DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, May 20, 2006
: A group of youths - one throwing stones, in foreground, and another giving the victory sign, at top - gather on a bridge above a burning British military vehicle after a roadside bomb attack which slightly wounded two British soldiers in Basra, Iraq Saturday, May 20, 2006. The soldiers were transported back to their base and required little medical attention, according to a British Army spokesman. (See below “Bring ‘em on”)
Bring ‘em on
: Land mine injures two British soldiers in Basra (Video)
Summary: At least two British soldiers are injured after a land mine exploded in the southern Iraqi province of Basra on Saturday
Shotlist: Shots of dark smoke, fire rising from military vehicle, Iraqis gathering around it, British soldiers investigating, military vehicles [note the kids throwing stones at the Brits on the bridge. – bob]
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A bomb killed at least 19 people in the poor Shi'ite Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad
, blasting a spot where crowds of workers had gathered in the hope of being hired for day laboring jobs. A further 58 people were wounded in the blast.
A three-car drive-by shooting and mortar attack on the Fakhri Shanshal Sunni Arab mosque in the neighborhood of Jihad killed two people and wounded five
Update: The death toll from clashes between police commandos and insurgents in the Jihad District rose to six civilians killed and five wounded.
Two police were among the wounded.
A suicide car bomber detonated himself near a U.S. military convoy, wounding three civilians in Mosul.
No casualities were reported among the convoy.
The bodies of 19 people killed over the last two months were found in different parts of Mussayab
, some 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad. They will be buried on Saturday in the holy city of Kerbala.
A man and his wife were killed and three of their children wounded when gunmen broke into their house and opened fire
in Al-Udhaim, the town about 100 km (68 miles) north of Baghdad. The motives are unknown.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and another injured in a bomb blast in southern Kirkuk.
A police source said the bomb went off while a civilian car was passing on the highway of Kirkuk killing one and injuring another.
(South of): A journalist and television director of the Iraqi Media Network were wounded in a bomb blast in the region of Daouq
south of the northern city of Kirkuk on Saturday.
In the town of Qaim, near the Syrian border, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-packed vest inside a police station killing five policemen and wounding 10.
Iraqi parliament approves government without security ministers
Japan begins making arrangements to withdraw its troops from Iraq
beginning in June, a press report has said. The move Saturday was initiated as the southern Iraqi prefecture of Al-Muthanna, where the troops are stationed, was expected to regain authority from the multinational force by the end of June, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun
said in its evening edition.
IRAQ WAR TAKES NEW TOLL ON WOMEN SOLDIERS
When it comes to casualties, the war in Iraq has been an equal opportunity employer, by killing and injuring a historic number of female soldiers in combat situations.
"Our convoy came under fire, and the IED detonated," said Sgt. Juanita Wilson.
It was seven months into her tour of Iraq.
"I started feeling some tingling on myself," Wilson said. "By then, I looked down and there was no hand."
Wilson is now living with a prosthesis.
read in full…
A SPLIT-SECOND DECISION
Adel is 26. He is tall and well built, with long, thick dark hair styled with gel and a thin goatee beard. With his basketball shirt and knee-length shorts, he looks more like a rapper than a vigilante commander. Four years ago, when most of his friends were still reeling from the shock and awe of America's occupation, Ali stepped out of his life as a wealthy playboy from the leafy neighbourhood of Yarmouk in the west of Baghdad, and into the life of a Sunni insurgent.
"When I saw the first American patrol in my street I went to my room and cried for three days," he said as we sat in his family's huge living room. He emerged from his bedroom, crossed the street to a school that was used during the war as a Ba'ath party office, collected some RPG rockets, a launcher and ammunition, and drove around the neighbourhood looking for American troops. He soon found them.
"You think you are brave and you want to fight for your country and defend your home, but when I stood in front of them with the RPG on my shoulder, my legs were shaking from fear and my body went stiff. I just remember a huge bang and a cloud of dust and my friend grabbed and pushed me to the car and we drove away.
"Now its much easier. I am more focused and I know it's a split-second decision: either I kill or get killed."
read in full…
>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
THE HADITHA MASSACRE EXPOSED
MURTHA’S MY LAI
Murtha is telling the public that the Pentagon investigation will show that the US Marines massacred civilians in Haditha in November 2005.
That is why I am grateful to Representative John Murtha for not adhering to what is considered good manners. He is not only defying the spineless and oportunistic Nancy Pelosi’s directive to avoid the issue of the Iraq war, when he says saying we need to get our troops out of there pronto; he is now being very explicit about why. The fact that he is a former Marine with scar tissue from Vietnam only makes his public statement, that the result of the investigation will confirm a massacre at Haditha, discomfit the war-boosters of the right and the Schumer-Pelosi sales managers of the center that much more.
They know Murtha has an inside line to the Pentagon. That’s why he prefigured the rebellion of the Generals earlier this year with his declaration last year that the aggression in Iraq is a disaster that will only improve by ending it. Murtha knows what I know, and a lot of veterans who are willing to tell the truth know. Imperial occupations are by their very nature — in the words of Daniel Ellsberg — atrocity producing situations.
read in full…
YOU GOT YOUR DAMN WAR
And for every "regrettable incident" like this [the massacre at Haditha of unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, by U.S. Marines -- zig], where mountains of evidence force the military to admit the truth, there are other little massacres -- God only knows how many -- that are buried in reports of civilians "killed by an IED" or "caught in a firefight with insurgents."
Recall the reports of snipers taking out old ladies trying to get food during the siege of Falluja, or the video of that marine killing a wounded Iraqi in cold blood.
The soldiers, regardless of whether they're ever brought to trial, will be punished forever by the memories of their crimes. There's no escape; my grandfather told me he had nightmares from World War II every single night, without exception, until the day he died sixty years later. And he was a medic with a clean conscience.
But the real culprits won't be punished. There are two damn many of them.
It's not just Bush and Cheney and the rest of the madmen who conjured up this war, it's the Democratic hawks that enabled them. It's Kerry and Lieberman and all the rest and, yes, even Jack Murtha.
And it's the cowardly scumbags who spun their glorious war narrative and convinced a whole bunch of ordinary citizens to jump on board. It's the Tom Friedmans and the Peter Beinarts -- and even some on this very site -- who only realized this war was a mistake when it proved to be as disastrous as every other "war of choice." We told them that war is bloody hell and they called us "pacifists" and "appeasers."
Well there's your fucking war. It's not a video game and it's not glowing green explosions on CNN; it's "a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead."
And there's a lot more mothers and young children waiting for you maniacs in Iran.
read in full…DISMANTLING IRAQI LIFE
A telling indicator of the condition of the Iraqi infrastructure and its immediate prospects can be found in descriptions of the elaborate embassy, referred to as "George W's palace" by Baghdad residents, that the U.S. is now constructing inside the capital's fortified Green Zone. According to the London Times
, the $592 million structure will be "the biggest embassy on earth," and will feature "impressive residences for the Ambassador and his deputy, six apartments for senior officials, and two huge office blocks for 8,000 staff to work in. There will be what is rumoured to be the biggest swimming pool in Iraq, a state-of-the-art gymnasium, a cinema, restaurants offering delicacies from favourite US food chains, tennis courts and a swish American Club for evening functions."
What's more, once the construction is finished next year, embassy personnel can be reassured that the site, the size of Vatican City, "will have its own power and water plants," completely independent from Baghdad's, thus protecting it from the outages and pollution suffered by Iraqi residents of the city.
It is clear that American authorities preparing for their new embassy are not expecting the rejuvenation of any element in the Iraqi infrastructure in the foreseeable future.
read in full…
THE MYSTERY OF THE BATTLE FOR BAGHDAD'S AIRPORT
Majid Al Ghezali : They used incredible weapons
Patrick Dillon: Experimental weapons?
Majid Al Ghezali : Yes… Yes, I think. They shoot the bus. We saw the bus like a cloth, like a wet cloth. It seemed like a Volkswagen, a big bus like a Volkswagen.
This testimony was reported to American filmmaker Patrick Dillon a few weeks after the battle for the airport (April 2003) . The person interviewed, Majid al Ghezali, is a well-known and respected man in Baghdad, who is the first violinist in the city orchestra.
In addition to describing the battle, Majid al Ghezali wanted to show Patrick Dillon the site near the airport where this mysterious weapon was used, along with the traces of fused metal still visible, and the irregularly sized ditches where the cadavers were buried before they were exhumed.
We sought out Majid al Ghezali to hear more details of his story. We met up with him in Amman and he pointed out some inexplicable peculiarities on the bodies of the victims of the battle for the airport.
read in full…
AN APOLOGY FROM A BUSH VOTER
There’s nothing harder in public life than admitting you’re wrong. By the way, admitting you’re wrong can be even tougher in private life. If you don’t believe me, just ask Bill Clinton or Charlie Sheen. But when you go out on the limb in public, it’s out there where everyone can see it, or in my case, hear it.
So, I’m saying today, I was wrong to have voted for George W. Bush. In historic terms, I believe George W. Bush is the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he’s the worst President, period. (…)
I watched and tried to justify the looting in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. I watched and tried to justify the dismantling of the entire Iraqi army. I tired to explain the complexities of building a functional new Iraqi army. I urged patience when no WMDs were found. Then the Vice President told us we were in the “waning days of the insurgency.” And I started wincing again. The President says we have to stay the course but what if it’s the wrong course?
It was the wrong course. All of it was wrong. We are not on the road to victory. We’re about to slink home with our tail between our legs, leaving civil war in Iraq and a nuclear armed Iran in our wake. Bali was bombed. Madrid was bombed. London was bombed. And Bin Laden is still making tapes. It’s unspeakable. The liberal media didn’t create this reality, bad policy did. (…)
Does this make me a waffler? A flip-flopper? Maybe, although I prefer to call it realism. And, for those of you who never supported Bush, its also fair to accuse me of kicking Bush while he’s down. After all, you were kicking him while he was up.
You were right, I was wrong.
-- Doug McIntyre, Host of the talk radio show
McIntyre in the Morning
read in full…
AGE OF NEOCONS HEADED FOR DUSTBIN OF HISTORY
"The final hours of the North American empire have arrived . . . Now we have to say to the empire: 'We are not afraid of you. You’re a paper tiger.’" These were the words of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez during his recent visit to Vienna.
He may be right. The concept of a "New American Century," conceptualized by neoconservatives who envisioned total US hegemony over land, seas, skies and even space, is fast fading. In the post-Sept. 11 climate of fear it seemed that all Washington had to do was wag its finger at errant nations for them to cave and do its bidding. Not so today.
The US chose Iraq as an example of what Washington’s military might could achieve under the banner of democracy. "Shock and Awe" was supposed to stand as a warning to neighboring countries. Watch out! Do as we say, or you’ll be next.
But the plan has gone badly wrong. Some might say it has had the opposite effect of what was intended. (…)
The plan didn’t work simply because human beings aren’t that stupid, especially those who aren’t being indoctrinated on a daily basis by the skewed outpourings of Fox News and other US propaganda arms. Iraq today is an example all right. It stands as a stark salutary warning to the world: Uncle Sam has grown fangs and he must be kept at bay.
read in full…
>> BEYOND IRAQ
Bush has positive job approval in just three of the 50 United States
. This according to 50 separate but concurrent statewide public opinion polls conducted by SurveyUSA for its media clients across the country. Only residents of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho view the president favorably.
POLL: WORLD TURNING AGAINST AMERICANS
In the past, while Europeans, Asians and Arabs might have disliked American policies or specific U.S. leaders, they liked and admired Americans themselves. Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest.
The dislike is accelerating among youths, Stokes said. For instance, 20 percent of Britons under age 30 have an unfavorable opinion of Americans, double the percentage of 2002. More than half of those asked in France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Britain said the "spread of American ideas and customs" was a "bad thing."
(…) Almost half of those polled in Britain, France and Germany dispute the whole concept of a global war on terrorism, and a majority of Europeans believe the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. More than two-thirds of Germans, French and Turks believe American leaders lied about the reasons for war and believe the United States is less trustworthy than it once was.
In Brazil, 52 percent held a favorable view of the United States in 2002; by the following year that had dropped to 34 percent. In Russia, the pro-America portion of the population dropped from 61 percent to 36 percent over a year.
read in full…
GITMO: THE HELL YOU CAN'T ESCAPE BY DYING
Is it any wonder there was a riot at Guantanamo yesterday, as reported by AP?
Prisoners wielding improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military said Friday.
The fight occurred Thursday in a medium-security section of the camp as guards were responding to the fourth attempted suicide that day at the detention center on the U.S. Navy base, said Cmdr. Robert Durand.
Detainees used fans, light fixtures and other improvised weapons to attack the guards as they entered a communal living area to stop a prisoner who was trying to hang himself, Durand said.
Got that? Four suicide attempts in one day. (…)
My guess is the prisoners who tried to kill themselves yesterday - and those detainees desperate enough to use fans and light fixtures to attack guards trying to stop a suicide hanging - have about as much faith in the United States taking UN advice as we do. While I'm not advocating letting people kill themselves on our watch, there is a level of desperation in these acts that screams of hopelessness, and rationally so.
There is, you see, no exit. Not even death, in the rules set under this one-party Republican state.
read in full…
Chavez is slowly transforming Venezuelan politics and making significant headway in areas of redistribution and social welfare. The country’s 25 million people now have full access to free health care and illiteracy has been eliminated. Government programs now provide15 million people with subsidized food, medicine and other essentials. Medical clinics have sprung up in every barrio in Caracas and college enrollment has increased exponentially.
Chavez has created a model of governance that is based on human needs rather than rigid ideology. This has made it more difficult to discredit him as dogmatic or authoritarian. His policies of income redistribution have created a burgeoning Venezuelan middle class which is changing the political dynamic throughout Latin America. He has become Washington’s "biggest nightmare" and a threat to America’s economic dominance in the region. (…)
No one has done more to reenergize the Left than Hugo Chavez. He has become the face of anti-imperialism and the champion of progressive socialism. His views on education, poverty-reduction, social justice, and the equitable distribution of oil revenues are sweeping the hemisphere; brushing aside centuries of colonialism.
The politics of personal accumulation and perennial war are on the decline. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. As Chavez says, "We must embrace a new type of socialism, a humanist one, which puts humans, not machines and not the state, above everything".
This century’s Enlightenment is coming from south of the border.
read in full…
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: “Dick Cheney is ugly. The Pentagon is ugly. An Abrams tank is ugly. Executing helpless women and children while they're huddled on the floor, praying to their God, is a war crime committed by terrorists." -- Billmon on the comment "This one is ugly" made by "one military official" to NBC News about the Haditha massacre.