Friday, February 03, 2006


Photo: A U.S. Marine with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) kicks down a door as they search houses near the western Iraq town of Hit February 2, 2006. Marines and Iraqi troops are conducting daily operations in and around Hit in search of weapons caches and insurgent activity. (Bob Strong/Reuters)

Bring ‘em on: British soldier killed in road traffic accident in Basra. Bring ‘em on: U.S. and Iraqi forces arrested a correspondent for Baghdad TV, a subsidiary of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Yasir Husam was detained in a raid on Baghdad's Jihad neighborhood, according to Muhammed Dulaimi, an official with the station. A cameraman for the station was killed by Marines last month during a shootout with insurgents in the western city of Ramadi. "U.S. forces are angry with this channel because it reveals the crimes the U.S. forces commit against Iraqi people," Dulaimi said in a telephone interview. An Iraqi police captain, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said police "found videos and photos of operations committed by armed men." Bring ‘em on: Police in Basra said gunmen killed a tribal leader, Sheik Baqir al-Issa, and a traffic policeman in separate shootings Friday in the city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: U.S. soldier was killed when an IED struck his patrol north of Baghdad.

Bring ‘em on: A translator working with the U.S. army was shot dead by gunmen in Hawijah, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police colonel Sarhan Khadir said.

Bring ‘em on: A policeman and a civilian were kidnapped by gunmen in Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles), north of Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police and soldiers rounded up nearly 60 people Friday in security crackdowns in Baghdad and Basra. This included 5 Palestinians and a Syrian.

UPDATE: Bring ‘em on: At least 27 dead in Iraq violence on Thursday.


Bush ‘Plotted to Lure Saddam into War with Fake UN Plane’

George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein's regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair. The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

He added: "It was also possible that a defector could be brought out who would give a public presentation about Saddam's WMD, and there was also a small possibility that Saddam would be assassinated." The memo damningly suggests the decision to invade Iraq had already been made when Mr Blair and the US President met in Washington on 31 January 2003 ­ when the British Government was still working on obtaining a second UN resolution to legitimise the conflict.

The leaders discussed the prospects for a second resolution, but Mr Bush said: "The US would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would 'twist arms' and 'even threaten'. But he had to say that if ultimately we failed, military action would follow anyway." He added that he had a date, 10 March, pencilled in for the start of military action. The war actually began on 20 March. More Money for War, No Money for Peace: Bush to Seek Extra $90 Billion for Wars

President Bush will ask Congress for an additional $90 billion in this year's budget -- about $70 billion to continue waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion more for hurricane relief and rebuilding on the Gulf Coast, officials said yesterday. Joel D. Kaplan, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters that the military spending figure is not final and could grow or shrink slightly. With $50 billion already authorized, supplemental military funding for 2006 totals $120 billion.

Separately, the administration will request a nearly 5 percent increase in the Pentagon's budget for fiscal 2007, seeking $439.3 billion, according to a senior defense official. The budget request, to be released Monday, includes $84.2 billion for weapons systems, or roughly an 8 percent increase over the 2006 budget, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released. The bulk of the $70 billion in military spending would be spent on operations -- including pay and benefits for reservists, fuel, and spare parts. A growing percentage, however, would be used to overhaul or replace worn-out equipment and to buy additional gear to protect against roadside bomb attacks, Kaplan said. It also would cover the costs of training and equipping Iraqi and Afghan security forces and of running embassy operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There will be "some funding" in the supplemental for reconstruction, including money to maintain and protect key infrastructure. But that money is not intended to pay for major projects, Kaplan said. The $70 billion comes on top of an estimated $320 billion spent since 2001 on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the OMB. The cost of U.S. military operations -- excluding procurement of equipment -- is running at $4.5 billion a month in Iraq and $800 million in Afghanistan, said Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman. Rumsfeld Offers Strategies for the Current War (He has gotten so much wrong in the past; my guess is he got this one wrong too. – Susan)

The United States is engaged in what could be a generational conflict akin to the Cold War, the kind of struggle that might last decades as allies work to root out terrorists across the globe and battle extremists who want to rule the world, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday. Rumsfeld, who laid out broad strategies for what the military and the Bush administration are now calling the "long war," likened al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin (That is so ridiculous. – Susan) while urging Americans not to give in on the battle of wills that could stretch for years. (Did you hear that all you peace activists? – Susan) He said there is a tendency to underestimate the threats that terrorists pose to global security, and said liberty is at stake. (He got that one right – he’s talking about the Bush administration. - Susan)

The speech, which aides said was titled "The Long War," came on the eve of the Pentagon's release of its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which sets out plans for how the U.S. military will address major security challenges 20 years into the future. (Our biggest insecurity is from the fact that we are broke, and soon will not be able to pay for basic services. – Susan) The plans to be released today include shifts to make the military more agile and capable of dealing with unconventional threats, something Rumsfeld has said is necessary to move from a military designed for the Cold War into one that is more flexible.

He said the nation must focus on three strategies in the ongoing war: preventing terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction; defending the U.S. homeland and helping allies fight terrorism. (Anyone wonder why we have not had any color-coded alerts since the Presidential election? – Susan) He emphasized that these goals could take a long time to achieve. (Thereby making sure they can keep up their disastrous policies for a long, long time. – Susan)

Iraqi Shiite Militia Blames US as Car Bombs Kill at Least 11.

The blasts -- the first of which erupted near a fuel truck, sending a billowing fireball skyward -- came minutes apart in the capital's Amin district. Along with several residents, members of the Mahdi Army, which staged two violent uprisings against U.S. forces in 2004, blamed American troops for the attacks, claiming they had not permitted the militia to police the area on its own. "We formed two committees to protect the neighborhood because neither the Americans nor the Iraqis are able to do it," said Abu Zahra, 40, a fighter in the Mahdi Army, which is loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. "They did not allow us and said they would arrest us if they saw us in the streets. And now, this is the result."

An incident earlier in the day also enraged Sadr's followers in Sadr City, the sprawling Shiite slum in Baghdad named for Sadr's late father. Before dawn, a U.S. helicopter was airlifting soldiers who had just detained a suspected insurgent from the group Ansar al-Sunna when it was fired on and shot back, according to a military spokesman. One woman in a nearby building was killed and three residents were wounded. "This is one side escalating things," said Abdul Hadi Darraji, a spokesman for Sadr. "The U.S. forces intend to provoke us, but we'll be patient. Escalating doesn't serve the current political and security situations." Muslims Again Protest Muhammad Caricatures

Thousands of Iraqis protested after Friday prayers against caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad reprinted in European papers and the country's top Shiite cleric denounced the drawings. The caricatures, including one depicting the Muslim prophet wearing a turban fashioned into a bomb, were reprinted in Norwegian, French, German and, even, Jordanian papers after first appearing in a Danish paper in September. The caricatures were republished after Muslims decried the images as insulting to their prophet.

"We strongly denounce and condemn this horrific action," Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said of the caricatures in a statement posted on his web site. Thousands of Iraqis staged demonstrations after weekly mosque prayer services on Friday. About 4,500 people joined rallies in Basra and hundreds at a Baghdad mosque. Danish flags were burned at both demonstrations. Al-Sistani, who wields enormous influence over Iraq's majority Shiites, made no call for protests and suggested that militant Muslims were partly to blame for distorting Islam's image. He referred to "misguided and oppressive" segments of the Muslim community and said their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."

"Enemies have exploited this ... to spread their poison and revive their old hatreds with new methods and mechanisms," he said of the cartoons. COMMENTARY

OPINION: The Democracy Day Post

Today we celebrate a new holiday in Iraq. It’s Democracy day. On this day last year we voted for the first time after the war. Now give me a moment to do my Happy Dance to celebrate the fact that we have a couple of religious extremists sitting in parliament and deciding what my future will look like. I guess the only consolation is the fact that this is happening wherever the much-celebrated march towards democracy does a parade in the Middle East. The newest addition to the proud We-Choose-Islam club is Palestine. I am still trying to figure out the answer to the riddle of a democratic process that brings in an undemocratic government. We’ve all put ourselves in a very uncomfortable corner, every single on of us who believed that the people will choose what’s ultimately best for their future and the western democratic governments are the first in line.

The right to choose your own destiny and all that. The problem is we seem to choose future car crashes for a destiny.

To come back to the question, is there a place for democracy? Well. I don’t think either of us has the heart to say no, deep down we know there should be a place. But it’s such an uphill struggle to keep believing that we be able to save ourselves from being hijacked by another form of totalitarian thought.

OPINION: Terrorist suspects’ wives unacceptable US targets.

The cumulative damage to the military’s reputation in both Iraq and Afghanistan is substantial. From torture in Abu Grahib to burning bodies in Afghanistan, some members of the U.S. military seem bent on doing public relations for the terrorists - giving them real reasons to hate America.

Government policy isn’t helping. Keeping terror suspects locked up for years on end - without charges, without lawyers, without anything resembling due process - is what dictators with no regard for human rights do.

Now comes more bad news.

Women who are not suspected of any crime are being held hostage by the U.S. military. In 2004, one woman was taken from her three children, including a nursing infant, in an attempt to lure her husband to turn himself in. Another incident that year included an unknown number of women held for the same purpose. Imagine if we suddenly started snatching women away from their children to try to get an errant husband to turn himself in. In this country, we don’t even compel women to testify against their husbands in criminal cases.

This is kidnapping, pure and simple. The U.S. would not stand for such behavior from any other nation - even in the middle of a war. OPINION: Americans, the beatings will continue until morale improves.

Mr. Bush (not my President), Regarding your speech tonight... As usual, my expectations were very low going into your speech, so I wasn't too disappointed when you followed through with the usual half-truths and other sheeple friendly nonsense. My only afterthought is that you could have done your whole 'Disgrace of the Union' speech in ten seconds or less, had you just told the truth: "Americans, the beatings will continue until morale improves". That would have summed things up accurately, because just when you think things can't get any worse and morale couldn't possibly get any lower in this country, you offer up seconds on craploaf in front of the whole world. Call me a "defeatist" if you like, but you are without a doubt the worst leader this country has ever known. History is waiting, and it won't have anything nice to say about you once you arrive. At this point, disappointment with my fellow America hurts more than your continuous lies. Oh and, the Rapture is not an exit strategy people. Bring our troops home.

OPINION: The State of Iraq is not good, Mr. President

Two days ago, US President Bush delivered his State of the Union address outlining the gains the country has made in both liberating Iraq and assisting in its reconstruction. However, the speech is void of several statistical imperatives which infer that the US has tried to fix its numerous mistakes in Iraq by creating a bevy of others. Such arrogance and rejection of facts as they present themselves on the ground are unfortunately the realms of idealistic crusaders who in their haste to build empires overlook the often calamitous consequences.

Wherever you go in Iraq these days, the principal concern is lack of security. While the world holds its breath over the kidnapping of foreign journalists, diplomatic dignitaries and businessmen, Iraqis are suffering in an increasingly precarious environment of wanton violence. Kidnappings, which were the focus of the media in the summer of 2004, have soared from a daily rate of two to 12. Iraqi gangs often monitor their prey for days taking notes on how wealthy a family is and what outside contacts it may have before making their move. Stories of scouring for US cash and sending to relatives in Iraq are common among the Iraqi Diasporas. Attacks on US-trained Iraqi forces and the US military have increased from 70 in late 2004 to about 100 a day in late 2005. OPINION: Is America Actually in a State of War?

Americans who bother to imagine the situation from the Iraqi point of view -- a massive foreign invasion, launched on false pretenses; a brutal occupation, with control of local oil reserves surely part of the motivation; the heartbreaking deaths of brothers, cousins, children, parents -- naturally understand that an ''insurgency" is the appropriate response. Its goal is simply to force the invaders and occupiers to leave. Sunnis, Shi'ites, and Kurds have intrinsic reasons to regard each other as enemies, from competition over land and oil, to ethnic hatreds, to unsettled scores. No equivalent sources of inbuilt contempt exist among these people toward America. Taken as a whole, or in its parts, Iraq is not an enemy. (Except we made them one. - Susan) MUSIC

Bacharach writes anti-war lyrics. Pop composer Burt Bacharach has written his first lyrics in a career spanning nearly 50 years, expressing his disillusionment over the war in Iraq. The 77-year-old, who wrote songs such as Walk On By with lyricist Hal David, has written a number of political songs on his latest album At This Time. "I had to do it. This is very personal to me," he said.

Granny to protest Iraq war in song.

Albuquerque's Sally-Alice Thompson, an 82-year-old peacenik, and the Marine Corps say they are the brunt of a practical joke. Thompson got a Marine recruitment letter recently espousing the Corps' interest in skills she says she doesn't have. "I don't know where they got my name," Thompson said. "Someone's pulling a practical joke on the Marines." It's a joke that she can use to her advantage. Thompson plans to visit the Marine Recruiting Office in Albuquerque next month "to bring it to the attention of the general public" and make her case against war.

Anti-war song: “OHIO” by Supaclean. “For the dead, for the dying, for the Jews that got tricked, by a Rove, Wolf, Colin, Connie, Bush and a Dick.”

Protest Songs: David Rovic’s ‘songs of social significance’

“Helicopter missiles launch The ground rumbles Apartment complex shakes Just before it crumbles Children scream and die Wrong time, wrong place A woman wears a shawl That covers the scar upon her face A boy looks through a pool of blood And prays to see the day When the armies of the infidels Will once more go away” No Man’s Land (The Green Fields of France) I see by your gravestone you were only nineteen When you joined the great fallen in 1916. I hope you died well, and I hope you died clean, Or, young Willie McBride, was it slow and obscene? Did they beat the drum slowly; did they play the fife lowly? Did they sound the Dead March as they lowered you down? And did the band play The Last Post and chorus? Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest? IRAQI Music:

Hayyarteeni (3.0 MBytes) by Ra'ed George Helplessness (3.2 Mbytes) by Hasan Al-Madfai. This instrumental was inspired by the news footage of the murder of the late Palestinian child, Mohammed Al-Durrah. (Name suggested by the Princess of Poetry Rita Odeh) Cha ween ahelneh (2.2Mbytes) by Abbas Jameel. Bob Dylan: Masters of War

Come you masters of war - You that build all the guns - You that build the death planes - You that build the big bombs - You that hide behind walls - You that hide behind desks - I just want you to know - I can see through your masks - You that never done nothin' - But build to destroy - You play with my world - Like it's your little toy - You put a gun in my hand - And you hide from my eyes - And you turn and run farther - When the fast bullets fly Sara Thomsen: “Is it for Freedom?”

Rulers of the nations as you fuss and fight Over who owns this or that and who has the right, To design, build, sell and store and fire All the bombs and guns to defend your holy empire There are children hungry, children sick and dying There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers crying They’re only pawns in your play of power and corruption. Slowly starve them, your new weapons of mass destruction. And prove to me America that you care And prove to me America that you’re aware Who’s dying for your freedom in this land? Who pays the cost for the liberties you demand? Peace Through a Song: Go to “Bring Them Home Now!” website, and click on the button on the left about half way down. PEACE ACTION: Please sign the Petition to Support H.R. 4232, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) For a complete details about H.R. 4232, including a link to the full text of the bill, a list of co-sponsors, and recent actions on the bill in the U.S. House, click here. This bill would prohibit further use of Defense Department funds to deploy United States Armed Forces to Iraq. Funds could still be used to provide for: The safe and orderly withdrawal of all troops; Consultations with other governments, NATO and the UN regarding international forces; Financial assistance and equipment to either Iraqi security forces and/or international forces. In addition, the bill would not prohibit or restrict non-defense funding to carry out reconstruction in Iraq. For more information, read the full article. CASUALTY REPORTS

Local Story: Santa Rosa soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Mom blames military for son’s death in Iraq. Her son, 21-year-old Adam Shepherd, was on his second tour of duty when he died last month of heart and lung complications. Local Story: Funeral tomorrow for West Virginia soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: South Carolina soldier killed by IED in Iraq. Local Story: Marine from Chicago killed in Fallujah. Local Story: Nebraska soldier killed in Iraq. Local Story: Minnesota combat soldier facing many struggles with PTSD. QUOTE OF THE DAY: "This is a war that each passing day confirms what I have said before and I will say again. This war in Iraq is a grotesque mistake; it is not making America safer, and the American people know it." - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi


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