Friday, February 23, 2007

DAILY WAR NEWS FOR FRIDAY, February 23, 2007
Photo: Iraqi soldiers stand near the body of a boy on the eastern side of the Tigris River in the Zafraniyah area, in southern Baghdad, February 23, 2007. The boy was killed and two other boys wounded as U.S. soldiers searched for two suspected insurgents thought to be armed, who were seen crossing the river in a boat, a Reuters photographer said. The photographer together with a U.S.-Iraqi patrol he was embedded with, arrived on the scene after hearing gunfire for around 15 minutes and two explosions. It was unclear who fired the shot that killed the boy. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Bring 'em on: Three soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force-West were killed Feb. 22 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. (CENTCOM)
Fierce clashes erupted on between U.S. forces and militants, believed to be loyal to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in Baghdad's southern outskirt of Abu-Tisher, an eyewitness said.
3 mortar shells fell on the Amil neighborhood. One child was killed and 5 citizens were injured.
A mortar round fell in Abu Disheer neighborhood, three civilians were injured.
Police found five dead bodies in Baghdad: Dora 2, Kadhimiya 1, Taji 1, Mahmoudia 1.
Police said 14 bodies were found in Baghdad on Thursday.
Diyala Prv:
Seven unidentified bodies found in several areas in the city of Baaquba, the capital of Diyala province, 57 km north of Baghdad, were received by a public hospital on Friday, a medic said.
Unidentified gunmen shot down two persons near a coffee house in the district of al-Khalis, Diyala province, 57 km northeast of Baghdad, an Iraqi police source said. "Two gunmen in two separate vehicles opened their fire at two persons standing near the Khalis tourist casino on Friday morning, killing them instantly," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq.
A joint force of the Iraqi and U.S. troops dismantled an armed group suspected of being involved in making and planting bombs in Muqdadiya district, 45 km northeast of Baaquba, the U.S. army said.
Police and hospital officials said 10 bodies were found in the northern city of Mosul on Thursday. The dead included a police captain. All had been shot in the head.
Four bodies were found in Kirkuk, police said.
A twelve-year-old boy was killed when a land mine went off near him at al-Ahrar district west of Kut city, 180 km southeast of Baghdad, a security source said.
U.S. troops detained on Friday the eldest son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite leaders, outraging Shi'ite politicians and prompting a swift apology from the U.S. ambassador.
Ammar Hakim's convoy was stopped at a border checkpoint in eastern Wasit province as he returned from Iran, Iraqi security officials and a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim said. He was handcuffed and taken to a nearby U.S. military base.
The young cleric was released on Friday evening after being held for most of the day, Iraqi officials said. One official said the soldiers had removed his cleric's black turban, an act Shi'ites would view as deeply insulting.
U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad sought to contain any political fallout from the incident, telling reporters in Baghdad that while he did not know the circumstances of the arrest "we do not mean any disrespect" to the Hakim family. (…)
A colonel in the Iraqi border guards based in Kut said U.S. soldiers arrested Hakim at gunpoint and handcuffed him before taking him away. A colonel in the 8th Division of the Iraqi Army confirmed his detention.
It was not immediately clear why he had been held, but Shi'ite officials called it a "cowboy" action and said it could spark popular protests. The provincial council of the southern Shi'ite province of Najaf called for demonstrations on Saturday.
The incident could also strain the previously good relations between Washington and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the dominant political party in the Shi'ite-led government.
"There was clear provocation from the Americans. Ammar is a well-known figure. He is not a government figure but a religious figure," said Hameed Mualla, a senior SCIRI lawmaker.
"The way he has been treated is unacceptable and it will definitely provoke many people."
In the second raid on an Iraqi press building in less than 72 hours, US forces stormed the offices of the newspaper al-Da`wa today, located in the Wazariyah area of Baghdad. Al-Da’wa is associated with the Islamic Da`wa Party, the Shi`a party whose deputy leader is the Iraqi PM Nuri Maliki.
Ali Laftih Abbas, editorial secretary of the paper, said that the “American forces came suddenly, storming the building and smashing furniture and other contents.” Abbas added that the Americans detained everyone in the building, including journalists, administrators and security guards, and confiscated the guards' weapons. The women, including four female journalists were released after being interrogated for a number of hours separately from the men, but the Americans continued to detain the remaining employees in the building, Aswat al-Iraq reported in Arabic.
Abbas criticized the position of the Iraqi government, which has not issued a statement condemning the raid.
The raid took place less than 72 hours after American troops stormed the headquarters of the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate in the capital [see below], during which time five security guards were arrested and equipment confiscated. As reported by IraqSlogger yesterday, Iraqi journalists demonstrated on Wednesday against the raid on the syndicate, demanding that the government investigate.
U.S. soldiers raided and ransacked the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad Tuesday this week. Ten armed guards were arrested, and 10 computers and 15 small electricity generators kept for donation to families of killed journalists were seized.
This is not the first time U.S. troops have attacked the media in Iraq, but this time the raid was against the very symbol of it. Many Iraqis believe the U.S. soldiers did all they could to deliver the message of their leadership to Iraqi journalists to keep their mouth shut about anything going wrong with the U.S.-led occupation.
"The Americans have delivered so many messages to us, but we simply refused all of them," Youssif al-Tamimi of the ISJ in Baghdad told IPS. "They killed our colleagues, closed so many newspapers, arrested hundreds of us and now they are shooting at our hearts by raiding our headquarters. This is the freedom of speech we received." (…)
There is a growing belief in Iraq that U.S. allies in the current Iraqi government are leading the U.S. military to raid places and people who do not follow Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's directions.
"It is our Iraqi colleagues who pushed the Americans to that hole," Fadhil Abbas, an Iraqi television producer told IPS. "Some journalists who failed to fake the truth here are trying hard to silence truth seekers by providing false information to the U.S. military in order to take advantage of their stupidity in handling the whole Iraqi issue."
The incident occurred just two days after the Iraqi Union covering journalists received formal recognition from the government. The new status allowed the Syndicate access to its previously blocked bank account, and it had just purchased new computers and satellite equipment.
"Just at the point when the Syndicate achieves formal recognition for its work as an independent body of professionals, the American military carries out a brutal and unprovoked assault," International Federation of Journalists General Secretary Aidan White said in a statement. "Anyone working for media that does not endorse U.S. policy and actions could now be at risk."
Nearly 800 civilians working under contract to the Pentagon have been killed and more than 3,300 hurt doing jobs normally handled by the U.S. military, according to figures gathered by The Associated Press.
Exactly how many of these employees doing the Pentagon's work are Americans is uncertain. But the casualty figures make it clear that the Defense Department's count of more than 3,100 U.S. military dead does not tell the whole story.

At a time when U.S. occupation troops and puppet Iraqi troops have committed hundreds of thousands of murders of Iraqi civilians, three women are being executed for their alleged role in the armed resistance. The Supreme Iraqi Criminal Court has sentenced the women to death by hanging, with the executions set for March 3 in Baghdad.
According to attorney Walid Hayali of the Iraqi Lawyers Union, 31-year-old Wassan Talib has been charged with the killing of five police officers in an attack on the police; 25-year-old Zainab Fadhil was charged for an attack on a joint patrol of the Iraqi and U.S. armies in Baghdad; and 26-year-old Liqa Muhammad was charged with the killing of an official in the Green Zone in the course of a kidnapping.
The attorney points out that the women were denied legal counsel before and during the trial, and therefore there was no lawyer present to appeal the convictions.
Muhammad is still nursing a child she recently gave birth to in prison. Talib has a 3-year-old daughter with her in the prison.
A fourth woman, Samar Sa’ad Abdullah, has been sentenced to execution for the murder of several family members, which she has denied. (amnesty.org)
Amnesty International notes that the Iraqi interim government reinstated the death penalty in August 2004, and that at least 65 people were executed in 2006 following the ruling. AI states that on Sept. 6 alone, 27 people were reportedly hanged, and 11 more on Sept. 21.
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I spent the weekend translating this leaked copy of the Iraqi oil law with niki (thank you salam for sending me the link). Translating legal documents can be really hard!
We just finished the translation, and you can download it by clicking here or here
Please feel free to widely distribute this document. It's important to start a stronger debate and to try to educate Iraqis and Americans about this catastrophic law that will facilitate the further looting of Iraqi oil, and will achieve nothing other than increasing the levels of violence and anger in Iraq.
This law legalizes PSAs (production sharing agreements) in Iraq. Iraq will be the only country in the middle east with such contracts privatising Iraqi oil and giving foreign companies crazy rates of profit that may reach to more than three fourth of the general revenue. Iraq and Iraqis need every Dinar that comes from oil sales. In addition to the financial aspects of this law, it can be considered the funding tool for splitting Iraq into three states. It undermines the central government and distributes oil revenues directly to the three regions, which sets the foundations for what Iraq's enemies are trying to achieve in terms of establishing three independent states.
read in full…
A civil war may be brewing in the Democratic Party over Iraq. There are Democrats who want to take immediate and concrete steps to end the war. They want to force withdrawal through legislation. And there are Democrats who essentially do not want to go first. They want to push President George W. Bush to clean up the mess he made so that he, not the Democrats, will bear responsibility for how the war ends (which could be nastily). Both sides were able to agree on a nonbinding resolution decrying Bush’s surge and declaring support for the troops. But now that such a resolution has passed in the House and died in the Senate, the issue is, what’s next?
In the House, the main Democratic action at the moment centers on the Murtha plan, which would attach his severely limiting conditions to the newest round of funding for the Iraq war. “We’re gonna stop this surge,” Murtha said during a recent interview with MoveCongress.org, an antiwar group.
Republicans have gleefully dubbed this approach a “slow bleed”—as in wounding the troops. And it is a way of ending—or limiting—the war without calling for withdrawal. Since the Pentagon could not meet the standards Murtha would set—for instance, there are not sufficient numbers of armored trucks for the troops being deployed to Iraq as part of the surge—the surge could not go forward.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed Murtha’s proposal, but it is far from clear that she can steer the entire Democratic caucus behind Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee. Thus, there will be a debate among House Democrats—and it may be a hot one—when Congress in a few weeks considers Bush’s $93 billion funding request for Iraq. (Murtha also intends to attach a condition to the appropriations legislation that would prevent the president from attacking Iran without congressional authorization.) And as the Murtha fight ensues, there will be House Democrats who will be pushing for a more direct and total cutoff of funding—a position Murtha does not support. (…)
It will be nearly impossible for the Democratic Party to derive a unified position regarding what to do in Iraq—mature or not—with so many moving pieces, competing views and different needs. There is, in a way, a race against the clock—and that clock is the ground reality in Iraq. If the situation in Iraq does not improve and the surge does not succeed, there will be even more public disenchantment with the war and more political opportunity for a tougher stance, such as direct defunding. But that opportunity will likely not present itself before Democrats have to consider the new funds for the war. Can they have an internal disagreement over what to do without it becoming ugly, without alienating grassroots Democrats who want the party to pass binding legislation to stop the war now, and without handing Republicans potent political ammo to use against them now and in the future? Ending a war—even an unpopular one—is not easy work for politicians.
read in full…
Yifat Susskind, TomPaine.com: VIOLATING IRAQI WOMEN
It’s no surprise that we’re hearing allegations of rape against the Iraqi National Police, considering who trained them. DynCorp, the private contractor that the Bush Administration hired to prepare Iraq’s new police force for duty, has an ugly record of violence against women. The company was contracted by the federal government in the 1990s to train police in the Balkans. Human Rights Watch reports that DynCorp employees were found to have systematically committed sex crimes against women, including “owning” young women as slaves . One DynCorp site supervisor videotaped himself raping two women. Despite evidence, the contractors never faced criminal charges.
Contrary to its rhetoric and its international legal obligations, the Bush Administration has refused to protect women’s rights in Iraq. In fact, it has decisively traded women’s rights for cooperation from the Islamists it has helped boost to power. Torture of women in detention is one symptom of this broader crisis.
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Whatever It Is, I'm Against It: IMMENSELY PROUD
For entertainment, listen to BBC interviewer John Humphrys repeatedly demand that Tony Blair apologize to the Iraqis for fucking up their country.
Blair does not apologize.
Indeed, he is “immensely proud.”
He came close to demanding that the Iraqis apologize to him for fucking up his vision of the Ruritanian paradise he planned for them. Mostly, though, he insisted that the chaos and violence had nothing to do with a failure on the part of the invaders to plan for the security of the Iraqi people, but rather its is entirely the fault of terrorists who are simply using the invasion of Iraq as an excuse, instead of, as would have been only fit and proper, thanking us for our magnanimous actions in liberating them.
read in full…
In a comment entitled "The British Defeat in Iraq" the pre-eminent American analyst on Iraq, Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, asserts that British forces lost control of the situation in and around Basra by the second half of 2005.
Mr Cordesman says that while the British won some tactical clashes in Basra and Maysan province in 2004, that "did not stop Islamists from taking more local political power and controlling security at the neighbourhood level when British troops were not present". As a result, southern Iraq has, in effect, long been under the control of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) and the so-called "Sadrist" factions.
Mr Blair said for three years Britain had worked to create, train and equip Iraqi Security Forces capable of taking on the security of the country themselves. But Mr Cordesman concludes: "The Iraqi forces that Britain helped create in the area were little more than an extension of Shia Islamist control by other means."
The British control of southern Iraq was precarious from the beginning. Its forces had neither experience of the areas in which they were operating nor reliable local allies. Like the Americans in Baghdad, they failed to stop the mass looting of Basra on the fall of Saddam Hussein and never established law and order.
American and British officials never appeared to take on board the unpopularity of the occupation among Shia as well as Sunni Iraqis. Mr Blair even denies that the occupation was unpopular or a cause of armed resistance. But from the fall of Saddam Hussein, mounting anger against it provided an environment in which bigoted Sunni insurgents and often criminal Shia militias could flourish. (…)
Mr Cordesman's gloomy conclusions about British defeat are confirmed by a study called "The Calm before the Storm: The British Experience in Southern Iraq" by Michael Knights and Ed Williams, published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Comparing the original British ambitions with present reality the paper concludes that "instead of a stable, united, law-abiding region with a representative government and police primacy, the deep south is unstable, factionalised, lawless, ruled as a kleptocracy and subject to militia primacy". (…)
There is no doubt the deterioration in the situation is contrary to the rosy picture presented by Downing Street. Messrs Knights and Williams note: "By September 2006, British forces needed to deploy a convoy of Warrior armoured vehicles to ferry police trainers to a single police station and deliver a consignment of toys to a nearby hospital." Some British army positions were being hit by more mortar bombs than anywhere else in Iraq. There was continual friction with local political factions.
Why is the British Army still in south Iraq and what good does it do there? The suspicion grows that Mr Blair did not withdraw them because to do so would be too gross an admission of failure and of soldiers' lives uselessly lost. It would also have left the US embarrassingly bereft of allies. Reidar Visser, an expert on Basra, says after all the publicity about the British "soft" approach in Basra in 2003, local people began to notice that the soldiers were less and less in the streets and the militias were taking over. "This, in turn, created a situation where critics claim the sole remaining objective of the British forces in Iraq is to hold out and maintain a physical presence somewhere within the borders of the governorates in the south formally left under their control, while at the same minimising their own casualties.' Mr Visser said.
In other words, British soldiers have stayed and died in southern Iraq, and will continue to do so, because Mr Blair finds it too embarrassing to end what has become a symbolic presence and withdraw them.
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A NY Times reporter accompanying troops on the new security crackdown says we ain't exactly going halfsies with the Iraqi police. No, the ratio is more like 8 to 1. Not that that smaller number of Iraqi police don't have a special job to do:
At least two of the national police officers who turned out for the operation were moving ahead of the American troops not to lead the security drive but to warn the residents to hide their weapons and other incriminating evidence. [....]
On another patrol, an American commander said, Iraqi residents told American soldiers that a national policemen had warned them to hide anything incriminating including paraphernalia about Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite militia leader whose forces are targets of the Baghdad crackdown. [....]
Even routine security tasks performed by Iraqi forces, such as operating traffic checkpoints, are frequently undermined by laziness, American troops say, if not outright sabotage through complicity with the militias.
Meanwhile, the Sunnis say they have no trust of the police at all, and once the Americans leave, back come the resistance militias. But let's all pretend we're actually doing something there, ok?
Left I on the News: NEWTON'S THIRD LAW
An interesting point from journalist Dahr Jamail on tonight's Flashpoints radio which I hadn't heard expressed quite so clearly. Just as the U.S. has (reportedly) hundreds of locations in Iran targeted with bomb or missile strikes, so too Iran has hundreds of missiles targeted on American sites in Iraq (e.g., American bases), ready to be launched in response to any U.S. attack.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The laws of physics (and of politics!) must be obeyed!
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Britain will send more than 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan to combat an expected spring offensive by the Taliban, local media reported on Friday. Defence Secretary Des Browne will give details of the new deployment to the House of Commons on Monday, the report said.
Andrew Sullivan posts this walk through the looking glass with minimal comment. These folks created an organization, hired an advertising agency, and created this video and website, to remind Europeans that America actually has contributed something to the world. Despite current evidence to the contrary, I guess. If Bush and his cohort had any shame, they’d be ashamed of this.
In my dreams.
Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial. This was not supposed to happen. The Bush administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government. (…)
It's difficult to overstate the significance of these hearings. The techniques used to break Padilla have been standard operating procedure at Guantánamo Bay since the first prisoners arrived five years ago. They wore blackout goggles and sound-blocking headphones and were placed in extended isolation, interrupted by strobe lights and heavy metal music. These same practices have been documented in dozens of cases of "extraordinary rendition" carried out by the CIA, as well as in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Many have suffered the same symptoms as Padilla. According to James Yee, a former army Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo, there is an entire section of the prison called Delta Block for detainees who have been reduced to a delusional state. "They would respond to me in a childlike voice, talking complete nonsense. Many of them would loudly sing childish songs, repeating the song over and over." All the inmates of Delta Block were on 24-hour suicide watch.
Human Rights Watch has exposed a US-run detention facility near Kabul known as the "prison of darkness" - tiny pitch-black cells, strange blaring sounds. "Plenty lost their minds," one former inmate recalled. "I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors."
These standard mind-breaking techniques have never faced scrutiny in an American court because the prisoners in the jails are foreigners and have been stripped of the right of habeas corpus - a denial that, scandalously, was just upheld by a federal appeals court in Washington DC. There is only one reason Padilla's case is different - he is a US citizen. The administration did not originally intend to bring Padilla to trial, but when his status as an enemy combatant faced a supreme court challenge, the administration abruptly changed course, charging Padilla and transferring him to civilian custody. That makes Padilla's case unique - he is the only victim of the post-9/11 legal netherworld to face an ordinary US trial.
Now that Padilla's mental state is the central issue in the case, the government prosecutors are presented with a problem. The CIA and the military have known since the early 1960s that extreme sensory deprivation and sensory overload cause personality disintegration - that's the whole point. "The deprivation of stimuli induces regression by depriving the subject's mind of contact with an outer world and thus forcing it in upon itself. At the same time, the calculated provision of stimuli during interrogation tends to make the regressed subject view the interrogator as a father-figure." That comes from Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation, a declassified 1963 CIA manual for interrogating "resistant sources". (…)
If these techniques drove Padilla insane, that means the US government has been deliberately driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of prisoners insane around the world. What is on trial in Florida is not one man's mental state. It is the whole system of US psychological torture.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "History will judge the British adventure in Iraq - undertaken to please the United States in its 'war on terror' - as a resounding failure. It did nothing for Great Britain. And 130 soldiers died for a battle that did not concern them. They died on the beaches, the landing grounds, the fields, the streets and the hills of a faraway land named Iraq, and a distant friend called George W Bush." -- from "British leave Basra to its own devices" by Sami Moubayed


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