Friday, July 07, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, July 7, 2006 Photo: A man collects empty bullet shells near an M-16 assault rifle which was left behind after clashes between the Shi'ite's Mehdi army and U.S. forces in Baghdad's Sadr city July 7, 2006. Up to nine people were killed in clashes between U.S. troops and the Mehdi Army militia of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in eastern Baghdad early on Friday, police and witnesses said. REUTERS/Kareem Raheem (IRAQ) (See below) Iraqi forces backed by U.S. aircraft battled militants in a Shiite stronghold of eastern Baghdad, killing or wounding more than 30 fighters and capturing an extremist leader who was the target of the raid, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. U.S. officials did not identify the insurgent leader but residents of the Shiite neighborhood said he was Abu Diraa, a commander in the Mahdi militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. There were conflicting casualty figures. Lt. Kadim Abbas Hamza of the Sadr City police said fighter planes also fired from the air and nine people, including a woman, were killed and 14 were wounded. He also said eight people were arrested. A hospital official said seven people were killed and 34 wounded.
Iraqi soldiers captured a militant leader, and up to 40 "enemy fighters" were killed or wounded today in a gun battle in eastern Baghdad, the US military said. The statement came after fierce clashes were reported between Shiite militiamen and US-led forces in the Sadr City slum. The US military said the gunfight erupted after Iraqi forces came under fire from a rooftop from which the "insurgent leader was detained".
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A car bomb exploded as worshippers were leaving a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad, killing three people, a woman and two children. A mortar round landed in front of the al-Nidaa Sunni mosque in northern Baghdad killing five people, including a policeman, and wounding two worshippers. A man from Kerala working as a truck driver for a Kuwait-based transportation firm has been killed in a landmine explosion in Iraq recently, members of his family said. The tragedy occurred on July 1 when Bijumon was transporting goods to a US military camp near Baghdad. A Sunni cleric was abducted in Baghdad, a powerful religious leader said in his sermon, denouncing the attack. Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, the head of the Sunni Endowment, the state agency responsible for Sunni mosques and shrines, said he had been informed that Sheik Alaa of the Ibn Taimya mosque had been kidnapped at a checkpoint. A mortar attack killed three and wounded about 30 in the Shula district of Baghdad. Ramadi: Four mortar rounds landed on the governorate building of Ramadi, killing one Iraqi army soldier and wounding two. Mosul: Gunmen shot dead three people in three different districts in Mosul. Baqubah: A roadside bomb exploded outside a mosque in Baquba, 64 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, wounding at least seven people as worshippers left the building. A roadside bomb struck worshippers leaving the Ahmed bin Hanbal Sunni mosque in Baqouba, killing one person and wounding five others. U.S.-led forces killed two fighters and detained five suspected insurgents during a raid near Baquba, the U.S. army said. Hilla: Iraqi troops backed by U.S. soldiers arrested a top regional commander of a Shiite militia near Hillah, a U.S. statement said. In a statement Thursday, the U.S. said Iraqi and U.S. forces also arrested Adnan al-Unaybi, commander of a Mahdi militia force south of Baghdad. Salman Pak: Two Iraqis were killed and four policemen wounded in clashes between police and fighters when the Salman Pak Shia mosque, southeast of Baghdad, came under attack, the US military said. It said the National Police Headquarters located near the mosque was also attacked. Tal Banat: A car bomb outside a Shi'ite mosque in a village in northern Iraq killed at least six people and wounded 46 after Friday prayers, police in the northern city of Mosul said. A source in one of the main Shi'ite Islamist political parties in Baghdad said the blast in the village of Tal Banat, near the town of Sinjar close to the Syrian border, had killed at least 25 people. But Mosul police said their information put the casualty toll lower. >> NEWS Iraqis should take over policing from U.S. and coalition forces in half of Iraq's provinces by year-end, but that may not have an impact on American troop levels, a U.S. general said on Friday. Brig. Gen. Kurt Cichowski, speaking to reporters by videoconference from Baghdad, said the transfer of policing functions and U.S. troops levels were "mutually exclusive." Iraq's southern province of Muthanna, as expected, will be the first to take over its own security. That will happen next week, said Cichowski, deputy chief of staff for strategy, plans and assessment in Iraq. The roughly 1,400 coalition troops now there will relocate, with some remaining nearby to move in again if requested by Iraq's prime minister. Security control also could revert to coalition forces if requested by the prime minister, Cichowski said. "The transfer of security responsibility clearly demonstrates an Iraqi success and signifies a tangible beginning of a brand new phase in the history of this nation," he said. While saying half of Iraq's 18 provinces should be in control of their own policing functions by the end of 2006, he would not name those provinces. The first batch of Japanese troops began pulling out of Iraq Friday, with about 30 arriving in Kuwait on their way home, news reports said Friday. A C-130 transport aircraft of Japan's air force carrying about 30 troops arrived at a Kuwaiti airport Friday afternoon, Kyodo News agency reported from Kuwait. Public broadcaster NHK had a similar report. (…) The Japanese officials say the withdrawal of all 600 or so troops will be carried out over the next two weeks. >> REPORTS A PICTURE OF IRAQI SCHOOL LIFE Today's Washington Post features a riveting article on a subject little-broached in the American media-namely, the everyday lives of Iraqis, in this case Iraqi university students. The picture is not a pretty one:
The letter was slipped under the dean's office door, in an envelope slightly bulging from the AK-47 bullet tucked inside. "You have to understand our circumstances. We cannot perform well on the exam because of the problems in Baghdad. And you have to help," the letter began, said its recipient, A.M. Taleb, dean of the College of Sciences at Baghdad University. "If you do not, you and your family will be killed." It's finals time in Iraq. Black-clad gunmen have stormed a dormitory to snatch students from their rooms. Professors fear failing and angering their pupils. Administrators curtailed graduation ceremonies to avoid convening large groups of people into an obvious bombing target. Perhaps nowhere else does the prospect of two months' summer vacation -- for those who can afford it, a chance to flee the country -- bring such unbridled relief.
The article reports that female students at the university have been targets of intimidation, forced to dress and act more conservatively lest they come under attack by the religious extremists increasingly prevalent on the campus. It's not news that Iraqi women have suffered disproportionately from the violence engulfing their country. A report published by Human Rights Watch last October declared, "The violence and lack of security has had a major impact on Iraqi women, who once enjoyed a public role in the country's social and political life." Meanwhile, allegations of the abuse of Iraqi women by American soldiers had surfaced long before the recent investigation into an alleged rape and murder in Mahmudiya. link BUSH TOLD CHENEY TO DISCREDIT DIPLOMAT CRITICAL OF IRAQ POLICY President George Bush directed his vice-president, Dick Cheney, to take personal charge of a campaign to discredit a former ambassador who had accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence on Iraq, it emerged yesterday. The revelation by the National Journal, a respected weekly political magazine, that Mr Bush took a personal interest in countering damaging allegations by the former ambassador, Joe Wilson, reveals a White House that was extraordinarily sensitive to any criticism of its prewar planning. It also returns the focus of the criminal investigation into the outing of a CIA agent to the White House only weeks after the senior aide Karl Rove was told he would not face prosecution. The Journal said Mr Bush made the admission in a July 24 2004 interview in the Oval Office with the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who is leading the investigation into the outing of the CIA agent, Valerie Plame. Ms Plame is married to Mr Wilson, who says her cover was broken in retaliation after he accused the administration of knowingly using false information on Saddam Hussein's weapons programme. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS RAPE, MURDER -- AND CONSPIRACY Most of you know about Steven Green, the soldier accused of raping a 15-year-old girl and then murdering both her and her family last March. Green hails from Midland, Texas, the same town the Bush family used to call home. Even progressives seem to have accepted the official version of the event. Unfortunately, something larger, even more disturbing seems to be going on here. Green was dismissed due to an unspecified "personality disorder," diagnosed after the crime came to light. Or so we have been told. But evidence suggests that military officials knew all about the massacre the night that it occurred. (...) Initial reports said that Green and the others changed into civilian clothes before the attack. Why? Obviously, they did not intend to pass as American tourists. Obviously, authorites would not give a cover story for an atrocity commit by four Americans disguised as civilians. Obviously, the soldiers hoped to pass as Iraqis -- as mujahideen. Was this whole operation a bungled psy-op? Were the soldiers instructed to commit an atrocity while posing as insurgents? That theory may be speculative -- but to me, it makes more sense than does the official story. Think about it. A group of Ameican soldiers leave base -- supposedly without their commanding officer's knowledge. They are dressed as insurgents. They commit a despicable act. They return. Other military men immediately come to the scene and ascribe the crime to the insurgency. The cover story falls apart because the Americans foolishly got the victims' religion wrong. If you don't like the psy-op theory, feel free to come up with another one that covers all of these facts. read in full... "FORMER REGIME MEMBERS FORM 40 TO 50 PERCENT OF THE RESISTANCE" The Iraqi government's list of the 41 most wanted suggests that former members of the Iraqi government (before the 2003 US invasion) form the backbone of the Iraqi resistance to the US occupation, despite attention paid to the role of religious resistance groups, such as al-Qaeda in Iraq. The list, released last weekend, includes at least 21 former Iraqi officials and family members of the captured Iraqi President, particularly his Vice President, his wife, eldest daughter, two nephews and a cousin - allegedly financiers of the Iraqi resistance. Only five of the 41 names are clearly identified as members of al-Qaeda's local branch. That reinforces the impression shared by a number of analysts that members of the Arab Ba'ath Party and former Iraqi figures still play a key role in the Iraqi resistance to the US occupation. "I believe that former regime members form 40 to 50 percent of the resistance," said Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on resistance groups. "Operations by al-Qaeda and the Mujahedeen Shura Council make between five to 10 percent only, a maximum of 10 percent." Rashwan said there was "no doubt" that veterans of Saddam's intelligence and security network form "an important part of the Iraqi resistance at the command level." read in full… THE WASHINGTON POST'S PREVARICATING BUFFOON Charles Krauthammer is a signatory of the Project for the New American Century and the unofficial spokesman for the warmongering neoconservatives. He was a main proponent of the war in Iraq and has since led the cheerleading for the occupation. It’s always handy reading Krauthammer to find out what the current thinking is among administration power-brokers. His articles are a window into the emergent fantasies of the Bush brain-trust. In fact, it’s astonishing how efficiently Rumsfeld and Cheney's sinister ideas are channeled into Krauthammer’s keyboard. In this week’s article, “Drying up the Jihadist Sea”, Krauthammer has taken a sudden about-face and abandoned his normally strident militarism. Instead, he devotes his entire column to promoting “amnesty” for the members of the Iraqi resistance. This abrupt change of heart would have been inconceivable just a few months ago. Are things really so bad in Iraq that the fire-breathing Krauthammer is ready to send up the white flag? On the 4th of July Bush vowed that the US “would never accept anything less than victory” to the troops at Fort Bragg North Carolina. Was the dissembler-and-chief lying, yet again? Apparently so. Krauthammer does an admirable job of dressing it up, but the bottom line is, the Bush team is tossing in the towel and calling it a day. According to Krauthammer, Swaggering George knows all about the amnesty plan and “is firmly behind this policy.” (…) Then, Krauthammer makes this startling admission: “The insurgency continues, and is NOT GOING TO BE DEFEATED MILITARILY.” Finally, the cold light of reason has found its way into the dark corner of neoconservative denial. “But”, Krauthammer adds, “that does not mean we lose. Insurgencies can be undone by co-optation.” Already the wheels are turning as Krauthammer and crew work out the details for a permanent presence in Iraq. But, how? “Co-optation” is a neat sounding word but what does it mean? It means that Bush plans to give the Ba’ath Party a place at the political table with the Shiite death squads and the Kurds who’ve been subjugated by Saddam for the last 40 years. It is utter madness and it will not work. But, beyond these major drawbacks, how is Bush going to sell “amnesty” (which many see as synonymous with surrender) to the American people? This isn’t a problem for the pliable Krauthammer whose set of principles would fit comfortably in a matchbox. “Amnesty will be an essential element in any reconciliation policy….The posturing over amnesty can only make it more difficult.” In other words, “Get over it”. Krauthammer scolds the Democrats for quibbling over something so incidental as joining forces with the “evildoers” who have been killing American servicemen for 3 years. What’s so bad about that? After all, no one in Krauthammer’s family died. read in full… CHAMELEON I came across this photo of Commander Codpiece giving his little July 4th pep talk down at Ft. Bragg on Tuesday, and something about it really struck me: the color of Shrub's shirt. Notice how the lack of contrast makes him almost blend into the soldierly backdrop behind him -- especially those guys in desert camies on the left? This may seem like an insanely picayune detail to mention, but considering the meticulous care the White House stage managers put into these productions -- as seen in MoDo's account of the preparations for Shrub's big post-Katrina speech in New Orleans last year -- I strongly suspect it's not just a coincidence. Dressing G.I. George up in a olive drab polo shirt is obviously a far cry from the over-the-top production values of Mission Accomplished: [photo] That bit of wardrobe was blatantly and unapologetically designed to shine the spotlight on the Emperor (and the imperial crotch) as the "real" heroes of the battle even though he wasn't anywhere near it -- a propaganda trick as old as Caligula, if not older. It made Shrub the center of attention in a way all the presidential podiums in the world couldn't achieve. By contrast, the intention, or at least the effect, of the Ft. Bragg color scheme was virtually to make the outline of Bush's body disappear -- in somewhat the same way as a black light puppet show. It also weakens the perception of depth, so that Bush appears to be standing practically shoulder-to-shoulder with the troops, instead of at least 15 or 20 feet in front of them. The net effect is to train the eye on the troops instead of the president -- as if Bush's stay-the-course exhortations were issuing directly and collectively from that phalanx of stern-faced, ramrod-straight soldiers, and not from the little man at the podium in front of them. Now maybe I'm completely out to lunch on this -- maybe Shrub really did wake up and decide that wearing an olive drab polo shirt to a speech at an Army base would be phat. It's also possible this shot exaggerates the effects I've noticed. It would have been interesting to have been there, or seen the video, in order to compare takes. But if the effect was real, and intentional, then I'd say it looks like someone in the White House propaganda department has figured out that Bush is no longer a credible salesman for his own war. He badly needs product endorsements -- and who better to give them than the men and women at his back, standing silently where they were ordered to stand? read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: Bring ‘em on: Militants attacked a coalition convoy in the province's Baghran Valley on Thursday, killing a coalition soldier and wounding another, said spokesman Sgt. Chris Miller. Five militants died when coalition forces returned fire, he said. Miller gave no details about the dead soldier's identity or nationality, but another foreign military official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to policy, said the fatality was American. In Uruzgan province, legislator Abdul Khaliq told The Associated Press foreign troops fired on a vehicle carrying his wife to a hospital, on a road between Chora district and the provincial capital, Tirin Kot. "Before we reached the U.S. convoy, they started firing on our vehicle," said Khaliq's nephew, Naimatullah Khan, 35, who was in the vehicle and sustained minor injuries. He spoke from a hospital in Kandahar, where the wounded were being treated. MASSACRES, BASEBALL AND APPLE PIE The recent revelations of the horrors of Haditha (six months after the atrocity--way to go, in-bed media!) have produced the same eerie wall of silence from the politicians and pundits that we witnessed during the unmasking of the Abu Graib torture chambers. Plus some murmurs about a few "bad apples" spoiling the system. (...) There's no shame and no outrage over the latest atrocity we've unleashed on the world because Americans-God's new chosen people-know that deep down that's the way it's supposed to be. We're entitled. And have been since our Sanctified Declaration of human rights (slaves and women excepted) in 1776, and the promulgation of our Sacred Constitution (slaves and women excepted) by the Holy Men of 1789. We picked up where our English mentors left off as having the inherent right to take whatever we wanted from the rest of the world. One of our early political journals, the Democratic Review, proclaimed our "manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us." (...) After World War I, while white America was running out of opportunities to massacre people over seas (except in Nicaragua and Haiti), and the indigenous peoples were safely contained on their miserable reservations, Black America was developing economic power and clamoring for the same political freedom the whites had, like voting. So--fired up by the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and following its own hallowed traditions of regular pogroms against non-white American communities -white America massacred hundreds of Black people in cities like East St. Louis, Rosewood, and Tulsa. The overwhelming consistency in this one-hundred-and-fifty-plus-year policy of white Americans massacring people of color led inexorably to one of the most atrocious events in world history, the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We knew then and we know now that-contrary to the claims in our cartoon history books--we did not have to commit the Hiroshima and Nagasaki massacres to end the war with Japan. In July, 1945--a month before the weapons of mass destruction were dropped--General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, told Secretary of State Stimson that Japan was already defeated and that "dropping the atomic bomb was completely unnecessary." Similarly, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific, General Douglas McArthur, saw "no military justification for dropping the bomb." In total disregard of the opinions of its commanders and military intelligence, the leadership in Washington went ahead and ordered the bombings. In the runup to this unique nuclear event, the American Air Force conducted a fire bombing campaign in early 1945 against at least 63 Japanese cities, literally incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians with napalm, a "jellied gasoline" developed by Harvard chemists. Once again, we note a superior technological advantage produced by Yankee ingenuity which also helped us burn most of Korea to the ground during the Korean War and was still effective years later in Henry Kissinger's carpet bombing of Cambodia, in which an estimated 600,000 Cambodians were killed. Napalm was also used widely--along with the chemical weapon Agent Orange--against Vietnamese civilians. (...) We have this paradox: on one hand, through our holiday parades, movies and cartoon history books, we continue to convince ourselves that we are the Good Guys of History. Consequently and perversely, because we are the Good Guys of History, we are entitled to slaughter whoever we want. This concept is closely linked to white supremacy which is, unfortunately, alive and well. The bottom line of white supremacy is that the lives of people of color are not as valuable as those of white people. read in full... TERRORIST IN THE WHITE HOUSE? Ever since Mr. Bush came to power, he systematically flouted international agreements that the U.S. signed up to in the past. Although previous leaders of the United States might not be able to claim much better records, it is clear that the current U.S. President is not even making an attempt to stick to these numerous treaties, laws and obligations. Bast week, the U.S. Supreme Court rebuked the American President and his anti-terror policies, dealing a major blow to his efforts to fix his tarnished image before November midterm elections. The court ruled that Bush overstepped his authority by creating military tribunals for prisoners at the controversial Guantánamo Bay detention center, reining in part of the administration's prosecution of the so-called "war on terrorism". The ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that military commissions for trying suspects held at Guantánamo Bay violate both U.S. military law and the Geneva Convention, came as a real slap in the face of the American President. But what's striking in the court decision is holding that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict with Al Qaeda, which makes senior officials at the Bush administration subject to prosecution under the federal War Crimes Act. (...) The court's declaration that Common Article 3 applies to Bush's alleged campaign to root out terrorism worldwide carries great significance, for it will pave the way for war crimes prosecutions of those responsible for crimes committed against detainees. read in full... CAN YOU HEAR THE TUNE? The opening four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony gain power only when played together. Similarly, these six headlines gain power when viewed as a group: Al-Zarqawi's wife: Al-Qaida sold him out: "The woman...said al-Qaida's top leadership reached a deal with U.S. intelligence because al-Zarqawi had become too powerful." C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden: "The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center..." CIA: Osama Helped Bush in '04 Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin concluded that Bin Laden released a video just before the 2004 election with the intention of scuttling John Kerry's chances of winning. NYT: Bank program not news to terrorists Olbermann named Melanie Morgan "Worst Person" for suggesting NY Times' Keller might deserve "gas chamber" Conservatives scream for the blood of an editor who "revealed" something Al Qaida already knew. Feinstein says she was not briefed on the Bank Program Play the notes in sequence. Can you hear the tune? Bush does not consider Osama Bin Laden the enemy. We are the enemy. read in full... THE AGE OF IRONY It is truly ironic that the words of Shylock are far more apt today to describe the Arab than the Jew and it is even more ironic that the hand which kills, destroys and tortures is that of a Jew and that its victim is the Arab who has been the Jew's cousin, friend, neighbor and colleague not for decades but centuries. Arabs are the one people who never committed pogroms at any time in history against Jews or built gas chambers to cast the Jews into or ghettos to imprison them in. Instead the Arab has received the Jew and honored the Jew in his land and protected him from the predatory West and this not for decades but centuries and, hopefully, this will continue. There can be no age more ironic than the one we live in whereby the victim has turned into the criminal and the innocent are condemned for being victims and nothing more. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We're going to be on the ground in Iraq as soldiers and citizens for years. We're going to be running a colony almost." -- Paul Bremer to Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Meeting, February 23 2003


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