Thursday, November 30, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2006
"Had we to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success, being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day." —President Bush, telling Time magazine that he underestimated the Iraqi resistance, Aug. 2004
More success stories…
In all, 15 civilians and 13 insurgents were killed in violence around
A roadside bomb exploded at a square in central
The military said that a
Tuesday Iraqi police arrested 11 insurgents who set up a fake checkpoint in the Dora neighborhood in southern
Note: The remaining Baghdad entries refer to incidents from today back to Monday. Older incidents were included when they appeared to either be previously unreported here or if they reported significantly different casualty figures than previous entries. -m
An IED aimed at a police patrol exploded at the Al Nahdha bus stop, killing two civilians and wounding two civilians and two policemen.
One Iraqi police commando was killed and three policemen and four civilians were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack near city hall.
A car bomb left by the roadside exploded in
Seven persons including three policemen were wounded by a suicide car bomb aimed at a police patrol in Auqba Bin Nafa’a square near the national theater.
Five bodies were found in the Shekh Maarof area, all showed signs of torture.
A man called Ali Nazar Al Jubori was arrested in eastern Bahghdad and there are reports that this person is the sniper of
Mortar shells fell in the Shurta Al Rabiaa area of southern
One mortar shell landed in the Al Shoala area, wounding three civilians.
An American patrol based in southeast
Police colonel Ahmed Izdeen from the Ministry of Oil was assassinated by unknown gunmen.
A group of about 40-50 insurgents armed with RPG'S, mortars and light weapons attacked the Diyala police directorate in Baquba. Police sources said that five insurgents were killed in the attack.
A doctor from Diyala health directorate who cannot be named for security reasons asked the families of those who are missing and killed to come to the morgue in Baqouba hospital to identify the bodies and take them within two days. He said the morgue has received 19 bodies, some of them still unidentified. Doctors in Baqouba have warned that diseases might spread because many dead bodies cannot be claimed from the streets because insurgents are targeting the teams who are removing them.
In the southern city of
According to the coordination centre in Diyala province six civilians from one family, three of them women, were killed by an American air strike on their house in the Al Hashimat area near the main road between Baqouba and
Iraqi forces found a mass grave holding 28 bodies just north of the capital in Diyala province. "The bodies were later transported to an Iraqi police station in
Jurf Al Sakhar
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed three policemen and wounded three others on Wednesday in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, about 85 km south of Baghdad.
Six bodies were found with gunshot wounds on Wednesday in
Security reports from Salah Al Din province indicate that large groups of gunmen are gathering at the outskirts of Al Dejil and Balad, launching attacks on the towns and setting fake checkpoints on the main roads.
Unknown gunmen using 10 cars attacked a police checkpoint south of
Four civilians were wounded when clashes erupted between Mehdi Army militia and Iraqi security forces in the southern city of
A suicide car bomber attacked the Al Thirthar police station in west Tikrit killing four policemen and wounding six others.
Destruction of civil society: As Baghdad's morgues overflow with civilian victims of
Professors, doctors, lawyers, and engineers are among the professionals who provide the human capital necessary to run the basic institutions of any healthy society and help forge a new generation of leaders. By removing those building blocks, the leaders and specialists say, the insurgents are aiming to eliminate all support for a democratic society, making it more likely that a Saddam Hussein-like strongman will return, or
"I think it is getting worse day by day," said Abdul Sattar Jawad , a visiting scholar and professor of literature at
The recent spate of assassinations -- including at least six medical professors killed in
Bugging out of Anbar?: ABC News has learned that Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad.
There are now 30,000
The region is a Sunni stronghold and the main base of operations for al Qaeda in
In a recent intelligence assessment, senior Marine Intelligence Officer in al-Anbar, Col. Peter Devlin, concluded that without a massive infusement of more troops, the battle in al-Anbar is unwinnable.
Or staying in Anbar and sending more troops in country?: Defense officials, meantime, said the Pentagon is developing plans to send four more battalions to Iraq early next year, including some to Baghdad.
The extra combat engineer battalions of Army reserves, would total about 3,500 troops and would come from around the United States, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deployments have not been announced.
At a Pentagon news conference Wednesday, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would not say whether more troops are planned for
He also said there was no plan to shift all troops from the volatile
Nice to hear the country's still functioning: The U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, told reporters Tuesday that he expects to see "elevated levels of violence" as a result of the car bombings that killed more than 200 people in
While acknowledging the sectarian conflict,
"We don't see somebody competing for control of the country here at all," he said at a press briefing. "What we see is a country that's still functioning and still has duly elected representatives in charge who are able to give instructions and orders to their security forces."
Is there nothing this guy can’t screw up? (Rhetorical question): President Bush's high-profile meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday was canceled in a stunning turn of events after disclosure of
Instead of two days of talks, Bush and al-Maliki will have breakfast and a single meeting followed by a news conference on Thursday morning, the White House said.
The abrupt cancellation was an almost unheard-of development in the high-level diplomatic circles of a
We will beef up the Iraqis with our secret force of ponies and unicorns: President Bush said Thursday the
Under intensifying political pressure at home, the American and Iraqi leaders came together for a hastily arranged summit to explore how to stop escalating violence that is tearing
With Bush hoping to strengthen his Iraqi counterpart's fragile government, the tensions that flared when their opening session was abruptly cancelled Wednesday evening were not apparent when they appeared before reporters after breakfast Thursday.
…There were no immediate answers for mending the Shiite-Sunni divide that is fueling sectarian bloodshed in
"One of his frustrations with me is that he believes that we've been slow about giving him the tools necessary to protect the Iraqi people," Bush said. "He doesn't have the capacity to respond. So we want to accelerate that capacity."
There was no explanation from either side of how that would happen, beyond support for the long-standing goals of speeding the U.S. military's effort to train Iraqi security forces and to give more military authority over Iraq to al-Maliki.
Meanwhile Malaki will fix the infrastructure with pixie dust: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki must improve security and provide more reliable electricity and other basic services before Shiite politicians end a boycott of the government launched to protest the premier's summit with President Bush, a top legislator said Thursday.
The boycott by ministers and lawmakers loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is not affecting many vital ministries, and one striking official said work continues at his ministry even with him gone.
But the boycott has driven home the fragility of the Iraqi government, and one of its leaders said in a telephone interview that to end it there must be an increase in the number of well-trained Iraqi security forces.
Baha al-Aaraji also said the government must provide more electricity, gas and other basic services, especially in southern provinces that are less violent than central and northern
Then the Easter bunny will sit everyone down for milk and cookies: The Bush administration has hoped to calm
But Al-Maliki's refusal to talk to Bush in front of Jordan's king showed a startling level of distrust toward at least one of his Sunni neighbors — distrust that can only hamper the U.S. effort.
It may signal even worse — the possible start of a region-wide Sunni-Shiite split, spilling over from
Few things would be more harmful to
No effort to avoid a full-blown civil war in
The meeting between Bush and al-Maliki showed little progress toward that, and perhaps even some signs that things could get worse.
Some Small Voices Of Sanity
These guys need support: With sectarian violence reaching new extremes, some Sunni Muslim clerics are breaking with the most militant factions in their sect and reaching out to Shiite clergy in an effort to pull
This is also a good idea: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today proposed an international conference among Iraqi political parties and said again the country's neighbours,
Mr Annan had a telephone conference with the 10-member,
"The security in
"If one were to work out an arrangement where one can get the Iraqi political parties together, somewhere outside
You know it's a screwed up world when this idiot makes more sense than the president of the USA:
He said the
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in turn called on
US President George W Bush has again ruled out removing US troops from
Wish you’d been this honest in February, 2003, Colin: Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Wednesday
Powell's remarks came ahead of a meeting between Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki in the Jordanian capital to discuss the security developments in
"I would call it a civil war," Powell told a business forum in the
Blaming The Victims
What a disgusting trend: From troops on the ground to members of Congress, Americans increasingly blame the continuing violence and destruction in
Even Democrats who have criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the occupation say the people and government of
This marks a shift in tone from earlier debate about the responsibility of the
"It is the first manifestation of a 'Who lost
The Baker Commission Scam
Whoopee: A bipartisan commission, under pressure to offer a U.S. exit strategy for the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, has reached a consensus and will announce its recommendations next week, the group's co-chairman said Wednesday.
Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., declined to disclose any specifics about the Iraq Study Group's decisions. The report, much anticipated by the Bush administration and members of Congress, is coming out next Wednesday amid the spiraling violence in
"This afternoon, we reached a consensus ... and we will announce that on Dec. 6,"
Opinion by Michael Hirsh: The forthcoming report by James Baker's Iraq Study Group has enjoyed the biggest public buildup since the Segway. And it is likely to be just as big of a bust.
Here's why the Baker-Hamilton report is destined to land with a thud, after weeks of messianic hype. According to sources who have seen the draft report introduced this week, the group will recommend deeper engagement with
The James Baker-Lee Hamilton group will also recommend tackling the problem of Israeli-Palestinian peace. But this central issue of Islamist discontent no longer has much to do with the violence in Iraq, just as the violence has less and less to do with Al Qaeda. The neocon fantasists, in their headiest days, used to say that "the road to
Above all, sources indicate the Baker-Hamilton group will fudge the issue of what the size of the
What's happening in
Time for some discipline? We’ll see: After riding high for five years, government contractors are bracing themselves for increased oversight, tighter budgets and stepped-up regulations as Democrats take over on Capitol Hill and vow to keep a closer eye on how companies spend taxpayer dollars.
Every company that does business with the government could feel the impact, but contractors that benefited most from work in Iraq and Afghanistan, from homeland security initiatives or from Hurricane Katrina are especially likely to be under the microscope. Big-ticket weapons programs are also expected to garner special attention, and it may become more difficult to get a no-bid contract, according to industry observers.
Oh, ow! It hurts to see a wrist patted so hard!: One of the government's largest military contractors will pay $8 million to settle six-year old claims it overcharged the Army for construction and other support services in the Balkans, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Co., was accused of double-billing the government and ordering unusable products while helping build
The contractor also allegedly inflated prices for some unspecified goods that were not put out for competitive bid, the department said.
More emergency spending: The Pentagon is preparing an emergency spending proposal that could be larger and broader than any since the Sept. 11 attacks, covering not only the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but extending to other military operations connected to the Bush administration's war on terrorism.
The spending plans may push the Defense Department into conflict with Democrats as they take control of Capitol Hill in January. Democrats had been planning to limit the emergency "supplemental" spending measures that have funded the wars in favor of the regular federal budget process, which affords greater oversight and congressional control.
Congressional and military officials have said the Pentagon is considering a request of $127 billion to $150 billion in new emergency war spending, the largest such request since the special spending measures were begun in 2001. So far, Congress has allocated $495 billion for
Where We’ve Gone And The Men Who Took Us There
Kidnapping and secret prisons: The CIA flew 1,245 secret flights into European airspace, according to a European Parliament draft report obtained by ABC News.
The report is the result of a year-long investigation into secret CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights and prisons in
No European country has officially acknowledged being part of the program.
But citing records from an informal meeting of European and NATO foreign ministers last December that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Parliament's draft report concludes "member states had knowledge of the programme of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons."
Using terrorism to justify any new repression: A new law that comes into force this week gives federal authorities expanded powers to prosecute animal rights militants -- as the State Department is warning that their activities eclipse terrorism as a day-to-day security problem for
Bush signed S 3880, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, without fanfare at the White House Monday morning, before flying to the Baltic for a NATO summit.
The bill is designed to make it easier for the FBI and Justice Department to wire-tap and prosecute animal rights extremists who mount campaigns of low-level criminal harassment against animal researchers both in the commercial and educational sectors.
David Corn takes us on a little stroll down memory lane: It's the 20th anniversary of the Iran-contra scandal. Two decades ago, the public learned about the bizarre, Byzantine and (arguably) unconstitutional actions of high officials in the post-Watergate years. But many Americans did not absorb the key lesson: the Iran/contra vets were not to be trusted. Consequently, most of those officials went on to prosperous careers, with some even becoming part of the squad that has landed the
…But history never ends. Twenty years later, Abrams is deputy national security adviser for global democracy in the George W. Bush administration. A fellow who admitted that he had not told Congress the truth and who had abetted a secret war mounted by a rebel force with an atrocious human rights record now is supposed to promote democracy abroad. Other Iran/contra figures are leading players today. Here's a partial list from the National Security Archive:
* Richard Cheney - now the vice president, he played a prominent part as a member of the joint congressional Iran-Contra inquiry of 1986, taking the position that Congress deserved major blame for asserting itself unjustifiably onto presidential turf. He later pointed to the committees' Minority Report as an important statement on the proper roles of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
* David Addington - now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, and by numerous press accounts a stanch advocate of expanded presidential power, Addington was a congressional staffer during the joint select committee hearings in 1986 who worked closely with Cheney.
* John Bolton - the controversial U.N. ambassador whose recess appointment by President Bush is now in jeopardy was a senior Justice Department official who participated in meetings with Attorney General Edwin Meese on how to handle the burgeoning Iran-Contra political and legal scandal in late November 1986. There is little indication of his precise role at the time.
* Robert M. Gates - President Bush's nominee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld, Gates nearly saw his career go up in flames over charges that he knew more about Iran-Contra while it was underway than he admitted once the scandal broke. He was forced to give up his bid to head the CIA in early 1987 because of suspicions about his role but managed to attain the position when he was re-nominated in 1991.
* Manuchehr Ghorbanifar - the quintessential middleman, who helped broker the arms deals involving the United States, Israel and Iran ostensibly to bring about the release of American hostages being held in Lebanon, Ghorbanifar was almost universally discredited for misrepresenting all sides' goals and interests. Even before the
* Michael Ledeen - a neo-conservative who is vocal on the subject of regime change in Iran, Ledeen helped bring together the main players in what developed into the Iran arms-for-hostages deals in 1985 before being relegated to a bit part. He reportedly reprised his role shortly after 9/11, introducing Ghorbanifar to Pentagon officials interested in exploring contacts inside
* Edwin Meese - currently a member of the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, he was Ronald Reagan's controversial attorney general who spearheaded an internal administration probe into the Iran-Contra connection in November 1986 that was widely criticized as a political exercise in protecting the president rather than a genuine inquiry by the nation's top law enforcement officer.
* John Negroponte - the career diplomat who worked quietly to boost the U.S. military and intelligence presence in Central America as ambassador to Honduras, he also participated in efforts to get the Honduran government to support the Contras after Congress banned direct U.S. aid to the rebels. Negroponte's profile has risen spectacularly with his appointments as ambassador to
As for the current relevance of Iran/contra, one could argue that the affair taught Reaganites and neocons a lesson, the wrong lesson: you can get away with it.
What Kind Of Person Could Possibly See Bush As A Decent Human Being?
Characteristic behavior: President Bush has pledged to work with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, but he has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Jim Webb, whose surprise victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) tipped the Senate to the Democrats.
Webb, a decorated former Marine officer, hammered Allen and Bush over the unpopular war in Iraq while wearing his son’s old combat boots on the campaign trail. It seems the president may have some lingering resentment.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.
The answer to the question in the heading: [Christopher Lohse], a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.
…Lohse's study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person's psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.
The study began in part as an advocacy project "designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them" to vote, while assessing "knowledge of current issues, government and politics." The Bush trend emerged in the course of the study, according to Lohse, who describes himself as a "Reagan revolution fanatic" who nonetheless finds Bush "beyond the pale." During the course of the study, it emerged that "Bush supporters has significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry," and that greater levels of psychosis predicted Bush support.
Crosses: Hundreds of white wooden crosses planted on a quiet suburban hillside have prompted a spirited debate over whether they honor or exploit the memory of troops killed in
Jeff Heaton, who along with local peace group members started putting up the crosses in early November, sees the effort as a simple tribute.
''It seemed like it would be a touching way to make people aware of the true costs of the war,'' he said.
But to others, the display, on private property opposite a commuter train station and visible from the heavily traveled highway to
''I do not consider this a memorial,'' Lisa Disbrow, a resident of nearby
The hearing, which drew a crowd of more than 200 was technically not about the memorial itself, but about an accompanying sign: ''In Memory of 2,867 U.S. Troops Killed in
Malachi Ritscher: In the four weeks since his death, strangers have come to their own conclusions about Malachi Ritscher. He has been pegged as a courageous war protester. Or a man of convictions. Or a depressed, suicidal loner. Or a conflicted soul, plagued by a little of each.
On a crisp morning earlier this month, he focused a video camera in a wide shot of the "Flame of the Millennium" statue, officials familiar with the case said.
He walked into the frame wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a skull mask, then climbed onto the base of the 25-foot abstract sculpture. In front of him, Kennedy Expressway commuters rushed past the banner he had planted near the
Commentary, Opinion and Analysis
"A classified memorandum by President Bush’s national security adviser expressed serious doubts about whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had the capacity to control the sectarian violence in
This was classified? This is how Stephen Hadley and his "senior aides" at NSC spend their days? Shhhh. Don't tell anyone, Mr. President, mum's the word, but we're starting to think that maybe Maliki doesn't have things under control.
Remember now, this is supersecret brainwork, for your eyes only -- a product of national security thinking that only qualified professionals could unravel. So don't let on, lest the media start snooping around over there and discover ... problems.
Our professional recommendation? Maybe we should help the prime minister. He just might need it.
... Are the paychecks in yet?
Brent Budowsky: In the course of a few hours, this is George W. Bush's contribution to bipartisanship on national security.
He invites Jim Webb to the White House, and when Bush mentions Webb's son, Webb replies that he would like would like his son to come home. Bush's rude answer to Webb was: "I didn't ask you about that."
Considering that Jim Webb is one of the most credible national voices on security, that he is a former Secretary of the Navy, a decorated Marine Corps war hero, one of the very few people in government who actually has a son serving in combat in Iraq, and was one of the handful of "experts" in Washington who was right about Iraq from the beginning, why didn't Bush ask Webb's opinion?
Then in rapidfire form, Bush says: he will not negotiate with
Then Bush sends forth his spinmeisters to tell the national newspapers that the mess In Iraq is not his responsibility, they blame the average Iraqi people.
Nicholas Kristof: For several years, the White House and its Dobermans helpfully pointed out the real enemy in
Maureen Dowd: Michael Gordon reveals in today’s Times that in a classified assessment, Mr. Hadley wrote that the Iraqi leader, who is getting pushed around by Moktada al-Sadr, was having trouble figuring out how to be strong.
“The memo suggests that if Mr. Maliki fails to carry out a series of specified steps,” he writes, “it may ultimately be necessary to press him to reconfigure his parliamentary bloc, a step the United States could support by providing ‘monetary support to moderate groups,’ and by sending thousands of additional American troops into Baghdad to make up for what the document suggests is current shortage of Iraqi forces.”
Just what the election said Americans want: More kids at risk in
Bob Herbert: The competing television news images on the morning after Thanksgiving were of the unspeakable carnage in Sadr City in Baghdad — where more than 200 Iraqi civilians were killed by a series of coordinated car bombs — and the long lines of cars filled with holiday shopping zealots that jammed the highway approaches to American malls that had opened for business at midnight.
A Wal-Mart in
There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., recently proposed that the draft be reinstated, suggesting that politicians would be more reluctant to take the country to war if they understood that their constituents might be called up to fight. What struck me was not the uniform opposition to the congressman's proposal — it has long been clear that there is zero sentiment in favor of a draft in the U.S. — but the fact that it never provoked even the briefest discussion of the responsibilities and obligations of ordinary Americans in a time of war.
A. Alexander: There is always a new excuse and a new rationalization either as to why we invaded
The chickenhawks in Washington, who at this very moment are busily defending you against supposed “insults” or betrayals by the opponents of the war in Iraq, are likewise those who have cut budgets for medical and psychiatric care; who have been so skimpy and late with pay and with provision of necessities that military families in the United States have had to apply for food stamps; who sent the men and women whom you may soon be commanding into Iraq understrength, underequipped, and unprepared for dealing with a kind of war fought in streets and homes full of civilians against enemies undistinguishable from non-combatants; who have time and again broken promises to the civilian National Guardsmen bearing much of the burden by canceling their redeployment orders and extending their tours.
You may or may not agree on the justice and necessity of the war itself, but I hope that you will agree that flattery and adulation are no substitute for genuine support. Much of the money that could be directed to that support has gone into high-tech weapons systems that were supposed to produce a new, mobile, compact “professional” army that could easily defeat the armies of any other two nations combined, but is useless in a war against nationalist or religious guerrilla uprisings that, like it or not, have some support, coerced or otherwise, among the local population. We learned this lesson in Vietnam, only to see it forgotten or ignored by the time this administration invaded Iraq, creating the conditions for a savage sectarian and civil war with our soldiers trapped in the middle, unable to discern civilian from combatant, where it is impossible to kill your enemy faster than rage makes new ones.
And who has been the real beneficiary of creating this high-tech army called to fight a war conceived and commissioned and cheered on by politicians and pundits not one of whom ever entered a combat zone? One of your boys answered that: Dwight Eisenhower, class of 1915, who told us that the real winners of the anything at any price philosophy would be “the military-industrial complex.”
I want to contend that the American military systems that evolved in the early days of this republic rested on a bargain between the civilian authorities and the armed services, and that the army has, for the most part, kept its part of the bargain and that, at this moment, the civilian authorities whom you loyally obey, are shirking theirs. And before you assume that I am calling for an insurrection against the civilian deciders of your destinies, hear me out, for that is the last thing on my mind.
You have kept your end of the bargain by fighting well when called upon, by refusing to become a praetorian guard for a reigning administration at any time, and for respecting civil control at all times. For the most part, our military leaders have made no serious efforts to meddle in politics. The two most notable cases were General George McClellan, who endorsed a pro-Southern and pro-slavery policy in the first year of the war and was openly contemptuous of
On the other side of the ledger, however, I believe that the bargain has not been kept. The last time Congress declared war was in 1941. Since then presidents of the
Furthermore, the current President has made extra-Constitutional claims of authority by repeatedly acting as if he were Commander-in-Chief of the entire nation and not merely of the armed forces. Most dangerously to our moral honor and to your own welfare in the event of capture, he has likewise ordered the armed forces to violate clear mandates of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions by claiming a right to interpret them at his pleasure, so as to allow indefinite and secret detentions and torture. These claims contravene a basic principle usually made clear to recruits from their first day in service—that they may not obey an unlawful order. The President is attempting to have them violate that longstanding rule by personal definitions of what the law says and means.
There is yet another way the chickenhawks are failing you. In the October issue of the magazine of the California Nurses Association, you can read a long report on “The Battle at Home.” In veterans’ hospitals across the country—and in a growing number of ill-prepared, under-funded psych and primary care clinics as well—the report says that nurses “have witnessed the guilt, rage, emotional numbness, and tormented flashbacks of GIs just back from Iraq.” Yet “a returning vet must wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits,” and an appeal can take up to three years. Just in the first quarter of this year, the VA treated 20,638
I repeat: These are not palatable topics for soldiers about to go to war; I would like to speak of sweeter things. But freedom means we must face reality: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Free enough, surely, to think for yourselves about these breaches of contract that crudely undercut the traditions of an army of free men and women who have bound themselves voluntarily to serve the nation even unto death.
Michigan Governor Granholm has ordered that U-S flags around the state be lowered to half-staff Friday to honor an Army National Guard member who was killed in
Flags waved, a bagpipe wailed "Amazing Grace" and eulogies flowed in a Midtown church yesterday for Army Sgt. 1st Class Schuyler Haynes, an
If you were ever around Jon-Erik Loney, his smile and sense of humor infected you, friends say. "He was a good kid, well-liked, and we never had any problems out of him," Danville High Assistant Principal Gary Couey said. A roadside bomb killed Loney, a 2003 Danville High graduate, Tuesday in
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2006
"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" —President George W. Bush, joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, March 25, 2004
More funny jokes from the
Bring ‘em on: Insurgents have killed two
Bring ‘em on: Three Fort Hood soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb explosion in
The bodies of 50 torture victims were discovered, most of them in
The Army said one man from
In all, 13 insurgents, six policemen, and six civilians had been killed in fighting across
Unconfirmed report: Three helicopters of the US Air Force crashed in
Bring 'em on: A U.S. Marine died from wounds sustained in combat while operating in western Anbar province, the
A bomb planted beneath an oil pipeline in the al-Rashid district started a fire at around 11 a.m., an official with Iraqi civil defense said, adding that the civil defense put out the fire in about 2 hours. The pipeline carries crude oil from storage tanks near Latifiya, south of
Gunmen kidnapped three Iraqi facility protection services guards (FPS) outside the
In the eastern
Three Iraqis were killed and 15 others wounded in a mortar attack on a residential area in the southeastern
Two Iraqi police officers were killed Monday during a police raid on houses in the southern
An Iraqi police patrol was attacked by gunmen in the western
Gunfire crackled for most of the morning around
A roadside bomb exploded Wednesday morning near a police patrol in a commercial center of
Two mortar rounds exploded near the Health Ministry, wounding two civilians. Guards at the building opened fire randomly after the attack.
A suicide car bomber targeting a police patrol killed a policeman and wounded seven people, including three policemen, in southwestern
A suicide car bomber exploded near a police patrol, killing a policeman and wounding five civilians in al-Nidhal street in central
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded three people in Ouqba Bin Nafie square in central
Iraqi soldiers killed three insurgents and arrested 28 during the past 24 hours in different parts of
A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed two policemen and wounded seven people, including two policemen, in
Gunmen fired on the Shi'ite-run Health Ministry building in central
A mortar attack on an oil distribution center triggered a massive fire that halted the flow of crude oil to
On Tuesday, Diyala police said they found 11 bullet-riddled bodies around Baquba.
Fierce fighting Wednesday between coalition forces and insurgents shut down the city of
Police said they found the body of a teacher with gunshot wounds in Diwaniya. Gunmen had kidnapped him on Tuesday.
A suicide car bomber targeting a police station killed one civilian and wounded 23 in the northern city of
In a town in Salaheddin province, suspected insurgents attacked a police checkpoint, killing two policemen and wounding two others.
In other fighting Wednesday, insurgents killed four policemen and wounded four others in a carefully coordinated attack on a police station in
Same attack?: Six policemen were killed and four wounded when a car bomb exploded near a police station in a town near
So Much Incompetence In Three Short Paragraphs
Wow: …in a sign of the discord in
Wow. So we’re planning to back the Shiites in the civil war but the government’s forces still need three years of training and we’re letting 2,000 enemy fighters go free to resume the battle every month. Wow. What can I add? Even sarcasm seems pointless…-m
Propaganda And Reality
An ugly story in so many ways: The Associated Press first reported on Friday's incident that evening, based on the account of police Capt. Jamil Hussein and Imad al-Hashimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, who told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.
AP Television News also took video of the Mustafa mosque showing a large portion of the front wall around the door blown away. The interior of the mosque appeared to be badly damaged and there were signs of fire.
The AP received no comment Friday when it first asked the
The Iraqi Defense Ministry later said that al-Hashimi, the Sunni elder in Hurriyah, had recanted his account of the attack after being visited by a representative of the defense minister.
The dispute comes at a time when the military is taking a more active role in dealing with the media.
The AP reported on Sept. 26 that a Washington-based firm, the Lincoln Group, had won a two-year contract to monitor reporting on the
That contract succeeded one held by another
Seeking further information about Friday's attack, an AP reporter contacted Hussein for a third time about the incident to confirm there was no error. The captain has been a regular source of police information for two years and had been visited by the AP reporter in his office at the police station on several occasions. The captain, who gave his full name as Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, said six people were indeed set on fire.
On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.
Those who would talk said the assault began about 2:15 p.m., and they believed the attackers were from the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He and the Shiite militia are deeply rooted in and control the
The witnesses refused to allow the use of their names because they feared retribution either from the original attackers or the police, whose ranks are infiltrated by Mahdi Army members or its associated death squads.
Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims.
The two other witnesses said the mosque assault began in earnest about 2:30 p.m. after the arrival of the four vehicles filled with arms. They said the attackers fired into the mosque, then entered and set it on fire.
Then, the witnesses said, the attackers brought out six men, blindfolded and handcuffed, and lined them up on the street at the gate of the mosque. The witnesses said the six were doused with kerosene from a 1.3-gallon canister and set on fire at intervals, one after the other, with a torch made of rags. The fifth and sixth men in the line were set afire at the same time.
The witnesses said the burning victims rolled on the ground in agony until apparently dead, then the gunmen fired a single bullet into each of their heads.
The witnesses said residents, in the meantime, had taken up arms and began a gunbattle with the suspected militiamen that raged in the neighborhood until 4 p.m. They said eight to 10 gunmen were killed and left in the streets.
Preparing To Blame The Victims: The Sham Jordan Summit
It’s Maliki’s fault for not telling the US military how to train Iraqi forces: President Bush is asking embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at their summit in Jordan how best to train Iraqi forces faster so they can shoulder more responsibility for securing the nation torn apart by escalating violence.
The president, under pressure on both sides of the Atlantic to find a new blueprint for the war, wants to hear al-Maliki's plan for mending his nation's bitter sectarian divide and how the two leaders can chart a stable future for the fragile government.
Bush was holding two days of urgent talks with al-Maliki in
He better have some answers…or else!: With violence raging in Iraq and pressure mounting at home for a solution, President Bush said today that he expects to hear some answers from the Iraqi prime minister when the two leaders meet later this week to discuss how to stem the bloodshed.
…"My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence?" Bush said, addressing reporters in the Estonian capital of Tillann on the first day an overseas swing that included afternoon meetings in
…Bush's intention to ask questions — rather than provide some of his own solutions — underscores the uncertainty within his administration over how to bring peace to the country that was supposed to be a regional model for democracy and freedom.
But it seems our assessment is he’s just not up to the job: President George W. Bush will press Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to develop a plan for quelling sectarian violence, the same day a
Bush arrives in
The New York Times today published a memo written by White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley after a trip to
``The reality on the streets of
The whole thing’s a setup to let Bush, once again, shift the blame: When President Bush meets in Jordan on Wednesday with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq, it will be a moment of bitter paradox: at a time of heightened urgency in the Bush administration’s quest for solutions, American military and political leverage in Iraq has fallen sharply.
Dismal trends in the war — measured in a rising number of civilian deaths, insurgent attacks, sectarian onslaughts and American troop casualties — have merged with growing American opposition at home to lend a sense of crisis to the talks in
They say they see few policy options that can turn the situation around, other than for Iraqi leaders to come to a realization that time is running out. It is not clear that the
Many of the proposals appear to be based on an assumption that the White House memo itself calls into question: that Prime Minister Maliki can be persuaded to break with 30 years of commitment to Shiite religious identity and set a new course, or abandon the ruling Shiite religious alliance to lead a radically different kind of government, a moderate coalition of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians.
The memo’s assessment of Mr. Maliki tracks closely with what his American and Iraqi critics in
These critics say, in effect, that the 56-year-old Iraqi leader has failed, so far, to meet the test set by Mr. Bush when the two men met for the first time in
Against these judgments, some key passages in the Hadley memo seem at odds with the reality on the ground, as if the steady worsening of America’s prospects here has driven the White House to reach for solutions that defy the gloomy conclusions of America’s diplomats and field commanders, not to mention some of Mr. Maliki’s closest political associates.
Sucks To Be Maliki
Muqtada turns up the pressure: Lawmakers and Cabinet ministers loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Wednesday they have carried out their threat to suspend participation in Parliament and the government to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's summit with U.S. President George W. Bush.
The 30 lawmakers and five Cabinet ministers said their action was necessary because the meeting in
Mahdi army has the weight to throw around: In a reflection of the growing new dimension of civil strife, a senior
The Iraqi army has about 134,000 men, but about half are doing only stationary guard duty, the official said. Of the half that conduct operations, only about 10 battalions are effective -- well under 10,000 men.
No support for Maliki from fellow Arab governments: From the perspective of Arab governments, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been too tolerant of Shiite militias and unable of control his war-ravaged country, Arab officials said.
"Most Sunni Muslim Arab countries believe that Maliki (a Shiite) and members of his government are tolerant of, and even connive with, Shiite militias, especially the Mehdi Army" of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, one official who declined to be identified said in a telephone interview.
Arab intelligence reports implicate Maliki government members in the activities of the Mehdi Army and the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the powerful Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in
"The Maliki government is ignoring the security violations of these militias," the official said, hours before
The council acted ahead of a key meeting in
The Security Council responded to a request from al-Maliki, who said a top government priority is to assume full responsibility for security and stability throughout
"The issue of establishing security in
The meeting between Talabani and Ahmadinejad, which was delayed for two days amid a security clampdown in
And the Iraqi state is falling apart: The present state of
Another damaging oil attack this week, the prospect of British troops handing over the oil city of Basra and virtual civil war have all but crushed hope for Iraqi officials battling to keep exports flowing to world markets.
"One thing is sure. The worst is yet to come," an Iraqi oil industry source said by telephone from
His task is made harder still by gross mismanagement at the oil ministry and chronic underinvestment in the vital sector -- already neglected for decades due to sanctions and wars.
"There is no line of authority at the oil ministry," said an oil official in the capital. "We are crippled. We have the resources and the finances and we are still failing."
With Baghdad in chaos, technocrats fear the oil producing regions in the Shi'ite south and in the north near Kurdistan may seize control of exports and effectively dismember the country that holds the world's third biggest oil reserves.
Stating The Obvious, Three Years Late
But at least someone’s finally saying it:Two senior members of the House Armed Services Committee and several former Defense Department officials yesterday criticized poor
…Yesterday's criticisms were expanded upon in the latest study by Anthony H. Cordesman, who holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A Pentagon official in the Reagan administration and a specialist in Middle East intelligence and military matters, Cordesman just returned from
One of Cordesman's central issues is that public statements by the Defense Department "severely distorted the true nature of Iraqi force development in ways that grossly exaggerate Iraqi readiness and capability to assume security tasks and replace
The Final Word On The Civil War Question
Not that we won’t hear a lot more about it…: Events over the past week, including the deadliest attacks since the war began in March 2003, have created a new sense of diplomatic urgency about finding a viable strategy to contain Iraq's violence and limit spillover damage across the region. The White House again resisted assertions that
"While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki nor we believe that
At least one Iraqi leader says otherwise. "It's worse than a civil war. In a civil war, you at least know which factions are fighting each other," lamented a senior member of
Too funny: Saudi Arabia is so concerned about the damage that the conflict in Iraq is doing across the region that it basically summoned Vice President Cheney for talks over the weekend, according to U.S. officials and foreign diplomats. The visit was originally portrayed as
Well, the chain of command in the Bush administration just got a little clearer. Apparently there is someone higher than Cheney. -m
Speaking Of Dick…
You don’t think he had anything to do with this little story, do you?: A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.
The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in
…The claim about Hezbollah’s role in training Shiite militias could strengthen the hand of those in the Bush administration who oppose a major new diplomatic involvement with
Evidence? We don’t need no stinking evidence!: The intelligence official (apparently Stephen Hadley and not necessarily the same senior intelligence official cited in the story above. –m) said that he "never saw any evidence" that Sadr's organization sent personnel to Lebanon this summer to fight against Israel, but said he had heard talk that some were sent there to be trained by Lebanese members of Hezbollah, an organization funded by Iran's Shiite government.
He said there was evidence that the Iranian government this year had escalated its efforts inside
"The whole year, yes, it has stepped up," he said. "More training in and out of
The Happy Feet Coalition
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said his country, a
British Defense Secretary Des Browne was the second senior official in recent days to talk of reducing the number of British troops in
The Sham Saddam Trial
What a circus: The genocide trial of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was once again thrown into chaos when the chief judge ejected a key defence lawyer only to recall him later the same day.
Soon after the hearing opened on Wednesday, Judge Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah ordered the arrest of Badie Aref, always a vocal presence in the trial, for "violating professional conduct".
Aref is defending Farhan al-Juburi, former head of military intelligence in northern
Khalifah clashed with Aref over the manner in which he was addressing the court.
What a joke: UN human rights experts called on
The UN working group on arbitrary detention said the Iraqi tribunal had lacked independence and impartiality, had not given Saddam enough time to prepare his defence, and had restricted his access to his lawyers and right to call his own witnesses.
"The working group also urges the Iraqi government to refrain from carrying out the sentence of death by hanging imposed in a proceeding, which does not meet applicable basic standards of a fair trial," it said in a statement.
The Iraq Study Group Scam
Just a diversion: The blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group (ISG) headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton will meet today in
Analysis by Andrew J. Bacevich: Even as Washington waits with bated breath for the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to release its findings, the rest of us should see this gambit for what it is: an attempt to deflect attention from the larger questions raised by America's failure in Iraq and to shore up the authority of the foreign policy establishment that steered the United States into this quagmire. This ostentatiously bipartisan panel of Wise Men (and one woman) can't really be searching for truth. It is engaged in damage control.
Their purpose is twofold: first, to minimize
The group's composition gives the game away. Chaired by James Baker, the famed political operative and former secretary of state, and Lee Hamilton, former congressman and fixture on various blue-ribbon commissions, it contains no one who could be even remotely described as entertaining unorthodox opinions or maverick tendencies.
Instead, it consists of Beltway luminaries such as retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and lobbyist
Charging this crowd with assessing the
They Say We Fight For Freedom But I Don’t Think They Know What That Word Means
Habeas corpus: Since the Middle Ages, habeas corpus—“You should have the body”—has been the principal means in Anglo-American jurisprudence by which prisoners can challenge their incarceration. In habeas-corpus proceedings, the government is required to bring a prisoner—the body—before a judge and provide a legal rationale for his continued imprisonment. The concept was so well established at the time of the founding of the
The law, known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, was a logical culmination of an era of one-party rule in
Due process: Buried within a recent government brief in the case of
Freedom of speech: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.
Gingrich, speaking at a
"We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade," said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP's takeover of Congress in 1994.
Note to Newt: Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither
This probably won’t lead to much but it’s a start: The Justice Department has begun an internal investigation into its handling of information gathered in the government's domestic spying program. However, Democrats criticized the review as too narrow to determine whether the program violated federal law.
The inquiry by Glenn A. Fine, the department's inspector general, will focus on the role of Justice prosecutors and agents in carrying out the warrantless surveillance program run by the National Security Agency.
Fine's investigation is not expected to address whether the controversial program is an unconstitutional expansion of presidential power, as its critics and a federal judge in
A blow for the Constitution: A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.
The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."
A step toward accountability: The United States looks set to face renewed pressure tomorrow when the European parliament releases a report on allegations that the CIA flew terrorism suspects to secret prisons around the world.
Italian MEP Claudio Fava was today presenting the report to the parliament's four-strong temporary committee on illegal CIA activities in Europe, and will hold a press conference in
They are likely to be similar to those he produced in April in an interim report that said the US intelligence agency had operated more than 1,000 so-called "extraordinary rendition" flights over EU territory in the past five years.
It said the CIA had kidnapped terrorism suspects, and Mr Fava suggested some EU governments were fully aware of the flights.
One happy day she’ll testify in court: Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski has told
Commentary, Opinion and Analysis
Heather Wokusch: Rumsfeld will lose his legal immunity when he ceases to be Defense Secretary, a fact which must weigh heavily on Bush and others. Unsurprisingly, the administration has taken pre-emptive action against future war crimes charges, including pushing through the scandalous Military Commissions Act, which provides them retroactive domestic protection from prosecution regarding prisoner abuse cases.
On the world stage, the administration's primary battleground for immunity has been the International Criminal Court (ICC), set up in 2002 to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Roughly 100 countries have ratified the ICC Statute, and over 40 others have signed it, but the Bush administration renounced the treaty on grounds it could lead to "frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions."
The administration has done everything in its power to enervate the ICC, including setting up bilateral "Article 98" agreements which arm-twist other countries into not prosecuting US nationals or foreign nationals working for the
Yet such bribery will only go so far. The administration's "no limits" approach to foreign policy has alienated global allies, and in many parts of the world, Bush is regarded as a greater danger to world peace than
Bottom line, as calls for impeachment build at home, Bush might heed advice he once gave to Osama bin Laden: "You can run but you cannot hide."
Tom Englehardt: A while back Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard's Linda Bilmes tried to tote up the long-term costs of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, based on an American troop withdrawal somewhere between 2010 and 2015. Their most conservative estimate of total costs to the
So let's be conservative. At those levels of funding, assuming that Iraq's Sunni fighters continue to motor their movement at the financial upper levels of the secret interagency estimate -- $200 million -- their insurgency could run for another 5,000 years.
Or perhaps we should subtract some zeroes and enter the micro-world of the
Imagine how strong "Insurgent Strong" must be then, since Iraq's ragtag, minority insurgency continues to fight the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines (all of whom have their own ad contracts) to a standstill for a mere $200 million.
Talk about "standing up" some Iraqi fighters.
Mike Hudson: A few years ago, President George W. Bush made a surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to
The big bird was made of plastic, and once again our feckless leader provided ample evidence that he wouldn't know the difference between reality and fantasy if it came up and bit him, as it has in
Still, those were happier times for Bush. Basking in the warm afterglow of Shock and Awe, with reruns of his "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier strut still being shown on television by Chris Matthews, and the stench of war crimes at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as yet unsmelled, the president was still enjoying the kind of high that can only come to the leader of a superpower through the devastation of a small and impoverished nation.
Since then, of course, the war in
Oh yeah, Vice President Dick Cheney. The coward who wheedled five deferments to keep him out of Vietnam and thinks guns are for shooting penned-up pheasants and the occasional trial lawyer made news this Thanksgiving with an alleged trip to Baghdad that allegedly never took place.
Robert Parry: While in charge of the CIA’s analytical division in the mid-1980s, Robert M. Gates made wildly erroneous predictions about the dangers posed by leftist-ruled
Gates – now President George W. Bush’s nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary – expressed his alarmist views about
The memo has new relevance today because Gates’s private advice to Casey suggests that Gates was either more of an extremist ideologue than many in
Either possibility raises questions about Gates’s fitness to run the Pentagon at a time when many observers believe it needs strong doses of realism and independence to stand up to both a strong-willed President and influential neoconservative theorists who promoted the invasion of Iraq.
The Iraq War – now exceeding the length of U.S. participation in World War II – has been marked by politicized intelligence, over-reliance on force, fear of challenging the insider tough-guy talk, and lack of respect for international law – all tendencies that Gates has demonstrated in his career.
A. Alexander: On Monday afternoon Cirque Du Bush and his troupe of clowns claimed that
Bill Keller: The main shortcoming of "civil war" is that, like other labels, it fails to capture the complexity of what is happening on the ground. The war in
PM Carpenter: Yesterday the L.A. Times ran one of those deadly serious leads that only provokes uneasy laughter:
Angry Shiite Muslims pelted Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's motorcade with stones Sunday after the Iraqi leader pleaded for national reconciliation at a memorial held in
Being pelted for boosting reconciliation is not a good sign that the whole reconciliation thing is going to work out. It generally doesn't when contemporary reports on attempts at "national reconciliation" also include phrases like, "victims of a large-scale bombing attack."
Poor Mr. Maliki. He is not only in way over his head, events are way ahead of him. And in recognition of this reality, those events have now been officially redefined by NBC News as "civil war." So long, familiar sectarian violence.
The language change by a principal member of the mainstream media is a huge development, simply because words have meaning that can instantly change perceptions. And to the American public, which largely gets its news in 90-second television clips, NBC's usage of "civil war" as opposed to "sectarian violence" means American troops in Iraq are no longer battling "them" over there so "they" won't attack us here. It means, rather, that American troops are now hapless, helpless referees in someone else's vicious, internal fight.
No one knows this better than the Orwellian language masters at the White House, those happy warriors of "clean skies," "healthy forests" and "compassionate conservatism." Predictably, they reacted to NBC's phrasal change like vampires to the rising sun.
Helena Cobban: The text of the memo itself seems, for a number of reasons including the apparently embarrassed reaction to its publication from Tony Snow, to have been "authentic". (Unlike, perhaps, the report that Michael Gordon and Dexter Filkins published yesterday to the effect that one of their Iraqi reporters last summer interviewed a "mid-level Mahdi Army commander who told him that his militia had sent 300 fighters to
So anyway, do go and read the memo. It is written in the earnest style of someone still struggling to understand the realities of Iraqi society and politics as well as the "responsibilities" of a distant imperial power. It is mind-bogglingly formless and repetitive, and reveals a mind reduced to clutching wildly at any straw that's available.
Here are some of the aspects of it I find most revealing:
(1) Hadley evidently judged, as of Nov 8, that
(2) It spoke frankly about the existence of "the current four-brigade gap in
(3) There are some passages that explicitly urge that the
... Well, I guess these kinds of thing go on all the time in the conduct of internatinal affairs. But it is really depressing to see not only how bullying and imperialistic this top-level adviser is trying to be, but also how very clueless and intellectually bankrupt he is. This makes the situation even more dangerous.
Harold Myerson: In Vietnam, at least the
As for the Sunni minority, it's among that group that the insurgency against both the
So -- which side are we on?
In the face of escalating civil war, of an increasingly Hobbesian conflict of each against all, the calls still coming from the
Edward Luce and Demetri Sevastopulo: Many argue that the true costs of
Much of the human cost of the war has been kept out of sight, including the return of the dead given the Bush administration’s ban on the televising of bodybags.
But the extended tours of duty imposed on volunteer part-timers in the National Guard and Reserves as well as regular units has ruptured military morale, according to Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, Mr Bush’s first secretary of state.
As a result the Pentagon has been forced to dilute recruitment standards – waiving academic requirements and lifting the age limit from 35 to 40. “This is a war that is being fought by poor people while the rest of the country drives round in its SUVs barely noticing it is happening,” said Mr Wilkerson, who served in Vietnam.
Mr Campbell, a former naval officer, describes
“If you think of the
John Nichols: Something important in the overall scheme of the American experiment happened this week.
On Monday morning, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer appeared on cable television screens across the
The statement followed a similar decision by the Los Angeles Times to drop the pretense of referring to the fighting in
What is important about this development is that, for the first time since the debate about
Major media's on-bended-knee approach to the White House has forestalled an honest dialogue about the crisis into which
By abandoning the role intended by the founders when they enshrined "freedom of the press" protections in the Constitution--that of checking and balancing executive excess, particularly during periods of one-faction or one-party political dominance--major media failed the Republic at precisely the point when its intervention on the side of realism was most needed.
Gary Younge: Last Saturday the newly elected House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, suggested that the Americans would pull out because the Iraqis were too disorganised and self-obsessed. "In the days ahead, the Iraqis must make the tough decisions and accept responsibility for their future," he said. "And the Iraqis must know: our commitment, while great, is not unending."
It is absurd to suggest that the Iraqis - who have been invaded, whose country is currently occupied, who have had their police and army disbanded and their entire civil service fired - could possibly be in a position to take responsibility for their future and are simply not doing so.
For a start, it implies that the occupation is a potential solution when it is in fact the problem. This seems to be one of the few things on which Sunni and Shia leaders agree. "The roots of our problems lie in the mistakes the Americans committed right from the beginning of their occupation," Sheik Ali Merza, a Shia cleric in Najaf and a leader of the Islamic Dawa party, told the Los Angeles Times last week.
"Since the beginning, the
Also, it leaves intact the bogus premise that the invasion was an attempt at liberation that has failed because some squabbling ingrates, incapable of working in their own interests, could not grasp the basic tenets of western democracy. In short, it makes the victims responsible for the crime.
Withdrawal, when it happens, will be welcome. But its nature and the rationale given for it are not simply issues of political point-scoring. They will lay the groundwork for what comes next for two main reasons.
First, because, while withdrawal is a prerequisite for any lasting improvement in
If we don't, we risk seeing Bono striding across airport tarmac 10 years hence with political leaders who demand good governance and democratic norms in the Gulf, as though
Second, because unless we understand what happened in
In other words, the problem with Vietnam was not that the US invaded a sovereign country, bombed it to shreds, committed innumerable atrocities, murdered more than 500,000 Vietnamese - more than half of whom were civilians - and lost about 58,000 American servicemen. The problem with
"You learn more from a game you lose than a game you win," argued the chess great Capablanca. True, but only if you heed the lessons and then act on them.
Friends and family packed the
More than a dozen American flags fluttered in a slight breeze Tuesday afternoon at
Even in the deadly context of the
The U.S. Defense Department said a north
When Heath Warner was 12, he visited
A soldier from
Hussein Abid Mohammed, from
At least three Hawai'i Marines have been killed by snipers in Haditha, Iraq, since early October, reflecting an increase in the insurgent tactic in that area of western Anbar province. Lance Cpl. Jeromy D. West, 20, became the third when he was struck Saturday while standing guard on a roof-top, his family said.