Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR TUESDAY, October 24, 2006 Photo 1: A 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team soldier is on guard in central Baghdad's Karradah district, Tuesday Oct. 24, 2006. U.S. and Iraqi forces threw a security cordon around Karradah on Monday night and continued door-to-door searches Tuesday in search for a missing officer of Iraqi descent who may have been abducted. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) Photo 2: Masked insurgents patrol a road while onboard a vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq, October 22, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters) An American soldier was abducted in war-torn Baghdad after he left the heavily-fortified Green Zone to visit his family in the city, the US military has said. The soldier, an American of Iraqi descent working as a translator, was last seen inside the zone at 2:30 pm (1130 GMT) on Monday, after which he is thought to have gone to a relative's house. (…) Squads of American soldiers set up a cordon around the downtown district of Karrada Tuesday and searched cars, showing bystanders a photograph of a man of Arabic appearance in a US army uniform. "He was reportedly at a relative's house at the time of the abduction when three cars pulled up to the residence," a US military statement said."The men, who were described to have dark coloured rags over their noses and mouths, handcuffed the soldier and forced him into one of the vehicles. "The soldier's relative, who claimed to be at the residence when the abduction occurred, was reportedly contacted by the kidnappers using the soldier's cell phone," the statement continued. Bring 'em on: Five more US soldiers have been killed in attacks and fighting with rebels in Iraq, the American military announced, bringing the death toll for the month of October to 91. One soldier died on Tuesday "from wounds he received when his patrol was struck by an improvised-explosive device in central Baghdad", it said. (...) The military had earlier said that an army soldier was killed on Sunday by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, bringing the number of dead over the weekend to 12. If the toll continues to mount at the same rate until the end of October it will become the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq since November 2004, when they famously fought fierce street battles in the western town of Fallujah.
Two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday from injuries sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (MNF - Iraq) One Sailor assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Monday from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province. (CENTCOM)
Fierce clashes occurred between insurgents and US soldiers in the western Iraqi stronghold of Ramadi, according to the al-Arabiya news channel. OTHER SECURITY INCIDENTS Baghdad: Clashes erupted between gunmen and police in Baghdad's southern Zaafaraniya district, killing two civilians and wounding eight others. A roadside bomb exploded in Sadriya area wounding seven Iraqi civilians. The explosion also destroyed several stores in the same street. A bomb inside an ice-cream shop killed one person and wounded seven others in Baghdad's central Sadriya district. Two Iraqi civilians were killed when gunmen clashed with an Iraqi police patrol in Diyala Bridge. Another three were wounded. Amarah: Mahdi Army fighters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, have killed four policemen affiliated with the Badr Brigades, a rival militia, in the southern city of Amara. The attack came despite a public call by al-Sadr to halt the tribal vendetta, suggesting that splinter groups were developing within his militia. At least two policemen were murdered in the southern Iraqi city of Amarah. Police captain Hussein Salih Hassan was killed Tuesday in a pre-dawn gunbattle with attackers who forced their way into his home, Ali Challoub, an administrator at Amarah's al-Sadr Public hospital, said. A noncommissioned officer, Ala' Ghlayyim Zned was killed in his home by machine gun-toting attackers at around the same time, Challoub said. Kirkuk: A bodyguard and five children were injured when an explosive device targeting a police patrol detonated near a police station in Kirkuk, 250 kilometres north of Baghdad. The patrol had been assigned to guard General Torhan Yousef, the police chief of Kirkuk, but he was not in the convoy at the time of the attack. A soldier was killed and three injured in two more attacks on security forces in Kirkuk. A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol killed two soldiers and wounded another one in central Kirkuk. Fallujah: U.S. troops pulled over a fire truck and killed four Iraqi firefighters in a case of mistaken identity on Monday after a report that a fire truck had been hijacked in western Falluja, the military said. The firefighters, whom U.S. troops first believed were armed insurgents, were responding to a call. >> NEWS The United States ambassador to Iraq has assured US voters that victory can still be achieved in this war-torn country within a year as long as Iraqi leaders live up to their promises. At a news conference Tuesday that was briefly plunged into darkness by one of Baghdad's daily power cuts, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad described the battle to save Iraq from extremists as "the defining challenge of our era". But as he and the top US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, briefed reporters in the heavily-fortified Green Zone, gunfire and bomb blasts echoed around the city beyond as the war's grim death toll continued to mount.
We're on the verge of chaos, and the current plan is not working," Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C., said Monday in an Associated Press interview. U.S. and Iraqi officials should be held accountable for the lack of progress, said Graham, a Republican who is a frequent critic of the administration's policies. Asked who in particular should be held accountable - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps, or the generals leading the war - Graham said: "All of them. It's their job to come up with a game plan" to end the violence.
US IN SECRET TRUCE TALKS WITH INSURGENCY CHIEFS American officials held secret talks with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency last week after admitting that their two-month clampdown on violence in Baghdad had failed. Few details of the discussions in the Jordanian capital Amman have emerged but an Iraqi source close to the negotiations said the participants had met for at least two days. They included members of the Islamic Army in Iraq, one of the main Sunni militias behind the insurgency, and American government representatives. The talks were described as "feeler" discussions. The US officials were exploring ways of persuading the Sunni groups to stop attacks on allied forces and to end a cycle of increasingly bloody sectarian clashes with members of the majority Shi'ite groups. According to the source, the key demand of the Islamic Army was the release of American-held prisoners in allied jails. read in full...
A man claiming to be a member of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party told a television interviewer the United States was seeking a face-saving exodus from Iraq and that insurgents were ready to negotiate but won't lay down arms. The interview with "Abu Mohammed", a pseudonym, was taped several days ago in Beirut, Lebanon, according to Ghassan Ben Jeddou, the network's bureau chief in the Lebanese capital. "The party and other insurgency factions are ready to negotiate with the Americans," said the man, whose face was concealed. "The occupier has started to search for a face-saving way out. The resistance, with all its factions, is determined to continue fighting until the enemy is brought down to his knees and sits on the negotiating table or is dealt, with God's help, a humiliating defeat."
The US is not winning in Iraq and will not be able to stay the course in the long-term, a US state department insider has said. Former intelligence official Wayne White told the BBC that violence in Iraq was "getting worse". A senior US state department official earlier said that the US has shown "arrogance and stupidity" in Iraq. But the department distanced itself from the comments, saying Mr Fernandez had been mistranslated. Mr White was the head of the state department's Iraq intelligence section until last year. He told the BBC that the US position in Iraq was untenable. "The effort can't be sustained over the long haul, and so we can't stay a course, I think, that requires years and years more." He said: "We're not winning. It's apparent. "I checked with almost a dozen sources in Baghdad in just the last 24 hours," Mr White said. "Every single one of them answered the question as to whether the violence was lessening, or getting worse, with - 'worse'." >> REPORTS BBC: A new poll suggests two-thirds of Americans believe the US is losing the war in Iraq. CENTAF Airpower Summary for Oct. 24 PAYING THE PRICE: KILLING THE CHILDREN OF IRAQ A documentary film by John Pilger Sanctions enforced by the UN on Iraq since the Gulf War have killed more people than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945, including over half a million children - many of whom weren't even born when the Gulf War began. Broadcast 03/06/2000 ITV Runtime 75 Minutes link Alive in Baghdad: MARWAN SPEAKS ABOUT HIS KIDNAPPING - 10.20.2006 Aside from death, abduction of a correspondent is just about the last_thing anyone involved in a media organization wants to hear. On July_23rd, that is exactly what happened. Kidnappings have now_become routine in Baghdad. Luckily Marwan was released approximately_three days after his kidnapping. Unfortunately when Marwan was first kidnapped, we could not tell his_story, due to his parent's request and fear for his safety. Today we_bring you the first segment of a two part interview about his_kidnapping and detention by one of Baghdad's militias, apparently the_Mahdi Army. Marwan was kidnapped while shooting b-roll, that is supporting footage_depicting life around Baghdad. It is an unfortunate reality that_shooting footage on the streets of Baghdad is an incredibly dangerous_prospect. Marwan had only been working for one week when he was_kidnapped, he had not even received his ID card. link BAGHDAD NOW FORCED TO 'EXPORT' BODIES Islamic custom dictates that a body should be buried within 24 hours of its death, but with sectarian death squads and suicide bombers roaming the streets of Baghdad, the city's mortuaries are overflowing with unclaimed corpses. The city's health authorities have come up with the best solution they can think of in these dark days. Each body is photographed with a digital camera, and assigned a number in a computer database. Then, it is loaded in one of the refrigerated vans and taken to one of the Shiite holy cities for burial. Once upon a time, all bodies just went to the massive graveyard of Najaf, but authorities there could not cope with the constant stream of corpses and now overflow cemeteries have been established in Karbala. read in full... >> COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS MORE GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ Five minutes ago, the CNN.com front page was led by the "Developing Story" that some Iraqi officials had agreed on a timeline for steps to reduce violence. As I type this, the CNN.com front page is led by a "Developing Story" that "U.S. General George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, says American forces have never lost a battle since the Iraqi war began". We should all be worried that the Republican's IT department is hacking CNN's web site; it means they've finished reprogramming the voting machines. link IRAQIS TO STAND UP IN 3 FRIEDMANS? So says General George Casey:
Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Iraqi forces should be able to take over the country's security from coalition soldiers within 18 months, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said. The Middle Eastern country's own troops and police are 12-18 months away from being ``completely capable of taking over their own security,'' General George Casey said at a news conference in Baghdad aired live by international broadcasters.
The Bush administration's "strategy" in Iraq was summed up perfectly in an editorial in today's NY Times:
The administration, for all its hints about new strategies and timetables, is obviously hoping to slog along for two more years and dump the problem on Mr. Bush's successor.
The simple fact of the matter is that there will be no "victory," no "mission accomplished," during Bush's remaining two years. The administration is clearly focusing its attention and energy now on simply kicking the can down the road and having Bush's successor clean up the mess he's made, which is pretty much the story of his life. By the time Bush leaves office at the end of '08, his misadventure in Iraq will be about 5 1/2 years old. Hardly what the neocons promised. No cake walk. No six days, six weeks, I doubt six months. No flowers. Not greeted as liberators. No oil paying for reconstruction. No $12/barrel oil. No stability in the region. Just a bloody mess that's cost us in every conceivable way. link TIME TO COUP? Rumors abound that the US government is looking to replace the Maliki government with a troika of strongmen. First it was Tet, now it's Diem
JFK and the Diem Coup by John Prados_ By 1963, about mid-way through America's involvement in the wars of Vietnam, the policymakers of the Kennedy administration felt trapped between the horns of a dilemma. South Vietnam, the part of the former state of Vietnam which the United States supported, remained in the throes of a civil war between the anti-communist government the U.S. favored and communist guerrillas backed by North Vietnam. Government forces could not seem to get a handle on how to cope with the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, as the communist movement was known. American military and intelligence agencies disputed progress in the war. While denying journalists' observations that the United States was slipping into a quagmire in Vietnam, the Kennedy administration was privately well aware of the problems in the war and tried measures of all kinds to energize the South Vietnamese effort. (…)
The rest of the story is simple: they murder Diem, appoint a strongman and lose anyway. IS this the new strategy for Iraq? Without an army to enforce the new rule? With Sadr having enough bodies to collapse any government? Well, I guess we really have to leave Iraq in a shambles. read in full… Missing Links: "AMERICA DICTATING THE IRAQI PARTITION SCHEME" Al-Quds al-Arabi prints a selection of recent gems from the Iraqi press, as usual picking papers that mostly aren't themselves available on the web, leading off with an article in the weekly Al-Shahid al-Mustaqbal (independent, publishing since summer 2003, I believe), bearing the title: "Open Bidding for Import of new Rulers for the Democratic Iraq". Actually the bidding hasn't started yet, but this is the threat the journalist says Condoleeza Rice brought with her on her recent visit to the Green Zone. By way of background, the journalist notes there have been many governments in Iraq in the last three years, the original Governing Council of Lords (Bremer and his group), then the two "provisional" governments, the first (Allawi) with a strong reputation for skimming and corruption, and the second (Jaafari) with an "international reputation for the disregard of human rights, violating the honor of Iraqi men and Iraqi women, with the identity and the nationality of [here Al-Quds inserts three dots]." Bush, faced with the need to boost his sagging approval ratings, and "raise the level of his terrorist occupation administration of Iraq", decided to send Rice to meet in the Green Zone with people called "the business coalition", apparently meaning the Malaki group, and told them that they had a probationary two-month period, after which if the performance wasn't satisfactory, there would a call for bids from the "rulers in the anterooms of the Bush administration", for creation and import of a government that would provide security and basic services. Criteria would include low-cost and low-maintenance. And it was made clear that the candidates would include persons from the same factions as those who came to Iraq with the advancing tanks, but they would be personally unknown, either to Iraqis or to Arabs in general. Al-Quds doesn't give a date for the article, but clearly it was published before the NYT announcement--I beg your pardon, the "leak"--in its edition of Sunday October 22 to the effect the US is working out details of just such a threat. Nicer language though. Another item in the Al-Quds selection for this week is an editorial in the newspaper of the Muslim Scholars Association, (Sunni), Al-Basa'ir, about the recent vote on the bill respecting procedures for federalism. The editorialist says this isn't just a case of feeling our way, of the free play of domestic politics. On the contrary this is "literally the application of the American wishes", for a division into sect- and race-based regions. It was already their policy in the Bremer era. And the extraordinary efforts that went into passage of the bill [in the famous disputed vote of October 11] appears to have been the result of specific instructions from Rice during her visit of Oct 7. The idea is to first partition Iraq, and then to partition the rest of the region, to produce what they are calling the "New" or the "Greater" Middle East. read in full… BENCHMARKS ARE FROM MARS, TIMETABLES ARE FROM VENUS In today's Gaggle, Tony Insert-Snow-Related-Pun-Here said that there are indeed benchmarks ("benchmarks" is the word Bushies are using because evidently "timetables" are the devil's work, or only pussies have timetables, or timetables, we don' need no stinkin' timetables, or something) for progress in Iraq: "For instance, by the end of the year, there will be a hydrocarbon law." See, and you thought it was a quagmire. Elsewhere in the Gaggle:
Q Is the President responsible for the fact people think it's stay the course since he's, in fact, described it that way himself? MR. SNOW: No.
All right, then. read in full… BENDING WITH THE WIND When weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, "spreading democracy to the Middle East" became one of the chief objectives of the Iraq war. In the worsening pace of civil war, the explanation from Washington was there was no civil war, just violence getting out of control. Recently, we were told that the US was not going to pull out of Iraq. "We don't cut and run," was the favorite line of top Bush officials. Now, the new operative phrase is "flexibility", which sounds as though all options are being considered, including withdrawal. In other words, defeat by any other name is anything but defeat. This is how the ultimate truth is being spun from Washington. read in full… BUSH LOSES THE "BATTLE OF BAGHDAD, THE BATTLE FOR IRAQ" (...) So far, however, the Iraq Study Group fails to impress. Washington Post's Dana Millbank says the group has nothing to report:
If President Bush and the Iraqi government are hoping for some solutions from the congressionally commissioned Iraq Study Group, they might want to start thinking about a Plan B. Former secretary of state James Baker and former congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), the study group's co-chairmen, called a briefing yesterday to give a "progress report" on their activities. A dozen television cameras and scores of reporters filled the hall -- only to discover that Baker and Hamilton had revived Jerry Seinfeld's "show about nothing" format. -Dana Milbank, This Just In: The Iraq Study Group Has Nothing to Report
Millbank has a point. "Helluva mess" tells us as much about Iraq as "stay the course". "Helluva mess" is, of course, the result of having no course to stay. Indeed it would appear that the Iraq Study Group has already made Bush's biggest mistake: it cannot define success. That may be because the purpose of the group was never designed to make of Iraq a success but, rather, to come up with a way to save George W. Bush's ass -if not his face. Bush cannot save face, however, when nothing will ever change the fact that his war was lost when he began it upon a pack of malicious lies. Already the ISG has ruled out victory which Bush had clearly hoped to avoid having to define. Bush calls "victory" his objective; he talks about the "enemy". What he has utterly failed to understand is that the enemy in Iraq is the people themselves for whom the US presence is an abominable violation of their nation's sovereignty and the personhood of each citizen of Iraq. What, therefore, is victory when the people themselves oppose the occupation. Does victory consist of the brutal murder of every last Iraqi who dares to oppose the illegal aggression waged against him and his nation? Bush might have gotten away with an endless string of lies and platitudes had not the lack of victory been so spectacular that it will neutralize any "October Surprise" that Karl Rove might have wanted to stage. read in full... THE PERSISTENCE OF REALITY One of the most freqent, but seemingly unnoticed tactics used by Bushites to minimize the raw human toll of the continuing disaster in Iraq is to imply that somehow it's just a TV show Americans are watching. Consider these comments from just the past two weeks:
. Donald Rumsfeld: "Their battlefield is not just Baghdad or Kabul, but American living rooms and television screens." . Dick Cheney: "[They] use the media to gain access through technical means that are available now on the Internet and everything else to create as much violence as possible, as much bloodshed as possible and get that broadcast back into the United States..." . Condoleezza Rice: "What the American people see on their television screens is the struggle... It is harder to show the political process that is going on at local levels, at provincial levels and indeed at the national level." . Dubya himself: "I fully understand the American people are seeing unspeakable violence on their TV screens."
This kind of repetition clearly is no accident... someone's told them this is a useful way to make the carnage seem more distant. But, then, why isn't it working? Consider this note from the latest polling analysis by Democracy Corps (PDF download):
Nearly three-quarters of likely voters nationwide report knowing someone personally serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Among white rural voters that number swells to 80 percent, which may explain why this formerly Republican base group - who gave Republicans a 17-point edge in 2004 - now give Democrats a 14-point advantage.
When these people hear about violence in Iraq, they instinctively wonder, "Is that where ________ is?" They know it's not fiction. link CLOUD KOOKOO LAND When Gotthard Heinrici was given command of Army Group Vistula, he described the atmosphere around Hitler as cloud kookoo land. A world where fantasy trumped reality and the impossible expected. Kind of like the White House today, one where they expect the Iraqi "government", one where most of the parliment lives in London, to actually lead a country controlled by guerrillas and militias. (...) Bush is a bully and a coward at heart. Iraq was chosen because Iraq would be easy, and then the rest of the Middle East would follow. It was the easy way to solve our problems, not our real problems, but our emotional pain, the unresolved conflict over being attacked. And Bush would resolve his lifelong lack of success. Bush will not leave Iraq, not because he thinks we can win, or he thinks it's part of the war on terror. But because he cannot face another failure. Which is why Scowcroft and Baker have had no influence on him. They are his father's men, veterans, despite their politics, realists. Bush is not and never has been. When he wasn't hiding from his failure with booze and coke, he hid from it with Jesus. Now he has Henry Kissinger whispering in his ear, telling him what he wants to hear. He doesn't want advice, he wants support and only support. Those who do not support him, are diminished, then banished. This is a man who has never honestly looked himself in the face and said I have failed. He has always been protected from failure. Which is why Rumsfeld keeps his job. To admit he was incompetent, and some days he seems positively addled, would reflect poorly on Bush. When people look to understand Iraq, they look at the facts and see failure, but that isn't what Bush sees. He sees one more chance for personal glory and he will not quit until he is forced to. Many Republicans have no idea that they have bought into was as psychodrama. It isn't psychodrama to the Tillmans or the Sheehans, but it is for Bush, who seeks redemption as desperately as he drank. And his redemption is in Iraq. (...) As bad as Saddam was, you could walk the streets without being kidnapped by criminals or having your daughters raped on the way to school. We have created a charnel house in Iraq because of Bush and his refusal to listen to advice he didn't want to hear. Phased withdrawal is bullshit. Once you start withdrawing troops from Iraq, the demand to do it quicker will mount. Because Iraq is a house of cards. once it goes, it goes quickly. Anyone who would serve in an occupation government isn't strong enough to lead a real government and Maliki is doomed to join Kerensky as the leader of a failed state. Iraq is only now become fact, not emotion, and we have to find a way out of it. George Bush's psychodrama is going to end badly. read in full... OCCUPATION OF IRAQ: ONE CRIME TOO MANY In Washington, President Bush has brushed aside a new survey which shows that over 600,000 Iraqis have been butchered in his "war of choice". The "peer-reviewed" epidemiological study appeared in "The Lancet" and has thus-far been supported by every reputable analyst familiar with the methodology used to determine the number of casualties. As Dr. Curren Warf, professor of pediatric medicine and board member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility, said:
"I wish to set the record straight. "The Lancet" study is superb science. The study followed a strict, widely accepted methodology to arrive at its sobering conclusion. The study is being attacked not on scientific grounds, but for ideological reasons."
To Bush, it makes no difference whether the number is 600,000 or 6 hundred million; the cost in human terms is irrelevant. In America, the life of one microscopic stem-cell is of more value that the entire population of Iraq. That's what happens when racism merges with apathy; the dead simply don't count. Compare Bush's indifference to the Iraqi death-toll to his "pro-life" rhetoric at home. Consider how he cancelled his Crawford vacation to speed back to Washington to sign legislation to save the life of Terri Schiavo even though Schiavo was showing no mental-activity and 19 courts had already ruled in her husband's favor to allow her to die peacefully. Later, an autopsy confirmed that her brain had calcified and shrunk to half its normal size. Still, Schiavo's political value was of greater importance to Bush than the 650,000 men, women and children he has slaughtered in Iraq. There's simply no way to measure this degree of cynicism. (...) (Note: Colin Powell stated that "genocide" was taking place in Darfur when the figures showed that approximately 200,000 Sudanese had been killed. Applying Powell's standard to Iraq, which has half the population of Sudan, The Lancet statistics prove that the United States is perpetrating genocide in Iraq. ) read in full... >> BEYOND IRAQ GOD BLESS AMERICA (AND OUTER SPACE) Recently, George Bush read a statement that should have been headline news worldwide, yet few publications gave it any ink. He said that outer space belongs to the United States and if anybody tries to get in the way, they will be quickly eliminated. On October 19, 2006, The Register, a British publication, ran an article called "U.S. Stakes Claim on Space." The author, Lucy Sherriff, stated:
The U.S. has claimed "dibs" on the Universe with its new space policy. The document, signed by President Bush, was released on a Friday, just before a long weekend in the States. This, in itself, has caused a bit of a stir, but no more so than the tone and content of the document. In it, the U.S. government allocates itself rights to access and use outer space without anyone else getting in the way. It also sets security at the heart of the space agenda, frequently citing its right to use space as part of its national defense. Significantly, however, it does not commit to restrict, or even join the talks about restricting the development of space-based weapons. This is despite a U.N. vote last year in which 160 nations voted in favor of such talks ... ... The document then warms to its military theme. The first fundamental goal of the program is not given as being to explore the solar system or better understand the Universe, but: "To strengthen the nation's space leadership and ensure that space capabilities are available in time to further U.S. national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives."
The implications are immense and disastrous. Bush was not speaking of defensive weapons, but offensive projectiles that could create deadly havoc on Earth. And, he says the U.S. has the right to destroy any space object from another country. When finished, the system will be much like the U.S. current spy satellite network: there will be portions linked to each other so the entire globe will be monitored and a satellite will be able to launch a weapon that can hit any target within 15 minutes. There will be no opposition in space to stop this scenario. read in full... QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Well, I've been talking about a change in tactics ever since I - ever since we went in, because the role of the commander in chief is to say to our generals, `You adjust to the enemy on the battlefield.'" -- Bush in a CNBC interview ("He stopped using it," White House press secretary Tony Snow said of the "stay the course" phrase)


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