Wednesday, October 04, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2006
A former army officer was discovered dead and handcuffed in Amarah.
Four mortars hit homes in an unidentified Sunni district in
Two bombs exploded in front of industry minister Fawzi Al Hariri's convoy killing three bodyguards, followed by a massive car bomb at a nearby automotive parts market that killed nine people and wounded 75. The minister was not in the convoy at the time of the attack.
Iraqi security forces recovered 30 bodies in various
Roadside bombs exploded Tuesday morning in the northern neighborhood of Qahiri, killing two civilians and wounding two others as well as near a
A bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque around 9 a.m. in the central
Elsewhere in the city, a car bomb in the violence-plagued neighborhood of Dura killed one person and wounded several others, while another bomb exploded in middle class Karrada, wounding two people.
Just south of the capital in the
Police reported finding more corpses in Baghdad early Wednesday, the grim harvest of the midnight killings carried out by death squads, many believed to be Shiite, in the ongoing sectarian dirty war. Seven bodies, all bearing gunshot wounds, were found in predominantly Sunni western Baghdad, while police downstream of the capital in Kut reported fishing four corpses out of the Tigris River, all showing signs of torture and having being shot in the head.
Eight people were killed in a shooting in Baqouba, and two others died in a roadside bombing.
In Baquba gunmen attacked a police patrol, killing two policemen and injuring eight people.
British forces in
The bodies of two women — one beheaded, the other burned — were found in Kut.
Redefining victory: The strategy in
By strict numbers, the Iraqi side of that equation is almost complete. Training programs have developed more than 300,000 members of the Iraqi army and national police, close to the desired number of homegrown forces. Yet as that number has grown, so, too, has violence in
With the insurgency undiminished and Iraqi forces seemingly unable to counter it, U.S. commanders say they expect to stay at the current level of U.S. troops -- about 140,000 -- until at least next spring. That requirement is placing new strains on service members who leave
So is the "stand down as they stand up" policy defunct? Not according to the Bush administration. But the meaning of the phrase appears to have changed, as leaders have begun shifting the blame for
New peace plan: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday gained the backing of leading Sunni and Shiite politicians for his four-point plan "to stop the bloodshed" in the midst of widespread sectarian violence.
Iraqi media dubbed the pact the "Ramadan Agreement," because of its signing during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Under the plan, field committees would be formed, comprising political parties, religious figures, tribal leaders, dignitaries and representatives of the armed forces working to combat violence.
The Central Committee for Peace and Security would follow up with the local committees and coordinate with the General Command of the Iraqi armed forces.
The plan also includes the formation of a joint media monitoring committee and monthly meetings to assess the plan and its performance.
Skepticism: Sunni politicians expressed worries over a new government plan to stop sectarian violence. The plan, announced a day earlier by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, won some praise in parliament Tuesday. But Shiite and Sunni leaders delayed potentially contentious talks to work out its details.
The four-point plan calls for creating neighborhood Shiite-Sunni committees to monitor efforts against sectarian violence. The aim is to overcome the deep mistrust between Sunnis and Shiites.
Many Sunnis remain skeptical that Shiite leaders will allow security forces to crack down more strongly on Shiite militias blamed for killing Sunnis — including some linked to parties in the government.
"I haven't seen any real desire in the other side. There are militias supported by the government," said Sunni lawmaker Khalaf al-Alayan.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said that under the plan, parties that have militias have agreed to take "responsibility for what their groups or people under them are doing, ... committing themselves to ending the sectarian violence."
Still, "there are forces that are not under their control," Khalilzad said in an interview with National Public Radio. "But if they implement what they've agreed to, there should be a significant decrease in the level of violence in
Another lawmaker, Izzat Shabandar, from the secular Iraqi Bloc, cautioned "we have to be realistic."
"Those who signed this blessed agreement have to confess, at least to themselves, they are the basis of the problem and they are part of it," he said.
Part of the problem indeed: On orders from Interior Minister Jawad Bolani, a high-ranking police commander was suspended Tuesday and taken into custody pending an investigation into a brazen kidnapping of 26 food-processing workers on Sunday in Amel, in western
The commander, who was not identified, is being investigated because of what Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a ministry spokesman, described as the colonel's slow response to the kidnapping.
"The regiment's commander had enough force to interfere, but the ministry is investigating why he didn't do it," he said.
Third security plan in four months: The political storm in
The reason is simple. Most people, even American officials, know how bad things are.
It is in
This is the third security initiative the government has come up with for the capital since it took office just four months ago.
But the bloodshed between the majority Shia and minority Sunni community has only got worse.
What A Novel Idea
Looking for evidence before launching a new war? What will those Limeys think of next?: Since late August, British commandos in the deserts of far southeastern Iraq have been testing one of the most serious charges leveled by the United States against Iran: that Iran is secretly supplying weapons, parts, funding and training for attacks on U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
A few hundred British troops living out of nothing more than their cut-down Land Rovers and light armored vehicles have taken to the desert in the start of what British officers said would be months of patrols aimed at finding the illicit weapons trafficking from
There's just one thing.
"I suspect there's nothing out there," the commander, Lt. Col. David Labouchere, said last month, speaking at an overnight camp near the border. "And I intend to prove it."
Other senior British military leaders spoke as explicitly in interviews over the previous two months. Britain, whose forces have had responsibility for security in southeastern Iraq since the war began, has found nothing to support the Americans' contention that Iran is providing weapons and training in Iraq, several senior military officials said.
"I have not myself seen any evidence -- and I don't think any evidence exists -- of government-supported or instigated" armed support on
"It's a question of intelligence versus evidence," Labouchere's commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain's 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region's capital, Basra. "One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one's own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren't they?"
Soldier returns: An Army soldier who fled to
Spc. Darrell Anderson, 24, said he deserted the Army last year because he could no longer fight in what he believes is an illegal war.
"I feel that by resisting I made up for the things I did in
Numbskull won’t go away: Appearing on the Daily Show last night, Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) was asked about his recent comments expressing confusion over the ongoing sectarian violence in
Last night, Lott explained, “Iraqis look like Iraqis and Americans look like Americans.” In Sen. Lott’s view, all Americans apparently look like him. Lott added, “Methodist, Baptists, and Catholics live in my hometown. They all look the same to me, they all look like Americans.”
Personally, I’d put the cash in a 10-year CD: Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.
Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.
Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.
The original legislation empowered the president to designate “a day of celebration” to commemorate the success of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to “issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
The Demise Of American Freedom
Our Enabling Act: George W. Bush has repeatedly warned, "Either you're with us or you stand with the terrorists." Now he has gotten through legislation that allows him to back it up. On Thursday, September 28, 2006, in a hastily drawn decision that will likely live in infamy, the Senate nodded assent to the Military Commissions Act (PDF).
According to this Act, an "unlawful enemy combatant" is to be defined as:
"an individual engaged in hostilities against the
This basically means that if a person is not a soldier in the service of a foreign government, but is nevertheless engaging in "hostilities" against the
(A) part of or affiliated with a force or organization-including but not limited to al Qaeda, the Taliban, any international terrorist organization, or associated forces-engaged in hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents in violation of the law of war;
(B) to have committed a hostile act in aid of such a force or organization so engaged; or
(C) to have supported hostilities in aid of such a force or organization so engaged.
According to the definition approved by the Senate, you don't even have to be part of a terrorist organization. Nor does your "hostile" act have to be done to aid such a force; nor do you have to have supported such acts. Nor do you have to be in violation of the "law of war." Nor is there anywhere in the act where the term "hostilities" has itself been defined. For example, is an anti-war activist an unlawful enemy combatant? What about an American journalist who publishes leaked information damaging to the Bush administration? What about an anti-Bush blogger? In short, the definition is broad (and vague) enough to include any American citizen who is acting in a way the President deems "hostile" to the
Andrew J. Bacevich: In determining the conduct of the Bush administration's global war on terror, the civilians in the office of the secretary of Defense call the shots. Apart from being trotted out on ceremonial occasions, the Joint Chiefs have become all but invisible. Certainly, on questions related to basic national security policy, they have become irrelevant.
Some of this qualifies as payback. During the 1990s, in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, the Joint Chiefs were riding high and used their clout to show their civilian "masters" who was really boss. During the largely contrived controversy over gays in the military, the Joint Chiefs publicly humiliated the newly elected president, Bill Clinton.
When the Army botched the raid leading to the famous
Scott LeHigh: A president so steeped in certitude that he insists the United States won't leave Iraq, even if his wife and dog are his only remaining supporters, has not told the public the grim truth about the war; then-Chief of Staff Andy Card lobbied to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a bully adept at bureaucratic combat but inept at managing a real conflict; the administration is taking Henry Kissinger's advice on Iraq; and George H.W. Bush is in agony about the war.
Oh, yes -- and a July 10, 2001, meeting initiated by George Tenet, then the CIA director, and his counter-terrorism chief to impress upon Condoleezza Rice the seriousness of the threat from Osama bin Laden ended with the two men feeling they had gotten a polite brush-off.
If that seems mostly like a rounding out of already established themes, some of it does represent the next progression for an administration fighting a war conceived in ideology and prosecuted in defiance of reality: The Bush inner circle has started to turn on itself.
Sean Gonsalves: What is Karl Rove's "October surprise?" A
I don't know. But given the saber-rattling hyperbole of the Bush administration and the
Maybe this time, the American public will actually listen to weapons experts like Scott Ritter, whose new book "Target Iran" is a must-read not only because it provides a detailed account of U.S.-Israeli-Iranian relations but also because Ritter has proven to be exactly right on Iraq.
He not only provides a technical insider's account of everything from the Shahib-3 missile to uranium enrichment, he also sheds much needed light on how the current U.S.-Iranian conflict was born in Israel and why it's historically dishonest to portray Iran as inherently incapable of peaceful relations with Israel and, therefore, America.
A. Alexander: When it comes to being in denial the Bush administration makes the hardest of the hardcore crank-tweaking, heroin-shooting, coke-snorting, crack-smoking addicts appear Dr. Phil-like emotionally grounded members of the reality-based community. We aren't talking about ignoring the wizard behind the curtain. This is about a cabal of crazies swimming in their own delusional
Book Review: You don't really need a classified briefing to recognize a military and political quagmire. You don't require an unnamed source to tell you that something is wrong when the number of Americans killed exceeds 2,700 and the acknowledged death toll among Iraqi civilians climbs toward 60,000 — and there's no end in sight.
In an interview Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," Woodward went to the substantive heart of his appraisal: The president and his surrogates have consistently misled the American people and Congress about what's going on in
Frank Rich: Having ignored the facts through each avoidable disaster, the White House won’t change its game plan now. Quite the contrary. Its main ambition seems to be to prop up its artificial reality no matter what the evidence to the contrary. Nowhere could this be better seen than in Ms. Rice’s bizarre behavior after the Bill Clinton-Chris Wallace slapdown on Fox News. Stung by the former president’s charge that the Bush administration did nothing about Al Qaeda in the eight months before 9/11, she couldn’t resist telling The New York Post that his statement was “flatly false.” But proof of Ms. Rice’s assertion is as nonexistent as Saddam’s W.M.D. As 9/11 approached, both she and Mr. Bush blew off harbingers of the attacks (including a panicked C.I.A. briefer in Crawford, according to Ron Suskind’s “One Percent Doctrine”). The 9/11 commission report, which Ms. Rice cited as a corroborating source for her claims to The Post, in reality “found no indication of any further discussion” about the Qaeda threat among the president and his top aides between the arrival of that fateful Aug. 6 brief (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”) and Sept. 10. That the secretary of state would rush to defend the indefensible shows where this administration’s priorities are: it’s now every man and woman in the White House for himself and herself in defending the fictions, even four-year-old fictions, that took us into the war and botched its execution. When they talk about staying the course, what they are really talking about is protecting their spin and their reputations. They’ll leave it to the 140,000-plus American troops staying the course in a quagmire to face the facts.
NY Times Editorial: Even if there were a case for staying the current course in
The Army has been kept on short rations of troops and equipment for years by a Pentagon more intent on stockpiling futuristic weapons than fighting today’s wars. Now it is pushing up against the limits of hard arithmetic. Senior generals are warning that the Bush administration may have to break its word and again use National Guard units to plug the gap, but no one in
As early as the fall of 2003, the Congressional Budget Office warned that maintaining substantial force levels in
These emergency measures have taken a heavy toll on combat readiness and training, on the quality of new recruits, and on the career decisions of some of the Army’s most promising young officers. They cannot be continued indefinitely.
Billmon: It's striking to see how much press coverage the Amish school shootings are getting. I caught a bit on local TV tonight (it's a local story) and the media shark tank was whipped up almost as frothy as the Great Whites down in
It's a horrible story, and as a father my heart goes out to the families involved, but I feel compelled to point out that if this were Baghdad, a day with only five dead children and five wounded ones would be considered the dawn of a new era of peace, and Tony Snow would be bragging about how much progress we're making in Iraq.
Not that the corporate media has noticed the discrepancy. Iraqi deaths (at least 52 today alone = 10 Amish school shootings) rate a couple of paragraphs in an AP story, if that.
If it bleeds, it leads -- as long as it's American blood, that is.
Abu Aardvark: Does al-Qaeda really want the United States to withdraw from Iraq, as current administration arguments would have it? Not according to the letter captured during the raid which killed Abu Musab Zarqawi, allegedly from a member of al-Qaeda's inner circle identified only as 'Atiyah, recently translated and released by Counterterrorism Center at West Point. 'Atiyah writes:
The most important thing is that you continue in your jihad in
I'm not sure why this statement doesn't seem to have made it into any of the press coverage of the letter which I've seen. It seems to be fairly unambiguous. What's more, it was an internal communication, not a public proclamation aimed at influencing American policy. It also makes sense. Al-Qaeda wants American troops in
The people of this nation have been lied to, deceived, spied upon and bullied far too long by the Bush administration.
It's become a national disgrace. Worse yet, there is no shame. No contrition. No apology.
The sense of national purpose that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has been squandered, as has the abundance of worldwide support for the
It's a national nightmare.
The president and his cadre of neocons — with the tacit support of an essentially spineless Congress — trumped up a fear-based scenario to get us involved in a pointless, unwinnable war in
For that, there has been no shame. No contrition. No apology.
Countless secret reports continue to surface confirming our worst suspicions: The Iraq war — as differentiated from the real war against terrorists — was ill conceived, poorly managed and, in fact, has exacerbated the problem.
Still no shame. No contrition. No apology.
Well-intentioned and bipartisan people of all walks of life — both civilian and military — have told the president that he is on the wrong course, that there needs to be a national consensus on getting out of the quagmire, that the costly fiasco is bankrupting our country.
People who disagree with the administration, many of whom were once highly praised insiders, are scoffed at, berated and labeled as unpatriotic terrorist sympathizers.
To solidify its grip on the country, the administration, wrapped in its own version of the flag, has spent nearly six years attacking the Constitutional rights it is sworn to uphold. Our communications are monitored, secret prisons operated, torture condoned, the press monitored and, in some cases, bought off.
Still no shame.
And now we're learning that the acts that started it all — those planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania farm field — might have been averted if someone would have just listened.
After first denying any recollection of the encounter and labeling any assertion that she erred "incomprehensible," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice now acknowledges that she met with CIA chief George Tenet and his deputy, J. Cofer Black, on July 10, 2001. The reason: A briefing on a looming threat from al-Qaida that had the two men so alarmed they requested an emergency meeting; they left empty-handed.
But then listening has never much interested this administration. Even to the truth.
“Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes. I tell you this right now, I don’t give a damn about your dreams.” -- Bob Dylan, “Thunder on the Mountain”
From the New York Times: The Senate today rejected an amendment to a bill creating a new system for interrogating and trying terror suspects that would have guaranteed such suspects access to the courts to challenge their imprisonment. The action set the stage for final passage of the bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the House of Representatives. The bill’s ultimate passage was assured on Wednesday when Democrats agreed to forgo a filibuster in return for consideration of the amendment. (For what the bill really means, see this excellent piece from Glenn Greenwald.)
Who are these people? Who are these useless hanks of bone and fat that call themselves Senators of the
Staff Sgt. Edward C. Reynolds, Junior, of
24-year-old Satieon Greenlee was shot and killed on October 2nd in