Sunday, January 22, 2006

War News for Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bring ‘em on: Two US Marines were killed by a suicide car bomber while on a combat mission near Ramadi.

Bring ‘em on: Two African telephone engineers were kidnapped last week after their convoy was attacked in a daylight ambush on a busy Baghdad street. Twelve security guards and bystanders were killed in the attack.

Bring ‘em on: Two civilians were killed in one of several bomb attacks on US and Iraqi patrols, location of attacks not stated in this article.

Bring ‘em on: Five people were wounded, including an adviser to the president, when a roadside bomb struck a motorcade carrying members of President Jalal Talabani's staff. Talabani himself was not present.

Bring ‘em on: Four children, aged 6-11, and their uncle killed when insurgents fired rocket propelled grenades at the home of an Iraqi police officer in Balad Ruz. The officer was unharmed, but his wife was wounded.

Bring ‘em on: The bodies of a prominent Sunni Arab tribal leader and his son were found in a field near Hawija. Sayid Ibrahim Ali, 75, and his 28-year-old son Ayad were shot as they left a funeral Saturday.

Bring ‘em on: Four policemen were killed and nine were wounded in a pre-dawn roadside bomb blast that targeted their patrol in Baqouba.

Bring ‘em on: A car bomb exploded midday near the crowded Medina Market in eastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding six. One shop was destroyed by the blast.

Bring ‘em on: The bodies of two people were found, bound and blindfolded, on Saturday in Mahaweel. They had been shot in the head.

Bring ‘em on: Three policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in Hawija, southwest of the northern oil city of Kirkuk.

Bring ‘em on: Ibrahim Ali al-Nuiemei, a tribal leader, and his son were found shot dead several hours after being kidnapped in the village of Minzila just south of Kirkuk.

Bring ‘em on: U.S. troops opened fire at civilian cars Saturday night in Baiji town, some 200 km north of Baghdad, killing three people, who turned out to be U.S.-trained Iraqi army soldiers. "The Multi National force opened fire last night at four civilian cars travelling on the main road between Tikrit and Baiji, setting fire to all the cars," the source from the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit said. The U. S. shoot-out killed three people and wounded four others and the U.S. soldiers detained six other people, who turned out to be Iraqi soldiers travelling to their base in Samarra in the south of the country.

More on the above story: Iraqi police accused US soldiers today of shooting dead at least three civilians after an attack on their patrol, but the US military said the dead men were insurgents. The differing accounts of the shooting on Saturday in the town of Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, is not uncommon in such incidents in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Najim Ahmed of Baiji police said four civilians had been killed and six wounded when US soldiers fired at a passing car filled with civilians after a roadside bomb exploded nearby. ''US forces began shooting randomly. Civilians were in the car,'' he said.

Bring ‘em on: Security contractor killed by a roadside bomb according to British officials, no location given in this article.

Bring ‘em on: Police said a man was gunned down at a west Baghdad gas station.

Bring ‘em on: In the central city of Mashru, police found the bodies of two blindfolded men who had been shot in the head and chest.

Bring ‘em on: A Latvian soldier was wounded in a small-arms attack on a military base southeast of Baghdad. The soldier, part of a 135-member Latvian contingent in Iraq, was in a stable condition.

Bring ‘em on: Bodies of twenty-three Iraqis found shot to death and partially buried in a village about 50 miles north of Baghdad. They were returning to their homes in Samarra after failing to be accepted as police recruits.

Argument: Iraq's Justice Ministry said on Sunday it still expects U.S. forces to release six Iraqi women prisoners this week, despite U.S. comments to the contrary.

The issue of the detainees has become central to the release of kidnapped U.S. journalist Jill Carroll, whose abductors have threatened to kill her unless all female prisoners are freed.

Iraqi officials have since been at odds with their U.S. counterparts over the release of the six, among eight women terrorism suspects in American custody. The Justice Ministry said last week the six were about to be freed, but U.S. officials have insisted no releases are imminent.

Plot foiled: Iraqi forces foiled a plot to mount an attack with gunmen and suicide bombers against a senior Shi'ite Islamist leader coinciding with the release of election results, a senior Iraqi military source said on Friday.

Speaking hours before results were issued showing continued domination by the Shi'ite Islamist Alliance, the source said several suspects had confessed to a role in a plot by Sunni Arab rebels to attack the Baghdad headquarters of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a key figure in the Alliance.

"About 50 people, including several suicide bombers, were going to take part in the attack just as the election results were being announced," the source said, showing Reuters official documents to support his statement.

Gee, they even have official documents to prove there was really a plot. Boy, those Iraqi forces are really getting their act together, aren’t they? We should just turn the whole country over to them and get out.

Iraqi Politics

Shiites in charge: Iraq's Shi'ite Islamists sealed power yesterday and security forces went on alert in Baghdad against attacks by Sunni Arab rebels.

Election results released gave Shi'ites a near-majority and paved the way for negotiations to begin on a national unity government.

The Shi'ite Islamist Alliance won 128 seats, 10 short of retaining the slim majority it enjoyed last year in the Sunni-boycotted interim assembly. The main Kurdish bloc won 53 seats while the two main Sunni groupings shared 55 seats.

Still a long way from a government: Iraq's elections commission announced the final results for the December 15 elections yesterday, giving a Shia Islamist coalition just under half the seats in the country's first permanent postwar parliament.

Disputes both inside the Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance and between ethnic and sectarian groups, however, mean that the formation of a government is probably weeks, if not months, away.

Fading US influence: Disappointed by the election performance of Iraq's moderate parties, U.S. officials have established a more modest goal as Iraqi leaders divide power in a new government: preventing religious or nationalist parties from gaining a strong hold on the army and police. American officials have made it a priority to persuade the winners in the election not to give top posts in the defense and interior ministries to anyone linked to armed groups such as the Shiite Muslim-controlled Badr and Al Mahdi militias, and the Kurds' peshmerga forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials say.

Washington fears that such ties could again alienate Sunni Muslims — many of whom are being drawn into the political process — sparking violence and slowing efforts to withdraw U.S. forces.

Sunni concerns: Sunni Arab politicians called for a government of national unity Saturday and signaled they will use their increased numbers in parliament to curb the power of rival Shiites, who have claimed the biggest number of seats in the new legislature.

In separate press conferences Saturday, two leading Sunni politicians expressed interest in joining a coalition government. But they made clear they will insist on curbing the trend toward sectarianism, which many Sunnis blame on policies of the outgoing government led by Shiites and Kurds.

"We will participate actively in the political process and we will cooperate with many political entities that share us the same principles," said Adnan al-Dulaimi, whose Iraqi Accordance Front won 44 seats.

"We believe in achieving stability, halting random arrests, releasing all detainees, eliminating sectarianism and preventing any sectarian group from dominating the government and rule the country in a dictatorial manner."

Drawing lines: Sunni Arabs will reject certain officials returning to key posts in Iraq's new government, a Sunni leader said Sunday in a clear reference to complaints of violence allegedly committed by Shiite-backed security forces against Sunnis.

The warning comes as Iraq's dominant Shiite leaders prepare for talks with Kurdish and Sunni politicians in a U.S.-backed bid to form a national unity government following Friday's announcement of uncertified final results from Iraq's Dec. 15 elections.

Better hope the politicians can make a difference: An official assessment drawn up by the US foreign aid agency depicts the security situation in Iraq as dire, amounting to a "social breakdown" in which criminals have "almost free rein".

The picture it paints is not only darker than the optimistic accounts from the White House and the Pentagon, it also gives a more complex profile of the insurgency than the straightforward "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists" described by George Bush.

The USAid analysis talks of an "internecine conflict" involving religious, ethnic, criminal and tribal groups. "It is increasingly common for tribesmen to 'turn in' to the authorities enemies as insurgents - this as a form of tribal revenge," the paper says, casting doubt on the efficacy of counter-insurgent sweeps by coalition and Iraqi forces.

Meanwhile, foreign jihadist groups are growing in strength, the report said.

As the talks go on: In the past year, there have been close to 20 large-scale assaults on or around Fatah, part of Iraq's largest oil-production complex in Bayji, deep in the Sunni Triangle northwest of Baghdad. Last month the Bayji site shut down completely for two weeks. It reopened with the New Year, but three days later insurgents pinned down a 60-truck fuel convoy there in an hourlong gun battle. Across the country, insurgents mount a major attack on oil facilities about once every three days, and the situation is getting worse. December was the third month in a row that Iraqi oil production went down, marking the lowest level of exports since the invasion. At a time when global supplies are stretched thin, the Iraqi oil bust helps keep world prices near record highs. Instead of looking forward to the prospect of their country standing on its own, after final results in polls to elect a new, permanent government were announced last week, Iraqis are now facing a massive oil and gas price hike designed to ease part of a crippling $120 billion debt.

Only three years ago, before the United States led the invasion of Iraq, the Bush ad—ministration dreamed of liberating the country on the cheap. Billions in untapped oil reserves would pay for reconstruction and nation-building. But hundreds of billions of American tax dollars later, Iraq's oil still isn't flowing at prewar levels. And in a country where 90 percent of the government's $35 billion in revenues comes from petroleum, the old promise has come to seem a curse. "Some people wish we didn't have all this oil," says National Assembly Speaker Hajim al-Hassani, "because it has brought us all these problems."

Is US policy interfering with stabilization?: The regiment's success and the mayor's concern about its departure raise two important questions about America's strategy in Iraq:

The first is whether the American practice of rotating troops in and out of Iraq - typically one-year tours of duty for soldiers and seven months for Marines - may be undermining the fight against Iraq's insurgency.

Limiting tours as the United States did in Vietnam helps relieve stress, support families and maintain morale. It also means that soldiers and Marines who are new to an area have to learn all over again what their predecessors discovered, often the hard way. And it disrupts personal relationships, such as the one al-Jibouri has developed with McMaster and Hickey, which are indispensable in Iraq.

The second question is whether the United States has sent enough troops to Iraq to duplicate the 3rd ACR's success in Tal Afar in bigger cities and nationwide. Al-Jibouri said the American cavalrymen in Tal Afar had conducted "the best operation in Iraq, with none of the big destruction like in Fallujah."

Declare victory and go: Colin Powell, who warned President Bush on the eve of the Iraq war that US forces would have to stay for the long haul after toppling Saddam, yesterday predicted that troop withdrawals would begin by the end of this year.

Yeah, my bet is that we’ll see a big PR blitz about a few thousand being pulled out right around, hmmm…September? October? Before November for sure…

Rule of Law

Negligent homicide: A U.S. Army officer was found guilty on Saturday of negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi general during an interrogation in Iraq but the jury said he was not guilty on the more serious charge of murder.

A jury of six Army officers convicted Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. in the suffocation death of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhush. The general was placed head-first in a sleeping bag while Welshofer covered his mouth and sat on his chest during an interrogation in November 2003.

Due process: The United States has brought criminal charges against a 10th Guantanamo Bay prisoner, charging an Afghan man with conspiracy, aiding the enemy and attacking civilians, the Pentagon said.

The case against Abdul Zahir means that 2% of the estimated 500 foreign terrorism suspects held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been charged with a crime.

US Military News

Traumatic brain injuries: The survival rate among Americans hurt in Iraq is higher than in any previous war, thanks to improved body armor, advances in battlefield medicine and swift evacuation.

There are seven to eight survivors for every death, compared with just two survivors per death in World War II.

But these survivors are coming home with serious injuries that will transform their lives.

More than 1,700 of those wounded in Iraq are known to have brain injuries, half of which are severe enough they could permanently impair thinking, memory, mood, behavior and the ability to work.

When mommy or daddy comes home from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury, this should help: The Pentagon has gained a very welcome and popular reinforcement for the home front — a furry red monster called Elmo.

As the third anniversary of the war in Iraq approaches and the casualties continue to mount, the creators of Sesame Street, the American educational television show, have announced plans to make an episode for the children of military families.

It is one of several such initiatives to have emerged in recent months as America starts to confront the consequences back home of what looks increasingly like a very long-term commitment to combating terrorism.

Sesame Workshop, the production company behind -Sesame Street, plans to distribute about 125,000 of the new DVDs starring the famous muppets to military families across the country.

The aim is to help children of pre-school age tackle the stress of their parents’ deployment, the absences, and, more sensitively, death and injury.

It is estimated that there are nearly half a million children of serving military below the age of five, and nearly 200,000 of reservists and national guardsmen.

This makes me want to puke. It encapsulates the Bush Republican approach to everything. Create, through incompetence, arrogance, and ideological blindness, the ugliest problems and most unworkable solutions, destroy lives forever, and then put a propaganda bandaid on the festering putrescent wounds they’ve created. Daddy comes home from an illegal immoral war based on lies with half his face blown off and Elmo is going to help little Susie get used to it. Bastards.

Suck it up, Kansas: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will fly on President Bush’s helicopter Monday, when she hopes to bring up the return of Kansas military equipment.

In a Dec. 30 letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sebelius urged the return of Kansas National Guard equipment shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Guard was critical to responding to recent blizzards and floods in Kansas, yet its ability to respond to similar situations is being diminished by a lack of equipment,” she wrote.

She said Rumsfeld had not responded.

Attention Anti-War Leftists It's time to reach out to all Americans. On January 30, the College Republicans will sponsor "Finish the Job: Support Our Troops" Rallies in Washington DC and All Over America to support President Bush's January 31 State of the Union address. All of you can support every American's First Amendment rights and make a patriotic impression on our great country. Red States and Blue States together, we're all Americans. Cindy Sheehan said it best: If you support the war, I think you should join it. I hear recruiting numbers are low. It's the College Republicans' day; don't spoil it with anti-Bush counter-protests against the war itself. Instead, encourage the College Republicans and their supporters, including Protest Warrior, to volunteer for military service: Be A Man! Enlist! Iraq, Afghanistan and other veterans of all ages can help by wearing their uniforms and personally inviting military recruiters to join them. The Washington DC rally will take place Monday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m., at American Legion Post No. 8, 224 D St., SE (Metro Capitol South). Be there! Let's do this right.


Letter to the editor: The new year finds our nation still "bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq," as Dick Cheney had predicted when he warned against taking over the country on April 29, 1991. Cheney was tragically right then about what would happen if Iraq were invaded.

More than 2,200 of our brave military service personnel have been killed in George W. Bush's immoral, disastrous war, 841 of them in 2005. Also slaughtered were many thousands of Iraqi men, women and children -- more than 4,000 civilians, along with 1,700 policemen and soldiers dying last year. Every one of these deaths is the fault of the corrupt president and indirectly that of all Bush supporters. The carnage is unabated.

On Jan. 1, he stated, "I'm going to work as hard as I can to lay down the foundation for peace." This warmonger has no conscience or shame.

Instead of promoting peace and combating terrorists, he has waged an evil war and unleashed terrorism worldwide.

Also, he has authorized torture, numerous violations of human rights and rampant unconstitutional abuses of power.

In addition he has continued to mislead and blatantly lie to the American people, as he did about bugging citizens' telephones, and to the world. He must be called to account for malevolence and crimes of which he is clearly guilty.

In Iraq, no more of our young people should have to die to satiate Bush's egomania. Bring our troops home.

Casualty Reports


Robert Timmann

Major Douglas La Bouff

Lance Cpl. Raul Mercado

Chief Warrant Officer Mitch Carver

Quote of the day: “When the people clamor to be shielded from reality, when they praise their government for keeping things from them, when they choose to conduct their lives within the limits of whatever fantasy the government supplies, then they are no longer consenting to be governed, they are begging to be ruled.”

— Michael Ventura


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