DAILY WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, June 15, 2006
: Iraqis demonstrate in the holy city of Karbala. Karbala's provincial chief has been arrested in a US-Iraqi operation on charges of supporting terrorism, police said, sparking street demonstrations and a protest from the governor.(AFP/Mohammed Sawaf) (See below under "Security incidents: Karbala")
(Update) Col. Ghasan Mohammed, the local army commander, said the clash in Azamiyah broke out when insurgents opened fire and tossed a grenade at an army patrol.
He had no word on casualties. Smoke soon started to rise from the area and police diverted traffic away from Azamiyah, sending scores of motorists into secondary streets. But many of those roads were blocked by palm tree trunks and car hulks _ the work of vigilante groups that have sprung up recently.
(Update) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville has identified four Engineering and Support Center contractor employees killed in Iraq June 8 by a roadside bomb.
The victims were Wayne Shultz, 34, from Hervey Bay, Australia; Penaia Vakaotia, 32, from Suva, Fiji; Mikaele Banidawa, 46, from Yalalevu, Fiji; and Vilisoni Guana, 43, from Ono-I-Lau, Fiji. The four security specialists were employed by ArmorGroup Iraq, headquartered in London.
Police found seven bullet-riddled bodies across the capital, four of them in the Tigris river.
A worker at a local vegetable oil factory was shot dead in Baghdad's Al-Bayaa neighborhood.
Gunmen killed an engineer and kidnapped another.
Security forces found bombs planted throughout a cemetery
Thursday after an Iraqi woman and her daughter were wounded by one as they were visiting the grave of a young man killed in a sectarian attack northeast of Baghdad earlier this month. The woman and her daughter were visiting the grave of one of the young men killed on June 4 when masked gunmen stopped two minivans carrying students northeast of the capital, ordered the passengers off, separated Shiites from Sunni Arabs, and killed the 21 Shiites.
Police said several bomb blasts that took place near residents in the town of Baqubah wounded 12 people.
Two persons were shot dead by unidentified attackers in the region of Al-Katoun in the western suburbs of the Baqubah.
Gunmen shot dead police Colonel Ali Shakir Mahmoud, director of units protecting oil installations in Baquba.
Gunmen shot and killed 10 Shiites after pulling them off a bus in Baqubah, northeast of Baghdad.
The 10 men, nine workers at the city's industrial area and the driver, were aged from 20 to 45 and were heading back to their homes.
American and Iraqi troops detained, early on Thursday, the local governor, Aqil Al-Zubaidi. A 40-strong force arrested him after bursting into his house.
Unknown gunmen shot dead four worshippers and wounded 14 others in a pre-dawn attack at a Sunni mosque in a town near Tikrit
, some 170 km north of Baghdad.
Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi army soldier in the city of Haweeja
, near Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad.
Three successive roadside bombs targeting Iraqi army patrols killed five soldiers and injured six others in the northern town of Tal Afar.
In the deadliest blast, four soldiers were killed when they were hit by the first roadside bomb, destroying their vehicle.
A second bomb went off as soldiers on foot rushed to the site in an apparent trap frequently used by insurgents.
A third bomb hit an Iraqi army vehicle nearby.
U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 2,500
: The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that 2,500 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq war since it began more than three years ago, marking a grim milestone even as President Bush hopes a recent spate of good news will reverse the war's widespread unpopularity at home.
The latest death was announced as Congress was launching into a symbolic election-year debate over the war, with Republicans rallying against calls by some Democrats to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
While there were no details on who it was or where the 2,500th death occurred, it underscored the continuing violence in Iraq just after an upbeat Bush returned from a surprise visit to Baghdad determined that the tide was beginning to turn.
According to the Pentagon totals, there have been 1,972 service members killed in action in Iraq, and another 528 died from other non-hostile causes. There also have been 18,490 troops wounded in action, including 8,501 who did not return to duty.
Image of Zarqawi's successor presented by US military.
US-led "war on terror" is increasing the risk of terrorist attacks and distracting governments from greater threats to global security such as climate change
, a think-tank warned in a report.
The Oxford Research Group urged countries, especially the United States and Britain, to rethink their security policies to counter future instability.
"The war on terror is a dangerous diversion and prevents the international community from responding effectively to the most likely causes of future conflict," a press statement about the report said.
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FREED PRISONERS SPEAK OF VIOLATIONS, TORTURE
One prisoner, released recently and refusing to be named, said U.S. jailers "used humiliation techniques and resorted to torture and violated prisoner rights."
Another said U.S. jails are crowed and the jailers "put 50 inmates in cages less than 50 square meters."
"You could be confined to a solitary cell for no reason," one prisoner said.
The prisoners said jails run specifically by U.S. troops lacked bathrooms.
"Conditions are subhuman and the inmates face torture. They are subjected to heating in summer and cooling in winter. Mass punishment is normal," a prisoner said.
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RECENT VIDEO FROM RAMADI
This video came to Alive in Baghdad via Hanein.net. It is from an anonymous contributor. It details some events in Ramadi, apparently shot on May 10th.
Right now Ramadi is bracing for a major US offensive. The United States has demanded that all resistance fighters be handed over, and that civilians leave the city in preparation for a majoe assault after June 15th.
In this video you will see the major assault may have not begun, but tragedies are already occurring. This video shows fighting in the streets as well as a few civilians who were killed while driving through Ramadi.
FEAR FOR MY DAUGHTER
It started out with being scared for her life when she signed up for the military.
She assured me that she was promised she would not go to Iraq. I was not as trusting.
She was sent to Iraq right out of her basic training. She assured me she would be ok as we cried while she was packing.
One of her Sgt. assured me. "Don't worry Ma'am, we'll take good care of your daughter."
I desperately hoped that I could trust him to watch over her. I later found out he was one the first predators to try and have sex with her and make her "his private."
She spent a long year in Iraq. I feared for her safety every waking minute.
She called me crying frequently. Telling me very little of the horror she was witnessing. Only telling me it was hard.
Telling me that almost all of the other soldiers sexually harass her and many of her Sgt.'s and Lt. really pressuring her and making her life miserable for rejecting them.
Calls from her ending with, "o, there goes gun fire, gotta go mom, love you."
She returns from Iraq. She is much more quiet and anxious. I offer to get her help and she refuses. She tells me that if she opens that can of worms she will not be able to function as a human being.
I ask her if she wants to deal with the horrible sexual harassment charges against so many of her fellow soldiers, she says no mom, it would only make my life even more of a living hell.
Then she finally blew the whistle on one of her superiors for sexually harassing and she was treated like a pirana while he was moved to a different unit and promoted.
She put her head down and worked as an Military Police officer on Ft. Lewis. She was always shocked by the number of domestic violence calls she went out on. The fear of a mother of a peace officer was there, but at least I could call her and knew she was safe.
We know that she is going to be re-deployed to Iraq sometime after the mandatory 18 months stabilization time is over. So, we were looking at November of 2006 for a second re-deployment. Our heart were heavy at the thought.
She comes home for a visit and can't face me to tell me she is going much sooner than expected back to Iraq. My fear is skyrocketing.
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>> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
DUNKIRK IN THE DESERT
Is the badly outnumbered American expeditionary force in Iraq in trouble? Is it in danger of being trapped? With all our firepower, are we looking at the possibility of some kind of a military defeat?
As the bad news continues to seep in, debates about exit strategies are going out of date. Another year like the last three and the deteriorating military situation will have us debating what tactics will be necessary to extract our people with a minimum of loss.
We could be moving toward an American Dunkirk. In 1940 the defeated British Army in Belgium was driven back by the Germans to the French seacoast city of Dunkirk, where it had to abandon its equipment and escape across the English Channel on a fleet of civilian vessels, fishing smacks, yachts, small boats, anything and everything that could float and carry the defeated and wounded army to safety.
Obviously, our forces in Iraq will not be defeated in open battle by an opposing army as happened in 1940, but there is more than one way to stumble into a military disaster.
Fragmented reports out of Iraq suggest we may be on our way to finding one of them. Defeat can come from overused troops.
It does not help that one by one, the remaining members of the Coalition of the Willing give every appearance of sneaking out of town. (...)
In the south of Iraq, in the Basra region, the British who occupy that sector have all but given up aggressive patrol. They are holed up in their encampments on the defensive. Some reports have it that it is now too dangerous for them to fly helicopters by day.
At the point when they must choose between being overrun or withdrawing, the small contingent of British troops facing unknown numbers of militia hidden in and among a hostile population should be able to evacuate the port of Basra even under fire.
The situation for American troops may be even more precarious. While our forces are still able to carry out aggressive patrolling, it nets little except to increase popular hostility, which, of course, makes it yet easier for the various insurgents and guerrilla groups to operate against us.
It appears that in many places our people may have simply hunkered down to stay out of trouble. The vast construction projects of a few years ago are all but closed down, too, as the American forces appear to be doing less and less of anything but holding on and holding out.
The shortage of troops, which three years ago was a restraining factor, has become a potential disaster, with the ever-rising level of hostility to the American presence. To stay the course, to win, to realize our objectives, we need a half-million soldiers to pacify that country.
If the force levels remain the same for another year and a half, this small, exhausted and overused American force may become so unglued that staying in Iraq will be come impossible. There may be no choice but retreat.
No, that's wrong. There is another choice. Americans can try to make up for their lack of numbers with firepower. Blow what's left of the country to smithereens. The political effects would be unspeakable and the ground troops might well still have to be extracted from their plight.
A half-million pair of boots on the ground can only be gotten by conscription. The chances of reactivating the draft for Iraq are nil. If our political leaders have to choose between a new conscription and risking a defeat, there is no question about what they will do.
Should discipline continue to break down at the platoon and company level, pulling the scattered American forces together and getting them out may be a harrowing experience. Retreat under fire, even if it's harassing guerrilla fire, is difficult even for an army without internal problems.
Air evacuation would mean abandoning billions of dollars of equipment. There is no seaport troops could get to, so the only way out of Iraq would be that same desert highway to Kuwait where fifteen years ago the American Air Force destroyed Saddam Hussein's army.
Dunkirk in the desert.
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THE "HADJI GIRL" VIDEO
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY
A Marine corporal has apologized - after he was busted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations - for making a video of his musical performance, before his company of Marines, who are cheering wildly when the lyrics refer to killing Iraqi children... especially the lyrics "I grabbed her little sister and put her in front of me. As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and then I laughed maniacally. . .I blew those little fuckers to eternity . . .They should have known they were fucking with the Marines."
Of course, the Marine Corps made an official statement that they did not condone this kind of language and behavior, which is a great big goddamn lie. They don't condone publicity about it. They followed orders like good Germans when they massacred Fallujah; the term "hadji" is as universally used as "gook" was in Vietnam; and when you see and hear the video, it is apparent that everyone is showing loud, vocal approval of it. That means it is a cultural NORM, y'all. Bad apples, my dyin' ass!
The video is named "Hadji Girl," using the preferred dehumanizing epithet for Iraqis by GI's who have been indoctrinated in military masculinity. You can hear the troops off camera, and this is where you have to put yourself in theplace of any troops who might have questioned what was going on... immersed in the collective dynamic of gender and war, each whoop and whistle and cheer affirming your membership in the death-cult... and any outward show of concern potentially subjecting you the knd of peer pressure than can only come from 150 heavily armed 20-year-olds who are earning their public esteem at the direct cost of other people's lives.
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THE WORD THAT WON'T GO AWAY
See, here is the problem I have with this [the apology of the Marine who made the "Hadji Girl" video].
1) The cheering and nearly fanatical joy expressed by the audience.
2) The premise that the soldier "did not know" it would offend people or that some may find it racist. This is exactly the same ploy as those who say they did not know that taking pictures atop dead Iraqis (or sitting atop a twisted human pyramid of Iraqis who are clearly grimacing in pain) was wrong.
We have heard defense campaigns that say the dog handler in Abu Ghraib did not know that having a dog menacing to tear apart a detainee's face was wrong.
Say what? where did they learn of morality and ethics? Playing Battlefield 2 apparently. Did they not view the Iraqis as humans? Ahh ... once again untermenschen.
That word - untermenschen - will NOT go away.
read in full...WE GOT ABU!
At best, Zarqawi was a minor player, trumped up into the boogeyman to keep America cowering so the war machine could roll on. At worst he was a ghost. Either way, why would the administration decide to kill off their major asset in fear? The reasons appear to be threefold.
First, the notion of catching the number two guy in al Qaeda was growing quite thin. As I had written once, the number two guy in al Qaeda was becoming akin to being the guy in the red shirt in a landing party on the old Star Trek series; you just knew he wasn't coming back.
The second reason for the timing was the current state of the GOP, the president, and the war. Bush's approval rating had slipped to 29%, the rating for the Congress was in the 30's, and support for the war was not much better. America now realizes that it is the rubber stamp GOP Congress that is just as guilty and complicit with the current state of affairs in this country. Suddenly the talk was about the GOP losing control of Congress in this year's elections. If that was to happen the democrats would suddenly have the subpoena power they now lack to properly investigate the illegal spying on American citizens, the Downing Street Memos, or any number of illegal activities from this administration, including the lies that sent us into this war to begin with. With these types of numbers, the GOP could not wait until the elections grew closer. It is difficult enough to overcome negative ratings this low, let alone to do it in a short period of time.
The last reason may very well be what was dominating the press right when Zarqawi went to paradise. After the gay marriage amendment sham failed miserably, not to pass but to distract the American people, the top story was Haditha. Do you remember Haditha? It was the primary story across this country before Zarqawi went down. After Zarqawi, it was continual full - court press coverage on finally getting the number one guy in al Qaeda. Every channel waxing philosophically about the war on terror and how this news would revitalize the sagging Bush numbers. It was packaged and sold to us as a near justification for everything that had gone so horribly wrong the previous three years. Forget the pitiful economy, $3 a gallon of gas, and the massacre at Haditha, we got Abu!
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BABY KILLERS AT HADITHA
Opposition [to the Iraq war] should always come from the perspective that the U.S. committed a terrible act in March of 2003 when the occupation began. We should be glad that the story of Haditha is now being told, yet no one should think it is an isolated incident or that it was caused merely by over stressed Marines who don't know what there mission is.
The Marines are quite clear on their mission. Their mission is to subjugate Iraqis. Sometimes that means subjecting them to fear and humiliation. Sometimes it means busting a few heads and sometimes it means you can start shooting and ask questions later if ever.
The military response is to teach soldiers to mind their manners. They will now get "values" training. The charm school effort will teach the following dos and don'ts:
• to treat prisoners of war humanely
• to "engage only combatants with deadly force"
• to respect and protect noncombatants
• to allow the enemy to surrender
• to collect and care for the wounded
• to refrain from desecrating bodies
• to avoid causing unnecessary suffering.
There is no need for these new rules. The rest of the world knows they can be found in the Geneva Conventions. Too bad the Bush administration has decided that they no longer apply. The Attorney General and other administration officials have argued that Guantanamo detainees did not have prisoner of war status and were therefore not entitled to the protections agreed upon by the rest of the world. Only Americans would ignore rules, then repeat them and act as though they invented something new.
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THE DISAPPEARING ACT
The satellite channel Baghdad, IIP's TV channel is reporting that one of its own has disappeared inside of the Ministry of Health.
The Director General of the Diyala Health Directorate, a member of the Sunni Tawafuq bloc, was invited for an interview with the Minister of Health, as a possible Deputy Minister candidate. En route, before he reached the Minister, Dr. Ali al Mahdawi disappeared along with his Chief of Staff. Inside the Ministry. They have been missing for two days now.
The Ministry of Health is known as a 'Sadrist' ministry, with the minister and many of the employees followers of Muqtada al Sadr.
Only in Iraq.
>> BEYOND IRAQ
Cpl. Bernard Corpuz, a Watsonville resident, died in an Army truck when his convoy came under small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device went off
, the Pentagon said. He was 28.
Sgt. Russell M. Durgin, 23, a 2001 graduate of John Stark Regional High School, has been killed in Afghanistan.
His mother confirmed his death this morning when reached by telephone. "I don't know what happened," said Jean Durgin. "I'm not sure I can hear what happened because I don't think I can handle that."
A 29-year-old soldier from San Antonio was killed in Afghanistan this week.
Sgt. Roger Peña Jr., 29, a Harlandale High School graduate, was deployed to the region three months ago and had survived an ambush three weeks ago, the victim's father said.
More than 10,000 Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces began a massive anti-Taliban operation across southern Afghanistan
, while a bomb killed seven people riding a bus to a coalition base for work. Military forces are "moving forward with large-scale operations" in four southern provinces, Uruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul, the U.S. military said in a statement. It is the largest offensive since the 2001 invasion that toppled the Taliban regime.
(Update) A Fort Drum spokesman said two soldiers from the Tenth Mountain Division have been killed in Afghanistan.
Ben Abel of the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office told Watertown T-V station W-W-N-Y the soldiers died in separate combat incidents Tuesday.
GITMO SPIN TAKES ANOTHER TURN FOR THE WORSE
... apparent triple suicide has drawn renewed criticism of Guantanamo and calls for it to be shut down.
A US official's claim that the three had committed suicide as a public relations stunt or an act of "asymmetric warfare" drew international condemnation.
While the father of one of the three dead detainees in Guantanamo insists his son was murdered, the US authorities are awaiting the final medical report (no doubt clearing all involved of wrong doing).
They did waste no time though in declaring...
... the three inmates as "dangerous enemy combatants".
Now, let me take you back to this, also from the BBC, a mere two days earlier:
Meanwhile, a US lawyer has said that one of three who killed themselves was due to be freed but did not know it.
Mark Denbeaux, who represents some of the foreign detainees at the US camp in Cuba, said the man was among 141 prisoners due for release.
He said the prisoner was not told because US officials had not decided which country he would be sent to.
So, what's it gonna be folks??
A "dangerous enemy combatant", by definition to be detained until the cows come home, or someone to be freed, therefore by definition NOT DANGEROUS!!??
THE FLAG OF THE CORPORATE STATES OF AMERICA
Unlike the majority of my fellow citizens, I do not take pride in the American flag. I do not get choked up when I see 'old glory' flapping in the breeze. My understanding of American history does not permit such unfounded patriotic stirrings. Too many atrocities have been committed under the flag for me to see any beauty in it, especially under the Bush regime. Indeed, seeing the flag often flushes me with shame and regret. I refuse to pledge allegiance to any flag. However, I pledge to live by a credo of social justice that does not recognize national borders. We are all one big family.
Historian Howard Zinn wrote, "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." I am inclined to agree.
For most Americans the flag stirs elements of sentimentality and reverence. It is celebrated as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the triumph of justice over injustice; good over evil. But symbols of noble ideals vanish into the mist when one critically examines the historical evidence. Millions of innocent people have died under the flag, including those who have carried it into battle in the belief that they were fighting for something nobler than corporate profits (see USMC General Smedley Butler's 1933 essay "War is a Racket)."
To me the flag symbolizes much that is wrong with America. The flag is used as another clever marketing ploy against the people to manipulate and to control them, selling them a fictionalized version of history. The flag has been used, like the idea of patriotism, to motivate men to commit horrible crimes against earth and humankind. Rather than conjuring images of freedom and peace in my mind, it portrays the darkest side of human nature such as conquest, invasion and occupation. It reveals a litany of crimes against nature and humanity that I cannot dismiss from memory.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "Mass death on the installment plan. That's what this supplemental vote to keep our troops in Iraq is all about." -- from a June 14 statement by Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) on the war Supplemental funding bill on the House floor