Friday, January 13, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY JANUARY 13, 2006 Bring ‘em on: US soldier died at Walter Reed from injuries received on December 24, 2005 in Ramadi from IED. Bring ‘em on: Kidnapped Iraqi translator found shot in Baghdad. Two bodies found shot in Nasiriyah. Bring ‘em on: Two kidnapped Iraqis freed near Tikrit. Iraqi and American forces detained a man and discovered weapons cache in Baghdad. US forces discovered three weapons caches and detained 21 suspected insurgents during raids in Tal Afar, Tikrit and Mosul on Wednesday. US forces killed six insurgents in Baghdad on Wednesday. Two were reportedly wearing suicide belts. Bring ‘em on: Gunmen kidnap an Iraqi police officer near Baiji. Bring ‘em on: Ziyad Hamdi, translator for US military, found shot south of Kirkuk. Bring ‘em on: Six Iraqis killed in clashes with US soldiers west of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Several American soldiers injured and one vehicle destroyed on Wednesday by car bomb on highway near Amereyat Falluja. Iraqi police said one US soldiers and one Iraqi civilian killed in gunfire exchange in al Khaladeyah city west of Baghdad (not confirmed). REPORTS THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: VIDEO REPORT: German TV shows the after effects of US bombing of a home in Baiji, Iraq. Baiji police said six people were killed and three wounded when the house was obliterated. Among the casualties were two police officers, one killed, the other wounded, they added. The youngest casualty was 14, the local police chief said. "I absolutely confirm there were no terrorists in this house," police chief Colonel Sufyan Mustafa told Reuters. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Precision Killing in Iraq The third principle behind these attacks is only occasionally expressed by US military and diplomatic personnel, but is nevertheless a foundation of US strategy as applied in Baiji and elsewhere. Though Bush administration officials and top US military officers often, for propaganda purposes, refer to local residents as innocent victims of insurgent intimidation and terrorism, their disregard for the lives of civilians trapped inside such buildings is symptomatic of a very different belief: that most Sunni Iraqis willingly harbor the guerrillas and support their attacks - that they are not unwilling shields for the guerrillas, but are actively shielding them. Moreover, this protection of the guerrillas is seen as a critical obstacle to our military success, requiring drastic punitive action. As one American officer explained to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, the willingness to sacrifice local civilians is part of a larger strategy in which US military power is used to "punish not only the guerrillas, but also make clear to ordinary Iraqis the cost of not cooperating". A marine calling in to a radio talk show recently stated the argument more precisely: "You know why those people get killed? It's because they're letting insurgents hide in their house." This is, by the way, the textbook definition of terrorism - attacking a civilian population to get it to withdraw support from the enemy. What this strategic orientation, applied wherever US troops fight the Iraqi resistance, represents is an embrace of terrorism as a principle tactic for subduing Iraq's insurgency. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Many Wounds to Heal The most vulnerable casualties of war are children. Today we met some of those casualties at an orphanage for boys in Baghdad. These kids have lost everything, parents, siblings, home life, and innocence. This is the collateral damage you don’t usually hear about when war wreaks havoc in far away places. There was Ali, a 12 year old year old first grade student. When he was 10 years old he endured the shock of a massive explosion in front of his house, after which he went out and found his father dead in the front yard. Through a series of unfortunate twists and turns he ended up at the orphanage where his favorite activity is school. When asked about all of the explosions he hears daily he describes them as "acts committed by terrorists" and adds that he is "always afraid that more explosions will happen." It’s this perpetual fear that his caregivers are the most concerned about. Post traumatic stress is assured for this survivor, but the long term effects of living in the shadow of constant violence and death are less certain. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraqi Widows Feel Lost in Land That Cannot Provide Three sewing machines in a dingy apartment were all Munna Abdul Adeem Ahmed could scrape together when she set up a tailoring co-op for poor widows. She soon realised it was not enough. More than 1,000 women from the northern city of Mosul turned up looking for work on the first day. Ahmed finally stopped registering new names after the 1,200th widow signed up. The women were mostly young, poor and desperate for work. Many lost their spouses during the wars, uprisings and civil conflict that have bedevilled Iraq over the past 25 years. Now, a raging insurgency is adding to their numbers. Traditionally, Iraqi widows have been supported by their late husband's family or other relatives, but in a country brought to its knees by violence and war, there is now little to spare for the most vulnerable members of society. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Local Insurgents Tell of Clashes with al Qaeda’s Forces in Iraq In October, the two insurgents said in interviews, a group of local fighters from the Islamic Army gathered for an open-air meeting on a street corner in Taji, a city north of Baghdad. Across from the Iraqis stood the men from Al Qaeda, mostly Arabs from outside Iraq. Some of them wore suicide belts. The men from the Islamic Army accused the Qaeda fighters of murdering their comrades. "Al Qaeda killed two people from our group," said an Islamic Army fighter who uses the nom de guerre Abu Lil and who claimed that he attended the meeting. "They repeatedly kill our people." The encounter ended angrily. A few days later, the insurgents said, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the Islamic Army fought a bloody battle on the outskirts of town. The battle, which the insurgents said was fought on Oct. 23, was one of several clashes between Al Qaeda and local Iraqi guerrilla groups that have broken out in recent months across the Sunni Triangle. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraq Still a Soft Target for Suicide Bombers As the past week has shown, death tolls in suicide bombings are appallingly high in Iraq -- generally much higher than elsewhere in the world. Analysts say this is because Iraqi security checks are still sporadic despite U.S. training, policemen are often ill-equipped and ill-disciplined, public gatherings tend to be large and chaotic, and high-grade explosives are readily available. "Security just isn't good enough to cope in Iraq," said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi consultant with the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "Until it improves, we'll keep on seeing these very high death tolls from suicide bombings." Only last week, two bombers struck in the cities of Kerbala and Ramadi. Both were alone and on foot, but they still managed to kill 120 people between them and injure around 200. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: “Democracy” Brings Bleak Days Many Iraqis see dismal days ahead in the face of rising violence and the decision by the U.S. administration not to seek any further funds for reconstruction. "It is obvious that the situation is much worse than it used to be," retired army general Ahmed Abdul Aziz told IPS. "Can you walk free in the streets? Did you receive your food ration last month? It is essential for most Iraqis to receive the food ration just to feed their families." The former Iraqi general added: "When you go to the hospital, do you find medicines? The answer is no medicines, no services, no sheets or pillows, no beds, no nursing, and no ambulances to carry you from your house." "My three sons have graduated from college, yet they still cannot find decent jobs because there are no jobs available," former deputy minister for trade Dr. Abdul Hadi told IPS. The Saddam regime "did not allow any of the graduates to be without jobs," he said. Now there is even a severe shortage of teachers in the universities. "I will not be satisfied until I find that all the people have the will to rebuild their country instead of humiliating their brothers," said Dr. Hadi. "I want to tell (U.S. President George) Bush that he has destroyed our country for at least the next 25 years. He is the greatest terrorist, Arabs can never forget." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: How Many Iraqis Have Died Since the US Invasion in 2003? 30,000? No. 100,000? No. President Bush's off-hand summation last month of the number of Iraqis who have so far died as a result of our invasion and occupation as "30,000, more or less" was quite certainly an under-estimate. The true number is probably hitting around 180,000 by now, with a possibility, as we shall see, that it has reached as high as half a million. But even Bush's number was too much for his handlers to allow. Almost as soon as he finished speaking, they hastened to downplay the presidential figure as "unofficial", plucked by the commander in chief from "public estimates". Such calculations have been discouraged ever since the oafish General Tommy Franks infamously announced at the time of the invasion: "We don't do body counts". In December 2004, an effort by the Iraqi Ministry of Health to quantify ongoing mortality on the basis of emergency room admissions was halted by direct order of the occupying power. (If they cared at all about the Iraqi people, then a careful toll would have always been kept. – Susan) There is however another and more reliable method for estimating figures such as these: nationwide random sampling. No one doubts that, if the sample is truly random, and the consequent data correctly calculated, the sampled results reflect the national figures within the states accuracy. That, after all, is how market researchers assess public opinion on everything from politicians to breakfast cereals. Epidemiologists use it to chart the impact of epidemics. In 2000 an epidemiological team led by Les Roberts of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health used random sampling to calculate the death toll from combat and consequent disease and starvation in the ongoing Congolese civil war at 1.7 million. This figure prompted shocked headlines and immediate action by the UN Security Council. No one questioned the methodology. In September 2004, Roberts led a similar team that researched death rates, using the same techniques, in Iraq before and after the 2003 invasion. Making "conservative assumptions" they concluded that "about 100,000 excess deaths" (in fact 98,000) among men, women, and children had occurred in just under eighteen months. Violent deaths alone had soared twentyfold. But, as in most wars, the bulk of the carnage was due to the indirect effects of the invasion, notably the breakdown of the Iraqi health system. Thus, though many commentators contrasted the iarqbodycount and Johns Hopkins figures, they are not comparable. The bodycounters were simply recording, or at least attempting to record, deaths from combat violence, while the medical specialists were attempting something far more complete, an accounting of the full death toll wrought by the devastation of the US invasion and occupation. Unlike the respectful applause granted the Congolese study, this one, published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, generated a hail of abusive criticism. The general outrage may have been prompted by the unsettling possibility that Iraq's liberators had already killed a third as many Iraqis as the reported 300,000 murdered by Saddam Hussein in his decades of tyranny. Some of the attacks were self-evidently absurd. British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman, for example, queried the survey because it "appeared to be based on an extrapolation technique rather than a detailed body count", as if Blair had never made a political decision based on a poll. Others chose to compare apples with oranges by mixing up nationwide Saddam-era government statistics with individual cluster survey results in order to cast doubt on the latter. Of course the survey on which all these figures are based was conducted fifteen months ago. Assuming the rate of death has proceeded at the same pace since the study was carried out, Sprey calculates that deaths inflicted to date as a direct result of the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq could be, at best estimate, 183,000, with an upper 95 per cent confidence boundary of 511,000. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Saddam’s Ear Amputees Khalid is an Iraqi torture victim from Basra. He and another victim, Adel, had been brutally punished for refusing to serve in Saddam Hussein's army. For their defiance their ears were cut off. Both men were deeply traumatised, shutting themselves off from the world and shunned by society. All this happened 12 years ago when Saddam Hussein passed decree 115 - it stated that those refusing to join the army or who deserted the army would have their ears amputated. But at the point I meet Khalid and Adel in London their life story is about to change. In an intricate and lengthy operation their ears are going to be reconstructed. When they return to Iraq they can begin to rebuild their shattered lives. Khalid remembers clearly what happened to him. With his face contorted with emotion, he told me how he was arrested by Baath party thugs and taken to police headquarters. The next day, he tells me, without investigation, without any court hearing, they took him to prison and injected him with anaesthetic and amputated his ear. When he woke up, he said, he was in a small prison full of people who'd had the same punishment. "They just wanted to be rid of us," he said, "they wouldn't have cared if we'd died." THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: A Sliver of Iraq’s Past Feels the Pressures of the Present A stroll on their 10-acre farm, separated from the street by the mud-colored wall, reveals a hidden piece of the mosaic of the modern and ancient that makes up Baghdad life. Like almost everything in this ravaged city, the sharecroppers' precarious livelihood is strained amid the deterioration of public services since the U.S.-led invasion. The tall date palms, some 200 years old, are not producing well. Disease is killing off the orange trees. The harvest has dropped by two-thirds, from about 300 pounds a year to 100. "Last year we made 1 cent profit," said Basim Ubaid, 24, one of Abid Ali's sons, who emerged from a shabby lean-to dressed for the New Year's holiday in a Dior sweatshirt and black-and-white kaffiyeh. "We were barely able to make the rent plus our family's needs." The pain has many causes, Basim said. Government handouts of fertilizer and pesticides have stopped. The municipal water supply dried up. The irrigation water they now pump directly from the Tigris is polluted. Restrictions on flying over Baghdad have ended the aerial pesticide spraying of the palms. Abid Ali, 50, sprays the 630 trees by hand now. To get to the top, he wears a handmade sling of stiff cable and leans back against it like a telephone lineman. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Iraq Kidnappings Worse “Than Ever Before” Jawad Kathum, 31, had to pay a heavy price for the abduction of his nephew. "My nephew was kidnapped by one of these gangs in Baghdad, and they made us pay $20,000 for his return," he told IPS. Such stories are common; nearly everyone knows someone who has been kidnapped. The kidnappers almost always demand heavy ransom. "We were forced to sell our house in order to release my nephew because there was no one who could rescue him," Jawad said. "I think the United States is responsible, because we didn't have kidnappings happen before the occupation," he added. "The kidnappings in Iraq have become very dangerous now, more than ever before," an Iraqi police officer who wished to remain anonymous told IPS. "It is because no one listens to Iraqis talk about their suffering. That's why they kidnap foreigners, because it makes people and governments all around the world listen to them." NEWS: NATO Donates US$120m in Arms to Iraq NATO member countries have so far contributed US$120 million worth of military and other equipment to the Iraqi Armed Forces, according to a report released by the alliance earlier this week. AK-47 rifles, tanks, and tank-recovery vehicles have made up a large proportion of items donated by member states, the report said. Many of the weapons come from Eastern European NATO member nations and are said to be “ideal” for the Iraqi military, because many Iraqis are “already familiar with those weapons from the days of the former [Soviet] regime”, according to the report. HOLIDAY IN IRAQ: Iraqi Children Ventrue Out to Play on Muslim Holiday Even though people were making the most of the holiday, the celebrations were much more low-key than before the US-led invasion in March 2003. In the past, Baghdad teemed with life during the Eid holiday. Families cluttered the streets or relaxed in the many parks with large picnics. Many hired boats on the Tigris River, stopping off at smoked fish restaurants along the way. In the evening, young people set off firecrackers and celebrated in roadside cafes, often until dawn. This year parents were still out with their children, visiting friends and relatives or playing in a park, but there was an underlying feeling of anxiety. Mothers did not want to let children out of their sight, while fathers remained on guard in case of a suicide bomber or random shooting. THE MARCH OF FOLLY: Iraq Evolving into Ideal School of “Jihadism” "It is a perfect model of urban combat that did not exist in Afghanistan," said Michael Klare, a professor and security expert at the University of Amherst in the United States. Foreign fighters "will come back from Iraq with an ability to do terrible things. The longer the war goes on, the more people will be trained in this fashion, and the more of a danger they will pose," he said. The anti-American forces in Iraq are fighting street-by-street and building-by-building, using improvised explosive devices, sniper fire and suicide bombers, techniques that would all be "applicable and dangerous in a European urban setting," he added. US government analysts have also identified a growing risk of exportable urban warfare. "Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamist extremists than Afghanistan was in Al-Qaeda's early days because it is serving as a real-world laboratory," according to a classified CIA report cited last year by the New York Times. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Army Stopped Abuse Probe Even Though No One Was Interviewed An Army investigation concludes there's no reason to believe an Iraqi prisoner's abuse claims. That's after investigators failed to question any Americans involved in the case. Records show investigators also didn't review some internal Army documents. They were told a computer glitch lost the files. The documents include numerous references to investigators being blocked from a thorough probe. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: US General Dodges Questions in Detainee Abuse Case U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a key player in the treatment of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, has invoked his right not to incriminate himself in the cases of two soldiers charged with abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners with dogs, officials said on Thursday. In addition, Army Col. Thomas Pappas, former top military intelligence officer at the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, was granted immunity from prosecution and directed to testify in the upcoming courts-martial of the Army dog handlers. Miller headed the prison camp at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, helped shape detention practices at Abu Ghraib and later oversaw all detention operations in Iraq. Army Maj. Michelle Crawford, a military lawyer representing him, said Miller had been questioned extensively in congressional inquiries, administrative probes and criminal cases against soldiers in the military justice system. Miller "stands by all of his prior responses and statements" but has decided "to stop answering these same questions," Crawford said by e-mail. With defense lawyers preparing to question Miller, the general invoked his right under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice barring compulsory self-incrimination. Defense lawyers are hoping to show that the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib was ordered by superiors. THE SHAME OF AMERICA: Documents Tie Shadowy US Units to Inmate Abuse Case Newly released military documents show U.S. Army investigators closed a probe into allegations an Iraqi detainee had been abused by a shadowy military task force after its members used fake names and asserted that key computer files had been lost. The documents shed light on Task Force 6-26, a special operations unit, and confirmed the existence of a secret military "Special Access Program" associated with it, ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh said on Thursday. The documents were released by the Army to the American Civil Liberties Union under court order through the Freedom of Information Act. They were the latest files to provide details of the numerous investigations carried out by the Army into allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq. Investigators could not find the personnel involved or the man's medical files, and the case was closed, the files stated. A memo listed the suspected offenses as "aggravated assault, cruelty and maltreatment." "The only names identified by this investigation were determined to be fake names utilized by the capturing soldiers," the memo stated. "6-26 also had a major computer malfunction which resulted in them losing 70 percent of their files; therefore they can't find the cases we need to review." The memo said the investigation should not be reopened. "Hell, even if we reopened it we wouldn't get anymore information than we already have," the memo stated. Singh said previous documents indicated Task Force 6-26 was linked to other instances of detainee abuse in Iraq. "This document suggests that Task Force 6-26 was part of a larger, clandestine program that we think may have links with high-ranking officials, because obviously someone high up had the authority to put this program in place," Singh said in a telephone interview. Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the Army had taken allegations of detainee abuse "extremely seriously." (So how come we never would have heard about all this without the ACLU doing a FOI? - Susan) THE SHAME OF AMERICA: SOME DOCUMENTS Army Documents Confirming that Black Ops "Special Access Program" Unit Covered Up Detainee Abuse THE SHAME OF AMERICA: MORE DOCUMENTS Autopsy reports reveal homicides of detainees in U.S. custody THE SHAME OF AMERICA: WHAT WE HAVE NOT YET SEEN The Defense Department has filed heavily redacted papers in a further attempt to suppress photographs and videos that depict the abuse of prisoners held at Abu Ghraib, the American Civil Liberties Union said today. The move is the government's latest effort to block the release of materials requested by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act. The government's papers cite a statutory provision that permits the withholding of records "compiled for law enforcement purposes," that "could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual." (The Iraqi people know what happened. And for the innocent or ignorant -or those still in denial among our readers - who don’t yet know, these videos are reportedly of little boys being raped in front of their parents. So, who’s physical safety are they protecting? After all this evidence, the only difference we can claim between our behavior in Iraq and the behavior of Saddam’s government is one of amount of murder, torture, abuse. But then, Saddam had decades and we have been there less than three years. – Susan) COMMENTARY OPINION: “Freedom in action” Yesterday Mr. Bush warned U.S. citizens of more violence in Iraq…again. He called it the “price of progress” as Iraq “moves toward democracy.” In the shady, smoke and mirror filled world of Mr. Bush where violence is progress and Iraq inches ever closer to their elusive “democracy,” truth remains ever distant from the rhetoric of his speech writers. Mr. Bush referred to “a good deal of political turmoil” in Iraq as “freedom in action.” If only reality matched his hallucinatory projections…If only Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, the most influential politician in Iraq andleader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, hadn’t issued a not-so-veiled warning yesterday to Sunni Arab Iraqis that the ruling Shiites would not allow significant amendments to the country’snew constitution… “Pacified” Fallujah, the “City of Hope,” as FOX “News” likes to call it, where three more U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday when their Humveewas destroyed by a roadside bomb…and a fourth soldier, like BrandonBare, was wounded in action. Yet, the land of hallucinations is a nice place to be for someone like Mr. Bush, who also said yesterday that most Iraqis are upbeat about their future. Despite rampant kidnappings, unemployment soaring to well over 50%, little electricity, no potable water and violence continuing unabated, Bush said, “The vast majority of Iraqis prefer freedom with intermittent power to life in the permanent darkness of tyranny and terror.” The security is so bad in Baghdad now that many people now don’t leave their homes unless it is absolutely necessary. Rampant abductions ofIraqis are symptomatic of the escalating lawlessness in Iraq which is of course aggravated by the political turmoil that has engulfed the countrysince the December 15 polls. Iraqi officials say as many as 30 Iraqis a day are reported kidnapped inBaghdad. The abductions are part of the rising lawlessness accompanying the country's political turmoil/“freedom in action.” Nothing has changed with the kidnapping since my last trip to Baghdad. Many of the hostages are freed when the ransom demanded is paid by their families. Other times when the ransom is paid, as happened to a friend of my interpreter, the family received a call telling them they could pick up the body of their 16 year-old son at the morgue. An email I received today from an Iraqi man in Baghdad runs a bit contradictory to the rhetoric of Mr. Bush’s speech writer: A friend of mine, Dr. S. who is a well known Neurologist, was kidnapped from his clinic and his family asked the help of his friends and relatives to help collect the ransom. My wife was driving downtown and she was hit on her left hand by a big stone thrown from a police pickup because she did not recognize that she should give way to a fast car that was trying to bypass her.....she is lucky not to get shot by them!!!! The Iraqis now get frightened from the local police and military as they exhibit a very high level of misconduct and abuse of the authority that they now have. Have I mentioned that power supply is one hour every five hours!!!!! OPINION: Cheney’s Cheney Addington's role has been the hard man -- the ideological enforcer. Most mornings during the first term, he would join the staff meeting in the White House counsel's office -- and take potshots at anyone he regarded as insufficiently committed to the president's agenda. "It was very surprising if anyone took a position more conservative than David, and this was a very conservative office," recalls one former colleague. "He was the hardest of the hard-core." A special target of Addington's needling during the first term was John B. Bellinger III, at the time the chief legal adviser to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Addington would attack any sign of caution or wariness from Bellinger about proposed policies, breaking in to say, "That's too liberal," or "You're giving away executive power," remembers a colleague. Bellinger is now Rice's legal adviser at the State Department. Addington's most bruising fights have been with colleagues at the Justice Department and the Pentagon who challenged his views on interrogation of enemy combatants. He pushed Justice's Office of Legal Counsel to prepare a 2002 memo authorizing harsh interrogation methods. When that memo was later withdrawn, Addington was furious. Last year, he successfully blocked the appointment of one critic, Patrick Philbin, as deputy solicitor general, even though Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wanted him in that role. Also last year, Addington was so adamant in resisting the efforts of a Pentagon official named Matthew Waxman to limit interrogation that Waxman eventually quit and is now moving to the State Department. "David is a fight-to-the-end kind of a guy," says one former colleague. "If you made it clear that you opposed him, he'd go to war with you. David was not an adversary you would want." Even people who describe themselves as friends of Addington believe that he has damaged President Bush politically by pressing anti-terrorism policies to the legal breaking point. And for many Republicans who bear scars from Addington, his story raises the ultimate question about the Bush White House: Who's in charge here? OPINION: America’s ability to rationalize the taking of life is deeply disturbing What circumstances make taking a life acceptable? Some people might say self-defense where you must either kill or be killed. This is based on a bit of guesswork as we cannot know for sure whether we will die if we do not take the life of another person; therefore it is based solely on our perception of a situation and is subject to error. For the sake of argument, let’s say we can accurately predict the future a few seconds from now and know that we will be killed if we don’t kill; then many people would say that it’s OK to kill. But it ceases to be self-defense when we kill someone because they are going to kill someone else. Killing to protect someone else from being killed would be “other defense” rather than self-defense. The majority of people would still find this acceptable, despite the fallibility of human judgment. There is a slippery slope forming here that illustrates how easily humans can rationalize even the most serious of crimes. Now, what if someone has already killed someone else, or multiple people; is it OK to take their life? It’s no longer defense since the person (or people) is already dead; it would in effect be “revenge.” However, rather than make it sound so hateful, we can justify it by saying that they are likely to kill again and we are using “other defense” to protect future victims. This takes our future- telling skills from the immediacy of a split second when an attacker is currently threatening a life, to predicting what will happen years down the road, assuming killers are not capable of changing their ways (as did recently executed gang founder-turned Nobel Peace Prize nominee Tookie Williams). So what do you suppose happens to our error rate when we do this? With all of this in mind, it brings to mind a burning question I have: “Why exactly has a Christian president led us to war?” War is justifiable homicide taken to exponential proportions with the exception that it guarantees the taking of innocent lives. In fact, war decisions are even more prone to errors in judgment due to the added degrees of separation decision makers have from the accused parties. So how were so many decent Christians able to rationalize a war with another country which was not even directly involved in an offensive attack against the United States? Was it by following the lost teachings of Jesus where killing innocent people is OK under certain conditions? Or, are we just so easily influenced that we ignore such things as moral codes and the respect of human life when they don’t suit the situation? If killing is wrong, it’s always wrong. If killing is OK depending on the circumstances then we will continue to have justifiable homicides, whether they are justified by the government or by individuals, because it encourages us to rationalize. And even good people can justify ways to do bad things. PEACE ACTION: Women Say No to War Women are mobilizing women around the globe to call for an end to the occupation and the violence in Iraq. With the majority of people in Iraq, the U.S., the U.K., and around the world opposing this war, now is the time for women to step forward and make our opposition more visible and vocal. With the launch of Women Say No To War Campaign, we are asking women around the world to sign on to the Women’s Call for Peace. We hope to obtain a minimum of 100,000 signatures by International Women's Day on March 8, 2006, when US and Iraqi women will deliver these signatures to leaders in Washington DC and women around the world will deliver them to US embassies. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Maine Governor orders flags flown at half-staff for soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: Jesup (GA) says goodbye to soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: Helicopter crash kills Alaska soldiers (National Guard) Local Story: Charleston, SC officer among dead in Iraq crash Local Story: Soldier who grew up in Hoffman (Minn) killed in Iraq Local Story: Talladega Soldier killed in Iraq Local Story: US Marine from Newport News killed in Iraq QUOTE OF THE DAY: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit - wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:16, 17, 18, 20


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