Saturday, September 16, 2006
DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2006
PHOTO: What Bush Stands For
Security Incidents for September 16, 2006
An official vehicle carrying Japan's acting ambassador to Iraq was hit by bullets on Thursday in Baghdad, but there were no injuries, the Foreign Ministry said. The bullet cracked the windshield when it hit the car of Satoshi Ashiki, temporary charge d'affaires, near the Japanese embassy in Baghdad, the ministry said in a statement.
The bound bodies of dozens more torture victims were found in Baghdad in the past day, officials said on Friday, fuelling anarchic sectarian anger as political leaders square off over an issue some say could mean civil war. In all, police retrieved 50 bodies in the 24 hours to Friday morning, most shot in the head after being trussed and tortured, a senior Interior Ministry official told Reuters. That took the body count in the city for three days to at least 130.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and five others were wounded when a gunman on top of an abandoned building opened fire in a Sunni Arab neighborhood Friday morning in central Baghdad, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali.
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown following an incident reported yesterday in which two fellow MND-B Soldiers were killed and 30 Soldiers were injured by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device Thursday west of Baghdad.
Dhi Qar Prv:
Dhi Qar's police killed two members of the Mehdi Army militias who were attempting to launch mortar rounds at an Italian military base in Dhi Qar, south of Baghdad, police sources said. They said the two men were killed in clashes with police.
Al Anbar Prv:
The U.S. military also announced a flurry of anti-insurgent activity in western Anbar province, used as a haven for many al-Qaida fighters in Iraq. Caldwell said U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed 66 suspected insurgents and arrested 830 others this month. Witnesses said Marines raided a funeral 20 miles west of the violent town of Ramadi, where Sunni Arab insurgents and U.S. troops have battled for months. After the burial ceremony, U.S. forces arrested at least 60 men at the gathering.
At least four Iraqi civilians were killed and another six were wounded Friday when a bomb exploded in a football field in Fallujah City. Eyewitnesses said the bomb was planted inside a public field in the city and it was ignited while some kids were kicking a ball there. The explosion killed four of the kids and wounded another six.
The U.S. and Iraqi forces started in the early hours of Saturday a large-scale search campaign in Falluja, said eyewitnesses. U.S. Hummers accompanied by Iraqi security forces cordoned off in the early hours of Saturday Zubbat neighborhood in central Falluja, 45 km west of Baghdad, and started a search campaign into a large number of houses," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). There were no reports of arrests.
NOTE: A BIG THANKS TO WHISKER FOR PUTTING TOGETHER THE SECURITY INCIDENTS IN IRAQ AND FORWARDING THEM TO ME.
Iraqi police have found the bodies of 47 more death squad victims in Baghdad, the latest in a wave of sectarian killings which prompted the United States to divert troops from other parts of Iraq to the embattled capital. The bodies were found early Saturday. Most victims had been bound, tortured and shot, bringing the toll from such killings to nearly 180 in four days. The United States has shifted its emphasis to the capital in recent months, after concluding that sectarian violence between Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs was a greater threat than the Sunni Arab insurgency it has fought mainly in the west and north. The U.S. military confirmed Iraqi plans, announced earlier this week, to restrict access to Baghdad by forcing cars through 28 checkpoints, but denied some Western media reports that the plan involves digging a giant 60 mile trench around the city. Washington has acknowledged a "spike" in execution-style sectarian killings in the capital this week, but said violence has been reduced in the scattered neighborhoods it has targeted in "Operation Together Forward," a month long security crackdown. A suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded 22 outside a well-fortified police station in southern Baghdad. Also in the capital, two Iraqi soldiers were killed by a bomb when they came to recover a corpse from a booby-trapped car. "Baghdad is our main effort right now," Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the top U.S. operational commander in Iraq, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Iraq on Friday. He said some troops were being drawn down from Anbar province, the vast Western desert heartland of the Sunni insurgency, to be sent to the capital. [Iraqi will not be secure until long after the US troops leave. – dancewater] The tactic has caused controversy after a classified U.S. Marine analysis leaked this week described Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda followers as the province's dominant political force and concluded Washington could defeat them only with more troops. [And that would be false. – dancewater]
The effort to subdue Sunni insurgents in Anbar province, long a focus of the Iraq war, has become secondary to the "main effort" -- securing Baghdad to avert civil war, a senior U.S. commander said on Friday. Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the No. 2 U.S. general in Iraq and the top operational commander, said a classified intelligence report that surfaced this week with a dire account of the situation in Anbar was "right on target." But Chiarelli acknowledged that commanders have siphoned troops from Anbar, weakening the military's strength there, to bulk up the U.S. presence in Baghdad. Commanders are seeking to curb unrelenting sectarian violence in Baghdad that pits majority Shi'ite Muslims against minority Sunnis who dominated Iraq for decades under deposed President Saddam Hussein. "Baghdad is our main effort right now," Chiarelli told reporters at the Pentagon in a briefing from Iraq. On Anbar province, Chiarelli said that "we are not looking to walk away from that province," but made clear that the effort to secure Baghdad was paramount. Anbar is a vast western desert considered the Sunni Muslim insurgency's heartland. The intelligence report by Col. Peter Devlin, according to published reports, concluded the situation in Anbar is grim and will deteriorate without an infusion of U.S. troops and aid. Chiarelli acknowledged that Devlin recommended adding a full division -- roughly 15,000 troops -- to the roughly 30,000 U.S. troops now in the province. "There's not a commander in the world who wouldn't say he could use more forces. But I believe we have the forces that we need in al Anbar, understanding that al Anbar today is a supporting effort to what we're doing in Baghdad," Chiarelli said. He described Baghdad as "a city the size of Chicago where we're trying to knock down sectarian violence and go after those folks, those death squads that have caused this new form of violence that, if left unchecked could lead to civil war." [Imagine putting trenches around Chicago with 28 access points! – dancewater]
With a biker's bandanna tied under his helmet, the Special Forces team sergeant gunned a Humvee down a desert road in Iraq's volatile Anbar province. Skirting the restive town of Hit, the team of a dozen soldiers crossed the Euphrates River into an oasis of relative calm: the rural heartland of the powerful Albu Nimr tribe. Green Berets skilled in working closely with indigenous forces have enlisted one of the largest and most influential tribes in Iraq to launch a regional police force -- a rarity in this Sunni insurgent stronghold. Working deals and favors over endless cups of spiced tea, they built up their wasta -- or pull -- with the ancient tribe, which boasts more than 300,000 members. They then began empowering the tribe to safeguard its territory and help interdict desert routes for insurgents and weapons. The goal, they say, is to spread security outward to envelop urban trouble spots such as Hit.
But the initial progress has been tempered by friction between the team of elite troops and the U.S. Army's battalion that oversees the region. At one point this year, the battalion's commander, uncomfortable with his lack of control over a team he saw as dangerously undisciplined, sought to expel it from his turf, officers on both sides acknowledged. The conflict in the Anbar camp, while extreme, is not an isolated phenomenon in Iraq, U.S. officers say. It highlights two clashing approaches to the war: the heavy focus of many regular U.S. military units on sweeping combat operations; and the more fine-grained, patient work Special Forces teams put into building rapport with local leaders, security forces and the people -- work that experts consider vital in a counterinsurgency. "This war was fought with a conventional mind-set. The conventional units are bogged down in cities doing the same old thing," said the Special Forces team's 44-year-old sergeant, who like all the Green Berets interviewed was not allowed to be quoted by name for security reasons. "It's not about bulldozing Hit, driving through with a tank, with all the kids running away. . . . These insurgencies are defeated by personal relationships."
The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), operating from havens in northern Iraq, has been attacking Turkish security forces in southeastern Anatolia and occasionally civilians elsewhere. Turkey is determined to prevent a repetition of the 1984-99 guerrilla war with the separatist PKK, in which it suffered more than 30,000 deaths. It has mobilized a large force on its Iraqi border and is threatening to invade northern Iraq. A Turkish invasion would create chaos in that part of Iraq and potentially destabilize the region. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's response -- moving to reinvigorate a tripartite commission made up of the governments of Turkey, Iraq and the United States -- is insufficient. The United States needs to take much firmer action to stop the PKK guerrilla war from undermining its Middle East policy. In the previous guerrilla war, the PKK operated from Iran, northern Iraq and Syria. [That would be their original homelands. – dancewater] Syria also gave sanctuary to Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader. Saddam Hussein and then the British and the Americans, under their no-fly zone, permitted Turkey to attack the PKK in northern Iraq. After Turkish troops massed on the Syrian border, the late Syrian leader, Hafez al-Assad, expelled Ocalan, who was eventually captured and imprisoned in Turkey. The PKK then declared a cease-fire but renounced it in 2004. During the current Iraq war, the United States has prevented Turkish forces from crossing into Iraq, contributing to Turkey's frustration and the current crisis. If the United States does not oppose a Turkish invasion it will face a more chaotic situation in Iraq and the loss of a long-term relationship with the Iraqi Kurds, who are Washington's best hope for obtaining rights for U.S. bases in the future. If Washington opposes the invasion, it risks further estrangement from Turkey, a state positioned to play a critical strategic role in a region where Iran increasingly challenges the United States for dominance. Turkey fears Kurdish irredentism coming from an independent Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurds perceive a Turkish invasion as aimed at controlling oil-rich Kirkuk, thereby denying the Iraqi Kurds an economic base for their independence. Furthermore, Turkish intervention in Iraq would create a terrible precedent for Syrian and Iranian intervention in the Iraqi civil war.
It has been a particularly bloody week in Iraq, with sectarian violence intensifying in Baghdad even as U.S. forces continue a major operation aimed at stabilizing some of the capital's most violence-prone districts. American officers say sectarian militias are engaging in ethnic cleansing in some Baghdad neighborhoods.
The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 by U.S.-led coalition forces has been responsible for the death of at least 150,000 civilians (not including certain areas of Iraq), reveals a compilitation of scientific studies and corroborated eyewitness testimonies. The majority of these deaths, which are in addition those normally expected from natural causes, illness and accidents, have been among women and children, documents a well-researched study, that had been released by The Lancet Medical Journal. The report in the British journal is based on the work of teams from the Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University in the U.S., and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. A similar methodology was used in the late 1990's to calculate the number of deaths from the war in Kosovo, put at 10,000. The information was obtained as Iraqi interviewers surveyed 808 families, consisting of 7,868 people, in 33 different "clusters" or neighbourhoods spread across the country.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon. To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What they needed to be was a member of the Republican Party. Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. [A clear reflection of the Republican’s total lack of concern and empathy for the Iraqi people. Actually, the empathy level for the Iraqi people is and was so low, that this political party can be safely labeled as psychopaths. – dancewater]
A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting. The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people. The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff. Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues. [Ideologues who are psychopaths. And the civilians who went along with this –took a job they clearly were unqualified to perform – have a total lack of morals and are probably psychopaths themselves. They all need to be arrested and jailed, because they are dangerous to human beings everywhere. – dancewater]
But many CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools. [In short, they supported the war because they wanted to make Iraq an American colony, and never gave a damn about what happened to the Iraqi people – even to the point of cutting off their food! – dancewater]
By the time Bremer departed, Iraq was in a precarious state. [No, it was destroyed. And they clearly don’t care because they are mainly psychopaths. I did not read any further in this five-page article. It is making me sick. – dancewater]
Two local hospitals are extending their care overseas. They are helping to comfort children in Iraq by sending Beanie Babies to U.S. soldiers. Soldiers are trying to comfort the children with a little love from home. Dixie Kirkland's office at Grandview Hospital is packed with Beanie Babies. Kirkland, who is an EMS coordinater, began collecting them after she got a request from a soldier in Iraq with whom she is pens pals. Kirkland said, “He said they give them to children they run into as gifts, hoping to build relationships with Iraqi children." Kirkland said not only do the loveable toys bring comfort to children, but she loves the idea of helping out. She said, “It’s wonderful. I’d do anything for soldiers overseas. Knowing they’re helping children is wonderful.” Close to 500 Beanie Babies have already been sent to Iraq, and employees at the hospital keep bringing more and more Beanie Babies in every day. [These folks, unlike our politicians in DC, do have empathy and sympathy and a desire to help the Iraqi children. But what the Iraqi children need is clean water, parents with secure jobs, and not having a car bomb go off on the way to school. What these folks don’t seem to realize is that placing children near combatants in a war zone means THE CHILDREN MIGHT GET KILLED. It is a profoundly stupid idea, and reflects these American’s willful, insistent blindness to the reality of what the US government has created through the US military in Iraq. Which means they are unbelievably f**king stupid. – dancewater]
OPINION: What Our President Stands For
First, he stands for torture. He wants to make sure that evidence that we obtain via torture is allowed in court. This is troubling on a couple of points. It makes it clear that we have used and will continue to use torture to get information. In addition, information gathered using torture is very unreliable, often people will admit to anything to get the abuse to stop. Not only does he want to continue to use torture, and use evidence gathered by torture in trials, he wants to make sure the people who are doing the torture are protected from legal accountability. At one time in our history, people who were suspected of being involved in torture were refused admittance, or kicked out. We have expelled old men, 50 years removed from their crimes because at one time, long in the past, they participated in torture, now Bush want to give tortures exalted status of being above the law. Second, he stands for Kangaroo Courts. Not only does he want to use evidence gathered using torture in courts, he wants to make it so a person being accused may not see the evidence against him, or discover who has presented evidence against him. This is a tactic straight out of the inquisition. We have seen gross miscarriages of justice in our legal system with all the protections we currently have in place. It is frightening to consider just how much abuse of the truth can occur when there is absolutely no check of the truthfulness of the evidence the government is presenting. Under the Bush plan, a prosecutor can make up about anything, then claim that the information is to sensitive for the defense to view it. Torture and Kangaroo Courts, if the Senate backs down, these too may be part the legacy of the worst president this nation has ever placed in the White House.
OPINION: Comic Relief From Baghdad
The chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein says that Saddam was “no dictator.” This is hilarious. The Bush administration helps arrange a show trial. And they can’t even get the story line straight in a kangaroo court. The chief prosecutor complained that the judge has allowed “defendants to go too far, with unacceptable expressions and words.” One presumes that the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will make sure the same problem doesn’t happen with the pending tribunals at Guantanamo. Maybe Bush can arrange to have the same judge in case he is ever put on trial.
OPINION: Presidents Don’t End Wars They Start
Moreover, a substantial segment of the American public, especially Southern and Evangelical, believe that patriotism demands that the nation emerge clearly victorious no matter what the price. These people wave flags, talk about the threat to the United States (of a much weaker enemy) and accept the patriotic appeal that we simply don't lose wars and we must stand by our troops. When they are told that we will not defeat the enemy because we cannot, they scream defeatism, surrender, betrayal. They also suggest that we should nuke the enemy. The pathological super patriots always fall back on the power of nuclear weapons to obliterate the enemy. Those who argue for withdrawal from an impossible situation are accused of cowardice and infidelity to our fallen heroes. A substantial segment of the officer corps of the military -- mostly out of harm's way -- become furious, though they were the ones who provided the advice on which the war was based. It would seem, sadly, that we have learned nothing since the Inchon landing. A successful imperialist power (which the United States is not, cannot and should not ever be) has to be able to override a public turn against the conflict. Nor does the myth of American power, which is indeed great but not invincible, especially against peasant guerrillas, cause the leadership -- military and political -- to consider carefully all the risks of charging off to an easy victory against weaker opponents. Indeed those, like Messrs. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. A war will probably not end when the party whose war it is loses a congressional election. That is not likely to happen in November anyway because the fear/patriotism/betrayal campaign will keep Republicans in control of Congress.
OPINION: Bush’s Iraq Rationalization is Lame
The Bush administration is relying on a slender thread to justify its disastrous war in Iraq: Saddam Hussein is now in jail. "The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power," President Bush insists, because "he was a clear threat." Bush's rationalization comes up lame, given the administration's reluctant and deferred acknowledgement that Saddam had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and especially in view of the mounting casualty tolls of U.S. service members and Iraqi civilians. Vice President Dick Cheney also says, "The world is better off today with Saddam Hussein out of power." While holding no brief for Iraq's brutal dictator, I question whether we now live in a safer world. The world would be better off without any dictators, of course. That's a given. But I'm thinking of all the Americans and Iraqis who would be alive today had there not been a U.S.-waged war of choice. Anti-terrorism experts regard the U.S. invasion and occupation as an alluring recruiting poster that is attracting more Islamic radicals to the ranks of suicide bombers in Iraq and elsewhere. That may explain the insistence by Bush and Cheney that Iraq is the central front in the fight against terrorism. If it wasn't before the invasion, it is now. The Middle East is aflame and the U.S. has lost its campaign for the hearts and minds of the people in the region.
OPINION: What If We Had Left Saddam Alone
The veteran Democratic senator's statement was stunning even in the politically charged atmosphere of the coming congressional elections because it reveals the growing depth of unease among leading Democrats and Republicans about the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rockefeller voted for the Iraq invasion and like others has been careful not to leave the impression that he does not support American troops. But using words like "manipulation" and "contained," Rockefeller said there was no evidence that Saddam had connections with the international terrorist movement, one of the White House's arguments for a preemptive strike on Iraq. When asked on television whether he now believed that Saddam should have been left in power, the veteran Democrat said that is exactly what he meant, that Saddam considered the terrorists a threat to his own government and that the Iraqi dictator was sufficiently contained as to be no real danger to the United States. Said Rockefeller, "He wasn't going to attack us." In contrast, the Intelligence committee's Republican chairman, Pat Roberts, headed home to Kansas grumbling about nothing really new in the report, just bits and pieces already known to the public. He is correct. But the document is another log on the growing fire of discontent about the war and its drain on national assets, most specifically the human kind. It merely prompts more Americans to ask why this course was necessary if Saddam was not connected to terrorists nor had any of the weapons of mass destruction he was alleged to have been readying for use against his neighbors or the United States. [Americans should ask themselves why only two of Iraq’s neighbors (Israel and Kuwait) stated that they thought Iraq was a threat, and why all the rest of the countries in the Middle East were against this war and felt that Saddam had no WMDs or connections to al Qaeda. Americans should ask themselves why they are so gullible and stupid. – dancewater]
It has become dramatically less clear where the Iraq invasion falls in the war on terrorism. Here are a few questions we may need to ask ourselves. Has this exercise actually raised more potential terrorists than it has eliminated? Has the terrorist movement gained stature in the susceptible culture of the Middle East by our obvious inability to bring stability to Iraq? Do moderate Muslims now regard this war as an attack on their religion generally? Has the fact that 140,000 U.S. troops are bogged down in what might now be a civil war damaged U.S. efforts to deal with resurgent Taliban forces in Afghanistan, which certainly do have ties to terrorism? Has the preoccupation with Iraq hindered our efforts to capture Osama bin Laden? [The answer to all the above questions would be YES. – dancewater]
LYRICS: This is Baghdad - by Bruce Cockburn
Everything's broken in the birthplace of law As Generation Two tries on his tragic flaw America's might under desert sun I saw her frightened eyes behind the muzzle of her gun
Uranium dust and the smell of decay Sewage in the street where the kids run and play Not enough morphine and not enough gauze Firefight in darkness like snapping of jaws
You couldn't see the blast-the morning was bright- But some radiant energy flared up into the light Like the sky throwing its hands up in a horrified dismay Or the souls of the dead as they sped on their way
Car bombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot How do you like it, this freedom we brought We packed all the ordnance but the thing we forgot Was a plan in case it didn't turn out quite like we thought
PEACE ACTION: Take the voters’ peace pledge. "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression, a public position in his or her campaign."