DAILY WAR NEWS FOR SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2006
Iraqi police load bodies of Shi'ites killed by gunmen into a truck in front of Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital December 10, 2006. Gunmen stormed into the homes of two Shi'ite families in a predominantly Sunni Arab district of Baghdad on Sunday, killing nine people, police said. (Ali Jasim/Reuters)
Gunmen attacked two Shiite homes in western Baghdad, killing 10 people, police said Sunday
. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred at about 11 p.m. Saturday in the mostly Sunni Arab al-Jihad neighborhood, two policemen said. The attack appeared to have been conducted by Sunni Arabs in retaliation for earlier attacks on Sunnis in the capital.
On Sunday morning, clashes erupted between Sunni and Shiite militants in Baghdad's mixed western Amil district, a policeman said
. One Shiite militiaman was killed and six people - five Sunnis and one Shiite - were wounded, the officer said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media. The clashes broke out at 8:45 a.m. when about 50 Shiite militiamen raided a Sunni neighborhood of the Janabat tribe, the officer said. The fighting ended with U.S. and Iraqi forces rushed to the area to contain it, he said. The area is near a Sunni pocket of Hurriyah, another mixed neighborhood where fighting occurred Saturday. Witnesses said Shiite militiamen entered Hurriyah after Sunnis warned the few Shiites living there to leave or be killed. Heavy machine gun fire was heard and three columns of black smoke rose into the sky, the witnesses said on condition of anonymity, also out of concern for their own safety.
17 corpses, three of them headless, were recovered by police in nothern Baghdad's Al-Hurriyah neighbourhood
, according to "a security official." AFP also reports:
A total of 40 bodies -- many of them shot and tortured -- were found across Baghdad on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said
- Five people were killed and six wounded in clashes between Shiite militiamen and members of the Sunni Janabat tribe in the nearby Al-Amil neighbourhood on Sunday.
- Police Colonel Yarub Khazal from the security team of former deputy prime minister Ahmed Chalabi was shot dead by gunmen as he was driving his car in west Baghdad's Yarmuk neighbourhood, the security official added.
- In the same area a roadside bomb exploded as an Iraqi army patrol passed, wounding three soldiers.
. Reuters also reports:
- A mortar round landed on Kadhimiya district in northwestern Baghdad, killing two people and wounding two others on Saturday, an Interior Ministry source said.
- The headless bodies of three people were found in the Hurriya district of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
Seven people, including a policeman, were shot in a series of attacks in the provincial capital of Baquba.
Abu Saida (Also in Diyala province)
Gunmen killed two children. Five other people, three of them children, were wounded in the Abu Saida attack, police said, adding that they were all in the same car
U.S. forces say they killed three insurgents who were 'observed emplacing an improvised explosive device' in Saqlawiyah, west of Baghdad
The bodies of three people, shot and tortured, were found in the town of Mahmudiya, 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, police said
Police said gunmen shot dead a security guard from a local hospital while he was on his way to work
A suicide bomber driving a pick-up truck rammed his vehicle into a parking of fuel trucks, setting four oil trucks on fire, police said
Gunmen shot dead a barber
. Note: This suggests an attack by religious extremists -- C
Gunmen opened fire at a bakery and killed a 15- year-old worker in Kirkuk, police said
. Whereas this suggests sectarian violence, or possibly an extortion racket -- C
A hospital source said they received the bodies of two policemen and a soldier with gunshot wounds on Saturday
Three Iraqi soldiers were killed by a sniper near the restive city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, on Sunday, a local police source said
. "An insurgent sniper gunned down three Iraqi soldiers while they were conducting foot patrol in Saqlawiyah town near Fallujah at about 9:00 a.m. (0600 GMT)," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The attack prompted soldiers to fire back, and the crossfire wounded five pedestrians, including a woman and a seven-year-old child, the source said.
Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a joint U.S.-Iraqi checkpoint in Ramadi, killing a university student who was standing nearby, police said
Gunmen attacked a residential district with mortar rounds, wounding three people in the city of Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, police said
As usual, tip o' th' hat to Whisker for compiling the info. Once again I note that this comes from Reuters, AFP, AP, and Xinhua. The account in your local paper will typically consist only of the AP report, while Atrios or Juan Cole might post the Reuters fact box. This gives people the impression that they are seeing a fairly complete accounting of the day's violence. The fact is, we know that even doing our best to pull together info from all of these sources, we are only getting a fraction of it. -- C
OTHER NEWS OF THE DAY
Talabani rejects call of ISG for U.S. "advisers" to be embedded throughout Iraqi security services, calls it an insult to national sovereignty. (Note, however, that he has earlier complained about the ISG's endorsement of strong central government and sharing of oil revenues, and he complains here (not in the excerpt) about its recommendations to reverse de-Baathification and its rejection of a referendum over Kirkuk. -- C)
Talabani told journalists Sunday that the Iraq Study Group's call for the United States to pressure Baghdad into speeding up its process of national reconciliation was an insult to Iraq's national sovereignty.
"If you read this report one would think that it is written for a young, small colony that they are imposing conditions on, neglecting the fact that we are a sovereign country, and respected," he said.
The president was angered by the recommendation that more US troops be directly assigned to Iraqi army units, demanding instead that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki be given full command of all Iraqi forces.
"Our Iraqi people are able to run the country, we've proven that," he insisted, noting that the country has held two elections and a referendum.
"Perhaps many people are surprised that we haven't been able to achieve security? It's because our hands are tied. The prime minister cannot move 10 soldiers from a place to another place. How can we provide security?" he asked.
If Iraq is given control over its own armed forces and is allowed to oversee training with American support, the 132,000-strong US force in Iraq might be able to go home within one or two years, he promised.
Talabani said he would write to US President George W. Bush -- whom he described as "courageous" -- to make clear Iraqi objections to the study group advice, much of which the US leader has already discarded.
"As a whole, I reject this report," Talabani told a news conference in English and Arabic at his residence in Baghdad, which was called explicitly to denounce the work of the Iraq Study Group.
Read in Full
Iran's foreign minister offers to assist U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, but only if the U.S. withdraws all its forces from the region, to be replaced by a Gulf "security alliance." Okaaaaayyyyy
By JIM KRANE, The Associated Press. December 10. 2006
Iran's foreign minister delivered a blunt challenge to the United States yesterday, saying Tehran is willing to help U.S. troops withdraw from neighboring Iraq, but only if Washington makes some tough policy changes.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki claimed U.S. troops were responsible for at least half the violence tearing apart Iraq and that their departure would pay security dividends for the entire region.
"If the United States changes its attitude, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help with the withdrawal from Iraq," Mottaki told the International Institute of Strategic Studies conference here. "Fifty percent of the problem of insecurity in Iraq is the presence of foreign troops."
Mottaki echoed calls made last week by Iran's top national security official, Ali Larijani, for Gulf Arab countries to eject American bases in their countries and establish a regional security pact with Iran. Mottaki went further and offered deeper cooperation with the six Gulf Arab states on energy, tourism, business and counter-narcotics.
Iran's offers do not seem to have tempted Gulf neighbors who are apparently more worried about the dangers of living near Iran's nuclear facilities, especially amid threats by Washington and Israel to use military force to destroy them.
Mottaki's forceful speech was a challenge to U.S. interests in the Gulf and a strong display of the country's rising assertiveness in the face of U.S. failures in the region. At one point, Mottaki addressed an international audience that included U.S. Vice Adm. David Nichols, the deputy chief of U.S. Central Command, and said the regional chaos sparked by the Bush administration's twin wars demonstrated that U.S. military force was no longer a realistic policy option in the Middle East.
"Today the time of threats is over. The period of unilateralism is over," Mottaki said. "Look at Iraq. Look at Afghanistan. That gives us a very important lesson."
Iran's proposal for a Gulf security alliance shows no sign of gaining traction among the region's Arab leaders. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said security of the energy-rich region depends on the United States, the European Union and other major oil-importing countries.
Read in Full
Prison warden is arrested in escape of Saddam Hussein's nephew Ayman Sabaw
Kurdish chair of panel working to develop a policy on distribution of Iraq's oil revenues says agreement is near
, but it is not at all clear that it really is, nor that the results, should they emerge, will promote national unity. Excerpt:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi legislation intended to resolve the politically charged question of distributing the country’s oil wealth is nearing completion, the chairman of a panel drafting the law said yesterday.
The distribution of oil revenues, the mainstay of Iraq’s economy, is at the heart of some of Iraq’s most contentious political issues, including the push by Shiite leaders to allow the oil-rich south of Iraq to set up a self-rule region a similar to a Kurdish one in the north.
"We have reached important agreements. I cannot put a timeframe on when it will be ready, but we are very keen on achieving that as soon as possible," said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd who chairs the group. "We hope that we will reach a comprehensive agreement that will enhance the oil sector and make oil a unifying factor to all Iraqis."
But he said key issues still need to be resolved, including "the administration of the oil sector, deals and contracts."
Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurdish region’s prime minister, said Thursday that talks he held with the Baghdad government this month failed to produce an agreement on his demands for control of oil resources in the region.
"We demand that the signing of contracts to develop oil fields in Kurdistan should be handled by the Kurdistan region," he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Read in Full
The NYT has more detail on the composition of the committee
and the matters at issue, although they don't seem to have more on what is actually in the draft proposal.
Ranger alleges war crimes. This is a strange story which seems to have gotten only local attention. I doubt it will go anywhere, but it has interesting layers of meaning. Put it this way: it would have been better if this guy had come forward without robbing a bank first. --C
Bank-robbery suspect wants to put government on trial
By PAUL SHUKOVSKY, P-I REPORTER
An Army Ranger accused of holding up a Tacoma bank plans to use the notoriety of his case to reveal what he characterizes as systematic war crimes -- rapes, homicides and political assassinations -- committed by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spc. Elliott Sommer is allegedly part of a four-member Ranger crew from Fort Lewis involved in the armed robbery Aug. 7 of a Bank of America branch, court documents show.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Sommer, who has dual Canadian and U.S. citizenship, near Peachland, B.C., on Aug.11. The 20-year-old Sommer is under house arrest at his mother's Peachland home pending the outcome of an extradition request by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington.
Sommer said he wants to use extradition proceedings in Canada to put the U.S. government on trial. "We are looking to be able to prosecute 30 to 40 members of Task Force 626 for war crimes, including rape, murder, et cetera," Sommer said in a telephone interview this week.
Task Force 626 is a classified military unit that includes elite Delta Force and CIA operatives whose mission is to capture or kill "high-value" targets in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sommer, who said he served in Iraq in 2004 and Afghanistan in 2005, portrays himself as driven by moral imperatives and an intense sense of duty to the helpless people he saw victimized by U.S. soldiers and intelligence officers.
Although he stopped short of admitting to the bank robbery, he suggested that the "hypothetical motive" for such a crime might have been creating a high-profile platform for speaking out about war crimes. Asked if he was going public with the allegations to curry favor in advance of his criminal trial, Sommer said: "This isn't going save my ass. If I committed a bank robbery, I deserve to go jail. That's acceptable.
"Sacrifices have to be made for the greater good. This is not a crafty method of gaining public support," he said. "I have seen people issue orders to cover up the deaths of as many as 16 innocent people," Sommer said. He spoke of one incident in which he alleges a commanding general in Afghanistan ordered the cover-up of such an execution. "That is a bad policy. Those policies are what I'm standing up against."
Sommer recalled one instance in which he helped a CIA officer and a Delta Force sergeant load two 105 mm howitzer shells into a vehicle in Baghdad's Green Zone. He learned later that they detonated the shells, killing four men -- one of whom was a radical Islamic politician who was the front-runner for elective office.
Sommer also spoke of U.S. forces sending captives "to hell -- the Battlefield Interrogation Facility." "There are people in the BIF who have been there since the beginning of the war who are probably innocent. The place is worse than Abu Ghraib (prison)."
Read in Full
IN-DEPTH REPORTING AND ANALYSIS
Black market booms in weapons diverted from U.S. stocks given to Iraqi security forces
. This reporter courageously visited Sulamaniya in peaceful, independent, unoccupied Kurdistan and is shocked, shocked, to find U.S.-issued Glocks and Kalashnikovs for sale in the bazaar. But you can readily imagine the situation in strife-torn parts of the country. - C
Arms dealers say that rising prices have led to more extensive pilfering from state armories, including the widespread theft of weapons the United States had issued to Iraq’s police officers and soldiers.
“In the south, if the Americans give the Iraqis weapons, the next day you can buy them here,” said one dealer, who sold groceries in the front of his kiosk and offered weapons in the back. “The Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police — they all sell them right away.”
No weapons were displayed when two visitors arrived. But when asked, the owner and a friend swiftly retrieved six pistols, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and three Kalashnikovs from a car and another room.
The rifles and the grenade launcher were wrapped in rice sacks. He slipped two of the rifles out of the cloth. They were spotless and unworn, inside and out, and appeared never to have been used. They had folding stocks and were priced at $560 each.
The dealer said they had recently been taken from an Iraqi armory. “Almost all of the weapons come from the Iraqi police and army,” he said. “They are our best suppliers.”
One pistol was a new Walther P99, a 9-millimeter pistol that the dealer said had been issued by the Americans to the Iraqi police. It was still in its box.
Glock pistols were also easy to find. One young Iraqi man, Rebwar Mustafa, showed a Glock 19 he had bought at the bazaar in Kirkuk last year for $900. Five of his friends have bought identical models, he said.
When asked if he was surprised that the Iraqi police and soldiers sold their own guns, he scoffed. “Everything goes to the bazaar,” he said. He added: “It is not only pistols. A lot of police cars are being sold. The smugglers brought us three cars and asked if we wanted to buy them. Their doors were still blue, and police labels were on them. The lights were still on top.”
Although the scale of weapons sales is unmistakably large, it is impossible to measure precisely. Sales are almost always hidden and unrecorded. Tracing American-issued weapons back to Iraqi units that sell them is especially difficult because the United States did not register serial numbers for almost all of the 370,000 small arms purchased for Iraqi security forces, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
The weapons were paid for with $133 million from the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. Among them were at least 138,000 new Glock pistols and at least 165,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles that had not previously been used, according to the report.
Read in Full
Military readiness lowest since Vietnam War
. (Readers will decide whether this is bad news)
Whatever its ultimate fate, the Iraq Study Group report released Wednesday should have destroyed the spurious notion that flooding Iraq with more U.S. troops might win the war. As the report makes clear, a major influx of U.S. combat brigades into Iraq is somewhere between totally unrealistic and completely impossible.
In interviews with Salon, experts who served on the study group's "working groups" explained why: The military is running out of troops and equipment. The cold, hard facts about military readiness and a 1.4 million-strong active duty force rule out a big increase in the size of the U.S. footprint in Iraq. "We don't have enough is the short answer," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University who served on the "military and security" working group of the bipartisan commission headed by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton. Advocating a big increase in troop levels now is just political theater, argued Hoffman. "This is the beginning of the who-lost-Iraq debate," he explained.
Read in Full
. It's Salon, so you have to look at an ad first
Alissa Rubin of the LA Times says Iran is the winner of the U.S. war in Iraq
. (This is hardly a novel observation but I'm linking this because it shows that the idea is breaking into the Conventional Wisdom. -- C)
London Sunday Times reports that Iyad Allawi facilitated secret talks between Khalilzad and Sunni insurgent leaders
, and that the talks broke off earlier this year. Excerpt:
Hala Jaber, Amman
SECRET talks in which senior American officials came face-to-face with some of their most bitter enemies in the Iraqi insurgency broke down after two months of meetings, rebel commanders have disclosed.
The meetings, hosted by Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s former prime minister, brought insurgent commanders and Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, together for the first time.
After months of delicate negotiations Allawi, a former Ba’athist and a secular Shi’ite, persuaded three rebel leaders to travel to his villa in Amman, the Jordanian capital, to see Khalilzad in January. “The meetings came about after persistent requests from the Americans. It wasn’t because they loved us but because they didn’t have a choice,” said a rebel leader who took part.
Last week the long-awaited report of the Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by James Baker, the former secretary of state, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman, called for America to seek to engage with all parties in Iraq, with the exception of Al-Qaeda.
However, the insurgents’ account of the hushed-up meetings reveals that concerted attempts to engage them in negotiations had already failed earlier this year.
Hopes were high when the insurgent leaders greeted Khalilzad in Amman. The Iraqis had just held their first democratic elections for a permanent government and the US ambassador hoped to broker an enduring political settlement.
Feelers had been put out to Iraqi insurgents before but not at such a high level. “The Americans had been flirting with such meetings for a while, but they needed to sit down with people who carried more weight in the insurgency,” said one leader of the National Islamic Resistance, an umbrella organisation representing some of the main insurgent groups.
The trio of Iraqi negotiators claimed to represent three-quarters of the “resistance”. It included Ansar al- Sunnah, the group responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 22 in a US army canteen in Mosul in December 2004, and also the 1920 Revolution Brigade, which has carried out many kidnappings and claimed to have shot down a British Hercules aircraft near Tikrit in January 2005, in which 10 people died.
At the first meeting with Khalilzad on January 17, the insurgents expressed concern about the emergence of Iran as a new regional power. With America equally worried about Iranian interference, the two sides appeared to have found some common ground. The talks continued in Baghdad for about eight weeks, sometimes on consecutive days at Allawi’s home.
At one point the insurgents offered Khalilzad a 10-day “period of grace” in which attacks on coalition forces would be suspended in return for a cessation of US military operations. They called for a “timetable for withdrawal”, saying that it should be announced immediately although in practice it would be “linked to the timescale necessary to rebuild Iraq’s armed forces and security services”, according to one commander.
Other demands said to have been received sympathetically by Khalilzad, such as an amnesty for insurgents and a reversal of the “de-Ba’athification” process that stripped so many Sunnis of their jobs, have now been urged by the Iraq Study Group.
There was more. Brushing aside the results of Iraq’s democratic elections, the insurgents proposed that an emergency government be formed under Allawi’s leadership. Non-sectarian politicians should be appointed to the crucial ministries of defence and the interior, they urged, because they would be responsible for rebuilding a strong national army and security service. Under this proposal, the newly elected Iraqi government would, in effect, have been sidelined.
Read in Full
Cabinet minister says Britain advised U.S. not to disband Iraqi army after invasion
LONDON: British officials tried in vain to persuade the United States not to disband the Iraqi army after the fall of Saddam Hussein, a senior Cabinet minister said in comments published Saturday. Geoff Hoon, who served as Defense Secretary during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said Britain "lost the argument" about dissolving Saddam Hussein's army. "We would not have disbanded the Iraqi army," Hoon — now the government's Europe minister — told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
"We were very concerned in the final stages of the conflict that the Iraqi army was a force for stability in Iraq, and I think we would have preferred for that army to remain intact," he was quoted as saying.
Many Iraqis and analysts believe disbanding the Iraqi army following the April 2003 toppling of the former government of Saddam Hussein was a crucial factor in destabilizing Iraq and spurring the emergence of heavily armed Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. The decision to purge members of Saddam's Baath party from senior positions has also been blamed for creating a vacuum filled by insurgents.
"I don't think we would have pursued the de-Baathification policy in quite the same way," Hoon was quoted as saying. "I think we understood from perhaps experience in Europe that quite a lot of people were Baathists, because they had to be if they wanted to be teachers or administrators, and they weren't necessarily committed to Saddam Hussein. "Those were arguments that I certainly put forward, and I know other members of the government put forward. So we lost the argument," he was quoted as saying.
Read in Full
Lest we forget: history of lies about "Weapons of Mass Destruction™
. This whole thing was about the threat posed by Saddam's unconventional weapons.
WHISKER'S ROUNDUP OF WOUNDED
"My team leader, Sgt. Puckett, saw the IED on the side of the road," recalls Greg Brown
. "They've hit our convoys before. This is the first time they actually hit one of our trucks directly. I kept driving because that's what you're supposed to do, to get out of the kill zone. And I told Puckett I was OK, he's like, 'Yeah, I'm good, too.' And Koch never responded." Brown is recovering at home and working at the Litchfield armory. "My arm got split open and they got a skin graft over that. And I got flash burns on my right hand, and I got a piece of shrapnel in my eye which is scarred over now, and they're looking at a cornea transplant," Brown said.
Jason Mikolacjik is a 20-year-old lance corporal in the Marine Corps Reserves. He hopes to make the military his career, but doesn't know if he can
. In early October, Mikolacjik was injured by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint in Fallujah, Iraq. Mikolacjik lost half of the hearing in his right ear, but has a better-than-average chance of getting it back. The problem, so far as his military career is concerned, is his skin. Mikolacjik suffered severe burns over much of his head and body. The burned tissue is healing nicely - with a little luck, he won't even have any scars. But his skin is now hyper-susceptible to sunburn
A Minnesota National Guard soldier lost both of his legs in the same bomb blast in Iraq that killed two of his best friends, his family told KSTP-TV on Tuesday
. Sgt. John Kriesel, 25, of Vadnais Heights, was hospitalized in stable but critical condition in Germany. His parents told the station Kriesel was still unconscious and unaware that his friends died or of the severity of his injuries. His arms were both in casts and he has tubes in his lungs, they said. Kriesel was wounded and Spc. Bryan McDonough, 22, of Maplewood, and Spc. Corey Rystad, 20, of Red Lake Falls, were killed when a bomb exploded near the Humvee they were riding in Saturday while on patrol near Fallujah. The National Guard said another soldier was injured, but he was expected to return to duty.
Army Specialist Scott Stephenson of Atchison, Kansas remains in critical, yet stable conditon, after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) hit his humvee late last month
. Twenty-two-year-old Army Specialist Scott Stephenson`s family is living their worst nightmare. While on patrol in Baghdad, soldier Stephenson`s humvee was hit by an IED. Scott`s family says he took the brunt of the blow and suffered bad burns. "Not only did we learn that he suffered second and third degree burns on 70 percent of his body, but then we learned that he had shattered his arm and had shrapnel in his stomach," Melissa Stephenson, Scott`s aunt, says. Despite a laundry list of critical injuries, Scott`s family says he`s improving immensely at an army burn hospital in Texas. They credit his onery streak for pulling him through.
Marine Sgt. Terrence Burke, a Dorchester native (Boston), lost his lower right leg in Fallujah in September
A local soldier was wounded in Iraq by a grenade blast that killed his best friend
. Ian Newland, 26, an Army sergeant on his second tour in Iraq, was wounded Monday by a grenade thrown into his Humvee in Baghdad. His father, Rick Newland of West Milton, said the Humvee's driver was killed and two other soldiers injured. Sgt. Newland, serving with the 126th Infantry out of Germany, suffered injuries to both legs, his face and left arm, shoulder and hand.
An Elyria soldier serving in Iraq was shot through both legs by a sniper while on patrol in the war-torn country Wednesday
. Jim Zalenka said his son, Army Pfc. James C. Zalenka, was on patrol with the 10th Mountain Division and was shot by a sniper who apparently aimed just below his body armor. “It entered through his left upper leg and just missed his groin and lodged in his right thigh,” he said. “He was patrolling and the sniper shot him from about 400 meters away,” Jim Zalenka said. “He couldn’t shoot back because there were civilians nearby.” Jim Zalenka said his son sounded groggy and in a great deal of pain, but reassured his dad by telling him the bullet had missed major arteries and bones.
Marine Cpl. Visnu Gonzalez was manning a machine gun in battle-torn Fallujah, Iraq, three years ago when a sniper shot him in the neck, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down
. Now, from his wheelchair, the highly decorated Purple Heart recipient is fighting another battle: to get a home of his own in the Pascack Valley. Until recently, the 23-year-old was receiving treatment at the James Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, Fla. But his mother, Maria Baez, a native New Yorker, took him back to the Dominican Republic two weeks ago because they have nowhere else to go.
Since 1st Lt. Daniel Patrick Moran, 25, was wounded in an explosion in Iraq in October, his life has changed
. A month into his second tour, an explosive device in Ramadi killed three of the four other men in his vehicle; the fourth is in the hospital with him with slightly less severe burns. Daniel still doesn’t know about his men’s deaths. He’ll be told later, as his body heals. He has already undergone three skin-graft surgeries to take skin from his healthy left side to cover the third-degree burns on his right. Daniel’s resting heart rate is double what it was before the accident, Victor said, and his body is burning calories at the same rate as an 8-year-old’s. Without so much of his skin, everything is more difficult and requires more energy.
Sgt. Edward W. Shaffer, 24, who was injured Nov. 13 when a roadside bomb exploded near his Bradley tank during operations in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, about 70 miles west of Baghdad
. Shaffer suffered burns over 80 percent of his body as a result of the explosion. Edward C. Shaffer said their son underwent his fourth surgery on Monday for skin grafting. He is scheduled to undergo more surgery on Thursday to replace skin cells. Edward C. Shaffer said his son remains in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the medical center. He said doctors indicated the soldier could remain in ICU for at least the next three months. Sgt. Shaffer recently has become more verbally responsive to doctors and nurses, though he remains heavily sedated. He lost both hands and a foot during surgery thus far.
Spc. Joshua Humberger, 20, of Grapeville, was in Iraq for a month when he was seriously injured by a roadside bomb Oct. 18
. His left leg was amputated at the knee and part of his lower bowel had to be removed. Joshua Humberger suffered the injuries in Ashraf, about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. A bomb detonated near an armored security vehicle he was in. He is being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington.
Iraq is not undergoing a civil war. The country is in the throes of an anti-occupation struggle. Having declared, with the installation of the current government, that Iraq is no longer occupied, the US government and media can hardly frame the current violence as a struggle against a continuing occupation. Nonetheless, what is being cast as civil war is the latest example in a long line of peoples' fighting against occupation, struggles in which those groups who collaborate with an occupier are themselves targeted by those seeking to end an occupation. Algerians fighting the French also attacked the those indigenous forces who had allied themselves with France. Moroccans targeted the goumiers, local troops who worked with the French in suppressing a rebellion against foreign control. The Vietcong fought not only Americans, but also the Vietnamese who collaborated with the occupation. Zulu Inkatha were targeted for working on behalf of South Africa's white government. Irish nationalists linked Protestants with the British occupiers. The occupiers tried to present each as an example of the intrinsic and intractable violence of these societies, which provided yet another example of their continuing need for the benevolent protection of the occupation.
Framing the Iraq tragedy as civil war forces the US media to ignore the clear inconsistencies. Shi'ite forces under Muqtada al-Sadr attack the forces of a Shi'ite-led government. News reports day after day describe terrible attacks against civilian populations, with no coverage at all of violence against American forces. Where are our mounting casualties coming from? The BBC writes that eighty percent of attacks are against the occupation forces, not against civilian targets. Iraqi targets are often people either directly collaborating or trying to collaborate with the occupation (local police and military recruits), and people whose continuing work allows the current government to function. The apparent contradiction in which Iraqis would attack those who allow the hospitals, schools, and services to continue is comprehensible only in the context of an anti-occupation struggle where an insurgency tries to prevent the functioning of a government installed by an occupation army.
Sarah Shields (This only needs to be half right to be worth considering. I think it's clear that ethnic cleansing is going on in the midst of the anti-occupation struggle, and that part of the dynamic in Iraq is a politico-military struggle among ethnically/sect based parties. Nevertheless Shields rightly directs attention at the other 70% of the story. -- C)
Second Quote of the Day
Now I'd like you to use your imagination for a second. Let's assume the unthinkable: that America had embraced Mr. Bush's "Program" in the Second World War; that German, Italian and Japanese fighters had been waterboarded, subjected to the cold cell and techniques like "long time standing." Do any of you think for even a second that these nations would have been our allies and friends in the following generations? Think of how much darker, colder and more hate-filled our world would be than it is today...