Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Photo: A man inspects the shoe of a bombing victim after a suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, February 1, 2006. (Ceerwan Aziz/Reuters)

Bring ‘em on: Iraqi police find 11 bodies, all shot in the head, in the back of a parked truck in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Roadside bomb exploded in Amiriya killing one and wounding three others. Iraqi civilian died in bomb attack on US army patrol in the city of Baquba. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi men found shot near a road in Rustamiya, on the outskirts of Baghdad. (A different source says five men found.) Bring ‘em on: Gunman kill mother and two small children in their home in Muqdadiya. They were the family of a Sunni Imam.

Bring ‘em on: Four Iraqi soldiers were killed and one injured in gunfight in Buhriz

Bring ‘em on: Joint US-Iraqi forces kill three gunmen and arrest another 75 men in raids in Iskandaria, Mahmoudiya and Latifiya. Bring ‘em on: Two children killed during a clash between US forces and insurgents in the town of Hit.

Bring ‘em on: Two Iraqis killed when they violated orders for residents to stay in their homes during raids by paramilitary troops backed by US forces in Samarra. Bring ‘em on: Suicide bomber killed eight people in Baghdad. 30 people were wounded. (Later reports said more than 50 wounded.) Bring ‘em on: US troops fire on Canadian envoy’s car in the green zone in Baghdad. No casualties reported. Bring ‘em on: Kidnappers of two German hostages held in Iraq said they would kill their captives with 72 hours unless Germany ended cooperation with Iraq and closed it’s Baghdad embassy. Bring ‘em on: Identity of many kidnappers in Iraq remains vague. Slightly more than 300 foreign civilians have been kidnapped in Iraq since the US-led war began in March 2003. Of those 300-plus kidnapped, 39 have been killed by their abductors.

The Saban Center at the Brookings Institution in Washington estimates, in its Iraq Index, that in December kidnappings of Iraqis were taking place at the rate of up to 30 per day. Bring ‘em on: Gunmen kidnap two Iraqi journalists in central Baghdad from a local TV station. Bring ‘em on: Foreign hostages in Iraq More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Fifty-four foreign hostages are known to have been executed by their captors (41 in 2004 and 13 in 2005).

Following is a list of foreigners kidnapped in the last year and believed to be still missing in Iraq: HOSTAGE NATIONALITY DATE OF CAPTURE

Two unidentified people - South Korea - Jan 9, 2005 Unidentified person – Turkey - Jan 13 Sayed Abdel Khalek – Egypt - Jan 13 Joao Jose Vasconcelos Jr. – Brazil - Jan 19 Mohammed Haroun Hamad – Sudan - March 9 Maher Ataya - Sudan - March 9 Nabil Tawfiq Sulaiman – Egypt - March 19 Mitwali Mohammed Qassem – Egypt - March 19 Jeffrey Ake - U.S.A. - April 11 Six unidentified people – Jordan - May 6 Ali Abdullah – Turkey - June 7 Unidentified person – Turkey - June 21 Samuel Edward – Egypt - Sept 26 Abderrahim Boualam – Morocco - Oct 20 Abdelkrim El Mouhafidim – Morocco - Oct 20 Norman Kember – Britain - Nov 26 James Loney - Canada - Nov 26 Harmeet Singh Sooden - Canada - Nov 26 Tom Fox - U.S.A. - Nov 26 Mahmoud Saedat – Jordan - Dec 20 Six unidentified people - Sudan - Dec 23 Jill Carroll - U.S.A. - Jan 7, 2006 Moses Munyao - Kenya - Jan 18, 2006 George Noballa - Kenya - Jan 18, 2006 Thomas Wischke - Germany - Jan 24 Rebiti Drata - Germany - Jan 24 (The Iraqis kidnapped would be too numerous to list. – Susan) REPORTS Iraq Says Treating 12 Possible Human Bird Flu Cases

Iraq's health minister said on Monday the country feared it had its first human bird flu victim after preliminary test results showed a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who died two weeks ago had the H5N1 virus.

WHO said it was urgently seeking further tests at a British laboratory to confirm the diagnosis and was dispatching a team of experts to help health officials in Iraq's largely autonomous northern region of Kurdistan.

The British laboratory will also assess samples from the girl's uncle, who had cared for her when she was ill and who himself died last week of a respiratory infection. "We have 12 patients in Sulaimaniya that have lung infections that we suspect may be the bird flu virus," Kurdistan's deputy prime minister, Imad Ahmed, told Reuters, referring to one of the region's largest cities. US Invasion Responsible for Deaths of over 250,000 Civilians in Iraq

The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 by U.S.-led coalition forces has been responsible for the death of at least 150,000 civilians (not including certain of Iraq), reveals a compilitation of scientific studies and corroborated eyewitness testimonies. The majority of these deaths, which are in addition those normally expected from natural causes, illness and accidents, have been among women and children, documents a well-researched study, that had been released by The Lancet Medical Journal. The report in the British journal is based on the work of teams from the Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University in the U.S., and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. A similar methodology was used in the late 1990's to calculate the number of deaths from the war in Kosovo, put at 10,000. POLITICS: Meanwhile, Sunni Arab political leader Tariq al-Hashimi demanded the dismissal of Interior Minister Bayan Jabr and his senior staff. He also called for sending Iraqi troops into Baghdad neighborhoods instead of Interior Ministry commandoes, who have been accused of arbitrarily detaining Sunni Arabs. Al-Hashimi also demanded the release of all detainees in Iraqi and U.S. custody, and the release of findings of an investigation into claims that Sunni Arab prisoners were mistreated in November in a jail run by the Interior Ministry in Baghdad's Jadriyah neighborhood. Shi’ites in Iraq Mark Ashura Amid Tight Security

Authorities in the southern Iraqi city of Kerbala tightened security on Tuesday as Iraqi Shi‘ites began gathering for a religious event that suicide bombers turned into carnage two years ago. Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed in the sacred city as a precaution against attacks like those that killed at least 171 Shi‘ites in Kerbala and Baghdad in March 2004, as huge crowds gathered at the climax of Ashura. "The governorate has prepared a security plan that will be implemented in the city before the 10th of Muharram," said Kerbala police chief Abdul-Razzaq al-Ta‘ee, referring to the final day of Ashura, when hundreds of thousands gather. "This plan will consist of roughly 8,000 members of the Iraqi army and police." Shi’ite-Sunni Tensions Rising as Battle Shapes Up Over Control of Iraqi Security Forces

It's already a bitter fight and getting more acrimonious by the day - the question of who should control Iraq's police and army. At stake is whether Iraq slides toward civil war - and how long American troops might have to stay to keep the peace. In a clear sign of the issue's importance, American officials have been pointed in their demands that the two sides reach a deal, and that no one group should monopolize key ministries. But so far, the sides are getting further apart, not compromising. Sunni Arabs insist that Shiites aligned with sectarian groups with private militias cannot control the key interior and defense ministries that run the police and the army. For months, each side has accused the other of targeting its civilians - Sunnis say the Shiite-run Interior Ministry runs death squads. Shiites say Sunni extremists target Shiites with car bombings and suicide attacks. Iraqi Desertions Complicate US Mission

Just two days before a mission to send hundreds of Iraqi soldiers after insurgents in this troubled western part of Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi commanders confronted an untimely problem -- an Iraqi battalion commander was suddenly fired for incompetence. The commander's soldiers, a third of those assigned to the mission, would be absent for an operation designed in part to introduce the unit to residents in this town between the troubled cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad.

The missing battalion underscored what U.S. commanders call the Iraqi army's most glaring weakness in this restive part of the country: a shortage of soldiers able to take on their own ''battle space,'' or areas where they are primarily responsible for security. (I am guessing they don’t want to kill their fellow Iraqis. – Susan) Iraq Names Acting Oil Minister as Incumbent Quits

Iraq's Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum said on Tuesday his resignation, which he tendered last month, had now been accepted. Tourism Minister Hashem al-Hashemi had been appointed acting oil minister and had already started work, a spokesman in the prime minister's office told reporters. "Two days ago, I received a letter from Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari accepting my resignation," Uloum said.

In December, Jaafari ordered Uloum to take a month's leave after he opposed big increases in fuel prices under a deal with the International Monetary Fund. Uloum resigned on December 28 and was replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi is currently in Vienna, where he is heading the Iraqi delegation to a meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Two weeks ago Uloum returned to work after getting support from the president and most powerful Shi'ite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who heads the ruling Shi'ite Alliance. Mexico Arrests Four Iraqi Migrants Trying to Reach US

Mexico's Attorney General's Office said on Monday that four Iraqi migrants were arrested in the northern Mexican city of Navajoa. In a statement, the Attorney General's Office said the Iraqis were arrested while trying to make an illegal journey into the United States. (No indication of what their intentions might have been. – Susan) Audit: US Led Occupation Engaged in Fraud and Squandered Aid

A U.S. government audit found American-led occupation authorities squandered tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq through undocumented spending and outright fraud. In some cases, auditors recommend criminal charges be filed against the perpetrators. In others, it asks the U.S. ambassador to Iraq to recoup the money. Dryly written audit reports describe the Coalition Provisional Authority's offices in the south-central city of Hillah being awash in bricks of $100 bills taken from a central vault without documentation.It describes one agent who kept almost $700,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker and mentions a U.S. soldier who gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines. "Tens of millions of dollars in cash had gone in and out of the South-Central Region vault without any tracking of who deposited or withdrew the money, and why it was taken out," says a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which is in the midst of a series of audits for the Pentagon and State Department. Auditors Find Widespread Waste and Unfinished Work in Iraqi Rebuilding Contracts

A sweeping examination of thousands of contracts that the United States underwrote with Iraqi money has provided the most comprehensive look yet at the confusion, waste and lack of accountability in rebuilding and training programs during the first years of the American-led occupation, say the Iraqi finance minister and a retired American officer who led an investigative arm of the audit.

The effort, which is being undertaken by a contracting office in Baghdad that reports to the United States Army and which has not previously been disclosed, began in March 2005 and is close to completion. Previous audits have focused more narrowly on construction contracts and work done in specific areas of Iraq. The audit of about 9,000 contracts worth at least $5.8 billion in Iraqi oil money and assets seized from Saddam’s government was undertaken to determine how much of the money originally set aside for the work should ultimately be paid. Representative Waxman, a Democrat from California who is the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, said in a statement that the new findings pointed up the need for a wider investigation of how Iraqi money was used to underwrite contracts in Iraq. "This is far from a complete accounting," he said. "We still don't know how many millions were wasted on contractor overcharges and shoddy work. Congress should conduct a thorough investigation into the administration's use of Iraqi funds." Military Hides Cause of Women Soldier’s Deaths

In a startling revelation, the former commander of Abu Ghraib prison testified that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former senior US military commander in Iraq, gave orders to cover up the cause of death for some female American soldiers serving in Iraq. Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several women had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired US Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview. It was there that male soldiers assaulted and raped women soldiers. So the women took matters into their own hands. They didn't drink in the late afternoon so they wouldn't have to urinate at night. They didn't get raped. But some died of dehydration in the desert heat, Karpinski said. Ambassador Tried to Kill US hunt for AWB Bribes

THE Australian ambassador to the United States lobbied Congress to drop an investigation into allegations that Australia's wheat exporter paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime. The Federal Government confirmed last night that the then ambassador, Michael Thawley, met the chairman of a US Senate investigations committee in late 2004 to head off the planned inquiry. The AWB investigation was ultimately dropped, despite the US Government having information that an AWB wheat contract might have been inflated to cover kickbacks to Iraq. This information included a report, seen by the Herald, from the US Defence Contract Audit Agency. It is understood a Senate sub-committee did not pursue the AWB investigation in the face of the fierce resistance of AWB. THE WAR AT HOME: Fury Over Sick Soldiers

The Brigade — dubbed the Desert Rats because of their heroic desert exploits in World War Two — is one of the largest units in Britain’s 8,000-strong Iraq force. One soldier who ran out of medication had to be sent back to the brigade’s base at Hohne near Hannover, Germany. And another member was relieved early because he was suffering so badly. An Army insider said: “Clinically depressed soldiers should not be sent to a war zone like Iraq. “What makes it worse is that not enough anti-depressant drugs were available and some of the squaddies had to phone home to ask their wives to send out more. THE WAR AT HOME: 3rd Infantry Soldier Gets 20 Years in Colleague’s Slaying

Fort Benning soldier was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for his role in the slaying of a fellow infantryman just days after they returned from Iraq following the 2003 assault on Baghdad. Jacob Burgoyne pleaded guilty Jan. 20 to voluntary manslaughter and robbery in the July 2003 stabbing of Spc. Richard Davis of St. Charles, Mo. The 26-year-old member of the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade testified for the state last week against fellow Pfcs. Mario Navarrete and Alberto Martinez, both of whom were convicted of murder and sentenced to life. The murder was committed a day after the four, plus Pfc. Douglas Woodcoff of San Antonio, returned from a tour in Iraq. All were drinking during their night out in Columbus, and Burgoyne and Davis got into a fight upon leaving a nightclub, testimony showed. Woodcoff's only charge is concealing the death of a person. A Look At Changes In Iraq Over The Past Year

A statistical profile of change in Iraq since President Bush's last State of the Union address one year ago follows. The first number is as of Jan. 31, 2005, and the second is as of Jan. 31, 2006: U.S. military deaths: 1,415; 2,242 U.S. military wounded: 10,622; 16,606 U.S. troop strength: 150,000; 136,000 Number of daily insurgent attacks: 61; 75 Number of multiple fatal bombings per month: 28; 30 Number of car bombings per month (thru Dec. 2005): 65; 30 Number of Iraqi security forces: 125,000; 273,000 Estimated number of insurgents: 18,000; 15,000-20,000 Estimated number of insurgents detained or killed: 33,450; 54,450 Estimated number of Iraqi military and police deaths: 1,300; 4,059 Crude oil production (millions of barrels per day): 2.1; 1.78 Monthly oil revenue from exports: $1.49 billion; $0.84 billion Daily average hours of electricity in Baghdad/nationwide: 9/9; 3.2/10.2 Monthly output of electricity in megawatts: 78,925; 86,000 Estimated unemployment rate: 27-40 percent; 25-40 percent U.S. aid disbursed for reconstruction: $3.9 billion; $12.7 billion Amount of U.S. aid appropriated: $20.9 billion; $20.9 billion Most Iraqi Doubt US Will Ever Leave

Large majorities of Iraqis believe that the United States has no intention of ever withdrawing all its military forces from their country and that Washington's reconstruction efforts have been incompetent at best, according to a new survey released here Tuesday. At the same time, however, only 35 percent of Iraqis -- most of them Sunni Arabs -- believe coalition forces should withdraw within six months, although if they did so, majorities said it would have a beneficial impact, as many prominent Democrats and other war critics here have argued. Scepticism about U.S. plans in Iraq is particularly pronounced among the country's Sunni population, who were far more negative about virtually every aspect of post-invasion Iraq than their counterparts in the Shi'a and Kurdish communities, which together are believed to account for 75-80 percent of the country's population. Indeed, despite the strong Sunni Arab participation in December's parliamentary elections, a whopping 88 percent of the community approves of "attacks on U.S.-led forces" in Iraq, with 77 percent voicing "strong approval" -- a level of hostility that presents a serious challenge for U.S. officials now negotiating with Sunni insurgent leaders, as reported in the Feb. 6 issue of Newsweek magazine. By comparison, 41 percent of Shiites said they approved such attacks, while 16 percent of Kurds, by far the most pro-U.S. of the three groups, agreed. Pentagon Can Now Fund Foreign Militaries

Congress has granted unusual authority for the Pentagon to spend as much as $200 million of its own budget to aid foreign militaries, a break with the traditional practice of channeling foreign military assistance through the State Department. The move, included in a little-noticed provision of the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act passed last month, marks a legislative victory for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who pushed hard for the new powers to deal with emergency situations. But it has drawn warnings from foreign policy specialists inside and outside the government, who say it could lead to growth of a separate military assistance effort not subject to the same constraints applied to foreign aid programs that are administered by the State Department. Such constraints are meant to ensure that aid recipients meet certain standards, including respect for human rights and protection of legitimate civilian authorities.

The final version -- Section 1206 of the authorization act -- says the Pentagon can provide training, equipment and supplies "to build the capacity" of foreign militaries to conduct counter terrorist operations or join with U.S. forces in stability operations. But the section also stipulates that orders for such aid must originate with the president, and it requires the Pentagon to work closely with the State Department in formulating and implementing the assistance. (This policy was designed and promoted by Rice and Rumsfeld, the same people who claimed there were WMDs in Iraq, there were ties to al Qaeda in Saddam’s government, there was going to be flowers and candy instead of IEDs, who never listened to any warnings from anybody and who never suspected that a free and fair election in Palestine would lead to Hamas being in power. They have yet to realize who has come to power in Iraq. Of course, the US has always had a foreign policy of funding our enemies, but this is new in who exactly is directing the funding and new in that the funding is going directly to military arms and training, not to some fake humanitarian slop. – Susan)

COMMENTARY OPINION: If you are not pissed off – yet again – you’re not f***ing paying attention

OK, here's a recent column in the Post:

"According to recent news reports, the Bush administration will not ask Congress for additional foreign aid for Iraq in its coming budget request. This would be a major strategic mistake. Iraq's infrastructure is still in mediocre shape, and most of its citizens are still seriously underemployed. Such an aid cutoff would be especially surprising coming from a president who has built his Iraq policy on an unflinching commitment to staying the course and completing the mission. Economics is a critical element of any success strategy for Iraq." Look, I've said over and over that my support for Bush and the Administration is predicated solely on my belief that they are determined and serious about winning the war. And - simply - WTF? - how in the world does this connect to winning the war?

OK, so here's the challenge for my fellow hawks. Either explain to me why this is just fine - why it is that even if there is no immediate fiscal impact (which I doubt), the psychological impact - on the Iraqis who have bet their lives on us, and on those who think we are weak and will run away - doesn't matter. If you can't, than what are we as bloggers going to do to raise the stakes on this? I'll be corresponding with a bunch of hawkish bloggers to see if we can speak with a common voice on this. (I would have to say that they are catching on. In this case, I don’t think “better late than never” really applies. But at least they are not part of the group that is still claiming the WMDs were moved to Syria. I didn’t link to that article because I would have had to register to even read it. – Susan) OPINION: They won…. I knew it.

They won the elections, they didn't get the majority though. But its doesn't matter, they won. Even if all the others put their seats together, it wont be as much as them. I was hoping that maybe things are going to change, and I would be able to go back home. I was hoping that maybe they would yield to US pressure and form a governments that includes everybody. I was hoping that they would lose, and all the early results were just a bad joke. But... Well, what can I do? They won. I knew they are going to win, but I was hoping. Doesn't matter. Its just another 4 years always from home. Just another wasted 4 years of my life, just another 4 years of doing things I don't want to do, seeing people I don't want to see, and living a life I don't want to live. Just Another 4 years away from, another 4 years of wishing and hoping, another 4 years of exile. but who says its going to just 4 years? Everybody tells me that its going to be more, but I'm still hoping that its just going to be 4.

The losers said that they played the elections, and they manipulated the seat count to get more seats on their-the losers- account. I don't know about that, but the special committee that the UN sent to assess the authenticity of the elections found no proof to support these allegations. Although they cancelled some ballot boxes, but their number was so little, that it wont make any significant difference in the finale results. before the results, they-The Supreme council for Islamic revolution in Iraq- about forming a national government, with all the players represented. But, out of a sudden, they said that they don't have to do that. They won, and its their earned right to form their government, and the people who have lost should accept it. Sadly, this is true. They won, they are entitled this right by law, and the rest can go and hit their heads to a wall for all they care.

Now they other people, the ones who lost, turned to begging. Allawi, is now negotiating to get the vice-president, even though he is working against eh group, but he wants that job so bad that he doesn't care about anybody else. The other groups are fighting as well, to get a piece of the cake. But what I think they don't realize, is that if they take part in that government, they should accept everything it says and does. They should vote WITH every bill they propose. Can they do that? There are major differences between the Sunni's agenda and the Shite's agnenda. So its practically impossible for them to be together, I cant even begin to imagine the problems if they did. This government could take a year to be put together. That's just absurd.

I want to say let us see what are they going to do, I want to say that let us see what can they do. But I cant. Cause I know what they are going to do, and what they are capable of doing. I have seen it, and I'm sure that all of us have too. OPINION: Critics Say Detaining Suspected Terrorists Wives May Backfire.

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, there have been questions about U.S. troops' sensitivities to Islamic culture — especially when dealing with women. Now there are new questions about a tactic the military calls leveraging. For example, marines found weapons and explosives in a woman's house and wanted her to lead them to her husband. The military says this sort of intimidation is a necessary tool. But internal military documents suggest it's taken a new turn: Detaining wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of getting their husbands to surrender. (The operative word here would be 'kidnapping' not 'detaining'. - Susan)

"If they're being taken solely for the purpose of drawing their men out of hiding, it can even appear to look like hostage taking," said Jumana Musa of Amnesty International. “If this doesn't end up actually being something that give you a key terrorist, the risk is you're going to alienate a lot of Iraqis," said ABC News analyst Tony Cordesman. (I think that is the point. – Susan) PEACE ACTION: 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: NC Marine killed in Humvee accident in Iraq Local Story: Iraqi insurgents kill British soldier in multinational patrol Local Story: Second Scot killed in 24 bloody hours in Iraq Local Story: Trucking company honors fallen Marine. QUOTE OF THE DAY: For what can war, but endless war, still breed? : John Milton


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