Sunday, January 08, 2006

War News for Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bring ‘em on: Three US Marines killed today by small arms attacks in Fallujah. Two US Marines killed yesterday by roadside bombs in separate incidents. One blast occurred about 50 miles west of Baghdad, while the other happened about 35 miles north of the capital.

Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi soldiers and two civilians wounded in southeast Baghdad car bombing.

Bring ‘em on: Two security officials killed and five wounded in suicide car bombing in southern Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: One Iraqi policeman was killed and 13 wounded during clashes with gunmen in the Adil district of the capital.

Bring ‘em on: A gunman died after he crashed his car following an exchange of fire with U.S. troops near Beiji on Saturday. They said the man shot at them from the car. They returned fire and the man lost control of his vehicle and rolled it into a ditch. U.S. soldiers pulled him out and local police took him to hospital, but he died of his wounds en route.

Bring ‘em on: Two suspects were detained for questioning in connection with bomb attacks against the Iraqi army and U.S. forces on Saturday southwest of Baiji.

Bring ‘em on: Two civilians were killed and two wounded when gunmen opened fire from their car at a crowd in Kirkuk.

Bring ‘em on: Gunmen shot dead a former senior Baath party member who was also a colonel in the dissolved Iraqi army in Hilla.

Helicopter crash: Twelve people killed in crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter about seven miles east of Tal Afar. Cause of crash not reported.

The rare bit of good news: Kidnapped French engineer freed near Baghdad.

Sarcasm fails me: A US military spokesman in Baghdad insisted yesterday that the escalation of attacks actually showed that the democratic process was being embedded.

"Desperate people are dangerous people", said Lt-Col Barry Johnson. "The common people of Iraq are losing their tolerance for the insurgents and terrorists among them, turning in the enemy among them at an increasing rate. We aren't past the dangers that threaten progress and there will be more tragedies ahead of us."

These Shiites don’t seem to appreciate their freshly embedded democratic process: Thousands of angry Shiites today rallied in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum against a spree of attacks that killed almost 200 people and to protest what they claim was American backing for Sunni Arabs politicians who have supported insurgent groups. The demonstrators chanted slogans against US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and moderate Sunni Arab leaders such as Adnan al-Dulaimi, but reserved most of their ire for hard-liners such as Saleh al-Mutlaq, head of the Sunni Arab National Dialogue Front – who have complained of widespread fraud during the December 15 elections. “We’re going to crush Saleh al-Mutlaq with our slippers,” they chanted as they marched, many armed with automatic weapons. “No, no to Zalmay. No, no to terrorism.”

In the meantime, we’re winning Sunni hearts and minds too: U.S. troops, some in helicopters, launched a pre-dawn raid on Sunday on the headquarters of the influential Sunni Arab Muslim Clerics' Association and detained six people in what they said was an anti-terrorist operation.

An association spokesman slammed the raid as a "crime" to punish his group for its stand towards the U.S.-led occupation.

Witnesses said American soldiers slid down ropes from helicopters as troops on the ground simultaneously burst into the Umm al-Qora mosque complex in western Baghdad at 3 a.m. (12:00 a.m. British time), blowing doors off hinges and ransacking offices.

U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Barry Johnson said they had been reacting to a tip-off of "substantial terrorist-related activity" in the complex.

Reuters Television footage showed spent shotgun shells and special explosive charges used to blow out door locks lying on the ground. Many office doors showed signs of forced entry.

In one room, cupboards used to store the shoes of those attending prayers had what appeared to be Christian crosses scrawled on them. Other footage showed papers strewn on office floors and windows smashed.

Pampered terrorists: Iraqis buried their dead on Friday following a day of bloodshed that left some Shiites calling for a backlash against the Sunni Arab militants they blame for a suicide bombing in holy city, Kerbala.

Senior Shiite religious and political leaders urged restraint, telling followers to place their faith in the next government, slowly emerging from the December 15 election and set to be dominated by Shiite Islamists.

But some clerics used the Muslim holy day to condemn the killers from the pulpit. In Baghdad, one imam held an AK-47 assault rifle aloft and punched the air as he addressed about 5000 worshippers. "How long can we remain silent? Terrorists are pampered in Iraq," cried imam Hazim Araji.

Fortunately a solution is just around the corner: Iraq’s fractious political groups are moving ahead to shape a national unity government, progress that should help stop the carnage of the past several days, the prime minister and other leaders said yesterday. Iraq’s Kurdish president predicted that a new government could be formed within weeks.

The Brits aren’t waiting to see how it all works out: Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, has reiterated the British prime minister's promise of troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying the pullout could begin within months. The phased withdrawal will start "as and when the Iraqis are satisfied that their own forces can cope completely with the responsibility. It's going to be a matter of months."

Return of the Baghdad fashion maven: Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. civilian occupation authority in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, has admitted the United States did not anticipate the insurgency in the country, NBC Television said on Friday.

When asked who was to blame for the subsequent Iraqi rebellion, in which thousands of Iraqis and Americans have died, Bremer said "we really didn't see the insurgency coming," the network said in a news release.

Asked if he believes he did everything he could do in Iraq, Bremer replied, "I believe I did everything I could do. ... The president, in the end, is responsible for making decisions," the network reported.

This whole ‘take the war to the terrorists’ thing doesn’t seem to be working out too well, does it?: Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the nerve centre of global terrorism by militant groups whose ability to regenerate, despite setbacks, means that suicide bombings and other mass-casualty attacks remain a serious danger in 2006, analysts say.

Three major developments are likely to define the security landscape this year, Singapore-based terrorism analyst Rohan Gunaratna told a forum organised by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) last week.


Frank Rich: If the Bush administration did indeed eavesdrop on American journalists and political opponents (Ms. Amanpour's husband, Jamie Rubin, was a foreign policy adviser to the Kerry campaign), it's déjà Watergate all over again. But even now we can see that there's another, simpler - and distinctlyBushian - motive at play here, hiding in plain sight.

That motive is not, as many liberals would have it, a simple ideological crusade to gut the Bill of Rights. Real conservatives, after all, are opposed to Big Brother; even the staunch Bush ally Grover Norquist has criticized the N.S.A.'s overreaching. The highest priority for the Karl Rove-driven presidency is instead to preserve its own power at all costs. With this gang, political victory and the propaganda needed to secure it always trump principles, even conservative principles, let alone the truth. Whenever the White House most vociferously attacks the press, you can be sure its No. 1 motive is to deflect attention from embarrassing revelationsabout its incompetence and failures.

That's why Paul Wolfowitz, in a 2004 remark for which he later apologized, dismissed reporting on the raging insurgency in Iraq as "rumors" he attributed to a Baghdad press corps too "afraid to travel." That's also why the White House tried in May to blame lethal anti-American riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan on a single erroneous Newsweek item about Koran desecration - as if 200-odd words in an American magazine could take thefall for the indelible photos from Abu Ghraib.

Such is the blame-shifting game Mr. Cheney was up to last week. By dragging 9/11 into his defense of possibly unconstitutional bugging, he was hoping to rewrite history to absolve the White House of its bungling. And no wonder. He knows all too well that the timing of Mr. Bush's signing of the secret executive order to initiate the desperate tactic of warrant-free N.S.A. eavesdropping - early 2002, according to Mr. Risen's new book, "State of War" - is nothing if not a giant arrow pointing to one of the administration's most catastrophic failures. It was only weeks earlier, in December 2001, that we had our best crack at nailing Osama bin Laden in ToraBora and blew it.

Mike Hendricks: It has always been a mystery to me that those who so vehemently oppose abortion are often the same people who support sending our young people into harm's way to fight and die in wars we ought not be involved in.

I'm not a peacenik nor a pacifist. I've been in a few fights of my own. After 9/11, I wrote a column urging that we do whatever was necessary to fight and win the war on terrorism. When our interests are directly threatened or when we are attacked, as in World War II and on 9/11, we must defend ourselves and if we're going to defend ourselves, the objective should always be to win.

But Iraq didn't attack us on 9/11. We used that horrific day in part to justify forcing regime change in a country that didn't want us there in the first place. The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicates that 61 percent of the American people are dissatisfied with the way the President is handling the Iraqi situation and Nebraska U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel was recently quoted as saying that it is in no way unpatriotic to question the current Administration's Iraqi policy. In fact, he said, it is unpatriotic NOT to do so.

He's absolutely right.

Casualty Reports

Wounded: Sgt. Matt Gibson

Wounded: Spc. Adam Brown

Killed: Lt. Col. Michael McLaughlin

Killed: Marine Cpl. Albert P. Gettings

Killed: Sgt. Johnny J. Peralez Jr.

Killed: Capt. Christopher P. Petty

Killed: Maj. William F. Hecker III

Killed: Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. White

Killed: Pvt. Robbie M. Mariano

Killed: Sgt. Cheyenne Willey

Killed: Sgt. Regina Reali

Wounded: Spc. Rick J. McClary

Wounded: Spc. Braxton B. McCoy

Killed: Marine Sgt. Adam Cann

Wounded: Marine Cpl. Travis Greene


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