WAR NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 09, 2006
"You know, I hear people say, well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box." – George W. Bush, August 7, 2006
The police found a beheaded body of a man in al-Zab, an area about 35 km southwest of Kirkuk.
A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol in eastern Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Habibiya, killing one bystander and wounding one U.S. soldier.
Police found the bodies of three men who were shot in the head and dumped in two locations in southwestern Baghdad.
Gunmen abducted two Iraqi contractors working with the U.S. military on Tuesday in the oil refinery city of Baiji.
Five people were killed and 20 wounded overnight when a rocket hit three-storey building in the religiously mixed city of Baquba. The building collapsed and witnesses said more may be trapped in the rubble.
An Iraqi government agency said Wednesday that "terrorists," not a U.S. airstrike, were to blame for an explosion at a mosque in Baqouba that left four people dead. The blast also wounded 16 people late Tuesday in the city, and police originally blamed an American strike. (Is this the same attack as in the story above? Could be… -m)
Gunmen on two motorcycles assassinated Col. Qassim Abdel-Qadir, administrative head of an Iraqi army division in Basra.
The police found two bodies shot in the head and chest on Tuesday in the small town of Dour, near Tikrit.
Three Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb beside their patrol on the main road between Hawija and Kirkuk.
A civilian was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb near their car in the main road between Hawija and Kirkuk.
The police arrested two people while they were planting a bomb on the side of the road in Kirkuk.
On Monday the bodies of nine people were brought to the regional morgue in Kut, police and health officials said. Seven of the nine bodies were Iraqi soldiers.
At least 10 Iraqis were killed by a suicide truck bomber at a police commando post in Samarra. Thirteen commandos were wounded, along with 18 civilians.
A policeman was killed and another wounded when they were trying to defuse a roadside bomb late Tuesday in Samarra.
In New Zealand, the Foreign Ministry said a Cook Islands national working as a driver in Iraq was killed in a bomb attack late Tuesday.
Chopper crash: A U.S. Marine helicopter crashed in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, leaving two crew members missing and four injured, the U.S. military command said Wednesday.
The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down on Tuesday during a routine flight, said a statement by the command. It said the incident does not appear to be the result of enemy action and the injured soldiers are in stable condition.
Good thing they voted against civil war: Some 1,815 bodies were delivered to the Baghdad morgue last month, the highest number since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine sparked a wave of sectarian killings, a morgue official said on Wednesday.
The morgue's assistant manager, Doctor Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi, told Reuters about 90 percent of the deaths were due to violence in the capital, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have stepped up their troops levels to combat sectarian bloodshed.
The morgue received 1,595 bodies in June.
The figures show the level of violence in Iraq has increased after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki launched a security crackdown on July 9, vowing to rid the capital of insurgents and al Qaeda militants.
Iraq's health, interior and defence ministries consistently provide lower figures than those released by the morgue.
Why run? There’s no civil war: Half of all Iraqi Christians have fled their country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, said the auxiliary bishop of Baghdad.
Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Andreos Abouna of Baghdad said that before the invasion there were about 1.2 million Christians in the predominantly Shiite Muslim state. Since then the overall number has dropped to about 600,000, he said.
"What we are hearing now is the alarm bell for Christianity in Iraq," the bishop said. "When so many are leaving from a small community like ours, you know that it is dangerous -- dangerous for the future of the church in Iraq."
The bishop said 75 percent of Christians from Baghdad had fled the capital to escape the almost daily outbreaks of sectarian violence.
But they voted against civil war!: This vast city of seven million people, almost the size of London, is breaking up into a dozen cities, each one of which is becoming a heavily armed Shia or Sunni stronghold. Every morning brings its terrible harvest of bodies. Many lie in the street for hours, bloating in the 120F heat, while others are found floating in the Tigris river.
In June, 1,595 bodies, often tortured with an electric drill or by fire, were delivered to the Baghdad morgue. In July, the violence was far worse.
In all of Iraq, in June, 3,149 civilians are known to have been killed, more in one month than the total death toll in Northern Ireland in 30 years of violence.
Into this maelstrom, President George Bush is ordering 4,000 extra American troops in a bid to control the civil war in Baghdad (absurdly, Bush and Tony Blair reject the phrase "civil war" despite the all-too-visible sectarian carnage). Many embattled Sunni districts will welcome the Americans, but the majority in Baghdad are Shia and they already see the US as playing sectarian politics in order to shore up imperial control.
"The Americans are not honest brokers," one former minister told me. "They switch their support between the Shia, Sunni and Kurds in order to serve their own interests." Already, US forces are attacking offices and arresting officials of the main Shia militia the Mehdi Army, followers of the radical nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The US may be joining, not ending, the civil war.
Life in Hell: A Baghdad Diary: When the Fokker's wheels hit the tarmac, 50 people sigh in unison, 50 stomachs unclench. But the relief is temporary; most of us still have to negotiate the Highway of Death. There have been hundreds of insurgent and terrorist attacks along its length since the U.S. military established its largest Iraqi base, Camp Victory, next to the airport three years ago. Many of the attacks are directed at U.S. patrols, but they have also killed scores of Iraqi noncombatants. Last summer two of my Iraqi colleagues were badly wounded when a roadside bomb went off next to their car on the Highway of Death; twice I've been caught in cross fire between insurgents and U.S. soldiers.
Recently the highway has become less deadly--perhaps the only place in Baghdad that can make such a claim. The once daily attacks along the road have given way to occasional strikes, like the twin suicide bombings in May that killed 14 Iraqis near Checkpoint 1, where arriving travelers meet transport waiting to take them into the city. U.S. officials claim the decline in attacks as a victory for military strategy, attributing it to the greatly increased visibility of Iraqi soldiers along the road. My contacts in the insurgency offer an alternative, equally plausible explanation: there are fewer U.S. patrols and convoys on the road than before, fewer targets to attack.
Although a ride on the Highway of Death once exaggerated the dangers lurking in Baghdad, it now does the opposite, lulling newcomers into a false sense of security. Even as the airport route has got somewhat safer, huge portions of the Iraqi capital have become far more dangerous. I pass one of those on the drive into the city: Amariyah, the mainly Sunni suburb adjacent to Camp Victory and home to Mahmud, one of my Iraqi colleagues. (The names of most of TIME's Iraqi employees have been changed in this article for their protection; working for a foreign company makes them targets for insurgents, and many lie, even to their closest neighbors, about what they do for a living.) A couple of years ago, it was easy to visit with Mahmud's family in their sand-colored two-story home; last year it became too perilous for foreigners after insurgent groups began operating in the area. Now, even Iraqis feel unsafe in Amariyah. Mahmud began to move out his extended family earlier this year when the neighborhood was taken over by a jihadi gang that imposed an extreme interpretation of Islamic law. Women were forbidden to drive, men were ordered not to wear shorts, and shops selling Western goods were firebombed.
Operation Together Forward
Pissing into the hurricane: US and Iraqi forces formally launched the second phase of a security plan designed to regain control of the streets of Baghdad and put an end to a wave of vicious sectarian murders.
Phase two of Operation Together Forward will bring an extra 6,000 Iraqi police and troops into the capital, along with 5,500 American soldiers pulled in from different missions elsewhere in Iraq, a US statement said.
The first phase of the plan, which began in June, has already put more than 50,000 soldiers on the streets but has thus far failed to stem a surge in tit-for-tat sectarian killings and indiscriminate bomb attacks.
Undermining reconciliation: Iraq's prime minister sharply criticized a U.S.-Iraqi attack Monday on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, breaking with his American partners on security tactics as the United States launches a major operation to secure the capital.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's criticism followed a pre-dawn air and ground attack on an area of Sadr City, stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.
Police said three people, including a woman and a child, were killed in the raid, which the U.S. command said was aimed at ''individuals involved in punishment and torture cell activities.''
One U.S. soldier was wounded, the U.S. said.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite, said he was ''very angered and pained'' by the operation, warning that it could undermine his efforts toward national reconciliation.
''Reconciliation cannot go hand in hand with operations that violate the rights of citizens this way,'' al-Maliki said in a statement on government television. ''This operation used weapons that are unreasonable to detain someone -- like using planes.''
He apologized to the Iraqi people for the operation and said ''this won't happen again.''
This isn’t good: A clear rift opened between the Iraqi Prime Minister and the American military yesterday after Nouri al-Maliki lashed out at his allies for raiding the stronghold of a powerful Shia militia.
Mr Al-Maliki’s criticism of the US military as well as his Defence Ministry raised doubts about whether the security forces would have the political backing required to tackle powerful militias beholden to parties in the governing coalition.
The Iraqi leader said that Monday’s raid on Sadr City, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army, which is accused of running death squads, had damaged his efforts to convince political parties to stand down their militias.
American officials have said that the attack, in which airstrikes were carried out on the densely populated Shia slum, targeted a specific cell responsible for murdering Sunnis. When the troops went in, however, they triggered a two-hour battle with Mahdi Army fighters, who run the fiefdom of the hardline cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
This should do a lot to settle Baghdad down: Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shi'ite Muslim preacher who has steadfastly fought against American forces in Iraq, has emerged as one of the most powerful leaders in the country, holding the key to ending the tit-for-tat sectarian violence that threatens to drag Iraq into civil war, US officials say.
Sadr's unofficial militia, known as the Mahdi Army, has steadily swelled from a few hundred men in 2003 at the time of the US invasion to more than 10,000 fighters. State Department and Defense Department officials say Sadr's fighters have kidnapped and killed Sunni civilians in retaliation for attacks on Shi'ites, playing a growing role in the sectarian violence that has engulfed Baghdad since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine.
Yesterday, a joint US-Iraqi military raid targeting a kidnapping-and-torture operation in Sadr's stronghold in eastern Baghdad erupted into a two-hour, helicopter-supported battle with Sadr's increasingly formidable militia. The raid demonstrated the Americans' determination to challenge Sadr's militia before it grows stronger, even as they seek to avoid a full-fledged military confrontation.
Attacking Sadr carries significant risks for the United States as well as the Iraqi government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite who relies on Sadr for political support, said yesterday he was ``very angered" by the raid, and warned that such operations could ruin his efforts to bring about national reconciliation.
A two hour battle in a neighborhood of two million. Great.: A predawn raid by Iraqi troops and American military advisers on a stronghold of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr erupted into a two-hour gun battle Monday, according to residents and the U.S. military.
The operation in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood was aimed at "individuals involved in punishment and torture cell activities," the U.S. military said in a statement. The Iraqi troops who conducted the raid, along with their U.S. advisers, came under fire at the outset, the statement said, and "the fire lasted for the duration of the operation and continued as they left the neighborhood."
Residents of a nearby neighborhood said the fighting began about 1 a.m. and lasted about two hours. A police source told the Reuters news agency that two people were killed and 18 wounded in the clash; the U.S. military reported only that one soldier was wounded.
Better Late Than Never
But what will they DO about it?: There are no good military options for the United States in Iraq, two top US senators said, describing the country as in the midst of a civil war and suggested that Washington convene a high-level diplomatic conference involving regional powers.
However Republican Chuck Hagel and Democrat Christpher Dodd, both senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gave few further details on the proposal.
"A cold hard assessment that Iraq is not going to turn out the way we were promised it was and, that's a fact," said Hagel, interviewed on the CBS show "Face the Nation."
"This is a civil war," said Dodd. "I don't believe that US military people can play referee in that kind of situation."
The War That Would Pay For Itself
"As trustees, we did a very poor job": What happened to the billions of dollars of Iraqi reconstruction money entrusted to the American Coalition? In just fourteen months, the CPA burned its way through nearly $20 billion. But no-one can account for where it all went. Iraq’s infrastructure is worse than ever before. Operating theatres are flooded with sewage. New-born babies are dying for lack of basic equipment. In this shocking 'Dispatches’ investigation, Iraqi doctor Ali Fadhil goes in search of the missing money. He uncovers a horrific story of fraud, incompetence and corruption.
In a hospital room in Diwaniyah, a new-born baby is struggling to breathe. She urgently needs oxygen but the hospital has no suitable equipment. Instead, staff have made a crude arrangement of suction pipes and are holding a tube to her nose. "This treatment is worse than primitive. It’s not even medicine", despairs a doctor as the little girl dies.
This hospital was meant to have benefited from a $4 million refit. But the standard of work is terrible. Raw sewage leaks into the kitchens and operating theatres. New light fittings have melted. Ants crawl around on the floor. Little wonder people here feel betrayed. "This terrible hospital will make my child worse", complains one parent.
"As trustees, we did a very poor job," admits Frank Willis, a senior member of the CPA and one of Bremer’s top officials. "We should have spent the money on the Iraqi people, rather than putting it in the pockets of foreign business." Contracts were negotiated fast and furiously. There was no oversight of projects and security was appalling. "We played football with bricks of hundred dollar bills."
Sick fucks: US soldiers, accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack. One of them grilled chicken wings afterwards, a criminal investigator told a US military hearing yesterday.
Benjamin Bierce interviewed one of the accused, Specialist James Barker who made a written statement in which he recorded graphic and brutal sexual details of the alleged assault on March 12.
The stress defense: Defense attorneys in a military rape-murder hearing on Tuesday emphasized the stress defendants faced, with one private testifying that soldiers consumed whiskey and painkillers to try to cope with duty in Iraq.
Four soldiers are charged in connection with the rape of an Iraqi and the killing of her and her family.
In closing arguments, their attorneys highlighted the adverse conditions in Iraq and pointed the finger at a fifth defendant who has left the Army and is facing charges in civilian court.
Prosecutors, however, attempted to lay blame squarely on the soldiers.
"Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments," Capt. Alex Pickands said as he began his closing argument. "Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."
The Disneyfication of the US Military
I can’t wait for the IED Alley ride: A Florida developer has submitted an unsolicited proposal for a military theme park that would include the "Chateau Belvoir" hotel and an entertainment district with bars like the "1st Division Lounge" and several "4D" rides.
"You can command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner," according to the proposal by Universal City Property Management III of Orlando. The company has no connection to NBC-Universal, which owns Universal Studios, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
Fairfax officials, who have no say over the Army's decision because the site is federal property, said they are worried about an entertainment complex's impact on traffic.
Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee) was so upset after hearing about the Universal City proposal last year that he threw company representatives out of his office. He said he had no interest in turning a military history museum into "Disney on Rolling Road." After the meeting, he said, he thought the entertainment concept for the Army museum was dead.
But last week, the Army told Kauffman and other Fairfax officials that it intended to move the museum from the Fort Belvoir entrance to the Engineer Proving Ground a few miles from the post because it needs to increase the size of the complex from 75 acres to 125, which Kauffman said is a prelude to an entertainment complex.
"It seems fairly clear that the Pentagon brass has decided the only way they can succeed with the Army museum is to make a museum wrapped in an amusement park," Kauffman said.
Our Creeping Stalinism
Downgrading the Geneva Conventions: Political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel would not face prosecution for humiliating or degrading wartime prisoners under amendments to a war crimes law drafted by the Bush administration, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
The amendments are part of the administration's three-pronged response to a June 29 Supreme Court ruling that struck down as illegal and a violation of the Geneva Conventions the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners, the Post said.
The court's ruling gave prisoners captured in Afghanistan protections under the Geneva Conventions, which the administration previously maintained did not apply to them.
Citing unidentified U.S. officials, the newspaper said the administration plans to amend the 1996 War Crimes Act, which makes it a crime to violate the Geneva Conventions, by narrowing the number of potential criminal prosecutions.
Only 10 specific categories of illegal acts against wartime detainees, including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking, could be prosecuted under the amendments, it said.
The list would not include the kinds of humiliating acts, like forced nakedness, used at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison which fall short of torture but are nevertheless barred by the Geneva Conventions as "outrages upon personal dignity," it reported.
Federalizing all power: The nation's governors on Saturday launched a bipartisan drive to block a move to expand the president's authority to take over National Guard troops in case of natural disaster or homeland security threats.
At a closed-door luncheon on the opening day of the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association, the chairman, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), told colleagues that a provision in the House-passed defense authorization bill would end the historic link between the states and their Guard units.
Huckabee and the association's vice chairman, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), plan to ask all the governors at the session to sign a letter of protest Sunday aimed at killing the provision when House and Senate conferees meet next month on the bill.
Huckabee told reporters that the move to shift control of the Guard to the president during national emergencies "violates 200 years of American history" and is symptomatic of a larger federal effort to make states no more than "satellites of the national government."
Hey, Here’s A Great Idea
I say go for it: Some Republican candidates are distancing themselves from President Bush in fear of voter discontent with the war in Iraq. But a new GOP strategy memo argues that the war could prove to be an advantage for many Republican candidates, citing it as one of the most effective issues that will excite the party base in November.
The memo, based on a Republican National Committee poll of GOP voters and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, lists Bush's handling of "foreign threats" as the No. 1 motivator of the Republican base, specifically citing his leadership on Iraq.
"Large majorities report satisfaction with the president's commitment to defeat the terrorists in Iraq and his leadership in the war on terror, in general," according to the memo sent Wednesday to Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman from GOP pollster Fred Steeper.
The memo suggested that Republicans could motivate their base in the upcoming elections by talking about foreign threats and national security issues, including Iraq and the potential nuclear threat from Iran, and by drawing contrasts with Democrats in those areas. It said "a huge 87% of the base expresses extremely strong feelings" about national security issues.
The memo underscores the belief among top White House and GOP strategists that the war, despite the rising death toll and mounting public anxiety, could be the party's biggest advantage in the fight to retain control of Congress in the November elections.
Go for it twice, you smug pricks: Sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq and a majority would support a partial withdrawal of troops by year's end, a CNN poll said on Wednesday.
It was the CNN poll's highest number opposing the war since fighting began in March 2003, a figure that has risen steadily since then, according to the Opinion Research Corp. survey conducted last week on behalf of the cable network.
Frank Herbert: So there was Hillary Rodham Clinton grandstanding for the television cameras last week, giving Donald Rumsfeld a carefully scripted chewing out for his role in the Bush administration's lunatic war in Iraq.
Casual viewers could have been forgiven for not realizing that Senator Clinton has long been a supporter of this war, and that even now, with the number of pointless American deaths moving toward 2,600, her primary goal apparently is not to find an end game, but to figure out the most expedient political position to adopt — the one that will do the least damage to her presidential ambitions.
Mrs. Clinton is trying to have it both ways. A couple of months ago, she told a gathering in Washington: "I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment, which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government." She then added, "Nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain."
Slick Willie has morphed into Slick Hilly, as the carnival of death in Iraq goes on.
Bob Geiger: The numbers are so sterile and have become overwhelming: Close to 2,600 American troops are dead and well over 19,000 have been wounded, some in ways that will forever change their lives. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in an Iraq war, without reason or end, that has been waged by the Bush administration since March of 2003.
The financial costs of the war -- estimated so far at anywhere between $300 billion and $500 billion, depending on your source -- have usurped almost any domestic concerns that might otherwise be dealt with and the increase in the federal budget deficit will certainly go on to haunt the next generation of Americans. The country's global reputation and esteem, gained by toil and blood by so many of our countrymen, have been trashed to an incalculable degree.
In this election season, you can also look for Republican candidates to label as a "single-issue candidate," any opponent making a central issue of George W. Bush's Iraq fiasco, its hideous consequences and the GOP candidate's complicity in all of that.
But the Iraq war is in fact the defining issue of this young century for Americans. That focus should be on solutions to domestic issues and the true danger posed by international terrorism, but it isn’t -- it's all about dealing with an Iraq quagmire that is bankrupting us, dividing our people, uniting our enemies, prompting more terrorism and distracting us from real domestic imperatives.
Let's also not forget that the Iraq war has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorism.
Driftglass: Where is the Republican treasure? Where is its heart?
Deep in the silky pockets of the absurdly wealthy. Lumping away there like three pounds of festering fat while our children are maimed and slaughtered for lack of the money that the Party of God sees fit to throw at its oligarch masters.
Billions more pissed away.
Billions more looted by the no-bid buddies of this White House.
Hundreds of billions more we never should have spent in the first place on this insane war, lied into reality by despicable men.
And now that the Treasury is scraped bare, and the troops they stranded in murderous deserts to fight their Forever War are clad in rags and tatters, the GOP show us their True Heart:
"Give away as much as possible to the truly wealthy."
Filthy bastards, every one of them.
And if you voted for them, you’re a filthy bastard too.
Friends of Army Sgt. Carlton Clark recalled the 22-year-old Sharon resident as a soft-spoken, easygoing man proud of the work he was doing in Iraq.
Clark was killed near Baghdad Sunday when an improvised explosive device struck the Humvee in which he was riding, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.
It is the news every parent of every man and woman serving in the U.S. military dreads — their child has died while serving their country.
The family of Army Staff Sgt. Clint Storey of Enid received that news last week, after Storey was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
Storey leaves behind a wife, a daughter and an unborn child, as well as his mother and other family.
Three soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division, including one from Southern New Mexico, were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
The Army identified the soldiers as Spc. Jose Zamora, 24, of Sunland Park, N.M.; Staff Sgt. Stephen A. Seale, 25, of Grafton, W.Va.; and Sgt. Carlton A. Clark, 22, of South Royalton, Vt.
All three were riding in a Humvee on Sunday when the roadside bomb exploded in Baghdad during combat operations, the military said. The three soldiers were combat engineers assigned to the 2nd Brigade Troop Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell.