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September 28, 2006

Operation Wack-A-Mole

Sometimes I think the Bushies WANT to fail in Eye-Rack:

Baghdad - Insurgents murdered at least 15 Iraqis on Thursday as US military intelligence warned that militias are re-infiltrating previously cleared neighbourhoods while local police turn a blind eye.

. . .Fighting raged on as a coalition intelligence official told reporters that illegal armed groups were returning to Baghdad areas once deemed to have been secured by a massive joint US and Iraqi security operation.

Worse, he said there was evidence that the Iraqi police units left behind after military forces move through the areas were collaborating with death squads, whose victims' corpses lie scattered through Baghdad every morning.

And those were the Iraqi security forces who actually arrived.

Habeus Corpus, American Moral Hegemony, RIP (1776-2006)

Kangaroo Court legislation passes Senate 65-34 (Olympia Snowe abstained)

You remember the U.S. pilots that were shot down by the Chinese early in the Bush presidency? If they are shot down now, the Chinese will have every excuse to not hand them over and torture them as they like.

U.S. To Pay Contractor To Come Up With Phony Surveys

At least that is the only message I got from this story:

As violence continues in Iraq, the military is looking for ways to achieve stability through opinion polls and public relations.

The Multi-National Command in Baghdad wants to hire a private firm to conduct polling and focus groups in Iraq "to assess the effectiveness of operations as they relate to gaining and maintaining popular support," according to a notice the Department of the Army posted yesterday.

. . .The Baghdad command also confirmed yesterday that it has awarded a two-year, $12.4 million contact to handle strategic communications management to the Lincoln Group, the Washington-based public relations company found late last year to have been paying money to place favorable articles in the Iraqi news media.

I don't know what's a better waste of taxpayer's money, this or the Great Wall of Baghdad.

"Once They Stand Up. . ." Part VII

Oh, you have GOP to the kidding me:

Heralded Iraq Police Academy a 'Disaster'

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2006; A01

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27 -- A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country's security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed "the rain forest."

"This is the most essential civil security project in the country -- and it's a failure," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. "The Baghdad police academy is a disaster."

Bowen's office plans to release a 21-page report Thursday detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Even in a $21 billion reconstruction effort that has been marred by cases of corruption and fraud, failures in training and housing Iraq's security forces are particularly significant because of their effect on what the U.S. military has called its primary mission here: to prepare Iraqi police and soldiers so that Americans can depart.

Federal investigators said the inspector general's findings raise serious questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to exercise effective oversight over the Baghdad Police College or reconstruction programs across Iraq, despite charging taxpayers management fees of at least 4.5 percent of total project costs. The Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that it has initiated a wide-ranging investigation of the police academy project.

The report serves as the latest indictment of Parsons Corp., the U.S. construction giant that was awarded about $1 billion for a variety of reconstruction projects across Iraq. After chronicling previous Parsons failures to properly build health clinics, prisons and hospitals, Bowen said he now plans to conduct an audit of every Parsons project.

"The truth needs to be told about what we didn't get for our dollar from Parsons," Bowen said.

A spokeswoman for Parsons said the company had not seen the inspector general's report.

The Coalition Provisional Authority hired Parsons in 2004 to transform the Baghdad Police College, a ramshackle collection of 1930s buildings, into a modern facility whose training capacity would expand from 1,500 recruits to at least 4,000. The contract called for the firm to remake the campus by building, among other things, eight three-story student barracks, classroom buildings and a central laundry facility.

As top U.S. military commanders declared 2006 "the year of the police," in an acknowledgment of their critical role in allowing for any withdrawal of American troops, officials highlighted the Baghdad Police College as one of their success stories.

"This facility has definitely been a top priority," Lt. Col. Joel Holtrop of the Corps of Engineers' Gulf Region Division Project and Contracting Office said in a July news release. "It's a very exciting time as the cadets move into the new structures."

Complaints about the new facilities, however, began pouring in two weeks after the recruits arrived at the end of May, a Corps of Engineers official said.

The most serious problem was substandard plumbing that caused waste from toilets on the second and third floors to cascade throughout the building. A light fixture in one room stopped working because it was filled with urine and fecal matter. The waste threatened the integrity of load-bearing slabs, federal investigators concluded.

"When we walked down the halls, the Iraqis came running up and said, 'Please help us. Please do something about this,' " Bowen recalled.

Phillip A. Galeoto, director of the Baghdad Police College, wrote an Aug. 16 memo that catalogued at least 20 problems: shower and bathroom fixtures that leaked from the first day of occupancy, concrete and tile floors that heaved more than two inches off the ground, water rushing down hallways and stairwells because of improper slopes or drains in bathrooms, classroom buildings with foundation problems that caused structures to sink.

Galeoto noted that one entire building and five floors in others had to be shuttered for repairs, limiting the capacity of the college by up to 800 recruits. His memo, too, pointed out that the urine and feces flowed throughout the building and, sometimes, onto occupants of the barracks.

"This is not a complete list," he wrote, but rather a snapshot of "issues we are confronted with on a daily basis (as recent as the last hour) by the incomplete and/or poor work left behind by these builders."

The Parsons contract, which eventually totaled at least $75 million, was terminated May 31 "due to cost overruns, schedule slippage, and sub-standard quality," according to a Sept. 4 internal military memo. But rather than fire the Pasadena, Calif.-based company for cause, the contract was halted for "the government's convenience."

Read the whole thing.

Then see the documentary. I'll bet the Parson's contractor's new mansion has pretty sound construction.

September 27, 2006

Overstaying Our Welcome

More bad news from the poll on Iraqi attitudes just released. Not only do the Iraqis want us out NOW, they are willing fight for that end:

WASHINGTON -- About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.

The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150.

The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:

_Almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.

_About 61 percent approved of the attacks _ up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.

Sometimes, you are just gonna have to accept the obvious. We've tried and we've failed. Staying in Iraq is not going to make things better, will only delay the inevitable spiral into a shitmire of chaos so sanguinary, so obvious even Bush himself will have to say, "damn, I really fucked up." So not only are our soldiers in the middle of a civil war, they are in the middle of a civil war in a country where most of the people HATE THEIR GUTS. Is that what our soldiers are now reduced to, target practice? Come on.

"Once They Stand Up. . ." Part VI (GTFO Edition)

Well, looks like the Iraqis are standing up all right - standing up to the continued U.S. presence in their country:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 26 -- A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.

In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout, according to State Department polling results obtained by The Washington Post.

Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends to keep permanent military bases in the country.

The stark assessments, among the most negative attitudes toward U.S.-led forces since they invaded Iraq in 2003, contrast sharply with views expressed by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Last week at the United Nations, President Jalal Talabani said coalition troops should remain in the country until Iraqi security forces are "capable of putting an end to terrorism and maintaining stability and security."

. . ."The very fact that there is such a low support for American forces has to do with the American failure to do basically anything for Iraqis," said Mansoor Moaddel, a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, who commissioned a poll earlier this year that also found widespread support for a withdrawal. "It's part of human nature. People respect authority and power. But the U.S. so far has been unable to establish any real authority."

This coincides with what a Marine stationed in Al Anbar says is the most profound man in Iraq: "an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied 'Yes, you.'"

update: Here's the graphic in the WaPo

Iraq poll.gif

Poll: Bush Blamed More For Bin Laden's Freedom

haw haw.gif

Heh, despite the mighty reich-wing wurlitzer's attempt to hang the failure of capturing Bin Laden around Bill Clinton's neck, most people still blame WorstPresidentEver than Clinton for the fact that Bin Laden is roaming around free, as they should:

PRINCETON, NJ -- The recent firestorm over former President Bill Clinton's culpability for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was fueled on Tuesday when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice contrasted President Bush's efforts to pursue al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden with Clinton's efforts. Clinton has strongly denied various suggestions that his administration missed key opportunities to kill bin Laden and left the Bush administration without a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy. However, Bush -- whom Clinton says did nothing about al-Qaeda for the first eight months of his presidency -- has the bigger image problem with Americans on the issue.

According to a recent Gallup Panel survey, the American public puts the primary blame on Bush rather than Clinton for the fact that bin Laden has not been captured. A majority of Americans say Bush is more to blame (53%), compared with 36% blaming Clinton.

Why should this be an issue anyways? When Clinton tried to get Bin Laden, it was "Wag the Dog" all the time. When Bush was given all the tools and all the support he needed, left and right, he still fucks it up and gives a Medal of Freedom to his fuckup general Tommy Franks. The 36% who still blame Clinton for Bin Laden's freedom are just the conservative base who enable's Bush every step of the way.

Update: From the FAUX Nooze poll:

By a 10-percentage point margin, the poll finds that more Americans blame the Bush administration than the Clinton administration for failing to capture bin Laden (32 percent-22 percent), while quite a few say either that both are to blame (21 percent) or neither is (17 percent).


September 26, 2006

Only 10,000 Troops Left

Feel safer yet?

But at a time when Pentagon officials are saying the Army is stretched so thin that it may be forced to go back on its pledge to limit National Guard deployment overseas, the division’s situation is symptomatic of how the shortages are playing out on the ground.

The enormous strains on equipment and personnel, because of longer-than-expected deployments, have left active Army units with little combat power in reserve. The Second Brigade, for example, has only half of the roughly 3,500 soldiers it is supposed to have. The unit trains on computer simulators, meant to recreate the experience of firing a tank’s main gun or driving in a convoy under attack.

“It’s a good tool before you get the equipment you need,? Colonel James said. But a few years ago, he said, having a combat brigade in a mechanized infantry division at such a low state of readiness would have been “unheard of.?

Other than the 17 brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan, only two or three combat brigades in the entire Army — perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 troops — are fully trained and sufficiently equipped to respond quickly to crises, said a senior Army general.

Most other units of the active-duty Army, which is growing to 42 brigades, are resting or being refitted at their home bases. But even that cycle, which is supposed to take two years, is being compressed to a year or less because of the need to prepare units quickly to return to Iraq.

And to think WorstPresidentEver campaigned around the arguement that Clinton was undermining the army. Now if North Korea invades, we will have at most 10,000 troops to engage the enemy immediately while waiting a year for reinforcements. If the army survives past December it will truly be a Christmas miracle.

September 25, 2006

Welcome To Jihadistan

Newweek International has a major story on Bush's spetacular failure that is going on in Afghanistan:

The Rise of Jihadistan Five years after the Afghan invasion, the Taliban are fighting back hard, carving out a sanctuary where they—and Al Qaeda's leaders—can operate freely.

By Ron Moreau, Sami Yousafzai and Michael Hirsh

Oct. 2, 2006 issue - You don't have to drive very far from Kabul these days to find the Taliban. In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents. It is midday on the central Afghan plains, far from the jihadist-infested mountains to the east and west. Without speaking, the sentinel guides his visitors along a sandy horse trail toward a mud-brick village within sight of the highway. As they get closer a young Taliban fighter carrying a walkie-talkie and an AK-47 rifle pops out from behind a tree. He is manning an improvised explosive device, he explains, in case Afghan or U.S. troops try to enter the village.

. . .NATO officials say the Taliban seems to be flush with cash, thanks to the guerrillas' alliance with prosperous opium traffickers. The fighters are paid more than $5 a day—good money in Afghanistan, and at least twice what the new Afghan National Army's 30,000 soldiers receive. It's a bad sign, too, that a shortage of local police has led Karzai to approve a plan allowing local warlords—often traffickers themselves—to rebuild their private armies. U.N. officials have spent the past three years trying to disband Afghanistan's irregular militias, which are accused of widespread human-rights abuses. Now the warlords can rearm with the government's blessing. Afghanistan is "unfortunately well on its way" to becoming a "narco-state," NATO's supreme commander, Marine Gen. Jim Jones, said before Congress last week.
. . .Indeed, the aid numbers for the past five years are grim. In the first years of reconstruction, aid amounted to just $67 a year per Afghan, says Beth DeGrasse of the government-funded U.S. Institute of Peace. She compares that figure with other recent nation-building exercises such as Bosnia ($249) and East Timor ($256), citing figures from the International Monetary Fund. "You get what you pay for in these endeavors, and we tried to do Afghanistan on the cheap," she says. "And we are going to pay for it." International conferences since 2002 have pledged some $15 billion, but countries have ponied up less than half of that so far. And the Afghan government estimates it will need $27.5 billion through 2010 to rebuild the country and its institutions.
. . .Pakistan fostered the Taliban movement in the 1990s as a way of holding sway over Afghanistan and undercutting India's influence there. Those ties persist. Despite Bush's praise of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf—"We're on the hunt together," Bush said at a joint news conference on Friday—U.S. and British military officials say Musharraf has allowed the Taliban to set up headquarters near the southwestern city of Quetta. Musharraf has also cut a deal giving militants free rein in north Waziristan; since then cross-border attacks have increased. Senior U.S. officials say that Musharraf caved in to Qaeda sympathizers who fiercely resisted the Pakistani Army's incursion into the tribal region last year. Musharraf reassured Bush last week that the Waziristan tribal leaders had agreed not to permit Taliban or Qaeda cross-border activity, but the militants say no such commitment was made. "Instead of eliminating the militants, the Pakistani military operation only added to their strength," says Ayaz Amir, a respected political columnist for the daily Dawn newspaper. The Afghan Taliban's recent offensive has only raised the morale of their Pakistani brethren.

You know what. Despite the fact that pretty much everybody else supported going to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan - whether they are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, Jew or Gentile, Gog or Magog, I was opposed to the full on war in Afghanistan.

Even though the international support and sanction has tempered my misgivings (plus the fact that any other war now looks good compared to the debacle we have in Eye-Rack) the events and the failures that have come to bear has confirmed what I hated most about the Afghan war. That it was done on the fly, done on the cheap, it was done half-assed with its ultimate goal of capturing Osama fucked up from the beginning.

The fact that they sent only 3 dozen Special Forces troops to fight against 1,500-2000 Al-Qaeda militants AND search for Bin Laden in Tora Bora suggests that the Bush administration WANTS to fail. The fact that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda now has safe haven in the newly autonomous region of Waziristan and the fact that for the last two years the Bushies haven't come up with ANY new clues for finding Bin Laden makes the case even more clear.

I would have felt comfortable about the war in Afghanistan if it actually took at least some of the national sacrifice that we made in WWII, hell even a slice of Vietnam might have sufficed. But nope, Bush told us to go shopping instead and give the corporate welfare queens more tax cuts. Now the result is that it doesn't take a two-hour's drive from Kabul to encounter Taliban resistance right now, especially since Taliban soldiers are BETTER PAID than the reputed national army. And helping the Afghan people? Ha, we give more money to the Bosniacs than the Afghans.

Maybe if we are lucky, Bush will again defer THIS conflict to better head of state in the future before he fucks it up even more.