Monday, June 05, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR MONDAY, June 5, 2006 Photo: Iraqis loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr demonstrate against U.S. military raids in Shi'ite areas in Baghdad June 5, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Jasim Bring 'em on: A Soldier assigned to 2/28 Brigade Combat Team died due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province June 3. (MNF- Iraq) Bring 'em on: Pfc. Brett L. Tribble, 20, of Lake Jackson, Texas, died in Ar Ramadi on June 3 of injuries sustained in Ar Ramadi, Iraq on June 2, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Tribble was assigned to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany. (DefenseLink) U.S.-led forces fired artillery at the train station in Ramadi, "targeting four military-aged males unloading a weapons cache," according to the U.S.-Iraqi Joint Operations Center. A hospital official, Dr. Omar al-Duleimi, said five civilians were killed and 15 wounded by American forces in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. The Joint Operations Center said the mission had "positive effects on the target," but it denied the report that civilians were killed or injured. A Task Force Band of Brothers artillery unit fired an artillery round from a military base near Baqubah that landed in an inhabited area June 2. The unit, from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, fired a 155 mm round from a Paladin self-propelled howitzer during training that impacted in the town of Hibhib. A short time later Iraqi Police reported an explosion at a building in the town that killed two Iraqi civilians, injured four others and damaged six houses. (CENTCOM) OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Gunmen have seized at least 50 people in coordinated raids on bus stations in central Baghdad today. The attackers - dressed in police uniforms - stormed the stations in the centre of the capital, abducting drivers and passengers who were preparing to travel outside Iraq. The victims were herded into more than a dozen vehicles before being driven away. Two Syrians and several people employed by Baghdad transport companies were among the kidnapped, an interior ministry official said. Most of the buses had been due to go to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, Lieutenant Colonel Falah al-Mohamedawi said. Gunmen in a car killed two Sunni brothers as they were driving to college in the neighborhood of Sadiyah in southwestern Baghdad. The victims, Ahmed and Arkan Sarhan, were in their early 20s. Iraqi police found the blindfolded and bound body of a man who had been shot in the head and chest elsewhere in the capital. In west Baghdad, an employee of the municipality was shot dead by gunmen in the upscale Sunni neighborhood of Mansur. In the eastern part of the city a civil servant with the industry ministry was shot dead on his way to work. Two men driving a water truck along Canal Street in east Baghdad were shot dead when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle. Gunmen shot dead the head of the local municipal council in Baghdad's western district of Mansour, and his driver. Gunmen in two cars killed a member of the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, near his home in western Baghdad. A huge fire erupted in a house near a gas station in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Yarmouk, but no casualties were reported. Iraqi forces were evacuating nearby houses and trying to contain the fire. Baqubah: Gunmen shot dead the bodyguard of a local official and the bodyguard's father and brother in Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad. Four civilians were in different incidents in Baqubah, including an official responsible for water planning in a village just north of the city. Suwayra: Four bodies with stab wounds were found in the Tigris River near Suwayra, 45 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. Basra: Two gunmen on a motorcycle killed Muntaha Ali and her husband Helmi Yaseen in Basra, believed to be employees of a U.S. government agency. Tikrit: Gunmen in Tikrit killed three police officers and wounded two others at a checkpoint. Police found 4 bullet-riddled bodies in the city of Tikrit, north of the capital Fallujah: Police found the body of a man who had been shot and tortured near the town of Falluja. Ramadi: Five people killed when mortars landed on their houses in Ramadi. Kirkuk: A roadside bomb killed an off-duty policemen in Kirkuk. The corpse of an Iraqi contractor was found, covered with stab wounds and lacking a head. Mosul: Armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on a gathering of police in Mosul, killing one and wounding another four. >> NEWS A prominent leader in the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars warned on Monday that his group will not participate in the Iraqi national dialogue conference, accusing Iraqi politicians of unwillingness to defuse Iraq's crises. An explosion of a cannister containing chlorine gas at a water purification plant near Hilla south of Baghdad sent a cloud of the poisonous substance floating over a nearby neighbourhood, sending 104 people to the hospital.The expolsion was an industrial accident, said Dr. Mushriq al-Waili of the health office of the province of Babel. The main Slovak opposition party Smer when it forms the new government will immediately decide to withdraw Slovak military units from Iraq, Smer chairman Robert Fico told journalists on Friday. "Our decision is clear and definitive, and nothing will be changed about it," said Fico >>REPORTS The number of Turkish citizens killed in Iraq since the start of the war is now over 100. Of these, said [Turkey Foreign Minister Abdullah] Gul, almost every single one was a truck driver. According to statistics by Iraq's morgues institute, 6,002 corpses were found in the past five months 1,068 in January, 1,110 in February, 1,294 in March, 1,155 in April and 1,375 in May. Most of the corpses had gunshot wounds, while others showed marks of burns or electrocution. Morgues institute officials said that since the institute was established in 1927, it had never received such a huge number of corpses as currently, with the daily average now 35 to 50 per day. Before the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the institute used to receive only seven to 10 corpses per day. RAMADI BECOMES ANOTHER FALLUJAH Reports from Ramadi have been few and far between in recent months, and always filed by reporters embedded with U.S. troops working in the area. Witnesses interviewed by IPS in Amman provided a nuanced picture of the situation, one that is very different from the military focus of embedded journalists. Their stories describe death happening any moment, without signals or warning. "On the side of the main street you will find destroyed buildings, and military tents on the buildings for snipers. Be careful, if you hear any sound of fighting, hide in the side roads, park your car there and get in any house and hide, because snipers will kill anyone who moves, even if the fighting is in another area." Sheikh Majeed al-Ga'oud is from Wahaj al-Iraq village just outside Ramadi, and visits the city regularly. He also described snipers killing without discretion. "The American snipers don't make any distinction between civilians or fighters, anything that moves, he shoots immediately. This is a very dirty thing, they are killing lots of civilians who are not fighters." According to the Iraqi friend, many people have been killed in Ramadi because they simply do not know which parts of the city are now no-go zones. One such area is the main street through Ramadi. After the first traffic light you are not allowed to proceed forward, only to the right or left. "The way is blocked, not by concrete, but by snipers. Anyone who goes ahead in the street will be killed. There's no sign that it's not allowed, but it's known to the local people. Many people came to visit us from Baghdad. They didn't know this and they went ahead a few metres and were killed." read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS A CULTURE OF CASUAL VIOLENCE, REVENGE AND PREJUDICE AGAINST IRAQI CIVILIANS American veterans of the war in Iraq have described a culture of casual violence, revenge and prejudice against Iraqi civilians that has made the killing of innocent bystanders a common occurrence. The US military is now involved in at least three separate investigations into its own soldiers' conduct in Iraq that may illegally have led to the deaths of Iraqi civilians. It is widely expected that more incidents will be uncovered. The most serious is the alleged massacre of 24 civilians in the Sunni town of Haditha by a unit of marines. The victims included women and children who were shot after a roadside bomb hit a convoy and killed a US soldier. Last week it was revealed that two more incidents have also been under investigation. The first is the death of 11 Iraqis during an American raid near Balad in March. The dead included five children. The second inquiry involves seven US marines and a sailor in the death of an Iraqi civilian near Baghdad in April. It is believed the man was dragged from his home and shot before an AK-47 and a shovel were placed next to his body to make it look like he was an insurgent. Some American veterans have expressed little surprise at the latest revelations. 'I don't doubt for one moment that these things happened. They are widespread. This is the norm. These are not the exceptions,' said Camilo Mejia, a US infantry veteran who served briefly in the Haditha area in 2003. American veterans have told The Observer of a military culture that places little practical emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties in the heat of battle, although they also point out the huge problems of urban fighting against a tough enemy that often hides within the civilian Iraqi community. 'In these circumstances you would be surprised at how any normal human being can see their morals degenerate so they can do these things,' said Garrett Reppenhagen, a former US sniper. read in full... HADITHA AND RUMSFELD'S RATIO In the most recent variation on this theme [the behavior of U.S. troops in Iraq], the high ranking official was Secretary of Defense (sic) Donald Rumsfeld and his public assurance went as follows: "We know that 99.9 percent of our forces conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. We also know that in conflicts things that shouldn't happen do happen." (...) for the sake of broadening the scope here, let's assume that Rummy's got it right. Let's take him at face value that 99.9 percent of American military personnel "conduct themselves in an exemplary manner." This begs the question: If only one-tenth of one percent make things happen that shouldn't happen, what is everyone else doing to make us stand and sing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium? How exactly does one define "exemplary manner"? By Rumsfeld's reckoning (and the standard company line of most every politician, pundit, and peon) "exemplary" includes the use of Daisy Cutters, cluster bombs, and B-52s dropping payloads from 15,000 feet. One-tenth of one percent bad apples slaughter non-combatants without orders...but the other 99.9% are the heroes deploying depleted uranium, napalm, and white phosphorus. "Exemplary" warriors with "core American values" launch cruise missiles into crowded cities, blow up dams to deliberately flood rice paddies and starve civilians, and destroy villages in order to save them. (...) The repugnant recent events throughout Iraq, of course, must be investigated and the guilty parties brought to justice. But the greater work lies in examining a culture so blind to its violent nature as to spend time unashamedly splitting hairs between what transpired at Haditha and what passes for "exemplary." read in full... THE MEDIA'S BLOODY FOOTPRINTS Eventually, we will have to seriously address the media's culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi non-combatants. Conspiracy to facilitate mass murder is not protected under the 1st amendment any more than shouting "fire" in a crowded building. The media played a crucial role in deliberately misleading the country into a war of aggression and, subsequently, aiding and abetting the vast incidents of war crimes. For that they will have to be held accountable. The persistent slaughter in Iraq is not just the work of right wing fanatics and neocons, but of the information-managers who pumped their lies through the public air-waves and made the war a fati accompli. They've played a central role in decimating Iraqi society and putting America on the fast-track to ruin. The bloody footprints from Haditha lead straight to the corporate headquarters at Time Warner and FOX News. They are every bit as guilty as anyone who served in Kilo Company. read in full... RISKING THEIR LIVES FOR THE COMPANY STORE "The War Tapes" is a milestone in journalism. For the first time in this war, citizen soldiers became citizen journalists. They made a movie unlike anything you've ever seen about the war in Iraq. . . . We see the war from the first-person perspectives of soldiers with cameras. In addition to their hand-held cameras, the Guardsmen also mounted tripods on their gun turrets, and on the dashboard of their Humvee. They also attached cameras to their helmets and body armor. . . . The Guardsmen spend most of their tour protecting convoys of supplies [for] KBR, a private military contractor and subsidiary of Halliburton. . . . The soldiers start making jokes about the war for cheese. We see that KBR is doing very well on this operation. We see how US soldiers risk their lives to protect cheese and other sundries. Then we watch KBR selling it all back to them at exorbitant prices. KBR sells swag to the government (meals, haircuts, styrofoam plates for $20+ bucks a pop) and to the troops. There's a great scene of soldiers packed into KBR's amply stocked commissary after a hard day of escorting. They're there to buy DVDs, Pringles, Becks beer, and soft drinks from KBR. Suddenly, you realize that every copy of "Armageddon" and every bottle of Mountain Dew was trucked in through the same hellish corridor as the cheese. I don't say this very often, but go read the whole thing. Lindsay points out that if the film finds enough of an audience in its first few days in New York City, it will be able to open in other cities as well. read in full... IRAQ'S "YEAR ZERO" The continuing destruction of Iraq's history-ancient and modern-of homes, lives, and civil society under the watch of and at the hands of US and British troops-in defiance of a swathe of international law-is an uncanny and chilling mirror image of Pol Pot's Year Zero. In 1975
Society was to be purified ... throughout Cambodia, deadly purges were conducted to eliminate remnants of the old society: the educated, the wealthy, the (religious elders) police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, former government officials, soldiers ... Education, health care ... was halted, cities forcibly evacuated ... The country sealed off from the outside world. History, monuments, ancient and modern, world heritage sites, were erased from the earth. Newspapers, radio and television were banned. ("Pol Pot in Cambodia 1975-1979")
Secret prisons were built, Muslims "were forced to eat pork. Up to twenty thousand people were tortured into giving false confessions in a school in Phnom Penh, converted into a jail. ... elsewhere suspects were often shot before being questioned." Think Abu Ghraib (and don't forget Guantanamo) and all those other centers where those who disappeared in Iraq are incarcerated. Think the shootings at road blocks, the "cleansing" of Iraq's towns and cities. Add to Pol Pot's horrific regime only the killing of nearly 80 journalists in 30 months, the bombing of two television stations, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya, whose map grid reference had been trustingly given to the Pentagon. Like Pol Pot's, Iraq's society too is being "purified," with precisely the same categories of humanity targeted by Pol Pot and being killed by the hundreds: academics to doctors, scientists to soldiers. Former US Viceroy Paul Bremer called his purification "de-Baathification" and sacked just about every strata of society needed to run a civilized one-in Iraq's Year Zero, as in Cambodia, the Iraqis' real sin was considered to be their race and heritage, ancient and modern. (...) Bit by bit and unnoticed, every statue, every landmark that was the vibrant beauty of Iraq is being destroyed. History's hallmarks, which enchanted Baghdadis and visitors, marked the passing of a personality, commemorated Gilgamesh, the Thousand and One Nights, and the earliest great epic story, Sinbad the Sailor-Iraq's triumphs and tears. Ironically, "international guidelines protecting cultural property against damage and theft, date back to the American Civil War." That carnage "led to the 1863 Lieber Code, protecting libraries, scientific collections and works of art" and was strengthened by the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. The Nuremberg Trials after World War II sentenced Nazi officials to death for destruction of cultural property (Gutman and Rieff). This did not deter US soldiers from the first truly breathtaking act of desecration. (...) When the Taliban ordered the destruction of the ancient Bamyan statues in Afghanistan, the world, including the British and American governments, was outraged. Now, from Ur to the threat to the Unknown Soldier, the British and Americans are guilty of crimes against humanity and heritage of historic enormity. In June 2005, the World Monument Society for the first time declared an entire country, Iraq, to be an endangered site: "Every significant cultural site in Iraq is at risk today." It also emphasized "preserving 20th century structures." A spokesperson for the Iraqi "government" boasted after the illegal invasion in 2003: "We came to power on a CIA train." By a different route, so did Pol Pot. Spot the difference. read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: NATO will double the number of soldiers in southern Afghanistan when it takes over security there from U.S. troops next month, seeking to quash the worst rebel violence since the Taliban's ouster. Five Afghan police shot dead seven fellow officers as they slept, before defecting to join Taliban guerrillas fighting in southern Afghanistan. In Helmand province troops with the US-led coalition and Afghan army clashed on Sunday with a group of rebel fighters, five of whom were killed, coalition spokesman Major Quentin Innes told reporters. The "enemies of peace and stability", as the government frequently refers to Taliban rebels, opened fire with heavy weapons on the Afghan army in a village in less than 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the capital Kabul. There were no casualties or damage and two suspects had been arrested. Five policemen were killed and four were missing after suspected militants attacked a vehicle checkpoint early Monday on a highway leading to southern Afghanistan's main city. The 2 a.m. attack was on a checkpoint in Zabul province outside the city of Qalat on the main highway between Kabul, the capital, and the southern city of Kandahar, said a highway police official. He said five officers were killed, one was wounded and that four were missing. read in full... U.S. to drop Geneva rule, officials say: The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Conventions that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards. The decision culminates a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed. However, the State Department opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Conventions protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, the defense officials acknowledged. TERRORISM QUIZ 1) Which is the only country in the world to have dropped bombs on over twenty different countries since 1945? 2) Which is the only country to have used nuclear weapons? 3) Which country was responsible for a car bomb which killed 80 civilians in Beirut in 1985, in a botched assassination attempt? 4) Which country's illegal bombing of Libya in 1986 was described by the UN Legal Committee as a "classic case" of terrorism? 5) Which country rejected the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to terminate its "unlawful use of force" against Nicaragua in 1986, and then vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law? 6) Which country was accused by a UN-sponsored truth commission of providing "direct and indirect support" for "acts of genocide" against the Mayan Indians in Guatemala during the 1980s? 7) Which country unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in December 2001? 8) Which country renounced the efforts to negotiate a verification process for the Biological Weapons Convention and brought an international conference on the matter to a halt in July 2001? 9) Which country prevented the United Nations from curbing the gun trade at a small arms conference in July 2001? 10) Aside from Somalia, which is the only other country in the world to have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child? 11) Which is the only Western country which allows the death penalty to be applied to children? 12) Which is the only G7 country to have refused to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, forbidding the use of landmines? 13) Which is the only G7 country to have voted against the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998? 14) Which was the only other country to join with Israel in opposing a 1987 General Assembly resolution condemning international terrorism? 15) Which country refuses to fully pay its debts to the United Nations yet reserves its right to veto United Nations resolutions? read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The invasion of Iraq has gone fabulously well, exceeding everyone's expectations - certainly exceeding the doomsday scenarios of liberals." --- Ann Coulter, June 3, 2004


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