Wednesday, November 15, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2006
Bring ‘em on: One U.S. soldier and three Marines were killed during combat in Anbar Province, the insurgent stronghold in western Iraq, the military said in a statement Wednesday. The soldier assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and the three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Tuesday from wounds sustained in "enemy action while operating in
A suicide bomber drove his car into a tent where a funeral was being held in the mostly Sunni-Arab neighborhood of Dora in southern
Three bodies, blindfolded with their hands and legs tied, were found by police in eastern
A car bomb exploded in a parking lot in central
Gunmen attacked the convoy of Salama al-Khafagi, a former member of the governing Council, wounding a bodyguard and killing a passer-by in the western Jamiaa district of Baghdad.
Two Shiites were killed by gunmen who set fire to their home in southern
In Baqouba, Luma al-Karkhi, who worked for the independent weekly al-Dustor, was shot and killed while on her way to work. With the slayings of al-Taie and al-Karkhi, at least 91 journalists have been killed in
Two mortar rounds landed near a police station in the city of
British forces killed an insurgent when they came under fire from a house in
Gunmen abducted 12 workers at a brick factory on Tuesday in a town near Diwaniya, 180 km south of
Gunmen killed a traffic police officer in the northern city of
A former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party was gunned down outside his home in the city of
Police found 10 bodies in the town of
The morgue in
Police retrieved the body of a woman from the Tigris river in
No space for the dead:
With no space to store bodies, some victims of the sectarian slaughter are not being kept for relatives to claim, but photographed, numbered and quickly interred in government cemeteries.
Men fearful of an anonymous burial are tattooing their thighs with names and phone numbers.
In October, a particularly bloody month for Iraqi civilians, about 1,600 bodies were turned in at the
The city's network of morgues, built to hold 130 bodies at most, now holds more than 500, he says.
Bodies are sent for burial every three or four days just to make room for the daily intake, sometimes making corpse identification impossible.
"We can't remove all the bodies just so that one can be identified and then put them all back in again," al-Obaidi said. "We simply don't have the staff."
No care for the living: Thousands of Iraqis are dying from shortages of medicine, vital equipment and qualified doctors, despite an infusion of nearly half a billion dollars from U.S. coffers into the country's health-care system, said Iraqi officials and American observers.
Raging sectarian violence -- as well as theft, corruption and mismanagement -- have drained health resources and made deliveries of supplies difficult. Exacerbating the crisis, hundreds of doctors have been killed and thousands have fled the country. The child mortality rate -- a key indicator of a nation's health -- has worsened since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to Iraqi government figures.
In the most sinister development, provincial Sunni Muslim doctors charge that Shiites who control the Health Ministry deliberately withhold medicines and other vital supplies.
Once, Iraqi health care was first-rate. Medicine and hospital care were free; doctors well-educated and respected. But neglect by Saddam Hussein and years of United Nations sanctions laid waste to the system.
At one of the busiest hospitals in
Chaos: Signs of the abduction were everywhere. A splatter of blood smeared on the gray floor. A black telephone, yanked out of its socket, tangled in a mess of cords. The dirt outlines of boot prints on a door the kidnappers had kicked. And at the reception desk, next to a pile of papers, a single pink rose, abandoned in the chaos.
This was the scene Tuesday at an Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education building, one hour after a small army of 80 gunmen, dressed in police uniforms, staged a swift, brazen daylight raid, seizing scores of employees and visitors.
It was one of the largest mass abductions since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, startling even by the standards of a nation reeling from sectarian strife, daily bombings and death squads.
Fates unknown: The fate of those kidnapped from a
An Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN that most of those kidnapped Tuesday had been freed. But on Wednesday, an Emergency police official in the Iraqi capital said no more than 20 people had been released.
It was unclear whether those released represented all of those abducted, as the Interior Ministry did not know how many were kidnapped, the Interior Ministry official said. No one was killed and no one was tortured, he said.
Al-Iraqiya state television was also reporting most of the hostages had been released.
The mass abduction occurred Tuesday as dozens of gunmen clad in old and new Iraqi National Police uniforms stormed into the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research/Scholarships and Cultural Relations Directorate building in central
After the kidnappings, the Iraqi interior minister ordered the arrests and interrogations of several high-ranking police officers over their handling of security in the area.
Crackdown: Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki Wednesday ordered a crackdown on militia carrying out mass kidnappings in
Grief: Families of Iraqi civil servants still missing a day after men in police uniform snatched them in broad daylight said on Wednesday they feared the worst for their loved ones.
"We're already receiving mourners at our home," said the father of one of those abducted on Tuesday from a Higher Education Ministry building in central
"Every day I used to watch the news and hear about all these bodies found. I feared the day would come for my son," said the man, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals.
"The last time I saw him was in our garden when he came to visit me. I'm sure the next place I see him will be the morgue," he wept.
What comes after ‘mission accomplished’?: There is no one on the Joint Chiefs of Staff who has visited Iraq more often than Gen. Mike Hagee, whose term as Commandant of the United States Marine Corps ends Monday.
Hagee took over the Marine Corps just two months before the invasion of
Looking For An Exit
Condi states the obvious: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that "there is no magic bullet" solution to the mounting problems in
"It is not an issue of whether you talk to somebody," Rice said. "I will talk to anybody, anywhere, anytime, under the right circumstances if I think we can make progress. I am not afraid to talk to anyone."
Members of the Republican foreign policy establishment and some
Wouldn’t it be better than no policy at all?: Declaring that "talking isn't a policy", the
"We believe, at this point, that we are engaged in the proper course with respect to
"You know, talking isn't a policy," he said.
Some Positive News For A Change…But No, Not From
Watchdog reprieve: The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to keep alive the federal agency that looks for waste and fraud in taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects in
On a voice vote, the chamber embraced a bipartisan plan to keep the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction open until 10 months after 80 percent of the funds for Iraqi reconstruction have been spent, whenever that is.
"The important work of this watchdog must continue, as long as American funds are being used for Iraqi reconstruction," said Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), a Maine Republican and co-sponsor of the plan with Sen. Russ Feingold (news, bio, voting record), a Wisconsin Democrat.
The office has focused on contracting problems involving large companies such as Halliburton, which was formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. In one recent report, the office said Halliburton routinely hid information about its work in
The provision to extend the office's life was attached to a military construction spending bill that was expected to pass the Senate this week. Its fate in the House was unclear.
What a whore: Last night on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) was asked to explain the midterm election results. Frist answered, “clearly, number one, the fact that we were not winning in
What a difference an election makes. In July, Frist said the conservative national security message for 2006 was, “We’re for staying the course in Iraq and the war on terror.” And as recently as last month, Frist said the
“I’m confident that we are making tremendous progress in hunting down and killing the murderers of Islamic fascism, in stabilizing the democratic governments of
How can you plan when all your options are bad?: More Americans rank Iraq as the top priority of the new Democratic-controlled Congress, but nearly three out of five say the party does not have a plan to deal with the war.
In the aftermath of an anti-Republican wave, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed lingering uncertainty about the country's direction and the ability of Democrats and President Bush to work together. Underscoring the country's political divisions, Democrats expressed more confidence and optimism than Republicans.
The poll was conducted Nov. 10-12 as the public adjusted to
While voters in Election Day surveys said corruption and scandal in Congress was one of the most important factors in their vote, the postelection poll showed that 37 percent of all adults said the war in
Where ya gonna get the troops, John?: Senator John McCain is accustomed to staking out a lonely piece of ground, but on
A majority of Americans now say they think invading
Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, has all but announced his intention to run for president, and his position on
Mr. McCain contends that the war in
The alternative, he said, is humiliation for the
Gee, John, that's really good news - the US isn't humiliated now and things aren't yet a disaster in Iraq. And 20,000 more troops is all it's going to take to keep that from happening! Well, damn, big guy, you got my vote. Not. -m
The cover your ass commission: As violence rages in Iraq—159 people, including 35 members of Iraq's police force and 3 U.S. troops, were killed Sunday—President Bush meets with the Iraq Study Group (ISG) today, an independent panel reexamining the administration's Iraq policy. The Washington Post reports that James Baker, former secretary of state and co-chairman of the ISG has been testing the waters for some time to determine how much change in
Counting our dead is objectively pro-terrorist: No one asked Michael White to count the dead soldiers in
But for almost 3 1/2 years — for no pay and no glory — White has kept a meticulous tally of every U.S. and coalition military fatality, posting the names and the numbers on his website, http://www.icasualties.org . It started as a hobby — the work of a war critic who wanted to help keep the facts straight. Today, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and New York Times use White's numbers to show the extent of the nation's collective sacrifice.This guy deserves some recognition for his good work, but our man whisker does just as much or more. My thanks to them both. -m
Amendment VI, United States Constitution: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
No rights: The Bush administration said Monday that
In court documents filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Justice Department defended the military's authority to arrest people overseas and detain them indefinitely without access to courts.
It's the first time that argument has been spelled out since President Bush signed a law last month setting up military commissions for the thousands of foreigners being held in
Bush hailed the law as a crucial tool in the war on terrorism and said it would allow prosecution of several high-level terror suspects.
Human rights groups and attorneys for the detainees say the law is unconstitutional. Prisoners normally have the right to challenge their imprisonment.
The Justice Department said Monday that the detainees have no constitutional rights because they are being held overseas. Giving military detainees access to civilian courts "would severely impair the military's ability to defend this country," government attorneys wrote.
Glenn Greenwald comments: The denial of habeas corpus rights is the most Draconian aspect of the MCA, as it authorizes detention for life with no real review and no meaningful opportunity to prove one's innocence. Sen. Chris Dodd said prior to the election that he regrets the decision not to filibuster the MCA: "I regret now that I didn't do it . . . This is a major, major blow to who we are." And Sen. Pat Leahy, soon-to-be Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has confirmed that he is "drafting a bill to undo portions of a recently passed law that prevent terrorism detainees from going to federal court to challenge the government's right to hold them indefinitely." That has to happen. At the very least, re-establishing habeas corpus rights for detainees is an absolute imperative. We simply cannot be a country that vests in the President the power to order people imprisoned for life with no real review of the charges against them, particularly when the detainees are not detained on any battlefield, and particularly when they are detained inside the U.S. There is no greater betrayal of the core principles of American political life than to have the federal government sweep people off the streets, throw them into a black hole with no contact with the outside world and no charges asserted of any kind, and simply keep them there for as long as the President desires -- in al-Marri's case, with respect to detention, now five years and counting.
At least someone still cares for the rule of law: Donald Rumsfeld, who quit as US defence secretary this week, may face criminal charges in Germany for alleged abuses in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq.
A complaint has been launched by the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a Saudi detained in
German law allows the pursuit of cases originating anywhere in the world.
Smoking gun?: After years of denials, the CIA has formally acknowledged the existence of two classified documents governing aggressive interrogation and detention policies for terrorism suspects, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
But CIA lawyers say the documents -- memos from President Bush and the Justice Department -- are still so sensitive that no portion can be released to the public.
The ACLU describes the first as a "directive" signed by Bush governing CIA interrogation methods or allowing the agency to set up detention facilities outside the
The second document is an August 2002 legal memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA general counsel. The ACLU describes it as "specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top al-Qaeda members." (This document is separate from another widely publicized Justice memo, also issued in August 2002, that narrowed the definition of torture. The Justice Department has since rescinded the latter.)
Michael Kinsley: Ordinarily, a commission like this has two possible purposes: action or inaction. Sometimes a problem is referred to a prestigious commission so that the commission can recommend what everybody knows must be done but nobody who must run for election has the nerve to propose. The commission can ram this policy down the politicians' allegedly unwilling throats. If it is bipartisan—and what fun is a commission that isn't bipartisan?—the commission also protects both parties against a stab in the back by the other...
On the other hand, sometimes a problem is referred to a commission simply to get it off the table. Action is widely perceived as necessary, and the creation of a commission can be made to look like action.
So, which is the Baker commission? It's got elements of both. Part of the idea, certainly, was to get the politicians over the hump of the election and give them something to say in the meanwhile. ("We desperately need new ideas and fresh thinking about
Good luck. The chance that this group of aging white men, plus
Presidents have foolishly claimed that authority. And now, inevitably, we have a president who is stuck with a war that he insisted on and a citizenry that has no interest in it.
Marjorie Cohn: Prosecuting a war of aggression isn't Rumsfeld's only crime. He also participated in the highest levels of decision-making that allowed the extrajudicial execution of several people. Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which constitutes a war crime. In his book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh described the "unacknowledged" special-access program (SAP) established by a top-secret order Bush signed in late 2001 or early 2002. It authorized the Defense Department to set up a clandestine team of Special Forces operatives to defy international law and snatch, or assassinate, anyone considered a "high-value" Al Qaeda operative, anywhere in the world. Rumsfeld expanded SAP into
But Rumsfeld's crimes don't end there. He sanctioned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and thus constitute war crimes. Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. According to Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld sanctioned the use of physical coercion and sexual humiliation to extract information from prisoners. Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding, where the interrogator induces the sensation of imminent death by drowning. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture.
Rumsfeld was intimately involved with the interrogation of a Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantánamo in late 2002. General Geoffrey Miller, who later transferred many of his harsh interrogation techniques to Abu Ghaib, supervised the interrogation and gave Rumsfeld weekly updates on his progress. During a six-week period, al-Qahtani was stripped naked, forced to wear women's underwear on his head, denied bathroom access, threatened with dogs, forced to perform tricks while tethered to a dog leash, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Al-Qahtani was kept in solitary confinement for 160 days. For 48 days out of 54, he was interrogated for 18 to 20 hours a day.
Even though Rumsfeld didn't personally carry out the torture and mistreatment of prisoners, he authorized it. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, a commander can be liable for war crimes committed by his inferiors if he knew or should have known they would be committed and did nothing to stop of prevent them. The U.S. War Crimes Act provides for prosecution of a person who commits war crimes and prescribes life imprisonment, or even the death penalty if the victim dies.
Richard Gwyn: On election night last week, while President George W. Bush announced the resignation of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he also declared that his goal in
By contrast, at the weekend Bush Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton said, "We're willing to talk about anything" even while describing any fixed withdrawal timetable as "a true disaster for the Iraqi people."
It is, in fact, entirely possible that
The insurgents would read it as an admission of defeat. American power and influence in
The consequence could well be all-out civil war and unrestrained sectarian violence leading to a breakup of the country.
It's at least equally possible, though, that no alternative exists any longer.
Ordinary Americans clearly have arrived at the point where they will no longer support a war that costs them blood and money and that itself has become pointless now that the last justification for it — the hope of installing a democracy in Iraq — has vanished.
The start of fragging by disillusioned American soldiers would mark the arrival of the moment at which the
This could happen because the proud and formidably efficient American military would risk being destroyed by a war that goes on and on without purpose, exactly as happened in
The cut-and-run stage hasn't yet arrived. But it's close.
As is the ultimate paradox, about the only people who can now prevent it are the Iraqis themselves; the Americans have become their hostages.
Simon Jenkins: In America last week I was shocked at how unaware even anti-war Americans are (like many Britons) of the depth of the predicament in
From all available reports,
The Iraqi army, such as it is, cannot be deployed outside its local area and is therefore useless for counter-insurgency. There is no central police force. There is no public administration. The Maliki government barely rules the Green Zone in which it is entombed. American troops guard it as they might an outpost of the French Legion in the
To talk of a collapse into civil war if "we leave"
Family members say a Panama City Beach, Florida soldier who earned a Purple Heart during his first tour of duty in
Spc. Harry A. Winkler III, 32, and First Lt. Michael A. Cerrone, 24, of
Lee Hopkins, who came from Wellingborough, was one of four British service personnel who died in an attack during a boat patrol near
The widow of Army Staff Sgt. Richwell A. Doria, who was killed by small-arms fire during an air assault and rescue mission last week in