Thursday, October 26, 2006


"It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine." –Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, testifying before the House Budget Committee prior to the Iraq war, Feb. 27, 2003

Anbar Province

Bring ‘em on: A U.S. sailor and four U.S. Marines were killed in combat in western Anbar province on Wednesday, the U.S. military said in a statement on Thursday. It was not clear if the five were killed in the same incident.


A journalist who used to work for the former state news agency INA was killed with his wife in the Amiriya district of Baghdad.

Iraq's most notorious death squad leader, Abu Deraa, escaped a major U.S.-led raid on a Shi'ite Muslim militia stronghold in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told Reuters. Deraa is held responsible for a rash of brutal sectarian killings and kidnappings of Iraqi Sunnis.

Bani Saad

There were reports of clashes between militants and the police in Bani Saad, 22 kilometres south of Baquba, and in Abu Saida, 25 kilometres east of Baquba.


Reports indicate substantial turmoil in Baquba and it appears the situation is ongoing and fluid. There is overlap among the casualties reported in the entries below. -m

Gunmen ambushed an Iraqi police convoy in a town north of Baghdad on Thursday, killing eight policemen, including the commander, police said. At least 50 other policemen were reported missing shortly after the attack near the volatile town of Baquba.

Iraqi insurgents have killed eight police, security and medical sources said, in the latest in a series of deadly clashes between Sunni rebels and an embattled rapid reaction unit. "The police lost eight officers, including Colonel Abbas Tamimi, the police chief from Kham Bani Saad," interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf told AFP on Thursday. "Dozens of terrorists were killed in the raids." The fighting erupted in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, near the strife-ridden city of Baquba. Police ran into three separate ambushes as they deployed to raid suspected insurgent strongholds in an effort to rescue police trainees still missing after their convoy was attacked on Sunday, officials said.

At least eight Iraqi police officers have been killed in clashes with gunmen in the Iraqi town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, Iraqi and US officials say. A Baghdad police source told the BBC that 25 officers were also injured, and a further 20 are unaccounted for. And in an attack on a checkpoint in the town six police died and 10 were hurt. The fighting in Baquba has been going on for several hours and has spread through the town, the US military say.

Six Iraqi policemen were killed and 10 others wounded in two synchronized attacks by unidentified militants around the city of Baquba on Thursday, witnesses said. Sources said unidentified militants attacked a special police force station in western Baquba using machine guns and RPGs. The attack lasted for three hours, killing six policemen and injuring one. At the same time, another group attacked a checkpoint near al- Rahma hospital north of Baquba injuring 9 policemen some in serious condition.


SCIRI and Badr forces have repeatedly clashed and a SCIRI leader was severely wounded along with two bodyguards in an attack Thursday morning in the southern city of Basra, said a police captain, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisals. He said a pair of unknown gunmen sped up to Sheik Dhiyaa al-Ibadi on a motorcycle and opened fire with assault rifles.


Gunmen killed Iraqi soldier Hussein al-Khalidi outside his home in the Shi'ite city of Diwaniya, 180 km (south of Baghdad. His son was wounded.

Gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in Diwaniya, wounding two officers.


Gunmen killed an Arab local official in front of his home in a town south of the ethnically mixed city of Mosul.

Police found seven bodies, shot and bound, in different parts of Mosul on Wednesday.

Tal Afar

A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden belt and injured two Iraqi soldiers.

Statistics: October's death toll ties the number of fatalities from October 2005. Only three other months have worse tolls: January 2005 (107), November 2004 (137) and April 2004 (135). When accidental deaths are discounted, 92 U.S. servicemen were killed this month in hostile action, making it the third highest month for U.S. troops killed in action, behind November 2004 and April 2004, which both had 126 U.S. servicemen killed in action.

Oh, and let’s not forget: Three hundred Iraqi troops have also died in October.

Shrine closed: The Iraqi interior ministry has ordered the holiest shrine in Shiite Islam closed for several hours, the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, amid fears of an imminent sectarian attack.

Authorities ordered pilgrims to stay away from mosques and shrines in the holy city of Najaf -- including the revered mausoleum of Imam Ali, the most important site of worship in the Shiite world.

Ghost troops: On paper, Iraq has substantial security forces. The Pentagon noted in an August report to Congress that Iraq had more than 277,000 troops and police officers, including some 115,000 army combat soldiers.

But those figures, which have often been cited at Pentagon news conferences as an indicator of progress and a potential exit strategy for American troops, paint a distorted picture. When the deep-seated reluctance of many soldiers to serve outside their home regions, leaves of absence and AWOL rates are taken into account, only a portion of the Iraqi Army is readily available for duty in Baghdad and other hot spots.

The fact that the Ministry of Defense has sent only two of the six additional battalions that American commanders have requested for Baghdad speaks volumes about the difficulty the Iraqi government has encountered in fielding a professional military. The four battalions that American commanders are still waiting for is equivalent to 2,800 soldiers, hardly a large commitment in the abstract but one that the Iraqis are still struggling to meet.

Coup rumors: Iraqi army officers are reportedly planning to stage a military coup with U.S. help to oust the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Cairo-based Iraqi and Arab sources said Monday several officers visited Washington recently for talks with U.S. officials on plans for replacing Maliki's administration by a "national salvation" government with the mission to re-establish security and stability in Iraq.

One Iraqi source told United Press International that the Iraqi army officers' visit to the United States was aimed at coordinating the military coup in case the efforts of Maliki's government to restore order reached a dead end.

The Liars Who Rule Us

Blah blah blah: The president talked repeatedly about "benchmarks" for progress in Iraq, using that word 13 times. But he did not discuss the consequences of the Iraqi government missing those targets. Such a question, he said, was "hypothetical."

That response left unclear how the benchmarks would be different from previous times when the United States has set out intentions, only to back down. For example, the original war plan envisioned the U.S. troop presence in Iraq being cut to 30,000 by the fall of 2003. Last year, some top U.S. commanders thought they would be able to significantly cut the U.S. troop level in Iraq this year -- a hope now officially abandoned. More recently, the U.S. military all but withdrew from Baghdad, only to have to have to reenter the capital as security evaporated from its streets and Iraqi forces proved unable to restore calm by themselves.

Getting one thing right: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says if Republican candidates want to succeed on Election Day, they should turn their focus away from the Iraq war.

Assclowns: On Sunday, President Bush told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that his Iraq policy has “never been stay the course.” (Today, Rumsfeld disagreed, calling suggestions they were backing away from the phrase “nonsense.”)

Moments ago on Fox News, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said “we went back and looked today and could only find eight times where he [Bush] ever used the phrase stay the course.

Apparently, the White House research team isn’t very good at “the Google.” ThinkProgress has documented 30 times that Bush has used the phrase to describe his policy in Iraq.

The Popular Will

If the people lead will the leaders follow?: Politicians, top administration officials -- and editorial writers -- may be reluctant to do it, but a majority of Americans now embrace the concept of a speedy U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. A new Gallup poll released today finds that 20% urge an "immediate" pullout with another 34% backing a full withdrawal within one year, for a total of 54%. Only 9% want to send more troops. The poll of 1,007 adults was taken Oct. 20-22. The poll also found near record level of 58% calling the war a "mistake."

Gutsy move: More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the "prompt withdrawal" of all American troops and bases from Iraq, organizers said yesterday.

"Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home," reads the statement of a small grass-roots group of active-duty military personnel and reservists that says it aims to give U.S. military members a voice in Iraq war policy.

"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of American military forces and bases from Iraq," it reads. The group, which aims to collect 2,000 signatures and deliver the "Appeal for Redress" to Congress in January, is sponsored by antiwar activists including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out.

Organize your town: For a week and a half, 81-year-old Hamer Lacey hauled his broken back and clipboard to a Gloucester grocery store parking lot, looking for signatures of residents who shared his fervent opposition to the war in Iraq.

His work over the summer put Gloucester among 139 Massachusetts communities where residents will vote next month on a nonbinding question that calls for an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

Voters in several cities in Wisconsin and Illinois will consider a similar question.

Organizers said they do not expect the results to turn U.S. policy around. But they said the outcome could at least make the growing anti-war sentiment clear to the policymakers.

"There's a gap between what the public wants and what public officials want," said Steve Burns of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. "They're not acting in our name. We hope, in time, we can bring them around."

Don’t Worry About The Money, Your Grandkids Are Getting The Tab

When you think corruption - think Halliburton: Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a government estimate released yesterday, leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis.

The report provided the first official estimate that, in some cases, more money was being spent on housing and feeding employees, completing paperwork and providing security than on actual construction.

Those overhead costs have ranged from under 20 percent to as much as 55 percent of the budgets, according to the report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. On similar projects in the United States, those costs generally run to a few percent.

The highest proportion of overhead was incurred in oil-facility contracts won by KBR Inc., the Halliburton subsidiary formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, which has frequently been challenged by critics in Congress and elsewhere.

The actual costs for many projects could be even higher than the estimates, the report said, because the United States has not properly tracked how much such expenses have taken from the $18.4 billion of taxpayer-financed reconstruction approved by Congress two years ago.

The report said the prime reason was not the need to provide security, though those costs have clearly risen in the perilous environment, and are a burden that both contractors and American officials routinely blame for such increases.

Instead, the inspector general pointed to a simple bureaucratic flaw: the United States ordered the contractors and their equipment to Iraq and then let them sit idle for months at a time.

Shameless: A report released yesterday by the inspector general's office overseeing Iraq spending found that at least 55 percent, or $163 million, of $296 million in total costs rung up by Halliburton unit KBR went to expenses such as back-office support, transportation and security. That percentage was significantly higher than it was on work by other firms in Iraq, and experts said it is far above what is typically found on a government contract.

The findings are the latest that call into question KBR's work under the deal, which required the company to rehabilitate oil facilities in southern Iraq. Under the contract's terms, KBR is reimbursed for its costs and then receives a percentage for profit on top, an arrangement that critics contend has given the firm an incentive to run up its bills.

According to internal government documents released in March, auditors found that the company had repeatedly overcharged the government by, among other things, billing for work it didn't actually do and paying suppliers more than they were owed. Meanwhile, work schedules slid and company officials balked at requests for accurate cost estimates. At one point, officials threatened to terminate the deal. Instead, KBR -- which has received more money from the Iraq war effort than any other firm -- was allowed to keep the contract and is now winding up work.


Rules of Engagement: On November 19, 2005, in Haditha, during Kilo Company's third tour of duty in Iraq, a land mine planted by insurgents exploded beneath a Humvee, killing a 20-year-old Marine. What happened next—the slaughter of 24 Iraqi men, women, and children—was not entirely an aberration. These actions were rooted in the very conduct of the war. As the men of Kilo Company face investigation, the author exposes the political, military, and human realities that now make such carnage routine.


Glenn Greenwald: Our highest government officials now talk openly and enthusiastically -- almost playfully -- about taking people and "dunking them in water" -- meaning strapping them to a board, wrapping their faces in cellophane, and causing them to feel as though they are drowning to death -- only to then sermonize about the need for serious leaders to spread our civilized and democratic values around the world. And finally, Bush followers accuse their political opponents of being allies of The Terrorists and working to defeat the U.S. in its War -- indeed, that has become one of their core "arguments" -- and then afterwards piously lament that "the Left" engages in such angry and mean-spirited political dialogue and that people "in the Heartland" (who are always on their side) so very much wish the tone of politics would improve. Most politicians are, to one degree or another, artificial, manipulative and hypocritical. One can argue that that's just the nature of what they do, particularly close to an election. But the mindset of the Bush movement is far beyond any of that. It is detached from reality in the most fundamental way, and the willingness to disregard and deny even the clearest of facts is literally without limits. It is difficult to overstate how urgent it is for our country that some serious limits be placed on what has been their unlimited and unchecked rule and how completely that need overrides all other considerations. I think there is a tendency for many political commentators (myself included) to think about political matters in a more partisan-driven way than is typical as this election approaches, but there is good reason for that. Try to imagine the damage that will be done if they can act at will, without any real limits, for another two years, knowing that they face no other election and no real obstacles. What would be a more important political objective than doing what one can to prevent that?

Recordonline Editorial: OK. We imagine that your heads are spinning as much as ours after the series of announcements from the White House in the past two days about the situation in Iraq, so we will try to make sense of it. As to the basic question on everyone's mind — and in the vernacular made popular through constant repetition by the commander in chief: Is the United States still "staying the course" in Iraq? Our take on it after the White House updates is absolutely yes. Well, maybe. That is, we may have actually changed the course, but we are still staying the course. But the Iraqis should not think we will stay the course forever, even though we cannot pull our troops out any time soon and will probably have to send more U.S. troops into the Baghdad area to quell the uprisings, which may sound like a change of course, but is actually necessary so that the Iraqi government can set a timetable by the end of the year for meeting certain conditions that would foster the growth of a true democratic government for all Iraqis and avoid a civil war that does not exist and, if it did, would probably force the United States to withdraw its troops rather than stand "in the cross-fire between rival factions." Withdrawal, of course, would be a mistake and a crying shame because "we're winning and we will win, unless we leave before the job is done," which, of course, is why we cannot set a fixed timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops because that "means defeat." See?

Pierre Tristam: President Bush, Karl Rove and other members of the administration, campaigning in the few places where Other Republicans would let them, have been talking up Osama's agenda by comparing it to Hitler's "Mein Kampf." The more fitting comparison is with "My So-Called Jihad." Have a listen: Here's how Osama responded when the journalist Peter Arnett asked him what kind of society he would create if he had his way in, say, Saudi Arabia: "We are confident, with the permission of God, praise and glory be upon him, that Muslims will be victorious in the Arabian Peninsula and that God's religion, praise and glory be to him, will prevail in this peninsula. It is a great pride and a big hope that the revelation unto Mohammad, peace be upon him, will be resorted to for ruling. When we used to follow Mohammad's revelation, peace be upon him, we were in great happiness and in great dignity, to God belongs the credit and the praise."

That's Saturday Night Live material, not the sort of thing an Islamic revolution can hang its sword on. Al-Qaida's theology is no less crude and overwhelmingly rejected by mainstream Islam's clerics -- beginning with al-Qaida's cult of violence and death. But the administration bought the delusion whole, giving Osama the disproportionate fight he wants with the Great Satan and elevating him to an enemy status he could never manage on his own. Give him enough rope, and Osama will lynch himself in Arab and Muslim eyes. Instead, the Bush doctrine gives him ammunition and caps off the calculated paranoia by shackling America's liberties in the name of fear. When it comes to expediency covering up a hollow core, Osama has only one rival accomplice: George W. Bush.

Bob Geiger: In the wake of a press conference today that had George W. Bush babbling such inanities as "my view is the only way we lose in Iraq is if we leave before the job is done" and asserting that "Al Qaeda is on the run" despite the unknown whereabouts of the guy who attacked us on September 11 -- you know, that dude named bin Laden? -- Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was quick to call Bush on his contrived, newly-discovered flexibility on Iraq. “It’s deeply disturbing that it takes a close election – not in Iraq, but in America – to get this White House to even talk about flexibility and changing course," said Kennedy. "American and Iraqi deaths didn’t do it. The growing insurgency and increasing sectarian violence didn’t do it. The conclusion in April by our intelligence community that the Iraq war is a rallying cry for anti-American extremism didn’t do it. Only the prospect of losing his rubber stamp Congress and the President’s own low polls seem to penetrate the wall of denial around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Joe Conason: Fear of a humiliating electoral defeat has now revealed the confusion and incoherence long hidden behind the bluster of Republican war rhetoric. As the White House and its Congressional allies face an angry America, the disturbing truth can no longer be concealed. Waving the flag and questioning the patriotism of critics doesn’t distract the public from their failures in military strategy, diplomacy and planning.

These shallow politicians have never known what they were doing in Iraq. They can’t decide whether to send more troops, as Senator John McCain still urges, or to withdraw more troops. They can’t agree whether Iraq is sinking into civil war or is merely on the brink of chaos. So they have punted the policy issues—which are supposed to be formulated by the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department, not to mention the President himself—over to a “commission” chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker III, which conveniently will not report any recommendations until after the midterm election.

Meanwhile, two weeks before Election Day, George W. Bush and his spokespersons have abandoned “stay the course” as their political slogan for Iraq policy. We were either supposed to believe they never uttered that obtuse phrase, which was recorded emerging from their mouths on many, many occasions—or at least that those three words never expressed what the President meant, anyway.

Hoffmania: Elizabeth Dole: "Democrats around the country are seeking to exploit the Iraq war to gain electoral advantage."


We want to take this war out of the hands of the Republicans who have horribly botched our entire foreign policy. The Iraq war has been nothing but one lie after another after another after another after another.

After another.

And in the process, we've multiplied terrorism severalfold. We've allowed the Taliban to return and prosper in a fed-up Afghanistan. We've literally destroyed two countries under the false banner of "Spreading Democracy." Over half a million* Iraqis dead. Almost 2800 dead American soldiers. And it was all supposed to avenge the deaths of over 3000 people on 9/11.

Only your party avoided to get the guy who did it.

So yeah, Liz. It's Iraq. It's all about Iraq. Iraq Iraq Iraq. Tough shit if you can't handle it, babe.

Harold Meyerson: As Iraq descends into a Hobbesian bloodbath, it's every man for himself within the Grand Old Party. In Connecticut, Rep. Chris Shays, after his 14th visit to Iraq, announced he was "losing faith in how we are fighting this war." In New Jersey, senatorial candidate Tom Kean Jr. called for Don Rumsfeld's resignation. Most wondrous of all, in suburban Philadelphia, Rep. Curt Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that the right to make decisions about the future deployment or redeployment of our troops in Iraq should be left to the generals there, rather than remain with Bush, Vice President Cheney and Rumsfeld -- in whose judgment, we must presume, Weldon has lost all confidence. Weldon is under investigation by the FBI over some alleged financial dealings that he and his family have had with Russian businesses. While they're at it, the agents might inquire if Weldon has ever read the Constitution, which designates the president as commander of our armed services.

If a Democrat offered Weldon's remedy for Iraq, the Republicans would flay him alive. When Weldon went woozy, however, they reacted by continuing to funnel money into his coffers. "Stay the course" has been replaced by "anything goes" -- so long as it helps the Republicans cling to power.

Simon Jenkins: Over Iraq the spin doctors are already at work. They are telling the world that the occupation will have failed only through the ingratitude and uselessness of the Iraqis themselves. The rubbishing of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has begun in Washington, coupled with much talk of lowered ambitions and seeking out that foreign policy paradigm, "a new strongman". In May, Maliki signalled to Iraq's governors, commanders and militia leaders the need to sort out local differences and take control of their provincial destinies. This has failed. Maliki is only as strong as the militias he can control, which is precious few. He does not rule Baghdad, let alone Iraq. As for the militias, they are the natural outcome of the lawlessness caused by foreign occupation. They represent Iraqis desperately defending themselves from anarchy. It is now they who will decide Iraq's fate. The only sensible post-invasion scenario was, ironically, that once attributed to Donald Rumsfeld, to topple Saddam Hussein, give a decapitated army to the Shias and get out at once. There would have been a brief and bloody settling of accounts and some new regime would have seized power. The outcome would probably have been partial or total Kurdish and Sunni secession, but by now a new Iraq confederacy might have settled down. Instead this same partition seems likely to follow a drawn-out and bloody civil conflict. It is presaged by the fall of Amara to the Mahdist militias this month - and the patent absurdity of the British re-occupying this town. Washington appears to have given Maliki until next year to do something to bring peace to his country. Or what? America and Britain want to leave. As a settler said in Aden, "from the moment they knew we were leaving their loyalties turned elsewhere". Keeping foreign troops in Iraq will not "prevent civil war", as if they were doing that now. They are largely preoccupied with defending their fortress bases, their presence offering target practice for insurgents and undermining any emergent civil authority in Baghdad or the provinces. American and British troops may be in occupation but they are not in power. They have not cut and run, but rather cut and stayed. The wretched Iraqis must wait as their cities endure civil chaos until one warlord or another comes out on top. In the Sunni region it is conceivable that a neo-Ba'athist secularism might gain the ascendancy. In the bitterly contested Shia areas, a fierce fundamentalism is the likely outcome. As for Baghdad, it faces the awful prospect of being another Beirut. This country has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave. Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own.

Glenn Greenwald: For months, the standard neoconservative complaint has been that their Great War was failing because it wasn't being prosecuted with enough violence, enough force, enough troops, enough killing. If only we would step up and act like we want to win, things would be great there. This seems a critically important issue to note. Escalation of this war -- not a draw-down of it -- will become the new strategy after the election. There are simply no other choices. What we are doing now simply isn't working, so much so that not even the White House bothers to deny that any more. At the same time, the President yesterday made expressly clear what has been obvious for some time -- we aren't leaving Iraq. And we don't have nearly enough additional troops to make a meaningful difference in the troop strength we have there or to enable new strategies by increasing our military presence. What other real option is there for trying to change the course of the war there other than to try to bomb and kill our way to "victory"? That is clearly what the President's hardest-core supporters are demanding, and the history of this administration is that it ultimately adheres to the views and demands of the extremists who comprise its base (largely because those who control the administration are themselves extremists in that mold). Nobody knows for certain, but it is a clear possibility that our post-election strategy in Iraq will entail a substantial escalation in violence, attacks, killings and resources. That is what the President's supporters believe is the missing ingredient to allow them to finally achieve Victory in this great war.

Tom Engelhardt: The Vietnam analogy, never far from American consciousness, has been back in the press recently, but here's an apt Vietnam quote that seldom seems to rise to memory any more. General William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, offered the following explanation for similarly staggering Vietnamese body counts (an estimated 3 million Vietnamese died in that country's French and American wars): "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."

It's hard to avoid the thought that a similar attitude toward Iraqi lives and deaths is at work in our government and in the media. After all, the kinds of denatured discussions now taking place about Iraqi deaths would be inconceivable if American deaths were at stake. Just consider, for instance, that the recent discovery of scattered human remains ("some as large as arm or leg bones") overlooked at Ground Zero in New York City has raised a furor and demands that all construction at the site be halted while it is thoroughly searched. Try to put that sort of concern for the dead back into the Iraqi situation or into perfunctory, daily, inside-the-newspaper passages like:

"In addition, about 50 bodies were collected Sunday around Baghdad, the capital, a figure considered high weeks ago but now routine. An Interior Ministry official said many of the victims had apparently been shot at close range and bore signs of torture."

How, then, do you even begin to grasp such losses in a war of "liberation" launched by your own country? How do you even begin to imagine such levels of suffering, death, and destruction, or the increasingly chaotic and degraded conditions in which so many Iraqis now live and for which we are certainly responsible?

Glenn Greenwald: If the Republicans lose, efforts to assign blame amongst themselves are going to explode. Neocons, in particular, will be very vulnerable to the most vicious attacks, and that is only just and right. But the reality is that the Republican Party itself bears responsibility not just for the strategic disaster we have wrought in Iraq -- a disaster that will take years if not decades to recover from (and that's if it ends sometime soon) -- but also for the entire Bush debacle, the destruction of our country's credibility, and the grotesque distortion of its character. Anyone who supported this President, particularly in 2004 when it was glaringly evident what he was, is culpable. With very rare exception -- way too rare to matter -- it was "conservatives" and Republicans who embraced this President eagerly and enthusiastically and enabled his empowerment and the pursuit of these policies. The vicious civil war they will have amongst themselves might be enjoyable to watch and well-deserved, but it will also be deeply dishonest. Anyone (including in the pundit and political classes) who supported this presidency and the Bush movement -- regardless of which specific policies motivated that support -- are all to blame for what this administration has done to our country, and it's important not to allow these last-minute, ship-jumping conversions to obscure just how pervasive and widespread the culpability is.

Casualty Reports

1st Lt. Amos C. R. Bock, 24, of New Madrid, Mo., died on Oct. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Bock was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Oct. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when their patrol came in contact with enemy forces. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed were: Spc. Nathaniel A. Aguirre, 21, of Carrollton, Texas. Spc. Matthew W. Creed, 23, of Covina, Calif.

Spc. Carl A. Eason, 29, of Lovelady, Texas, died Oct. 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Eason was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Richard A. Buerstetta, 20, of Franklin, Tenn.

Lance Cpl. Tyler R. Overstreet, 22, of Gallatin, Tenn.

Both Marines died Oct. 23 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. They were assigned to Marine Forces Reserve’s 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Nashville, Tenn.

Seaman Charles O. Sare, 23, of Hemet, Calif., died Oct. 23 from enemy action while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Sare, a Hospital Corpsman, was assigned to Naval Ambulatory Care Center, Port Hueneme, Calif. and was currently serving with Multi-National Corps – Iraq.

Spc. Nicholas K. Rogers, 27, of Deltona, Fla., died Oct. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when his patrol came in contact with enemy forces during combat operations. Rogers was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Sgt. Willsun M. Mock, 23, of Harper, Kan., died Oct. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Mock was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

Maj. David G. Taylor, 37, of North Carolina, died Oct. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Taylor is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany.

Staff Sgt. Ronald L. Paulsen, 53, of Vancouver, Wash., died on Oct. 17 in Tarmiya, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Paulsen was assigned to the Army Reserve’s 414th Civil Affairs Battalion, Utica, N.Y.


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