Monday, October 09, 2006


[The U.S. invasion] “…was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it again, we would do exactly the same thing.” - Richard B. “Dick” Cheney, Meet The Press, September 10, 2006


Police recovered 35 bullet-riddled bodies across the Iraqi capital Sunday. Some of the bodies showed signs of torture. The bodies could not be immediately identified.

Gunmen killed Amer al-Hashemi, the brother of Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi in northern Baghdad on Monday.

Police reported the discovery in Baghdad of the bullet-riddled body of Colonel Thamir Selman, a senior Interior Ministry official.

Eleven soldiers were kidnapped when gunmen overran a military checkpoint in Baghdad on Monday. The gunmen arrived at the Sadr City checkpoint in a minivan and a car at 7 am, said police lieutenant Thaer Mahmoud. They seized all the soldiers on duty and made off.

In west Baghdad, two security guards at a municipal building were killed by unidentified gunmen.


Gunmen shot dead police Colonel Faleh al-Obeidi in the religiously mixed city of Baquba.

Monday, gunmen killed police Lt. Col. Salih al-Karkhi in the Diyala capital of Baqouba.

Near Baquba

A roadside bomb targeted a police patrol, killing two policemen and wounding three others in a village near Baquba.


Galli Najim, the head of the Iraqi National Accord in Basra, a party run by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, escaped an apparent assassination bid on Sunday when a bomb planted inside his car exploded, killing one of his bodyguards and wounding two others. He was not in the car at the time of the explosion, police said.


U.S. and Iraqi troops killed 30 Shi'ite militiamen in fierce street battles in the southern city of Diwaniya on Sunday, the U.S. military said. People were ordered to stay indoors during the day after explosions and the rattle of machinegun fire shook the city's central districts for more than five hours overnight. The military said an M1A2 Abrams tank was severely damaged in the clashes that erupted after militants opened fire with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades on U.S. and Iraqi forces trying to arrest a "high-value" target.


Gunmen killed a policeman in the Sunni stronghold city of Falluja.


Police found a body shot in the head near the town of Khaldiya, 83 km west of Baghdad.


Police Lt. Col. Ahmed Taha and another policeman were gunned down in Khalis. When a police patrol arrived, a roadside bomb exploded, killing two other police and wounding a third.


Two mortar rounds landed on a residential district, kiling a man and wounding two others in Mussayab, 60 km south of Baghdad.


At least seven policemen died and hundreds of others fell ill after suffering food poisoning on Sunday evening in the town of Numaniya, south of Baghdad, police sources at the base said on Monday. It was not clear if the poisoning at an Iraqi military base was deliberate but police sources said they arrested four cooks on Monday suspected of tampering with the food. But the spokesman for the commander of the Iraqi armed forces said no one had died.

Tal Afar

A suicide car bomber killed a policeman and wounded 11 others -- a policeman and 10 civilians -- at a police checkpoint in Tal Afar.


A suicide car bomber rammed a police checkpoint, wounding four policemen and two police commandos near the Jordanian border.

In Country

The U.S. military said three marines had been killed on Friday in western Iraq, and two soldiers were killed on Saturday, bringing to 29 the number killed in the past eight days. U.S. forces typically suffer two to three deaths a day on average.

Tally: As of Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006, at least 2,744 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,176 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is 15 more than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 119 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, four; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, one death each.

Bodies in the Tigris: A system of iron weirs in the Tigris River 20 miles southeast of Baghdad was designed to prevent lily pads, known here as "Nile flower," from traveling down-river and clogging canals vital to farmers for irrigating Iraq's south.

But now, the weirs also catch corpses that float down from the capital, murder victims in the sectarian violence that blights Iraq.

Local police in the nearby town of Swaira say that since January 2005 they have collected 339 bodies of men, women and children from the filters. It's considered one of the highest numbers of corpses found in a single location in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Operation Sinbad: An operation by British forces in southern Iraq to root out death squads and extend civic control in the city of Basra has hit political problems and resulted in a series of retaliatory attacks, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

About 1,000 British soldiers are taking part in Operation Sinbad, seen as a crucial test of the ability of the UK-led multinational force (MNF) in southern Iraq to "clean up" the country's second-largest city. Working with about 2,300 Iraqi troops, the aim is to cordon off areas of Basra one by one, take over police stations infiltrated by "rogue elements" and allow contractors to carry out quick projects aimed at boosting public confidence, such as repairing street lights and clearing rubbish.

But the MNF spokesman, Major Charlie Burbridge, said yesterday that since the start of the operation on 27 September, there had been a spate of "what appear to be co-ordinated attacks" on military convoys. "We are treating these as retaliation by the rogue elements we are targeting." No one had been hurt in the attacks, which numbered about four or five, the major said.

Civil war moves north: Bombings and shootings are increasing in Iraq's north as part of a power struggle between Arabs and Kurds. Car bombings in oil-rich Kirkuk grew fivefold last month and hundreds of Kurdish families have left the north's biggest city, Mosul, to escape the violence.

The bloodshed is not nearly on the scale of Baghdad, where thousands have died in recent months in a wave of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks. In the provinces where Mosul and Kirkuk are located, the toll has been several hundred during the summer.

But the creeping violence in the north — a region U.S. officials had hoped was getting more stable — underlines the difficulty in keeping all of Iraq's potential hotspots under control at once.

Thank you, President Bush, for liberating Iraqi women: Iraqis do not like to talk about it much, but there is an understanding of what is going on these days. If a young woman is abducted and murdered without a ransom demand, she has been kidnapped to be raped. Even those raped and released are not necessarily safe: the response of some families to finding that a woman has been raped has been to kill her.

Iraq's women are living with a fear that is increasing in line with the numbers dying violently every month. They die for being a member of the wrong sect and for helping their fellow women. They die for doing jobs that the militants have decreed that they cannot do: for working in hospitals and ministries and universities. They are murdered, too, because they are the softest targets for Iraq's criminal gangs.

Iraq's women live in terror of speaking their opinions; of going out to work; or defying the strict new prohibitions on dress and behaviour applied across Iraq by Islamist militants, both Sunni and Shia. They live in fear of their husbands, too, as women's rights have been undermined by the country's postwar constitution that has taken power from the family courts and given it to clerics.

'Women are being targeted more and more,' said Umm Salam last week. Her husband was a university professor who was executed in 1991 under Saddam Hussein after the Shia uprising. She survived by running her family farm. When the Americans arrived she got involved in civic action, teaching illiterate women how to read and vote, independent from the influence of their husbands. She helped them fill in forms for benefits and set up a sewing workshop.

In doing so she put herself at mortal risk. And since the assassination attempt, like many women in Najaf, she has found it hard to work. Which is what the men in the white Opel wanted. To silence the women like Umm Salam, who is 42.

'It is very difficult for women here. There is a lot of pressure on our personal freedoms. None of us feels that we can have an opinion on anything any more. If she does, she risks being killed.'

Thank you, President Bush, for bringing justice to Iraq: Raid Othman al-Dulaimi, a 36-year-old engineer, still vividly recalls his suffering on a night last winter when his five-month ordeal with the Iraqi army began. The army raided his house in Baghdad in late December 2005 following a roadside bomb attack nearby.

"They accused me of having links to the attackers. They put all of us in the garden and beat me in front of my wife and children. They overturned all the furniture and stole my private computer, money and gold," al-Dulaimi said, adding that he was taken to prison and beaten to elicit a confession.

"After five months of insults and bad treatment they said, 'We are sorry, you have nothing to do with the terrorists,'" he said.

Human rights groups say the rights of citizens, especially those who live in restive areas, are often violated by Iraq's national army and US-led coalition forces searching for terrorists and criminals. They say this has undermined support for the government as a whole.

Thank you, President Bush, for sharing the American principle of due process with the benighted Iraqi people: Mhyar Abdullah is one of the tens of thousands of men living in Iraq who have been detained and released without charge over the last 4 years of the war in Iraq.

Mhyar, or Merky, has an especially interesting case, because he is a Palestinian who has lived his entire life in Baghdad, since birth. It seems the Coalition Forces weren’t properly prepared for the circumstances of Iraq’s Palestinian residents. Because Merky is Palestinian, he does not have Iraqi citizenship, and was initially treated as a “foreign fighter” by the Coalition.

He was detained in 2003 and held for approximately 11 months, in what amounted to a Kafka-esque game of “pass the buck.” As he describes, perhaps the main reason he was held for such a long time was simply that no single authority wanted to take responsibility for his detention and processing.

And thank you, President Bush, for getting rid of Saddam. Now the Iraqi people no longer have to live in fear:

Everyone stayed quiet. The gunmen ordered witnesses to stand aside and remain still Saturday afternoon as they dragged the shopkeeper known as Abu Ammar away. The victim didn't say a word, though he squirmed and tried to break free.

"Stay where you are," one of the gunmen, a cleanshaven man in his 20s wearing a black bulletproof vest and holding an assault rifle, quietly told the frozen passersby. "Don't move." The eight plainclothes kidnappers didn't even raise their voices when one of them smashed the shopkeeper's bespectacled face with the butt of an assault rifle. They shooed away a shop employee beseeching them to take along a small plastic bag, possibly filled with the 50-ish victim's medicines, stuffed him into one of two white sport utility vehicles without license plates and drove away from the Colors stationery shop. Drivers watching from their cars turned their heads and continued on their way. Pedestrians took hold of their loved ones and proceeded with their errands. It was business as usual in Iraq, where at least 81 people were killed or found slain Saturday around the country.

Compare And Contrast

We fully support Maliki: The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq issued an unusual statement declaring support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Friday, after news media quoted senior U.S. military officials criticising the government.

As violence in Iraq worsens, military and civilian officials in the U.S.-led Coalition in Iraq have been expressing concern over the past week that Maliki has failed to rein in death squads or stop corruption in his elected, unity government.

"Recent news articles cite unnamed senior military officials as being critical of Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government," the media office of the top commander in Iraq, General George Casey, said in a statement.

"These unattributed comments do not reflect the close partnership between the Government of Iraq and Multi-National Force-Iraq. We fully support the courageous and decisive efforts of the prime minister and the (government)."

Unless we decide to kill his ass in a coup: Is the Bush administration considering a coup d’etat in Iraq before the end of the year, in a desperate effort to salvage its war? It’s not outside the realm of possibility. Like JFK in 1963, who—faced with a notoriously corrupt Saigon regime and a growing Viet Cong insurgency in Vietnam—gave the green light to topple and assassinate President Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam, President Bush might give a wink and a nod to the CIA, the U.S. military, and Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to get rid of Iraq’s current regime. The Diem coup didn’t go well. Considering how unlikely it is that Bush has even heard of Diem, I doubt he’s learned that lesson.

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the end for Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. When he took office in the spring, Maliki was touted by the Bush administration as Iraq’s savior. In fact, behind the scenes, the Midland Machiavellis in the White House and their proconsul in Iraq, Ambassador Khalilzad, wheedled and maneuvered Iraq’s corrupt political class into giving Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari the heave-ho and installing Maliki in his place. Like the other too-clever-by-half stratagems of the Bush people in Iraq, the installation of Maliki created more problems than it solved, and it now looks like Maliki has utterly lost the confidence of the White House.

Question is, what are they going to replace him with—and when?

Har Har

This should be a real deterrent: In Baghdad, Iraq's parliament agreed to lift the immunity from prosecution of a Sunni lawmaker accused of pocketing millions of dollars from a project to protect oil pipelines.

The step to remove the lawmaker's legal immunity was unprecedented but largely symbolic as he is no longer in Iraq.

Breaking The US Military

23 years old and leaving on his third tour: In April 2003, Army Spc. Cedric Shelbon was among the 3rd Infantry Division soldiers based here who led the American assault on Baghdad that hastened the fall of Saddam Hussein. Last year, Shelbon returned to Iraq as a push was made to train Iraqi forces to assume more responsibility for defense of their country.

Now, after less than a year at home, Shelbon and about 4,000 of his fellow soldiers from the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team are preparing for a third tour in Iraq, this time facing nearly out-of-control sectarian violence.

The prospect of spending another year in Iraq as a Humvee driver has left the 23-year-old from Marion, La., pondering his own fate.

"It's kind of nerve-racking. You see your friends get killed and you wonder if the next time it's going to be you," Shelbon said earlier this week as his unit went through its final major training exercises at home before deploying overseas in January.

Unseen scars: The war on terrorism is taking a toll on U.S. soldiers and their families. Thursday, a panel of experts at the University of Toledo Health Sciences campus zeroed in on the emotional as well as physical scars the war is creating.

At last count, more than 20,000 service members had been wounded in Iraq. More than 2,700 were killed in the war zone. Since 2003, when the war in Iraq started, more than 1 million Americans have served in the Middle East.

Experts say most soldiers think when they return home from war, everything will be fine, that they'll forget the war, but doctors say that's just a fantasy, and that no one comes back from war unchanged.

The Consigliore Speaks

Looks like he’s going to recommend staying in: An immediate pullout of US troops would unleash an civil war that could engulf the entire Middle East, former senior US statesman James Baker warned.

"I think that if we picked up and left right now that you would see the biggest civil war you've ever seen," Baker told ABC television on Sunday.

"Every neighboring country would be involved in there, doing its own thing, Turkey, Iran, Syria, you name it, and even our friends in the Gulf," he said.

He also rejected a plan by a top US lawmaker, Democratic Senator Joe Biden, which would carve the country into three autonomous regions: Sunni, Shiite and Kurd.

"If we do that, that in itself will trigger a huge civil war because the major cities in Iraq are mixed," said Baker, a former secretary of state under US President George Herbert Walker Bush.

A change in course that doesn’t involve withdrawal – good luck with that, Jim: Former Secretary of State James Baker said Sunday the Iraqi government has a limited amount of time to gain control of the country, and he suggested that a panel evaluating U.S. policy in Iraq for President Bush would recommend a change in course.

Baker, co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group set up to advise the administration on the war, said he agreed with Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., that Iraqi leaders have two to three months to demonstrate concrete evidence of progress.

The longtime Republican adviser said the 10-member commission is reviewing alternatives for the United States in Iraq, including creating a power-sharing arrangement among Sunni, Shiite and Kurd factions. A complete U.S. withdrawal over the next year is unlikely because that would unleash "the biggest civil war you've ever seen," Baker said.

"There are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of "stay the course' and "cut and run,' " he said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Interesting…Daddy’s Mr. Fixit saying on national TV that there are alternatives to ‘staying the course’. I wonder if he knows that makes him objectively pro-terrorist? Oedipus Tex must be having an aneurysm. -m

The Rumsfeld and Cheney Show

What a thinker: It is impossible to know with any precision whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created more terrorists than they've killed, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

In his first extensive remarks about a recent U.S. intelligence report saying the threat of terrorism has risen, Rumsfeld told reporters at a NATO meeting that, in general, the value of intelligence reports can be uneven, and "sometimes it's just flat wrong." But he added that, "the implication that if you stop killing or capturing people who are trying to kill you, then therefore the world would be a better place, is obviously nonsensical."

In the much-discussed National Intelligence Estimate initially reported last weekend, the government's top analysts concluded that Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for jihadists, who are growing in number and geographic reach. If the trend continues, they said, the risks to the U.S. interests at home and abroad surely will grow.

What a nutcase: "If we follow Congressman Murtha's advice and withdraw from Iraq the same way we withdrew from Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993, all we will do is validate the al-Qaeda strategy and invite even more terrorist attacks," Cheney said in Milwaukee. In Houston last week, he accused Democrats of "apparently having lost their perspective concerning the nature of the enemy."

The crux of his pitch is what he calls the continuing "danger to civilization." Cheney, who warned in 2004 that the United States would be hit by terrorists if Democrat John F. Kerry was elected president, has not gone that far this time but does say that it "is not an accident" that the country has not suffered another attack since Sept. 11, 2001, giving Bush credit.

Democrats regularly punch back, suggesting Cheney is out of touch and desperate. "At a time when the Bush Administration finds itself increasingly isolated on Iraq, Vice President Cheney today went on the attack," Senate Democrats said in a statement last week. "Instead of ranting and raving on the campaign trail, Bush and Cheney should spend their time on the trail of Osama bin Laden."

Bush's War On The Constitution

Words of wisdom: Veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, who received the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media at the University of South Dakota, says the nation has never needed a vigorous free press more than now.

"I cannot remember a time when it's been more challenging for journalists," said Schieffer, 69, who has covered Washington for more than 30 years and hosts the CBS interview show "Face the Nation."

He said Thursday the government will always cover up its mistakes if it operates in secret and that it was up to journalists to expose the truth.

"Why does the government need a list of my phone calls?" he asked. "And what business does a democracy have running secret prisons? ... Do you believe that anyone would have known about these secret prisons or what was going on in Abu Ghraib if it had been left to the government to announce it?

"Some would argue these revelations hurt our cause. I argue just the opposite. Bringing mistakes to the fore is a strength, not a weakness."

Schieffer said America's great strength comes from emphasizing the values and principles that separate it from its enemies — "not by adopting their methods and their techniques."

Your tax dollars at work: President Bush has almost doubled the percentage of US foreign-aid dollars going to faith-based groups such as Food for the Hungry, according to a Globe survey of government data. And in seeking to help such groups obtain more contracts, Bush has systematically eliminated or weakened rules designed to enforce the separation of church and state.

For decades, US policy has sought to avoid intermingling government programs and religious proselytizing. The aim is both to abide by the Constitution's prohibition against a state religion and to ensure that aid recipients don't forgo assistance because they don't share the religion of the provider.

Since medical programs are aimed at the most serious illnesses -- AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis -- the decision whether to seek treatment can determine life or death.

But many of those restrictions were removed by Bush in a little-noticed series of executive orders -- a policy change that cleared the way for religious groups to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in additional government funding. It also helped change the message American aid workers bring to many corners of the world, from emphasizing religious neutrality to touting the healing powers of the Christian God.

Bush's orders altered the longstanding practice that groups preach religion in one space and run government programs in another. The administration said religious organizations can conduct services in the same space as they hand out government aid, so long as the services don't take place while the aid is being delivered. But the rule allows groups to schedule prayers immediately before or after dispensing taxpayer-funded aid.

King George: President Bush, again defying Congress, insisted he has the power to alter the Homeland Security Department's reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watch lists.

In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on agency activities that affect privacy, including complaints.

But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency's 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority."

Reward: The Navy lawyer who took the Guantánamo case of Osama bin Laden's driver to the U.S. Supreme Court — and won — has been passed over for promotion by the Pentagon and must soon leave the military.

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, said last week he received word he had been denied a promotion to full-blown commander this summer, "about two weeks after" the Supreme Court sided against the White House and with his client, a Yemeni captive at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

Under the military's "up-or-out" promotion system, Swift will retire in March or April, closing a 20-year career of military service.


Brent Budowsky: And the honest truth is, because the stakes are so high this truth must be told: when George W. Bush accuses Jack Murtha and others using various phrases, George W Bush is lying through his teeth, because he knows damn well what the commanders really think, and what the overwhelming majority of them think, is what Jack Murtha says, not what George W. Bush falsely claims they think.

Finally, for now, this is the truth:

George W. Bush knows that the policy is failing. He knows that the overwhelming majority of commanders believe the policy is failing.

He knows that the commanders want major changes in the policy.

He knows that Senator Warner speaks for the commanders as Jack Murtha speaks for the commanders, when they both state major changes are needed.

He knows that major changes in the policy are mandatory and inevitable yet the man who brags about being a wartime President is committing two historic sins that are unworthy of the Presidency, which are these:

He is lying about his political opponents such as Jack Murtha when he knows they speak and fight for commanders and troops, and;

George W. Bush is delaying the changes in the policy so he can use the issue for personal and partisan politics, while troops risk and give their lives today for the political benefit of a morally decayed Republican Party and a President who knows the policy must change, maneuvers the decision for political reasons, in a way that no commander in chief has ever done except Nixon and Kissinger in Vietnam.

Interview: AMY GOODMAN: You interviewed hundreds of soldiers?


AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of soldiers in Iraq. What is their attitude to the war?

SGT. MARSHALL THOMPSON: Most soldiers want to withdraw. That is proven. There was a Zogby poll. 72% of recently turned Iraqi vets want to be out of Iraq by 2006.


SGT. MARSHALL THOMPSON: By 2006. That means this year. And my experience backs that up absolutely.

There is a lot of pressure for soldiers not to speak out. There’s fear of court-martials. There’s fear of their commanders getting mad at them. There's a lot of reasons why soldiers don't speak out.

But nobody should be fooled. Soldiers know what's going on over there, and they are not happy about it.

Qasem (Correspondent for the blog Alive in Baghdad): One of military intelligence officers told me that he like my blogs although he believe that it is show only bad side of US troops.

In Jail there was good marines and bad bad Marines also …some of them hate me because I understand their bad words for the prisoners …and I asked the officer in the jail to stop them saying bad words for prisoners some of them liked me ….and one marine soldier asked me for my email address …he like to be in contact with me as friend…he said ” U will be my first Iraqi friend ”

Inside Jail there was many old men, more than 60 years old, and they treated same as others ….some of them have no shoes-their feet were naked-because they were arrested while they were sleeping in their houses .

The main purpose for arresting me was to make sure that I am not writing my blogs to support insurgency …..and marines made sure that I have no relation with any Iraqi carry weapon against US troops.

I was released at 7 Oct 2006 at 7 am ( morning ).

Now I am have to say, not only peaceful Americans reading my blogs but ….US marines reading it more than anybody else …..and the Military intelligence of US army think that it is important for them to see the daily life of HELL ( hell = Ramadi ) as one of them told me .

Thanks peace friends….now your comments will be read by US marines too …my blog is not for only peaceful people any more…..there marines whom join us to exchange ideas ….and I thing that could give good support for peace when some of people whom carry weapons exchange ideas with peaceful people ..

Carla Seaquist: Taking care of the troops under his command is an officer's sacred duty. That duty applies exponentially to a commander-in-chief.

Yet the present commander-in-chief, George W. Bush, has further jeopardized the troops he sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. And he's been taking care - not of the troops, but of his own administration. Mr. Bush should be cited for dereliction of duty.

Dereliction No. 1: Bush's policy on torture hurts our soldiers. Last week, Congress surrendered to Bush's "program" of "alternative interrogation methods" (read: torture). While Bush claimed "We do not torture" last month, his ongoing support for harsh tactics that amount to it heightens the risk that our soldiers will be tortured if taken captive - a distinct and dire likelihood as Iraq deteriorates into civil war and Afghanistan tips back into chaos.

Moreover, torture is immoral, emphatically not an American value, hurtful of our relations with the world, and illegal, as the Supreme Court effectively ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld this June.

Dereliction No. 2: Audaciously, the White House is also pushing changes to the War Crimes Act, the 1996 US law that prosecutes "grave breaches" of the laws of war, such as the Geneva Conventions. Since the revised bill would apply retroactively to 1997, the White House is evidently trying to insulate itself against liability for crimes of war - its use of torture in the war on terror. Sworn to uphold the law, and redirected there by the Supreme Court, this president, on the defensive, calls for a rewrite.

The fallout of these derelictions for our troops? Should they be captured and tortured, their commander-in-chief would have no grounds at all - legal or moral - to protest or to seek justice. This, from a "moral values" president who exhorts us to "support the troops"?

Sami Moubayed: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has a remarkable nerve. In July, she went to Israel in the midst of a Lebanon war in which thousands of civilians were being killed and insisted on not calling for a ceasefire until a final solution to Hezbollah was reached between Israel and Lebanon. This week, she makes a surprise visit to Baghdad to show support for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the man responsible for much of the violence and sectarian killing taking place in Iraq. Speaking at her press conference with Maliki, she said: "This is an important time and a challenge for the Iraqi people, but they are a strong people, they are committed people, and we know that they will overcome these challenges." She added: "I think he is a very good and strong prime minister." Surely Rice should have know that the previous seven days had been horrendous for Iraq and that in September a total of 2,667 people were violently killed, while another 2,994 were injured. The only logical and blameworthy person for all this madness is the man leading the country, whose duty as prime minister is to bring security to his citizens.

Pat M. Holt: In one sense, the Army is plainly losing the war. It is shorter of manpower and equipment now than when it invaded Iraq in 2003. The 3rd Infantry Division, which led the invasion of Baghdad and which has already served two tours in Iraq, has been alerted to prepare for a third tour. (It has also been told to prepare to go to the Korean peninsula if another conflict breaks out there.) But there is no equipment with which to train. What was not destroyed or worn out in Iraq was left there for the replacements.

Besides the equipment shortage, the division's 2nd Brigade has only about half of the roughly 3,500 soldiers it is supposed to have. Fort Stewart, Ga., where the 3rd Infantry Division is based, has been receiving about 1,000 soldiers a month, of whom 400 are just out of basic training. This is the result of an intensified recruiting drive, but it will be a year, perhaps longer, before they are combat ready.

The Bush administration wanted to fight the war on the cheap. It did not want to ask the public for sacrifices, such as paying higher taxes. On the contrary, it fought in Congress to keep taxes low, thereby making the richest 1 percent of the population even richer. There was no talk of rationing. And there was certainly no talk of a draft to provide more manpower for the Army.

Mr. Bush has said that if the generals in charge in Iraq ask him for more troops, he will provide them. But authorizing more troops is different from having them on the ground well trained and well equipped.

Paul Krugman: The current right-wing explanation for what went wrong in Iraq closely echoes Joseph McCarthy’s explanation for the Communist victory in China, which he said was “the product of a great conspiracy” at home. According to the right, things didn’t go wrong because the invasion was a mistake, or because Donald Rumsfeld didn’t send enough troops, or because the occupation was riddled with cronyism and corruption. No, it’s all because the good guys were stabbed in the back. Democrats, who undermined morale with their negative talk, and the liberal media, which refused to report the good news from Iraq, are responsible for the quagmire. You might think it would be harder to claim that traitors are aiding our foreign enemies today than it was during the McCarthy era, when domestic liberals and Communist regimes could be portrayed as part of a vast left-wing conspiracy. What does the domestic enemy, which Bill O’Reilly identifies as the “secular-progressive movement,” have to do with the religious fanatics who attacked America five years ago? But that’s easy: according to Mr. O’Reilly, “Osama bin Laden and his cohorts have got to be cheering on the S-P movement,” because “both outfits believe that the United States of America is fundamentally a bad place.” Which brings us back to the Foley affair. The immediate response by nearly everyone in the Republican establishment — wild claims, without a shred of evidence behind them, that the whole thing is a Democratic conspiracy — may sound crazy. But that response is completely in character for a movement that from the beginning has been dominated by the paranoid style. And here’s the scary part: that movement runs our government.

Robyn E. Blummer: Did you hear that click, like the turning of a dial, auguring a new America?

It happened on Sept. 29 at 2:47 p.m. That was the seismic minute that Congress passed the Military Commissions Act and formally granted President Bush royal powers he had been unilaterally arrogating. The historic action may one day be remembered as the moment the great American experiment in liberty ended. It was a good run.

You see, it is one thing for a renegade executive to crown himself like Charlemagne and declare that his (cough) wisdom is exceptional enough to designate Americans and foreigners as enemies to be detained indefinitely. It is quite another for 315 members of Congress to go along. When the people's representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers into one omnipotent executive, our nation becomes defined by that act. We are a nation of laws, even when it's a really bad one.

Republican leaders in Congress were in a quandary because Bush had proven that he could not be trusted to respect the boundaries of law, and the Supreme Court called him on it. In striking down Bush's kangaroo military tribunals and resurrecting the Geneva Conventions, the court said that the president couldn't ignore U.S. law and international commitments without Congress' explicit assent. So Congress assented. Problem solved.

America's bedrock principles may be a pile of rubble, but the Republican president won a political victory. Proving once again that there is no national conscience anymore. Holding power is all that matters.

The law is a true abomination. It is our fault. We let this happen. We allowed them to draw the false dichotomy between security and freedom. We accepted Bush's Torture Nation and his untouchable island prison.

Judge Learned Hand said "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; if it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." Americans no longer understand what liberty means. They think it has something to do with tax-free shopping and their right never to be offended by others' opinions.

E Pluribus Unum be damned. Here's America's new motto: If we can't pronounce your name, we don't care what happens to you. Now let us get back to our Happy Meals.

Casualty Reports

The latest identifications reported by the military:

Four soldiers died in Taji Monday of injuries received when an explosive detonated near their vehicle:

Army Staff Sgt. James D. Ellis, 25, Valdosta, Ga.; assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Spc. Raymond S. Armijo, 22, Phoenix; assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Spc. Justin R. Jarrett, 21, Jonesboro, Ga.; assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Spc. Kristofer C. Walker, 20, Creve Coeur, Ill.; assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

A 22-year-old soldier from Salem died after he was shot in Iraq, family members said. Cpl. Nicholas Arvanitis served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. He was on patrol with special forces when he was killed Friday, his family said.

An Alabama Marine stationed in Iraq was killed last week by an improvised explosive device. W-S-F-A television in Montgomery reports the parents of Brad Payne were notified of their son's death Friday. Payne was 24-years-old. His rank and military unit were unavailable.

Funeral services are planned for Monday for an Iowa National Guard soldier who died last week in Iraq. Services for 48-year-old Staff Sgt. Scott Nisely of Marshalltown will be held at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Marshalltown. Spc. Kampha Sourivong, 20, of Iowa City received full military honors Sunday afternoon at the Iowa City High School auditorium. He was killed in the same attack.

Phoenix has lost another son to the war in Iraq. The Department of Defense said today that Specialist Raymond S. Armijo died with three others while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Department officials say the 22-year-old died in Taji, Iraq, on October second of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

A Delhi Township soldier killed in Iraq will be buried today. Army Spc. Robert F. Weber, 22, was stationed in Mosul. His family learned Sept. 30 that he died from injuries sustained in a Humvee crash while on a mission.


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