Wednesday, October 11, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2006
"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." –Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on looting in
In the mainly Sunni Seleikh neighborhood of northern
Two roadside bombs targeting a police patrol exploded in quick succession in Ghadeer district, eastern
A mortar round fired by militiamen caused a fire at an ammunition dump inside a
Two car bombs detonated almost simultaneously near the Ministry of Labour in the northeast of
A booby-trapped vehicle exploded in the southeast of the city, killing two bystanders and wounding 22 people, including eight policemen.
A car bombing in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in north
Gunmen shot and killed a policeman in the capital.
The body of a shooting victim was found in Baqouba.
Gunmen killed a policeman in front of his house in the western city of
Brigadier Qais al-Mamouri, chief of Babil police, escaped an assassination attempt when his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in Iskandariya. His driver and two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
The bodies of two shooting victims were found in Khalis, 50 miles north of
A policeman was shot and killed in the northern city of
The bodies of five men bound and blindfolded with multiple gunshot wounds, bearing signs of torture, were separately found in central Kut. Three of the bodies had been retrieved from the
The corpses of seven people were turned in to the morgue in the southern city of
A roadside booby-trap exploded in the southern city of
A peasant woman died when a bomb exploded while she was inside a farm just 10 km southeast of Kut.
In Rashid, a town about 25 kilometers south of the capital, a roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police patrol, killing two officers and wounding three others.
One insurgent and two policemen were killed and four people were wounded following clashes that erupted after gunmen attacked a police station in the small town of
Gunmen assassinated Sheikh Raad Mutar Saleh, a leader of the tiny sect of Sabeans, sometimes known as Mandeans, a small pre-Muslim Gnostic group which is thought to have links to Judaism and early Christianity. Muta Saleh was shot dead in Suweira, 65km southeast of
This story is from a place where the moles are getting whacked. All the entries above it are from places where they aren’t: The Amariya neighborhood has won a reputation as the most fearsome quarter of the capital, with car bombs, snipers and frequent clashes between
On a tour of the largely Sunni Arab district with U.S. soldiers Tuesday, a day on which at least 60 mutilated bodies were found elsewhere in Baghdad and violence left an additional 23 dead across Iraq, schoolchildren walked home gingerly along streets recently cleared of rotting garbage mounds. Young men emerged from newly reopened shops on main thoroughfares. Women shopped for vegetables at outdoor produce stands.
"Electricity is a problem, jobs are a problem, there's no gas, but thank God," said one woman as she gestured toward a group of
The real death toll?: A controversial new study contends nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war, suggesting a far higher death toll than other estimates.
The timing of the survey's release, just a few weeks before the
In the new study, researchers attempt to calculate how many more Iraqis have died since March 2003 than one would expect without the war. Their conclusion, based on interviews of households and not a body count, is that about 600,000 died from violence, mostly gunfire. They also found a small increase in deaths from other causes like heart disease and cancer.
"Deaths are occurring in Iraq now at a rate more than three times that from before the invasion of March 2003," Dr. Gilbert Burnham, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
The study by Burnham, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and others is to be published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical journal.
An accurate count of Iraqi deaths has been difficult to obtain, but one respected group puts its rough estimate at closer to 50,000. And at least one expert was skeptical of the new findings.
"They're almost certainly way too high," said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in
Juan Cole’s analysis of the above report: I follow the violence in
(This website routinely reports more Iraqi deaths per day than Professor Cole, not to in any way disparage his research skills – that’s not the main thrust of his work but it is of ours. The point is that anyone relying on Western wire services for this sort of reporting is going to seriously underestimate the true death toll. Even the best journalists are still severely circumscribed in their ability to get out and see what’s going on. I’ve long felt this site only gets about a half to a quarter of the true casualty count, though admittedly that’s just a guess. –m)
Fear in Baquba: Government offices and schools were nearly entirely empty in Baqouba, 60 kilometers northeast of
The group, Mujahdeen of Diyala, claimed the commander was responsible for attacks on Sunni Arabs in the province. The leaflets, dated Oct. 6, gave Wednesday as the deadline for his removal.
Institutionalized standoff: A bombing at a
The new effort reflects the deep mistrust between Shiites and Sunnis even within the security forces - effectively putting them together to keep watch on each other. Each side accuses the other of backing militias, and Sunnis in particular say the Shiite-dominated police force often allows Shiite militias to carry out kidnappings and murders.
Al-Maliki's overall plan calls for the creation of local Shiite-Sunni committees that will oversee policing in each district of Baghdad, reporting back to a Central Committee for Peace and Security to coordinate with the security forces and the prime minister.
The six-month wave of Sunni-Shiite killings has fueled the flight of Iraqis from their homes.
The law, backed by some Shi'ite majority leaders who have been keen to set up a big, autonomous region in their oil-rich south, was passed in a session boycotted by the Accordance Front, the largest political bloc of the Sunni minority.
Hostility between rival communities over federalism -- one of post-war
Legislators loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the smaller Shi'ite Fadhila Party stayed away from Wednesday's vote, showing Shi'ite support for federalism is not unanimous.
How Is It This Administration Has Any Credibility On Anything Anymore?
Way to fight the Global Clash Of Civilizations Millennium War ™: Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics.
Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words -- including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test -- just 1 percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show.
In a recent deposition filed in an employee lawsuit, a senior FBI official testified that the bureau's two International Terrorism Operations Sections (ITOS) do not require any agents to know Arabic, even though the sections coordinate all foreign terrorism investigations. Only four agents in ITOS have any familiarity with Arabic, and none of them are ranked above elementary proficiency, documents show.
US Military News
New slogan: The Army isn't one anymore; it's strong.
Strength is the theme of the new U.S. Army campaign breaking Nov. 9 to replace the "Army of One" push. "There's strong, and then there's Army strong," says a video from McCann Worldgroup explaining the new theme. "The strength to do good today. The strength to do well tomorrow. There is nothing on this green earth that is stronger than the U.S. Army." Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey announced the campaign as part of a speech today at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting. The new campaign "speaks to an essential truth of being a soldier" and highlights the transformative powers of the Army, he said in a statement.
Strong, yes, but stupider too: The U.S. Army recruited more than 2,600 soldiers under new lower aptitude standards this year, helping the service beat its goal of 80,000 recruits in the throes of an unpopular war and mounting casualties.
The recruiting mark comes a year after the Army missed its recruitment target by the widest margin since 1979, which had triggered a boost in the number of recruiters, increased bonuses, and changes in standards.
The Army recruited 80,635 soldiers, roughly 7,000 more than last year. Of those, about 70,000 were first-time recruits who had never served before.
According to statistics obtained by The Associated Press, 3.8 percent of the first-time recruits scored below certain aptitude levels. In previous years, the Army had allowed only 2 percent of its recruits to have low aptitude scores. That limit was increased last year to 4 percent, the maximum allowed by the Defense Department.
Jane Arraf: I am very, very lucky. I am alive in a war zone. Most of the time I have running water and when I turn on the lights, a series of generators ensures that they come on. I don't have to worry about saying goodbye to my family here in the morning and not knowing whether I'll see them in the evening. I know I'm lucky because almost everyone I know in
Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in
I'm more puzzled by comments that the violence isn't any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?
Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the
It's almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.
I don't know a single family here that hasn't had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there's been all-out fighting going on, I've interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.
Imagine the worst day you've ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you'll begin to get an idea of what it's like every day for a lot of people here.
P.M. Carpenter: It would be impossible to assess the Bush administration's current state of foreign policy more accurately – meaning starkly – than the WP's Glenn Kessler and Peter Baker have done in their lead paragraph on North Korea's "device" test:
"Nearly five years after President Bush introduced the concept of an 'axis of evil' comprising Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the administration has reached a crisis point with each nation: North Korea has claimed it conducted its first nuclear test, Iran refuses to halt its uranium-enrichment program, and Iraq appears to be tipping into a civil war 3 1/2 years after the U.S.-led invasion."
What a mess, or, rather, what a heap of messes – an escalating mound of stubborn, nerve-wracking, neuroses-inducing and largely self-imposed messes. Welcome to the resulting realities of the swaggering, surrealpolitik neocon Weltanschauung.
Joshua Holland: As the bodies pile up in
Yet the Bush administration and its mouthpieces insist that we must "stay the course" in
Underlying the "stay the course" argument is a fundamentally flawed assumption that
But more importantly, the
Eight out of ten Iraqis believe the
Tom Engelhardt: And of all the words that came to their minds post-9/11, the first and fastest was an old one -- "war." Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, it was already on the scene and being redefined by administration officials and supporters. We would not, for instance, actually declare war. After all, who was war to be declared on? We were simply "at war" and that was that. Since then, according to George Bush and his associates, we have either been fighting "the Global War on Terror" (aka GWOT), "the long war," "the millennium war," "World War III," or "World War IV." We not only entered an immediate state of war, but one meant to last generations, and with it we got a commander-in-chief presidency secretly redefined in such a way as to place it outside any legal boundaries.
We were, then, at war. But the first war we were "at" was a war of the words and at its heart from the beginning was the status of the people we were capturing on or near various battlefields, or even kidnapping off the streets of European cities, and exactly what we could do to them. If John F. Kennedy is remembered for saying, "Ich bin ein Berliner," perhaps when history shrinks George W. Bush to a soundbite, it will be, "We abide by the law of the United States; we do not torture." To say those words -- repeatedly -- he has had to mount not a soapbox, nor even the TV or radio version of a bully pulpit, but a pile of torn, trampled dictionaries.
If you don't believe me, go back and read, for instance, the infamous "torture memo" of 2002 in which the top legal minds of the Justice Department and the White House Counsel's office labored over how to define "severe" and "pain" in such a way that almost no inflicted pain in a prisoner's interrogation would ever prove too "severe." Whole sections of that document sound like they were cobbled together by a learned panel for a new edition of some devil's dictionary. ("The word 'profound' has a number of meanings, all of which convey a significant depth. Webster's New International Dictionary 1977 [2nd ed. 1935] defines profound as...").
In the end, these experts defined "torture" to suit administration needs in the following pretzled fashion: "Must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." And though, under pressure, the "torture memo" was finally disavowed, the President has been able to claim that "we do not torture" only by adhering to its ludicrous definitions. (Even then, this administration's interrogators have tortured prisoners.) This was in fact a typical Bush era document of shame, symbolic of the bureaucratic lawlessness let loose at the heart of our government by officials intent on creating a pseudo-legal basis for replacing the rule of law with the rule of a Commander-in-Chief.
Never has an administration rolled up its sleeves and redefined our terms more systematically or unnervingly with less attention to reality.
Diana Powe: To find oneself in the situation of Mr. Padilla with no contact and no assurance of any aspect whatsoever of your future is something that isn't even known by the most closely confined inmates in a super-max prison where their guilt has already been adjudicated. Even those inmates have access to the judicial system. To defend even the basic character of Mr. Padilla's confinement absolutely requires that the defender assume that Mr. Padilla is guilty even if they are unwilling to acknowledge that belief. To allow the executive branch, on its own initiative, to operate on this basis is something that I, who routinely deal with those accused of crimes, can scarcely imagine exists outside of the pages of pages of 1984. Regardless of Mr. Padilla's genuine guilt or innocence of any act, the bare facts of his confinement make an absolute mockery of the death of every soldier, sailor, airman or police officer who has ever been killed in the performance of their duties. To retort that this raw power is necessary to "protect Americans" is to assume that there is nothing in being a citizen of this nation for any of us beyond the mere fact of being alive. My own judgment is that this is not what the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the task of creating the United States of America and it horrifies me that those who have taken oaths to defend the Constitution view their fellow citizens as having no greater aspirations as Americans than craven physical safety. If they are right and I am wrong then being American is little more than being situated in a certain place on the globe with no claim to moral authority beyond what can be enforced through bullets and bombs. Then we are little more than a street gang with assertions of control over our turf. Then we are truly lost.
(My emphasis. So well said. –m)
Quote Of The Day
"I came to the conclusion that, given the technology of modern warfare, war is inevitably a war against children, against civilians. When you look at the ratio of civilian to military dead, it changes from 50-50 in World War II to 80-20 in Vietnam, maybe as high as 90-10 today… When you face that fact, war is now always a war against civilians, and so against children. No political goal can justify it, and so the great challenge before the human race in our time is to solve the problems of tyranny and aggression, and do it without war." – Howard Zinn