Wednesday, September 20, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, September 20, 2006 Photo: U.S. soldiers take cover as a group of Iraqi children throw rocks at their position, on the edge of Sadr City, in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 18, 2006. Shiite militias have begun encouraging gangs of children _ some as young as 6 or 7 years old _ to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys, hoping to lure American troops into sniper ambushes or provoke them to fire back, U.S. soldiers say. (AP Photo/Antonio Castaneda) (See "Shiite militias are encouraging children…" in yesterday's post) Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died at approximately 5:30 p.m. today after the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by an improvised-explosive device northwest of Baghdad. (MNF -Iraq) Bring 'em on: A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier was killed by small-arms fire at approximately 10:40 a.m. today in north eastern Baghdad. (MNF -Iraq) A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died in a non-combat incident in southwest Baghdad at approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday. (MNF -Iraq) A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died in a non-combat incident in Baghdad at approximately 6 a.m. today. (MNF -Iraq) OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: A suicide truck bomb slammed into a Baghdad police headquarters, killing seven and wounding more than a dozen. The truck bomb attack on the police building in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora came Wednesday morning just as officers were coming on duty, said Capt. Jamil Hussein. He said the number of casualties was expected to rise. A policeman and two civilians were killed when a mortar round landed near a patrol in northern Baghdad. Four policemen were wounded when a mortar round struck a police checkpoint in eastern Baghdad , a well-informed police source said. "A mortar round landed close to a police checkpoint in the Palestine Street area, wounding four policemen," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. Iraqi police patrols found 34 bodies in execution-style in different neighborhoods of the capital during the past 24 hours, a well-informed police source said on Wednesday. "We have 34 bodies found in different parts of Baghdad," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The bodies were bound and blindfolded, showing signs of torturewith bullet holes in their head and chest, the source said. Two children were killed and a woman wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in the Saediyah neighbourhood. A civilian was killed in a roadside bombing in east Baghdad as US patrol passed in the Baladiyat neighbourhood. Mortar fire wounded four civilians in the Al-Talbiyah neighbourhood in the city centre. Karbala: Police found the body of a former Baathist, with multiple gunshot wounds in central Kerbala, 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad. A member of Kerbala's governorate escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen ambushed his car in central Kerbala.. Two of his bodyguards, including his son, were wounded in the third attack on his life. (round-up) The unclaimed bodies of 112 people, who had been dumped in Baghdad in the last three months, were delivered to Kerbala's morgue awaiting their burial, Tameem Kadhum, spokesman of Kerbala's health directory told Reuters. Numaniya: A roadside bomb placed on side of the road exploded, wounding 10 civilians as they were passing by, near Numaniya, 120 km (72 miles) south of Baghdad. Kut: The mutilated body of a policeman was turned in to the morgue in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, after being found in the al-Falahiya district east of the city in the morning.
The body of an unknown civilian in a similar condition was also turned in to the morgue after being dragged out of the Tigris River about 30 miles south of Baghdad.
Hillah: 12 civilians were injured in a series of three roadside bombings aimed at police patrols Wednesday morning in the Hillah area, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. There were no reported police injuries. Samarra: A suicide car bomber rammed his car into the house of a Sunni leader of the Bazi tribe, in Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad. One child was killed and 26 people, mostly women and children, were wounded in the attack. Baqubah: Gunmen killed a former colonel in Saddam Hussein's disbanded military and a police officer in Baquba, while two civilians were killed and two security personnel wounded in other attacks in the city. Diwaniya: One civilian was killed when a roadside bomb placed on side of the road exploded in Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad. Mahaweel: A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi Army patrol exploded wounding one soldier in Mahaweel, 75 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad. Sharqat: Mosul police confirmed that tandem bombings killed 21 people near the northern city and wounded 50 others. A parked car bomb detonated near an Iraqi army base in Sharqat, about 45 miles south of Mosul, on Tuesday night, and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as a crowd gathered at the scene of the first bombing, police said. >> NEWS Saddam Hussein's lawyers walked out of his trial Wednesday to protest the replacement of the chief judge, who had been accused of favoring the defense. The deposed leader also protested and was ordered to leave the courtroom. Defense lawyers questioned the impartiality of the trial when the session began under Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa in place of Abdullah al-Amiri, who was removed after he was accused of being too soft on the former Iraqi leader. The US military expects an increase in insurgent violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, said Major General William Caldwell, spokesman for multinational forces in Iraq. "We are anticipating an increase of foreign fighters in Ramadan. Ramadan is a period of increased violence," Caldwell told journalists in Baghdad. Ramadan, expected to start Saturday or Sunday depending on the sighting of the moon, is a month of introspection and piety, but has also in recent years been plagued by a surge in attacks by Islamic extremists, notably in Iraq. >> REPORTS Attacks against Americans have increased following a call earlier this month from al-Qaida in Iraq's leader to target U.S. forces, the top U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell also that Iraqi and American troops were expecting violence to increase further during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Caldwell said the attacks against U.S. troops were mostly carried out by suicide car bombers or car bombs. He added that the number of killings carried out by death squads had also increased in the past week. The increase in attacks against American forces came after a threat issue on Sept. 7 by Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. PENTAGON MAY NEED TO CALL UP MORE TROOPS The dimming outlook for significant U.S. troop cuts in Iraq means the Pentagon may soon face a difficult and politically sensitive decision: either make more frequent call-ups of some National Guard and Reserve troops or expand still further the size of the active-duty Army, defense officials say. That choice, already under discussion but with no timetable for decision, is looming in light of the fact that the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put the Army under enormous strain. In particular, active-duty soldiers are not getting the desired minimum of two years at home between combat deployments. Army officials had hoped for some troop relief in Iraq in this election year, but the surge in sectarian violence, the persistence of the insurgency and the slow pace of political progress in Baghdad have snuffed out those hopes. read in full... I WAS A PR INTERN IN IRAQ I began my media work on July 14 [2005], waking up early to shave in the bathroom's cracked sink and brew some coffee in the sandy kitchen. I chose a spot on the large red sofa in the villa's living room, which also doubled as its office space, and waited for an email to arrive from the military. For several hours I checked the BBC website for news on Iraq, brewed more coffee, and sent emails home, telling friends and family that I was beginning to do real work here. In the afternoon I finally received an email from a First Lieutenant Christopher Denatale that was also copied to a long list of American military personnel with @iraq.centcom.mil address suffixes. The communiqué was labeled "Unclassified/For Official Use Only" and stated simply, "Here are the Corps IO storyboards for 14 JUL 05." I carefully read the five articles that were attached as PowerPoint slides. The first reported on a speech by then prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in which he announced that Iraqi troops would soon be able to replace foreign forces. It was accompanied by a photo of Jaafari at a lectern and ended with this bit of uplift: "Combined with the recurring successes of the ISF, Prime Minister Jaafari's remarks inspire a greater degree of hope for the peaceful and progressive future of Iraq." In the second article, also on the progress of the Iraqi Security Forces, the U.S. Army writers at the Al Faw palace put an even more positive spin on the country's prospects. "Unlike the terrorists, who offer nothing but pain and fear, the ISF bring the promise of a better Iraq. No foreign al-Qa'ida mercenary would ever consider bringing gifts to Iraqi children. The Iraqi Army, however, fights for a noble cause. ... Together with the Iraqi people, they will bring peace and prosperity to the nation." The remaining stories continued in this vein. The American soldier writing one of them took on the persona of an Iraqi to denounce the terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, another argued that insurgents were attacking Iraqis solely to instigate a civil war, and the final one concluded with an apparent public-service announcement: "Continue to report suspicious activities and make Iraq safe again." These were far from exemplars of objective journalism, but Jon had said that I should think of the storyboards not so much as news but as messages Iraqis needed to hear. I supposed they were that. I was to publish at least five stories each week, so I now had to decide which of these, if any, made the cut. After some deliberation, I chose the piece on the insurgency inciting Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. Its rhetoric was powerful, even Ciceronian, I thought, with the grand sweep of its opening line: "Great triumphs and great tragedies can redirect the course of a people's destiny." And I agreed with its overall message that one destructive act should not beget others. I was to pass along the article to a man named Muhammad, who would see that it was translated from the English. It also fell to me to tell Muhammad where to place the translated piece. Jon had left me a spreadsheet listing Iraqi newspapers and the amounts they charged to run our stories. read in full... BULLETS AND BODIES IN BAGHDAD With bodies showing signs of torture turning up every day on the streets of Baghdad, we set out this morning to gain permission to shoot video at the city's morgue. First, I started my day by going to the media office of the Ministry of Health to get permission for the shoot. All went well; in about 45 minutes I had the permission I needed. This felt especially good since we'd been trying for three days to get into the morgue or be allowed to shoot at one of Baghdad's hospitals where bodies are taken. From the Ministry of Health building, I drove over to the morgue's parking lot, where I met my camera man, audio technician and our two Iraqi security advisors. We grabbed all of our gear and walked to the checkpoint at the entrance to the morgue complex. Here, a Facilities Protection Service officer examined the paperwork granting us permission to film at the complex. The Facilities Protection Service (FPS) is a guard force that works for each ministry; since the Ministry of Health is run by a supporter of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Ministry of Health Facilities Protection Service is known to be thoroughly infiltrated by militiamen from Sadr's Mahdi Army. The FPS officer glanced at my paperwork, told me to leave my crew at the checkpoint and to follow him inside. There I met with a commander of the morgue's FPS platoon, a short man dressed in civilian clothes. He made a phone call to a higher-ranking official and said it was okay for us to film. As I was walking back outside, gunfire erupted all around us. It turns out the Ministry of Health FPS had gotten into a firefight with nearby FPS officers from the Ministry of Electricity, which is not run by a al-Sadr supporter. Unfortunately, my crew was caught in the middle. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS DAILY KOS DIARY: CRITICAL IRAQ REPORT WITHHELD TO AVOID "POLITICIZING" NOV. 7TH ELECTIONS Former Senator Lee Hamilton is co-chair of a committee along with Bush family consigliere James Baker called The Iraq Study Group. This so-called "bipartisan, independent" commission is charged with getting to the bottom of the problem with the U.S. war in Iraq and offering real solutions to the floundering Bush misadministration. It has already been at work for 6 months. Lee Hamilton says that the next 3 months are CRITICAL for the survival of the new "unity" government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, BUT THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP WILL NOT RELEASE A REPORT BEFORE NOVEMBER 7TH U.S. MID-TERM ELECTIONS "TO AVOID POLITICIZING THEM". IF THE NEXT 3 MONTHS ARE CRITICAL FOR IRAQ AS LEE HAMILTON ARGUES IN THE ARTICLE BELOW, IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR HAMILTON TO THEN TURN AROUND AND SAY THAT NO REPORT WILL BE RELEASED UNTIL AFTER THE NOV. 7TH U.S. MIDTERM ELECTIONS "TO AVOID POLITICIZING THE ELECTIONS." HALF OF THAT CRITICAL THREE MONTH PERIOD WILL BE WASTED BETWEEN SEPT 19TH AND NOV 7TH! read in full… REPEAT AFTER ME: WE TOLD YOU SO There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There weren't before the invasion and there aren't now. Just as those opposed to the war have argued all along. After the thorough going-over that the country got from Scott Ritter, Richard Butler and Hans Blix, it was obvious. The anti-warriors are now entitled to say, we told you so. Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons program using uranium from Niger, as George Bush claimed. His claim was based on a fake letter. We told you so. Now the CIA tells us that Saddam Hussein had no links with Osama bin Laden nor al-Quaeda and was not responsible for the terror strikes against America in 2001. The Senate Intelligence Committee report released this week makes it clear that the US Administration had been told that there were no such links and that the words of the members of the Iraqi National Congress in exile were not to be trusted because they were self-serving liars. We told you so. Now an Age commentator admonishes the left for not caring about Iraqi homosexuals, trade unionists and feminists (The Age, September 11). There might not have been any weapons. There was no nuclear program. The terrorists of 2001 did not have links with Iraq. The information that Bush and his cronies preferred to believe came from liars. Never mind all that: what about the feminists? Now this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find some justification for an invasion that has cost tens of thousands of lives. Can someone explain how a woman living in a post-invasion Shiite Iraq is going to be better off than a woman living in Saddam's secularist society where she could get an education and was not compelled to go about dressed in a bag? read in full... WHAT IF WE HAD LEFT SADDAM ALONE Ever wonder what the state of the world would be if Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq with an iron fist? A few late-night comedians have braved potential patriotic wrath by suggesting perhaps he should be brought back, a shuddering thought given his propensity for mass graves. [cough, cough - zig] Now for the first time a prominent U.S. senator has publicly stated just such an opinion _ that the United States, if not Iraq, would be better off if Saddam Hussein had not been toppled from power. It is a position privately held by many but expressed by very few, at least not in those exact words. In reality, however, that is exactly what those in opposition to the war are really saying. West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV made his views clear as the Senate released a heretofore classified document that reported, among other things, that the CIA had repudiated claims that there were ties between Saddam's government and al-Qaeda, one of the key justifications for the Bush administration's Iraq policy. In fact, the report quotes CIA testimony that Saddam regarded al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [al- who? -- zig], as his enemy and tried in vain to find him. Rockefeller serves as ranking minority member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which declassified the report. 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. read in full... TRYING TO SPIN THE UNSPINNABLE In the modern age, politicians are accustomed to being rescued from the tar pit of failed policies by the wondrous powers of spin. The administration of US President George W Bush, for example, when faced with a public outcry over Iraq, has with great effectiveness disseminated expertly crafted, razor-sharp talking points into the ether to persuade voters to believe what they hear and not what they see. The power of spin is not infinite, however, as the administration is now discovering. The consequences of its invasion of Iraq are now so transparently catastrophic that Republican control of Congress is threatened in the November 7 mid-term elections, in which Iraq is the hot-button issue. Bad news has cascaded out of Iraq at such an astonishing pace that it defies credulity to suggest that the war has not drastically worsened the lives of Iraqis. At the same time, the initial rationale for the war has itself been further undermined. The administration has nevertheless tried to spin the unspinnable as the elections near, with many Republican candidates fighting for their political lives and choosing to distance themselves from the White House on Iraq. Only the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US has offered the administration any respite, providing an opportunity it did not squander to tell voters, ad nauseam, that Iraq is the front line of its "war on terror". read in full... GODOT'S WELCOMING COMMITTEE IN IRAQ GETS LARGER I noted earlier this month that the number of American troops in Iraq had grown by 15,000 since late July. Now, the Associated Press reports that they'll be sticking around for a while:
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. Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said military leaders would consider adding troops or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed. . . . Late last year, military leaders had said they hoped to reduce troop levels to about 100,000 by the end of this year. But Abizaid said Tuesday that the rising sectarian violence and slow progress of the Iraqi government made that impossible. "I think that this level probably will have to be sustained through the spring," he told military reporters. "I think that we'll do whatever we have to do to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan and use the military power of the U.S. to do that."
You think Democrats might want to start pointing out that we're doing the exact opposite of "standing down as the Iraqis stand up"? If we're committed to keep almost 150,000 troops in Iraq until the country is stable, when will they ever be able to come home? ESTRAGON: Let's go. VLADIMIR: We can't. ESTRAGON: Why not? VLADIMIR: We're waiting for the political and security environment to stabilize. ESTRAGON (despairingly): Ah! link >> BEYOND IRAQ CHRIS FLOYD: BRONZE AGE BLUES In a world less given to wiggly brain waves amongst the homo sapiens element, the current brouhaha over Herr Ratzinger's sampling of a stone-cold anti-Islam riff from a long, long, dead, dead man would of course occasion less comment and reaction than the latest permutations of the Paris Hilton DUI case. (Itself deserving of less-than-zero attention). For what the Pope's boneheaded recitation, and the heated reaction to it by Muslims (actually an infinitesimal percentage of the world's vast Muslim population), really boils down to is this: German guy: "My rather absurd cult based on a highly selective, historically conditioned and ruthlessly hidebound understanding of the Bronze Age Middle Eastern desert god is better than yours!" An infinitesimal percentage of Muslims: "No, it's not. Our rather absurd cult based on a highly selective, historically conditioned and ruthlessly hidebound understanding of the Bronze Age Middle Eastern desert god is better !" Unfortunately for those of us who don't hold high office in the Bush Administration, we must deal with reality as we find it, not as we might wish it to be. And the reality is that when some guy called the pope dredges up an ancient quote about Mohammed bringing evil into the world, it's going to goose a lot of people the wrong way. That's just how it is, and that's just what happened. It will doubtless blow over soon enough -- despite the fervent wishes of America's right-wing jihadis, forever hoping for something, anything, that will lead to a full-blown war of conquest, conversion and/or extermination against the devilish Saracens (as long as said right-wing jihadis don't have to actually fight said full-blown war, natch). read in full... HOW MANY HITLERS CAN YOU HAVE AT ONCE? Good Lord, Hugo Chavez calls Bush the devil in his speech at the UN, and CNN's chattering doofuses are near tears. "He lifts himself up to the level of President Bush when he can talk about him in an insulting manner," according to one "analyst." (A TV "analyst" is someone who's not good-looking enough to be an anchor.) Lifts himself up to the level of President Bush? What level is that? Now they're telling us that Chavez wants nukes. More about his horrible slights to our Dear Leader. (Say, what could Chavez possibly have against Dubya?) Shock and disgust that not everyone in the world loves the American government. How Chavez barbecues babies with Ahmadinejad and bin Laden. Actually, they haven't gotten to that last bit yet - it'll be in Carol Lin's eye-popping special report later. link QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The devil came here yesterday. He came here talking as if he were the owner of the world." -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaking today at the UN General Assembly referring to Bush's address to the same body yesterday and making the sign of the cross.


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