DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, September 19, 2006
: An Iraqi boy reacts in front of a burning vehicle, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Sept. 18, 2006. A roadside bomb targeting a convoy of foreign private security guards, exploded late Sunday, damaging one of their vehicles and injuring two occupants, police said. [Incident reported only in this photo caption -- zig]
(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Bring 'em on
: An 89th Military Police Brigade Soldier was killed and two other Coalition Force Soldiers were wounded at approximately 3:45 p.m. Tuesday when the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a suicide car bomb in Mosul. The two wounded Soldiers were evacuated to a coalition forces military treatment facility. (MNF - Iraq)
Bring 'em on
: Five U.S. soldiers were wounded on Monday night when a roadside bomb went off near their patrol in the southern city of Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. A tank was damaged in the explosion.
A U.S. tank was also damaged in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, where U.S. commanders sent reinforcements three weeks ago after at least 20 Iraqi soldiers were killed in fierce street battles with Shi'ite militias.A Soldier assigned to Taskforce 3d MEDCOM died yesterday in Baghdad from non-battle related injuries.
The Soldier was part of the medical task force which provides care throughout Iraqi. (MNF Iraq)
OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS
A car bomb near a gas station in the western part of Baghdad killed two people and wounded 25.
Iraqi police recovered three bodies in eastern parts of the capital.
All three had been shot and blindfolded, and bore signs of torture.
A rocket attack on a Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad Tuesday killed 10 people and wounded 19.
Five rockets landed on houses in the Abu Tesher neighborhood in the predominantly Sunni Arab Dora district, said police Capt. Firas Queti of Dora police. [I didn't omit the sectarian references from the report of this incident because they are contradictory — is the Abu Tesher neighborhood Shiite or Sunni? Such is the zeal of seeing a civil war brewing… -- zig]
A policeman was killed and six people, including four civilians, were wounded when gunmen attacked them in Baquba
, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad.
Gunmen opened fire on a police patrol near the prison of in Baqouba killing one policeman and wounding three others.
Two civilians were killed when a roadside bomb went off in a village near Baquba.
The target of the explosion was not clear.
Gunmen killed 11 people across Baquba, including a former army officer and his wife.Udhaym:
Gunmen killed the mayor of Udhaym town
, about 65 kilometres north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba, as he drove to work.
A string of rocket and mortar attacks hit compounds housing the Iranian, British and U.S. consulates, as well as British bases, in Basra.
The attacks caused no injuries.
Five rockets hit the Iranian consulate area - one hit a room in the building, another struck a car parked outside, a third hit the compound wall while the fourth fell in the garden, Basra police said. The fifth missed the compound and fell outside the walls.
Three rounds were launched against Basra Palace, a compound that houses a British base as well as the British and U.S. consulates, said British military spokesman Maj. Charlie Burbridge. Of the three, only one landed in the compound, he said.
Rockets were also fired at the Shat al Arab Hotel base and at the main British base in the city, but did not strike their targets, he said.
Two platoons conducting a routine patrol in Basra received information on "the location of what they believed to be a leading terrorist," said Maj Charlie Burbridge, a spokesman for Multinational Forces in southern Iraq. As they moved toward the area, they came under fire from a building, and one British soldier was wounded in the ensuing firefight
, Burbridge said. The British soldiers killed one man inside the building.
A roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. military convoy in the city of Mosul wounded four civilians.
An Iraqi official and his assistant were slain by unknown gunmen in Kirkuk.
The incident took place in Al-Bu Slaibi town of Kirku.
An Iraqi journalist has been killed in Ramadi
, the television station he worked for said Tuesday. Baghdad TV is owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party, a major Sunni political group.
Gunmen killed two members of the ousted Baath Party in the city of Najaf
, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.
Two people were killed and seven wounded when three mortar rounds landed in two different areas of Mahmudiya
A total of 11 bodies, with bullet holes and signs of torture, were found in different areas in the town of Mahmudiya,
30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad.
A civilian was killed and two others were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol in the town of al-Rasheed,
30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
The Iraqi government said it will shut down all offices belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party around the country.
Government spokesman Ali Al-Dabagh said the decision was made during a Cabinet meeting because "Iraq wants good relations with Turkey and all neighboring countries, so the Iraqi government has decided to close any office belonging to the PKK in Iraq.
The U.S. military will likely maintain or possibly even increase the current force levels of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring
, the top US. commander in the Middle East said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of how quickly American forces can be brought home.
A British soldier pleaded guilty to committing a war crime by inhumanely treating detainees while serving in Iraq.
Corporal Donald Payne is one of seven British soldiers facing court martial over the death in custody three years ago of an Iraqi hotel receptionist in the southern city of Basra.
Five of the seven were serving with the Queens Lancashire Regiment while two others were with the Intelligence Corps at the time of the death of Baha Musa after his arrest by a British patrol six months after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The men face charges ranging from manslaughter to negligence.
The Iraqi government said it had secured the dismissal of the chief judge trying Saddam Hussein after he said last week that the former Iraqi president was not a dictator.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters the war crimes court had agreed to replace judge Abdullah al-Amiri. The court could not be immediately reached to confirm this, and a U.S. official close to the court was unaware of any change.
"We have asked the court to replace the judge because he has lost his neutrality after he made comments saying Saddam is not a dictator," Dabbagh said. "The court told us he has already been replaced."
US Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq, faces one new charge
, the Army announced Friday. The additional charge, of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentlemen, centers on Lieutenant Watada's statement that "to stop an illegal and unjust war, soldiers can choose to stop fighting it." Lieutenant Watada made the comments during a public address to the annual Veterans for Peace convention held in Seattle, Washington, in mid-August.
In response to the additional charge, Lieutenant Watada stated: "As I've said in the past, my only intent is to impress upon all service members that their duty is to fully evaluate the truth and lawfulness behind every order - including the one to participate in a war. We each have a civic and moral responsibility to make the right choices regardless of the consequences."
Bush's approval rating has jumped to 44 percent
after launching a drive to win support on Iraq and the fight against terrorism, according to a recent poll.
The boost for Bush in a USA Today/Gallup Poll, with his approval rating in the September 15-17 poll up from 39 percent only one week ago, comes at an opportune moment for his Republican Party, just seven weeks before key November 7 legislative elections.
More than 20,000 U.S. troops have now been wounded while serving in Iraq.
DoD states 20113 wounded (pdf)Shiite militias are encouraging children - some as young as 6 or 7 - to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys
, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back, U.S. soldiers say.
Gangs of up to 100 children assemble in Sadr City, stronghold of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, and in nearby neighborhoods, U.S. officers said in interviews this week.
American soldiers have seen young men, their faces covered by bandanas, talking with the children before the rock-throwing attacks begin - and sometimes handing out slingshots so the volleys will be more accurate, the troops said. (...)
"Right now the reason we're not (pursuing) is because it's a trap," 1st Lt. Bernard Gardner, 25, of Kinnear, Wyo., said as a group of children pelted his Stryker armored vehicle with rocks. "There's probably one or two snipers out there waiting for us to get in range."
The soldiers are also leery of firing even warning shots in return - worried that could enflame sectarian passions and turn Shiite civilians against the Americans
. [My emphasis — this seems to me to be a particularly absurd twist of the "report everything through the sectarian angle" mandatory in the media -- zig]
Part of the offensive's aim is to bolster public confidence in coalition and Iraqi forces.
"If we point a gun at a kid and they take a photo of it, they'll make a zillion flyers out of it," Gardner said. "That's why we have to be so delicate with the rock throwers."
IN THE INTELLECTUAL GROUND ZERO OF BAGHDAD
A silence has fallen upon Mutanabi Street.
In the buttery sunlight, faded billboards hang from old buildings. Iron gates seal entrances to bookstores and stationery shops. On this Friday, like the past 13 Fridays, the violence has taken its toll. There is not a customer around, only ghosts.
Perched on a red chair outside a closet-sized bookshop, the only one open, Naim al-Shatri is nearly in tears. Short, with thin gray hair and dark, brooding eyes, his voice is grim. This is normally his busiest day, but he hasn't had a single sale. A curfew is approaching.
Soon, his sobs break the stillness. "Is this Iraq?" he asked no one in particular, pointing at the gritty, trash-covered street as the scent of rotting paper and sewage mingled in the air.
It is a question many of the booksellers on Mutanabi Street are asking. Here, in the intellectual ground zero of Baghdad, they are the guardians of a literary tradition that has survived empire and colonialism, monarchy and dictatorship. In the heady days after the U.S.-led invasion, Mutanabi Street pulsed with the promise of freedom.
Now, in the fourth year of war, it is a shadow of its revered past. Many of the original booksellers have been forced to shut down. Others have been arrested, kidnapped or killed, or have fled Iraq. "We are walking with our coffins in our hands," said Mohammad al-Hayawi, the owner of the Renaissance book store, one of the street's oldest shops. "Nothing in Iraq is guaranteed anymore."
In a city known across the Arab world for its love affair with books, such emotions reflect the decline of a vibrant community. For the residents of Baghdad, Mutanabi Street is a link to their city's past glory, less a place than an extension of their souls.
"It is the lungs that I breathe with," said Zaien Ahmad al-Nakshabandi, another bookseller. "I'm choked now."
read in full...
DAHR JAMAIL AND ALI AL-FADHILY: U.S. RESORTING TO 'COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT'
U.S. forces are taking to collective punishment of civilians in several cities across the al-Anabar province west of Baghdad, residents and officials say.
"Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province, is still living with the daily terror of its people getting killed by snipers and its infrastructure being destroyed," Ahmad, a local doctor who withheld his last name for security purposes told IPS. "This city has been facing the worst of the American terror and destruction for more than two years now, and the world is silent."
Destroying infrastructure and cutting water and electricity "for days and even weeks is routine reaction to the resistance," he said. "Guys of the resistance do not need water and electricity, it's the families that are being harmed, and their lives which are at stake." (…)
The city of Hit 80km west of Ramadi was surrounded by U.S. troops for several days earlier this week. Several civilians were killed and at least five were detained by U.S. forces. Checkpoints are in place at each entrance to the city after the U.S. military lifted the cordon around it. This has stifled movement and damaged local businesses.
"There was an attack on a U.S. convoy, and three vehicles were destroyed," a local tribal chief who gave his name as Nawaf told IPS. "It wasn't the civilians who did it, but they are the ones punished. These Americans have the bad habit of cutting all of the essential services after every attack. They said they came to liberate us, but look at the slow death they are giving us every day."
In Haditha, a city of 75,000 on the banks of the Euphrates River in western al-Anbar, collective punishment is ongoing, residents say. This was the site of the massacre of 24 civilians by U.S. marines in November 2005.
"The Americans continue to raid our houses and threaten us with more violence," a local tribal leader who gave his name as Abu Juma'a told IPS. "But if they think they will make us kneel by these criminal acts, they are wrong. If they increase the pressure, the resistance will increase the reaction. We see this pattern repeated so often now."
read in full…
>>COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
THE HUSSEIN TRIAL AND IMPERIAL TRIBUNALS
As U.S. rulers and their pundits carry on about the virtues of international law and human rights, their carefully-orchestrated legal processes have quickly turned into a mockery of juridical norms--in Iraq, we have an ad hoc tribunal explicitly set up to punish the designated enemy. All that surrounds and defines the Baghdad court, buried deeply within the high-security Green Zone--military occupation, puppet government, uncontrollable civil strife, and collapse of political order not to mention full U.S. institutional, logistical, and financial support for the entire operation--has reduced both trials to comical farces, their processes manipulated and outcomes foreordained. (...)
Deeper problems mar the tribunal, starting with its absence of legal and political legitimacy. How can a court established under foreign military occupation, itself the product of an illegal invasion, be considered remotely fair and independent? Neither the new Iraq government nor the war-crimes body could survive a single day without U.S. military power, which of course lacks any international mandate. Tribunal statutes were created and imposed by U.S. military, political, and academic personnel, at odds with the requirements of an independent judiciary. The first trial, limited to one relatively minor charge, was designed to show that the post-Hussein government is sovereign, efficient, and democratic -- that is, a strong alternative to the Baath regime -- but in actuality we have a state system with no power over such crucial issues as taxation, investment, banking, trade, property rights, and media control. (In the most recent parliamentary session, legislators passed just four minor bills covering a span of five months.) The IHCC itself is a textbook violation of the Geneva Protocols that forbid an occupying power from dismantling domestic institutions in favor of alternatives chosen by the occupier. According to the 1949 Protocols (section III, article 53) an occupation force cannot destroy public or private property, alter national institutions, or take coercive action against public officials. Since the tribunal was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority with the Hussein trial alone in its sites, the claim that this is an Iraqi-controlled tribunal allowing people to settle historic accounts with the Baathists is nothing but pure fiction.
read in full...
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SHORT ATTENTION SPANS
Via Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times
What torture produces in practice is misinformation, as its victims, desperate to end the pain, tell interrogators whatever they want to hear. Thus Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi - who ABC News says was subjected to both the cold cell and water boarding - told his questioners that Saddam Hussein's regime had trained members of Al Qaeda in the use of biochemical weapons. This "confession" became a key part of the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq - but it was pure invention.
So why is the Bush administration so determined to torture people?
, Paulie -- didn't you just answer this question in your previous paragraph?!? Sheesh.
>> BEYOND IRAQ
TIME: THIS IS HOW US WILL ATTACK IRAN
published details regarding a possible attack, based on talks with military sources.
According to the magazine, no one in Washington is talking about a ground invasion of Iran, as was carried out in Iraq or Afghanistan. According to the report, the American goal in case of an offensive will be to delay the Iranian nuclear plan, an operation which can be carried out from the air.
Goal: Delaying nuclear plan by 2 to 3 years
The attack, the Time
says, will be limited to the nuclear facilities in Iran and will be aimed at 18 to 30 different facilities connected to the nuclear program. The sites are spread across the country, some of them exposed, some operating under the guise of regular plants, and others buried deep under the ground.
Sources in the Pentagon told the magazine that among the sites the Americans are familiar with are 1,500 targets for an attack. In other words, the military offensive requires activating nearly all types of planes in the army's possession: Warplanes and stealth vehicles, F-15 and F-16 aircrafts taking off from the land and an F-18 which takes off from an aircraft carrier.
Such an attack requires using satellite-guided weapons and laser-guided ammunition, as well as spy planes and unmanned aerial vehicles. Since many targets are hidden underground and are reinforced with armed concrete, they will have to be hit once and again in order to guarantee that they are destroyed, or at least severely damaged.
Submarines and American battleships will be able to launch cruise missiles, but the Time says that the warheads in this case are small and are not enough to cause damage to the concrete. Therefore, they will be used for other targets.
An American attack in Iran may take a few days, with hundreds and maybe thousands of sorties. According to the report, it will help in delaying the Iranian nuclear program by two to the three years.
read in full…
WHAT WOULD WAR WITH IRAN LOOK LIKE, PT2
A British outpost in Southern Iraq
"Kings point to Castle, Kings point to Castle, come in"
"Kings point this is Castle, over"
"Castle, we have unidentified movement to our front and have lost contact with 9 Platoon."
"We have unidentified movement to our front, and have lost contact with 9 Platoon"
"Can you reestablish contact?"
"No, our Iraqi Army unit has deserted, 6 Platoon has 15 men, 7 and 8 Platoons are manning the outpost. Can you divert a helo?"
"Negative. One is down, the others supporting A Company , they have two wounded"
Two hours later
"Castle, this is Kings Point, we are under heavy attack, repeat, heavy attack"
"Say again , Kings point"
"Castle, this is Kings Point actual, we are being overrun by unknown forces, with heavy mortar and rocket fire. We need immediate air support and final protective fire"
"Air support is unavailable, repeat unavailable, massive uprising in Basra."
"What about the FPF"
Thirty minutes later
"Kings point, this is castle. Kings point, this is castle, over"
"Kings point, this is castle. Kings point, this is castle, over"
"Kings point, this is castle. Kings point, this is castle, over"
The outlying bases in the South are overrun. It looks like the Mahdi Army, but some of the operations are too slick to be done by Sadr's boys. Not that anyone has noticed. The Marines in Ramadi are being mortared hourly. Balad andTaji are under rocket fire. 100,000 Sadrists have sealed off the green zone. The Kurds are moving on Kirkuk.
In 24 hours, Iraq has gone from confusiuon to country wide resistance. Roads have been cut, bridges blown and Turkey is demanding the Kurds stop or they will "protect" the Turkmen.
At the same time, Saudi Shias are attacking the oil terminals. Two US ships have hit mines, with significant loss of life, but which is a footnote to the upheaval now engulfing Iraq. Iraq shia claim the mining, but no one believes them. Not that it matters, because a Halliburton convoy lay burning, its drivers beheaded, its contents looted.
US paid mercenaries are trying to run to the Baghdad Airport, pulling out in private aircraft. One has already been shot down and none of the Iraqi staff have shown up. Several journalists have been shot dead in the street. Their employers are thinking how to get them out, their escape plans turning to shit.
Boots on the ground in Iran? What air support there is gets tasked as they come in, it's triage in the air. The situation is fluid, but bad and getting worse by the hour. Boots on the ground in Iraq is looking like a challenge. Every soldier in the Green Zone has been armed and told to man the perimeter. Helicopters are moving civilians to the airport for evacutation. Iraqi staff are begging to be included, knowing they face certain death if captured.
The Iranians haven't waited for the US to attack. Once they saw the US moving up a carrier group, they sent word to their Iraqi clients to uprise in force. The US is now facing a multiple crisis in Iraq, certainly unable to attack Iran or even support US forces in Iraq. No matter how much air they send up, they need more.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
: "To be quite honest with you, this, what I call the physical barrier around Baghdad, is already there. It's the soil and it's the river, some trenches as well." -- Iraqi national security advisor Mowaffak Al-Rubaie in an interview with CNN confirming that the government is ringing the city with a security barrier to limit access.