Friday, January 26, 2007


PHOTO: An injured man left a Baghdad hospital after receiving treatment, after a car bomb in a Shiite neighborhood killed 25 people. (Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud/Reuters) [AFTER receiving treatment? God help him. – dancewater]

Security Incidents for January 26, 2007


A bomb killed 15 people and wounded 35 in the second attack in as many months on Baghdad's much-loved Friday morning pet market, police sources said. The blast hit the Ghazil market in the city center an hour before a weekly 11 a.m. (0800 GMT) vehicle curfew in the Iraqi capital, aimed at protecting mosques over Friday noon prayers

On Friday morning, police said they found seven more (bodies).

Elsewhere in the capital, Iraqi police found seven tortured bodies of people who had been blindfolded and had their hands and legs bound before they were shot in the head

(update from 25 dead) Police also raised the casualty toll in a suicide car bombing that struck the central Shiite neighborhood of Karradah on Thursday, saying 30 people were killed and 61 wounded. Earlier, officials had said at least 26 people were killed

Police also found a bomb apparently targeting a Shiite procession that is part of the 10-day Ashoura festival, which marks the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most-revered Shiite saints. Police said the bomb could not be defused so they detonated the explosive device in a controlled blast, which damaged several stores.

(update: U.S. Embassy hit) at least two rockets struck the U.S. Embassy compound in the fortified Green Zone. The rockets injured six people, one of them seriously, the U.S. military said in a statement.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said the rounds landed inside the compound shortly after 4 p.m.

"The damage was minor, and the embassy is functioning normally," Fintor said. "It wasn't a densely populated area." He said that no U.S. citizens were injured and that none of the injuries was life-threatening.

A roadside bomb near the Shi'ite Ali Bayaa mosque in Bayaa district in southwestern Baghdad wounded two civilians, police said

A roadside bomb wounded two civilians in Amil district in southwestern Baghdad, police said

Gunmen kidnapped a well-known Shiite boxer as he was driving on a dangerous street in central Baghdad, police and sports officials said Friday, the latest in a series of attacks against sports figures amid spiraling sectarian violence. Hassan Hadi, 42, and the father of two children, was en route Monday to a spare parts store that he owns when the attackers intercepted his car and abducted him, police said. Police said Hadi was seized while traveling on Haifa Street

Gunmen have kidnapped and killed a top Iraqi boxer. Shi'ite Hassan Hadi, 42, was travelling along Haifa Street - one of Baghdad's most dangerous streets - when he was pulled from his car. His body was found near Haifa Street several days after his abduction.

Two Iraqi army soldiers were killed and three others wounded on Friday in a car bomb explosion near al-Allawi bus terminal in central Baghdad, a police source said. “A car bomb driven by a suicide attacker exploded today near a checkpoint manned by Iraqi army forces in al-Allawi district in central Baghdad,” the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

Gunmen opened fire on a crowd in Baghdad's Bayaa district, killing one person and wounding two, a police source said.

Police found 27 bodies, most tortured and shot dead, in different parts of Baghdad, a police source said

(previously unreported death) Sgt. 1st Class Keith A. Callahan, 31, of McClure, Pa., died Jan. 24 of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was conducting a combat patrol south of Baghdad, Iraq. Callahan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Diyala Prv:

A police source said U.S. warplanes on Friday shelled several houses in Loqmaniya village, Diala province, while eyewitnesses said the bombing killed three people and wounded three others. “The shelling started at dawn targeting Loqmaniya village, 5km south of Hebheb,” the source in Hebheb police station told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. They said the victims were all simple villagers. Many houses in the village were also badly damaged, they added

Another village nearby was also struck by mortar shells which killed one Iraqi and wounded five others, the source added.


Later on, at least three Iraqis were killed and 20 others wounded in the bombardments of two villages near the city of Muqdadiyah, 110 kilometres north-east of Baghdad, an Iraqi official source said. The source said 57 mortar shells fell on one village, killing two farmers and wounding 15 other persons.

Unidentified gunmen attacked the chief of Moqdadiya local council Raad Jassem al-Tamimi this afternoon, wounding him,” the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). He described his wounds as moderate. “Tamimi was heading home by his car after Friday prayers when an armed group intercepted him near al-Moallemeen neighborhood in central Moqdadiya and opened machinegun fire on him,” the source added.


A former member of Saddam Hussein's ousted Baath Party was killed in two separate drive-by shootings in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad

An interpreter who works for the U.S. military were killed in two separate drive-by shootings in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad


An improvised explosive device went off at a British patrol vehicle in northern Basra on Thursday night without causing any damage

While two British bases were attacked with mortar shells, the Multi-National forces in south Iraq spokeswoman said. The attack did not result in any casualties or damage.


Police forces defused four explosive charges in Mosul city and foiled an attempt to kidnap a female university student, police sources said

A suicide bomber blew himself up in Guba, a Shi'ite district on the outskirts of Mosul, killing one person and wounding three more, police said.

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque on the outskirts of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing seven people and wounding 17 more after prayers on Friday, a police source said. The attack happened in Guba, on the outskirts of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad.


A body was found tortured and riddled with bullet wounds in a village 20 km (13 miles) north of Kirkuk, police said


Police find the headless body of a man who was kidnapped on Thursday near Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.

Al Anbar Prv:

One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province


A woman was killed by U.S. fire on Thursday night over a bridge in Hit, a city in western Iraq province of al-Anbar, eyewitnesses said on Friday. The victim was crossing the city's only bridge from Hit to the other bank of the River Euphrates for her home when U.S. soldiers shot her down, locals in the al-Bab al-Sharqi area near the bridge told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq. The U.S. soldiers stationed at the western side of the bridge, coming under unidentified light arms fire, opened random fire, which resulted in the woman's death

Thanks whisker for the links above (and a few below).


Bomb Kills 15 in Baghdad Pet Market

A bomb has killed 15 people and wounded 55 others in the second attack in two months on Baghdad's Friday morning pet market. Police sources said on Friday that the blast had hit the Ghazil market in the city centre an hour before a weekly 11am (08:00 GMT) vehicle curfew in the Iraqi capital, aimed at protecting mosques over Friday noon prayers. …..

A police source said witnesses believed Friday's bomb had been planted in a cardboard box that the bomber had punched with air holes to pass it off as containing birds. Parrots, canaries and more exotic pets are prime attractions at the market.

Inside Baghdad: A City Paralysed By Fear

Baghdad is paralysed by fear. Iraqi drivers are terrified of running into impromptu checkpoints where heavily armed men in civilian clothes may drag them out of their cars and kill them for being the wrong religion. Some districts exchange mortar fire every night. This is mayhem beyond the comprehension of George Bush and Tony Blair. Black smoke was rising over the city centre yesterday as American and Iraqi army troops tried to fight their way into the insurgent district of Haifa Street only a mile north of the Green Zone, home to the government and the US and British embassies. Helicopters flew fast and low past tower blocks, hunting snipers, and armoured vehicles manoeuvred in the streets below. Many Iraqis who watched the State of the Union address shrugged it off as an irrelevance. "An extra 16,000 US soldiers are not going to be enough to restore order to Baghdad," said Ismail, a Sunni who fled his house in the west of the city, fearing he would be arrested and tortured by the much-feared Shia police commandos. It is extraordinary that, almost four years after US forces captured Baghdad, they control so little of it. The outlook for Mr Bush's strategy of driving out insurgents from strongholds and preventing them coming back does not look good. ……Mr Bush's speech is likely to deepen sectarianism in Iraq by identifying the Shia militias with Iran. In fact, the most powerful Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, is traditionally anti-Iranian. It is the Badr Organisation, now co-operating with US forces, which was formed and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. In the Arab world as a whole, Mr Bush seems to be trying to rally the Sunni states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan to support him in Iraq by exaggerating the Iranian threat. ……Mr Bush's supposedly new strategy is less of a strategy than a collection of tactics unlikely to change dramatically the situation on the ground. But if his systematic demonising of Iran is a precursor to air strikes or other military action against Iran, then Iraqis will once more pay a heavy price.

The Holly Muharram This Year

Where is our neighbors we used to share everything with them?, they are all gone and the beautiful things have disappeared with them, what we have now in the area are strangers displaced from other parts of Baghdad or provinces and came to stay here, or empty houses which are waiting to be occupied by other strangers. One of our neighbors knocked our door, I went out to see what she wants, when an old woman with her husband walked by, my neighbor greeted them with suspicious eyes, and the woman replied with fearful look and short cold answer “hi”, my neighbor turned to me and whispered “they are sunnis” [I believe that he meant to type “The Holy Muharram” in this blog post. – Susan]

Children’s Doctor Among Latest Kidnap Epidemic

Salah Mehdi Hamza, a popular children's doctor who had been kidnapped in Baghdad, was killed even though his family handed over a $40,000 (£20,000) ransom and a box full of jewels and gold ornaments to the gang who seized him. Kidnappers have preyed on Iraqis for three-and-a-half years, holding thousands in safe houses and basements while desperate relatives try to raise the money for their release. Often they kill their victims despite receiving a ransom. Fear of abduction as much as anything has forced 1.8 million Iraqis, including the best-educated and richest, to flee the country. People who try to help others are the most vulnerable. Dr Hamza was in his clinic in the al-Khudat district of west Baghdad on 16 January when a man knocked on the door and said a woman was in a car downstairs, too sick to move. The doctor grabbed his bag and went to see her. When he got to the car, a gun was stuck in his back and he was taken away.

Karbala Authorities On Alert For Shi’ite Pilgrimage

Health and security authorities in Karbala, some 100km south-west of the capital, Baghdad, have been put on high alert in case of any major attacks during the upcoming most important religious event in the Shi’ite Muslim calendar. The day of Ashura draws millions of pilgrims from other Iraqi provinces and beyond the country to Karbala, a holy city for Shi’ite Muslims. Because of the high levels of sectarian violence plaguing Iraq today, authorities are taking every precaution to ensure no violent incidents occur, and if they do, that they are well prepared for casualties. “We are ready for any emergencies. More medicine and medical equipment have been brought from Baghdad and other provinces. Doctors and other health employees will be on duty round the clock," said Dr Sadiq Abdullah of Al-Hussein Hospital, the city's main hospital. “We've reserved 50 percent of the hospital’s 410 beds for emergency cases during this very important ceremony. Two big tents have been erected with about 30 beds just next to the emergency section," Abdullah added.

At least 73 frightened Palestinians have arrived in El Waleed, at the Iraq-Syrian border, after fleeing Baghdad earlier this week following the detention and release of 30 Palestinian men on Tuesday. Their arrival brings to 593 the number of Palestinians stuck at the Iraq-Syria border, many of them for months. Syria has denied them access and they refuse to return to Baghdad, where Palestinians have been the target of numerous attacks. UNHCR has not yet had a chance to talk to the newly arrived refugees, who arrived at the border on Wednesday night. Along with ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and other partners, we are ensuring that enough food, water and relief items are on site. Additional tents are also being delivered

UN Concerned For Persecuted Palestinians

There is increased international concern about the plight of Palestinians living in Baghdad following the arrest on 16 January of 30 Palestinians by Iraqi security forces in two neighbourhoods of the capital, Baghdad. Although they were released shortly after, the UN is concerned that Palestinians have been systematically targetted and threatened by authorities and militias. However, despite their release, a group of up to 90 terrified Palestinian men, women and children fled Baghdad on Wednesday heading toward the Syrian border, where the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says more than 500 Palestinians have been stranded for months. “We are in an exceptional situation as we are in the midst of a major security operation to secure Baghdad. Everyone is subjected to any interrogation from the security directorates," said a police officer on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to disclose security information.

“I Never Imagined That One Day I Would Be A Street Beggar”

“I’m a 57-year-old former Ba’athist official [under former President Saddam Hussein’s rule] at the Ministry of Finance where I was earning a very good salary. I originally came from al-Qaim city in Anbar province. I graduated in economics. “I had a wife and two lovely children – a son and a daughter. Our home was an extravagant villa and we used to eat the best food you could find in Baghdad. “That was my life before the US-led invasion, a life of luxury. But when the regime fell, I lost everything I had. “My wife, Nawal, who was 46, my daughter Sundus, who was 24, and my mother were all killed in an air-strike on my father’s house in Mansour, one of Baghdad’s most respectable districts.

No End to Violence in Saddam’s Home Province

Situated some 200km north of the capital, Baghdad, and with a population of about 1.6 million, Salah ad-Din province is located in the heart of the so-called ‘Sunni triangle’. Nearly four years of violence in this province have claimed the lives of about 4,800 civilians, according to a local police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to release such figures. "Sentiments against US and Iraqi forces are increasing daily in this province and that has led to an increase in the attacks against these forces by car bombs, roadside bombs and ambushes. Most of these attacks are inaccurate and cause casualties among civilians," the police officer said. "There are at least 10 incidents a day in this province, including assassinations against political figures or those who cooperate with the US forces. And sectarian violence erupted after last year’s bombing of the important Shi’ite al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra," he added. Samarra is a city which administratively belongs to Salah ad-Din. The city is about an hour's drive south of Tikrit, the capital of the province and Saddam’s hometown. On 22 February, 2006, the Shi’ite golden dome shrine in Samarra was bombed by extremists, widely believed to be Sunnis. The attack spawned days of reprisal attacks between the country's two major Muslim sects, Sh’ites and Sunnis, and was one of the main causes for an escalation of sectarian violence throughout Iraq.

……. The violence in Salah ad-Din has caused the displacement of thousands of residents. Throughout the province there are about 2,850 displaced families – or some 12,000 individuals - living in abandoned government buildings, parks, mosques or staying with relatives, according to Thawra Baker Abid, director of the Iraqi Red Crescent branch in Tikrit. "These families came from Baghdad and from the southern provinces of Kut [now known as Wasit] and Basra after the explosion at the Shi’ite shrine in Samarra. Others came from the nearby religiously mixed cities of Balad and Tarmiyah," Abid said. "It's not easy all the time to get assistance from Baghdad or from NGOs because of the security situation. Because of that, we depend largely on donations from locals. We are in dire need of beds, warm clothes, blankets and the most important things are medicines for chronic diseases such as cardiac diseases, blood pressure disorders and diabetes," she added.

Red Crescent Gradually Resumes Its Work

The Iraq Red Crescent is steadily resuming its work in Baghdad after it suspended its activities in the capital for more than three weeks following the kidnapping by militants of its staff members and volunteers on 17 December 2006. Of the 30 staff members kidnapped from the heavily guarded Red Crescent headquarters, 10 are yet to be released. The aid agency has been the main conduit for the distribution of supplies, food and non-food items, countrywide, according to the Ministry of Displacement and Migration and local aid agencies. Thousands of families became desperate after the suspension of the Red Crescent’s work in Baghdad and the closure of 40 of its subsidiary offices in the capital.

Amid Sectarian Chaos, Bird Lovers Persevere

"For Iraq, a nation that has lost so much of its wildlife in the last 20 years, this book opens the door for the growing conservation movement in this country," said Ali Douabul of Nature Iraq, an Iraqi NGO focused on the protection and restoration of the environment. Published in Arabic, the "Field Guide to the Birds of Iraq" is a fully illustrated guide based on three years of surveys by mainly Iraqi and Jordanian birders and biologists. ….. Many Iraqis have received training in conservation, water management and biodiversity as a result of the effort, Alwash told IPS on a shaky phone connection from Baghdad. "We've been able to find new information about endangered species that will be released in the months to come." The funding for the project was provided the Canadian International Development Agency, the World Bank and the Ornithological Society of the Middle East.


VIDEO CBS WILL NOT SHOW ON TV: The Battle for Haifa Street

AUDIO: Iraqi Body Supports Maliki’s Security Plan [NPR still drinking the kool-aid, but some clips of the Iraqi parliament. – dancewater]

Iraqi PM Wins Key Security Vote

Iraq's parliament has voted to back Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's new drive to improve security in Baghdad. Mr. Maliki said operations would be under Iraqi control with US troops acting in support. The key bloc of MPs allied to radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr - which had boycotted parliament for two months - gave its backing to the plan. The vote came as a massive car bomb killed at least 26 people in the Karrada shopping district of Baghdad. The attack came shortly after two mortar attacks on the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the US embassy and Iraqi government buildings.

Iraq Leader And Sunni Officials In Clash on Security

Iraq’s Shiite prime minister and Sunni lawmakers hurled insults at one another during a raucous session of Parliament on Thursday, with the prime minister threatening a Sunni lawmaker with arrest and the Sunni speaker of Parliament threatening to quit. The uproar revolved around the new Baghdad security plan, but it came as the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, is under increasing pressure to demonstrate evenhandedness. President Bush’s new strategy for Iraq hinges in large measure on the Iraqi government’s ability to rein in both Shiite and Sunni militants. In Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Maliki focused his anger on Sunni lawmakers, accusing one of being involved in sectarian kidnappings. The confrontation erupted after Mr. Maliki described the outlines of the new Baghdad security plan and pledged there would be no “safe haven” for militants. The leader of a powerful Sunni bloc, Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, provoked Mr. Maliki, saying over jeers from Shiite politicians, “We cannot trust the office of the prime minister.”

Iraqi Official Offers Terms From Militia to Avoid Fight

An Iraqi official authorized to speak on behalf of field commanders for the country's most powerful militia has approached Western military officials and laid out a plan to avoid armed confrontation, senior Iraqi and American officials said this week. The official is Rahim al-Daraji, the elected mayor of the Sadr City district, the vast grid in the northeast corner of the capital that is the stronghold of the militia, the Mahdi Army. Mr. Daraji has met twice in the past two weeks with Lt. Gen. Graeme Lamb, a British officer who is the deputy commanding general in Iraq, said a senior Iraqi official in the office of the prime minister. During the meetings, which took place on Jan. 17 and, most recently, on Monday, Mr. Daraji laid out a proposal from what he said were all the major political and militia groups in Sadr City, the senior Iraqi official said. The groups were eager to head off a major American military offensive in the district, home to two million Shiites, as the Americans begin a sweeping new effort to retake the streets of Baghdad. Mr. Daraji said in an interview that field commanders would forbid their foot soldiers to carry guns in public if the American military and the Iraqi government met several basic demands, mostly involving ways to ensure better security for Sadr City. He is communicating with the commanders through a Shiite politician who is close to them. …..The talks appeared to have been the first between an intermediary for the Mahdi militia and a senior commander from the American effort. The military fought the militia twice in 2004, and the militia's leader, Moktada al-Sadr, a renegade cleric who is virulently anti-American, has resolutely refused to meet with American officials of any kind.

From Juan Cole’s Blog:

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the Sadr Movement of Muqtada al-Sadr gave its unstinting support to al-Maliki's security plan. It was speculated that this step is an attempt to avoid a confrontatation with US forces. The London daily also confirms that the Sadrists have appointed a negotiator to talk directly to the Americans on behalf of the commanders of the Mahdi Army militia. It says that some Mahdi Army commanders have scattered to Kut, Babil and Taji or even to neighboring countries, and that al-Maliki has avoided having to choose between his American partners and his Sadrist allies by convincing the Mahdi Army to fade away for the moment. It says US ambassador in Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad expressed concern that gunmen in Iraq may go into hiding during the US "surge," and then reappear when it is over.


U.S. Soldier Pleads Guilty To Killing 3 Iraqi Detainees

Clagett faces life in prison, but should get a lighter sentence because of his plea.

In a New Joint U.S.-Iraqi Patrol, the Americans Go First

In a miniature version of the troop increase that the United States hopes will secure the city, American soldiers and armored vehicles raced onto Haifa Street before dawn to dislodge Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who have been battling for a stretch of ragged slums and mostly abandoned high rises. But as the sun rose, many of the Iraqi Army units who were supposed to do the actual searches of the buildings did not arrive on time, forcing the Americans to start the job on their own. When the Iraqi units finally did show up, it was with the air of a class outing, cheering and laughing as the Americans blew locks off doors with shotguns. As the morning wore on and the troops came under fire from all directions, another apparent flaw in this strategy became clear as empty apartments became lairs for gunmen who flitted from window to window and killed at least one American soldier, with a shot to the head. Whether the gunfire was coming from Sunni or Shiite insurgents or militia fighters or some of the Iraqi soldiers who had disappeared into the Gotham-like cityscape, no one could say. …….The Haifa Street operation, involving Bradley Fighting Vehicles as well as the highly mobile Stryker vehicles, is likely to cause plenty of reflection by the commanders in charge of the Baghdad buildup of more than 20,000 troops. Just how those extra troops will be used is not yet known, but it is likely to mirror at least broadly the Haifa Street strategy of working with Iraqi forces to take on unruly groups from both sides of the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide.

Pelosi In Iraq To See How War Is Going

A U.S. embassy official said Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House, had arrived in Iraq at the head of a six-member congressional delegation for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. officials but did not plan any public appearances. The delegation includes John Murtha, a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania, who has also been vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war. Newly empowered congressional Democrats are pushing for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Opinion polls show Americans are strongly opposed to Bush's plan for a troop increase.

Bush Authorizes Targeting Iranians in Iraq

President George W. Bush has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian agents active inside Iraq, The Washington Post reported on Friday, citing government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the plan. The move, approved last fall, is aimed at weakening Iran's influence in the region and forcing Tehran to abandon its nuclear program that the West believes is for nuclear weapons and not energy, the newspaper said, citing the unidentified officials. For more than a year, U.S. forces have held dozens of Iranians for a few days, taking DNA samples from some as well as photographs and fingerprints from all those captured, the report said. Several Iranian officials have been detained in three U.S. raids over the last month. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters on Wednesday that details of accusations against them would be made public in the coming days. He said they were "going after networks" of security agents, which he said were a mainstay of Iran's involvement in Iraq. The United States has accused Iran of helping arm, train and fund Iraqi militants, notably fellow Shi'ite Muslims.

Iraq In Talks With Chevron, Exxon

Iraq is in negotiations with Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. to build a new $3 billion petrochemical facility, and is in talks with several other Western companies over industrial projects. In an interview Thursday, Iraq's minister for industry and minerals Fowzi Hariri said the discussions with Chevron and Exxon began this week in Washington and are at an early stage. "It will be one or the other company for this new facility, not both," he said. "We're hoping to have a (Memorandum of Understanding) in place by about July." Hariri took his first trip to Washington early this week and met with several companies about industrial projects. The other leg of his trip took him to London, where he a number of firms.

Troops Died After, Not In, Sneak Attack

Contrary to public statements by the U.S. military, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor's office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away. The brazen assault, 50 miles south of Baghdad on Jan. 20, was conducted by nine to 12 militants posing as an American security team. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles _ the type used by U.S. government convoys _ had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English. In a written statement, the U.S. command reported at the time that five soldiers were killed while "repelling the attack." Now, two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials say four of the five were captured and taken from the governor's compound alive. Three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded later that evening in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor's office. The U.S. officials said they could not be sure where the soldiers were shot after being captured at the compound. Iraqi officials said they believe the men were killed just before the Suburbans were abandoned.

Petraeus Confirmed by US Senate

According to Labor Department statistics, more than 700 contractors have been killed in Iraq, a reflection of the growing role that private companies play in the war zone. According to a census released in December by the Pentagon, there are more than 100,000 contractors now working in Iraq in roles ranging from security to cooking and driving trucks.

A former Montana man was one of five Americans killed this week in a helicopter crash in Iraq, family members said Thursday. Former Cascade resident Casey Casavant, 35, had been in Iraq for the past two years as a private contractor for the Defense Department, family members said. The helicopter, owned by U.S. security company Blackwater USA, swooped into electrical wires and crashed after racing to help a U.S. Embassy ground convoy that had come under fire. U.S. officials said it was not clear if the aircraft was shot down or if the pilot veered into the wires while trying to avoid gunfire. Contrary to previous reports, Casavant's family said he died in the crash and that he wasn't shot in the head execution-style


OPINION: Our Mercenaries In Iraq

AS PRESIDENT BUSH took the podium to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, there were five American families receiving news that has become all too common: Their loved ones had been killed in Iraq. But in this case, the slain were neither "civilians," as the news reports proclaimed, nor were they U.S. soldiers. They were highly trained mercenaries deployed to Iraq by a secretive private military company based in North Carolina — Blackwater USA. The company made headlines in early 2004 when four of its troops were ambushed and burned in the Sunni hotbed of Fallouja — two charred, lifeless bodies left to dangle for hours from a bridge. That incident marked a turning point in the war, sparked multiple U.S. sieges of Fallouja and helped fuel the Iraqi resistance that haunts the occupation to this day. …. Bush made no mention of the downing of the helicopter during his State of the Union speech. But he did address the very issue that has made the war's privatization a linchpin of his Iraq policy — the need for more troops. The president called on Congress to authorize an increase of about 92,000 active-duty troops over the next five years. He then slipped in a mention of a major initiative that would represent a significant development in the U.S. disaster response/ reconstruction/war machine: a Civilian Reserve Corps. "Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," Bush declared. This is precisely what the administration has already done, largely behind the backs of the American people and with little congressional input, with its revolution in military affairs. Bush and his political allies are using taxpayer dollars to run an outsourcing laboratory. Iraq is its Frankenstein monster.

PEACE ACTION: Progressive Democrats of America has been working and organizing support for HR 4232 since Rep. McGovern introduced this important bill in November of 2005. Rep. McGovern spoke at the PDA "Get out of Iraq" Town Hall meeting the day after he introduced HR 4232. We continue to work for its passage as a top legislative priority. We urge you to continue organizing support for HR 4232 and to ask your Congressional member to co-sponsor the bill.



QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There is no chance for "victory" or "success" in Iraq at this late date, and little chance for even averting disaster. What is done cannot be undone. There is no "way forward." The moment for political courage came and went. Those who could not summon it then, those who failed to speak out when their nation most needed them, find that there is nothing they can do to make up for that failing." - Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?