mass destruction? I’m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we’ll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of “democracy” and “freedom” touted by our leadership at home and overseas. This deception is furthered by our armed forces’ belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and “laissez-faire” society. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald’s, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again. I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic. The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn’t exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans “feel good” about the “War on Terrorism.” The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction? Call me when you find them. In the meantime, “bring ’em on” so we can get our “mission accomplished” and get out of this mess.
Capt. Jeff Pirozzi Camp Taqaddum, Iraq November 28, 2005


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Quote of the day: Al Qaida leaders Bin Laden and al-Zarqawi haven't been found "primarily because they don't want us to find them and they're going to great lengths to make sure we don't find them."

– Porter Goss, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and obvious MENSA candidate.

Bring ‘em on: Gunmen fatally shot two Iraqi journalists with state-owned al-Iraqiya TV station as they left a restaurant in western Baghdad after lunchtime, and in separate incidents, officials of two Sunni Arab political groups were killed Monday.

Bring ‘em on: A video of a kidnapped German citizen was delivered to public television broadcaster ARD in Baghdad overnight to Tuesday, reported the station. In the video the kidnappers requested the German government to stop cooperating with the Iraqi government otherwise the hostages will be killed.

Bring ‘em on: Four civilians wounded in a car bombing in western Baghdad. The attack took place as a convoy of American Humvees passed.

Bring ‘em on: A U.S. Marine assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing was killed Saturday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Camp Taqaddum, 45 miles west of Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: A total of 238 foreign nationals were kidnapped in Iraq between May 2003 and November 20th, 2005, according to the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index. About one in five were killed. By some estimates as many as 5,000 Iraqis were kidnapped over a shorter period of only 17 months.

Bring ‘em on: Two soldiers were killed Tuesday when their patrol was hit by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: Four members of the Assyrian Democratic Movement were fired upon as they hung election posters. The shots came from gunmen in two cars. Joseph Nabil Ishmael (19) and George Brikha Youkhana (25) were pronounced dead at the scene. Simon Edmon Youkhana (22) and Milad Zakkar Mansour (18) were critically injured; According to Dr. Bahaldin al-Bakri of the Jumhouri hospital, Mr. Mansour suffered a gunshot to the head and is in the intensive care unit.

Bring ‘em on: A suicide car bomber killed eight Iraqi soldiers and wounding five more when he drove into an army patrol today in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: Attackers ambushed a vehicle Monday, killing three people including a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Ayad al-Izzi. Mr. al-Izzi was to compete in parliamentary elections set for next month.

Bring ‘em on: A Sunni Kurd cleric from this northern city was kidnapped, tortured and killed during a recent visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Sheik Bashir Hadi Fakhreddine, the imam of Bilal al-Habashi mosque in Kirkuk, was kidnapped 10 days ago in eastern Baghdad along with his friend Seif Abdullah. The bodies of the cleric and Abdullah, a member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, were found dead in Baghdad Monday with marks of tortures on their bodies as well as bullet wounds in the head.

Bring ‘em on: Six Iranians, including two women, and an Iraqi woman were kidnapped after gunmen opened fire on their bus on Monday, seriously wounding the Iraqi driver. The group were on their way to a Shi'ite holy shrine in Balad. Police said the three women were released later on Monday. Thafer Migwil Hazza, a relative of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and a former Iraqi army officer, was kidnapped from his house by gunmen on Monday in Tikrit. Bashar Shnawa Gaber, a senior member of the Shi'ite Dawa party, was shot dead in Baghdad on Monday. Saad Albana, a senior official in the Housing and Reconstruction Ministry, was kidnapped from his home in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Bring ‘em on: Four U.S. soldiers were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on a military convoy in Baquba. At least one vehicle was destroyed in the attack.

The quiet civil war: Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews. The abuses raise the specter of organized retaliation to attacks by Sunni-led insurgents that have killed thousands of Shiites, who endured decades of subjugation under Saddam Hussein.

And they undermine the U.S. effort to stabilize the nation, and train and equip Iraq's security forces -- the Bush administration's key prerequisites for the eventual withdrawal of American troops. In recent months, hundreds of bodies have been discovered in rivers, garbage dumps, sewage treatment facilities and alongside roads and in desert ravines. Many of them are thought to be victims of Sunni insurgents, who are known to target Shiite civilians and Iraqi security forces, and even Sunni Arabs believed to be collaborating with U.S. forces or the Iraqi government. But increasingly, the Shiite militias operating within the national police force are also suspected of committing atrocities. The Baghdad morgue reports that dozens of bodies arrive at the same time on a weekly basis, including scores of corpses with wrists bound by police handcuffs.

Time to get tough?: The leader of Iraq’s most powerful political party has called on the United States to let Iraqi fighters take a more aggressive role against insurgents, saying his country will only be able to defeat the insurgency when the United States lets Iraqis get tough.

“The more freedom given to Iraqis, the more chance for further progress there would be, particularly in fighting terror,” said Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Shiite Muslim religious party that leads the transitional government and whose armed wing is the most feared of Iraq’s many factional forces.

Instead, al-Hakim asserted in a rare interview late last week, the United States is tying Iraq’s hands in the fight against insurgents. One of Iraq’s “biggest problems is the mistaken or wrong policies practiced by the Americans,” he said.

In more than an hour of conversation at his Baghdad home and office, al-Hakim gave few details of what getting tough Iraq’s way would entail, other than making clear it would require more weapons, with more firepower, than the United States is currently supplying.

Looks like they already started: Iraqi authorities have been torturing and abusing prisoners in jails across the country, current and former Iraqi officials charged.

Deputy Human Rights Minister Aida Ussayran and Gen. Muntadhar Muhi al-Samaraee, a former head of special forces at the Ministry of the Interior, made the allegations two weeks after 169 men who apparently had been tortured were discovered in a south-central Baghdad building run by the Interior Ministry. The men reportedly had been beaten with leather belts and steel rods, crammed into tiny rooms with tens of others and forced to sit in their own excrement.

A senior American military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said he suspected that the abuse wasn't isolated to the jail the U.S. military discovered.

Liberated Iraq: On Saturday, when former Iraqi leader Ayad Allawi charged that human rights abuses in the country were as bad, or worse, today compared with Saddam Hussein's reign, current officials denied the charge. Now troubling new stories have emerged in Tuesday's New York Times and Los Angeles Times. In Tuesday's New York Times, Dexter Filkins, the longtime Baghdad correspondent, reports that "evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods. "Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation." Filkins reports Sunnis found dead in ditches with obvious signs of torture; others discovered in prison with similar signs. Bayan Jabr, the interior minister, denounced this evidence as "only rumors" and "nonsense."

The Negroponte option: As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.

Progress, of a sort: The U.S. is seeing significantly fewer foreign fighters on the battlefields of Iraq, because the coalition has killed or captured scores of terrorists in recent months and is doing a better job of securing the long border with Syria.

But the U.S. military has noticed in recent weeks a willingness of young Iraqis to become suicide bombers, once the monopoly of ideologically driven foreign jihadists.

Mookie: Men loyal to Moktada al-Sadr piled out of their cars at a plantation near Baghdad on a recent morning, bristling with Kalashnikov rifles and eager to exact vengeance on the Sunni Arab fighters who had butchered one of their Shiite militia brothers. When the smoke cleared after the fight, at least 21 bodies lay scattered among the weeds, making it the deadliest militia battle in months. The black-clad Shiites swaggered away, boasting about the carnage. Even as that battle raged on Oct. 27, Mr. Sadr's aides in Baghdad were quietly closing a deal that would signal his official debut as a kingmaker in Iraqi politics, placing his handpicked candidates on the same slate - and on equal footing - with the Shiite governing parties in the December parliamentary elections. The country's rulers had come courting him, and he had forced them to meet his terms. Wielding violence and political popularity as tools of his authority, Mr. Sadr, the Shiite cleric who has defied the American authorities here since the fall of Saddam Hussein, is cementing his role as one of Iraq's most powerful figures.

Negotiating with the victors: In a new indication that the balance of power within the administration of President George W. Bush has tilted strongly in favour of the realists, Washington's influential ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has disclosed that Bush has authorised him to open direct talks with Iran about stabilising Iraq. The announcement, which came in an interview with Newsweek magazine, marks a major change in policy. The two countries have not held direct talks since mid-May 2003, shortly after the U.S. ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, when the influence of neo-conservatives was at its zenith.

The new balance of power: So, what about the "next permanent Iraqi government"? That was what Talabani's visit to Tehran was about. Talabani, who has kept close contacts with the Iranian regime for the past few decades, was naturally given a red-carpet welcome. Talabani's discussions brought out the following. Iran will not easily countenance an accommodation of Ba'athist elements in Iraq's power structure - something that suits Talabani, too. Second, the US attitude toward Iran (over its nuclear program) will impact on Iran's willingness to cooperate over orderly US troop withdrawal from Iraq. Third, instead of a pan-Arab identity for Iraq, Tehran visualized that Iraq "will glitter in the world of Islam in the near future" (to quote Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei). Fourth, Iran is determined to play an assertive role in shaping Iraq's political future. Thus, on balance, Washington has sought Moscow's help in stabilizing Iraq and thereby facilitating an early American troop withdrawal. Moscow on its part is willing to move in tandem with (pro-American) Arab regimes in the region in persuading alienated Sunni groups to reconcile. And Iran has reminded all concerned about the influence it wields in the region. As things stand, never before have the two strands - the Iraq problem and the Iran nuclear issue - become so closely intertwined.

Rise of the warlords: The Iraqi private security details are supposed to travel in vehicles marked with a number and with trained forces carrying credentials from the interior minister. But no single agency is responsible for enforcing the rules. The details routinely disregard Iraqi government forces, including soldiers and police, who patrol the streets.

"While some perform in a very professional manner, others cause fear in other motorists and pedestrians with their heavy-handed approach, including the use of warning shots," said Col. Edward Cardon, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad. "Each ministry has its own PSD that is often loyal to a person rather than an official office. Hence there is no centralized training and no real accountability to anyone other than the person they protect. Their freedom and protection is directly related to the power of the person the PSD is protecting."

Hussein trial: Less than 24 hours before Saddam Hussein's scheduled return to court on charges of crimes against humanity, the police in northern Iraq said Sunday that they had arrested 10 Sunni Arab men carrying orders from a fugitive associate of Mr. Hussein's to assassinate the court's best-known judge.

Prosecutors have said they plan to bring their first witnesses against Mr. Hussein and other defendants when the court resumes in Baghdad on Monday after a six-week recess.

Defense lawyers say they will demand a new 45-day adjournment while the court considers motions to annul the proceedings on the ground that the American role in creating the court, formally known as the Iraqi High Tribunal, has voided its authority under Iraqi and international law.

Kidnapping victims: Consular officials in Ottawa and Jordan are working to help secure the release of two Canadians who were among four aid workers kidnapped this weekend in Iraq, a government official said Monday.

So far, the Canadian government has said little about the case in an effort to protect the safety of those kidnapped. They have not identified the Canadians involved or the humanitarian organization they were working with.

Rumors Of Withdrawal

Ostensible withdrawal: The Iraqi Air Force is not now a fighting air force. If the Bush administration has any plans for such a force, it is a very well kept secret. It is hard not to conclude that withdrawal would leave Iraq with a ground-only military completely dependent on US air power for its survival. Indeed, there are signs that the Pentagon is prepared for this contingency. New military communication systems are now being deployed that point to a permanent US presence in Iraq - after an ostensible phased withdrawal. The semi-permanent communications systems deployed prior to the battle for Fallujah are now being augmented with a permanent enduring communications infrastructure. This new permanent communication infrastructure will provide commanders with secure video, voice and data communications via satellite, microwave and fiber throughout the Iraq-Kuwait theater of operations. The system, which will crisscross Iraq and connect more than 100 bases, is projected to cost $4 billion - although the Pentagon has been leaking the story that just four stay-behind US bases will remain in Iraq after withdrawal. From the foregoing, it is hard not to conclude that phased withdrawal is being utilized as a slogan under which military operations will continue - and that thousands of American combat troops may still be in Iraq for many years to come.

Airstrike your rivals: The Bush administration is considering a plan to put America's awesome airpower at the disposal of Iraqi commanders, as a way of reducing the number of US troops on the ground. The plan is causing consternation among commanders in US air force, who say it could lead to increased civilian casualties and lead to airstrikes being used as means of settling old scores.

According to an article in the New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh, the possibility of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused unease in the military, with air force commanders objecting to the possibility that Iraqis will eventually be responsible for target selection.

"Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame it on someone else?" a senior military planner told the magazine. "Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of al-Qaida, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?

Pat Buchanan: By Thursday, the Pentagon confirmed that troops would be coming home after the December elections and, if conditions improve, U.S. forces could be drawn down by 60,000 before the end of 2006. Said Fred Barnes of the hawkish Weekly Standard, "These events are ominous … they suggest that troop removal has superseded victory as the primary American concern." Indeed, they do.

Moreover, our principal coalition partners after the Brits are coming out. Silvio Berlusconi has said Italy's 3,000 troops may be home by the end of 2006. South Korea is pulling out a third of its contingent. Polish forces, cut from 2,400 to 1,400 in 2005, may soon fall below 1,000.

If no more troops are going in, and the only question is, how many U.S. and coalition troops are coming out, starting after the December elections, the conclusion seems inescapable: The United States is disengaging from the Iraq war before victory is at hand, or even in sight. Hence, a defeat, not of American arms, but of the U.S. policy in Iraq, is now a distinct possibility.

Someone – too lazy to check who – made an excellent point in Comments about this last statement, to the effect that it is preparatory to the future argument that Iraq was ‘lost’ not because our military wasn’t up to it but because of the public’s loss of will – the same old bullshit as we hear about Vietnam, in other words. The fact that neither conflict proved amenable to a military solution short of genocide is conveniently ignored.

Joe Conason: Too often omitted from American discussions of this dismal situation is the widely shared and forcefully expressed desire of the Iraqis themselves — namely that our troops should go home as soon as possible, and that a schedule must be established for their departure.

Last August, the British defense ministry conducted a secret opinion survey in Iraq, whose results have since leaked out. The pollsters found that over three-quarters of the Iraqi public want a timetable for the end of the occupation. Even the Iraqi political parties least hostile to the United States, including those that won the elections last January, want to know precisely when our troops will go.

That broad judgment was ratified again in Cairo last weekend, when Iraqi political leaders met at a “reconciliation conference” under the auspices of the Arab League. Only those who know nothing about public opinion in Iraq were surprised when the Cairo conferees, representing a very broad spectrum of ethnic and religious factions, issued a joint statement that demanded “the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable.” (The communiqué went so far as to acknowledge the legitimacy of “resistance” to foreign occupation, while condemning acts of terror against civilians.)

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Hayat , sources at the conference suggested that the Iraqi leaders want U.S. and British troops to vacate the country’s major cities by next May.

Richard Clarke: In the past few weeks, the war in Iraq has finally emerged to center stage in Washington.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly that Iraqi forces should assume the lead in the war in 2006 so that the United States could begin a phased withdrawal.

In Cairo, the Iraqi factions meeting under Arab League auspices actually agreed on something: They urged the United States to announce a timetable for withdrawal.

Now, our nation needs to agree on a withdrawal strategy. Four elements define a departure plan:

• How we characterize the end of our combat-force presence.

• When the departure starts.

• When it ends.

• What our residual involvement will be.

Stan Crock: I find it both amusing and dismaying that the Administration is keelhauling Democrats for wanting an exit strategy when Arab and Iraqi leaders are calling for a withdrawal timetable and the Pentagon reportedly has drafted a plan for starting a drawdown next year. Representative John Murtha (news, bio, voting record) (D-Pa.) has argued for a rapid withdrawal on the ground that we're not going to win and we shouldn't sentence more troops to die senselessly.

I would make a different argument: We should get out of Iraq because we've won. We already have achieved our two chief goals: ridding Iraq of Saddam's rule and ending any weapons-of-mass-destruction programs.

Iraq has become so politically radioactive that hardly anyone can look at it rationally. But that can be said for many things in Washington these days. As lawmakers, especially Republicans, start looking toward the 2006 election cycle, I bet we'll start hearing more about pulling back troops in large numbers. And it will be because we won, not because we lost.

War History

Roundheels Tom: Tom Daschle, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota, remembers the exchange vividly. The time was September 2002. The place was the White House, at a meeting in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed congressional leaders for a quick vote on a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

But Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the vote until after the impending midterm election. "I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: 'Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?' He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.' " Daschle's account, which White House officials said they could not confirm or deny, highlights a crucial factor that has drawn little attention amid rising controversy over the congressional vote that authorized the war in Iraq. The recent partisan dispute has focused almost entirely on the intelligence information legislators had as they cast their votes. But the debate may have been shaped as much by when Congress voted as by what it knew.

No duh: It was obvious in 2002, and it is crystal clear now, that the Bush team - led by their political director, Karl Rove - carefully scheduled the war so that the timetable would work with the schedule of the next two election cycles.

The vote in Congress to give the president war authority had to occur before the mid-term elections in November 2002 in order to put the Democrats in disarray and to get all the Democratic senators who were planning to run for president in 2004 on the record. That part worked beautifully. Sen. John Kerry, the eventual Democratic nominee, never fully recovered from the GOP ads in which he stated conflicting views on the war.

The war itself was supposed to be a cakewalk. I believe Bush, Cheney and Rove were looking at intelligence that backed up weapons inspectors, including Scott Ritter, who said that Iraq was virtually free of weapons. Saddam was complicit in this because his personal safety from his enemies inside Iraq depended on the myth that he had the weapons.

The Bush political team’s plan was to have the war successfully ended and a new democratically elected government installed by mid-2004 so that Bush could skate to re-election in November - not just as a “war president,” as he referred to himself, but also as a war hero.

Emblematic of this plan was the massive and costly publicity stunt in which Bush landed on the U.S.S. Lincoln off the coast of California and gave a speech with the “Mission Accomplished” banner in the background. The “Mission Accomplished” footage of Bush on the Lincoln was intended to be used in ads for the 2004 elections. That never happened, of course. The war quickly got out of their control and the violence has steadily escalated ever since.

Blinders coming off: A former senior U.S. State Department official says he has come to doubt whether President Bush's administration presented an honest intelligence case for the war in Iraq.

"You begin to speculate, you begin to wonder _ Was this intelligence spun? Was it politicized? Was it cherry-picked? Did in fact the American people get fooled? I'm beginning to have my concerns," Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

Jesus, Larry, you’re just now wondering? Well, hey, better three years and 40,000 lives late than never, I guess.

More Larry: Wilkerson told the BBC:

“The post-invasion planning for Iraq was handled, in my opinion, in this alternative decision-making process which, in this case, constituted the vice-president and the secretary of defence and certain people in the defence department who did the "post invasion planning", which was as inept and incompetent as perhaps any planning anyone has ever done.”

“It consisted of largely sending Jay Garner and his organisation to sit in Kuwait until the military forces had moved into Baghdad, and then going to Baghdad and other places in Iraq with no other purpose than to deliver a little humanitarian assistance, perhaps deal with some oil-field fires, put Ahmed Chalabi or some other similar Iraqi in charge and leave.”

“This was not only inept and incompetent, it was day-dreaming of the most unfortunate type and ever since that failed we've been in a pick-up game - a pick-up game that's cost us over 2,000 American KIAs [killed in action] and almost a division's worth of casualties.”

Random News

More guts in his little finger than Dick Cheney has in his whole flabby pink body: Gary Olson is a 52-year-old grandfather, a retired U.S. Army veteran - and soon to be a soldier again, thanks to the need for troops in Iraq.

Olson was ordered to report for duty Dec. 4 in Fort Jackson, S.C.

"They're just looking for bodies to fill in. I have been out cold turkey for 13 years," Olson said. "My philosophy is this: I'm going to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If I have to go, I have to go."

Yes, a new PR campaign should turn things around. Good to see congress exerting some leadership: Amid declining public support for the war in Iraq, two prominent Republican senators urged President Bush yesterday to be more forthcoming about the increasingly costly and uncertain effort to defeat the insurgency and establish a self-sufficient democracy.

"We want to hear from the administration," said Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. "We want more co-option of the Congress by the administration so that we're on the same wavelength."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Bush should provide a detailed status report to the American public.

"It would bring him closer to the people, dispel some of this concern that understandably our people have about the loss of life and limb, the enormous cost of this war to the American public" and press the case that "we've got to stay firm for the next six months," Mr. Warner said.


Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and . . . degeneracy of manners and of morals. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . . .

-- James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

The all-powerful presidency: On the question of detainees picked up in Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, Wilkerson said Bush heard two sides of an impassioned argument within his administration. Abuse of prisoners, and even the deaths of some who had been interrogated in Afghanistan and elsewhere, have bruised the U.S. image abroad and undermined support for the Iraq war.

Cheney's office, Rumsfeld aides and others argued "that the president of the United States is all-powerful, that as commander in chief the president of the United States can do anything he damn well pleases," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson said Bush tried to work out a compromise in 2001 and 2002 that recognized that the war on terrorism was different from past wars and required greater flexibility in handling prisoners who don't belong to an enemy state or follow the rules themselves.

Bush's stated policy, which was heatedly criticized by civil liberties and legal groups at the time, was defensible, Wilkerson said. But it was undermined almost immediately in practice, he said.

In the field, the United States followed the policies of hard-liners who wanted essentially unchecked ability to detain and harshly interrogate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, Wilkerson said.

War criminal: A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell has launched a stinging attack on US Vice-President Dick Cheney over abuse of prisoners by US troops.

Col Lawrence Wilkerson accused Mr Cheney of ignoring a decision by President Bush on the treatment of prisoners in the war on terror.

Asked by the BBC's Today if Mr Cheney could be accused of war crimes, he said: "It's an interesting question."

"Certainly it is a domestic crime to advocate terror," he added.

"And I would suspect, for whatever it's worth, it's an international crime as well."

Gotta say this for Larry – he’s saying some stuff that is long past due to be said by leaders of national stature. Hope someone’s paying attention.

Any ‘conservative’ who sat quietly while an American citizen was held for three years without charges – and that would be pretty much all of them – is a despicable whore with no moral standing in civilized society: Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has sharply criticized others for daring to suggest that citizens accused of terrorism should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. It has insisted that 9/11 changed everything and that terrorism must be dealt with through novel methods that dispense with the ordinary protections that the Constitution affords the accused. Now it has backtracked in one of the most prominent cases and done precisely what it said it could not do-- treat Padilla as a criminal defendant.

The reason is not difficult to discover. The Administration counted votes and figured that even with a replacement for Justice O'Connor, it would likely lose in the Supreme Court. (The four dissenters in Rumsfeld v. Padilla thought Padilla was unconstitutionally confined, while Justice Scalia, who joined the majority, made clear that the September 18, 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force did not justify detaining a U.S. citizen, because the AUMF was not a legitimate suspension of the writ of habeas corpus).

By indicting Padilla now, The Bush Administration moots Padilla's appeal to the Supreme Court. It also leaves standing the Fourth Circuit's decision in the Padilla case, which broadly upheld the President's power to detain U.S. citizens like Padilla as unlawful combatants. (See Marty Lederman's post here for an analysis).

That result is particularly worthy of note, for the Fourth Circuit opinion may yet come in handy if the Administration needs to hold another U.S. citizen within the geographical boundaries of that circuit. The Administration now knows that the Fourth Circuit is a Constitution-free zone. It can, if it needs to, declare someone an enemy combantant, thrown them into a military prison, and interrogate them at its leisure. It will take years for a citizen to exhaust his appeals and reach the Supreme Court; and when the citizen finally gets to the Supreme Court, the Administration has the option to indict and moot the case (as it did with Padilla) or, if the Court's personnel have changed sufficiently in the interim, risk an appeal to the Supremes.

You may recall that, following the Hamdi decision last year, the Administration decided not to give Yaser Hamdi a hearing, but instead released Hamdi to Saudi Arabia, extracting in return a surrender of Hamdi's U.S. Citizenship and a promise that he would not sue. Now it has indicted Padilla to avoid facing a simliar rebuff by the U.S. Supreme Court. In both cases, the Administration argued that that it was of the utmost necessity to detain them indefinitely and that it could not give these men the constitutional protections ordinarily afforded criminal defendants without severely damaging national security. These assertions now ring hollow-- Hamdi is free, and Padilla is in the criminal justice system.

The Padilla case is a sobering lesson in how much leeway the President has to imprison and detain people for long periods of time in violation of the Constitution. The fact that the government's story about why Padilla was a threat has changed so frequently should give us pause the next time the government asserts that we should trust it when it rounds up U.S. citizens and claims the right to hold them indefinitely for our protection. Padilla may well be a very bad fellow, but we have a method of dealing with such bad fellows. It is called the rule of law, and we should not surrender it so readily merely because the President desires it.

The Bush administration’s torture policy is a clear violation of United States law: The starting point is the U.N. Convention Against Torture, a treaty that the United States ratified in 1994. Under the convention, we agreed to criminalize overseas torture -- official torture was already a crime within the United States -- and to "undertake to prevent . . . other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (CID, for short) that "do not amount to torture." Many of the controversial U.S. methods are CID, sometimes called "torture lite." CID includes techniques used in Guantanamo: 18- to 20-hour-a-day questioning for 48 out of 54 days, blasting prisoners with strobe lights and ear-splitting rock music, menacing them with snarling dogs, threatening to hurt their mothers, and humiliations such as leading them around on leashes Pfc. Lynndie England-style, stripping them naked in front of women, or holding them down while a female interrogator straddles them and whispers that we've killed their comrades.

All of these methods were used on Qatani, and documented in the Army's Schmidt report (PDF), which was commissioned in response to FBI allegations of abuses at Guantanamo. (Most of the report, co-authored by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, remains classified, so we do not know whether the classified portions contain worse.)

Methods like these were banned in U.S. criminal investigations years ago, because, in the Supreme Court's language, they "shock the conscience." Assaults on human dignity are not who we are or what we stand for. Given the U.S. commitment under the torture convention to "undertake to prevent" CID, why are we using it abroad in cases that have nothing to do with ticking time bombs? Why does the president still insist that we're following our legal obligations, and that we treat detainees humanely?

It depends what you mean by "legal obligations" and "humanely."

Shredding habeas corpus, due process, and civilized morality: This New York Times article confirms something I suspected as soon as Padilla's indictment was announced. The Bush administration is desperate to avoid accountability on its detention and interrogation policies not because of what it may need to do in the future but rather because of the illegality of what it has already done. As a result, Administration officials dropped any mention of the previously touted "dirty bomb" plot against Jose Padilla, because prosecuting that theory would lead to inquiries about what exactly it had done to get the information that formed the basis of the accusation.

“The decision not to charge [Padilla] criminally in connection with the more far-ranging bomb plots was prompted by the conclusion that Mr. Mohammed and Mr. Zubaydah could almost certainly not be used as witnesses, because that could expose classified information and could open up charges from defense lawyers that their earlier statements were a result of torture, officials said.”

”In an interview on Wednesday, a British lawyer for another man accused by the United States of working as Mr. Padilla's accomplice in the bomb plot also accused American officials of working to extract a confession. The lawyer said the United States had transferred the man to Morocco from Pakistan, where he was captured in 2002, in an effort to have him to sign a confession implicating himself and Mr. Padilla.”

“"They took him to Morocco to be tortured," said Clive A. Stafford Smith, the lawyer for the suspect, Binyan Mohammed. "He signed a confession saying whatever they wanted to hear, which is that he worked with Jose Padilla to do the dirty bomb plot. He says that's absolute nonsense, and he doesn't know Jose Padilla."”

Not to belabor the obvious, but information obtained by torture has two significant defects. First, it won't stand up in court because it's unreliable. Second it violates basic human rights, and that's an important reason why our constitutional system doesn't allow such practices in the first place.

It seems that the Administration's decision to flout the Constitution and the rule of law has come home to roost. The Administration assumed all along that it was entitled to do whatever it wanted, and that no one should object, because, after all, it was fighting evil. But the best way to fight evil is not to do evil yourself.

Lie after lie: In a rare television interview, Goss defended the CIA's track record, which has been tarnished by allegations ranging from erroneous or hyped intelligence leading to the war in Iraq to reports the agency runs secret prisons abroad for terrorism suspects and uses harsh interrogation techniques amounting to torture.

"What we do does not come close to torture," Goss said, though he declined to elaborate on the agency's interrogation techniques.

Let’s shackle Porter Goss and force him to stand for 40 hours and then ask him if it came close to torture: The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.

Comment on above story: This story is notable for several reasons: 1. Confrmation that use of these techniques is formally approved at the highest level of the CIA: "According to the sources, when an interrogator wishes to use a particular technique on a prisoner, the policy at the CIA is that each step of the interrogation process must be signed off at the highest level -- by the deputy director for operations for the CIA." 2. The fact that several former and current CIA officers and supervisors are leaking CIA "methods" is newsworthy in and of itself. There's a very strong taboo against revelation of sources and methods within the CIA; such conduct could subject the leakers to severe discipline and even criminal exposure. Therefore it's virtually unheard of. These leaks -- together with recent leaks concerning the CIA's "black sites" where these interrogations occur, and about a CIA Inspector General report questioning the legality of these techniques -- indicate that there must be profound dissent within the agency on this issue, including on the question of the efficacy of such techniques: "[T]he debate among intelligence officers as to whether they are effective should not be underestimated." According to ABC News, the leakers "say they are revealing specific details of the techniques, and their impact on confessions, because the public needs to know the direction their agency has chosen." 3. The techniques were first approved in March 2002, at least four months before the infamous OLC "Torture Memo." This suggests that the CIA was willing to engage in such conduct before OLC signed off on it (in writing, anyway), and that OLC's advice was offered with respect to ongoing conduct. The general practice within OLC is not to opine on the legality of past or ongoing conduct within the Executive branch, because in such a case there could be an understandable inclination to skew advice so as not to conclude that Executive officials had been acting unlawfully. On the other hand, the Executive branch obviously needs to know if it has been acting unlawfully so that it can conform its practice to the law. Therefore it's often a tough call within OLC whether to give advice in situations such as this. 4. These techniques -- especially Nos. 4 through 6 -- would very likely be deemed conduct that "shocks the conscience," and that therefore would be forbidden by the McCain Amendment. (The CIA's own Inspector General apparently concluded that some of the techniques do shock the conscience.) I should caution, however, that there is no judicial precedent for applying the "shocks the conscience" standard in the context of interrogations of high-level international terrorism suspects, and therefore there is no way to know for certain whether the McCain Amendment would prohibit even such harsh techniques. * * * * I'm not going to discuss here whether these techniques are moral, or "effective," or worth the costs, or whether it was inevitable that they would "migrate" to less carefully monitored settings (e.g., Iraq), or whether they contributed to the confusion throughout the military about legal standards governing detainee treatment. Those important discussions are ongoing elsewhere (such as at Crooked Timber, on Andrew Sullivan's site, and in the comments to this Orin Kerr post), and I don't have any particular expertise to offer on such topics. No one is discussing this question, however: Are such techniques currently legal?

The Nuremburg legacy: For the last twenty years, it’s been common practice among law professors to view modern human rights law, and in a sense the entire international law system, as something that started with the gavel that convened the first of the Nuremberg criminal tribunals. That gavel fell sixty years ago today. These tribunals gave force to the concept that international law was not just about relations between nations. International law also created obligations for individuals, who could be subject to trial and severe sanction. America was the most aggressive proponent of this course, and the American prosecutor, Justice Robert Jackson, was extremely conscious of what this meant for his country. “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our lips as well.” Today it seems that Jackson’s poisoned chalice truly is pressed to the lips of the United States, or more particularly, those of George W. Bush. The Bush Administration has retreated from the country’s traditional embrace of international law, and continues to view even its most basic commitments – such as the Geneva Conventions – with contempt. While John McCain has mustered a vote of 90 – 9 in the US Senate in support of a return to the traditional view, Bush remains defiant and threatens a veto. Why the adamant opposition? Can it be that the Nuremberg legacy provides the answer? If any single consideration stands in the way of the Administration’s embrace of the McCain Amendment, it might well be what Andrew Sullivan calls “concern for immunity from prosecution for past actions and decisions.” Nuremberg set some clear principles, and many of them had to do with the mistreatment of those held in prisons in wartime. A concept of ministerial liability for pervasive abuse was established, and this was based on notions of command responsibility. Another case established that those who write legal memoranda which counsel government officials and the military to ignore the Geneva and Hague Conventions can be prosecuted and imprisoned – as in fact a number of German Justice Ministry officials were in the case of United States v. Altstoetter. Many in the Bush Administration seem to have a very curious understanding of Nuremberg. Rather than leading a new movement to overturn the international legal system that started at Nuremberg, a number of key Bush officials are more likely to be the Pinochets of the next generation – blocked from international travel and forever fending off extradition warrants and prosecutor’s questions. Notwithstanding a sovereigntist assault, sixty years later the principles of Nuremberg seem as robust as ever – and likely to create lasting troubles for those who would deny them.

Thoroughly repulsed and deeply ashamed: Americans accustomed to taking their leaders' words at face value perhaps can be forgiven, at least until now, for believing the unbelievable. But enough details have recently come to light about the Bush administration's handling of terror suspects to make anyone aware of them thoroughly repulsed and deeply ashamed.

There is no escaping that this administration has undermined the nation's highest ideals, thereby jeopardizing its moral leadership in the world. It is now clear that it also has jeopardized its ability to bring terror suspects to justice.

Discussions of torture invariably deal both with questions of morality and effectiveness. In truth, torture fails both tests. But while our leaders state flatly that it doesn't work and that the United States does not torture, thereby seeming to agree that torture is immoral, they have acted otherwise. They have redefined what torture is, they have allowed U.S. personnel to engage in abusive "enhanced techniques" of interrogation and they have "renditioned" detainees to nations known to torture under any definition.

Unreliable method: Torture is not a theoretical discussion at the Center for Victims of Torture. We know what torture is and we know its impact.

Torture does not work. We know from working with victims that torture is an ineffective way to gather information. Nearly all our clients, when subjected to torture, confessed to a crime they did not commit, gave up extraneous information, or supplied names of innocent friends or colleagues. This is a great source of shame for our clients, who tell us they would have said anything to get the pain to stop.

But don't take just our word for it. Experienced and well-trained interrogators within the military, the FBI and the police say that torture does not yield reliable information. Such extraneous information distracts, rather than supports, valid investigations. F. Andy Messing, a retired major in U.S. Special Forces and director of the National Defense Council, told Insight magazine, "Anybody with real combat experience understands that torture is counterproductive."

Not only is torture ineffective, but it is never used in isolated cases, as some would have us believe. The Israeli Security Service claimed to use "moderate physical pressure," sometimes called stress and duress techniques, only where they had the most reliable information about the detainee's guilt. Yet a study found they were used on over 8,000 detainees. It is simply not credible that they had such precise information about so many. The Israeli Supreme Court determined such techniques were illegitimate and outlawed them in 1999.

At the time the photos were taken at Abu Ghraib, the Red Cross estimated that at least 80 percent of those imprisoned should never have been arrested, but were there because it was easier to arrest persons than to let them go. They were all vulnerable to abuse not because of their guilt but because they were there.

Guantanamo north: As the number of questions asked across Europe grows on the existence of a chain of secret prisons run by the CIA, the E.U. Commissioner for Human Rights, Alvaro Gil Robles, has described for the first time what he saw in September 2002, at a site that until now had not been mentioned in the controversy of extrajudicial detentions and the war on al-Qaeda: The U.S. military base at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.

Within this imposing base, which is home to 6,000 U.S. Army troops and spread out across 300 hectares near Ferizaj, south of Pristina, the "capital" of the U.N.-administered province of Kosovo, Gil Robles saw a replica of Guantanamo. A prison has been built inside Camp Bondsteel. Run by the U.S. Army, it is the principal detention center for KFOR, the multinational NATO force deployed in Kosovo since June 1999.

Isn’t this what we fought the Cold War against?: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday defended the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects as part of an unprecedented war to prevent massive attacks on civilians.

In an interview with USA TODAY, Rice neither confirmed nor disavowed the existence of secret CIA prisons abroad that The Washington Post reported this month. She said the Bush administration's policy of making arrests before crimes are committed benefits other nations as well as the United States.

"We have never fought a war like this before where ... you can't allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them," she said. "Because if they commit the crime, thousands of innocent people die."

Yeah, Condi, in a big fucking mushroom cloud, right? Or in a hideous biowarfare attack launched by UAVs controlled by a fucking third world country 11,000 miles away, right? You revolting little fascist puke.

Editorial – Houston Chronicle: The charges finally leveled against Padilla are far from the alarming claims the Justice Department originally made to support Padilla's indefinite detention. At the time of his May 2002 arrest, prosecutors said Padilla had conspired with al-Qaida to detonate a radioactive bomb within the United States. Bush administration officials also asserted that Padilla was an al-Qaida recruit.

Those claims do not appear as part of the indictment, demonstrating the ease with which broad powers of detention can be abused.

Government officials maintain they have the right to indefinitely hold without charges any U.S. citizen they label an "enemy combatant." That's a frightening grasp of power that ignores a number of well-established constitutional rights, including the right to be advised by lawyers who know what they are up against and the right not to be held unless prosecutors are prepared to level specific accusations. The specifics of Padilla's case, including the fact that the government's original allegations now seem wildly inflated, are a further demonstration of the danger of allowing prosecutors sweeping arrest powers without accountability.

U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales said that with his indictment, Padilla is no longer considered to be an enemy combatant. As part of the process, he was transferred into civilian custody from a military lockup in Charleston, S.C.

The United States cannot have a system in which government officials are able to arrest Americans on wild, unprovable allegations, hold them for years without official charges, then declare "King's X," upon which they transfer the prisoner back into the purview of the Constitution.

Sean Gonsalves: Appropriately, the National Council of Teachers of English 2004 Doublespeak Award went to the Bush administration, in part because “Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office of Legal Counsel, advised that, in order to be considered torture, the pain inflicted on a prisoner ‘must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.’”

“Leaving aside the problem of how to quantitatively measure human pain in this way, the memo advised that international laws against torture 'may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogation' of (suspected terrorists).”

Don't be surprised if the plain-talking Bush administration doesn't start calling torture “aversion therapy” or “behavior modification.”

It's not terrorist-sympathizing, feel-goodism to recognize that this tortured logic is self-defeating in the all-important war for “hearts and minds.” Words shape our thoughts. So as long as we buy into these linguistic sleights-of-hand where prisoners of war are called “detainees,” dangling in a legal limbo, “staying the course” is the path to “winning the war and losing the peace.”

John Adams: "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

Casualty Reports

Local story: A Texas soldier was killed in Iraq when his unit came under direct fire during combat operations, the Defense Department announced Monday.

Sgt. William B. Meeuwsen, 21, of Kingwood, died Wednesday in Baghdad along with 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Aram J. Bass of Niagara Falls, New York. Their deaths were being reviewed as a possible friendly-fire incidents, the military said.

Local story: Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric P. Pearrow, a 40-year-old veteran tank commander who was killed recently in a roll-over accident in Iraq, developed a lifelong fondness for all-terrain vehicles in the fields that surround Peoria. Pearrow died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 24th, Pentagon officials said Monday. He was a tank commander assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is based at Fort Carson, Colo., Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd said. He was an experienced soldier who was qualified to lead an entire tank platoon, she said. Pearrow was riding in an M1A2 Abrams tank when it accidentally rolled over into a canal, Rudd said.

Local story: The Army's criminal unit is investigating the killing of a Beaver County soldier, military officials said Monday.

Army Pvt. Dylan Paytas, 20, of Freedom, died of multiple gunshot wounds "sustained during a noncombat-related incident" Nov. 16 at the Warhorse forward base near Baqubah about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stacy Simon of the Coalition Press Information Center in Iraq.

Local story: A U.S. Army soldier with local ties was wounded this month in Iraq in an attack that killed at least four of his comrades.

Spc. Adam D. Millett, 22, of Durham, is now in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. recovering from injuries, according to his cousin, Sharon Dove of South Hampton.

He was injured Nov. 19 in Bayji when a bomb exploded near the Humvee he was in, according to The Associated Press.

Local story: Christine Lebron usually celebrates Thanksgiving with a big family gathering. But this year, with work and other obligations nagging at everyone's time, she and her relatives decided to forgo the annual feast and celebrate separately.

But that plan didn't last long. About 6:45 Thanksgiving morning, two uniformed soldiers showed up at Lebron's house in Bellmead, and instantly she knew: The day that had been set aside to give everyone some space was about to turn into one where family was the only thing holding them together.

Lebron's oldest son, Army Spc. Javier Antonio Villanueva, was dead. The 25-year-old had been injured the day before in the Iraqi town of Hit when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol. By the time the news of his injuries could be relayed to his family, he had already died.

Local story: Master Sgt. Brett E. Angus was perhaps called to be a Marine. With his father and his uncle both in the military, he grew up surrounded by family members who wanted to serve their country.

He loved to travel and was able to see the world with the Marines. He even met his wife while working in Japan. Angus had been in Iraq for less than a year before he was killed Saturday by an improvised explosive device.

Local story: When Gregory L. Tull was a junior in high school, he told a guidance counselor that he was determined to enlist in the military. ‘‘He was just driven by that goal, and he was very confident in his decision,’’ said Kate Schiek, a counselor at Pocahontas Area High School. Tull achieved his goal by enlisting in the Iowa Army National Guard in 2002. He was assigned to Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery. He earned the rank of specialist. Schiek described him as ‘‘very passionate about serving his country.’’ His passion for serving his country led to him making the supreme sacrifice. He was killed in action in Iraq Friday when an improvised explosive device blew up next to the armored Humvee he was in.

Local story: Bill Mitchell of Atascadero is still grieving the death of his only son, Sgt. Mike Mitchell who was killed in Iraq in April of last year.

The army says Sgt. Mitchell died along with seven other soldiers in an ambush.

Mitchell says he has made repeated attempts to meet with Congressman Bill Thomas, even in Washington D.C., but each time was unsuccessful. Mitchell says on three occasions, Thomas sent staff members instead.

Atascadero is in Thomas’ district.

“You know I want to sit down with him. I want to tell him about my son … what a fine young man that was killed in this war, and I want to talk to him about the war and I’d like to know why he continues to support it,” said Mitchell.

“I think it's the height of disrespect that he will not meet with the father of a soldier who was killed in this war, one of his constituents,” adds Mitchell.

Local story: A Harrow Muslim was among three to have been killed by gunmen while returning to Baghdad after a five-day tour of religious sites.

Husain Mohammedali, 50, who was from Waverely Road, leaves his wife, three daughters and one son.

Five close friends were travelling together, they were mainly Shiite Muslims from Husaini Masjid Mosque in Northolt.

Saifuddib Nakai from Streatham was also killed on Monday and Yahya Gulamali, 60, from Greenford died from his injuries on Tuesday, Ali Asqar Qaiyoom, 42, an engineer from Harrow and Zehra Jafferjee, 60, from Wembley were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Local story: Two West Michigan soldiers remained in critical but stable condition in a Texas hospital after suffering extensive burns in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq last week.

Army Sgt. Spencer Akers, 35, of Traverse City, and Stanwood resident Sgt. Matthew Webber, 23, were injured in the Nov. 21 incident, when a roadside bomb exploded under a Humvee.

Pfc. John Dearing, 21, of Hazel Park, a gunner on the Humvee, was killed instantly.

Sgt. Duane Dreasky, 31, of Novi, and Spc. Joshua Youman, 25, of Flushing, also were injured in the explosion.

Local story: A public memorial service will be held this week for an Indiana soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this month.

The memorial for 20-year-old Lance Corporal Scott Zubowski will be Thursday at a church in Newcastle.

He and another Marine were killed November 12th by a roadside bomb near Fallujah.


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