Sunday, November 19, 2006

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2006 Residents place the coffin of a bomb victim on a vehicle after claiming his body from al-Kindi hospital morgue in Baghdad November 19, 2006. Three near simultaneous explosions, at least two of them car bombs, killed at least six people [toll now updated to 10] and wounded 30 at a bus station in the eastern Mashtal district of Baghdad, police and Interior Ministry sources said (REUTERS/Kareem Raheem) Baghdad In a Shia area of eastern Baghdad, 3 car bombs at a bus station kill at least 10 and injure 45. BBC also reports: Three civilians were killed and three police injured in a roadside bomb attack in central Baghdad. This item gives the death toll as four. Police officer killed in drive-by shooting. roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed three civilians and wounded three policemen in eastern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said. Reuters also reports: Xinhua provides additional details on the kidnapping of the judge and the ambush of the police colonel. Hillah A suicide bomber in a minivan lured day laborers to his vehicle with promises of a job Sunday morning then blew it up, killing 22 people and wounding 44, in the predominantly Shiite southern city. This AP story is notable in providing a graphic description of the carnage and reaction from survivors. For most of these incidents, we get only a sanitized recounting of casualty totals. I'm providing a substantial excerpt, but it's worth reading the whole story because it brings home the reality of the violence better than most of the accounts we get in western media. -- C
Unemployment is high across Iraq, and men often struggle to feed their families by working jobs such as the construction work the Hillah residents were seeking. Sunday is a working day in mostly Muslim Iraq. ``The sudden explosion shook the whole area and shattered the windows of a store I was standing outside of nearby,'' said Muhsin Hadi Alwan, 33, one of the wounded day laborers. ``The ground was covered with the remains of people and blood, and survivors ran in all directions. How will I feed the six members of my family when I return home without work and without money?'' Alwan said.
Baquba (Reuters) - Sunni insurgents swept through parts of the volatile city of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, attacking a police checkpoint and shooting some residents after pulling them from their homes and cars, police said on Sunday. As with the Hillah bombing, I'm going to provide a more extended excerpt, and I recommend reading this Reuters story to get a fuller sense of the situation. -- C
Police had imposed a day-long curfew after Saturday's attacks in the city, which even in the chaos gripping much of Iraq ranks as one of the country's most dangerous places. It was lifted early on Sunday but gunmen still held some areas. U.S. military spokesmen declined comment on the situation. Sunni insurgents, including al Qaeda Islamists, dominate Baquba, capital of Diyala province. The region has a mixed population of Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs as well as ethnic Kurds, earning it the nickname among U.S. commanders of "Little Iraq". Many Shi'ites have fled Baquba, turning some parts into a ghost town, while Sunnis have moved into the city from rural districts where Shi'ite militias, some it seems in league with the Iraqi army and police, have raided Sunni settlements. Police in the city, frequent targets of ambushes, shootings and bombings, are ill-equipped to stand up to the Sunni insurgents fighting U.S. forces and the Shi'ite-led government. "There is not a day that passes without dozens of people being killed either from bombs, shootings or assassinations," one senior policeman, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters. "This has been going on for months." The figures could not be verified. Reuters typically reports several violent deaths a day in the province, but much of the region is inaccessible to both the media and security forces. Police said Saturday's violence began when gunmen attacked a police checkpoint, killing two policemen and wounding two. They then spread through the town, pulling people from their homes or cars and shooting them in the head after blindfolding them. The execution victims included but were not exclusively policemen and Shi'ites, police said. Mortars also rained down on one residential district, killing five people and wounding 10. Separately, gunmen loyal to Shi'ite cleric and militia commander Moqtada al-Sadr burned shops in a market in reprisal for an attack on their offices in the town, police said. By Sunday morning, police had lifted the curfew but had blocked off the main street. Gunmen remained in control of four districts and attacked a second checkpoint, police said. The violence again highlighted the weakness of Iraq's U.S.-trained security forces, which are a key part of Washington's plans for an eventual withdrawal of its troops.
(Near Baquba) Eight people were killed when gunmen attacked their minibus. The passengers were mainly farm laborers. U.S. and Iraqi forces also killed 12 insurgents, detained 11, and freed eight Iraqi hostages while conducting raids in Baqouba and two villages near Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, police said. I put this here because the story is not specific about exactly what happened where. Basra Securiforce, a British-based firm that provides security services in Iraq, said that one of its employees was killed and three others injured in violence in Iraq on Friday, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Sunday. Note: This is the incident that led to confusion over the fate of the hostages taken from the military supply convoy on the same day. This confirms the circumstances. -- C Kirkuk Gunmen opened fire at a gathering of people and killed two, police said. A suicide attacker on Sunday detonated his explosives belt at a Kurdish funeral in Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, killing at least three people and wounding 17, police said. The attack occurred shortly after sunset as people gathered to pay condolences to the family of a Kurdish man who was shot dead late Saturday, said Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qader. Iraqi Police sources in Kirkuk said that unknown gunmen assassinated a tribal leader in Hwaijah district southwest of Kirkuk. KUNA also reports: Ramadi US land troops killed three gunmen and arrested two suspects, while five other gunmen were killed when US helicopters targeted their car using guided missiles. KUNA doesn't attribute this but evidently it's info provided by the U.S. military. Mosul Gunmen killed Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Ganim from the Facility Protection Services (FPS) along with his driver in a drive-by shooting, a hospital source said. Gunmen also killed an Iraqi soldier, Reuters reports. Kurdish singer Masud Goran is shot dead. Haditha A suicide car bomb at a polic checkpoint killed one policeman and wounded another on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday. Statistics and overviews on the level of violence WaPo's Walter Pincus discusses the complexity of the conflict.
Sunday, November 19, 2006. Walter Pincus, Washington Post Washington -- Attacks in Iraq reached a high of approximately 180 a day last month, reflecting an increasingly complicated conflict that includes sectarian clashes of Sunni and Shiite militias on top of continuing strikes by insurgents, criminal gangs and al- Qaida terrorists, according to the directors of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. "No single narrative is sufficient to explain all the violence we see in Iraq today," Gen. Michael Hayden, the CIA director, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Attempting to describe the enemy, the DIA director, Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, listed "Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, former military, angry Sunni, jihadists, foreign fighters and al-Qaida" who create an "overlapping, complex and multipolar Sunni insurgent and terrorist environment." He added that "Shia militias and Shia militants, some Kurdish Pesh Merga [a militia] and extensive criminal activity further contribute to violence, instability and insecurity." In unusually harsh terms, the two intelligence directors spelled out how quickly the violence in Iraq has escalated this year, from some 70 attacks a day in January to some 100 a day in May and to last month's figure. "Violence in Iraq continues to increase in scope, complexity, and lethality" despite Iraqi government and U.S.-led coalition operations, Maples said. He described "an atmosphere of fear and hardening sectarianism which is empowering militias and vigilante groups, hastening middle-class exodus and shaking confidence in government and security forces." "The longer this goes on, the less controlled the violence is, the more the violence devolves down to the neighborhood level," Hayden said. Although the Bush administration continues to emphasize the role of al-Qaida in Iraq, Maples described the current situation as "mostly an intra-Arab struggle to determine how power and authority will be distributed" with or without the U.S. presence. Al- Qaida and foreign terrorist numbers were put at roughly 1,300, while Hayden put the insurgents at "low tens of thousands." Maples estimated the Iraqi insurgents, including militias, at 20,000 to 30,000 plus many more who supply support.
Number of wounded treated at Landstuhl drops after a sharp spike in Sept.-Oct. This is another indication that CentCom has decided to pull back a bit after the failure of Operation Together Forward. At least that's how it appears to me. -- C Thanks as always to Whisker for the invaluable contribution. Other News of the Day Iraqi Forces Detain 400 Suspected Insurgents While Searching for 4 Kidnapped Americans. The suspect status of at least some of these suspects appears suspect, however.
BASRA, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi forces searching for four Americans and an Austrian who were kidnapped in southern Iraq detained about 200 suspected insurgents, police said Sunday. Police carrying machine guns and wearing fatigues and black face masks showed off their suspects Sunday by inviting the media to a police station where their prisoners were blindfolded and forced to sit on the ground outside. One of the suspects was a disabled man who had lost both legs at the knee and was sitting in a wheelchair. Police Maj. Gen. Ali al-Moussawi said the men were detained late Saturday night by Iraqi soldiers who raided several areas north of Basra, the city that is 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. Basra is where most of the 7,200 British soldiers in Iraq are based. Al-Moussawi said none of the hostages had been found during the raids.
U.S. embassy believes the hostages are alive. A previously unknown group calling itself Islamic Companies is claiming responsibility for the kidnapping. The group has released a videotaped message saying it's holding the five men and demanding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and the release of all prisoners being held there. One more of the mercenaries taken hostage is identified. Paul Reuben, of Minneapolis, has been identified previously. The Austrian government says it knows who the Austrian hostage is, but has not publicly identified him.
Jonathon M. Cote, 23, a native of suburban Buffalo and a guard for Crescent Security Group, has been missing since Thursday, when a large convoy of trucks his group was escorting was hijacked in southern Iraq, family members confirmed Saturday. . . A product of the Williamsville school system, Cote joined the Army after high school in 2001. "I figured I could serve my country for four years while I was figuring out what to do with the rest of my life," Cote told The Buffalo News in 2003, during an interview for a story on Western New York soldiers returning home for the holidays. Cote spent seven months in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division and talked about the stresses and dangers of serving there. "You're out there in the middle of nowhere and you go out on mission," he said. "You go into a village, and you didn't know who was who. The bad guys blend in with the good guys." After Afghanistan, Cote served in Iraq for four months, before he was honorably discharged in early 2004, according to family members. In that 2003 interview, Cote also talked about being proud of his service in Afghanistan, but that he never felt a sense of accomplishment. "I always wondered what I was doing there," Cote said. "I could never figure it out. You didn't know what the heck was going on, but you just did your job."
Talabani and an Iraqi government entourage scheduled to visit Iran November 24. War architects turn on the CinC. (Well, the alternative would be to admit that they were wrong about the whole project in the first place. That's no the neocon style. - C)
By Peter Baker, Washington Post Staff Writer. Sunday, November 19, 2006 The weekend after the statue of Saddam Hussein fell, Kenneth Adelman and a couple of other promoters of the Iraq war gathered at Vice President Cheney's residence to celebrate. The invasion had been the "cakewalk" Adelman predicted. Cheney and his guests raised their glasses, toasting President Bush and victory. "It was a euphoric moment," Adelman recalled. Forty-three months later, the cakewalk looks more like a death march, and Adelman has broken with the Bush team. He had an angry falling-out with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld this fall. He and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms. And he believes that "the president is ultimately responsible" for what Adelman now calls "the debacle that was Iraq." Adelman, a former Reagan administration official and onetime member of the Iraq war brain trust, is only the latest voice from inside the Bush circle to speak out against the president or his policies. Heading into the final chapter of his presidency, fresh from the sting of a midterm election defeat, Bush finds himself with fewer and fewer friends. Some of the strongest supporters of the war have grown disenchanted, former insiders are registering public dissent and Republicans on Capitol Hill blame him for losing Congress. A certain weary crankiness sets in with any administration after six years. By this point in Bill Clinton's tenure, bitter Democrats were competing to denounce his behavior with an intern even as they were trying to fight off his impeachment. Ronald Reagan was deep in the throes of the Iran-contra scandal. But Bush's strained relations with erstwhile friends and allies take on an extra edge of bitterness amid the dashed hopes of the Iraq venture. "There are a lot of lives that are lost," Adelman said in an interview last week. "A country's at stake. A region's at stake. This is a gigantic situation. . . . This didn't have to be managed this bad. It's just awful." The sense of Bush abandonment accelerated during the final weeks of the campaign with the publication of a former aide's book accusing the White House of moral hypocrisy and with Vanity Fair quoting Adelman, Richard N. Perle and other neoconservatives assailing White House leadership of the war. Since the Nov. 7 elections, Republicans have pinned their woes on the president. "People expect a level of performance they are not getting," former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said in a speech. Many were livid that Bush waited until after the elections to oust Rumsfeld. "If Rumsfeld had been out, you bet it would have made a difference," Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said on television. "I'd still be chairman of the Judiciary Committee." And so, in what some saw as a rebuke, Senate Republicans restored Trent Lott (Miss.) to their leadership four years after the White House helped orchestrate his ouster, with some saying they could no longer place their faith entirely in Bush. Some insiders said the White House invited the backlash. "Anytime anyone holds themselves up as holy, they're judged by a different standard," said David Kuo, a former deputy director of the Bush White House's faith-based initiatives who wrote "Tempting Faith," a book that accused the White House of pandering to Christian conservatives. "And at the end of the day, this was a White House that held itself up as holy."
And speaking of rats heading down the gangplank, Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says military victory is no longer possible in Iraq. He tells BBC television he doesn't believe it's possible to get sectarian violence under control and a unified Iraqi government established in an acceptable time period. "Kissinger says if any progress is to be made in the region, the U-S must enter into dialogue with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran. But he warns against a rapid withdrawal of troops. He says that could lead to ``disastrous consequences,'' destabilizing Iraq's neighbors and causing a long-lasting conflict." Experts on military justice are mystified by the leniency shown to participants in the murder of an Iraqi man in Hamdaniyah. Excerpt:
By Linda Deutsch and Thomas Watkins, Associated Press CAMP PENDLETON - In the beginning, there were eight. A squad of seven Marines and a Navy corpsman charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man, a crime described by a prosecutor as especially brutal. They faced military trials; the death penalty was possible. And now there are four. In the six months the men have been held at the Camp Pendleton brig, the profile of the Al-Hamdaniyah cases has changed dramatically. The death penalty is off the table and four of the defendants have struck plea bargains. Some observers of the military justice system find the developments mystifying. Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor and judge who teaches law of war at Georgetown University Law Center, said he was surprised by the number of plea agreements in this case. ``It's a wonderment to me that it's happening in the military system,'' he said. The group was accused of kidnapping 52-year-old Hashim Ibrahim Awad in the town of Al-Hamdaniyah, taking him to a roadside hole, shooting him and then trying to cover up the incident. According to court testimony, the service members planned to kidnap and kill a known insurgent, and when they couldn't get to him, some members of the squad went into Awad's home. ``They killed a 52-year-old crippled man in cold blood,'' Lt. Col. John Baker, a prosecutor, said during a recent hearing. ``They killed a retired police officer with 11 children and four grandchildren. Hashim Awad was a very forgiving and gentle man. He was precisely the kind of man'' the Marines were sent to help. Despite the prosecution's argument that the Marine squad was a lawless gang intent on killing, Baker and the military justice system agreed to plea deals resulting in minimal sentences. Judges have listened to testimony and recommended sentences, only to have them trumped by plea bargains. Defense lawyers have said their clients did no wrong, and would be found not guilty at trial.
Incoming Sen. Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy calls for release of documents on torture. Good luck with that, Senator. Excerpt:
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, asked the Justice Department to release two newly acknowledged documents, which set U.S. policy on how terrorism suspects are detained and interrogated. The CIA recently acknowledged the existence of the documents in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The first is a directive President Bush signed giving the CIA authority to establish detention facilities outside the United States and outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees. The second is a 2002 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA's general counsel regarding interrogation methods that the spy agency may use against al-Qaeda leaders. "The American people deserve to have detailed and accurate information about the role of the Bush administration in developing the interrogation policies and practices that have engendered such deep criticism and concern at home and around the world," Leahy wrote Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Commentary, Opinion, Analysis Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA, calls for withdrawal. Excerpt:
Congressman Barney Frank showed honesty during his Monday visit to campus as he discussed his views on the Iraq war. Frank is a Representative of the Fourth Congressional District in Massachusetts. He represents residents of Bristol county and parts of Plymouth, Suffolk, and Norfolk counties. He has served in Congress since 1981, and has recently been appointed to be Chairman of the Banking Committee in Congress. Frank stressed that he had opposed the current involvement in Iraq from the beginning. "I voted against this war from the beginning," said Frank. "I think that we should pull out of Iraq. I see no negative consequences from withdrawing, either." He believed that there are other areas of the world which the U.S. should be focusing on instead of Iraq. "Right now the problem in the world that we should be focusing on is not Iraq, but Afghanistan," said Frank. "Heroin production in that country has gone from 24% to 44%, and it remains the world's largest producer of heroin. In addition, there is more support of terrorists going on in the area of Afghanistan and Pakistan than there was when terrorism was being supported by the Taliban." Frank said that the money spent on the Iraq war could have been used for projects at home. "Since the start of the war, Congress has spent 400 billion dollars," said Frank. "We could have spent that money on Social Security and Medicare and had those programs completely funded for the next 100 years." ''It is estimated that the United States spends approximately two billion dollars per week in Iraq, according to Frank. "The world-wide consensus is that President Bush is doing a poor job with his foreign policy," said Frank. "The reason is because of what he's doing in Iraq." Frank pointed out that the Bush Administration assumed a lot about the people of the Middle East. "It was the assumption of the Bush administration that people in the Middle East, would set aside their differences and support America," said Frank. "Clearly the 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' reason for invading Iraq was an excuse."
Another bodacious rant from Robert Fisk. Excerpt:
So the Ministry of Fear now has a Dowager of Fear, the good Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller who has discovered in the sanctum of MI5 another 30 "terror plots" to terrify us - and an entire generation of plots before the show is over. And how Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara admires her. "I think she is absolutely right that it will last a generation," he announces. Absolutely, indeed. The favourite Blair adverb, always trotted out when he really, truly and of course absolutely believes he is right; which is not the same at all, of course, as actually being right, which needs a lot more than belief to support it. What is this trash? Accepting - which Blair can't do, can he? - that the risk to us is caused by his pusillanimous, mendacious policies in the Middle East (and that of his lord and master in Washington) would cut this latest bulletin from the Ministry of Fear down to a mere couple of years' worth of terror instead of a generation. And note the smarmy way that officials in the Ministry of Fear now try to squeeze in a little bit of truth to take the edge off all those lies. According to Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the war in Iraq is not to blame for the "terror plots" we are facing. No, "it is now clearly the case that although the Iraq war did not create violent jihad, it has become a convenient excuse for violent jihad". Come again, my good Lord? Now, let me get this right. Iraq has nothing to do with the "terror plots" - this, he says, is "clearly" the case ("clearly" being a notch down the road of lies from "absolutely", which might be pushing Lord Carlile's luck on this occasion). So the threats have nothing to do with Iraq but, er, well, yes, he tells us that they have, because the inventors of the "terror plots" lie to us about the real reasons for their deeds. Note the deceit in this. We are permitted to link Iraq to the "terror threat", providing we do so on the grounds that the perpetrators are lying to us about Iraq. And so what are the real reasons for the plots? Why - Lord Blair again - the answer is they hate our "values", values which Blair cared nothing about when he illegally invaded Iraq. And sometimes, wading through this drivel, I wonder what the Iraqis think of it, those who are paying - in their tens of thousands of lives - for our folly?
Boston Globe calls for withdrawal. They choose not to remind us that they originally shared the "comforting illusions and ... unwillingness to face reality," supporting the war both editorially, and through uncritical regurgitation of administration lies in their news pages. The Globe has never properly acknowledged its complicity. -- C. Excerpt:
PRESIDENT BUSH and his advisers led America into a calamitous impasse in Iraq thanks to their penchant for comforting illusions and their unwillingness to face reality. Now that voters have made it plain the country has lost patience with a war that has lasted longer than World War II, it is time to forge an exit strategy. There is no more time for illusions. Once, it might have been possible to help Iraqis create a stable, democratic state to replace the genocidal despotism of Saddam Hussein. But the Bush administration's disregard of historical and political conditions in Iraq, coupled with a fatal refusal to heed advice from people who knew the country well, has left policy makers today with a narrow range of choices. At best, they can settle for a way of ending the war that accepts a painful outcome so that the worst can be avoided. To see the situation clearly, Bush and his team must recognize the stark truth about the sectarian killings and the violent expulsions of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs from their homes. The horrors let loose in Iraq today go beyond the binary violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Arabs. In the predominantly Shi'ite south of the country, rival militias conduct their own version of gang warfare. In the Sunni Arab areas of western Iraq, there is mushrooming mayhem among foreign jihadists, local insurgents, criminal bands, and tribal fighters. The sooner Bush abandons the illusion that US troops can stop this many-sided internecine warfare in the Arab sectors of Iraq, the sooner he will accept the futility of prolonging a mission that can no longer be achieved.
Norman Solomon on corporate media offensive against withdrawal from Iraq. Well sure -- they don't want the war to end, it's a good story. They also don't want to admit that they shared responsibility for what will ultimately be a horrific failure. -- C Excerpt:
The American media establishment has launched a major offensive against the option of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. In the latest media assault, right-wing outfits like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page are secondary. The heaviest firepower is now coming from the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA -- the front page of the New York Times. The present situation is grimly instructive for anyone who might wonder how the Vietnam War could continue for years while opinion polls showed that most Americans were against it. Now, in the wake of midterm elections widely seen as a rebuke to the Iraq war, powerful media institutions are feverishly spinning against a pullout of U.S. troops. Under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say," the Nov. 15 front page of the New York Times prominently featured a "Military Analysis" by Michael Gordon. The piece reported that -- while some congressional Democrats are saying withdrawal of U.S. troops "should begin within four to six months" -- "this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policies." Reporter Gordon appeared hours later on Anderson Cooper's CNN show, fully morphing into an unabashed pundit as he declared that withdrawal is "simply not realistic." Sounding much like a Pentagon spokesman, Gordon went on to state in no uncertain terms that he opposes a pullout. If a New York Times military-affairs reporter went on television to advocate for withdrawal of U.S. troops as unequivocally as Gordon advocated against any such withdrawal during his Nov. 15 appearance on CNN, he or she would be quickly reprimanded -- and probably would be taken off the beat -- by the Times hierarchy. But the paper's news department eagerly fosters reporting that internalizes and promotes the basic worldviews of the country's national security state.
OUTRAGEOUS QUOTE OF THE DAY To get out before the job is done would convince the terrorists once again that free nations will change our policies, forsake our friends and abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with violence and blackmail. -- Violent terrorist blackmailer Richard Cheney


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