Friday, January 06, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY JANUARY 6, 2006 Body bags shroud the victims of a suicide bomb attack outside of a hospital on Thursday in Karbala, Iraq. Hadi Mizban/AP Bring ‘em on: Deadliest day of violence in months on Thursday, which followed a very bad day on Wednesday. 130+ Iraqis killed on Thursday, and 7 US soldiers are killed in bombings. (Later update says 11 US troops killed.) Nearly 200 people were wounded in the attacks on Iraqis in two cities. Another three bombs exploded in Baghdad, two of them detonated by suicide bombers. And insurgents sabotaged an oil pipeline near the northern city of Kirkuk, causing a huge fire. UPDATE: At least 149 killed in one day of violence in Iraq. UPDATE: Death toll from attack in Iraq’s Ramadi hits 60, with over 70 wounded, including some US soldiers. UPDATE: Death toll from attack in Ramadi yesterday reaches 80 dead and 61 wounded. Some of those killed were tribal leaders who had come to supervise the recruitment of residents into the country's police force, said Majeed Tikriti, a doctor in Ramadi's hospital. Local leaders have repeatedly demanded that U.S. and Iraqi authorities allow men from Ramadi to serve in Iraq's armed forces. They had argued that only locally recruited soldiers could bring a measure of control to the city of 400,000 on the Euphrates River, which is considered one of the key centers of the Sunni-led insurgency. Though U.S. and Iraqi authorities have been reluctant to allow this, on the grounds that locally recruited soldiers are vulnerable to coercion by insurgents, they have relented in recent weeks. UPDATE: Death toll in Thursday’s attacks in Kerbala reach 53 killed and 148 wounded. Four Iranian tourists were among the dead. UPDATE: Wednesday’s attack on funeral in Muqdadiyah results in at least 42 dead and 36 wounded. The attack in Muqdadiyah, a city about 60 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, took place at the funeral of Mohammed Hadi Baga, the nephew of Ahmed Baga, a leading member of the Shiite-dominated Dawa party. Mohammed Baga had been working as a bodyguard for his uncle when gunmen shot him Tuesday. He died the next morning, and about 200 relatives, friends and neighbors had gathered to mourn him. The attacks drew the fury of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in the country, who issued a statement demanding that the government and religious authorities fight against the "bloodshed of innocents." "The patience of the Iraqi people is about to run out, and that is not acceptable by God," Sistani was quoted as saying. ANOTHER UPDATE from Wednesday: Five die and 13 are injured when a car bomb explodes outside a police station in the capital's mainly Shia Kadhimiya district; an official at the oil ministry and his son are shot dead in their car in western Baghdad; and at least two civilians are killed in Kirkuk as their car is hit by a roadside bomb intended for a US patrol. (I don’t think these stories were covered. – Susan) Bring ‘em on: Iraqi detainee died yesterday while in US custody. Bring ‘em on: Hundreds protest unemployment in Iraq, which turned violent, leaving two dead and dozens injured. Bring ‘em on: Four more US troops killed in Iraq, bringing yesterday’s total to eleven. Yesterday’s post mentioned five soldiers killed by IED in Baghdad, and two soldiers killed by IED in Najaf. There was also a Marine and a soldier killed by the suicide bomber in Ramadi. See next report for the last two US fatalities. Bring ‘em on: Two US Marines killed in thrice liberated Fallujah by small arms fire in two separate attacks. Bring ‘em on: Mosquitoes shot down an UAV?? Well, one was lost in Mosul, and recovery efforts have been suspended. If any mosquitoes see it, please return to nearest Coalition Forces facility. Wear your bulletproof and bomb proof suit, because the Coalition Forces may be in the mood for more liberation blessings. Bring ‘em on: It was the fourth deadliest day in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with at least 136 total deaths, including the U.S. troops. (First, they are counting wrong, and second, they are referring to Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence or Mosquito-on-American violence, not covering American-on-Iraqi violence. If they were counting that, I am sure there were some higher number days than 136 from US bombs.- Susan) The 11 U.S. deaths were the most in a single day since 11 troops were killed on Dec. 1, when 10 Marines were killed by a roadside bomb while on a foot patrol near Fallujah. (Those mosquitoes in Fallujah just don’t want to quit. – Susan) In Ramadi, a Sunni insurgent stronghold 70 miles west of the capital, Marine Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool said police recruits got back in line to continue the screening process after a suicide bomber attacked. They were apparently desperate for a relatively well-paying job in the impoverished area. Bring ‘em on: Information suggests 3/25 Marines may have been betrayed. The families of those who died are being told that on Aug. 1, six Marine snipers from the 3/25 were killed, and it appears they were set up and ambushed. Two days later, 14 Marines from the 3/25 were sent to arrest the insurgents who killed the snipers, but their vehicle was blown up, killing all of them. It now appears that they also may have been set up. The Marines at the 3/25 have requested that the investigation report be declassified and released. This could take weeks or possible several months. When it happens, the families of the fallen Marines will be the first to learn what it says, and then the report will be released to the public. (thanks for the link, zig) Bring ‘em on: As Iraqis bury their dead, some are thinking of revenge. "I call on our religious Shi'ite institutions to give us permission to fight back," he said. "Shi'ite popular opinion has remained obedient to the clergy and its leaders, but the question is, for how long?" he said. "People are not stupid. They're telling us, 'If you can't protect us, then let us protect ourselves'." Bring ‘em on: Car bomb kills one Iraqi civilian and wounds three in Baghdad on Friday. Five policemen and ten civilians wounded by car bomb in Mosul. Bring ‘em on: Seven bodies found in southern Baghdad near the Rustumiya reservoirs at the Diyala River on Friday. They were bound, blind-folded, and shot, and apparently floated to that location from upriver. Police recovered nine bodies from the same location on Thursday, and some 70 bodies were recovered in the past. Bring ‘em on: Kirkuk Governorate Council member was abducted in Baghdad by unknown militants. Bring ‘em on: Thousands of Shiites demonstrated in Baghdad on Friday after two days of bloodshed that claimed almost 200 lives, protesting they said was American coddling of Sunni Arab insurgents. In the demonstration in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, protesters chanting slogans against U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad and Sunni Arab leaders, especially hardliners who have been complaining of widespread fraud in the Dec. 15 elections. "No, no to Zalmay. No, no to terrorism," the marchers chanted. Also, suicide car bomber kills one Iraqi police in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Zawahri said in video that the US recent decision to withdraw some troops from Iraq represented “the victory of Islam”. (So the president and defense secretary tell lies and Islam is victorious? Islam has been winning a lot of victories these last 5 years. – Susan) Al-Zawahri said the American forces "with their planes, missiles, tanks and fleets are mourning and bleeding, seeking for a getaway from Iraq." "Regarding your withdrawal timetable ... you have to admit, Bush, that you have been defeated in Iraq and are being defeated in Afghanistan and will be defeated in Palestine," he said, speaking calmly but forcefully. Al-Jazeera said the videotape was dated in December but it gave no more specifics. The most recent videotape from al-Zawahri, aired by Al-Jazeera in October, called on Muslims to aid victims of a massive earthquake in Pakistan. REPORTS THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: A Look at Deadliest Attacks of Iraq War (AP) - Some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq since the war began in March 2003: (They are only covering Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence here, not American-on-Iraqi violence. – Susan) _Jan. 5, 2006: Attacks kill at least 130 people, including five U.S. soldiers. Deadliest of the day are a suicide bombing in Ramadi that kills 56 people and a suicide blast near a Shiite Muslim shrine in Karbala that kills 63. _Jan. 4, 2006: A suicide bomber strikes a Shiite funeral east of Baqouba, killing at least 32 mourners. _Dec. 6, 2005: Two suicide bombers blow themselves up at Baghdad's police academy, killing at least 43 people. _Nov. 24, 2005: A suicide bomber blows up his car outside a hospital south of Baghdad while U.S. troops are handing out candy and food to children, killing 30 people. _Nov. 19, 2005: A suicide bomber detonates his car in a crowd of Shiite Muslim mourners north of Baghdad, killing at least 36 people. _Nov. 18, 2005: Near-simultaneous suicide bombings kill 74 worshippers at two Shiite mosques near the Iranian border. _Nov. 10, 2005: A suicide bomber blows himself up in a Baghdad restaurant favored by police, killing 35 people. _Oct. 29, 2005: A truck bomb attack against Shiite civilians in the farming village of Huweder kills 30 people. _Oct. 12, 2005: A suicide attacker sets off explosives hidden beneath his clothing outside an army recruiting center in Tal Afar, killing at least 30 people. _Oct. 11, 2005: A suicide car bomb explodes in a crowded open market in Tal Afar, killing at least 30 people. _Sept. 29, 2005: Three suicide attackers detonate car bombs in the mostly Shiite town of Balad, north of Baghdad, killing at least 102 people. _Sept. 17, 2005: A remote-controlled car bomb rips through a produce market in a poor Shiite neighborhood on the outskirts of Baghdad, killing at least 30 people. _Sept. 14, 2005: A suicide car bomber strikes as day laborers gather shortly after dawn in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad, killing 112 people. _Aug. 17, 2005: Three car bombs explode near a bus station in Baghdad and at a nearby hospital, killing up to 43 people. _July 29, 2005: A suicide bomber detonates explosives among army volunteers in Rabiah, near the Syrian border, killing at least 52. _July 24, 2005: A truck bomb attack outside a Baghdad police station kills 39 people. _July 16, 2005: Suicide bomber detonates explosives strapped to his body at a gas station near a Shiite mosque in Musayyib, killing at least 54 people. _May 11, 2005: A suicide bomber outside a police and army recruitment center in Hawija kills at least 30 people. _May 4, 2005: Bomb explodes among Iraqi civilians applying for police jobs in Kurdish city of Irbil, killing 60 people. _March 10, 2005: A suicide bomber blows himself up at a Shiite mosque in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 47 people. _Feb. 28, 2005: In the deadliest single strike since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a suicide car bomber targets mostly Shiite police and national guard recruits in Hillah, killing 125 people. _Dec. 19, 2004: Car bombs tear through a Najaf funeral procession and Karbala's main bus station, killing at least 60 people. _Sept. 30, 2004: A series of bombings in Baghdad kill 35 children and seven adults as U.S. troops hand out candy at a ceremony to inaugurate a sewage treatment plant. _Sept. 14, 2004: A car bomb rips through a market near a Baghdad police headquarters, and gunmen fire on a van carrying police in Baqouba, killing at least 59 people. _July 29, 2004: A suicide car bomb devastates a street in Baqouba, killing 70 people. _April 21, 2004: Five blasts near police stations and a police academy in Basra kill at least 55 people. _March 2, 2004: Coordinated blasts from suicide bombers, mortars and planted explosives strike Shiite shrines in Karbala and Baghdad, killing at least 181 people. _Feb. 11, 2004: Suicide attacker blows up a car packed with explosives in a crowd waiting outside an army recruiting center in Baghdad, killing 47 people. _Feb. 10, 2004: Suicide bomber explodes a truckload of explosives outside a police station in Iskandariyah, killing 53 people. _Feb. 1, 2004: Suicide bombers kill 109 people in two Kurdish party offices in Irbil. _Oct. 27, 2003: Suicide bombings target International Red Cross headquarters and Iraqi police stations in Baghdad, killing 40 people. _Aug. 29, 2003: A car bomb explodes outside a mosque in Najaf, killing more than 85 people, including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. _Aug. 19, 2003: A truck bomb explodes outside the U.N. headquarters building in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including Sergio Viera de Mello, the U.N. special envoy to Iraq. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Poverty, Fear Dominate Life for Iraq’s Gypsies Home is nothing more than a leaky tent strung up with sticks and torn carpet on a plot strewn with dirty plastic bags, rusted cans and broken bottles. A stack of kerosene cans with mud on top serves as a makeshift oven. Flies swirl everywhere — on garbage, on the giggling children, on a dog tethered to a tree. Inside the tent, his wife and five children, their ragged clothes caked with dirt, crowd on to carpets and a small cot. A kerosene lamp is the only source of warmth on a chilly winter morning. A meal of tomatoes, cucumbers and beans is the typical fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meat is a rare treat every few weeks. More recently, Hassan has worried about being rounded up and forced to move elsewhere by religious militia. “We have nothing,” he says. “We are poor. We're just looking for a safe place to hide.” Scorned by religious Muslims and barely tolerated by the rest of society, Iraq's Gypsies have a precarious existence. Lacking education or skills, they form one of the lower rungs of Iraq's social system. Yet the Gypsies of Hadid village near Baqouba, 65 kilometres northeast of Baghdad, may be among the luckier ones in Iraq. Other Gypsy tribes have been hunted down and attacked by increasingly powerful Islamist militias who see them as a blot on society. Under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, Gypsies had some protection from persecution — partly in exchange for supplying dancers, alcohol and prostitutes, Iraqis say. The safety net disappeared with Saddam's overthrow, leaving them open to the whims of religious militia groups contemptuous of their freewheeling ways. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: IMF Occupies Iraq, Riots Follow Bad enough that the U.S. military is occupying Iraq. Now the IMF is occupying the country. In December, the International Monetary Fund, in exchange for giving a loan of $685 million to the Iraqi government, insisted that the Iraqis lift subsidies on the price of oil and open the economy to more private investment. As the IMF said in a press release of December 23, the Iraqi government must be committed to “controlling the wage and pensions bill, reducing subsidies on petroleum products, and expanding the participation of the private sector in the domestic market for petroleum products.” The impact of the IMF extortion was swift and brutal. “Since the Dec. 15 parliamentary election, fuel prices have increased five-fold, mostly because the outgoing government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari has cut subsidies as part of a debt-forgiveness deal it signed with the International Monetary Fund,” the Los Angeles Times reported on December 28. “The move has shocked Iraqis long accustomed to hefty subsidies of gasoline, kerosene, cooking gas, and other fuels.” Iraqis are getting a nasty taste of the IMF’s medicine. “Over the summer, gas was selling for about five cents a gallon,” the LA Times noted. “Now it’s about 65 cents, and at the end of the price increases, gasoline will cost about the same in Iraq as it does in other countries in the Persian Gulf, about $1 per gallon. The prices of kerosene, diesel, and cooking gas have seen similar or steeper increases.” The price of public transportation has also gone up significantly. Even the Pentagon’s “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” recognized the need for “balancing the need for economic reform—particularly of bloated fuel and food subsidies—with political realities.” But “political realities” on the ground—such as inciting riots and increasing discontent—don’t appear to concern Bush. For the Bush Administration, the endorsement of the IMF price increase represents a schizophrenia that’s almost clinical. The Iraqi people are sick and tired of the U.S. occupation already, to put it mildly. Now that they are seeing their standard of living plummet, thanks to the IMF, they are going to be even more irate at the United States, which they know controls the IMF. Caught between deciding whether to try to win hearts and minds or whether to cling to free market fantasies, Bush has once again chosen to live in fantasyland. THE TRAGEDY OF IRAQ: Insurgent ambush shuts oil refinery. Iraq's largest oil refinery closed again Thursday, a day after insurgents ambushed a convoy of tanker trucks carrying gas from the facility, an Iraqi official said. The official told Dow Jones Newswires that pumping to the Beiji refinery also had been suspended because its reserves were full. Dow Jones did not identify the official because he feared militants could kill him for speaking to the media. Beiji is located in a restive area 155 miles north of Baghdad. Police said Wednesday's ambush destroyed four tankers and damaged 15, while three Iraqi army vehicles were blown up. The refinery, which pumps 140,000 barrels a day, closed Dec. 18 after insurgents threatened to kill drivers transporting oil and blow up their trucks. It reopened Sunday and drivers again began carrying fuel after the government promised extra protection. NEWS: Iraq Facing Hurdles, US General Warns. The top American operational commander in Iraq has offered a sober assessment of the hurdles facing a new Iraqi government, voicing concerns that sectarian rivalries and incompetence could cripple major ministries and turn newly American-trained Iraqi security forces into militias for hire. (A little behind the times, no? – Susan) The commander, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines of the Army, warned in an interview on Wednesday that the development of the Defense and Interior Ministries that sustain Iraqi security forces lags behind the fielding and prowess of more than 220,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers. At the urging of American commanders and civilian officials, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has stepped up the recruiting of Sunni Arabs to serve in an army that is now dominated largely by Shiite and Kurdish soldiers. "The M.O.D. must continue to be perceived as a force that protects the population, as opposed to oppressing it," General Vines said. "This is a reason we're watching what happens at the M.O.D. very carefully." NEWS: A Shi’ite Warning Sunni Arab groups that have warned of potential civil war "bear the responsibility for every drop of blood that was shed," said Mr. Hakim, whose party is allied with Iran and is the most influential group in the governing Shiite coalition. He said "pressure" from American forces had impeded the Interior and Defense Ministries from "doing their job chasing terrorists and maintaining the souls of innocent Iraqi people." "We're laying the responsibility for the blood of innocents shed in the past few days on the multinational forces and the political powers that declared publicly their support for terrorism," he said. "Our people will not be patient for much longer with these dirty sectarian crimes." As evidence has mounted that Iraqi security forces under the command of Shiite leaders have carried out a program of torture and assassination of Sunni Arabs, American commanders have sought to rein them in. (They have a different take on the situation than the General does. – Susan) NEWS: From Stars and Stripes “A daunting task lies ahead, but I have no doubt you are well-trained,” said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, V Corps commander since 2003, who spent a tumultuous year in Iraq. He told the soldiers that conditions there have changed, and although ultimately Iraq has a “prosperous future,” its current condition is problematic. “The country’s on the verge of a civil war,” he said, and told the soldiers the mission now is to transfer responsibility for Iraq stability to Iraqi troops, including what he said had been “neglected police capacity.” (And there’s one US General who is, at last, getting close to the truth. – Susan) THE WAR AT HOME: Losing their minds. More US soldiers than ever are sustaining serious brain injuries in Iraq. But a significant number of them are being misdiagnosed, forced to wait for treatment or even being called liars by the Army. THE WAR AT HOME: The Quiet Death of Freedom And for what? From 11 September 2001 to 30 September 2005, a total of 895 people were arrested in Britain under the Terrorism Act. Only 23 have been convicted of offences covered by the Act. As for real terrorists, the identity of two of the 7 July bombers, including the suspected mastermind, was known to MI5 and nothing was done. And Blair wants to give them more power. Having helped to devastate Iraq, he is now killing freedom in his own country. Consider parallel events in the United States. Last October, an American surgeon, loved by his patients, was punished with 22 years in prison for founding a charity, Help the Needy, which helped children in Iraq stricken by an economic and humanitarian blockade imposed by America and Britain. In raising money for infants dying from diarrhoea, Dr. Rafil Dhafir broke a siege which, according to Unicef, had caused the deaths of half a million under the age of five. The then-Attorney General of the United States, John Ashcroft, called Dr. Dhafir, a Muslim, a "terrorist," a description mocked by even the judge in his politically-motivated travesty of a trial. A related, insidious tyranny is being imposed across the world. For all his troubles in Iraq, Bush has carried out the recommendations of a Messianic conspiracy theory called the "Project for a New American Century." Written by his ideological sponsors shortly before he came to power, it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic façade: "the cavalry on a new American frontier," guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania. More than 700 American bases are now placed strategically in compliant countries, notably at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels and encircling the Middle East and Central Asia. "Pre-emptive" aggression is policy, including the use of nuclear weapons. The chemical warfare industry has been reinvigorated. Missile treaties have been torn up. Space has been militarised. Global warming has been embraced. The powers of the president have never been greater. The judicial system has been subverted, along with civil liberties. The former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who once prepared the White House daily briefing, told me that the authors of the PNAC and those now occupying positions of executive power used to be known in Washington as "the crazies." He said, "We should now be very worried about fascism." In his epic acceptance of the Nobel Prize in Literature on 7 December, Harold Pinter spoke of "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed." He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities, the ruthless suppression of independent thought" of Stalinist Russia was well known in the west while American state crimes were merely "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged." A silence has reigned. Across the world, the extinction and suffering of countless human beings can be attributed to rampant American power, "but you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest." To its credit, the Guardian in London published every word of Pinter's warning. To its shame, though unsurprising, the state television broadcaster ignored it. All that Newsnight flatulence about the arts, all that recycled preening for the cameras at Booker prize-giving events, yet the BBC could not make room for Britain's greatest living dramatist, so honoured, to tell the truth. For the BBC, it simply never happened, just as the killing of half a million children by America's medieval siege of Iraq during the 1990s never happened, just as the Dhafir and Padilla trials and the Senate vote, banning freedom, never happened. The political prisoners of Belmarsh barely exist; and a big, brave posse of Metropolitan police never swept away Maya Evans as she publicly grieved for British soldiers killed in the cause of nothing except rotten power. THE WAR AT HOME: Freedom on the march. And now, as hundreds of soldiers overseas have started keeping Internet journals about the heat, the homesickness, the bloodshed, word speeds from the battlefront faster than ever. More and more, though, U.S. military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are clamping down on these military Web logs, known as milblogs. After all, digital photos of blown-up tanks and gritty comments on urban warfare don't just interest mom and dad. The enemy, too, has a laptop and satellite link. Nowadays, milbloggers "get shut down almost as fast as they're set up," said New York Army National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley, 31, of upstate New Paltz, who believes something is lost as the grunt's-eye take on Tikrit or Kabul is silenced or sanitized. THE WAR AT HOME: Bush reaches beyond inner circle on Iraq policy (This was a 40 minute photo op that was only for show. - Susan) ELECTIONS IN IRAQ NEWS: Iraq’s election aftermath reveals a failed state A combination of factors, including the failure to restore public services and to get the oil industry running effectively, the persistence of the insurgency, and high levels of unemployment, have led to the devolution of power to local leaders based in traditional clans, religious figures, criminal gangs, and narrow political factions, some of which deploy militia, that partially overlap with one another and split the major groups from within, except -- for the moment -- the Kurds. The greatest shortcoming of the intervention has been its failure to nurture a coherent Iraqi political class. In its absence, loose and divergent coalitions have emerged that mask the underlying dispersion of power, which was the primary cause of the protracted negotiations that were necessary to form the interim government and that are likely to be repeated before the new constitutional government is put in place. The hallmark of a failed state, political dispersion severely weakens the ability to compromise because it impairs the capacity of leaders on the national stage to discipline hard line factions among their constituents and encourages a chronic battle for influence within coalitions over the distribution of political spoils and a struggle for prestige. The problem is exacerbated when -- as in Iraq -- leaders do not have sufficient resources to reward cooperation. That 60 separate parties were involved in the coalition protesting the elections is an indicator of Iraq's political dispersion. The Shi'a are similarly factionalized and appear to be unified only because they are determined to hold on to and, if possible, expand their regional autonomy and control over petroleum resources. If Washington is determined to draw down from Iraq, its exit is not likely to be graceful. If it judges that it must maintain its current presence, it will increasingly be reduced to a bystander, unable to control the direction of events. Rather than marking a milestone of Iraq's progress toward political stability, much less democracy, the aftermath of the elections shows that they were the opening shot of an intensified conflict in which all the players will seek to defend and promote their perceived vital interests in a spirit of militancy. NEWS: Iraqi Blogger presents photographic evidence of (he believes) election fraud. At the election day,Iraq’s government issued vehicles ban on the streets (read under image 3) yet the photo above shows buses transporting Kurdish people into Kirkuk’s voting centers from outside the city. Tip: The flag on the buses is the Kurdish flag. HYPOCRISY AND RAMPANT STUPIDITY SECTION STILL CLUELESS AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: DoD News Briefing by General Peter Pace, USMC, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff GEN. PACE: Well, thanks for your time this afternoon. I just spent a fabulous week in the Gulf region with our troops, and I thought I'd come down and share some thoughts about what I saw and then answer your questions. And the other thing that I came away with in talking with not only U.S. personnel but foreign leaders, is what I would call a quiet confidence in where we are right now, in an understanding of the process, an understanding of the way ahead, and a feeling of confidence that if we collectively stay with it, we're going to be okay. (I didn’t read it all. There’s only so much stupidity one person can take in one day. – Susan) AND SOME REASONS WHY THEY HAVE LOST THIS WAR: FLASHBACK to just last month: Iraq suicide blasts at lowest level in seven months. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters that suicide bombings fell to 23 in November, which he attributed to successful U.S.-Iraqi military operations against insurgent strongholds in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital. “His weapon of choice is suicide bombers,” Lynch said of the insurgents. “In the month of November: only 23 suicide attacks; the lowest we’ve seen in the last seven months, the direct result of the effectiveness of our operations.” (And what a fool believes, he sees. - Susan) AND MORE REASONS WHY THEY HAVE LOST THIS WAR: US Says Bomb Hit Wrong House in Iraq. A bomb that killed six civilians Monday near Baiji, Iraq, missed its target by 65 feet (20 meters) and hit the wrong home, military officials said. The bomb, which was dropped by a U.S. fighter plane, was aimed at a building that three men entered after planting a roadside bomb as an unmanned surveillance plane watched from overhead, the officials said. A U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter jet strafed the building before the bomb was dropped, according to a U.S. military statement released after the nighttime attack. The bomb had "successful effects against the insurgents," the statement added. The strike flattened a family's home, killing six of the family members and wounding three others, said a spokesman for the Salaheddin provincial governor's office. A father and daughter survived with only minor injuries, he said. (This whole incident made me extremely angry, as you can tell by reading my blog here. After reading this article, I am even angrier. I wish that the politicians in DC could know, could truly, madly, deeply, totally and completely KNOW what it felt like to hold your child in your arms with half their skull gone. I would never want to see anyone harmed, I just wish they could wake up in the morning and for every second of every hour of every day for the rest of their lives, they would KNOW this. – Susan) WHAT THE US MILITARY HAD TO SAY ABOUT THAT INCIDENT: AIR SUPPORT PREEMPTS POSSIBLE IED EMPLACEMENT (Another preemptive strike! Just like the war itself! How cute! Do you suppose this was an imaginary IED like the imaginary WMDs? – Susan) TIKRIT, Iraq – Coalition forces reconnaissance aircraft observed three men suspected of emplacing an improvised explosive device digging in a road near Bayji after 9:00 p.m. on Jan.2, prompting a military response against them. An unmanned aerial vehicle from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division observed the would-be attackers as they dug a hole following the common pattern of road-side bomb emplacement. The individuals were assessed as posing a threat to Iraqi civilians and coalition forces, and the location of the three men was relayed to close air support pilots. The individuals left the road site and were followed from the air to a nearby building. Coalition forces employed precision-guided munitions on the structure. Local Iraqi police were the first authorities at the scene to conduct post-event response. (This was the entire article from MNF website.) For more information, please contact the 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION Public Affairs Office at EDWARD.LOOMIS@US.ARMY.MIL (I sent him an email. I pointed out that there is no proof that the men were even planting an IED, just a suspicion, because they were digging a hole beside a road. I questioned him for evidence to support this action. He answered the email by asking me a question about my recent editorial (He can do a google search! Hurray!) instead of providing answers to my questions. I would like to invite you to email him and tell him that "Susan sent you". I am sending postcards to my Senators and Representative about this bombing also. – Susan) HOW SOME IRAQIS FEEL ABOUT IT: Area residents reported that at least six members of an extended family were killed and three were rescued in the airstrike. The head of the household, Gadban Hussein, was in critical condition after having all four limbs amputated, a local hospital spokesman said in a telephone interview. The dead included three of Hussein's sons and a daughter, all high school students, and his wife, the witnesses said. Another son and the son's wife were also seriously injured. Baiji car salesman Nahi Mohammed said he believes a curfew might have prevented rescuers from saving some of the victims. Sunni leaders condemned the attack for causing the "bloodshed of innocent children" and accused the U.S. of conducting terrorism. "If such incidents would occur in any other country, I can imagine their reaction," said Nasir Ani, of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab political party. "But in Iraq it is just like any other news." OH, AND GET THIS: Drone surveillance aircraft, some armed with missiles, are being used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan to spot targets. Videotape from the planes' cameras is monitored from remote stations in Iraq, at other bases in the Middle East, and at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. (Yes, some teenagers monitor those drones and fire those missiles, from NEVADA. And they never see combat or face any danger. – Susan) The Monday night incident, near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, heightened simmering tensions between American troops and Sunnis, who dominate the insurgency. U.S. forces, under the command of Gen. George W. Casey, have begun seeking ways to reduce the number of troops in order to shrink the American footprint in Iraq. (So, they are just going to have drones flying around killing god-knows-who for god-knows-what reasons, more preemptive strikes against imaginary weapons, and they feel they are answerable to NOBODY. – Susan) THEY ARE GOING TO LOSE THE NEXT WAR TOO: THE CIA AND IRAN: Bush Insists that Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Weapons. So Why, Six Years Ago, Did the CIA Give the Iranians Blueprints to Build a Bomb? Operation Merlin has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in the Clinton and Bush administrations. It's not clear who originally came up with the idea, but the plan was first approved by Clinton. After the Russian scientist's fateful trip to Vienna, however, the Merlin operation was endorsed by the Bush administration, possibly with an eye toward repeating it against North Korea or other dangerous states. Several former CIA officials say that the theory behind Merlin - handing over tainted weapon designs to confound one of America's adversaries - is a trick that has been used many times in past operations, stretching back to the cold war. But in previous cases, such Trojan horse operations involved conventional weapons; none of the former officials had ever heard of the CIA attempting to conduct this kind of high-risk operation with designs for a nuclear bomb. The former officials also said these kind of programmes must be closely monitored by senior CIA managers in order to control the flow of information to the adversary. If mishandled, they could easily help an enemy accelerate its weapons development. That may be what happened with Merlin. OH, AND THIS WILL SURELY HELP: Jordan Times says their parliament closer to ratifying US citizens’ immunity deal. The Legal Committee of the Lower House on Monday approved a controversial agreement that the Kingdom signed with the US, giving American citizens and personnel immunity against prosecution for war crimes, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. The draft law governing the agreement, which commits Jordan not to extradite any US citizen for trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was voted down by an overwhelming majority of the Lower House during its extraordinary session this summer, but was later approved by the Senate. According to procedure, the draft law went back to the deputies when the ordinary session opened. The Lower House turned it over to its Legal Committee for further examination. MPs, who voted against the ratification in July, said that it would jeopardize the Kingdom's sovereignty on its national soil and was in contradiction with Jordan's signing of the ICC agreement. AND THIS IS BOUND TO HELP ALSO: Britain admits it was wrong to blame Iran for deaths in Iraq The apparent U-turn last night prompted the mother of a young soldier killed in Iraq to accuse the Government of making political capital out of her son's death. Pte Phillip Hewett, 21, died alongside 2nd Lt Richard Shearer and Pte Leon Spicer when their patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device at al-Amarah, north of Basra, last July. Pte Hewett's mother, Sue Smith, 44, said: "They don't like Iran and they are using this for sympathy towards their attitudes, claiming that they were involved in the murder of our sons. I had the impression from the moment they made that statement that it was purely bully-boy tactics against Iran. It makes me really angry. They should be dealing with the people who killed our sons and not using it as a weapon. The way I look at it, it was just an excuse for another invasion. They have a foothold in the Middle East and they want to go further." (Hey, she’s got it about right, I would say. – Susan) FLASHBACK: Where that bomb technology really came from: According to security sources, the technology for the bombs used in the attacks, which were developed using technology from photographic flash units, was employed by the IRA some 15 years ago after Irish terrorists were given advice by British agents. "We are seeing technology in Iraq today that it took the IRA 20 years to develop," said a military intelligence officer with experience in Northern Ireland..." FLASHBACK: Revealed: IRA bombs killed eight British soldiers in Iraq Terror devices used by the IRA in a vicious murder campaign in Ulster blew up British servicemen as the world blamed Iran By Greg Harkin, Francis Elliott and Raymond Whitaker Published: 16 October 2005 Eight British soldiers killed during ambushes in Iraq were the victims of a highly sophisticated bomb first used by the IRA, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. The soldiers, who were targeted by insurgents as they travelled through the country, died after being attacked with bombs triggered by infra-red beams. The bombs were developed by the IRA using technology passed on by the security services in a botched "sting" operation more than a decade ago. (The rest of the article, no longer available for free, goes on to say that it was a British agent that was undercover with the IRA who developed the technology and gave it to the IRA. So, you have the MI6 guys making up bombs that a couple of decades later kills British troops. Truly ironic, no? - Susan) HYPOCRISY KNOWS NO BOUNDS: US condemns the attacks on Iraqi civilians in recent days. Statement was released by the US Embassy in Baghdad on January 5, 2006. COMMENTARY OPINION: After the War The war against Iraq, the assault on its people, the occupation of its cities, will come to an end, sooner or later. The process has already begun. The first signs of mutiny are appearing in Congress. The first editorials calling for withdrawal from Iraq are beginning to appear in the press. The anti-war movement has been growing, slowly but persistently, all over the country. Public opinion polls now show the country decisively against the war and the Bush Administration. The harsh realities have become visible. The troops will have to come home. I came to a conclusion about the psychology of myself and other warriors: Once we decided, at the start, that our side was the good side and the other side was evil, once we had made that simple and simplistic calculation, we did not have to think anymore. Then we could commit unspeakable crimes and it was all right. I began to think about the motives of the Western powers and Stalinist Russia and wondered if they cared as much about fascism as about retaining their own empires, their own power, and if that was why they had military priorities higher than bombing the rail lines leading to Auschwitz. Six million Jews were killed in the death camps (allowed to be killed?). Only 60,000 were saved by the war—1 percent. A gunner on another crew, a reader of history with whom I had become friends, said to me one day: “You know this is an imperialist war. The fascists are evil. But our side is not much better.” I could not accept his statement at the time, but it stuck with me. My hope is that the memory of death and disgrace will be so intense that the people of the United States will be able to listen to a message that the rest of the world, sobered by wars without end, can also understand: that war itself is the enemy of the human race. Governments will resist this message. But their power is dependent on the obedience of the citizenry. When that is withdrawn, governments are helpless. We have seen this again and again in history. The abolition of war has become not only desirable but absolutely necessary if the planet is to be saved. It is an idea whose time has come. PEACE ACTION: Out of Iraq Events Planned Nationwide (USA) on January 7, 2006. National call-in day on accountability planned for January 9, 2006. PLEASE call your elected officials and raise some STREET HEAT with them. They need to hear from you. CASUALTY REPORTS Local Story: Memorial Plans set for fallen Ohio soldier. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "From 1945 to 2003, the United States attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements fighting against intolerable regimes. In the process, the US bombed some 25 countries, caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair." -- William Blum


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