Thursday, November 16, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2006
Bring ‘em on: Four more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Thursday, bringing to at least 10 the number killed over the past two days in gun battles and roadside bomb blasts around the country. Two
Police found 40 bullet-riddled bodies in
A roadside bomb exploded at 7 a.m. in the Zayouna section of
In Amil, a section of western
Two mortar shells hit a police checkpoint near the Interior Ministry in eastern
Police also said the bullet-riddled, blindfolded bodies of four Iraqis were found in two locations of eastern
Gunmen opened fire on a bakery in eastern
A car bomb near a court killed two people and wounded five in northeastern
A roadside bomb targeted police commandos, killing one and wounding another near the national stadium of al-Shaab in eastern
A roadside bomb killed one person and wounded three others in al-Shorja area in central
A car bomb killed one person and wounded four in the northern al-Qahira district of Baghdad.
Police found the bodies of two people shot and mutilated on Wednesday in Baiji.
Three insurgents were killed and one wounded on Monday when a roadside bomb they were trying to plant exploded prematurely in
Gunmen attacked the convoy of the Governor of Mosul, Duraid Kashmula, and killed one of his guards and wounded four others in
The bodies of four people were found with gunshot wounds in Yusufiya.
No effective government: Kidnappers tortured many of the dozens of hostages seized in a daylight raid on a government building and killed some of them, a minister said as he warned that he felt
Higher Education Minister Abed Dhiab al-Ujaili, a Sunni Arab member of the Shiite-led unity government, said some 75 hostages remained in captivity after the raid by militiamen wearing police-style uniforms, 40 of them his ministry's staff.
Ujaili said he was stepping down from the government until the government secures the release of all hostages and takes action against militias suspected of carrying out kidnappings.
"Those who were set free told us that a few of the hostages have been killed, while most of them were tortured," he told AFP.
"I'm very much concerned about their welfare," he said of the remaining hostages.
Ujaili said effective action was needed against the militias before he could resume his ministerial duties.
"I'm stepping down until something has been taken actively, there's not just talking," the minister told the BBC. "The police force should be investigated and should put the right people in the right place."
When asked if he felt there was currently no effective government in
Another crisis: A dispute erupted Wednesday between Iraqi officials over the fate of dozens of hostages abducted from a government building, undermining an effort by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to project an image of authority during the crisis.
A spokesman for Abed Dhiab al-Ajeeli, the minister of higher education, said that 98 of about 150 hostages were still being held a day after the kidnapping, at the ministry’s compound. But the government’s chief spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, contended that only 39 people had been kidnapped and that all but two of the victims had been released. Both men angrily dismissed the other’s comments as false.
Late Wednesday, Mr. Dhiab, one of the few Sunni Arabs in Mr. Maliki’s Shiite-dominated cabinet, announced he was stepping down from his post until all the hostages had been rescued. In a statement, apparently directed at the Maliki administration, he said that any effort to make the kidnapping “a political issue” would be “unacceptable behavior.”
The disagreements emerged as Mr. Maliki sought to convey a sense of governmental cohesion and resolve in response to the abductions.
Refugees from liberation: The UNHCR recently estimated that nearly 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since the
As an Iranian-American refugee lawyer based in
Turkish casualties: Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul revealed that 125 Turks have been killed in
Deputies were given information on Turkish losses in Iraq as part of a notice entitled “Our Foreign Policy Entering 2007,” handed out during the budget deliberations.
Out of 91 Turks abducted, eight are still being held captive. Thirty one Turkish citizens have gone missing since their entry into
It seems clear the present policy isn't working: Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who was elected Senate majority leader yesterday, said last night that President Bush still has not grasped the urgent need to change course in
…Voter anger over the war swept his party to power with the unlikely defeat of six Republican senators, he said. Democrats must respond to that anger, he added, with hearings to keep the heat on the Bush administration, and with calls for a regional Middle Eastern conference and a revitalized Iraqi reconstruction effort.
To that end, he said, one of the first acts of the new Democratic Congress will be a $75 billion boost to the military budget to try to get the Army's diminished units back into combat shape.
Democrats will not try, Reid pledged, to play the strongest hand they have -- using Congress's power of the purse to starve the war effort of money and force the president to move. Such an effort would only elicit a veto from Bush. But he said Democrats will marshal their newly acquired power -- in hearing rooms and on the Senate floor -- to stoke public opinion and drive the debate.
"Three Americans killed yesterday, four British; 150 Iraqis taken out of that building and kidnapped; 1,800-plus went through that one
Some say pull out: Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), who has long been an advocate of withdrawing our troops from
Abazid says no increase or withdrawal – stay the course with what we have: Abizaid, who expressed hope last January that
The sectarian bloodletting and insurgent attacks remain "unacceptably high," he said, particularly in
"I would not say we've turned the corner," said Abizaid, who heads U.S. Central Command.
Asked by Democratic Senator Jack Reed to estimate how much time the
But the key to stabilizing
"I believe more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, taking more responsibility for their future," he said.
At the same time, Abizaid said he "would not recommend troop withdrawals" because that would embolden warring sects and al-Qaida operatives and signal a lack of
Abizaid's recommendation is at odds both with Democrats and Republicans.
St. John wants more troops, Abazid shoots him down: MCCAIN: Did you note that General Zinni who opposed of the invasion now thinks that we should have more troops? Did you notice that General Batise, who was opposed to the conduct of this conflict also says that we may need tens and thousands of additional troops. I don’t understand General. When you have a part of Iraq that is not under our control and yet we still — as Al Anbar province is — I don’t know how many American lives have been sacrificed in Al Anbar province — but we still have enough and we will rely on the ability to train the Iraqi military when the Iraqi army hasn’t send the requested number of battalions into
ABIZAID: Senator McCain, I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in
Meanwhile, Bush’s main priority is to avoid looking like he needs Daddy to bail him out: President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of
The initiative, begun after Bush met at the White House with his foreign policy team, parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage
The White House's decision changes the dynamics of what happens next to
"The president has asked all his national security agencies to assess the situation in
The White House review could give the administration alternatives so that it feels less pressure to fully implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report, foreign policy experts said.
Bush seems to think more troops will do the trick: President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations.
Mr Bush's refusal to give ground, coming in the teeth of growing calls in the US and Britain for a radical rethink or a swift exit, is having a decisive impact on the policy review being conducted by the Iraq Study Group chaired by Bush family loyalist James Baker, the sources said.
In an odd pairing, Zinni calls for more troops too: One of the most resonant arguments in the debate over
This is the case now being argued by many Democrats, most notably Senator Carl Levin of
But 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
Anthony C. Zinni, the former head of the United States Central Command and one of the retired generals who called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, argued that any substantial reduction of American forces over the next several months would be more likely to accelerate the slide to civil war than stop it.
“The logic of this is you put pressure on Maliki and force him to stand up to this,” General Zinni said in an interview, referring to Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister. “Well, you can’t put pressure on a wounded guy. There is a premise that the Iraqis are not doing enough now, that there is a capability that they have not employed or used. I am not so sure they are capable of stopping sectarian violence.”
Instead of taking troops out, General Zinni said, it would make more sense to consider deploying additional American forces over the next six months to “regain momentum” as part of a broader effort to stabilize Iraq that would create more jobs, foster political reconciliation and develop more effective Iraqi security forces.
Blair jumps in: British Prime Minister Tony Blair made an open plea on Monday to United States President George Bush to recognise that a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies at the core of any hopes for wider peace in the Middle East, including Iraq.
In his annual foreign policy speech, seen as a chance to recalibrate
The Baker group seems to concur – talk to
The idea of talks is widely expected to be on the list of proposals that will come out of the Iraq Study Group report next month, because co-chairman and former secretary of state James A. Baker III and other members back engaging enemies as well as allies. British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week endorsed talking with
But the Bush administration is already questioning the idea, and even supporters admit that full cooperation by both
No one can tell C+ Augustus what to do: The US state department's top official on
David Satterfield was giving testimony to the Senate armed services committee, which was reviewing
"With respect to
His remarks appeared to conflict with the position taken by President George Bush - that the Iranians would have to bring a verifiable halt to the enrichment of uranium before talks could occur.
Out front the administration furiously spins away differences. Somewhere in a back room Tony Blair gets the hell beat out of him with a rolled up newspaper: The White House has rushed to deny claims of a diplomatic rift with its closest European ally Britain, after Prime Minister Tony Blair mooted a "partnership" with US foes Iran and Syria.
As the impact of a major foreign policy address by the British leader started to sink in, the White House bristled Tuesday at suggestions Blair had struck out from
Blair on Monday laid out a "whole Middle East strategy" involving a push for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, a plan for
On Tuesday, the British premier testified by video link-up to the US Iraq Study Group, probing possible new strategies on the war and called for a "strategic choice" for
His remarks were seen by some observers in both countries as an attempt to influence
President George W. Bush's spokesman Tony Snow however told AFP on Tuesday that suggestions in the British and
"Read his speech, and you'll see there is no difference between the governments," Snow said.
And while all these idiots posture and argue the entire region is about to burst into flames. Heck of a job, George!: While American commanders have suggested that civil war is possible in Iraq, many leaders, experts and ordinary people in Baghdad and around the Middle East say it is already underway, and that the real worry ahead is that the conflict will destroy the flimsy Iraqi state and draw in surrounding countries.
"We're not talking about just a full-scale civil war. This would be a failed-state situation with fighting among various groups," growing into regional conflict, Joost Hiltermann, Middle East project director for the International Crisis Group, said by telephone from Amman, Jordan.
"The war will be over
Fighting The Totalitarian Drift
Wiretapping: Warrantless wiretaps that the government says are necessary to fight terrorism pose a threat to American democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union said in court papers filed Tuesday.
The ACLU is asking the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate a lower court decision that said the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program is unconstitutional.
President Bush has said the program is needed to detect terrorists. Opponents argue it oversteps constitutional boundaries on free speech, privacy and executive powers.
''The government's sweeping theory of executive power would allow the president to violate any law passed by Congress,'' the ACLU said. ''This theory presents a profound threat to our democratic system.
Wriggling Dick: Vice President Dick Cheney asked a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him by a former CIA operative who says the White House leaked her identity to the press.
Cheney's attorneys criticized the lawsuit in court papers, saying it invented constitutional rights, intruded on national security discussions and came two years after the statute of limitations had expired.
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson claims that she was outed as retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration's prewar intelligence on
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent years investigating who revealed her identity to syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003 but nobody was charged with the leak. Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who faces trial in January on perjury and obstruction, is the only person charged in the case.
War Crimes, Entry-Level
Haditha: An American soldier yesterday pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of three members of her family in a village near
The soldier, Specialist James Barker, also agreed to testify against three other accused soldiers. He agreed to the plea in return for a guarantee that he would not face the death penalty, his lawyers said.
The murders took place on March 12 in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of
John Jodka, a private, apologised to the family of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice during a hearing at the marines'
Prosecutors said Jodka was one of eight
The case is one of a string of incidents that have tarnished the reputation of US forces in
A True American Hero
Support Lt. Watada!: Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada appeared on national television yesterday and deflected criticism that he took the coward's way out by refusing to fight in
"I am sure everyone is afraid of getting killed," the 28-year-old artillery officer said on CNN.
"I am sure everyone doesn't want to go to prison, either," said Watada, who faces a maximum jail term of six years if convicted by a military court-martial.
"Everyone doesn't want to do a lot of things, but we have to go back to what we took an oath to -- and that was to protect and defend our country against all enemies. That includes those within our country who seek to undermine, who seek to violate the laws and basically hold themselves unaccountable and do whatever they want."
"That is not
NY Times: When President Bush announced in September that he was transferring 14 men suspected of heinous acts of terrorism to Guantánamo Bay, his aim was baldly political — to stampede Congress into passing a profoundly flawed law that set up military tribunals to try “illegal enemy combatants” and absolved U.S. officials of liability for illegally detaining and torturing prisoners.
But that cynical White House move may also have unintentionally provided the loose thread to unravel the secrecy and lawlessness that have cloaked the administration’s handling of terrorism suspects.
For more than two years, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department have vigorously battled efforts to force the administration to account for the network of secret C.I.A. camps at which specially designated prisoners are hidden away. It has resisted a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that seeks the release of documents relating to prisoner policies, including the C.I.A. prisons. Government lawyers have argued that even admitting that some documents existed would endanger national security.
But when Mr. Bush announced that he was sending the 14 prisoners to Guantánamo for trial, he effectively confirmed the existence of the secret C.I.A. prisons. Later, in the debate over the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Mr. Bush said that Congress had to absolve C.I.A. agents of any legal responsibility for their actions so he could order them to go on interrogating prisoners.
That was a major blow to the C.I.A.’s legal strategy. After all, if the president could talk about the prisons and interrogations to suit his political interests, why couldn’t they be discussed in court?
William Rivers Pitt: Gates's nomination to the post of secretary of defense was field-generaled behind the scenes by James Baker III, who has suddenly taken on a muscular role within the Bush White House since the spectacular Republican wipeout during the midterm elections last Tuesday. Baker's return, along with the new prominence of Bush Sr., has been hailed in the mainstream press as a healthy step toward stability and sanity.
One is forced to wonder, however, which masters Mr. Baker is actually serving. Baker's Carlyle Group has profited wildly from the conflict in
The weakening of George W. Bush, in short, has opened the door for an alumnus of the Iran/Contra scandal, Robert Gates, to gain control of the Pentagon - his nomination, as yet, has met with little Congressional resistance. This process was managed by James Baker, whose Carlyle Group made billions off the
Behind it all is George H.W. Bush, former employee of Carlyle, who has somehow managed to refashion his reputation into that of a grandfatherly, level-headed, steady hand, a foreign policy "realist" whose mere presence will soothe and calm the troubled waters we sail in. Unfortunately, his "realism" is a significant reason the United States finds itself in its current mess - until the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was a boon confederate of both the Reagan and Bush administrations in their fight against Iran - and the team of experts he has brought with him have done more to undermine the national security of the country than any other three people one could name.
The winner in all this, of course, is the Carlyle Group. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Robert Parry: One risk of putting career intelligence officer Robert Gates in charge of the Defense Department is that he has a secret – and controversial – history that might open him to pressure from foreign operatives, including some living in countries of
Put more crudely, the 63-year-old Gates could become the target of pressure or even blackmail unless some of the troubling questions about his past are answered conclusively, not just cosmetically.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Gates benefited from half-hearted probes by the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch into these mysteries. The investigators – some of whom were Gates’s friends – acted as if their goal was more to sweep incriminating evidence under the rug than to expose the facts to public scrutiny.
While giving Gates another pass might work for Official Washington, which always has had a soft spot for the polite mild-mannered Gates, it won’t solve the potential for a problem if other countries have incriminating evidence about him. So, before the U.S. Senate waves Gates’s through – as happened in 1991 when he was confirmed as CIA director – it would make sense to resolve two issues in particular:
--Did Gates participate in secret and possibly illegal contacts with Iranian leaders from the 1980 election campaign through the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986?
--Did Gates oversee a clandestine pipeline of weapons and other military equipment to Saddam Hussein’s regime in
Gates has denied allegations linking him to these operations, but evidence that has emerged since 1991 has buttressed claims about Gates’s involvement.
Tom Engelhardt: Like James A. Baker, co-head of the Iraq Study Group, Gates believes in negotiating with
In addition, Gates -- like Baker one of Daddy Bush's boys -- has clearly been brought in to help clean up Sonny's
Gates offers another advantage for those who prefer not to go to war again. The American high command (despite the fantasies of some administration critics) would never refuse a direct order from the commander-in-chief to bomb the gates of Hell out of
Throw in a new Democratic Congress that, as Juan Cole has written, is less likely to grant the necessary funds for such a war (though Time's Tony Karon at his Rootless Cosmopolitan website disagrees), and you have the potential for a genuine ebbing of tensions in the one area where the rash acts for which the Bush administration is by now well known could literally wreck the global economy in a matter of days. For this, a small sigh of relief is in order.
PM Carpenter: In the end, after our "peace with honor" more than two decades in the making, South
As we know, another underlying worldview dumped rather than sucked us into
Then there was the unexamined question not of
Finally there was the overlooked question of
Immanuel Wallerstein: Some people talk about dividing
Basically, there are only two ways the
Neither alternative is the least bit palatable to Bush or to the U.S. Congress. But these two alternatives represent probably the best deal the
The one thing that is sure is that there will be no
We can also be sure that bombing either
Michael Hirsh: The U.S. response to
It is the story of this administration, of course: the inability to adjust prefixed ideas to reality, embodied in an incurious president who is unable to get on top of a problem because he doesn’t follow up on details. Four years ago
John Nichols: Political and media insiders were willing to admit, albeit cautiously, that last week's election results in which Democrats took control of Congress, with explicitly anti-war candidates posting frequently unexpected wins in districts across the country represented a repudiation of the Bush administration's invasion and continued occupation of Iraq.
President Bush confirmed the assessment when he welcomed the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Unfortunately, while the analysts finally acknowledged the deep and broad opposition to the war, they continued to question whether Americans really want to bring the troops home now. They were not willing to speak the truth that Siobhan Kolar, who helped organize an anti-war referendum campaign in
The prospect of rapid withdrawal still scares the vast majority of what can loosely be referred to as "the political class" not because those who understand the seriousness of the troubles in Iraq think that withdrawal is a particularly bad option, but because they fear the American electorate might object to the abandonment of a mission that they have been told for more than three years is essential.
As they have since before the war began, most pundits and pols are underestimating the awareness and the maturity of the American people with regard to exit strategies. If only they would travel this country and actually talk to voters, they would run into people like Regina Miller, the mother of an Army captain serving his second tour in
"I really don't think we're making a difference there, so we need a change. We need to pull out. That's their war," Miller said of the Iraqis. "That's a civil war."
That is not a naive or misinformed sentiment. That's realism a realism that accepts that