Sunday, October 01, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2006 Iraqis remove a blood-soaked carpet from the site where residents claimed was targeted by an overnight US raid on a street at Baghdad's poor neighborhood of Sadr City. Baghdad is abuzz over revelations of a plot to attack the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the government, as parliament cancelled a session to discuss a contentious law.(AFP/Wissam Al-Okaili) The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pfc. Christopher T. Blaney, 19, of Winter Park, Fla., died in Taji, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident on Sept. 29. Blaney was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.The incident is under investigation. MNF has a headline on its press release page announcing the death of a Task Force Lightning soldier, but the link was dead as of 10:30 eastern time. I'll keep an eye on this. Scant new details on arrest in alleged Green Zone plot, except that indications are the city-wide lockdown was related to the plot, and was done at the behest of the U.S. military. Excerpt from AP story:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. military said a captured al-Qaida suspect and members of his cell were "in the final stages" of planning an attack on the Green Zone. An unprecedented curfew prompted by the arrest left millions of Baghdadis stranded at home yesterday without supplies during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The U.S. military said the suspected al-Qaida in Iraq member was arrested late Friday at the home of senior Sunni Arab political leader Adnan al-Dulaimi, where he was working as a personal bodyguard. Al-Dulaimi is a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front - the largest Sunni coalition in the 275-member parliament, where it holds 44 seats - and the military was quick to distance the politician from the raid, stressing that he was "not the target." "This operation in no way implies Dr. al-Dulaimi was associated with any illegal activity," the military said, adding that the suspect was captured in a security trailer at al-Dulaimi’s home. After the arrest, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was advised by the U.S. military to shut down the capital and order its 7 million residents to stay at home. "They have information terrorists entered Baghdad," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Kaim Khalaf told The Associated Press. "The prime minister agreed to give our security forces the freedom of movement to raid certain places." The curfew was rare both in its scope and severity, catching many residents of Baghdad by surprise. Many people are fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, eating and drinking only after sunset, and they were caught without supplies and fresh bread - a Baghdad staple. Most residents did not have a chance to shop on Friday because of a regular, weekly vehicle curfew to prevent attacks against mosques during prayers. The U.S. military said the suspect, identified as Khudhir Farhan, and seven members of his al-Qaida cell "were in the final stages of launching a series" of car bomb attacks "possibly involving suicide vests. The detained individual is suspected of involvement in the planning of a multi-vehicle suicide operation inside Baghdad’s International Zone," the military said, referring to the heavily fortified Green Zone. Khalaf said the "intelligence information we received was that there are car bombs and that terrorist Takfiris wearing belts with explosives have entered Baghdad to target civilians." Takfiri is a reference to Sunni Arab extremists.
With the end of the curfew, violence in Baghdad resumed. Shortly after the curfew's end Sunday, a car bomb exploded near a US patrol killing at least one bystander. The blast in western's Baghdad's leafy, residential Jamaa neighborhood killed an Iraqi, wounded four other people, left a building in flames and destroyed several cars. AFP also reports that residents of Sadr City reported a joint US-Iraqi military operation in the early hours of Sunday morning. Several residents described an attack that involved house searches, gunfire and some civilian casualties. Meanwhile, violence continued in the rest of the country. AP reports AFP reports two British soldiers were seriously injured when a roadside bomb hit their supply convoy in southeastern Iraq A car bomb in a vegetable market killed four civilians and wounded six in Falluja. Reuters also reports: Other News of the Day Dead or Alive Department: Iraqi National Security Advisor Mouwafak al-Rubaie tells reporters that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, putative leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, will soon be killed or captured, as he shows a video of al-Masri giving instructions in the manufacture of car bombs. Leading members of Shiite bloc in parliament demand changes in the cabinet. A member of Maliki's Dawa party says he does expect cabinet changes soon. Note: They voiced similar demands a few weeks ago, and Maliki signalled that there would be changes. Here we go 'round again. PKK declares unilateral ceasefire against Turkey, apparently in response to a call from imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, but it is not clear that Turkey will reciprocate. Excerpt:
By YAHYA BARZANJI Associated Press Writer QANDIL MOUNTAIN RANGE, Iraq (AP) - A Kurdish guerrilla group declared a unilateral cease-fire Saturday in its more than 20-year fight for autonomy in Turkey's southeast, but said it would not immediately give up its weapons. Murat Karayilan, a commander of the armed-wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, made the announcement Saturday from his hideout in the rugged, isolated Qandil Mountains in Iraq's northeast corner where the group is based. Karayilan said that starting Sunday his fighters will not use their arms unless attacked by the Turkish army. He also said the cease-fire ``would be implemented by all parts within the PKK.'' Imprisoned rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan had appealed for a cease-fire several days ago, saying guerrilla attacks targeting civilians and foreign tourists have drawn global criticism. The Turkish government has ignored previous cease-fires by the group, saying it does not negotiate with terrorists. Military commanders have vowed to fight until all rebels are killed or surrender. On Thursday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Turkey would accept nothing less than disarmament. ``Cease-fire is the wrong term,'' he said in an interview with Samanyolu TV. ``A terrorist organization has to lay down its arms.'' Karayilan said Saturday that ``if the Turkish state has a democratic solution for the Kurdish issue, we will give up our weapons.'' The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, but the group operates relatively openly in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. The bulk of the PKK's estimated 5,000 guerrillas are thought to be in Turkey, but the group has benefited from the years of a power vacuum in northern Iraq to stage cross-border offensives in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast. The conflict has claimed the lives of 37,000 people since the guerrillas took up arms in 1984. The cease-fire announcement comes ahead of talks in Washington on Monday between Erdogan and President Bush over Turkey's fight with the Kurdish separatists. The U.S. has pledged its support in cracking down on the group but has warned Turkey against pursuing the rebels into northern Iraq, fearing an incursion would alienate Iraqi Kurds, the most pro-American group in the region.
Read in Full Commentary and Analysis Juan Cole, with an assist from UK diplomat Craig Murray, takes on the Bush administration's true motives. (Hint: it's that gooey black stuff under the sand. This is a very long essay by Cole's standards, do read the whole thing, the excerpt doesn't do it justice.) Excerpt:
I was at the conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society the last couple of days. Saturday evening, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray addressed us. He served in Tashkent 2002 through 2004. Murray was providing copies of his new book, "Murder in Samarkand," which unfortunately is not yet available in the United States. Murray raised the curtain on the Bush-Blair "War on Terror." He does not deny that there are small groups of persons intent on harming the West. But he does not think that most of what the Bush administration has done in Central Asia is about that threat. He explained what is really behind the new "lily pad" doctrine of US bases, Whereby the US is seeking to encompass the "Greater Middle East" with small bases, each with 1,000 to 3,000 personnel. In emergencies, these bases could quickly swell to 40,000. Like a lily pad, they can "open up" and accommodate a landing frog. Murray said that the US documents are quite open as to why they are seeking the network of lily pad bases around the Middle East. It is because that is where the oil and gas are. If you include the Caspian region, Tengiz, and the gas reserves in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan along with what is in the Persian Gulf, the vast majority of proven oil and gas reserves are in this circle of crisis. With the economic rise of China and India, such that both giants (over a billion in population each) are now using more and more gas and oil, there is going to be increasing pressure on fuel supplies and prices in the next decades. Europe also lacks much energy of its own and is a major importer. The US fields are rapidly declining. Washington wants access to that fuel, and wants to be able to protect its access militarily. In essence, I understand Murray to argue that the Bush administration hyped the al-Qaeda threat in order to have a pretext for the lily pad strategy of oil security. Murray did not say so, but this strategy would then logically underlie the conquest and military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well. snip So there isn't, frankly, any al-Qaeda to speak of in Uzbekistan. But Karimov used torture and false allegations to manufacture an al-Qaeda, and Murray thought that the Bush administration and elements in the CIA were swallowing it hook, line and sinker. I came away from this consummate insider's presentation with a sinking feeling that Uzbekistan is the tip of the iceberg. I kept thinking about the thousands of Iraqis that the US military rounded up and imprisoned for months without charge. Some proportion of them were tortured. And then the US military in Iraq and the Bush administration in Washington kept coming out and saying that the guerrilla war there from 2003 forward was being fought by al-Qaeda in Iraq. That clearly was not true for the most part. The US military recently killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the supposed leader of "al-Qaeda" in Iraq, but that has made no difference to the war. But why did they think it was true? Were they just lying? Or was that what their torture victims were telling them because it was what they thought they wanted to hear? Was the torture at Abu Ghraib about "finding" an "al-Qaeda" at the center of the Iraqi insurgency, when there was actually no such thing? Likewise, do we know that the resistance to foreign troops in southern Afghanistan is being led by "Taliban" because torture at Bagram elicits this identification? What if it is just local Pushtun good old boys who don't like foreigners and wouldn't know Deobandi theology from a pomegranate? Remember the charges Cheney and Rice made that Saddam was training al-Qaeda operatives in use of chemical weapons? Never happened. Where did the "intelligence" come from? They tortured an al-Qaeda captive named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who told them that lie. The lie was denied by more senior al-Qaeda figures such as Khalid Shaikh Muhammad. But Cheney and Rice chose to depend on the false intelligence generated by torture. Because that falsehood was useful to getting up the war they wanted in Iraq, and to securing the oil contracts and the military bases they wanted in Iraq. The Bush administration needs the Terror/ al-Qaeda bogeyman to justify the military occupation of strategic countries that have or are near to major oil and gas reserves. It needs al-Qaeda to justify the lily pad bases in Kyrgyzstan etc. But the problem is that we now know that serious al-Qaeda is probably only a few hundred men now, and at most a few thousand. Look at who exactly did the London subway bombing. A few guys in a gym in Leeds. That magnitude of threat just would not keep a "War on Terror" in business. The embassy bombings, the Cole, and September 11 itself were done by tiny poorly funded cells that functioned as terror boutiques to accomplish a specific spectacular operation. They don't prove a worldwide, large organization. They prove tiny effective cells. Most of what the Pentagon does and can do is irrelevant to that kind of threat. You'd be better off with some good FBI agents. So how do you prove to yourself and others a big terror threat that requires a National Security State and turn toward a praetorian society? You torture people into alleging it. Global terrorism is being exaggerated and hyped by torture just as the witchcraft scare in Puritan American manufactured witches. It is even to the point where 5 African-American and Haitian Christian cultists in Miami can be identified by the FBI as an "al-Qaeda threat" interested in "jihad" after an FBI informant offered to hook them up with al-Qaeda.
Read in Full Bush declares his intention to "go on the offensive" throughout the world. Capt. Tammy Duckworth, US Army (ret.), candidate for U.S. Congress, gives the Democratic response. Duckworth, who lost both legs when her Blackhawk was shot down a year after Mission Accomplished, accuses the administration of having no strategy for Iraq, just spewing empty rhetoric. She does not, however, call for a timetable for withdrawal. Marine Capt. B.J. Grass finds the relationship between the U.S. military and Iraqi security services to be dysfunctional. This is a perspective from someone who is still trying to "win" the war, but it's a revealing window into the situation on the ground. It's also quite suprising that an officer on active duty is willing to go public with this level of criticism. Thanks to Whisker for this item. Excerpt:
The American military continues to preach "find an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem," but then we do not let them. Here are just a few examples. • The Central Criminal Court of Iraq continues to release insurgents weekly who are unquestionably guilty. Some of these Iraqi-born terrorists have been arrested with weapons and explosives in their possession immediately after an attack and then confessed to emplacing improvised explosive devices and attacking coalition and Iraq forces, only to be released because there was not enough evidence to convict them. Meanwhile, a foreigner who crosses the border illegally will get arrested and sentenced to two to 15 years in prison. • One problem is that Iraqi judges prefer to see evidence from Iraqis instead of Americans. So why have we not established Iraqi detention facilities where Iraqi forces turn over people they have captured to fellow Iraqis who keep them until they go before an Iraqi court? Why does an Iraqi unit that captures a terrorist have to turn him in to an American detention facility only to later come before an Iraqi judge? Does that sound like an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem? It doesn't to me, either. • This detention facility problem ties into another problem we as the Americans continue to create. At times, our skilled interrogators are able to get a great deal of information from these detainees. This information frequently is of no value to anyone other than Iraqi security forces. For the past seven months, it has been a continual struggle to get the information those interrogators have acquired at a classification level allowing us to release it to the Iraqi security forces. Knowing this information is of value to only the Iraqis; we produce intelligence products that we do not want to give them Then to top it off, the American forces that control the Anbar province have a contract to get translation support from the U.S. When you think about it, that really makes sense - the Iraqi security forces read and write Arabic, so it would probably behoove us to get them the intelligence into a format they can use. What would you say if I told you the contract to translate coalition-generated intelligence paperwork in Arabic for the entire Anbar province encompasses six pages of text a day? Let me say that again, the government has a contract to translate six measly pages of text a day from English to Arabic. There is no plan to fix this in the near term. The lack of an Iraqi logistics system to help maintain the force is a continual topic of discussion at all levels of command. The phrase "the Iraqis need to find an Iraqi solution to an Iraqi problem" again comes up. • When an Iraqi unit captures enemy weapons, they are allowed to keep them. American units in the surrounding area continually find weapons caches, which many times consist of weapons in immaculate condition and ammunition still in crates. However, because we Americans are anally retentive when it comes to our weapons and ammunition, we have spent the past two years destroying this equipment that the Iraqi army desperately needs instead of letting officials decide whether it is usable or not. We appear to be too arrogant to think that maybe an Iraqi soldier is just as capable as a American service member to determine whether ammunition is usable. It would sure appear to me that an Iraqi solution to this problem should be to collect up those weapons and ammunition and distribute it to the Iraqi army and let officials decide what to use and what to discard. • The U.S. Marines are arguably one of the finest fighting organizations in the world today. With the proven record of accomplishment during historic battles such as Guadalcanal, the battle for Iwo Jima and the Chosin Reservoir, the Marine Corps continually came out on top. The fight today in the Anbar province is quite different from those historic battles, which all Marines are so proud of, and we do not appear to be winning. More than three and a half years after the war started, the population in Anbar seems to be no better off today than it was then. The people here will quickly tell you that there is no clean water for them to drink. They will go on to tell you that there is hardly any power if they even get any at all. The combat outpost that our adviser team occupies with the Iraqi army at times attempts to run off that same national power supply. Generally, the people can get two, maybe, if they get lucky, four hours of power in any given day. Even when that national power supply is working, it is not enough to turn on more than one light in a room. There is a gas station 500 meters away from our base, and it has not had fuel in over five months. The key to winning the counterinsurgency battle is all about winning the people. If you can win over the people, they will support your effort and you are more likely to be successful. It is with their support, and only with their support, that you will beat an insurgency. If you cannot provide security for them and if you cannot provide the basics like power, water and fuel, you will never win the people. The people we interact with on a daily basis have seen no positive change in their daily lives. Things today are no better than they were yesterday or even last year at this time. The murder and intimidation campaign runs rampant because there are not enough service members to cover all the ground needed. The bottom line is that there are not enough Iraqi security forces, Marines and soldiers to cover all the areas that need to be covered in order to provide the necessary security for the people to feel comfortable enough to help.
Read in Full Whisker's Roundup of the Wounded Dunkirk native and army specialist Thomas Wise is in a hospital in Germany after the Humvee he was in struck an improvised explosive devise in Baghdad. "His legs were broken. He caught shrapnel in the cheek and in the buttocks. What they didn't tell me is that he had lost a toe on his left foot. He told me that himself on the phone. The military didn't." On July 22, 2005, two weeks into Capt. Matt Bacik third deployment, Bacik was injured by an improvised explosive device. His right heel was severed, his ankle crushed and shrapnel entered both of his legs. Bacik, 27, came back to Fort Benning, near Columbus, Ga., after spending two months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Military and civilian doctors insisted on saving Bacik's leg. The leg, though, didn't heal. It became infected -- and stayed infected. Bacik knew he would have better mobility with a prosthesis. The couple were married Feb. 10, and just 10 days later a civilian doctor in Columbus amputated Bacik's leg. Sgt. Thomas Slavin was wounded Aug. 23 when the Humvee he had been traveling in hit an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad. The driver of the Humvee was killed, and another soldier traveling in the vehicle was injured. After being taken to combat support in Baghdad, Slavin was then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he is reportedly recovering. D.J. Palm, 20, was in eastern Baghdad helping another soldier who had shrapnel in his leg when he was shot in the shoulder, said his mother, Stephanie Lopiccolo of Macomb Township. Palm is a specialist E4 with the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion 77th Armored Division of Schweinfurt, Germany. The bullet, Lopiccolo said, passed through her son's right shoulder. Palm was not critically injured and is expected to fully recover in about two months. Ben Lanning was the gunner on the passenger side. That's when the truck hit an IED - an improvised explosive device. After the explosion, Lanning underwent surgery on his wound. To this day, he still carries a small piece of metal in his leg that doctors were unable to remove. After the surgery, Lanning spent several months on crutches. 25-year old Army Sergeant Paul Gregory, had been seriously wounded by a suicide bomber. He was on foot patrol in Baghdad when a suicide truck driver exploded a bomb buried in a pile of gravel in the truck bed. Gregory and others were peppered with fragments and he was flown to the National Navy Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Gregory is burned on portions of his chest and has shrapnel wounds all over his body. Part of his skull has been removed to relieve brain swelling and he suffers from pneumonia. U.S. Marine Cpl. Kenny Lyon lost his leg May 1 after a roadside bombing near Fallujah. Cpl. Christopher Klodt sat in his hospital room willing his arms to move again. The 24-year-old native of Dundas, Ont., was shot in the neck during a gun battle with Afghan rebels outside Kandahar 2 1/2 months ago. The bullet tore through his throat, crippling his esophagus and larynx, before lodging itself in his spine, paralyzing him from the shoulders down. Sitting in his wheelchair outside Chedoke Hospital in Hamilton, Klodt recalls how far he's come since then. Due to limited mobility in his arms, and particularly his hands, Klodt is still classified as a quadriplegic. He shrugs off the gloomy label. Army Spec. Dustin T. Hastings is recuperating in Kuwait from a bomb attack in Iraq. "I'm recuperating well, I still have the 2 holes in my back on my left shoulderblade and they have been closing slowly, but that is to be expected," he wrote. John McClellan was shot in the head Tuesday while manning his post in Haditha, Iraq. Although he was wearing a helmet, the bullet entered over his left ear and exited through the back of his neck. McClellan survived the attack and is being cared for in a hospital in Germany. Connie McClellan said doctors told her this morning that her son has movement in all four extremities, he is responding to sensory stimuli and major brain functions are intact. From a military hospital in Iraq, a doctor told Connie McClellan that her son’s brain was swelling and a shunt had been placed. If McClellan survived, his mother said the doctor told her, he’d have "severe brain damage." Brent Whitten received 2nd degree burns to his entire face and arms, plus a fractured hip. While the burns on his face are nearly healed, it will take up to 6 months before he's fully mobile. "I can't lay down for a long time. I wake up, because I have to move. It just gets very uncomfortable." "I was the second vehicle in a 4 vehicle convoy and a suicide bomber hit my right front end." The shrapnel from a roadside bomb had lodged under Tony Mervyn's foot, smoldering through a sensory nerve, spraining his feet and knees, fracturing two of his toes. It was 45 minutes before Mervyn returned to Balad Air Base's hospital, where doctors operated to extract the shrapnel. Sixteen hours later, he was on a plane to a hospital in Germany. Mervyn eventually ended up at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he remained an outpatient until this April. This July, just over a year after the bomb ruined his foot A benefit is planned for Pvt. Steven Smith, the Brookfield native who lost both his legs in Iraq after being there for only one day. Pvt. 2 Anthony Snodgrass who was deployed from Fort Leonard Wood with 463rd Military Police Company in January, sustained injuries to his right and left knees and his left lateral chest when an Explosive Fragmentation Device (EFD) hit his Humvee early Sunday morning. He has since undergone two surgeries in a hospital in Germany to remove the shrapnel that caused the wounds. The Humvee’s Driver, Pfc. Brandon Beyers, and an Iraqi interpreter were also wounded in the attack. Quotidian Quotation That the secretary of state would rush to defend the indefensible shows where this administration’s priorities are: it’s now every man and woman in the White House for himself and herself in defending the fictions, even four-year-old fictions, that took us into the war and botched its execution. When they talk about staying the course, what they are really talking about is protecting their spin and their reputations. They’ll leave it to the 140,000-plus American troops staying the course in a quagmire to face the facts. Frank Rich


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