Sunday, February 19, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2006 (Addawa Feburary 16, 2006) A snake labelled "segregation" pushes Iraqis in to two opposite directions. Both of them shout "Iraq." Bring 'em on:Car bomb near Green Zone kills two, wounds six, shatters storefronts and sets cars ablaze. Second bombing wounds four at Iraqi Planning Ministry, no further details available. Bring 'em on: Roadside bomb in remote town of Tozkhormato, east of Tikrit, wounds four police. Also, SabaHamid Hussein, who worked for U.S. military in Yathrib, is shot. (Unclear if he is dead.) Bring 'em on: Convoy carrying construction materials to U.S. military base is ambushed, four Iraqi drivers killed. (Construction materials going to U.S. base? I thought U.S. was planning to withdraw. Hmm.) Bring 'em on: U.S. soldier killed by bomb near Baghdad soccer stadium. Also, four Iraqi police killed by bomb in eastern Baghdad, three civilians killed and four wounded by another bomb elsewhere in eastern Baghdad. Bring 'em on: From Reuters alertnet: KIRKUK - A senior police officer, Brigadier Hatim Khalaf Matrud, and two of his bodyguards, were killed when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb 40 km (25 miles) southwest of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, police said. TUZ KHURMATU - The police chief of Tuz Khurmatu escaped death and four of his bodyguards were wounded when a roadside bomb struck his convoy in Tuz Khurmatu 70 km (45 miles) south of Kirkuk, police said. BAGHDAD - U.S. forces killed two insurgents and discovered three roadside bombs on Friday during operations in which they also uncovered two weapons caches , the U.S. military said on Sunday. Bring 'em on: Iraqi police find three bodies, hands bound and shot in the head, in eastern outskirts of Baghdad; find two more bodies north of the capital. Also, rescue two hostages in Diyalah, no details given. Bring 'em on: Ansar al Sunnah claims killing of two Iraqi national guard officers. Video showed them sitting blindfolded on the floor as masked insurgents stood by with assault rifles. Please don't bring 'em on any more: Three civilians were killed on Sunday after U.S. troops opened fire at their car near Fallujah, medics told Xinhua. "A U.S. patrol shot dead three civilians, two brothers and their relative, as they were travelling in Ameriyat al-Fallujah area, some 7 km south of Fallujah," a medical source in Fallujah Hospital said on condition of anonymity. Two of the victims were killed immediately and the third died of wounds in the hospital, the source said, adding that the three were heading to the hospital to visit their relative who is a hospital patient. IRAQI POLITICAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS al Sadr rejects constitution:
Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has said he rejects the Iraqi constitution backed by his partners in the biggest parliament bloc. "I reject this constitution which calls for sectarianism and there is nothing good in this constitution at all," he told Aljazeera late on Saturday. He criticised federalism in the constitution, which is rejected by Iraq's Sunni Arabs, who fear it will give Kurds and Shias too much power and control over Iraq's oil resources. "If there is a democratic government in Iraq, nobody has the right to call for the establishment of federalism anywhere in Iraq whether it is the south, north, middle or any other part of Iraq," he said. Al-Sadr's remarks raised the possibility of a crisis over one of Iraq's most explosive issues. Aljazeera
Kurdish leader says talks on new government going badly, Sunni clerics renew death squad allegations:
A prominent Kurdish politician, meanwhile, said talks between Kurdish and Shiite leaders on forming a new government are "not going well" because of major policy differences. That could delay formation of a new government and any drawdown of U.S. forces. . . . A hard-line Sunni Muslim clerical group renewed accusations that the Shiite-dominated government is operating death squads to kill Sunni civilians and called on Muslim and Arab countries to support the Iraqi Sunni community. Sheik Ismaiel al-Badri of the Association of Muslim Scholars said more than 300 Sunni Arabs have been assassinated in Baghdad over the past four months. The figure could not be independently confirmed. "What's going on in Iraq is a dangerous human crisis and its impact will cross Iraq's borders if no one puts a stop to it," al-Badri told reporters at Umm al-Qura mosque in the capital. He said the killings were occurring "as if the government security forces and militias are racing against time to claim as much as they can from its rivals who oppose it." Al-Badri described "the sectarian cleansing" carried out by Interior Ministry-led militias "is the real barbaric terrorism."
13 new suspected cases of bird flu in south, 12 in north. Head of Badr brigade denies death squad allegations, blames U.S. for violence in Iraq. (He could be half right.) 430 more terrorists miraculously rehabilitated. THE HOME FRONT Protesters Forcibly Evicted as Colin Powell Expresses No Contrition in Local Talk (Santa Barbara)
Angry throngs bedecked in a dazzling array of costumes, sporting signs and guerrilla theatre regalia opposed Colin Powell on his self-serving speaking engagement where he waxed profound on general themes of leadership and barely mentioned his role in the lead up to the bloody Iraq war. Protesters were forcibly evicted by a coterie of muscle men as apparent supporters of the alleged war criminal chided them and Arlington Theatre $50 ticket price.
U.S. Churches denounce Iraq war
A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the United States-led war in Iraq today, accusing Washington of “raining down terror”. The churches apologised to other nations for “the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown”. The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the US was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a “culture of consumption” and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming. “We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights,” said the statement from representatives of the 34 US members of World Council of Churches. “We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name.” The World Council of Churches meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, includes more than 350 mainline Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The US groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others.
Time for DoD to head to the dealership:
By Joe Galloway, Salt Lake Tribune A little-known cost is in vehicles lost in combat. Just for the U.S. Army alone that number has reached nearly 1,000. The cost for replacing those totally destroyed vehicles and overhauling thousands more worn out by heavy use totals $9 billion in this year's proposed defense budget and in the off-budget emergency wartime supplemental budget Congress passes twice each fiscal year. Since the Iraq combat operations began in the winter of 2003, the Army has lost 20 M1 Abrams tanks; 50 Bradley fighting vehicles; 20 Stryker wheeled combat vehicles; 20 M113 armored personnel carriers; 250 Humvees; and some 500 Fox wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, mine clearing vehicles and heavy- and medium-transport trucks and trailers. The bulk of these losses in tracked and wheeled vehicles were to the ubiquitous improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that the insurgents employ to such deadly purpose. To that equipment toll, for both Afghanistan and Iraq, add 27 Apache attack helicopters; 21 Blackhawk utility helicopters; 23 Kiowa Warrior assault helicopters; and 14 big Chinook cargo helicopters. . . . In addition to replacing the totally destroyed vehicles, the Army is faced with near-total rebuilding jobs on literally thousands of other Abrams tanks, Bradleys, M113s, Humvees, trucks and aircraft that have been worn out by heavy use in the combat zones. The wear and tear on those vehicles is estimated at five times normal peacetime use, and that wear factor is cumulative as the war drags on. Last year the Army's Materiel Command and its contractors overhauled 230 Abrams tanks. This year they expect to overhaul more than 700 of the huge tanks. Bradleys go from last year's 318 overhauls to this year's 600. Overhauls of Humvees, which totaled 5,000 in 2005, will hit 9,000 in fiscal 2006. These totals do not take into account major repairs needed for small arms, radios, generators and all the other gear that an army runs on in a combat zone.
Harper's Magazine calls for impeachment of George W. Bush. The issue isn't available on-line, but Lewis Lapham's article is largely based on the case made by Rep. John Conyers, and that's where the link leads. COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS Peter Galbraith, framing it as a review of The Assassin's Gate by George Packer and My Year in Iraq by Larry Paul Jerry Whateverhisnameis Bremer The Third, describes the adventures of the U.S. in Iraq in a most appropriately titled essay, The Mess. This complex and thorough run down defies the usual TiI extracting, but here are a few bon mots:
With the US Army vastly overextended in Iraq and Iran's friends in power in Baghdad, the Iranians apparently feel confident that the United States will take no action to stop them if they try to make a nuclear weapon. This is only one little-noticed consequence of America's failure in Iraq. We invaded Iraq to protect ourselves against nonexistent WMDs and to promote democracy. Democracy in Iraq brought to power Iran's allies, who are in a position to ignite an uprising against American troops that would make the current problems with the Sunni insurgency seem insignificant. Iran, in effect, holds the US hostage in Iraq, and as a consequence we have no good military or nonmilitary options in dealing with the problem of Iran's nuclear facilities. Unlike the 1979 hostage crisis, we did this to ourselves. . . . Much of the Iraq fiasco can be directly attributed to Bush's shortcomings as a leader. Having decided to invade Iraq, he failed to make sure there was adequate planning for the postwar period. He never settled bitter policy disputes among his principal aides over how postwar Iraq would be governed; and he allowed competing elements of his administration to pursue diametrically opposed policies at nearly the same time. He used jobs in the Coalition Provisional Authority to reward political loyalists who lacked professional competence, regional expertise, language skills, and, in some cases, common sense. Most serious of all, he conducted his Iraq policy with an arrogance not matched by political will or military power. . . . Bremer says that Bush "was as vigorous and decisive in person as he appeared on television." But in fact he gives an account of a superficial and weak leader. He had lunch with the President before leaving for Baghdad —a meeting joined by the Vice President and the national security team—but no decision seems to have been made on any of the major issues concerning Iraq's future. Instead, Bremer got a blanket grant of authority that he clearly enjoyed exercising. The President's directions seem to have been limited to such slogans as "we're not going to fail" and "pace yourself, Jerry." In Bremer's account, the President was seriously interested in one issue: whether the leaders of the government that followed the CPA would publicly thank the United States. But there is no evidence that he cared about the specific questions that counted: Would the new prime minister have a broad base of support? Would he be able to bridge Iraq's ethnic divisions? What political values should he have? Instead, Bush had only one demand: "It's important to have someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq." . . . Two realities developed in Iraq. Inside the Green Zone, Bremer and his staff produced one hundred new laws that were intended to transform Iraq into what America wanted it to be. Some were pet conservative projects like Bremer's decree imposing a flat 15 percent income tax in a country with no taxes; while others dealt with matters like copyrights, patents, telecommunications, and border controls. Meanwhile, outside the Green Zone, the Shiite leaders were building their new Islamic state; insurgents took over Sunni Arab lands; and the Kurds successfully resisted any effort to reduce their independence. . . . The White House and Pentagon wanted ideologically reliable Americans to take power in Iraq, not career bureaucrats they could not control. To carry out the CPA's work, Washington sent to Baghdad a steady stream of American conservatives, mainly young people with no relevant expertise, no previous experience in the Middle East, and no knowledge of the region. Some were assigned to the budget office, but knew nothing about budgeting or federal procurement procedures . . .Millions of dollars were kept in shrink-wrapped "bricks" of hundred-dollar bills scattered about the CPA offices, often neither guarded nor locked up. Records were not kept. A soldier assigned to assist the Iraqi boxing team gambled away the funds he was given. No one could tell whether he had lost $20,000 or $60,000, since no one kept a record of how much money he had received. . . .
In the same issue, David Cole discusses whether the War on Terror has made us safer. I expect you can guess the answer.
President Bush is fond of repeating, "We are fighting them over there so that we won't have to fight them here at home." As a slogan, this may be good politics. But as a counterterrorism strategy, it appears to be a disaster. Fighting them "over there" has since 2003 meant committing over one hundred thousand troops, hundreds of billions of dollars, and thousands of lives to a conflict in Iraq whose only clear connection to the "war on terror" has been its encouragement of terrorism. The US attack on Iraq has created the world's principal breeding and training ground for anti-American terrorists. Many highly informed commentators have argued that the war in Iraq, based at best on faulty intelligence and at worst on outright lies, was a major diversion from the real enemy—al-Qaeda and the terrorists loosely linked with it, or inspired by it—and that the war with Iraq has therefore made us less secure.
LOCAL NEWS 150 New Jersey Air National Guard members head to Balad. Wounded Virginia soldier overwhelmed by support, mourns dead friends. Family and friends of Westchester, PA soldier relieved after he is wounded, but not killed, in two bombings a few days apart. Quotation of the Day: No, the country isn't at war, and it's not America's secrets that the President seeks to protect. The country is threatened by free-booting terrorists unaligned with a foreign government or an enemy army; the secrets are those of the Bush administration, chief among them its determination to replace a democratic republic with something more safely totalitarian. The fiction of permanent war allows it to seize, in the name of the national security, the instruments of tyrranny. Lewis Lapham (Post by Cervantes, thanks to Zig for help with technical difficulties)


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