Saturday, July 08, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATRURDAY, June 8, 2006 Photo: Members of the Neo-Nazis National Socialists Movement (NSM) rally on the steps of the State Capital in East Lansing, Michigan, April 22, 2006. Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists have increasingly been able to infiltrate the U.S. military due to recruitment pressures created by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a watchdog group said on Friday. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters) (See below "Hate Groups Infiltrating The Military") Bring 'em on: Insurgents killed three U.S. soldiers in Iraq's rebellious western province of Anbar on Saturday, the U.S. military said in a statement. The statement did not give details on how the soldiers were killed. Earlier, Iraqi police said a roadside bomb had caused U.S. casualties in the town of Karma, near Falluja, west of Baghdad. It was not clear if it was the same incident. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Gunmen shot dead a woman, believed to be a translator for U.S. forces, in southern Baghdad's Bayaa district. The bodies of six rag collectors were found in the district of Doura. The victims had gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Gunmen in two cars stopped a vehicle in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, forced the two passengers to get out and killed them in front of horrified bystanders. Gunmen opened fire on a family as it was moving out of the city, wounding five members, in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood. Gunmen killed three people working in an ice cream shop in the Baghdad neighborhood of Nahrawan. Police reported finding two bodies in separate locations in eastern Baghdad. They were believed the latest victims of death squads. Gunmen in two speeding car fired on a Sunni mosque in west Baghdad's Ghazaliya neighborhood. Mosque guards returned fire and the attackers fled. A Sunni cleric was killed by gunmen wearing uniforms of Iraq's security forces, the Sunni Iraqi Islamic party said. Three civilians were killed and five wounded when mortar rounds landed in the southern Baghdad area of Abu Dshir. Baqubah: Police found two beheaded bodies in Baquba, 65km (40 miles) north of Baghdad. Khalis: Two bodies with gunshot wounds to the head were found in the town of Khalis, just north of Baquba. Kirkuk: An Iraqi officer was injured in a bomb explosion in western Kirkuk. Al-Huweija: Police said two citizens were wounded when armed militants attacked a Multi-National Force patrol vehicle in Al-Huweija district. >> NEWS Marine officers failed to investigate conflicting reports of Iraqi civilian deaths in Haditha, says a United States military report. The military investigation found that no Marine officer questioned the original account of the deaths despite evidence that it was false, CBS News said. US Marines are accused of shooting dead up to 24 people - including women and children - in their homes after a colleague was killed in a roadside bomb attack on November 19 last year. Initial reports claimed the Iraqis had died in a roadside bombing. (...) CBS said the report found there was no effort to correct an inaccurate US military press release, which repeated the false report that the civilians were killed by a roadside bomb when in fact they were all killed by gunshot wounds. The payment by one Marine officer of $38,000 in compensation to the victims' families was further clear evidence that the original report was wrong, CBS quoted the investigation as saying. A U.S. has filed a lawsuit against top military officials over his detention by US forces in Iraq in 2005, court documents filed here [Los Angeles] show. Cyrus Kar, 45, filed his case in US federal court in Los Angeles on Friday, arguing that his rights and the treatment of prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention were violated when US forces detained him for 55 days between May and July 2005. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the US military commander in Iraq, General George Casey, are named as defendants in the case. Kar was in Iraq working on a documentary on Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (576-529 BCE) when US soldiers arrested him and his Iranian cameraman at checkpoint northeast of Baghdad on May 17. Soldiers said they found washing machine timers -- often used as key parts for roadside bombs in Iraq -- inside the taxi the two were traveling in. Kar, a US navy veteran of Iranian ancestry, was set free only after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued for his release. Kar became a US citizen in 1966 after immigrating to the United States with his family from Iran. According to the lawsuit, Kar was hooded and handcuffed when he was transported to a detention center, where he was aggressively interrogated and was exposed to hours in the sun in extremely hot temperatures. A soldier at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad even slammed his head into a concrete wall at one point, according to the suit. "For almost two months, Mr. Kar sat alone for 23 hours each day in a cramped jail cell, not knowing why he was there or whether he would ever be released," reads the lawsuit, filed on Kar's behalf by the ACLU. Even though FBI agents cleared him of suspicion, he did not have access to an attorney and was able to make only a few short phone calls to his family. And the US military did nothing to send him home even after a military panel recommended his immediate release, according to the court papers. The suit seeks unspecified damages. Nearly 100 helicopters and 7,000 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division are starting to head to northern Iraq to be part of Task Force Lightning, the unit's second major war deployment since the Vietnam War. Iraq has raised its southern crude oil production capacity to 2 million barrels a day from 1.7 million b/d, the head of the country's South Oil Co., Abdul Jabbar Lauiby, said Saturday. >> REPORTS Bush would spend a quarter of the $50 billion down payment he wants for next year's Iraq and Afghanistan war costs to replace damaged weapons and equipment, while an additional $3 billion would go to train and equip Iraqi and Afghan forces. A document detailing the plan, obtained by The Associated Press, proposes spending $2.3 billion for new armor for troops and vehicles and efforts aimed at thwarting missiles. Another $2.1 billion would be for protecting troops from roadside bombs. About $9 billion would go toward buying new equipment, including two V-22 Osprey airplane-helicopter hybrids, four C-130J cargo planes, one C-17 cargo plane, seven UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 11 CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Almost half the money - $24.3 billion - would be to provide food, water and medical support for troops, purchase parts and fuel for equipment and maintain military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS HATE GROUPS INFILTRATING THE MILITARY A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines. "We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. "That's a problem." A Defense Department spokeswoman said officials there could not comment on the report because they had not yet seen it. The center called on Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to appoint a task force to study the problem, declare a new zero tolerance policy and strictly enforce it. The report said that neo-Nazi groups like the National Alliance, whose founder, William Pierce, wrote "The Turner Diaries," the novel that was the inspiration and blueprint for Timothy J. McVeigh's bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, sought to enroll followers in the Army to get training for a race war. The groups are being abetted, the report said, by pressure on recruiters, particularly for the Army, to meet quotas that are more difficult to reach because of the growing unpopularity of the war in Iraq. The report quotes Scott Barfield, a Defense Department investigator, saying, "Recruiters are knowingly allowing neo-Nazis and white supremacists to join the armed forces, and commanders don't remove them from the military even after we positively identify them as extremists or gang members." (...) "They're communicating with each other about weapons, about recruiting, about keeping their identities secret, about organizing within the military," he said. "Several of these individuals have since been deployed to combat missions in Iraq." The report cited accounts by neo-Nazis of their infiltration of the military, including a discussion on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront. "There are others among you in the forces," one participant wrote. "You are never alone." An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units. The Southern Poverty Law Center identified the author as Steven Barry, who it said was a former Special Forces officer who was the alliance's "military unit coordinator." "Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman's war," he wrote. "It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and 'cleansed.' " He concluded: "As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood." read in full...
A FEW GOOD NAZIS This is very bad news:
A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.
These crazed fascists obviously have to be identified and weeded out of the ranks as quickly as possible -- otherwise they might start doing horrible things, such as, oh I don't know, firing tank cannons at journalists, raping and killing 15-year old girls and then burning their bodies, going house to house methodically shooting everyone they find, savaging prisoners with dogs, and forcing fathers to watch the anal rape of their sons. And we certainly can't have that. link
THE GRUESOME 60-OUT-OF-1000 STAT "Over the last 12 months or so we killed about 1000 Iraqis at blocking positions and checkpoints," the captain [a USMC training officer] told the grunts. "About 60 -- six zero -- we could demonstrate that, yeah, he was a bad guy. He was an insurgent. Six zero out of about 1000. So all we're doing -- if we don't communicate what we want them to do, all we're doing is creating more enemies." His words didn't faze the grunts, but they startled the hell out of me. Innocent Iraqis are killed at checkpoints frequently. I knew that, but I'd never heard anyone of rank admit it categorically. When I was in country in 2004, 2005, and 2006 I often heard grunts talk about "lighting up" cars that didn't stop at the trigger line. Why did the drivers keep going? Bad brakes, a misunderstanding of Marines' hand signals, darkness, stupidity, grunts ventured. But who could say? I had also read USMC investigation reports of checkpoint shootings. No Marines were charged in any of these incidents because they had followed the Rules of Engagement and their commanders' directives: shoot to kill the moment a vehicle crosses the trigger line. The gruesome 60-out-of-1000 stat popped up in another talk, this one by an earthy corporal, a trainer himself. "This statistic's roughly a month old now, but over 1000 Iraqi civilians have been killed at traffic control points, VCPs [vehicle check points], blocking positions, and out of those -- this was in a 12-month period -- and out of those, only sixty-something were declared bad guys on the spot -- so, had explosives, weapons anything like that. So obviously 900-something innocent Iraqis have been killed. That's pretty shitty numbers, right?" read in full... WHY THE WORD "RESISTANCE" HAS BECOME TABOO AMONG TALKING HEADS More often than not, the popular paradigm present in discussions of the Iraqi resistance is a Western construct. It was in the Western media, notably British and US wire services, that Iraqis were first divided into Shia and Sunni and it was there, too, that a concept of terrorism trumped that of resistance and was hammered into the collective psyche of myriad commentators. This architecture for the understanding and reporting of events in Iraq appeared late 2003 and fell into full swing in 2004. Again and again, reports from Iraq labelled any and all anti-occupation activity as of "insurgent" nature. In some ways, this has been a coup for Western media, because on the one hand it absolves them of having to do their homework on who or what Iraq's anti-occupation forces are comprised of, what their agendas may be, and who their targets are. On the other hand, this approach also helps to group together all acts of violence under a single, convenient, moniker. For example, "insurgent" is today used to describe militia, resistance, Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, Badr, Al-Mehdi Army, kidnapping gangs and other criminal activities. How does this work? Well, first off, if Al-Qaeda mounts an attack against a Shia mosque the media attributes it to "insurgent" action. If anti-occupation forces defending their homes attack a US Humvee, it is also called an "insurgent" action. If a gang of criminals kidnap for ransom, it is also referred to as the work of "insurgents". Pretty soon, the lines blur and the reader assumes there is one big group of militants fighting under the same banner and for the same cause. Enter the phrase "war on terror". By bundling up all terrorist organisations and resistance groups under the "insurgent" masthead, the media has co-opted Iraq into the global war on terror spectacle. This was long the reasoning of the White House, and unfortunately the media continues to play ball. It remains a deceit. In Iraq today there are several armed groups fighting for a number of causes and not all of them can be classified as resistance. Nonetheless -- and once again unfortunately -- some in the Arab and Asian media have picked up the Western penchant for labelling violence in Iraq under a single classification. When the wire news powerhouses create a trend, media worldwide tends to follow, and usually to the detriment of objectivity. For example, some wire agencies have portrayed the "insurgency" in Iraq as Sunni; the Sunnis were depicted as waging a war against the "Shia-led" government and their US military backers. To the reader, it appears that the country is caught between Sunnis fighting US forces and the Shia community. Missing from this description is the number of Shia resistance groups which in recent months have started to publicise their own videos of exploding Humvees, Abrams tanks and in one case at least, foreign contractors. On 2 July, a Lebanese satellite television station aired footage of attacks reportedly conducted by Shia resistance groups. The groups read out a message saying they are specifically targeting US and UK troops and personnel, blaming them for the carnage in Iraq. The group goes on to say it will abort any attacks that may cause harm to Iraqis, including police and Iraqi army, as "they are our brothers". (...) Additionally, the very word "resistance" has itself become taboo among talking heads when reflecting on the situation in Iraq. Many Western commentators in the mainstream media refer only to "insurgents" or "terrorists", with the notable exception of MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Hostility to the use of "resistance" lies in its very definition. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, resistance can be defined as, "An underground organisation engaged in a struggle for national liberation in a country under military or totalitarian occupation." If the media were to use of the word resistance, by definition it would be acknowledging that the aim of those fighting foreign forces in Iraq is national liberation. More importantly, it would be acknowledging that Iraq is under military or totalitarian occupation. This would emphatically fly in the face of every White House press release on the situation in Iraq. Public relations and White House pundits have stressed that Iraq is truly sovereign and not under occupation. The US military is in Iraq, or so the story goes, to provide assistance in rooting out terrorists and helping a fledgling democratic government stand on its feet. Imagine the jolt to the system that the substitution of word resistance for insurgent would catalyse. Were the US government ever to acknowledge the Iraqi resistance as a resistance movement, it would undermine the very rationale of its presence in Iraq, as well as put into question the invasion and occupation until now. The irony is that the US itself was founded on the spirit and stamina of resistance fighters -- the Minutemen, the militia -- who stood up to the British Empire and demanded independence. read in full... VIOLATING THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL CONVENTIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW [Rana] Al-Aiouby [an Iraqi humanitarian aid worker based in Baghdad] was in Fallujah during the April 2004 US siege. "I saw 15-20 [US] snipers on just one roof," she said. "I was with a medical team in an ambulance and the ambulance was shot at. They also killed an old woman who was holding a white flag." By now an infamous photograph, Al-Jazeera News shot on-the-scene footage at Fallujah General Hospital when US troops arrested several doctors and patients at that time, claiming the facility was an "insurgent stronghold." They are shown handcuffed and lying on the floor, US soldiers with assault rifles standing guard over them. Al-Aiouby was also able to enter Fallujah after the second siege in November 2004 where she saw the city all but destroyed and most of its residents reduced to refugees. "It is normal for [the US] to use cluster bombs in the cities," she said sadly. US air strikes flattened the Nazzal Emergency Hospital during that siege. But, Fallujah is not an isolated situation. In Ramadi, where US-led troops are currently conducting a huge military operation, Al-Aiouby said residents are very worried. "Many in Ramadi couldn't leave. And they have learned from the hard situation in Fallujah about the refugee camps." In March 2005, US troops stormed a women and children's hospital in Ramadi, ordering medical staff and patients alike to leave, while detaining other staff members. On Wednesday of this week, hundreds of US troops raided the Saddam Hospital in Ramadi, claiming it was being used by "insurgents" to treat their injured and to fire upon them. Al-Aiouby said US-led troops also raided Haditha's hospital, not for the first time, last November. "They beat the director, Walid Al-Hadithi, and arrested him, accusing him of supporting the 'insurgents'. But he answered that [as a doctor] he should give medical treatment for anyone...if it is an American soldier, an 'insurgent,' anyone. Patients in the surgery were arrested." "What we're seeing is most clearly deliberate violations of the most fundamental conventions of international law," said Huguenin-Benjamin [spokesperson of the International Committee of the Red Cross], specifically of US military actions in Fallujah in 2004. read in full... QUESTIONS ABOUT COVERING IRAQ Reporting from Iraq has become one of journalism's most difficult and dangerous jobs. FP spoke recently with Rod Nordland, who served as Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief for two years, about the challenge of getting out of the Green Zone to get the scoop. (...) FOREIGN POLICY: Are Americans getting an accurate picture of what's going on in Iraq? Rod Nordland: It's a lot worse over here [in Iraq] than is reported. The administration does a great job of managing the news. Just an example: There was a press conference here about [Abu Musab al] Zarqawi's death, and somebody asked what role [U.S.] Special Forces played in finding Zarqawi. [The official] either denied any role or didn't answer the question. Somebody pointed out that the president, half an hour earlier, had already acknowledged and thanked the Special Forces for their involvement. They are just not giving very much information here. FP: The Bush administration often complains that the reporting out of Iraq is too negative, yet you say they are managing the news. What's the real story? RN: You can only manage the news to a certain degree. It is certainly hard to hide the fact that in the third year of this war, Iraqis are only getting electricity for about 5 to 10 percent of the day. Living conditions have gotten so much worse, violence is at an even higher tempo, and the country is on the verge of civil war. The administration has been successful to the extent that most Americans are not aware of just how dire it is and how little progress has been made. They keep talking about how the Iraqi army is doing much better and taking over responsibilities, but for the most part that's not true. FP: How often do you travel outside of the Green Zone? RN: The restrictions on [journalists'] movements are very severe. It is extremely dangerous to move around anywhere in Iraq, but we do. We all have Iraqi staff who get around, and we go on trips arranged by the U.S. State Department as frequently as we can. But the military has started censoring many [embedded reporting] arrangements. Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously. They want to know your slant on a story-they use the word slant-what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don't like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn't happy with the work they had done on embed. But we get out among the Iraqi public a whole lot more than almost any American official, certainly more than military officials do. read in full... DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY "PROBLEM SOLDIER" You've got to wonder how many of our soldiers might be having similar reactions to their Iraq experience:
A U.S. Army soldier who had served in Iraq was tackled and restrained by passengers after running down the aisle and ramming the cockpit door on a flight from New York City to Tampa, officials said. [....] Army spokesman Sheldon Smith said the solider was attached to 1st Armored Division out of Fort Riley, Kan. He had been on terminal leave since May 25, using up remaining leave time before getting out of the service July 12. He was a "cannon crewmember" who served in Iraq from September 2005 to January. He volunteered for Iraq service, the Army said. "He was not a problem soldier," said Deb Skidmore, spokeswoman at Fort Riley. "He had no disciplinary problems." Reached by phone Friday, the soldier's mother said he returned from Iraq earlier this year and is suffering from mental problems. He is "delirious" and "depressed" and imagines that people are following him, said the woman, who declined to give her name.
I don't know how leave time works, but you got to wonder if the Army let him go home so early because they didn't want him around anymore. To listen to the spokeswoman, you'd think this sort of thing just happened all of a sudden. Sad. link >> BEYOND IRAQ Afghanistan: A coalition spokesman said eight of its soldiers and one Afghan army soldier had been wounded in a battle in Kandahar province. The coalition forces did not disclose the nationalities of the soldiers who were injured, but the largest contingent of foreign troops in the province are from Canada and the US. Five coalition soldiers were wounded and one Taliban killed when the Taliban attacked coalition troops in Zabul province, north of Kandahar, a force spokeswoman. Three coalition soldiers and one Afghan soldier were wounded and five Taliban believed killed in the Panjwai district, about 25 km (17 miles) west of Kandahar, said a force spokeswoman. TYRANNY HAS COME But perhaps the most revealing moment in Suskind's book ["The One Percent Doctrine," which "paints a portrait of an administration drunk on lawless power"] is a brief vignette that captures the quintessence of Bush's callous disregard for the American people -- and the regime's strange, preternatural calm in the face of imminent attack. In August 2001, while Bush dawdled on his Texas dude ranch, the entire national security system was, in Tenet's words, "blinking red" in expectation of a major terrorist strike. On Aug. 6, a CIA official brought the infamous "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." memo to Crawford and read it out personally to the president. In response, he got nothing but a snide dismissal: "All right, you've covered your ass now." That was it. Bush had nothing else to say about this stark threat of impending slaughter. He had no questions, no advice, no commands -- just smirking contempt. Even if we give Bush every benefit of the doubt, even if we put the most charitable construction possible on his behavior, the very best you could say of his reaction is that it represents a blood-curdling degree of depraved indifference and criminal negligence worthy of Nero. Beyond this "best-case" scenario, you tumble into an abyss of ever-darker implications, a deep murk that may never be dispelled. But what we know, what is plain as day, is bad enough: Tyranny has come -- aggressive, remorseless, murderous, mad. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There is no power so convinced of its own benevolence as the United States. The culture is delusional in its commitment to this mythology, which is why today one can find on the other side of the world peasant farmers with no formal education who understand better the nature of U.S. power than many faculty members at elite U.S. universities." -- Robert Jensen, a professor of journalism at UT Austin, in a recently delivered speech at the Brisbane (Australia) Social Forum titled "The Threats to Sustainable Democracy"


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