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April 29, 2008

Jesus Christ Was A Militarist

Didn't ya read John 6. . .uh. . .fifteen where he said "make an enemy and smite them" or something along those lines? Anyhoo, the reichwing Christian nutcases certainly loved the fact that a Jesus sign for peace was destroyed:

story here.

April 25, 2008

"So?"

A new high of sixty-three percent of Americans either have buyers remorse or are objectively pro-Saddam, according to Gallup. Too bad that they are all just part of a focus group.

(via Atrios)

March 24, 2008

Mr. 4000

More progress, I'm sure.

March 18, 2008

Does Anybody Take Responsibility Anymore?

Abu Ghraib cover girl Lynndie England tells a German magazine that it's the media, not her actions, that inflamed the insurgency:

Lynndie England, the public face of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, told a German news magazine that she was sorry for appearing in photographs of detainees in the notorious Iraqi prison, and believes the scenes of torture and humiliation served as a powerful rallying point for anti-American insurgents.

In an interview with the weekly magazine Stern conducted in English and posted on its Web site Tuesday, England was both remorseful and unrepentant — and conceded that the published photos surely incensed insurgents in Iraq.

"I guess after the picture came out the insurgency picked up and Iraqis attacked the Americans and the British and they attacked in return and they were just killing each other. I felt bad about it ... no, I felt pissed off. If the media hadn't exposed the pictures to that extent, then thousands of lives would have been saved," she was quoted as saying.

Asked how she could blame the media for the controversy, she said it wasn't her who leaked the photos.

"Yeah, I took the photos but I didn't make it worldwide. Yes, I was in five or six pictures and I took some pictures, and those pictures were shameful and degrading to the Iraqis and to our government," she said, according to the report.

Yep, it's not her fault, she wanted to keep the torture private. What a perfect Republican.

March 11, 2008

$1 Trillion And Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dead Bodies Later. . .

New headline in Shit We Already New In 2002 Weekly:

Exhaustive review finds no link between Saddam and al Qaida By Warren P. Strobel

WASHINGTON — An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

The Pentagon-sponsored study, scheduled for release later this week, did confirm that Saddam's regime provided some support to other terrorist groups, particularly in the Middle East, U.S. officials told McClatchy. However, his security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

The new study of the Iraqi regime's archives found no documents indicating a "direct operational link" between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaida before the invasion, according to a U.S. official familiar with the report.

He and others spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because the study isn't due to be shared with Congress and released before Wednesday.


March 09, 2008

Nir Rosen On The Surge

In this lengthy Rolling Stones article, Nir Rosen, probably the only Western reporter that could freely (as possible) navigate the dangerous streets of Baghdad, details how the relative calm was literally bought with taxpayer money by bribing those who had formerly attacked our soldiers, and how the calm is tenuous at best. Check it out.

Operation: Blame The Other Guy

The fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth is making the rounds telling anyone who's willing to listen that he didn't do it:

In the first insider account of Pentagon decision-making on Iraq, one of the key architects of the war blasts former secretary of state Colin Powell, the CIA, retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks and former Iraq occupation chief L. Paul Bremer for mishandling the run-up to the invasion and the subsequent occupation of the country.

Douglas J. Feith, in a massive score-settling work, portrays an intelligence community and a State Department that repeatedly undermined plans he developed as undersecretary of defense for policy and conspired to undercut President Bush's policies.

Among the disclosures made by Feith in "War and Decision," scheduled for release next month by HarperCollins, is Bush's declaration, at a Dec. 18, 2002, National Security Council meeting, that "war is inevitable." The statement came weeks before U.N. weapons inspectors reported their initial findings on Iraq and months before Bush delivered an ultimatum to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Feith, who says he took notes at the meeting, registered it as a "momentous comment."

Although he acknowledges "serious errors" in intelligence, policy and operational plans surrounding the invasion, Feith blames them on others outside the Pentagon and notes that "even the best planning" cannot avoid all problems in wartime. While he says the decision to invade was correct, he judges that the task of creating a viable and stable Iraqi government was poorly executed and remains "grimly incomplete."

Powell, Feith argues, allowed himself to be publicly portrayed as a dove, but while Powell "downplayed" the degree and urgency of Iraq's threat, he never expressed opposition to the invasion. Bremer, meanwhile, is said to have done more harm than good in Iraq. Feith also accuses Franks of being uninterested in postwar planning, and writes that Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser during most of Feith's time in office, failed in her primary task of coordinating policy on the war.

So he's basically blaming everybody but the Pentagon. I think Mr. Stovepipe doth protest too much.

December 23, 2007

Shiite Government Vows To Disband The Sunni Militias

Bet the surge protectors didn't see this coming:

Iraq's Shiite-led government declared Saturday that after restive areas are calmed it will disband Sunni groups battling Islamic extremists because it does not want them to become a separate military force.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets, the military said, in the third confirmed cross-border offensive by Turkish forces in less than a week.

The statement from Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi was the government's most explicit declaration yet of its intent to eventually dismantle the groups backed and funded by the United States as a vital tool for reducing violence.

The militias, more than 70,000 strong and often made up of former insurgents, are known as Awakening Councils, or Concerned Local Citizens.

"We completely, absolutely reject the Awakening becoming a third military organization," al-Obaidi said at a news conference.

He added that the groups would also not be allowed to have any infrastructure, such as a headquarters building, that would give them long-term legitimacy.

"We absolutely reject that," al-Obaidi said.

December 22, 2007

Cost For Eye-Rack, Afghanistan Surpass Vietnam

Had enough?

Congress' approval Wednesday of $70 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean the twin conflicts are now more costly to American taxpayers than the war in Vietnam.

According to a study by the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Congress has now approved nearly $700 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Using inflation-adjusted dollars, the total cost of those wars has now surpassed the total cost of the Vietnam war (which ran to $670 billion)," the group's Travis Sharp told OneWorld. "It's also more than seven times larger than the Persian Gulf War ($94 billion) and more than twice the cost of the Korean war ($295 billion)."

As a result of Wednesday's vote, Sharp said, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will become the second costliest conflict in American history, trailing only World War II.

December 18, 2007

Things That Make Me Vomit

Bush has to run interference on a previous disinformation campaign in order to catapult the new one:

Q But I’m concerned about the nations like Iraq, who now have nuclear weapons –

THE PRESIDENT: Iran.

Q Iran and Iraq both.

THE PRESIDENT: Not Iraq. (Laughter.)

*cue Beavis chuckle* Of course, the new NIE says that he's still full of shit, still I love how the media still makes light of the situation.

October 24, 2007

WWIII Watch, Part III: Limited Incursion Edition

Here we go:


Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey bombed units of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq and sent troops across the border in pursuit of the militants, a lawmaker of Turkey's governing party said today.

Turkish military jets and artillery pounded rebel positions inside the Kurdish-controlled region intermittently, said the lawmaker, who attended a briefing on the hostilities by government spokesman Cemil Cicek late yesterday in Ankara.

The army sent troops across the border with Iraq to hunt down PKK militants after 12 Turkish soldiers were killed by the group on Oct. 21 in Turkey, the official said. They later returned to the Turkish side of the border, he added.

Turkey's parliament on Oct. 17 passed a resolution authorizing the government to send troops into northern Iraq to attack PKK bases there. The U.S. opposes such action on concern it would destabilize the calmest part of Iraq.

October 23, 2007

WWIII Watch, Part II

Once again, the Israelis attacked Lebanon with U.S. backing for lesser reasons than this, and the U.S. attacked Eye-Rack for even less.

BAGHDAD - Turkey’s foreign minister rejected any cease-fire by Kurdish rebels Tuesday as he met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to press them to crack down on the guerrillas. Turkish forces massed on the border and tensions rose over a threatened military incursion.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, said Iraq’s central government and authorities in its Kurdish autonomous region in the north would work together to deny the rebels freedom of movement, funds and representative offices. He said a high-level political and military delegation would travel soon to Turkey.

Iraqi officials have been saying that guerrillas with the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is known by its Kurdish acronym PKK, were based in inaccessible mountainous areas of northern Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said there are several ways to fight terrorism and Ankara would use them when appropriate. The buildup of troops along Turkey’s border with Iraq, meanwhile, continued with military helicopters airlifting commando units into the area overnight.

The mix of diplomatic and military activity followed Sunday’s rebel ambush near the Iraqi border that left 12 Turkish soldiers dead, 16 wounded and eight missing.

"We also don’t wish our historical and friendly ties with Iraq to be ruined because of a terrorist organization," Babacan said at a joint news conference after meeting with Zebari. "On the other hand, we are expecting support from international community and our neighbors in struggle against terrorism."

Babacan said rebel attacks this month alone left 42 people dead.

The Turkish government on Tuesday asked television and radio stations to curb broadcasts about Sunday’s ambush, saying they "have a negative impact on public order and people’s morale, spreading a flawed image of security forces," according to an official at the media watchdog. The official asked not to be named because she was not allowed to speak to the media.

Babacan, meanwhile, rejected any offer of a cease-fire by the PKK.

Cease-fires are "possible between states and regular forces," a stern-faced Babacan said. "The problem here is that we’re dealing with a terrorist organization."

The PKK has called on Turkey not to attack Iraq, claiming that a unilateral rebel cease-fire declared in June was still in place although it did not halt fighting.

"The position of the PKK is that we have agreed to a cease-fire but when we are attacked by the Turkish troops we will hit back," rebel spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Chadarchi told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

He also confirmed that the rebels were holding eight Turkish soldiers captive and promised to treat them with respect, although he said it was "premature" to discuss conditions for their release.

"When they were attacking us, they were our enemies but now they are helpless captives whom we will take care of," al-Chadarchi said. "When the Turkish government asks for them, we can talk about conditions."

October 16, 2007

WWIII Watch

Hey, if the Bushies and Israelis can do it, why not Turkey?

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey will defy international pressure on Wednesday and grant its troops permission to enter northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels based there, though it has played down expectations of any imminent attack.

Washington, Ankara's NATO ally, says it understands Turkey's desire to tackle rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but fears a major incursion would wreck stability in the most peaceful part of Iraq and potentially in the wider region.

Turkey's stance has helped drive global oil prices to $88 a barrel, a new record, and has hit its lira currency as investors weigh the economic risks of any major military operation.

Parliamentary approval would create the legal basis for military action, essentially giving the army a free hand to act as and when it sees fit.

By law, Turkey's parliament must approve the deployment of Turkish troops abroad. Parliament is expected to approve the request from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's cabinet by a large majority following an open debate.

October 14, 2007

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

The Washington Post editorial today:

A congressional study and several news stories in September questioned reports by the U.S. military that casualties were down. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), challenging the testimony of Gen. David H. Petraeus, asserted that "civilian deaths have risen" during this year's surge of American forces.

A month later, there isn't much room for such debate, at least about the latest figures. In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site icasualties.org. The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.

During the first 12 days of October the death rates of Iraqis and Americans fell still further. So far during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which began Sept. 13 and ends this weekend, 36 U.S. soldiers have been reported as killed in hostile actions. That is remarkable given that the surge has deployed more American troops in more dangerous places and that in the past al-Qaeda has staged major offensives during Ramadan. Last year, at least 97 American troops died in combat during Ramadan. Al-Qaeda tried to step up attacks this year, U.S. commanders say -- so far, with stunningly little success.

. . .This doesn't necessarily mean the war is being won. U.S. military commanders have said that no reduction in violence will be sustainable unless Iraqis reach political solutions -- and there has been little progress on that front. Nevertheless, it's looking more and more as though those in and outside of Congress who last month were assailing Gen. Petraeus's credibility and insisting that there was no letup in Iraq's bloodshed were -- to put it simply -- wrong.

Eye-Rack yesterday:

Iraq bombs and shootings kill at least 32

BAGHDAD (AFP) - A wave of violence across Iraq, including the bombing of a minibus filled with Shiite worshippers and a suicide truck bomb attack on a police station, has killed 32 people, officials said Sunday.

Dozens of people were wounded in the attacks, which came as Muslims were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr festival that ends the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the officials said.

Ten people, including three women and two children, were killed on Sunday when a car bomb exploded next to their minibus as they were heading towards a Shiite shrine in northern Baghdad, Iraqi military officials told AFP.

Women and children were also among 18 wounded by the blast in Aden square, which was then sealed off to vehicles by the security forces.

and. . .

Washington Post Correspondent Dies in Iraq By Joshua Partlow and Amit R. Paley Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, October 14, 2007; 2:54 PM

BAGHDAD, Oct. 14 -- A veteran Washington Post special correspondent was shot to death Sunday in southwest Baghdad while on assignment, the first reporter for the newspaper to be killed during the Iraq war.

Salih Saif Aldin, 32, was reporting on the violence that has plagued Baghdad's Sadiyah neighborhood Sunday afternoon when he was shot in the forehead. According to residents of the neighborhood and the Iraqi military officers at the scene, he was taking photographs on a street where several houses had been burned when he was killed. His wounds appeared to indicate he was shot at close range.

God, save us from our librul media.

October 12, 2007

U.S. Army Soldiers Surrendered To Blackwater Mercs

Another reason why I don't cry for the clowns that burned in Fallujah:

Oct. 15, 2007 issue - The colonel was furious. "Can you believe it? They actually drew their weapons on U.S. soldiers." He was describing a 2006 car accident, in which an SUV full of Blackwater operatives had crashed into a U.S. Army Humvee on a street in Baghdad's Green Zone. The colonel, who was involved in a follow-up investigation and spoke on the condition he not be named, said the Blackwater guards disarmed the U.S. Army soldiers and made them lie on the ground at gunpoint until they could disentangle the SUV. His account was confirmed by the head of another private security company. Asked to address this and other allegations in this story, Blackwater spokesperson Anne Tyrrell said, "This type of gossip has led to many soap operas in the press."

. . .Responsible for guarding top U.S. officials in Iraq, Blackwater operatives are often accused of playing by their own rules. Unlike nearly everyone else who enters the Green Zone, said an American soldier who guards a gate, Blackwater gunmen refuse to stop and clear their weapons of live ammunition once inside. One military contractor, who spoke anonymously for fear of retribution in his industry, recounted the story of a Blackwater operative who answered a Marine officer's order to put his pistol on safety when entering a base post office by saying, "This is my safety," and wiggling his trigger finger in the air. "Their attitude was, 'We're f---ing security; we don't have to answer to anybody'."

September 27, 2007

U.S. To Build Base Close To Iran Border

Maybe they can send some Minute Men over there to protect our borders while they're at it:

Iran's role with the violence in Iraq remains a major preoccupation of the Bush administration, with the U.S. military now building a base, practically within shouting distance of Iran — an extraordinary step to curb what it says is the smuggling of advanced weapons into Iraq.

It will be called Combat Outpost Shocker, and it will hardly come as a pleasant surprise to Iran that the United States will have a new base just 5 miles from their border. Col. Mark Mueller, of the 3rd Infantry Division, said it is the first time the U.S. military will be that close to Iran.

"Obviously, they probably won't be very happy about it," Mueller told ABC's Terry McCarthy.

. . .The Shocker base will be home to about 200 soldiers, as well as to agents from the U.S. Border Patrol

September 18, 2007

Progress

Can we call Betray-us a liar now?

BAGHDAD - The United States on Tuesday suspended all land travel by U.S. diplomats and other civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting public outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the U.S. Embassy's security provider Blackwater USA.

The move came even as the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements Monday that it had permanently revoked Blackwater's license and would order its 1,000 personnel to leave the country — depriving American diplomats of security protection essential to operating in Baghdad.

"We are not intending to stop them and revoke their license indefinitely but we do need them to respect the law and the regulation here in Iraq," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told CNN.

The U.S. order confines most American officials to a 3.5-square-mile area in the center of the city, meaning they cannot visit U.S.-funded construction sites or Iraqi officials elsewhere in the country except by helicopter. The notice did not say when the suspension would expire.

September 12, 2007

With Their Lives On The Line

Today it's reported that two of the seven soldiers who wrote the New York Times op-ed piece, "The War As We Saw It", that criticized the rosy depiction of Eye-Rack by the war handlers and the media lapdogs have died in a vehicle accident.

As Greg Sargent has noted very well, the two schmucks Ken Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon, who have virtually nothing to lose in voicing their support for the surge have been given heavy media attention that was both misleading and undeserved for their NYT op-ed while these brave soldiers writing from a backdrop of a life-or-death situation had their NYT op-ed virtually ignored by the kneepad press. I certainly hope that more of what happened to Katie Couric happens to the rest of the whoring Emm Ess Emm morons.

September 10, 2007

A Chart That Should End The Debate

But it won't, since the surge protectors won't even acknowledge it:

insurgentattacks.jpg

(via Daily Kos)

Facts On The Ground

Who are you gonna believe? Bush or those lying Eye-Rackees?

About 70% of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated in the area covered by the US military "surge" of the past six months, an opinion poll suggests.

The survey by the BBC, ABC News and NHK of more than 2,000 people across Iraq also suggests that nearly 60% see attacks on US-led forces as justified.

This rises to 93% among Sunni Muslims compared to 50% for Shia.

So not only have we made the emnity towards the U.S. among the Sunnis nearly complete, we have also recruited a whole bunch of Shiites as well.

And, oh, those "positive indicators" that the surge protectors keep going on about? Yeah, those are all a pack of lies too:

According to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, 984 people were killed across Iraq in February, and 1,011 died in violence in August. No July numbers were released because the ministry said the numbers weren't clear.

But an official in the ministry who spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to release numbers said those numbers were heavily manipulated.

The official said 1,980 Iraqis had been killed in July and that violent deaths soared in August, to 2,890.

(via Atrios)

September 03, 2007

Surprise!

Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis obliterates the rhetoric and bullshit surrounding the chimperor's visit to Eye-Rack today:

It is unbelievable that for four years, the White House has been able to spin secret visits to Iraq as happy happy fun fun "surprise" visits, when in fact, they have secret trips because Iraq is too dangerous for normal visits.

Smell the progress.

The only way they get away with this is that we no longer have a free press.

(via Daily Kos)

August 27, 2007

"The Insurgent Tax"

The real question is, why should anyone be surprised anymore?

BAGHDAD — Iraq's deadly insurgent groups have financed their war against U.S. troops in part with hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. rebuilding funds that they've extorted from Iraqi contractors in Anbar province.

The payments, in return for the insurgents' allowing supplies to move and construction work to begin, have taken place since the earliest projects in 2003, Iraqi contractors, politicians and interpreters involved with reconstruction efforts said.

A fresh round of rebuilding spurred by the U.S. military's recent alliance with some Anbar tribes — 200 new projects are scheduled — provides another opportunity for militant groups such as al Qaeda in Iraq to siphon off more U.S. money, contractors and politicians warn.

"Now we're back to the same old story in Anbar. The Americans are handing out contracts and jobs to terrorists, bandits and gangsters," said Sheik Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, the deputy leader of the Dulaim, the largest and most powerful tribe in Anbar. He was involved in several U.S. rebuilding contracts in the early days of the war, but is now a harsh critic of the U.S. presence.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad declined to provide anyone to discuss the allegations. An embassy spokesman, Noah Miller, said in an e-mailed statement that, "in terms of contracting practices, we have checks and balances in our contract awarding system to prevent any irregularities from occurring. Each contracted company is responsible for providing security for the project."

Providing that security is the source of the extortion, Iraqi contractors say. A U.S. company with a reconstruction contract hires an Iraqi sub-contractor to haul supplies along insurgent-ridden roads. The Iraqi contractor sets his price at up to four times the going rate because he'll be forced to give 50 percent or more to gun-toting insurgents who demand cash payments in exchange for the supply convoys' safe passage.

One Iraqi official said the arrangement makes sense for insurgents. By granting safe passage to a truck loaded with $10,000 in goods, they receive a "protection fee" that can buy more weapons and vehicles. Sometimes the insurgents take the goods, too.

"The violence in Iraq has developed a political economy of its own that sustains it and keeps some of these terrorist groups afloat," said Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, who recently asked the U.S.-led coalition to match the Iraqi government's pledge of $230 million for Anbar projects.

Despite several devastating U.S. military offensives to rout insurgents, the militants - or, in some cases, tribes with insurgent connections - still control the supply routes of the province, making reconstruction all but impossible without their protection.

One senior Iraqi politician with personal knowledge of the contracting system said the insurgents also use their cuts to pay border police in Syria "to look the other way" as they smuggle weapons and foot soldiers into Iraq.

"Every contractor in Anbar who works for the U.S. military and survives for more than a month is paying the insurgency," the politician said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. "The contracts are inflated, all of them. The insurgents get half."

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he was aware of the "insurgent tax" that U.S.-allied contractors are forced to pay in Anbar, though he said it wasn't clear how much money was going to militant groups and how much to opportunistic tribesmen operating on their own.

"It's part of a taxation they put on trucks through all these territories, but it's very difficult to establish if it's going directly to insurgents," Zebari said.

August 23, 2007

Bush Opens His Piehole

Yeah Bush is right: our withdrawal from Vietnam and abandoning that country to the communists was so devastating that we now need to normalize trade with them.

Dumbass.

August 16, 2007

Just Like A Farmer's Market In Peoria

Crooks and Liars has a rare footage of Fox Nooze doing some (quote, unquote) reporting in a Baghdad market where the words of the spokesmodel saying how the Surge is working is completely contradicted the sights and sounds caught on camera. You really must see this to believe it.

(Via the stalinists at Daily Kos)

August 08, 2007

Surge, Countersurge

While certain Democrats seem to be falling over themselves to throw a bone to the neocon warmongers by praising certain parts of the military operations, the number of roadside bombs have reached an all-time high in Eye-Rack:

Although coalition forces have claimed a number of successes in discovering caches of the bombs, the number of attacks in July, stated as 99, shows the insurgency has had no problem in obtaining supplies.

In recent weeks, US forces have focused operations on Sunni militants and, in particular, al-Qa'ida.

One of the initial aims of the "surge" was to combat Shia militias which, often in collusion with government forces, have been running death squads. However, the alleged use of the roadside devices shows the threat from the Shias, with many of the groups sponsored by Tehran, has not diminished despite numerous American missions.

Oh and here's this lovely little nugget:

Lieutenant General Raymond Odiarno, the deputy US commander in Iraq, said there had been an "all-time high" in July of attacks using the devices and that Shia militants were responsible for 73 per cent of the attacks that killed or wounded American troops in Baghdad.

So Ray "mock execution" Odierno admitted that his pet surge has sparked a full-blown shiite insurgency? Well hot dawg, we just have no choice but to stay in that sandbox, don't we?

morons.

August 07, 2007

What Our Soldiers Are Dying For

While the army announced that 26 soldiers have died in the past week, this is apparently what the Maliki government is up to:

The U.S. military says it believes that the Shia-led government in Baghdad is trying to cleanse the city of all Sunnis.

Sectarian violence has pushed most Sunnis into west Baghdad, and the Iraqi government is suspected of limiting basic services to the Sunnis in hopes of causing them to leave.

That would leave Sunnis even further unrepresented in the city, and it has cast a whole different light on the delay of provincial elections.

A government official claims, however, that Sunni politicians, fearful of losing to other Sunnis in the elections, are to blame.

Eye-Rack's First No-Frills Airline Bans Eye-Rackees

The Bushies, cons and contractors could teach Henry James himself a thing or two about irony:

An upstart airline operating weekly flights between Baghdad and Amman, Jordan, is billing itself as the first no-frills airline to operate out of Iraq, but the company is restricting more than just food and booze on its flights.

The airline is also banning Iraqis, Indians, Pakistanis and other non-Westerners from traveling.

Expat Airways said it is only accepting U.S. and Western citizens on its flights as it tries to capitalize on the thousands of U.S. contractors traveling in and out of the Iraqi capital each month. The airline, which landed its first 42-seat Russian Antonov turboprop at Baghdad International Airport Monday, is thought to be the first to bar passengers based on nationality.

U.S. and European carriers are restricted from the practice, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Ahmed al Musawi, a spokesman for the Iraqi Transportation Ministry, called Expat's flight restrictions ''immoral'' but said there are no federal laws in Iraq banning such actions.

August 03, 2007

"July The Lowest Month This Year For U.S. Casualties"

Icasualties.org puts the July total at 81, which ties it for two previous months this year. But give the MSM credit for catapulting the propoganda.

July 30, 2007

The Anbar Miracle

. . .

BAGHDAD: Three U.S. soldiers were killed in fighting west of Baghdad, the military said Monday.

The soldiers assigned to Multi-National Force — West died
Thursday while conducting combat operations in Anbar
province, according to a brief statement.


July 18, 2007

Chasing Ghosts

Big Bad Terra-ist Jihadist Leader turned out to have never existed:

Leader of Al Qaeda group in Iraq was fictional, U.S. military says
By Michael R. Gordon Published: July 18, 2007


BAGHDAD: For more than a year, the leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi.

As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed.

On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi's ability to escape attack: He never existed.

Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima.

July 15, 2007

$40 Million Here, $40 Million There. . .

The royalists who brought us into Eye-Rack truly live in a different world than, well, the rest of the world. The sad thing is that the UN itself seems to be complicit in the swindling:

IRAQ'S ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid al Bayati, likes the high life. Bayati, who's been on the job for just over a year, is said to be living in a $22,000-a-month apartment at Trump World Tower on First Avenue. He's renting while the Iraqi U.N. Mission and official ambassador's residence on East 79th Street undergo a $40 million renovation. Where did the Iraqis get the cash? Newsmax.com reports the U.N. Security Council is paying with funds it once used to finance the now-terminated U.N. Iraq arms inspectors. When asked about the lavish use of the cash, Bayati refused comment. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Zalmay Khalilzad shrugged off the Iraqis' lush lifestyle by telling reporters, "$40 million is not a lot of money."

"That Motherfucker Tried To Take Out My Dad"

The real reason why we are in the quagmire revealed.

July 14, 2007

Nope, Still Wrong

Matt Stoller may be right when he said that Hillary Clinton is so popular among Democrats despite her prowar vote and, up until recently, pro-war stance because there were a lot of Democrats who were also hoodwinked by Bush's push into Eye-Rack. Forgiveness of Hillary will in fact be forgiveness of themselves.

If that's true, then it's all the more reason to oppose her in the first place. I remember the debate back then, and it doesn't take a lot of evidence or knowledge of Eye-Rack to know that an invasion was going to be disastrous. I mean the first Bush didn't invade Eye-Rack because he says it will only result in a quagmire which will eliminate any support he had for the original Persian Gulf campaign. Saddam Hussein's army was only a third of what it what it was back before the Persian Gulf war. The UN inspectors weren't finding any weapons, ESPECIALLY after Colin Powell's "convincing" speech before the Security Council. And let us not forget the ethnic and sectarian divide that would rear its head in the event of a power vacuum. If they couldn't get a grasp of those geopolitical realities back then, how can we trust them to govern the world in the future?

(via Atrios)

Army Broken STRAWNG!!!

Bush and his enablers won't stop until our armed forces have been run into the ground:

WASHINGTON -- Nearly 12 percent of Army recruits who entered basic training this year needed a special waiver for those with criminal records, a dramatic increase over last year and 2 1/2 times the percentage four years ago, according to new Army statistics

With less than three months left in the fiscal year, 11.6 percent of new active-duty and Army Reserve troops in 2007 have received a so-called "moral waiver," up from 7.9 percent in fiscal year 2006, according to figures from the US Army Recruiting Command. In fiscal 2003 and 2004, soldiers granted waivers accounted for 4.6 percent of new recruits; in 2005, it was 6.2 percent.

Army officials acknowledge privately that the increase in moral waivers reflects the difficulty of signing up sufficient numbers of recruits to sustain an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq; the Army fell short of its monthly recruiting goals in May and June.

Since Oct. 1, 2006, when the fiscal year began, more than 8,000 of the roughly 69,000 recruits have been granted waivers for offenses ranging in seriousness from misdemeanors such as vandalism to felonies such as burglary and aggravated assault.


July 11, 2007

Michelle Bachmann Proves Eye-Rack No Longer Safe For Self-Serving Congressional Junkets

Geez, the people of St. Cloud and the sixth district picked this woman over Patty Wetterling? Is there something in the water up there?

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann continued to stand by President Bush's military surge in Iraq, two days after returning from a congressional trip that put her in the line of fire while visiting Baghdad.

"It hasn't had a chance to be in place long enough to offer a critique of how it's working," said Bachmann, R-Minn.

. . .The delegation's visit was harrowing at times. While visiting with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at the U.S. Embassy inside Baghdad's walled, high-security Green Zone on Friday, mortar blasts landed inside the American-controlled territory.

"This recorded message played four times while we were there, asking us to move away from any windows, to get on the ground and move to the center of the building," Bachmann said. "(Crocker) stayed in his seat and kept talking with us the whole time. He never moved."

. . .Security conditions in Iraq prevented Bachmann from meeting any Iraqis, leaving the Green Zone or staying in Iraq overnight. She and other congressional members were required to wear full body armor, including Kevlar helmets, during the entire trip, she said.

But she said she was encouraged by reports of progress from Crocker, Gen. David Petraeus and other personnel in Iraq linked to the surge.

A comprehensive report on military progress and whether the Iraqi government is meeting a series of political benchmarks Bush has set is expected.

"(Gen. Petraeus) said al-Qaida in Iraq is off its plan and we want to keep it that way," she said. "The surge has only been fully in place for a week or so."

Only thirteen more months, only thirteen more months. . .

(via Americablog)

July 10, 2007

Gallup: Supermajority Of Americans Favor Policy Of Retreat And Defeat

And the chimp is at 29 percent, beating only Carter (by one percent), Nixon and Truman for below-freezing popularity.

bush_disaster.jpg

Loser.

July 08, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XVIII

Looks like the bushies are forced to move the goalposts again:

The Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the political and security goals or timelines President Bush set for it in January when he announced a major shift in U.S. policy, according to senior administration officials closely involved in the matter. As they prepare an interim report due next week, officials are marshaling alternative evidence of progress to persuade Congress to continue supporting the war.

In a preview of the assessment it must deliver to Congress in September, the administration will report that Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province are turning against the group al-Qaeda in Iraq in growing numbers; that sectarian killings were down in June; and that Iraqi political leaders managed last month to agree on a unified response to the bombing of a major religious shrine, officials said.

Those achievements are markedly different from the benchmarks Bush set when he announced his decision to send tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq. More troops, Bush said, would enable the Iraqis to proceed with provincial elections this year and pass a raft of power-sharing legislation. In addition, he said, the government of President Nouri al-Maliki planned to "take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November."

This is not going to help their case:

BAGHDAD, July 8 -- Suicide attacks and other explosions across Iraq killed at least 170 people and injured scores over the last couple of days, including a massive truck bombing in a northern Shiite village that ripped through a crowded market, burying dozens in the rubble of shops and mud houses, Iraqi officials said.

At least 144 were killed Saturday, and at least another 26 people were killed Sunday when two car bombs exploded within five minutes of each other in the city's mostly Shiite Karrada district and a bomb hit a truck of newly recruited Iraqi soldiers traveling to Baghdad to aid in the crackdown on the violence, according to the Associated Press.

Shattering a relative lull in Iraq's violence, the attacks raised questions about whether insurgents who have fled an ongoing military offensive in Baghdad and Diyala province are regrouping and assaulting soft targets elsewhere, in less-secure areas with fewer troops.

The violence came as the U.S. military reported that 10 American soldiers had been killed over the last couple of days, all in combat or by roadside bombs in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar. The fatalities underscored the mounting death toll during the five-month security offensive, reinforced by thousands of U.S. troops, that is meant to help Iraq meet political and security goals set by the Bush administration.

Lies, Damn Lies And War Statistics

Gee, can't the spinmeisters make up their minds?

Earlier last week we had this:

Iraqi officials today attributed a sharp drop in civilian deaths to a US-led security crackdown that began in February. At least 1,227 Iraqi civilians were killed in June - the lowest total since February - along with 190 policemen and 31 soldiers, an officer from the interior ministry operations room told the Associated Press.

The numbers were a 36% drop from the ministry's May figures - 1,949 civilian deaths along with 127 policemen and 47 soldiers.

But the figures could not be verified independently, and many deaths are believed to go unreported. The Iraqi government recently decided to withhold civilian casualty numbers from the UN.

Now we have this:

Nearly five months into a security strategy that involves thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi troops patrolling Baghdad, the number of unidentified bodies found on the streets of the capital was 41 percent higher in June than in January, according to unofficial Health Ministry statistics.

During the month of June, 453 unidentified corpses, some bound, blindfolded, and bearing signs of torture, were found in Baghdad, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. In January, 321 corpses were discovered in the capital, a total that fell steadily until April but then rose sharply over the last two months, the statistics show.

Overall, the level of violent civilian deaths in Iraq is declining, according to the U.S. military and Health Ministry statistics, and there has been a steady drop in fatalities from mass-casualty bombings that have torn through outdoor markets, university bus stops and crowds assembled to collect food rations.

But the number of unidentified bodies found on the streets is considered a key indicator of the malignancy of sectarian strife. While the declining number of bombing victims suggests that efforts to control violence are showing some success, the daily slayings of individuals, in aggregate, speak to an enduring level of aggression.

So which is it? Is the surge creating slightly less bodies, or is it a resounding failure?

When Fashionable Ethnic Groups Go Bad, Part Deux

Those freedom-loving Kurds are acting up again:

IRBIL, Iraq: Security forces in northern Iraq's Kurdistan, the heartland of the Kurdish minority long tormented by Saddam Hussein, routinely torture detainees with beatings and electric shocks and hold hundreds of prisoners for long periods without charge, a human rights group said Tuesday.

The Human Rights Watch report — based on interviews conducted from April to October 2006 with more than 150 detainees — demanded a comprehensive overhaul of detention practices in the Kurdish region and urged an independent body to investigate torture claims.

"We are surprised that the Kurds are practicing such violations after they were victims of torture during the Saddam era," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said, referring to the ousted Iraqi leader's oppression of the Kurds.

"We appreciate the efforts by Kurdistan government to combat terrorism and secure Kurdistan, but we see that such violations against prisoners are not a good thing," she told a press conference in the northern city of Irbil.

June 30, 2007

The War Reporting Of The MSM: Still Stenographers

MSM dutifully reports, in the words of a commentator, a "horrific massacre of Iraqi civilians" as another victory against Al-Qaeda when prompted by the military. Glenn Greenwald details the atrocity.

June 25, 2007

White House Don't Want Their Lies Exposed

Hmm, is this just another token opposition from an administration obsessed with secrecy, or is this the real deal, the shitstorm we've been waiting for?

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - The White House is resisting a move by both Republicans and Democrats to fully declassify a Senate report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Republicans say the public disclosure would help show that the CIA made honest mistakes in its 2002 assessment that Iraq owned stockpiles of WMDs, when in fact it no longer did.

But the White House believes the declassification would trigger another round of negative news media coverage and Democratic-led congressional hearings, said a Senate Republican, who asked to remain anonymous because of ongoing private discussions.

The dispute revolves around an obscure federal panel, the nine-member Public Interest Declassification Board.

Last November, incoming Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and the outgoing chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., signed a letter to the board asking for a review of two committee reports.

America, Still A Nation Of Idiots

This is part of the reason why I don't trust the public NOT to turn against Democrats if and when they pull the plug on the war:

Even today, more than four years into the war in Iraq, as many as four in ten Americans (41 percent) still believe Saddam Hussein’s regime was directly involved in financing, planning or carrying out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though no evidence has surfaced to support a connection. A majority of Americans were similarly unable to pick Saudi Arabia in a multiple-choice question about the country where most of the 9/11 hijackers were born. Just 43 percent got it right — and a full 20 percent thought most came from Iraq.

As Steve Benen says, the number of people who thought Saddam was directly involved in the September 11 attacks has actually gone up in three years. So even though now most of the people think the war is wrong and unwinnable, how long do you think they are going to change their minds and blame the assortments of Democrats, liberals and dirty, fucking hippies for denying this great nation victory over the Arab scum?

June 21, 2007

Another Feel-Good Story From Eye-Rack

Gotta grab em when you can:

BAGHDAD, June 20 -- U.S. and Iraqi troops discovered an orphanage with "24 severely malnourished and abused boys" 10 days ago in the al-Fajr neighborhood of northern Baghdad, the U.S. military said Wednesday. The boys, ages 3 to 15, "were found naked in a darkened room without any windows," the military said in a statement.

Photographs obtained by CBS News, which broke the story Monday, showed emaciated children lying naked on concrete floors in their own waste, some tied to their beds. Nearby, soldiers discovered a locked room with food and clothing.

. . .Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered an investigation, state television reported. The children have been taken to an orphanage where they are being better cared for, CBS said.

Video found here, however long it lasts. Transcript here.

June 20, 2007

General Petraeus: Surge™ Is Going To Fail

Anybody versed in Bushian kremlinology couldn't interpret General David Petraeus's recent pronouncements on FAUX Nooze any other way:

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- The odds of building a stable Iraqi government by September are slim, even with the addition of 30,000 U.S. troops to give lawmakers in Baghdad security, said the top U.S. general in the Middle East country.

The ``aggregate level'' of violence has not diminished since the troop increase began five months ago, General David Petraeus said in an interview on ``Fox News Sunday.'' Asked whether he thought the strategy could succeed by early September when he's due to report to Congress, Petraeus was negative.

``I do not, no. I think we have a lot of heavy lifting to do,'' he said. ``This is a tough effort.''

So much for the "September deadline" failure at that time is just another excuse to continue the war. To the bushtards, trying something over and over again and expecting different results is not a sign of insanity, it is a practice that exceeds brilliance. Political brilliance, maybe.

June 19, 2007

Fox Issues Henhouse Report

Fear not American taxpayers, you're NOT being as hosed as you think you are:

WASHINGTON - Fraud committed by government contractors in Iraq is a problem but isn't as severe as some critics have suggested, federal officials said Tuesday.

Some House Judiciary Committee Democrats questioned the assertions, saying they felt the Justice Department is dragging its feet in pursuing some cases of alleged fraud. They also said some federal judges appear too willing to seal records in such cases, making it impossible for the public to assess the merits of whistleblowers' accusations.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., an inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, told lawmakers that anti-fraud efforts should be better coordinated, but they nonetheless have had an impact.

"Losses to American taxpayers from fraud within reconstruction programs will likely amount to relatively small components of the overall investments in Iraq, totaling in the tens of millions" of dollars and not in the "hundreds of millions or billions as is sometimes imagined," Bowen told the Judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

That wouldn't be this Stuart Bowen who is under investigation himself, is it? Actually, it was launched by the Bushies, so it appears that Bowen has gotten the message: stop sniffing around, stop snitchin', stop lyin'.

Yet Another Disgruntled Retired General

The blog "Danger Room" hosted by Wired webstite has a bombshell of a preview from the upcoming Frontline piece "Endgame" in which retired General Jack Keane, nobodys liberal, nobody's pacifist, nobody's defeatist, says this about the Eye-Rack war:

"We never even considered an insurgency as a reasonable option. We took down the regime, and we thought what we had to do then was occupy then country, stabilize it, and in the mater of a few months we could reduce the force," says Keane, the former Army Vice Chief of Staff and intellectual co-author of the current troop "surge."

And while the President may have been "us terms like 'win,' 'we're going to defeat the insurgents,' 'victory,'" Keane adds, "we never had that as a mission in Iraq."

Keane later added that he was involved in a briefing with defense analysts who picked up intelligence showing that the Sunni insurgents believe they are winning the war, and the analysts said that the insurgents were "probably right."

That's right, kiddies. We aren't fighting in Eye-Rack to defeat the "terra-ists", oh no. We are fighting to save Bush's ego from being deflated, and to pass on this disaster to the next (Democratic) president.

June 18, 2007

The 50,0000 Solution

To be fair to Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum pointed out how full of shit "drawing down" the troops in Eye-Rack to around 50,000 way before Atrios did.

June 14, 2007

The Role Of The Media During The War

Bile O'Reilly placed in his two cents on the fact that FAUX Nooze is the number one network when it comes to NOT reporting the Eye-Rack war. Sure, his commentary is, per usual, over the top and demeaning, but it reflects a larger illness infecting most of the media. It's always mystifying that the news organization feels pressured to only report the good news coming from a war zone and not "embolden the enemy" or "undermine morale". If they think they are helping the republic by underreporting the war or sanitizing the coverage, they are dead wrong. If there are victories, then report the victories. But if there are losses - especially if there are losses - the media has a singular duty to expose those losses and why they occured, warts and all. The public has the right to know how the armed forces that is designed to protect them is performing so that they can pressure their elected officials to change tactics if things do not go well.

Imagine if we are in a real war and we are losing a lot of battles to the enemy, would our nation be served by a media that only spouts propaganda? The Germans who were able to flee the invasion of the Red Army knew they were losing because the "victories" they've heard on the propaganda broadcasts kept coming "closer and closer". The unfortunate Germans who swallowed the propaganda whole were left to fend for themselves while they were raped and pillaged. For now, we don't have to worry about an invasion by a foreign power, but just the same we are not well served by a media that refuses to report and detail the truth. The only time soldiers' lives are in danger is if we broadcast sensitive information like an army's position or battle plan. Nobody' gets killed by reporting the outcome, and in the end we might even learn from any mistakes that may have resulted. So that is why people like Bill Oh'Really are not reporters, just television personalities. They may be good for clownish entertainment, but when it comes to news that really matters, it is best to look for more honest sources.

Water Wet, Sky Blue, Sunrise East

Violence in Eye-Rack rising, despite Surge™:

WASHINGTON, June 13 — Violence increased throughout much of Iraq in recent months, despite a security crackdown in Baghdad that at least temporarily reduced sectarian killings there, according to a quarterly assessment of security conditions issued Wednesday by the Pentagon.

The report, which analyzed data from February through early May, said it was too early to say whether the security effort in Baghdad would achieve lasting security gains. And it described in more detail than officials had until now how security conditions in other parts of the country had worsened when American and Iraqi forces shifted in large numbers into the capital.

“The aggregate level of violence in Iraq remained relatively unchanged during this reporting period,? the report said. “Violence has decreased? in Baghdad and in Anbar Province, which have long been the country’s most violent areas, “but has increased in most provinces, particularly in outlying areas around Baghdad and in Nineva and Diyala Provinces.? Attacks have also increased in Basra Province in the south, because of fighting between rival Shiite militants, some of whom fled Baghdad because of the security crackdown, it added.

Although precise data are not included in the report, attacks on civilians and Iraqi and American troops increased by 2 percent from the previous quarter, the report said. The average number of attacks has exceeded 1,000 per week since the beginning of this year through early May, the highest level since the American invasion in 2003, it said.

June 13, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XVII

image2210102g.jpg


Blast at revered Shi'ite shrine in Iraq's Samarra
13 Jun 2007 06:54:07 GMT

BAGHDAD, June 13 (Reuters) - Militants blew up two minarets of a revered Shi'ite mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Wednesday, targeting a shrine that had already been badly damaged in a 2006 attack, Shi'ite officials said.

One witness said the minarets at Samarra's Golden Mosque had been largely destroyed. The attack on the mosque last year was a turning point in Iraq, sparking a wave of sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed the country to the brink of all-out civil war.

"The explosion targeted the two golden minarets. They have been damaged ... This is a criminal act which aims at creating sectarian strife," Saleh al-Haidari, the head of the Shi'ite endowment in Iraq, a major religious body, told Reuters.

He blamed "extremists" for the attack. It was unclear exactly how the minarets had been blown up, but residents said there had been clashes between gunmen and police in the area before the explosion.

A senior Iraqi government official said the attack was "very bad news for Iraq".

Sunni mosque south of Baghdad blown up -police
13 Jun 2007 15:40:14 GMT Source: Reuters

BAGHDAD, June 13 (Reuters) - Gunmen blew up a major Sunni mosque in the Iraqi town of Iskandariya on Wednesday, police said, following an attack on a revered Shi'ite shrine that has stirred fears of a surge in sectarian bloodshed.

Police said Iskandariya's Grand Mosque had been totally destroyed. Witnesses said the town, which lies south of Baghdad, was tense in the wake of the bombing.

June 12, 2007

The Last Desperate Act That Betrays A Larger Failure

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Paul Waldman is right. Given the administration track record for fuckups upon fuckups upon spectactular fuckups in Eye-Rack, those who think this plan is NOT going to bite us in our collective asses needs to be locked up in rubber rooms:

BAGHDAD, June 10 — With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

American commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province west of Baghdad and have held talks with Sunni groups in at least four areas of central and north-central Iraq where the insurgency has been strong. In some cases, the American commanders say, the Sunni groups are suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups. Some of these groups, they say, have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and supplies.

American officers who have engaged in what they call outreach to the Sunni groups say many of them have had past links to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but grew disillusioned with the Islamic militants’ extremist tactics, particularly suicide bombings that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. In exchange for American backing, these officials say, the Sunni groups have agreed to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on American units. Commanders who have undertaken these negotiations say that in some cases, Sunni groups have agreed to alert American troops to the location of roadside bombs and other lethal booby traps.

But critics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop drawdown increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves.

This new policy coming in the wake of a splintering in the so-called Anbar coalition, this screams giant fuck-up in the near future.

Nowhere's Safe

At least according to the UN:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, under pressure from the United States to expand the U.N.'s role in Iraq, said Monday he would consider it but cited deteriorating security that has forced the U.N. to leave the southern city of Basra and temporarily move out of its living quarters in Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said the United Nations is a major promoter of electoral, constitutional and political efforts to build a united, democratic Iraq but because of the "precarious" security situation it needs the speedy construction of a new residential compound in Baghdad that can withstand the impact of rockets and other high-caliber weapons.

"The security situation in Iraq remains complex and unpredictable and is a major limiting factor for the United Nations presence and activities in Iraq," Ban said in the report covering the period from early March to early June.

. . .Ban said "the overall security environment presents a major challenge for the United Nations, particularly for its staff in the International Zone in Baghdad," also known as the Green Zone. He said an increase in mortar and rocket attacks in the Green Zone — from 17 in March to 30 in April and 39 by May 22 — was exacerbated by the increase in car bombings at entry checkpoints.

Hmm, he don't say?

June 11, 2007

More Success In Anbar

It was great for the coupla months that it lasted:

BAGHDAD, June 10 -- A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.

In an interview in his Baghdad office, Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

Abu Risha, who enjoys the support of U.S. military commanders, denied the allegations and said the council is not at risk of breaking apart. "There is no such thing going on," he said in a telephone interview from Jordan.

Lt. Col. Richard D. Welch, a U.S. military official who works closely with the tribal leaders in Iraq, said that relations inside the group were strained and that he expected a complete overhaul of the coalition in coming days.

U.S. military leaders hailed the creation of the nearly nine-month-old Anbar Salvation Council, first known as the Awakening, as one of the most important developments in the four-year war, signaling that insurgents and the local population in Anbar, which is overwhelmingly Sunni, have begun to see al-Qaeda in Iraq as their worst enemy, rather than the United States and its allies.

June 06, 2007

The Real Eye-Rack Surge

Again via First Draft, it seems like Turkey is expanding their Waronterra into our backyard:

ANKARA, Turkey - Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

“It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands,? one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984.

Like Holden says, shit meet fan.

Baghdad's Apartheid Wall Completed

The real question is, are they safer yet?

Construction of a controversial, three-mile blast wall in one of Baghdad’s most troubled neighborhoods was completed recently, following three months of grueling labor and heated protests from Iraqi residents and government officials.

The barrier, which consists of thousands of 12-foot-high concrete slabs, or T-walls, rings much of Adhamiyah — an island of Sunni families in Baghdad’s predominantly Shiite east side.

Engineers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team lowered the final 7-ton slab into place in the early morning darkness of May 28, according to a U.S. military statement issued Tuesday.

U.S. commanders say the barrier will make Adhamiyah a safer neighborhood by restricting incoming and outgoing vehicle traffic to several guarded checkpoints. The project is part of an overall attempt by U.S. forces to quell sectarian violence in the embattled capital.

The plan triggered harsh criticism from both Sunnis and Shiites, who saw darker motives in the wall’s construction. While some compared it to Israel’s West Bank security wall, others insisted the project was part of a larger plan to divide the city into a maze of “gated communities.?

(via First Draft)

June 05, 2007

More Success In Anbar

Because opening up a whole new can of worms is considered a "success":

Car bomb near Iraq's Falluja kills 19: police

Tue Jun 5, 6:58 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 19 people were killed and 25 others
were wounded when a suicide bomber blew up his car in a market
just outside Iraq's western city of Falluja on Tuesday, police said.

Hospital sources said most of the victims were women and children.

. . .Some Sunni Arab tribes in Anbar have been engaged in a war over
control in Anbar against al-Qaeda militants. The tribes have joined
forces with the police to the militants who are targeting tribes
who cooperate with authorities in Anbar.

June 04, 2007

File This Under "No Shit"

The on-the-ground commander, General David Petraeus, wrote in his own counterinsurgency manual that 120,000 troops are required to pacify Baghdad alone. Right now there will be only 30,000 troops during the Surge™, with an additional 30,000 Eye-Rackee Army troops and 21,000 police officers.

So if we are, at best, short 40,000 COIN personnel, how does the math add up?

BAGHDAD, June 3 — Three months after the start of the Baghdad security plan that has added thousands of American and Iraqi troops to the capital, they control fewer than one-third of the city’s neighborhoods, far short of the initial goal for the operation, according to some commanders and an internal military assessment.

The American assessment, completed in late May, found that American and Iraqi forces were able to “protect the population? and “maintain physical influence over? only 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods.

In the remaining 311 neighborhoods, troops have either not begun operations aimed at rooting out insurgents or still face “resistance,? according to the one-page assessment, which was provided to The New York Times and summarized reports from brigade and battalion commanders in Baghdad.

The assessment offers the first comprehensive look at the progress of the effort to stabilize Baghdad with the heavy influx of additional troops. The last remaining American units in the troop increase are just now arriving.

Violence has diminished in many areas, but it is especially chronic in mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods in western Baghdad, several senior officers said. Over all, improvements have not yet been as widespread or lasting across Baghdad, they acknowledged.

That's what happens when the new strategery is only a delaying tactic devised to dump the whole mess on the next, hopefully Democratic president.

Continue reading "File This Under "No Shit"" »

June 03, 2007

The Surge Is Working!

If you watched any of the Sunday-morning talk shows, you might get that sort of impression. Let's set the record straight, shall we?

Number of Unidentified Bodies Found in Baghdad Rose Sharply in May

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: June 2, 2007

BAGHDAD, June 1 — The number of unidentified corpses discovered in Baghdad soared more than 70 percent during May, according to new statistics from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, an indication that sectarian killings are rising sharply as militias return to the streets after lying low during the first few months of the troop “surge.?

In May, 726 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad, many bound and shot in the head or showing signs of torture and execution, compared with 411 during April, according to figures provided by a ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The Bush administration and military have cited a decline in sectarian killings as proof that the troop escalation is working. And despite May’s increase in corpses, the numbers remain far below the peak of sectarian executions last year. In July and August, for example, a total of 5,106 people died violent deaths in Baghdad alone, according to the United Nations, including 3,391 reported by the city’s morgue.

The new figures also show a decline in the number of deaths of identifiable victims in Baghdad to 344 in May from 495 in April. While victims of car bombs, homemade bombs and mortar strikes can usually be identified, those who are kidnapped, tortured and executed are normally stripped of identification before their bodies are dumped.

-------------------------------------------------

Civilian death toll in Iraq spikes in May
By Mussab Al-Khairalla
02 Jun 2007 13:58:30 GMT

BAGHDAD, June 2 (Reuters) - The number of civilians killed in Iraq jumped to nearly 2,000 in May, the highest monthly toll since the start of a U.S.-backed security crackdown in February, according to figures released on Saturday.

Militants blew up a strategic bridge that links Baghdad to the northern cities of Kirkuk and Arbil, and a mortar barrage on the Sunni enclave of Fadhil in mainly Shi'ite eastern Baghdad, killed 10 people and wounded 30, police said.

In Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Masoud Barzani, president of Kurdistan, urged Turkey not to send troops into the region to crush Kurdish separatist rebels believed to be hiding there.

An Interior Ministry official, who did not want to be named because he was not authorised to release the figures, said 1,944 civilians were killed in May, a 29 percent hike over April. At least 174 soldiers and policemen were killed in the same period.

The death toll was based on statistics compiled by Iraq's ministries of interior, defence and health on the number of people killed and wounded in attacks in Iraq.

After three months of declines, there has been a sharp rise in the number of sectarian murders in Baghdad. Mortar attacks in the capital are becoming deadlier and car bombs remain common.

At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in two mortar attacks on Shi'ite and Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad in the past 48 hours. In Saturday's attack, 10 people were killed in a barrage on the Sunni Fadhil district

Police, who reported fewer than 10 sectarian murders a day in the first weeks of the security crackdown, are now typically reporting 30 or more.

U.S. military commanders says this is a spike, not a trend, and the full impact of the crackdown will not be known for months.

-------------------------------------------------

U.S. Announces 14 Troop Deaths in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) - Fourteen American soldiers were killed in three deadly days in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday, including four in a single roadside bombing and one who was struck by a suicide bomber while on a foot patrol southwest of the capital.

The blast that killed the four soldiers occurred Sunday as the troops were conducting a cordon and search operation northwest of the Iraqi capital, according to a statement. Two other soldiers from Multi-National Division - Baghdad were killed and five were wounded along with an Iraqi interpreter in two separate roadside bombings on Sunday, the military said.

. . .Seven others troops were killed in a series of attacks across Iraq on Saturday.

The deaths raised to at least 3,493 members of the U.S. military who have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.


June 01, 2007

Iraqi Women Refugees, Including Girls, Forced Into Sex Trade

Gee, where are all the "value voters" when you need em to demand that Bush to fix this mess?

For anyone living in Damascus these days, the fact that some Iraqi refugees are selling sex or working in sex clubs is difficult to ignore.

Even in central Damascus, men freely talk of being approached by pimps trawling for customers outside juice shops and shawarma sandwich stalls, and of women walking up to passing men, an act unthinkable in Arab culture, and asking in Iraqi-accented Arabic if the men would like to “have a cup of tea.?

By day the road that leads from Damascus to the historic convent at Saidnaya is often choked with Christian and Muslim pilgrims hoping for one of the miracles attributed to a portrait of the Virgin Mary at the convent. But as any Damascene taxi driver can tell you, the Maraba section of this fabled pilgrim road is fast becoming better known for its brisk trade in Iraqi prostitutes.

Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees. Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families. As a group they represent one of the most visible symptoms of an Iraqi refugee crisis that has exploded in Syria in recent months.

According to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria; the Syrian government puts the figure even higher.

Given the deteriorating economic situation of those refugees, a United Nations report found last year, many girls and women in “severe need? turn to prostitution, in secret or even with the knowledge or involvement of family members. In many cases, the report added, “the head of the family brings clients to the house.?

Aid workers say thousands of Iraqi women work as prostitutes in Syria, and point out that as violence in Iraq has increased, the refugee population has come to include more female-headed households and unaccompanied women.

“So many of the Iraqi women arriving now are living on their own with their children because the men in their families were killed or kidnapped,? said Sister Marie-Claude Naddaf, a Syrian nun at the Good Shepherd convent in Damascus, which helps Iraqi refugees.

Still FUBAR

Marine makes an order of more than half a billion dollars for supposedly IED proof vehicles that should protect soldiers from insurgent attacks. They've just found out that the insurgency has evolved more powerful explosives rendering the new MRAPs useless. The Marines still buy the million-dollar coffins.

And the clusterfuck continues.

Lieberman Goes To Eye-Rack To Give Troops Much Needed Stump Speech

Lieberman.jpg duckandcover_bert_the_turtle_6k_1.jpg

See any difference? Me neither.

Quid Pro Joe is back in Eye-Rack trying to convince people that everything is A-OK. But when it came to actually addressing the concerns of the troops on the ground, LIEberman was virtually AWOL:

The night before, 30 other soldiers crowded around him with questions for the senator. He wrote them all down. At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers: When are we going to get out of here??

The rest was a laundry list. When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather? . . .

It isn’t clear whether Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it. “We don’t feel like we’re making any progress,? it said.



The same post also mentions that the soldiers are getting pretty peeved about spending all their resources and energry forming human barricades around visiting politicians looking for a photo-op to support their obvious agendas, and that the biggest offender of all was Lieberman.

Continue reading "Lieberman Goes To Eye-Rack To Give Troops Much Needed Stump Speech" »

May 30, 2007

Yet Another Eye-Rack War Casualty

This is getting to be one lousy Memorial Day weekend:

Minnesota National Guard member killed in a standoff with police in central Minnesota was suicidal in the past, and initial reports indicated he was intoxicated and driving with a loaded shotgun on the morning of his death, authorities said Tuesday.

But Spc. Brian William Skold, 28, of Sauk Rapids, was also a caring person, who loved water-skiing, fishing and hunting, and drew people in with his outgoing personality.

"He had just a zest for life," said his sister, Jenny Trager. "People really liked him. I guess he would be what I would call a social butterfly. ... He enjoyed being with friends and family."

Skold served about a year in Iraq. Police weren't saying whether lingering effects from his deployment contributed to Sunday morning's incident along Interstate 94, in which he fled from authorities and fired at least one shot from a 12-gauge shotgun before police returned fire, killing him.

Baghdad Bob Maliki

They say that September is the make or break time. If things don't turn around, oh there is going to be some soul-searching and reconsiderations I'll tell ya what!

Except that the bushies will say whatever the fuck they want at any time, probably using their puppet Nouri Al Maliki as their spokesman:

In his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's prime minister told CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan on Tuesday that the additional forces have prevented an even greater catastrophe in Iraq.

"If the Baghdad security plan had not been implemented, we would have a true civil war in Iraq,? Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said.

. . .Despite this month's deadly toll on U.S. forces, Maliki said there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. Although he cautioned it was too soon to do a complete evaluation of the surge, he has great hopes for more progress in the next two or three months — just in time for America's top commander here to report to Congress.

Shyeah, whatevah:

MOSUL, Iraq — The letter tossed into Mustafa Abu Bakr Muhammad’s front yard got right to the point.

“You will be killed,? it read, for collaborating with the Kurdish militias. Then came the bullet through a window at night.

A cousin had already been gunned down. So Mr. Muhammad and three generations of his family joined tens of thousands of other Kurds who have fled growing ethnic violence by Sunni Arab insurgents here and moved east, to the safety of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We had our home in Mosul and it was good there, but things are now very bad between Arabs and Kurds,? said Mr. Muhammad, 70, standing outside his new, scorpion-infested cinderblock house in the nearby town of Khabat.

While the American military is trying to tamp down the vicious fighting between rival Arab sects in Baghdad, conflict between Arabs and Kurds is intensifying here, adding another dimension to Iraq’s civil war. Sunni Arab militants, reinforced by insurgents fleeing the new security plan in Baghdad, are trying to rid Mosul of its Kurdish population through violence and intimidation, Kurdish officials said.

Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, with a population of 1.8 million, straddles the Tigris River on a grassy, windswept plain in the country’s north. It was recently estimated to be about a quarter Kurdish, but Sunni Arabs have already driven out at least 70,000 Kurds and virtually erased the Kurdish presence from the city’s western half, said Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of surrounding Nineveh Province and a Kurd.

. . .The violence here against the Kurds and other minorities is vicious and unrelenting, Kurdish and American officials say. More than 1,000 Kurdish civilians have recently been killed in Mosul, and at least two or three are gunned down each day now, Mr. Goran said. One well-known Kurdish singer was murdered because he had the same last name as Mr. Goran.

. . .But the surge in ethnic violence has sharpened the animosity of Kurds toward Arabs, and few Kurds are ready to forgive the atrocities committed by Mr. Hussein’s Sunni Arab government.

“I compare the Sunni Arabs to Bosnian Serbs: their behavior, their way of thinking, their way of acting,? Mr. Goran said in an interview at the fortified government center downtown. “They are for killings, they are for mass graves. Not all of them, but the majority of them.?

So far, Kurdish militias have refrained from engaging in the kind of wide-scale reprisals against Sunni Arabs that Shiite militias have carried out in Baghdad. But the Kurds are capable, Mr. Goran warned.

“We can kill every day 50 Arabs in the streets,? Mr. Goran said with a quick smile. “Every day, everywhere, in Mosul and outside of Mosul. But we don’t do that, because we know they want us to do that.?

Republicans Still Being Mean To Democrats

It's like the Democrats have achieved learned helplessness. They continue to cave to conservative opposition in a feeble attempt to neutralize a talking point, but Republicans still bash them anyways:

SPARTANBURG — Sen. Jim DeMint on Tuesday blamed Democratic “wimps? in Congress for American casualties in Iraq, and cited Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for special censure.

During a luncheon speech to 100 constituents in Spartanburg, DeMint also took issue with the now widespread belief that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, saying the executed Iraqi dictator had “stockpiles of chemical weapons? that still exist.

DeMint devoted most of his comments to the current immigration debate in the Senate. But he spoke about the war when a woman in the audience stood and asked him how long U.S. troops will remain in Iraq.

“Al-Qaida knows that we’ve got a lot of wimps in Congress,? DeMint said. “I believe a lot of the casualties can be laid at the feet of all the talk in Congress about how we’ve got to get out, we’ve got to cut and run.?

Yes, we must appease obvious morons like Demint in order to maintain our incumbency protection racket.

Ijits.

May 29, 2007

"The Intelligence And Facts Are Being Fixed Around The Policy"

After reading this and juxaposing it with this, I have only three words to say:

m_peach_w.gif

One day in December 2002, [head of the CIA Weapons Intelligence Non-proliferation and Arms Control Center Alan] Foley called his senior production managers to his office. He had a clear message for the men and women who controlled the output of the center's analysts: "If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so." The directive was not quite an order to cook the books, but it was a strong suggestion that cherry-picking and slanting not only would be tolerated, but might even be rewarded.

Happy Memorial Day

God damn:

BAGHDAD - At least eight U.S. soldiers were killed in restive Diyala province north of Baghdad on Memorial Day, two of the victims in a helicopter that went down, the military reported Tuesday.

All the dead were Task Force Lightning soldiers. The military said six soldiers died in explosions near their vehicles, but gave no further information.

It was not immediately known if the helicopter was shot down or suffered mechanical difficulties.

May 27, 2007

"Iraq Will Not Accept A Breach Of Its Sovereignty"

The Turkish ministers must be rolling in the aisles when they heard this. It would be ironic that Turkey must holster their guns in the face of terrorist attacks while the U.S. and Israel are free to wage ruinous wars whenever they want. It would be if irony exists anymore in bushworld:

Iraq urged its northern neighbour Turkey on Sunday to pursue diplomatic means as it attempts stop armed Kurdish separatists operating out of northern Iraq.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told reporters after meeting with a Turkish delegation in Baghdad that Iraq would not accept a breach of its sovereignty.

"We spoke about what are perceived to be security threats to Turkey coming from Iraqi territory. We emphasised the need of dealing with the perceived threats based on established channels between the governments of Iraq and Turkey," he said.

Turkish envoy Oguz Celikkol said a number of issues had been discussed, including Ankara's growing anger at recent violence it blames on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The Turkish rebel group has thousands of fighters in the mountains of northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

Your Tax Dollars At Work

This is why I didn't shed one drop of tear when those mercernaries were fricassed in Fallujah in 2004:

Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.

Blackwater's security consulting division holds at least $109 million worth of State Department contracts in Iraq, and its employees operate in a perilous environment that sometimes requires the use of deadly force. But last week's incidents underscored how deeply these hired guns have been drawn into the war, their murky legal status and the grave consequences that can ensue when they take aggressive action.

Matthew Degn, a senior American civilian adviser to the Interior Ministry's intelligence directorate, described the ministry as "a powder keg" after the Iraqi driver was shot Thursday, with anger at Blackwater spilling over to other Americans working in the building.

Fifty Body Days

Bush and the Surge™ are both miserable failures:

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Casualties mounted over the weekend for Iraqis and U.S. forces, despite the much-touted security crackdown in the capital.

Forty-five unidentified bodies were found Sunday in Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

Twelve of the bodies were found in southern Baghdad's predominantly Sunni district of Dora.

So far in May, the bodies of 631 victims of sectarian violence have been found in Baghdad, surpassing the total of 585 for the entire country in April, according to data collected by the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Another Century Mark Month

heckuva job, dumbya.

May 26, 2007

"F@$king Stupidest Guy On The Face Of The Earth" Part II

CIA officer Pat Lang recounts how he tried to get a job with former Eye-Rack war architech Douglas Feith:

“He was sitting there munching a sandwich while he was talking to me,? Lang recalled, “which I thought was remarkable in itself, but he also had these briefing papers — they always had briefing papers, you know — about me.

“He’s looking at this stuff, and he says, ‘I’ve heard of you. I heard of you.’

“He says, ‘Is it really true that you really know the Arabs this well, and that you speak Arabic this well? Is that really true? Is that really true?’

“And I said, ‘Yeah, that’s really true.’

“That’s too bad,? Feith said.

The audience howled.

“That was the end of the interview,? Lang said. “I’m not quite sure what he meant, but you can work it out.?

And people wonder why Eye-Rack is so fucked up.

May 24, 2007

Fubar Surge

More on the Worst Friedman Ever:

BAGHDAD, May 23 -- More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again.

From the beginning of May until Tuesday, 321 unidentified corpses, many dumped and showing signs of torture and execution, have been found across the Iraqi capital, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The data showed that the same number of bodies were found in all of January, the month before the launch of the Baghdad security plan.

Such killings are a signature practice of Shiite militias, although Sunni insurgents are also known to execute victims. The number of found bodies is a key indicator of the level of sectarian violence, but the statistics also include some who died from causes unrelated to the political situation.

Worst Friedman Ever

Agreed

Is Joe Klein Right?

Is Al-Qaeda on the run in Eye-Rack?

No.

(link via Atrios)

An Addendum To Previous Post

If Bin Laden was such a danger to us that we must continue wasting our resources babysitting a civil war in Eye-Rack, how come the chimp-in-chief ordered the CIA's Bin Laden Unit closed down around the time that original piece of intelligence was received?

WASHINGTON, July 3 — The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.

The decision is a milestone for the agency, which formed the unit before Osama bin Laden became a household name and bolstered its ranks after the Sept. 11 attacks, when President Bush pledged to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice "dead or alive."

The realignment reflects a view that Al Qaeda is no longer as hierarchical as it once was, intelligence officials said, and a growing concern about Qaeda-inspired groups that have begun carrying out attacks independent of Mr. bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Yep, the exact opposite sentiment of Bin Laden still being a mastermind being peddled by the Bushies. Once again, WorstPresidentEver gets away with his lies because we have no liberal media with a sense of hisory.

May 23, 2007

We're Fighting Them Over There So They Can Attack Us Over Here

Can someone make sense of this latest scare-us-straight propaganda campaign brought to us by WorstPresidentEver?:

WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush, trying to defend his war strategy, declassified intelligence Tuesday that asserts Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terror cell to conduct attacks outside Iraq. The United States was to have been the top target.

Frances Fragos Townsend, the White House homeland security adviser, said the intelligence bolsters the Bush administration's contention that al-Qaida wants to use Iraq as a staging area to launch terror attacks around the world, including the United States.

In January 2005, bin Laden tasked al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was in Iraq, to organize the cell, Townsend said. Al-Zarqawi, former leader of al-Qaida's Iraq operations, was killed there in June 2006 by a U.S. airstrike. "We know from the intelligence community that al-Zarqawi welcomed the tasking and claimed he already had some good proposals," Townsend said.

She said that in the spring of 2005, bin Laden instructed Hamza Rabia, a senior operative, to brief al-Zarqawi on al-Qaida planning to attack sites outside Iraq, including in the United States. She did not disclose where in the United States attacks were being plotted. Around the same time, Abu Fajah al-Libi, a senior al-Qaida manager, suggested that bin Laden send Rabia to Iraq to help al-Zarqawi plan the external operations, Townsend said.

It is unclear whether Rabia went to Iraq, she said.

And the next part is almost adorable:

She said the information was declassified because intelligence agencies have tracked all leads from the information.

Nope, it has nothing to do to boost Commander Guy's approval ratings above freezing point.

May 22, 2007

Voice of Islamism

This latest embarrassment from the shitmire is just a sad metaphor how unprepared we were for the war and how little the drivers care for competence during the war:

Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.

That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, including an hour-long tirade on the importance of anti-Jewish violence, among other questionable pieces.

Facing tough questions before a congressional panel last week, Broadcasting Board of Governors member Joaquin Blaya admitted none of the senior news managers at the network spoke Arabic when the terrorist messages made it onto the air courtesy of U.S. taxpayer funds. Nor did Blaya himself or any of the other officials at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the network.

"How does it happen that the terrorists take over?" asked Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, D-N.Y., at a hearing last Wednesday of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee he chairs. "Is there no adult supervision?"

Blaya conceded that the top officials in the network's chain of command could not understand what was being said on al Hurra broadcasts.

Also, the network's news division also had no assignment desk, he said. That left decisions over al Hurra's content in the hands of its reporters and producers, who are, according to Blaya, hastily-hired Arabic-speaking journalists with insufficient understanding of Western journalistic practices or the network's pro-Western mission.

May 15, 2007

The Commander Guy Picks His War Czar

Folks, meet your new fall guy:

lute.jpg

After a frustrating search for a new "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News has learned that President Bush has chosen the Pentagon's director of operations, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, for the role.

In the newly created position of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, Lute would have the power to direct the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies involved in the two conflicts.

Lute would report directly to the president and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

May 14, 2007

Let Allah Sort Em Out

This was the great military mind guiding our way through the beginnings of the Eye-Rack occupation:

HOLMES: There are some good things happening here. There's - you know, Petraeus is -- General Petraeus is a smart guy. He's a scholar of counterinsurgency. Written books about it. And he's doing some very good things, but I wonder whether they're a couple years too late.

(GENERAL RICK) SANCHEZ: I'm just thinking that is there a way to win? And what is the definition of winning? Mine would be -- I'll share mine with you. Mine would be, A, stop killing them, thereby they'll stop hating you and wanting to kill you, or B, kill them all.

And people wondered how Abu Ghraib happened.

The diarist, Gorette, who posted the story on Daily Kos is right. It's a wonder how people can spew these things and wonder why people hate us. Everyone has been getting outraged (OUTRAGED) over the Hamas video shown on television where some guy in a Mickey Mouse costume is indocrinating children to seek violence against Israel and America. But if the Arab world had the equivalent of MEMRI or CAMERA scouring the western media for genocidal messages against Muslims and Arabs, wouldn't their examples be limitless? The very fact that someone responsible for waging war in Eye-Rack and was actually in the business of killing Arabs without restraint harbors those very same deplorable tendencies trumps whatever foolishness comes out of Al-Aqsa TV.

(via Atrios)

May 13, 2007

B-But It's Only 21 Bodies A Day!

Before the Surge we were finding 40-50 bodies scattered all over Baghdad. Can't you hippies see how great life is in Peoria, Eye-Rack?

The US military surge in Iraq, designed to turn around the course of the war, appears to be failing as senior US officers admit they need yet more troops and new figures show a sharp increase in the victims of death squads in Baghdad.

In the first 11 days of this month, there have already been 234 bodies - men murdered by death squads - dumped around the capital, a dramatic rise from the 137 found in the same period of April. Improving security in Baghdad and reducing death-squad activity was described as one of the key aims of the US surge of 25,000 additional troops, the final units of whom are due to arrive next month.

In a further setback, the US military announced yesterday the loss of an entire patrol south of Baghdad, with five soldiers dead and three others missing, after they were ambushed by insurgents in the town of Mahmoudiya.

The new figures emerged as the commander of US forces in northern Iraq, Major General Benjamin Mixon, admitted he did not have enough soldiers to contain the escalating violence in Diyala province, which neighbours Baghdad and has become the focus of the heaviest fighting between largely Sunni insurgent groups and the US army, which has seen casualties increase by 300 per cent. Sixty-one US soldiers have been killed in Diyala this year, compared with 20 in all of last year.

May 12, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XVII

Sorry, soldiers, Bush will abandon you all just like he did Ahmed Qusai Al-Taei:

BAGHDAD (AP) - An attack on a unit of U.S.-led forces patrolling outside the Iraqi capital before dawn left five soldiers dead and three missing, the military said.

The attack on the patrol of seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter soldier occurred near Mahmoudiya, in a Sunni insurgent stronghold about 20 miles south of Baghdad, the military said.

Troops were searching for the three missing soldiers, the military said.

Plus other news:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Truck bombs exploded on three important bridges near Baghdad on Friday, killing 26 people and damaging two of the spans in an apparent attempt by insurgents to paralyse road links to the Iraqi capital.

The attacks defy efforts by the U.S. military to smash car bomb cells and are the latest in a series of attacks on infrastructure around Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have deployed thousands more troops under a three-month-old security plan.

May 10, 2007

Winning Dirty

Your "Plan B" (aka The Final Solution) in case the surge doesn't work, brought to you by the fair and balanced minds at FAUX Nooze.

Eye-Rackees To America: Get Out

The majority of the Frei Eye-Rack Parliament just voted in favor of setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals, the first time they've ever done so. And apparently it's the half that has their own militias. So now Bush only has his zombie yes-men generals to validate his CYA strategy of leaving office without leaving Eye-Rack.

May 09, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XVI

Can't leave the Kurds out of all the fun:

ARBIL, Iraq, May 9 (Reuters) - A truck bomb in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on Wednesday killed 12 people and wounded 40, a Kurdish security official said.

First Lieutenant Mariwan Kareem, from the local security forces,
said the truck had been packed with explosives. The bomb left
a massive crater in the road, television pictures showed.

May 08, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XV

More "progress":

BAGHDAD (AP) - A roadside explosion outside the Iraqi capital on Sunday killed six American soldiers and a civilian journalist, the military said, among 12 U.S. troop deaths reported on a day when two car bombs killed at least 44 Iraqis at a Baghdad market and a police headquarters.

A car bomb in the capital, where U.S.-led forces are in the midst of a crackdown on sectarian violence, killed at least 30 Iraqis. At the police headquarters in Samarra, a volatile city in the Sunni heartland 60 miles north of Baghdad, a car bomb and shooting attack killed 12 police — including the police chief.

American soldiers racing to the headquarters to help also came under attack by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades that left two soldiers wounded, the military said.

. . .

BAGHDAD, May 7 (Reuters) - Two suicide car bombers killed 20 people and wounded more than 40 in separate attacks near Iraq's city of Ramadi on Monday, police said.

The first car bomb went off in a busy market in a town called Albu-Thiyab, east of Ramadi, said Tareq al-Thiyab, a police colonel and a government security adviser in western Anbar province.

The second car bomb targeted a police checkpoint in a town called al-Jazeera, he said.

Sunni Islamist al Qaeda is engaged in a fierce power struggle with local Sunni Arab tribesmen in Anbar province, who oppose the group's campaign of indiscriminate attacks and its efforts to impose a harsh interpretation of Islam.

Recent big suicide attacks in Anbar, an overwhelmingly Sunni province west of Baghdad, have been blamed on al Qaeda.


Wake Me Up When September Ends

Atrios is right. Even when the the benchmark the Republicans kinda, sorta imposed comes around this September, they will still find more pony excuses of why we must remain in Eye-Rack. And besides, the Bushies have already made clear that they will stay in the shitmire come hell or high water.

May 02, 2007

"You'll Have To Pry The Medal Of Freedom From My Cold Dead Hands"

So sez "newly contrite" ex-CIA director George Tenet.

The Army Calls It Suicide, The Father Says Rape And Murder

and with the Army's track record concerning Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch, I'd bet the farm with the father's account (typos in the original ABC News blog post):

army private lavena l. johnson was just 19 years old. she had been in iraq for only a few weeks before she was found dead at balad airbase on july 19, 2005. the army said she died of a "self-inflicted wound" but when her father identified her body he discovered she had a disfigured lip, was missing some teeth and looked like she had been in a fight. and then there was that phone call to her mother just a couple of days before her death. private lavena johnson was talking about coming home for christmas. something about her death just didn't add up. that's when her father, dr. john johnson, started asking questions and that is when the army stopped being helpful.

Joan Baez Banned From Performing At Walter Reed

This is proof positive that to these clowns, military or otherwise, they view "supporting the troops" as supporting Bush's fuck-up in Eye-Rack, or maybe just all wars in general:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Folk singer and anti-war activist Joan Baez says she doesn't know why she was not allowed to perform for recovering soldiers recently at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as she planned.

In a letter to The Washington Post published Wednesday, she said rocker John Mellencamp had asked her to perform with him last Friday and that she accepted his invitation.

"I have always been an advocate for nonviolence and I have stood as firmly against the Iraq war as I did the Vietnam War 40 years ago," she wrote. "I realize now that I might have contributed to a better welcome home for those soldiers fresh from Vietnam. Maybe that's why I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation to sing for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the end, four days before the concert, I was not 'approved' by the Army to take part. Strange irony."

Baez, 66, told the Post in a telephone interview Tuesday that she was not told why she was left off the program by the Army. "There might have been one, there might have been 50 (soldiers) that thought I was a traitor," she told the paper.

May 01, 2007

"Mission Accomplished" Day

Let May Day be forever recorded and remembered in history as the day WorstPresidentEver pre-emptively declared the Eye-Rack war to be won. But we must remember that Bush didn't actually use the phrase "mission accomplished" during that speech (although it was on the banner behind him that Bush swore before God that his handlers did not put up). He actually said it 35 days later during a speech to troops stationed in Qatar:

I am happy to see you, an so are the long-suffering people of Iraq. America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished.

Putz.

April 30, 2007

"We Were All Given The Wrong Intelligence"

Gary Trudeau, the cartoonist of the daily strip Doonesbury, is kind enough to rerun some period strips this week in order to put to rest that weak CYA excuse being peddled by the warmongers.

doonesbury.gif

April 28, 2007

More Time In Eye-Rack Means Less Stress On Troops

Nope, it's not a story from The Onion.

Extended overseas deployments affecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other locales overseen by U.S. Central Command should help to alleviate the stress on the Army, a senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today.

“I’m absolutely confident that that’s going to work and that’ll manage the pressure and the stress on the force,? Army Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, said during a satellite-carried news conference.

. . .The tour extensions will provide more predictability and stability for soldiers and their families, [Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno] said, noting the policy “will ensure 12 months at home station between rotations.?

Keep Those Goalposts Moving

When Bush says no timetables, he MEANS no timetables or any of its variants: no benchmarks, no goals, no progress reports, no hope:

The Bush administration will not try to assess whether the troop increase in Iraq is producing signs of political progress or greater security until September, and many of Mr. Bush's top advisers now anticipate that any gains by then will be limited, according to senior administration officials.

In interviews over the past week, the officials made clear that the White House is gradually scaling back its expectations for the government of President Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The timelines they are now discussing suggest that the White House may maintain the increased numbers of American troops in Iraq well into next year.

This is just more evidence that the surge is nothing more than a cynical delaying tactic, a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Worst President Ever. Come September when the check is due, the shrubster will just smirk and say "um, yeah, about that. I know Eye-rack is an ungodly fuck-up, but as you can see there is a presidential campaign going on. It's going to be up to the next president to unshit my bed. Ain't my problem no more, Heh-heh-heh-heh!"

A poster on Kevin Drum's blog said it perfectly: if the term FUBAR hasn't been invented, we'd need to think up another word to describe Eye-Rack and the Bush administration in general. Yet, we have to live in a free world that has a leader that defines success as never having to admit he is wrong.

April 27, 2007

Why We Call Them Wankers

Indeed.

(via Atrios)

"Slam Dunk" Was Misinterpreted

George Tenet should have stayed in his bunker where he belonged. Now instead of him saying the case for the existence of Saddam's weaponsofmassdestruction was a "slam dunk", he is now saying that "slam dunk" referred to how easy it would be to lie to Americans about Saddam's weaponsofmassdestruction.

Got it? The actual existence of the weapons, as was being proven by the UN inpsectors, was not a slam dunk. But lying about it to warbots would be a piece of cake. And anyone who says otherwise are being mean to him.

Asshat.

April 26, 2007

The Army Lies Again

Yep, exclude bombings when making war statistics. . .that's fuggin' brilliant:

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Others, however, say that not counting bombing victims skews the evidence of how well the Baghdad security plan is protecting the civilian population - one of the surge's main goals.

"Since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option, they are redefining success in a way that suits them," said James Denselow, an Iraq specialist at London-based Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank.

Riverbend Calls It Quits

The blog "Baghdad Burning" written by the anonymous native Iraqi who calls herself "Riverbend" has been a must-see resource for those who were against or have turned against the useless Eye-Rack war. Her insights and her speed to call bullshit on most of the policies implemented by Bush and the neocons were invaluable. But her posts have become very infrequent because of the violence, and now she reports that she is on her way to either Syria or Jordan. That decision is the greatest indictment against the war she had been railing against from the start.

The De-evolution Of The Blame-Iraqis-First Campaign

Remember before and during the first part of the war how it's wrong and downright RACIST to deny the Eye-Rackees the pleasures and comfort of a Jeffersonian democracy that is guaranteed to be the result of WorstPresidentEver's invasion of that country? How come freedom is good for us but not good for the Arabs? Huh?

Well, the leading warmongers, having to deal with the chaos on the ground, have retreated back to their regressive, illiberal FAUXholes and have intensified their blamemongering on the "knuckle-dragging" Iraqis:

On the April 23 broadcast of his Fox News Radio show, John Gibson argued that the Iraqi people -- whom he described as "knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century" -- are at "fault" for the situation in Iraq. While discussing Iraq, Gibson said: "The one thing that drives me up the wall is [people] saying, 'Look at all the deaths you Americans have caused in Iraq.' No! 'Scuse me? We invaded the place, we knocked over Saddam, and then Iraqis began killing each other." Later in the show, Gibson agreed with a caller that the Coalition Provisional Authority's 2003 decision to purge the civil service of all former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and disband the Iraqi army "was a mistake." Gibson then stated: "[B]ut who is doing this killing? Give me a break. These are Iraqis killing each other. So what did we do? If you're saying it's our fault that we unmasked them as knuckle-dragging savages from the 10th century -- fine! I'll take credit."

You know, if the Arab world had the equivalent of CAMERA, MEMRI to track racist and genocidally anti-Arab statements made in the Western media, they will have no shortage of examples like John Gibson's garbage.

(via Atrios)

April 25, 2007

The Unraveling Of The Puppet Strings

What? Do we really want a strong national leader in the guise of Egypt's Nasser? I think, privately, we wanted this because the previous prime minister, Ibrahim Jafaari was not being enough of a team player:

BAGHDAD — A broad range of prominent Iraqi lawmakers say they have lost confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to reconcile the country's warring factions. A leading Kurdish lawmaker said al-Maliki should resign.

Legislators from several parties told USA TODAY that al-Maliki lacks the support in parliament to push through laws, such as a plan to distribute oil revenues, that could reduce tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq's parliament has failed to pass major legislation since a U.S.-led security plan began on Feb. 14.

"He is a weak prime minister," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator who supported al-Maliki until recently. "This government hasn't delivered and is not capable of doing the job. They should resign."

The loss of support came as Democrats agreed Monday on legislation that would force U.S. troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1. President Bush, who said he would veto the bill, has argued that Iraq's government needs more time to calm sectarian violence.

April 24, 2007

Kurds To The Rescue!

Yep, 20 percent of the population should be able to control the other 80 percent. Yeah, that's the ticket:

The Shiite mother and her son opened their door for the soldiers on night patrol. In walked the Americans, each brandishing an M-16 assault rifle. Next came the men wearing tan uniforms and carrying Kalashnikovs and looking not quite Iraqi.

They spoke Arabic with accents as thick as crude oil. "Are there problems in the neighborhood?" said their leader, Captain Sardar Hamasala. "We're here for your safety. Let us know if there are sectarian problems or other kinds of problems - Sunnis threatening Shia, Shia threatening Sunnis." The black-robed mother and her son shook their hands. The soldiers stepped back into the cool night air of western Baghdad.

"The reason why people are willing to trust the 1-3-4 is because they're Kurdish," said Captain Benjamin Morales, 28, commander of Company B of the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, the U.S. partner unit of Hamasala's company. "They don't live in the area. They don't care about Sunni or Shia."

This is quite possibly the first time since the days of Saladin, the revered 12th-century Kurdish warrior-king, that Kurdish forces have occupied swaths of Baghdad. They have been ordered to secure the streets for their historic enemies, the Arabs. He added later: "Here, they still talk about what happened 2,000 or 3,000 years ago. That's the way the Arabs think."

The UN Caves Again

This is what happens when you have a purported international organization that is simply the handmaiden of Bush's United States:

BAGHDAD (AP) - The United Nations will not include Iraqi civilian casualty figures in its next human rights report, a spokesman said Friday, omitting what many had viewed as a rare, reliable indicator of suffering in Iraq.

The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq had been releasing bimonthly reports assessing the human rights situation and providing death and injury tolls.

The last report was issued in late January, and U.N. officials in Baghdad had been saying for weeks that the new version would be released soon.

Mission spokesman Said Arikat told The Associated Press that the next report would be released on Wednesday, but he said it would cover a three-month period starting in January and would not have a casualty toll.

Arikat said casualty figures could be released "in the near future." He declined to elaborate on that issue before a news conference on Wednesday


Outsourcing Torture In Eye-Rack

Since we are now relying on Saddam-era tactics in waging the war, let's just say we've failed in our mission and move on:

In one of the new joint American-Iraqi security stations in the capital this month, in the volatile Ghazaliya neighborhood, Capt. Darren Fowler was heaping praise on his Iraqi counterparts for helping capture three insurgent suspects who had provided information he believed would save American lives.

“The detainee gave us names from the highest to the lowest,? Captain Fowler told the Iraqi soldiers. “He showed us their safe houses, where they store weapons and I.E.D.’s and where they keep kidnap victims, how they get weapons, where weapons come from, how they place I.E.D.’s, attack us and go away. Because you detained this guy this is the first intelligence linking everything together. Good job. Very good job.?

The Iraqi officers beamed. What the Americans did not know and what the Iraqis had not told them was that before handing over the detainees to the Americans, the Iraqi soldiers had beaten one of them in front of the other two, the Iraqis said. The stripes on the detainee’s back, which appeared to be the product of a whipping with electrical cables, were later shown briefly to a photographer, who was not allowed to take a picture.

To the Iraqi soldiers, the treatment was normal and necessary. They were proud of their technique and proud to have helped the Americans.

“I prepared him for the Americans and let them take his confession,? Capt. Bassim Hassan said through an interpreter. “We know how to make them talk. We know their back streets. We beat them. I don’t beat them that much, but enough so he feels the pain and it makes him desperate.?

April 20, 2007

"Are We In The West Bank?"

We have clearly ran out of ideas and lost the war if we actually go through with this:

U.S. to cut off Baghdad neighborhood with barrier
Commanders hope the wall will prevent attacks on the Sunni Arab districts it surrounds.
By Edmund Sanders, Times Staff Writer April 19, 2007

BAGHDAD -- A U.S. military brigade is constructing a three-mile-long concrete wall to cut off one of the capital's most restive Sunni Arab districts from the Shiite Muslim neighborhoods that surround it, raising concern about the further Balkanization of Iraq's most populous and violent city.

U.S. commanders in northern Baghdad say the 12-foot-high barrier will make it more difficult for suicide bombers, death squads and militia fighters from sectarian factions to attack one another and slip back to their home turf. Construction began last week and is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Although Baghdad is replete with blast walls, checkpoints and other temporary barriers, including a massive wall around the Green Zone, the wall being constructed in Adhamiya would be the first to essentially divide a neighborhood by sect....

. . .Sunnis and Shiites living in the shadow of the barrier are united in their contempt for the imposing new structure.

"Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?" said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who identified himself as Abu Ahmed, 44. "This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation."

. . .Several residents interviewed likened the project to the massive barriers built around some Palestinians zones in Israel.

"Are we in the West Bank?" asked Abu Qusay, 48, a pharmacist who said that access to his favorite kebab restaurant in Adhamiya has been cut off.

Come on, we can't run an occupation without an occupation wall, can we? The Israelis are never wrong when it comes to that sort of thing [/sarcasm]

The Return Of The Death Squads

Now what surge protectors?

Death squads are returning to the streets of Baghdad despite the security plan for the capital launched with great fanfare by the US two months ago.

As Iraqis bury the 230 people killed or found dead on Wednesday, ominous signs are appearing that the Shia militias have resumed their tit-for-tat killings. There is a sharp increase in the number of dead bodies found bearing signs of torture, with 67 corpses discovered dumped in Baghdad in the first three days of the week.

People in Baghdad, both Shia and Sunni, do not dare move bodies left lying in the rubbish outside their doors though they sometimes cover them with a blanket. One corpse was left lying for days in the centre of a main commercial street in the Sunni bastion of al-Adhamiyah in east Baghdad. He was believed to be a victim of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which has been killing Sunni who belong to other guerrilla groups or are associated with the government. Local people say that US and Iraqi forces stationed in a newly renovated police station in al-Adhamiyah as part of the security plan seem unaware of what is happening around them.

. . .The truce by the Mehdi Army militia, though never total, may now be ending because it was met with an escalation in violence by the Sunni insurgents. In a gruesome video posted on the internet a group linked to al-Qa'ida showed a masked gunman shooting 20 kidnap victims, all police or soldiers, in the back of the head. The group had demanded the freeing of all female prisoners by the government.


April 19, 2007

Training Eye-Rackee Army No Longer A Priority

I guess they weren't standing up fast enough:

WASHINGTON - Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.

But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.

Harry Reid: The Iraq War Is Lost

I remember when a certain Howard Dean said those words, and everybody thought he was cuuuh-raaaaaayzeeeee!

The war in Iraq "is lost" and a US troop surge is failing to bring peace to the country, the leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, said Thursday. "I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything, as is shown by the extreme violence in Iraq this week," Reid told journalists.

Reid said he had delivered the same message to US President George W. Bush on Wednesday, when the US president met with senior lawmakers to discuss how to end a standoff over an emergency war funding bill.

"I know I was the odd guy out at the White House, but I told him at least what he needed to hear ... I believe the war at this stage can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically."

FAUX Nooze Push Poll: Withdrawal From Eye-Rack Is NOT Surrender

Well, well, what have we here?:

One Senator recently claimed that setting a date for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is more accurately described as a date for surrender — do you think it is accurate to compare withdrawal with surrender?

Yes: 33 percent
No: 61 percent

(via ThinkProgress.org)

The Debate Is Over. Bush Has Lost

Bush can go ahead and veto the Democratic war funding bill. He's not going to win any friends beyond the 30-percent dead-enders he's already got:

In the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, taken April 10-12, 69 percent of Americans say things are going badly for the United States in Iraq. That's the most negative assessment yet recorded, up from 54 percent who thought things were going badly last June and 62 percent in October.

The public's view: it's not working. Only 29 percent of Americans believe that sending additional troops to Iraq will make it more likely the U.S. will achieve its goals there. Only 21 percent believe the U.S. and its allies are winning; the prevailing view (62 percent) is that neither side is winning.

. . .Asked which side they take in the standoff between Congress and President Bush, the result is not close: 60 percent of Americans side with the Democrats in Congress and 37 percent with the President.

That 37 percent is a persistent figure.

-- 37 percent say if President Bush vetoes the Iraq funding bill, Congress should pass a bill with no timetable for withdrawal. 48 percent favor another bill with a timetable, and 13 percent want Congress to cut almost all funds for Iraq by next year (making a total of 61 percent who favor restrictions on funding).

-- 37 percent want the U.S. to keep troops in Iraq as long as they are needed. 35 percent want the U.S. to begin withdrawing immediately and 26 percent want to see all U.S. troops withdrawn by next March (making a total of 61 percent for withdrawal within a year).

April 18, 2007

We'll Control Our Own Country By The End Of The Year. . .Really, I Swear!. . .Why Are You Laughing? Stoppit!

Boy, Bush really picked a cut-up to replace Jafaari, didn't he?

The apparently coordinated onslaught, the deadliest in Baghdad since George Bush implemented his security surge two months ago, provided sobering punctuation to a declaration by Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who announced that Iraqi forces would assume control of security in every Iraqi province by the end of the year. Yesterday, British forces transferred control of Maysan province, making it the fourth of 18 to be handed to Iraqi control.

But Baghdad is a different matter. Mr Maliki has been under huge pressure from the anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a political ally, to commit to a timetable for US-led foreign troops to leave Iraq. But Mr Maliki insists that a withdrawal must be linked to conditions on the ground. And yesterday's mayhem served to underline the scale of the task facing Iraq's fledgling army and police force.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XIV

Would more guns prevent this tragedy:

Baghdad (AP) - Four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad today, killing at least 178 people and wounding scores - the deadliest day in the city since the start of the U.S.-Iraqi campaign to pacify the capital two months ago.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the bombings "horrifying" and accused al-Qaida of being behind them.

In the deadliest of the attacks, a parked car bomb detonated in a crowd of workers at the Sadriyah market in central Baghdad, killing at least 122 people and wounding 148, said Raad Muhsin, an official at Al-Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken.

A police official confirmed the toll, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Among the dead were several construction workers who had been rebuilding the mostly Shiite marketplace after a bombing destroyed many shops and killed 137 people there in February, the police official said.

. . .About an hour earlier, a suicide car bomber crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslim neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The explosion killed at least 41 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 76, police and hospital officials said.

. . .Earlier, a parked car exploded near a private hospital in the central neighborhood of Karradah, killing 11 people and wounding 13, police said. The blast damaged the Abdul-Majid hospital and other nearby buildings.

The fourth explosion was from a bomb left on a minibus in the central Rusafi area, area, killing four people and wounding six others, police said.

Or this?

BAGHDAD — Police in Ramadi uncovered 17 decomposing corpses buried in two schoolyards in a district that until recently was under the control of al-Qaida fighters. At least 85 people were killed or found dead across the country Tuesday.

. . .In a sign that Shiite death squads are on the move again after more than two months of inactivity, 25 bodies were found dumped in Baghdad on Tuesday. The three-day total, after weeks of smaller tolls, was 67.


April 12, 2007

No Shit, Sherlock

US admits Green Zone is no longer safe as suicide bomber strikes at heart of government

US officials admitted last night that the bombing of the Iraqi parliament shows that not even the heavily fortified Green Zone is safe any more, despite the security crackdown launched earlier this year in the Iraqi capital.

American and Iraqi security officials were last night investigating how a suicide bomber evaded a ring of security checks and blew himself up in the assembly's cafe, killing three MPs and five other people and wounding more than 20.

About 100,000 US and Iraqi soldiers are on the streets of the capital as part of the troop "surge" begun two months ago; while security inside the Green Zone has been tightened following the recent discovery there of two suicide bomb belts.

But after the deadliest attack ever in the Green Zone, US officials warned that nowhere is safe in Baghdad. "The international zone is not safe, it is just safer than the rest of the city," said Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver. "Enemies of the country are trying to drive a wedge between the people and the government." In Washington the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said: "We know that there is a security problem in Baghdad. This (crackdown) is still early in the process and I don't think anyone expected that there wouldn't be counter-efforts by terrorists to undermine the security presence."

Fubar Surge

That's it. Eye-Rack is a failure. If you can't protect the Green Zone, you have failed. Deal with it:

Explosion at Iraq parliament cafe An explosion has hit a cafeteria at the Iraqi parliament, killing at least one person and injuring several others, witnesses said. The cafeteria is reserved for MPs and their staff and the explosion happened during lunchtime.

The parliament building is located inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.


How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XIII

Buried deep within a bullshit article repeating Bushian talking points about how Eye-Ran is somehow training both Sunni and Shiite militias lies this bigger story:

Caldwell also painted a mixed picture of the violence in Iraq eight weeks into a security plan intended to quell turmoil in the capital. From January to March, civilian deaths dropped 26 percent in Baghdad, he said. But violence surged in many areas outside the capital, resulting in a rise in civilian deaths across Iraq over the same period. Most of the victims were killed by car bombs or suicide bombers, he said.

From February, when the security plan was launched, to March, the total number of deaths -- civilians, Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops -- rose by 10 percent, he said. "What does this mean? It means that we still have a lot of work to do," Caldwell said.

"The goal of these murderers is to ignite a cycle of violence. They want to murder people of one sect to try to provoke revenge killings, so that this country will be divided and weak," he added.

So, at best, we put a leafblower to the pile of dandelion spores, increasing the chaos. Is this fuggin great or what?

Still Not Working

You know how the warbots are saying that the Surge™ is working because the numbers of bodies stemming from sectarian cleansing have dropped from massacre levels to just plain carnage? Well the truth is that the reason the numbers of bodies have been falling is because the potential victims are leaving in droves:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Nearly two months into a Baghdad security plan intended to calm the Iraqi capital by protecting residents from sectarian violence, Shiite Muslim militia members are still driving Sunni Muslims from religiously mixed neighborhoods.

Iraqi soldiers, usually ethnic Kurds, reportedly have intervened in some instances to stop the militia campaign. But interviews with Sunni residents found that most of the efforts go unchallenged in a city where it's increasingly rare for Shiites or Sunnis to remain in neighborhoods that the other sect dominates.

Residents displaced in the past four months describe a new effort that haunts them after they flee. It begins with intimidating phone calls, then escalates into bombings or the dismantling of Sunni homes.

The residents said the perpetrators were members of the Mahdi Army militia, which is loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr reportedly has told his followers to lie low and not challenge U.S. troops as they fan out across the capital in an effort to restore order.

But that show of cooperation hasn't prevented the militia from trying to cement its grip on some formerly mixed-sect neighborhoods, residents report.

Warring Is Hard Work

Yes, the report that Bush is seeking a new Eye-Rack War czar to handle his problems with that shitmire is truly pathetic, but as the New York Times analysis of the situation says, it's not the first time WorstPresidentEver has delegated responsibility for the war:

Four years after the fall of Baghdad, the White House is once again struggling to solve an old problem: Who is in charge of carrying out policy in Iraq?

Once again President Bush and his top aides are searching for a high-level coordinator capable of cutting through military, political and reconstruction strategies that have never operated in sync, in Washington or in Baghdad.

Once again Mr. Bush is publicly declaring that his administration has settled on a strategy for victory — this time, a troop increase that is supposed to open political space for Sunnis and Shiites to live and govern together — even while his top aides acknowledge that the White House has never gotten the execution right.

. . .It is telling that Mr. Hadley and Mr. Bush are still wrestling with this problem. Four years ago, both had hoped and expected that by 2007, Iraq would essentially be a cleanup operation, involving a comparatively small American force. Instead, the current force of 145,000 is building to 160,000.

For both men, deciding who in Washington should take the reins on Iraq strategy is hardly a new task.

It was in August 2003, five months after the American invasion, that Mr. Bush ordered the formation of an Iraq Stabilization Group to run things from the White House. That action reflected the first recognition by the White House that Donald H. Rumsfeld’s Pentagon was more interested in deposing dictators than nation-building.

When that group was formed, Mr. Rumsfeld snapped that it was about time that the National Security Council performed its traditional job — unifying the actions of a government whose agencies often spent much of their day battling one another. That approach worked, for a while.

But then the insurgency in Iraq grew formidable, reconstruction efforts were slowed, the State and Defense Departments reverted to bureaucratic spats, and the White House never managed to get its arms around the scope of the problem, in Baghdad or in Washington.

That was evident earlier this year when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the new defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, openly clashed on the question of who would provide the personnel for new Provincial Reconstruction Teams that were charged with trying, once again, to rebuild Iraq.

But that was only a small part of the problem: When the Iraq Study Group turned out its recommendations in December for revamping strategy, it cited “a lack of coordination by senior management in Washington,? declaring that “focus, priority setting, and skillful implementation are in short supply.?

Yep, after all his fuckups, Bush still thinks he has a leg to stand on to challenge the Democrats who want this war to end. Bully for him.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XII

. . .

BAGHDAD - A suicide truck bomb exploded on a major bridge in Baghdad early Thursday, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars toppling into the Tigris River below, police and witnesses said.

At least 10 people were killed and 26 injured, according to hospital officials. That toll was expected to rise.

Police were trying to rescue as many as 20 people whose cars plummeted into the waters below.

Hours after the blast, waves lapped up against twisted girders sinking into the water, as police patrol boats searched for survivors.

The al-Sarafiya bridge connected two northern Baghdad neighborhoods — Azamiyah, a mostly Sunni enclave, and Bab al-Muazam, a mixed area.

April 10, 2007

Supporting The Troops

DoD proposes to extend the tours of everybody in Eye-Rack by three months.

Training The Mahdi Army

More evidence of how we are simply husbanding a civil war:

As part of a nearly eight-week-old plan to temper violence in Baghdad, U.S. forces last month set up a permanent base and resumed security sweeps in the enclave for the first time in three years. Sadr's black-clad fighters -- who battled U.S. forces in the past -- have appeared to stand down, even as Sadr publicly condemns the U.S. presence.

But soldiers with a U.S. military police unit that has provided police training and patrols in Sadr City for most of the past 10 months said the Mahdi Army disrupts their efforts every day. Most of the Iraqi police they train are either affiliated with the militia or intimidated by it, the soldiers said. At worst, they said, militia infiltration in the police might be behind attacks on Americans, even though Iraqi officials offered assurances that the Mahdi Army was lying low.

"I don't really think there is an end or a beginning. I think it's all intermingled," Staff Sgt. Toby Hansen, 30, said about the Mahdi Army's relationship to the police trained by his unit. "Eventually, when we leave, they're going to police their own city. They're going to do it their way."

April 09, 2007

A Secret Plan To End The War

I hope it doesn't involve an invasion of Cambodia:

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, told "Hardball" fill-in host David Gregory that if the 'surge' has not yielded success in Iraq by August 2008, then "this president, and the Republican majority from the last Congress, we do have a 'Plan B,' but we're not going to give it to the enemy."

Gregory did not push him to shed light on the back up plan, but Gingrey conceded that "adjustments" would need to be made if victory had not be achieved in Iraq by August 2008.

Gingrey's comments are reminiscent of an oft-mentioned Republican contention that any timelines regarding troop withdrawal from Iraq should be kept secret.


Eye-Rackee Army STRAWNG!!

Nicely done, war planners:

Iraqi forces began taking a back seat in combat operations in Iraq last autumn, even before President Bush started deploying 21,500 more troops chiefly to spearhead a security crackdown in Baghdad, according to a new Pentagon report.

The report shows that Iraqi military units began assuming greater responsibility for operations in the earlier part of last year. But the trend has reversed. In October, U.S. forces were conducting 8% of the combat operations, while 72% were joint missions. By January, U.S. units were conducting 33% of the operations, and the percentage of joint operations had fallen to 59%.

In addition, the number of Iraqi army and other units in the lead has declined to 92 in February from 94 in November, while the number of U.S.-led missions has been increasing.

The quarterly report to Congress, required by law, covers the period immediately before Feb. 13, when the U.S. began building up troop levels and implementing its new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

Every Time Their Lips Move

After everything that has been exposed, after everybody but the 30-percent nutters know that the war is a complete lie, to think that Darth Cheney would continue with his warmed-over bullshit is just well past maddening:

Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

. . .The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

"This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq," Cheney told Limbaugh's listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had "led the charge for Iraq." Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would "play right into the hands of al-Qaeda."

April 08, 2007

And There Goes The Surge™

Not like it was working anyways:

BAGHDAD Apr 8, 2007 (AP)— The renegade cleric Muqtada al-Sadr urged the Iraqi army and police to stop cooperating with the United States and told his guerrilla fighters to concentrate on pushing American forces out of the country, according to a statement issued Sunday.

The statement, stamped with al-Sadr's official seal, was distributed in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Sunday a day before a large demonstration there, called for by al-Sadr, to mark the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad.

"You, the Iraqi army and police forces, don't walk alongside the occupiers, because they are your archenemy," the statement said. Its authenticity could not be verified.

. . ."God has ordered you to be patient in front of your enemy, and unify your efforts against them not against the sons of Iraq," the statement said, in an apparent reference to clashes between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army fighters and Iraqi troops in Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad. "You have to protect and build Iraq."

(via Atrios)

April 07, 2007

Prudenizing, Washington Post Edition

While highlighting the uncomfortable fact that the Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) are actually being made in Eye-Rack, and are not an export of Eye-Ran, and therefore a casus belli for an invasion, Atrios stumbles upon an example of the Washington Post doing what we in the media criticism business affectionately know as "Prudenizing." Apparently, an earlier version of a Washington Post story that appeared on its website was the one written by Reuters that included the fact that a raid turned up an EFP factory. The "official" version that will appear in the print edition excludes that pertinent fact. We haven't seen this type of manipulative, hawkish journalism since Hearst era.

April 05, 2007

Yet Another Casualty Of Bush's Fuckup

The New York Times has a feature article about a soldier wounded in Eye-Rack during the initial invasion, who ended up burning a trailer home because the Bush Republicans couldn't bother with setting up a competent system to deal with all the PTSD cases that were coming home:

DUNBAR, Pa. — Blinded and disabled on the 54th day of the war in Iraq, Sam Ross returned home to a rousing parade that outdid anything this small, depressed Appalachian town had ever seen. “Sam’s parade put Dunbar on the map,? his grandfather said.

That was then.

Now Mr. Ross, 24, faces charges of attempted homicide, assault and arson in the burning of a family trailer in February. Nobody in the trailer was hurt, but Mr. Ross fought the assistant fire chief who reported to the scene, and later threatened a state trooper with his prosthetic leg, which was taken away from him, according to the police.

The police locked up Mr. Ross in the Fayette County prison. In his cell, he tried to hang himself with a sheet. After he was cut down, Mr. Ross was committed to a state psychiatric hospital, where, he said in a recent interview there, he is finally getting — and accepting — the help he needs, having spiraled downward in the years since the welcoming fanfare faded.

“I came home a hero, and now I’m a bum,? Mr. Ross, whose full name is Salvatore Ross Jr., said.

Nope, the only bum is the one currently using soldiers like Sam Ross in order to protect their eroding political agenda.

April 04, 2007

Messing up the Message

Can't these people understand that Baghdad is safe, that McCain says you can stroll around that particular marketplace without being harmed? Why do they have to mess up the narrative?

A newborn baby was one of at least 14 children and adults killed when a suicide bomber detonated a lorry laden with explosives close to a primary school in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk yesterday.

The latest massacre of Iraqi children came as 21 Shia market workers were ambushed, bound and shot dead north of the capital. The victims came from the Baghdad market visited the previous day by John McCain, the US presidential candidate, who said that an American security plan in the capital was starting to show signs of progress.

April 02, 2007

Where The Marketplace Of Opinion Calls Bullshit On McCain

Following up on the last post that noted Weathervane McCain's campaign junket in the Iraqi marketplace, you know the one where he incredulously said Eye-Rack is safer even though he was under heavy military guard? Well, the locals can't really see what the hell he was getting at:

BAGHDAD, April 2 — A day after members of an American Congressional delegation led by Senator John McCain pointed to their brief visit to Baghdad’s central market as evidence that the new security plan for the city was working, the merchants there were incredulous about the Americans’ conclusions.

“What are they talking about?? Ali Jassim Faiyad, the owner of an electrical appliances shop in the market, said Monday. “The security procedures were abnormal!?

The delegation arrived at the market, which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees — the equivalent of an entire company — and attack helicopters circled overhead, a senior American military official in Baghdad said. The soldiers redirected traffic from the area and restricted access to the Americans, witnesses said, and sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests throughout their hourlong visit.

“They paralyzed the market when they came,? Mr. Faiyad said during an interview in his shop on Monday. “This was only for the media.?

He added, “This will not change anything.?

Well, that was just one Iraqi, I'm guessing there are plenty more who agree with what the Senator is saying:

Merchants and customers say that a campaign by insurgents to attack Baghdad’s markets has put many shop owners out of business and forced radical changes in the way people shop. Shorja, the city’s oldest and largest market, set in a sprawling labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways, has been bombed at least a half-dozen times since last summer.

. . .In recent weeks, snipers hidden in Shorja’s bazaar have killed several people, merchants and the police say, and gunfights have erupted between militants and the Iraqi security forces in the area.

During their visit on Sunday, the Americans were buttonholed by merchants and customers who wanted to talk about how unsafe they felt and the urgent need for more security in the markets and throughout the city, witnesses said.

“They asked about our conditions, and we told them the situation was bad,? said Aboud Sharif Kadhoury, 63, who peddles prayer rugs at a sidewalk stand. He said he sold a small prayer rug worth less than $1 to Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the American forces in Iraq, who accompanied the Congressional delegation. (General Petraeus paid $20 and told Mr. Kadhoury to keep the change, the vendor said.)

Mr. Kadhoury said he lost more than $2,000 worth of merchandise in the triple bombing in February. “I was hit in the head and back with shrapnel,? he recalled.

Ali Youssef, 39, who sells glassware from a sidewalk stand down the block from Mr. Kadhoury, recalled: “Everybody complained to them. We told them we were harmed.?

He and other merchants used to keep their shops open until dusk, but with the dropoff in customers as a result of the attacks, and a nightly curfew, most shop owners close their businesses in the early afternoon.

“This area here is very dangerous,? continued Mr. Youssef, who lost his shop in the February attack. “They cannot secure it.?

Look, even if that particular marketplace is safe, touting it's lack of violence just misses the elephant in the room.

tet.jpg

That is the picture of Saigon during the first day of the Tet Offensive. Except for the dead VC in the foreground, you'd never know that there's a goddamn war going on. Juan Cole (via Americablog) explains how "mundane" civil life during wartime can get:

Look, I lived in the midst of a civil war in the late 1970s in Beirut. I know exactly what it looks and smells like. The inexperienced often assume that when a guerrilla war or a civil war is going on, life grinds to a standstill. Not so. People go shopping for food. They drive where they need to go as long as they don't hear that there is a firefight in that area. They go to work if they still have work. Life goes on.

It is just that, unexpectedly, a mortar shell might land near you. Or the person ahead of you in line outside the bakery might fall dead, victim of a sniper's bullet. The bazaars are bustling some days (all the moreso because it is good to stock up on supplies the days when the violence isn't so bad). . . McCain, you see, knows exactly what I know about guerrilla wars and civil wars. Hell, people used to shop freely in Saigon in the early 1970s! And if he is saying what he is saying, it is because he is attempting to convey an overly optimistic picture with which to deceive the American public.

So for John McCain, protected by an extensive military convoy, to tell the Iraqi people that their perceptions of reality is wrong, makes him not only a fool, but a highly paternalistic fool.

April 01, 2007

Suicide Vests Found In The Green Zone; Weathervane McCain Insists Eye-Rack Is Safer

While Saint McCain is bloviating and visiting bombed-out marketplaces under heavy security convoys, two suicide vests were found Saturday within what is supposed to be the safest place in Baghdad. Makes you wonder about the ones they didn't find.

Gains

This makes the Republican support for the Surge™ they didn't believe in even more appalling:

Iraq death toll jumps 15 percent in March

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 2,078 people died in Iraq last month, 15 percent more than in February despite a massive security crackdown in Baghdad, the epicentre of violence, a security official said on Sunday.

On average, 67 people died across the country every day in March, compared to 64 in February.

A significant increase in Iraqi civilian, army and police deaths was evident last month, the official said, based on detailed statistics collected by the defence, interior and health ministries.

Civilian deaths topped the toll with 1,869 Iraqis killed in insurgency and sectarian bloodletting in March, compared to 1,646 in February. Another 2,719 civilians were wounded last month, compared to 2,701 in February.

March 30, 2007

They Are Mad As Hell And They Are Not Gonna Take It Any More

Let's see how peaceful this mass Sadrist demonstration is gonna be:

BAGHDAD - Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al Sadr made a scathing attack on the United States in a statement issued on Friday, blaming it for Iraq’s woes and calling for a mass demonstration April 9 to mark the fourth anniversary of Baghdad’s fall.

The statement was the first by al-Sadr since March 14 when he called on his supporters to resist US forces in Iraq through peaceful means. Al-Sadr has been said by US and Iraqi officials to be in neighboring Iran. His aides insist he is still in Iraq.

The latest statement was read to worshippers during Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, a holy Shiite city south of Baghdad where al-Sadr frequently led the ritual.

“I renew my call for the occupier (the United States) to leave our land,? he said in the statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. “The departure of the occupier will mean stability for Iraq, victory for Islam and peace and defeat for terrorism and infidels.?

Update: More from the New York Times.

Surging Car Bombs

terrific:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. general on Friday said suicide attacks and car bombings soared 30 percent since the start of a security crackdown in Iraq last month, and that insurgents had used a child in a second suicide attack last week.

Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero, deputy director for regional operations in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, also characterised the rising use of chlorine bombs in Iraq as "poison gas attacks."

"Chlorine is a poison gas. It is a poison gas being used on the Iraqi people. Before these attacks, the last time poison gas was used on the Iraqi people was by Saddam Hussein," Barbero told reporters at the Pentagon.

. . .Violence throughout Iraq surged over the past week, killing 300 people. The past week was the bloodiest since the start of the U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad in mid-February.

But-but the Shiites like all the carbombs because they aren't retaliating [/bushbot]

March 29, 2007

Hopeless. Utterly, Utterly Hopeless.

Why does the Bush-hating librual media depress us with stories like these:

BAGHDAD, March 29 — The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun’s family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east.

The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car.

“If anything happens to us, they’re the ones responsible,? said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf.

The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had just won a title.

The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.

After the police took the body away, all that remained in the alleyway was a pool of blood, a bullet casing and the upper half of Ms. Saadoun’s set of false teeth.

Oh yeah, if you think the Bush surge is working, ask Saadoun's orphans how they think it's working. In any case, the rest of the story gives the impression that the remission in Baghdad is falling apart:

“The forced evictions started up again this month,? said Capt. Benjamin Morales, 28, a Bronx native who commands a company of the 82nd Airborne Division that oversees a swath of western Baghdad taken over by Shiite militias last year. “In my area, that’s the biggest thing that’s going on.?

Captain Morales’s unit, Company B of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, was among the first additional American units to enter Baghdad. It moved into the Ali Salah neighborhood at the start of February to work alongside Kurdish soldiers brought in from northern Iraq.

The first month was quiet. A couple of explosions, some shooting here and there.

But a few weeks ago, the eight remaining Sunni Arab families living near the American and Iraqi base had again begun to receive threats, Captain Morales said.

Four families lived to the north of the base. Militant Shiites marked those homes with big X’s, splashed red paint across their front doors and shot at the buildings with Kalashnikovs. Two families moved out. Last week, the other two woke up one morning to find that the militants had chained their doors shut.

. . .Now there were three Sunni Arab households left in the neighborhood.

Progress

towards oblivion:

Hours after truck bombs killed 85 people on Tuesday in a Shi'ite area of Tal Afar, up to 70 Sunni Arab men were shot dead in a town which only a year ago was held up by U.S. President George W. Bush as an example of progress towards peace.

Iraq's Sunni vice president urged the government on Thursday to do more to purge security forces of militias after a group of Shi'ite police shot scores of Sunni Arab men after the two truck bombs in Tal Afar, near the Syrian border.

The governor of Nineveh province, which includes the town of Tal Afar, said policemen who took part in the reprisal shootings were arrested but then freed again to prevent unrest.

via Atrios.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part XI

Is the "grace period" over?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers launched two deadly strikes Thursday in crowded Shiite marketplaces in Baghdad and a town north of Iraq's capital, killing 119 people and wounding 171. At least 17 others died in other bombings and gunfire around the country.

The attacks erupted as Iraqi shoppers filled marketplaces Thursday to buy goods at the start of the weekend and the eve of the Muslim holy day of Friday.

In the deadliest attack, at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated in a crowded open-air marketplace in Baghdad's Shiite district of Shaab. At least 76 people were killed and 85 were wounded.

. . .Earlier, in the Diyala province town of Khalis, north of Baghdad, three car bombs detonated at a marketplace, killing 43 people and wounding 86.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said that the first two bombs exploded in quick succession at a market in the central part of town. Minutes later, a third car bomb exploded after Iraqi security forces arrived at the scene.

Khalis, a predominantly Shiite town, is 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed province, has been the scene of much violence during the Iraq war.

If You Don't Fight This War, Zarqawi Will Eat You In Your Sleep (Boogah! Boogah!)

John McCain just said this yesterday:

"The consequences of failure are catastrophic because if we come home, bin Laden and Zarqawi, they are going to follow us."

Jesus, even when we do kill the terra-ists they are still a threat. Not a nice endorsement to either wars, you blockhead.

via Atrios.

March 28, 2007

Fighting The War On Crutches

Perhaps there's some German compound word that adequately describes how ridiculous this situation has become:

Last November, Army Spc. Edgar Hernandez, a communications specialist with a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, had surgery on an ankle he had injured during physical training. After the surgery, doctors put his leg in a cast, and he was supposed to start physical therapy when that cast came off six weeks later.

But two days after his cast was removed, Army commanders decided it was more important to send him to a training site in a remote desert rather than let him stay at Fort Benning, Ga., to rehabilitate. In January, Hernandez was shipped to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., where his unit, the 3,900-strong 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, was conducting a month of training in anticipation of leaving for Iraq in March.

Hernandez says he was in no shape to train for war so soon after his injury. "I could not walk," he told Salon in an interview. He said he was amazed when he learned he was being sent to California. "Did they not realize that I'm hurt and I needed this physical therapy?" he remembered thinking. "I was told by my doctor and my physical therapist that this was crazy."

. . .Hernandez is one of a dozen soldiers who stayed for weeks in those tents who were interviewed for this report, some of whose medical records were also reviewed by Salon. All of the soldiers said they had no business being sent to Fort Irwin given their physical condition. In some cases, soldiers were sent there even though their injuries were so severe that doctors had previously recommended they should be considered for medical retirement from the Army.

Military experts say they suspect that the deployment to Fort Irwin of injured soldiers was an effort to pump up manpower statistics used to show the readiness of Army units. With the military increasingly strained after four years of war, Army readiness has become a critical part of the debate over Iraq. Some congressional Democrats have considered plans to limit the White House's ability to deploy more troops unless the Pentagon can certify that units headed into the fray are fully equipped and fully manned.

. . .It is unclear exactly how many soldiers with health issues were sent to the California desert. None of the soldiers interviewed by Salon had done a head count, but all agreed that "dozens" would be a conservative estimate. An Army spokesman and public affairs officials for the 3rd Infantry Division did not return repeated calls and e-mails seeking further detail and an explanation of why injured troops were sent to Fort Irwin and housed in tents there during January.

Army strawng, brother. Army strawng.

Poll Dancing

Looks like 59 percent of Americans do want a mandate to get out of Eye-Rack by August of 2008. Sixty percent according to the Gallup poll. Of course, since they are not a supermajority, they can be written off as the "anti-troop fringe" while the 33 percent are still considered "serious".

This just fits in the larger narrative. The legacy of the Bush administration and of the 12 years of almost unbroken Republican congressional rule over Capitol Hill has pushed people to favor Democrats over Republicans by 15 percent. Also it has pushed for greater majorities to favor social programs and helping the less fortunate. In fact, except for blips around 1994 and 2002, the public has always favored Democrats over Republicans (which is why Democratic members of congress represent more people) yet for some reason the pundit class and the political news coverage has conspicuously favored Republicans over the past years. For example, when was the last time you've heard people on the teevee talk about helping poor people? Exactly, they were all about poor folks back when Katrina hit, but then they quickly switched to the Blame Ray Nagin game.

The pundit class can continue to try to convince the people to reject liberals and their ideas, but I think people think that since they pay taxes to their governments, they expect to see those taxes work for them, not to enrich the monied class.

March 27, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part X

New York Times:

BAGHDAD, March 27 — Attackers killed a prominent member of an Iraqi tribe that had taken a stand against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and in other violence today more than 53 people were killed in gunfire and bomb attacks.

Among the attacks were two suicide bombs in the northern city of Tal Afar and the murder of two elderly Chaldean nuns in Kirkuk.

Gunmen attacked a car carrying Harith Thahir Khamees al-Dari and fired a rocket-propelled grenade, killing him and wounding his driver, in Abu Ghraib, the authorities said.

“We accuse Al Qaeda,? said a relative of the family, Abu Abdullah. “The sheik has his stands against Al Qaeda, as Al Qaeda started targeting the innocent, civilians and children, police and army.?

In Kirkuk, residents walked in shocked silence in a funeral procession for two nuns, sisters, who had lived and worked in the city for many years.

Sister Margaret Saour, 80, and Sister Fadhila Saour, 71, were known in their neighborhood for their devotion to the church and to charitable works. On Monday, they attended evening prayers at the Chaldean cathedral, said one of the cathedral’s priests, Saoor Shamel.

Their last minutes were filled with terror. After midnight, gunmen entered the sister’s house, which is near the Kirkuk government building. They shot Margaret, who was blind, and then turned to Fadhila. Terrified, she tried to flee, but before she could cross the yard, the attackers stabbed her to death.

. . .In another attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt at a bus stop near a restaurant in Ramadi, west of Baghdad in Al Anbar province. At least 10 people were killed and 20 wounded, according to Col. Tariq Yusuf, the security supervisor in the city.

Reuters reported that at least 17 people were killed and 32 wounded in the attack, in an area frequented by the Iraqi police and where local tribes have joined the tribal alliance against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the insurgent group that claims ties to the Qaeda organization and has been associated with some of the most destructive attacks in Iraq.

Update:

BAGHDAD, March 28 (Reuters) - Gunmen stormed a Sunni district in the northwestern Iraqi town of Tal Afar overnight, killing dozens in apparent reprisal for truck bombings in a Shi'ite area, Iraqi officials said on Wednesday.

Police, military and health officials said as many as 50 men were killed in the attack on the Sunni district of al-Wahda in the volatile town, whose residents are a mixture of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen, near the Syrian border,

"I wish you can come and see all the bodies. They are lying in the grounds. We don't have enough space in the hospital. All of the victims were shot in the head," a doctor at the main hospital told Reuters by telephone.


March 25, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part IX

Looks like the Shiites have put up with enough of the unilateral disarment:

BAGHDAD, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed with gunmen in a town south of Baghdad on Sunday shortly after a Sunni mosque was set ablaze in an apparent revenge attack for the destruction of a Shi'ite mosque in the town a day earlier.

Gunmen stormed the Sunni mosque in Haswa, a religiously mixed town about 50 km (35 miles) south of the Iraqi capital, on Sunday morning and destroyed its minaret in a blast. The building was set on fire, a police official said.

They said at least four people were wounded. A second Sunni mosque was attacked but damage was reported to be minor.

A suicide truck bomber exploded outside a Shi'ite mosque in Haswa on Saturday, killing 14 and wounding 21, Hilla police said. The provincial health directorate and Baghdad police put the toll at 16. Only the mosque's minaret was left standing.

March 23, 2007

Eye-Rack Safer Than Chicago And Detroit?

Apparently, that is what the Republican Representative Tim Walberg from Michigan said just yesterday. Perhaps he won't mind telling the U.N. Secretary General that highly relevant fact:

BAGHDAD, March 22 — Like most of the bombs that insurgents launch into the heavily fortified Green Zone, the mortar shell that exploded in the crook of a tree on the compound’s eastern edge at 3:40 p.m. local time today caused some structural damage and no casualties. But this one carried a particularly resonant message about the continuing violence that plagues the capital.

It struck about 250 feet away from the riverside residence of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. At that moment, Mr. Maliki and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, were holding a news conference inside the residence to mark Mr. Ban’s first visit to Iraq. In another room were gathered many of Iraq’s top political officials.

. . .The deafening explosion startled the secretary general, who momentarily ducked his head as windows shattered outside and flecks of plaster drifted down from the ceiling. Mr. Maliki barely shifted.

Putz.

Can The Military Even Give Me The Correct Time?

Welp, the Pentagon is caught in yet another lie as they are forced to admit that more soldiers than previously reported have deserted the army:

A total of 3,196 active-duty soldiers deserted the Army last year, or 853 more than previously reported, according to revised figures from the Army.

The new calculations by the Army, which had about 500,000 active-duty troops at the end of 2006, significantly alter the annual desertion totals since the 2000 fiscal year.

In 2005, for example, the Army now says 2,543 soldiers deserted, not the 2,011 it had reported. For some earlier years, the desertion numbers were revised downward.

. . .Some Army officers link the recent uptick in annual desertion rates to the toll of wartime deployments and point to the increasing percentage of troops who are on their second or third tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But an Army spokeswoman, Maj. Anne Edgecomb, gave different reasons. Most soldiers desert because of personal, family or financial problems, Major Edgecomb said, adding, “We don’t have any facts to indicate that soldiers who desert now are doing so for reasons different from why soldiers deserted in the past.?

Lt. Col. Brian C. Hilferty, an Army spokesman, said the desertion data errors were caused by confusion among employees who tally them. “They were counting things wrong, and doing it inconsistently,? Colonel Hilferty said in an interview.

He added, “We are looking at the rise in desertions, but the numbers remain below prewar levels, and retention remains high. So the force is healthy."

Well at least we can be confident that remains below the levels reached during the VIetnam war, At least as it is now reported by the military.

March 20, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part VIII

Welp, at least they ran em outta Baghdad:

BAGHDAD, March 19 -- Dozens of insurgents wielding machine guns surrounded the police station before dawn Monday in Duluiyah, a majority Sunni town about 45 miles north of Baghdad. The five officers on duty walked out, hands to the dark sky, and waited to be executed.

But instead of firing, the insurgents' leader spoke: Repent, he commanded, or die.

"So we swore to quit the police and support the Islamic State of Iraq," recalled Mohammad Hashmawi, one of the police officers, referring to a militant Sunni organization active in many parts of the country.

Apparently content, the insurgents stole the officers' decrepit weapons and the station's communications equipment, blew up the building and released the officers. A similar scene played out simultaneously at another police station in the town, said police Capt. Hussein al-Jaburi. It was the fifth police station in the town to be destroyed by Sunni extremists in two weeks, he said, leaving just three standing.

Later, Hashmawi said he would keep his vow. "I have seen death with my own eyes, and I don't want to see it again. I will return to being a farmer. I tell you that the decisions and control of the city are in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq."

March 19, 2007

Eye-Rack: The Fourth Year

And whatta cakewalk it was!

New Poll: Life Is Hell, Yanqis Drop Dead

Not a lot to say about this ABC/BBC/ARD poll, I'll just let the pictures do the talking:

iraqpoll1.JPG

iraqpoll2.JPG

March 14, 2007

A Tales of Two Surges™

The AP and Reuters offer two different views on how effective the surge has been in the past month. The AP gives a pretty glowing version:

BAGHDAD - Bomb deaths have gone down 30 percent in Baghdad since the U.S.-led security crackdown began a month ago. Execution-style slayings are down by nearly half.

The once frequent sound of weapons has been reduced to episodic, and downtown shoppers have returned to outdoor markets — favored targets of car bombers.

There are signs of progress in the campaign to restore order in Iraq, starting with its capital city.

But while many Iraqis are encouraged, they remain skeptical how long the relative calm will last. Each bombing renews fears that the horror is returning. Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents are still around, perhaps just lying low or hiding outside the city until the operation is over.

U.S. military officials, burned before by overly optimistic forecasts, have been cautious about declaring the operation a success. Another reason it seems premature: only two of the five U.S. brigades earmarked for the mission are in the streets, and the full complement of American reinforcements is not due until late May.

U.S. officials say that key to the operation’s long-term success is the willingness of Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic political parties to strike a power- and money-sharing deal. That remains elusive — a proposal for governing the country’s main source of income — oil — is bogged down in parliamentary squabbling.

Promising signs
Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs. Gone are the “illegal checkpoints,? where Shiite and Sunni gunmen stopped cars and hauled away members of the rival sect — often to a gruesome torture and death.

The rattle of automatic weapons fire or the rumble of distant roadside bombs comes less frequently. Traffic is beginning to return to the city’s once-vacant streets.

“People are very optimistic because they sense a development. The level of sectarian violence in streets and areas has decreased,? said a 50-year-old Shiite, who gave his name only as Abu Abbas, or “father of Abbas.? “The activities of the militias have also decreased. The car bombs and the suicide attacks are the only things left, while other kinds of violence have decreased.?

In the months before the security operation began Feb. 14, police were finding dozens of bodies each day in the capital — victims of Sunni and Shiite death squads. Last December, more than 200 bodies were found each week — with the figure spiking above 300 in some weeks, according to police reports compiled by The Associated Press.

Since the crackdown began, weekly totals have dropped to about 80 — hardly an acceptable figure but clearly a sign that death squads are no longer as active as they were in the final months of last year.

Bombings too have decreased in the city, presumably due to U.S. and Iraqi success in finding weapons caches and to more government checkpoints in the streets that make it tougher to deliver the bombs.

In the 27 days leading up to the operation, 528 people were killed in bombings around the capital, according to AP figures. In the first 27 days of the operation, the bombing death toll stood at 370 — a drop of about 30 percent.

Reuters, however, elected to go with a more tempered and sobering version of events:

Car bombs in Baghdad, at a record high in February, remain a serious concern despite a month-old U.S.-backed crackdown, a U.S. general said in a more sober assessment than one given by Iraqi officials on Wednesday.

Major General William Caldwell said murders and executions in the capital since the Baghdad security plan began on February 14 had been halved but that "sensational" car bombs blamed on al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab militants had spiked in February.

"We reached an all-time high there in February," Caldwell told a news conference, without providing a figure. He said U.S. and Iraqi troops were investing a "tremendous amount of effort" in finding car bomb factories in the Baghdad beltway.

While Caldwell said there had been a "positive" reduction of overall murders and executions since the plan got under way, he warned of a slight "uptick" of violence in the last seven days.

"We are concerned about any levels of violence that indicate an increase versus a decrease ... We are watching it very carefully," he said, adding it would take months before the plan makes a big difference in easing violence that has pushed Iraq to the brink of all-out sectarian war.

"The Iraqis have really shown restraint. They are not taking retribution," he said, referring to retaliatory sectarian violence that in the past has followed car bomb attacks.

But an Iraqi Sunni militant group said on Wednesday it had captured an Iraqi brigadier general and posted copies of Ministry of Defense credentials that identified him as a deputy director but did not describe him as an officer.

Ansar al-Sunna has claimed several abductions and killings since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Earlier, Iraqi military officials offered a less cautious report than Caldwell's, saying civilian deaths and car bombs had fallen sharply in the first 30 days of the plan.

Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier Qassim Moussawi said the number of Iraqis killed by violence in Baghdad between February 14 and March 14 had fallen to 265 from 1,440 and that the number of car bombs was down to 36 from 56.

So one article says bombings have decreased, while the other say it is at an all-time high, what gives? In any case, the Reuters article is correct in noting how changes in troop concentration in any part of the country brings a predictable lull in violence while insurgents and death squads adapt and change their tactics. The Shiite death squads have until now decided to cooperate, but as the last post show, their patience has ended.

March 13, 2007

Shiites To Surge™: Times Up.

While the Bushies and some in the wire media has been singing hosannas about the success of the Surge™. they keep forgetting that it is only because the Shiites have been willfully cooperating, and have since engaged in a lopsided unilateral disarment against the Sunni militants. Now after suffering a series of spectacular attacks, they are now demanding that they take matters into their own hands:

BAGHDAD — Hundreds of Shiite Muslims, beating their chests in mourning, accompanied 17 coffins through Baghdad's main Shiite district Monday, demanding that militiamen be allowed to protect them after a wave of attacks on pilgrims.

"Despite the heavy security presence in Baghdad, we are seeing the terror and bombings escalate and more innocents being killed," said a man who identified himself by a traditional nickname, Abu Fatima Sadi. "When the Al Mahdi army was providing protection, there were no violations."

This year, the Al Mahdi militia, led by radical anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr, held back from protecting millions of Shiite pilgrims making their way to the holy city of Karbala for weekend religious rites. The move came after intense pressure by the Shiite-led government to give a U.S.-Iraqi security plan a chance to succeed.

Attacks against Iraq's Shiite majority, however, have persisted despite the month-old crackdown, intended to clear the capital of sectarian fighters and anti-U.S. insurgents.

. . .More than 220 people were killed in the last week as Sunni Arab militants unleashed suicide bombers and gunfire on the Shiite pilgrims who converged in Karbala to mark the death of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

Iraqi officials have reported a modest drop in recent weeks in the number of execution-style killings, which are considered to be a signature of the Al Mahdi militia.

Police recovered 11 bodies in Baghdad on Monday. Before the security plan was launched Feb. 13, the number often exceeded 30 a day.

But bomb blasts, mortar fire and other attacks have persisted, and at least 13 Iraqis were reported killed and dozens injured Monday. The U.S. military also announced the deaths of three U.S. personnel the previous day.

Some of the Shiite mourners at Monday's funeral complained that the decision to rein in the militiamen left them exposed to Sunni militants intent on reigniting sectarian fighting.

"This plan is not effective and has no results to show so far," said a man who gave his name as Abu Zahara Ghrayji. "You can see the evidence of the increasing bombings and terror every day."

He demanded that police work with the militiamen to protect Shiites at major gatherings.

Now we'll see how the Surge™ will work.

Moral Laughingstocks

60 Minutes did a segment on Sunday on how the Bushies have turned their backs on Iraqi refugees, refusing to resettle them here even after they left their country to ruins. The reasoning behind it, according to a weasel-faced State Department official, is that they are circumspect of potential security risks, meaning that those Eye-Rackees may be terra-ists.

You know what? We, this country, do not deserve that sort of caution or the comfort that comes along with it. We invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 under completely false pretenses, failed in our attempt at social engineering and has left a power vacuum that has since been filled with chaos. If the world hates us now, wait until they have to absorb the 2 million Iraqi refugees because we are unwilling to clean or atone for our own messes. From then on we shalll surely be the moral laughingstocks among the nations.

"Curveball" Revealed

curveball.jpg

I guess with the Eye-Rack war in shambles, the media decided it was time to start naming names:

The Iraqi defector known as Curveball, whose fabricated stories of "mobile biological weapons labs" helped lead the U.S. to war four years ago, is still being protected by the German intelligence service, an ABC News investigation has found.

Intelligence sources, who provided ABCNews.com with the first known photo of the man, say he has been resettled in a small town near the Munich headquarters of the German service, which has continued to honor its original commitment made when he fled Iraq in 1999.

. . .Behind the scenes at the CIA, however, a former senior official says he was trying to keep the Curveball information out of the Powell speech.

"People died because of this," said Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of European operations at the CIA, who has written about it a new book, "On the Brink." "All off this one little guy who all he wanted to do was stay in Germany."

. . .The CIA has since issued an official "burn notice" formally retracting more than 100 intelligence reports based on his information.

March 12, 2007

Salvador Option II

Apparenlty the monkey president does have a backup plan if his Surge™ doesn't get the results:

American military planners have begun plotting a fallback strategy for Iraq that includes a gradual withdrawal of forces and a renewed emphasis on training Iraqi fighters in case the current troop buildup fails or is derailed by Congress.

Such a strategy, based in part on the U.S. experience in El Salvador in the 1980s, is still in the early planning stages and would be adjusted to fit the outcome of the current surge in troop levels, according to military officials and Pentagon consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing future plans.

But a drawdown of forces would be in line with comments to Congress by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates last month that if the "surge" fails, the backup plan would include moving troops "out of harm's way." Such a plan also would be close to recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, of which Gates was a member before his appointment as Defense Department chief.

A strategy following the El Salvador model would be a dramatic break from President Bush's current policy of committing large numbers of U.S. troops to aggressive counterinsurgency tactics, but it has influential backers within the Pentagon.

"This part of the world has an allergy against foreign presence," said a senior Pentagon official, adding that chances of success with a large U.S. force may be diminishing. "You have a window of opportunity that is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large U.S. force eventually gets to the point that it is self-defeating."

Ah, but you see, there are still those pesky little drawbacks of repeating the support of government backed death squads:

Years after, the U.S. role in El Salvador remains controversial. Some academics have argued that the U.S. military turned a blind eye to government-backed death squads, or even aided them. But former advisors and military historians argue that the U.S. gradually professionalized the Salvadoran army and curbed the government's abuses.

El Salvador veterans and experts have been pushing for the model it provides of a smaller, less visible U.S. advisory presence.

Yeah, those advisors and military historians can tell that tale to Oscar Romero.

The Army IS Deliberately Holding Down Disability Ratings To Keep Down Costs

As a corollory to Sunday's article about how the military is forcing wounded vets to serve in Eye-Rack, the Army Times has put out a "he said, she said" sounding article in which the facts tell you all we need to know: in 2001 642 soldiers were approved for disability retirement. Now in the midst of wars that has claimed thousands of wounded, only 209 were approved of the same benefits in 2005.

March 11, 2007

Are Our Borders Secure?

Not to distract from the main point of the story of Iraqis fleeing the chaos caused by our invasion to this country, but the first few paragraphs gave me pause:

Assad’s desperate flight from Iraq began on foot.

For days, he trekked from Iraq to Turkey and from Turkey to Greece. He slipped through remote rural villages and crossed a river’s rushing waters to escape the violence that had left his cousin dead and his father in hiding.

Finally, after paying smugglers to get him on flights to Spain, Brazil, Guatemala and Mexico, he joined the crush of Spanish-speaking migrants on a bus ride to America’s doorstep.

Fortunately, Assad immediately went to the border patrols and asked for asylum. But still, how easy could it be for Al Qaeda terrorists to slip through our borders like that?

How's That Surge Coming Along: Part VII

. . .

Bombs killed 29 people in Baghdad on Sunday, one day after Iraq signaled that world powers and neighboring countries had agreed it was vital to all to stop sectarian violence spreading in the region.

A car bomb targeting a truck transporting Shi'ite pilgrims killed 19 people in central Baghdad, police said. The blast in the predominantly Shi'ite district of Karrada wounded 20 people.

The pilgrims were returning from the holy city of Kerbala, south of Baghdad, where millions gathered over the weekend for the Arbain ritual despite attacks by suspected Sunni Arab insurgents that have killed scores and raised communal tensions.

In eastern Baghdad, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a minibus, killing 10 people and wounding eight, police said. The blast ripped the minibus apart in an area of northeastern Baghdad near the Shi'ite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

March 08, 2007

Drawing Blood From Stones

The Center for American Progress has a new report out that states that seventy-two percent of Army divisions have been deployed to Eye-Rack or Afghanistan more than once. In total, 420,000 out of 1.4 million military personnel have been deployed to Eye-Rack/Afghanistan more than once. People like to pretend they can keep this up, but with the equipment shortages, the lack of training, and the strain being put on military families, they are just dreaming.

March 07, 2007

60,000 Marriages Broken By The Eye-Rack War

So much for the "protecting the sanctity of marriage" bullcrap we keep hearing from these right wing snakes:

We hadn't talked about the possibility of him being deployed for months, not since President Bush had declared, "Mission accomplished." But I knew exactly what he meant; I didn't know then what it would mean for us.

We weren't prepared, and neither was the Guard. The Guard sent him into harm's way without providing some of the basic equipment and materials, such as global positioning systems, night vision gear, and insect repellant, that he would rely on during his year-long tour of duty at LSA Anaconda, the most-attacked base in Iraq, as determined by the sheer number of incoming rockets and mortars, which averaged at least five per day.

Unlike active duty military, the National Guard had no functional family support system or services in place. While the Guard was scrambling to get it together, my husband was already gone, and I was alone, just months after we had moved to Seattle.

. . .The escalation contradicts the advice of top U.S. military officials. Although the majority of Americans are opposed to the "surge," most members of Congress are reluctant to block the supplemental appropriations request that will fund it, claiming that they don't want to abandon the troops. Congress has abandoned the troops for nearly four years. It is the soldiers, their families, and the people of Iraq that pay the human costs. The tab so far: more than 3,000 dead U.S. troops, tens of thousands of wounded, over half a million Iraqi casualties, roughly 250,000 American servicemen and women struggling with PTSD, and almost 60,000 military marriages that have been broken by this war. Including mine.

And how do these flaghuggers respond to the fact that this war is tearing military families apart? By telling a good joke about it at their expense:

At a conference on post-deployment care and services for soldiers and their families, a Marine Corps chaplain asked, "How do you know if you're an SOB? Your wife will tell you!"

Har-de-har-har-har. The remark got the predictable round of applause from the capacity crowd, which, with one exception, wasn't living with anyone who had recently returned from Iraq. I was that exception, and it infuriated me that this was a joke. The Pentagon's solution for the constant stress endured by those of us who felt bewildered and betrayed was: "Learn how to laugh." With help from the Pentagon's chief laughter instructor, families of National Guard members were learning to walk like a penguin, laugh like a lion, and blurt "ha, ha, hee, hee, and ho, ho."

Hoooo, mercy. There has to be a special place in hell reserved for these assclowns.

Surge Not Even Enough

So sez the Army:

Ground commanders in Iraq are calling for 7,000 additional reinforcements for the ongoing buildup of 21,500 U.S. troops in Iraq, but none will be Marines, the Corps said Monday.

“The Marine Corps contribution to the surge in Iraq remains the same, two infantry battalions and a Marine expeditionary unit, at approximately 4,000 Marines,? said Corps spokesman Capt. Jay Delarosa.

Defense officials announced late last week the plans to send the 7,000 troops as support for the additional troops President Bush called up in January. The move involves significantly fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office’s recent assessment that 27,000 troops would be needed for support, but goes against earlier promises made by Pentagon officials that additional support troops would not be needed for the buildup.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England told a Senate panel last week that commanders on the ground in Iraq have asked for 6,000 to 7,000 additional support troops.

“It is a war going on,? England told the Senate Budget Committee at the March 1 hearing. “Things are going to happen, and people are going to request troops.?

At this point, even half a million won't be enough to contain the clusterfuck.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part VI

Now that's a surge:

MOSUL, Iraq, March 6 (Reuters) - Dozens of gunmen stormed an Iraqi jail in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and freed up to 140 prisoners in one of the biggest prison breaks since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, police said.

Militants attacked Mosul's northwestern Badoush prison just after sunset
in the ethnically mixed city and overwhelmed police, who were forced to
call the U.S. military for backup.

Most of the prisoners were believed to be insurgents, police said.

It was unclear if there were any clashes between gunmen and police during
the incident.

Saddam Hussein's nephew, Ayham Sabawi, escaped the same prison in
December after he was accused of financing the Sunni insurgency against
U.S. forces and the Shi'ite-led government.


March 06, 2007

Iraqnam, Part III

Looks like Bruce Springsteen will have to write another song to describe this farce of a travesty:

From Serving in Iraq To Living on the Streets; Homeless Vet Numbers Expected to Grow

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 5, 2007; Page B01

It was a bad week for Aaron Chesley. He talked back to the staff at a Baltimore homeless shelter, got into an argument with a fellow veteran and missed an appointment for his post-traumatic stress disorder counseling session. "Are you still watching the news?" his counselor, Anthony Holmes, asked.

Maybe that's what had set Chesley off. He had been showing progress since he came to the program last fall. But television footage from the war could cast him back in Iraq in an instant, back to fingering the trigger of his machine gun, scanning the horizon for insurgents. And Holmes knew it wouldn't take much for Chesley to land back on the streets. "No. If the news is on, I turn my back," Chesley said.

In a homeless shelter filled with Vietnam War veterans, Chesley, 26, a former Catonsville High School honors student who joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2000 to help pay for college, was the only one in the facility who fought in the country's latest conflict. But across the nation, veterans of recent combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowly starting to trickle into shelters, officials say.

The number of homeless veterans from recent wars is hard to gauge. From 2004 to 2006, the Department of Veterans Affairs provided shelter to 300 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan tours, out of the tens of thousands who have served.

That figure "is not even close to accurate," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, because it doesn't include the "others sleeping in buses, their cars or on the streets."

In New York City alone, he said his organization has helped 60 homeless veterans since 2004.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part V

Yep, things are going swimmingly over there:

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Tuesday in a crowd of Shiite pilgrims streaming toward the holy city of Karbala, killing up to 90 people in one of several attacks targeting the faithful ahead of a weekend holiday.

. . .The coordinated attack Tuesday happened on a main street in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Capt. Muthana Khalid. He said up to 90 people were killed and more than 150 wounded.

An Associated Press cameraman at the scene said the bombers struck a crowd of pilgrims filing into a pedestrian area. Ambulances and Iraqi police were swarming the area and there was no immediate sign of U.S. forces.


How's That Surge Coming Along? Part IV

A two-parter; this:

A suicide car bomber turned a venerable book market into a deadly inferno and gunmen targeted Shiite pilgrims Monday as suspected Sunni insurgents brought major bloodshed back into the lap of their main Shiite rivals. At least 38 people died in the blast and seven pilgrims were killed.

The violence - after a relative three-day lull in Baghdad - was seen as another salvo in the Sunni extremist campaign to provoke a sectarian civil war that could tear apart the Shiite-led government and erase Washington's plans for Iraq.

And this:

The American military command in Iraq reported today that nine American servicemen were killed in two blasts north of Baghdad on Monday, making it the deadliest day in weeks for U.S. troops.

Six soldiers were killed and three others wounded by a blast that struck near their vehicles during combat in Salahaddin Province, the vast Sunni area that stretches north from the capital through Samarra and Saddam Hussein’s hometown Tikrit to northern Iraq.

Another bomb attack killed three soldiers conducting combat operations in Diyala Province, the restive area northeast of Baghdad where Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias fight daily for control of the large city of Baquba and the fertile region around it.

Also, at least 10 Shiite pilgrims were killed today as they trekked from Baghdad to the holy city of Karbala south of the capital to mark a Shiite holy day.

March 03, 2007

"Support Yer Troops" Ribbons No Longer In Demand

It's about time:

For three years after the invasion of Iraq, it was difficult to drive more than a few miles through middle America without seeing a car displaying a magnetic yellow ribbon.

The magnets, bearing the slogan “Support Our Troops?, became a symbol of patriotism for millions of US motorists.

But as support for the war fades, demand for yellow ribbons has collapsed.

Magnet America, the largest manufacturer of the product, has seen sales fall from a peak of 1.2m in August 2004 to about 4,000 a month and now has an unsold stockpile of about 1m magnets.

“We have enough supplies to meet demand for years to come,? said Micah Pattisall, director of operations. “Every product has a lifespan and this one has run its course.?

. . .At its peak, the North Carolina-based company employed 180 people to handle sales, marketing and distribution. Today, it employs 11 people.

If it was really about supporting our troops and not using them to support Bush's policy, they'd still be selling faster than war bonds.

March 02, 2007

Baghdad In The Dark For Six More Years

Or somewhere "in or around that area". Good thing WorstPresidentEver will be kicking back in Crawford by then, am I right?

Getting full-time electric power turned on in Baghdad, a key wartime goal toward which the United States has spent $4.2 billion dollars, won't be accomplished until the year 2013, U.S. officials said yesterday, in what others called a significant setback for the new U.S. initiatives to quell Iraq's bloody insurgency. Power outages in the Iraqi capital are frequent, leaving residents without electricity for an average of 17 or 18 hours a day. For most residents without personal generators, that means not just no lights but dead radios and televisions, heaters, washing machines and water pumps.

Army Brig. Gen. Michael J. Walsh, the senior U.S. military officer overseeing reconstruction efforts, told reporters yesterday via video teleconference that the Iraq government plans to increase power generation "to catch up with demand" for electric power by 2013, "somewhere in around that area."

. . .Electricity generation in Iraq today is slightly below prewar levels. According to U.S. State Department data, Iraq was producing 3,958 megawatts per month before March 2003, and as of mid-February, production was running at 3,640 megawatts. Baghdad enjoyed 16 to 24 average hours of power per day, and enjoyed an average of 6.7 hours per day in December, 4.4 hours average per day in January, and 5.9 hours so far in February.

The article also says that the counter-insurgency handbook written by new head General David Petraeus doesn't emphasize enough how important providing electricity is to winning hearts and mind. The handbook also recommends 140,000 120,000 troops for Baghdad alone, a number that even Bush's surge won't even be close to meeting for that mission, so what does that tell you?

March 01, 2007

Running Our National Guard Into The Ground

Would Bush Junior still play fighter pilot in today's National Guard?

Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.

The report found that heavy deployments of the National Guard and reserves since 2001 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorism missions have deepened shortages, forced the cobbling together of units and hurt recruiting.

"We can't sustain the [National Guard and reserves] on the course we're on," said Arnold L. Punaro, chairman of the 13-member Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, established by Congress in 2005. The independent commission, made up mainly of former senior military and civilian officials appointed by both parties, is tasked to study the mission, readiness and compensation of the reserve forces.

"The Department of Defense is not adequately equipping the National Guard for its domestic missions," the commission's report found. It faulted the Pentagon for a lack of budgeting for "civil support" in domestic emergencies, criticizing the "flawed assumption" that as long as the military is prepared to fight a major war, it is ready to respond to a disaster or emergency at home.

From Virginia and the District of Columbia to Indiana and New Mexico, National Guard units lack thousands of trucks, Humvees, generators, radios, night-vision goggles and other gear that would be critical for responding to a major disaster, terrorist attack or other domestic emergency, according to state Guard officials.

The equipment shortage extends to Gulf Coast states such as Louisiana and Mississippi -- devastated in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina -- where Guard units have only a fraction of what they would need to respond to another large-scale disaster.

The Louisiana Guard, its gear depleted by Iraq and Katrina, is short of Humvees and trucks such as high-water vehicles critical for a major evacuation. "We are really concerned about vehicles," said Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a spokesman for the Louisiana Guard. "We would have enough for a small-scale issue . . . maybe a Category 1 tropical storm we could handle -- an event that doesn't involve massive flooding or massive search and rescue," he said. But for bigger disasters, Louisiana would need help from other states.

Update: Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report reminds us of one of Bush's more famous lies during the 2000 campaign:

Of all of Bush’s misstatements from the 2000 presidential election, one of the most obviously-false attacks was on military readiness. Indeed, then-Gov. Bush blamed Clinton and Gore directly for “hollowing out? the military. “If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, ‘Not ready for duty, sir.’? BC00 campaign aides later acknowledged it was a bogus charge, but that didn’t stop Bush from repeating it.

That wasn't a misstatement. It was a promise.

"I F**cked Up, I Trusted Me"

Kevin Drum points us to another mea culpa by a former war supporter, i.e. warblogger. Sure, some of us bleeding heart types might be inclined to forgive him, The Grand Moff Texan has been so embittered by the devastation and carnage caused by such blinding imperialist arrogance to give these pant-pissing mushheads any kind of pass. His cynical takedown of that apology is pretty long, but this comment struck me as the ultimate truth in this so-called Clash of Civilizations:

You were alienated from the people who maintained the same standards of civilization that you pretend to be defending. You were dragged along by the same kind of religious zealots and ideological absolutists you see as a threat, but only when they're Muslims.

You think you are confronting a fundamentalist threat from outside your civilization, but I've been confronted with a fundamentalist threat inside my civilization since I was born. That's why I know better than to fear the former and serve the latter.

Our fundamentalists differ from their fundamentalists only in that ours have killed more people.

Indeed.

February 27, 2007

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part III

Linky:

BAGHDAD – A car bomb exploded today near a park popular with young soccer players, killing at least 18 boys in a city west of Baghdad known as a centre of the Sunni insurgency, police said.

The attack occurred just three days after more than 50 people were killed outside a mosque in a nearby village where the imam had spoken out against the group "Al Qaeda in Iraq." pointing to an increasingly bloody attempts to silence its opponents.

But the deaths of the boys, aged 10 to 15, left authorities grasping for a possible motive.

The bomb-rigged car blew apart late this afternoon while the boys were playing in central Ramadi, about 112 kilometres west of Baghdad. Both local police and state television said 18 boys died.

Whack-a-mole anyone?

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part II

Apparently, not so well:

Nearly two weeks into the newest Baghdad security plan, the daily count of murder victims dumped on the city's streets has declined significantly, a likely sign that Shiite Muslim militia groups aligned with the Iraqi government have reined in their members or sent them out of the capital.

But deaths from bombings and mortar attacks, after an initial decline, have returned to the levels of the previous two months, suggesting that the plan's initial measures have had little impact on the Sunni insurgent groups believed to be responsible for most of that violence.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have released only limited information about what steps they've taken to secure the city since the plan's official kickoff on Feb. 15. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told President Bush last week that the plan, dubbed Operation Enforcing the Law, so far had been a "dazzling success." U.S. officials have been more cautious, saying that it may be months before the plan can be labeled a success or a failure.

Statistics compiled from official daily reports of the Interior Ministry and other Iraqi government sources, as well as interviews in 20 Baghdad neighborhoods about the plan's initial measures, however, show that some early judgments are possible about the plan's effectiveness. With most members of Congress expressing skepticism about the plan's prospects for success, such information could prove useful in the debate over Bush's plan to commit a total of 17,500 additional troops to the plan in the coming months.

From Dec. 1, 2006, through Feb. 14, the number of people killed in public places from violent attacks averaged 14.8 a day. From Feb. 15 through Monday, the number declined, but just barely, to 13.8. Car bombs were up slightly, from an average of 1.2 a day to 1.6, while roadside bombs were identical at 1 per day.

Injuries, on average, rose from 40.4 a day to 52.8 since the start of the plan, while bodies dumped by death squads declined from 22.8 a day to 14.6.

The increase in car bombs is particularly troubling. Members of Shiite militias often have cited Sunni car bombings as the driving force for their activities, which include targeting Sunnis for kidnapping and execution. On Sunday, the government announced new measures to stop car bombs, including prohibitions against parking or standing along major streets.

But American officials say such steps could force insurgents to turn to suicide bombers on foot, as they did on Sunday when a woman detonated herself at the predominately Shiite Mustansiriya University, killing nearly 50 people.

The Shiite militias have held back because they've decided to see what the Americans can do with their surge. Now their patience is running short. That is what happens when you have a monkey president appoint a general who doesn't even follow his own advice.

Running The Army Into The Ground

How much longer can this continue?

Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's special training range in California.

They are now making preparations to leave their home bases.

Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question whether that decision means the Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat.

The desert training was designed specially to prepare soldiers for the challenges of Iraq.

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours.

Continue reading "Running The Army Into The Ground" »

February 26, 2007

Condi Beating The Dead Godwin Horse

Secretary of State Rice once again disgraces her office by implying that critics of the Bush administration's failed war in Eye-Rack are somehow Nazi appeasers or something, I can't quite make out what she's saying.

But still, she wishes it was WWII, because this war would be over by now.

How's That Surge Coming Along? Part I

*Sigh*

BAGHDAD, Feb 26 (Reuters) - A blast at an Iraqi ministry during a ceremony attended by Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi killed six people on Monday but the vice president was unhurt, a ministry employee and police said.

Police said six people had been killed and 31 wounded. The employee said he had seen four dead bodies.

Two police sources said the blast happened inside a hall at the time Abdul-Mahdi, a Shi'ite leader, was at the Public Works Ministry building.

February 25, 2007

Another Painted School

Whatta surge:

A suicide bomber killed at least 41 people and wounded another 46 outside a university in northeast Baghdad on Sunday.

Iraq's interior ministry said the bomber was wearing a vest packed with explosives.

He detonated the bomb when guards stopped him near the entrance to the business studies school, which is part of Mustansiriyah University, police said.

February 24, 2007

The Dagger Is Already Whetted

Glenn Greenwald is showing appropriate consternation at the biased and unflattering media narrative being perpetrated agains the congressional Democrats who want to end the war. As he says, it's just maddening how the majority of the country, including majorities of the Democrats and independents, favor bringing the troops home as soon as possible, but they are still marginalized by the mainstream media as the "anti-war left".

But that is exactly why it will be counterproductive in the long run to put an end to this war on our own terms. According to this nation's dolchstosslegende, it is the dirty fucking hippie liberals in Congress who prevented us from enjoying glorious, glorious victory over the gooks in Vietnam, and if the Democrats attempt to do the "right thing" and nip this disaster in the bud, they will be blamed for denying this country glorious, glorious victory over the sand niggers. Then at some future date, some jumped-up johnny nationalistic politician will convince us, again, that we can dominate completely some third world country for some bullshit reason, and even more of our soldiers and even more innocent civilians will be slaughtered. The political reporters have already put the bullet in the chamber and are ready to squeeze once we submit to our better angels. Since it is obvious that the elite political class prefers the war to continue unabated, we should give them what they want and all the consequences that follows.

February 22, 2007

The Broken Army

Maybe they can just share the firearms:

The Pentagon is planning to send more than 14,000 National Guard troops back to Iraq next year, shortening their time between deployments to meet the demands of President Bush’s buildup, Defense Department officials said Wednesday.

. . .“We’re behind the power curve, and we can’t piddle around,? Maj. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, commander of the Oklahoma National Guard, said in an interview. He added that one-third of his soldiers lacked the M-4 rifles preferred by active-duty soldiers and that there were also shortfalls in night vision goggles and other equipment. If his unit is going to be sent to Iraq next year, he said, “We expect the Army to resource the Guard at the same level as active-duty units.?

. . .Capt. Christopher Heathscott, a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard, said the state’s 39th Brigade Combat Team was 600 rifles short for its 3,500 soldiers and also lacked its full arsenal of mortars and howitzers.

Oh yeah, I forgot: ARMY STRAWNG!

Soldier Found Guilty Of Rape-Murder of Iraqi Girl, Anna Nicole Is Still Dead

If only this type of news was on the air twenty-four/seven:

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A U.S. soldier was sentenced to 100 years in prison Thursday for the gang rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family last year.

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, 24, of Barstow, Calif., was also given a dishonorable discharge. He will be eligible for parole in 10 years under the terms of the plea agreement.

The military judge hearing the case, Col. Stephen R. Henley, issued a sentence of life in prison without parole, the maximum for the charges. Under military law, the defendant is given the lesser sentence unless he violates terms of the plea agreement.

Earlier Thursday, tears rolled down Cortez's face as he apologized for the rape and murders. He said he could not explain why he took part.

"I still don't have an answer," Cortez told the judge. "I don't know why. I wish I hadn't. The lives of four innocent people were taken. I want to apologize for all of the pain and suffering I have caused the al-Janabi family."

Kinda puts this story in a more troubling perspective, doesn't it?

"We Must Fight Them Over There. . ."

Mother Jones has a major new issue out where they examine the Eye-Rack war, it's factions and it's effects. If there's one thing anyone should take out of it, it is that the Eye-Rack war did nothing about worldwide terrorism. In fact, if anything, it only made it much, much worse.

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Of course, Eye-Rack and Afghanistan are both jihadistans of terrorism, a militant's practice ground for waging war on crusaders, Jews and apostates, so they don't count. The rest of the world, however, still experienced a 35 percent rise in attacks and a 12 percent rise in fatalities from those attacks.

If that weren't enough, it turns out the Bushies are lying about their effectiveness in waging their waronterra (PDF):

Nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics reported by the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI from the September 11 attacks until early 2005 had some inaccuracies, the department's inspector general said on Tuesday.

. . .The report found that only two out of 26 statistics were accurate after reviewing the number of terrorism convictions in the 2003 and 2004 financial years, the number of convictions or guilty pleas from September 11, 2001, through February 3, 2005, and the number of terrorist threats tracked by the FBI in 2003 and 2004.

"We found many cases involving offenses such as immigration violations, marriage fraud, or drug trafficking where department officials provided no evidence to link the subject of the case to terrorist activity," the report said.

Keeping us safe from terra-ists? Hell, they can't even tell the goddamn truth about it.

February 18, 2007

Putting The Cart Before The Horse

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Friday:

Maliki Hails Lull in Violence; Iraq Security Plan Showing 'Fabulous Success,' Bush Is Told

BAGHDAD, Feb. 16 -- The relative lull in violence is a promising sign that the Baghdad security plan is off to a good start, the Iraqi prime minister said yesterday, while a top U.S. military official cautioned that it might be a temporary letup as militant organizations assess the new measures and gear up to fight back.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured President Bush that the three-day-old plan "has achieved fabulous success," according to an account of the conversation released by the prime minister's office. Speaking by secure video link-up, Maliki also told Bush that officials will be "firm in dealing with any side that breaks the law, regardless" of their sect.

Sunday:

Car Bombs Kill 60 at Market in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Monday, Feb. 19 — Two days after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called the opening steps of the security crackdown here a “dazzling success,? two car bombs tore through a crowded market on Sunday and killed at least 60 people.

The attack occurred only minutes after American soldiers passed through the area on patrol, underscoring the difficult nature of trying to quell violence on Baghdad’s streets, where car bombs have been an almost daily occurrence and suicide attacks directed at civilians so common that many of the markets have been closed to vehicle traffic in recent days.

The blasts on Sunday occurred in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, devastating an open-air market, setting dozens of cars ablaze and causing the partial collapse of a two-story building that housed several electronics stores.

The street was littered with charred televisions, satellite dishes and small generators. Shattered blue tiles and glass and blood were trampled as the survivors of the attack tried to rush more than 131 wounded people to the hospital. They wrapped the dead in rugs and blankets and whatever else they could find.

The explosions occurred within seconds of each other, according to witnesses, and were likely detonated in cars already parked in the area, according to Iraqi officials.

BTW, didn't anyone recognize that the acronym for the new Baghdad escalation, Operation Imposing Law, spells "OIL"?

February 14, 2007

And It Begins

Vietnamese and Somali refugees will have nothing on the number of Iraqis settling here:

Moving to address the flood of refugees fleeing war-torn Iraq, the Bush administration and the United Nations have developed a plan that would bring several thousand of them to the United States over the next 10 months, officials familiar with discussions of the plan say.

Under the plan, which is expected to be formally unveiled this week, the United Nations began its first large-scale screening this month of Iraqis who have fled to Syria and Jordan since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It hopes to register 135,000 to 200,000 of them to determine which Iraqis have fled persecution at home and would be eligible for refugee status.

The United Nations expects 13,000 to 20,000 Iraqis to be deemed eligible for resettlement abroad. The United States hopes to resettle at least 5,000 of that group this year, with the first arriving in late spring or summer. United Nations and Bush administration officials emphasize that those figures may change if conditions change in Iraq and neighboring countries.

Advocates for the refugees welcomed the plan but said too few people would be helped.

Like I said before, all you anti-Muslim bigots who wanted this war because you hate A-rabs, swallow your damn pride and learn to live with your mistakes.

February 13, 2007

Welcome To The Police State

But at least it's OUR police state:

The Iraqi government on Tuesday ordered tens of thousands of Baghdad residents to leave homes they are occupying illegally, in a surprising and highly challenging effort to reverse the tide of sectarian cleansing that has left the capital bloodied and Balkanized.

In a televised speech, Lt. Gen. Aboud Qanbar, who is leading the new crackdown, also announced the closing of Iraq’s borders with Iran and Syria, an extension of the curfew in Baghdad by an hour, and the setup of new checkpoints run by the Defense and Interior Ministries, both of which General Qanbar said he now controlled.

He said the government would break into homes and cars it deemed dangerous, open mail and eavesdrop on phone calls.

. . .Samantha Power, a public policy professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government who has written widely on genocide, described the plan as either a public relations ploy that would never be enforced, or worse, a prelude to more sectarian cleansing and catastrophe.

“To do this in the middle of a war when tempers have been inflamed and militarization is ubiquitous seems to be putting the cart before the horse,? she said. “You haven’t stopped the willingness to ethnically cleanse, but you’re imposing the moral hazard of ethnic cleansing on the cleansee? Unless you create security first, you are paving the way for a potential massacre of returnees.?

But Gays Still Can't Enlist?

Army STRAWNG!

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called “moral waivers? to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army’s moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent.

Waivers for less serious crimes like traffic offenses and drug use have dropped or remained stable.

. . .While soldiers with criminal histories made up only 11.7 percent of the Army recruits in 2006, the spike in waivers raises concerns about whether the military is making too many exceptions to try to meet its recruitment demands in a time of war. Most felons, for example, are not permitted to carry firearms, and many criminals have at some point exhibited serious lapses in discipline and judgment, traits that are far from ideal on the battlefield.

In all, over 125,000 people with criminal histories have enlisted in the armed forces during the last three years, and as the article says, the military is often an avenue for an individual bereft of options after being convicted of a crime, and there is evidence that those with moral waivers have higher re-enlistment rates (again probably tied to the fact that their criminal histories is a limiting factor in their futures). Also I do believe that people shouldn't be automatically barred from the military, or any other profession for that matter, after they have served their debt to society. How could they rehabilitate if they are shunned?

That being said, this increase in recruiting those with criminal records does signal the fact that the Eye-Rack war is robbing the military of warm bodies, and nothing else.

February 09, 2007

"F*@king Stupidest Guy On The Face Of The Earth"

The above quote was what fellow fuckup of the Afghan War and Eye-Rack invasion General Tommy Frank said about former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith as reported by the weathervane journalist Bob Woodward in his hagiographic book Plan of Attack.

Today, Walter Pincus, one of the few reporter who didn't have a thumb up his ass during the run-up to the war, reports that the same Douglas Feith, the one who was running a parallel intelligence gathering operation out of the Pentagon, "the stovepipe", for the express purpose of finding ANY kind of information to justify the war, whether it's real or not, is now saying that he never actually believed any of the bullshit that was bubbling up:

Intelligence provided by former undersecretary of defense Douglas J. Feith to buttress the White House case for invading Iraq included "reporting of dubious quality or reliability" that supported the political views of senior administration officials rather than the conclusions of the intelligence community, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general.

Feith's office "was predisposed to finding a significant relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," according to portions of the report, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.). The inspector general described Feith's activities as "an alternative intelligence assessment process."

. . .In a telephone interview yesterday, Feith emphasized the inspector general's conclusion that his actions, described in the report as "inappropriate," were not unlawful. "This was not 'alternative intelligence assessment,' " he said. "It was from the start a criticism of the consensus of the intelligence community, and in presenting it I was not endorsing its substance."

Someone put some handcuffs on these criminals please. It's embarrassing that they are breathing outside air.

Via Kevin Drum.

Continue reading ""F*@king Stupidest Guy On The Face Of The Earth"" »

February 08, 2007

Happy Jonah Goldberg Day

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As Matthew Yglesias reminds us, today is the two year deadline for Jonah Goldberg to make good on his ill-conceived and scornful bet he made with Juan Cole over the outcome of the Eye-Rack war:

Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.

. . .One caveat: Because I don't think it's right to bet on such serious matters for personal gain, if I win, I'll donate the money to the USO. He can give it to the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or whatever his favorite charity is.

Ah, that little oh so unnecessary insinuation that Juan Cole is in league with terrorists would have made the vindication ever so sweet. But apart from the dire ramifications the willful ignorance of Goldberg and his kind will have on this nation and the Middle East, the real winner here is Goldberg. In the two years between his offer and now when he has conceded that he was utterly, utterly wrong, Goldberg has managed to land on his feet with a cushy opinion-writing berth in the Los Angeles Times, pushing out liberal mainstay Robert Scheer in the process. Juan Cole, on the other hand, was a victim of a neocon smear campaign that successfully blocked his move to what was once considered to be a prestigious post at Yale. The lesson here is that because of the powers that be, even if you are right, you still lose.

NEWSFLASH! Debating The War Doesn't Endanger The Troops Says General

The soldiers are not babies who aren't able to fight a war and listen to the debate at home. And the enemy, whoever the fuck it is, doesn't give two shits if we support the war or not. They just want us out of their damn country So will two-bit hackjobs like Lieberman just STFU already?

Pace: As long as this Congress continues to do what it has done, which is to provide the resources for the mission, the dialogue will be the dialogue, and the troops will feel supported.

Gates: I think they’re [the troops are] sophisticated enough to understand that that’s what the debate’s really about.

Got that? Now crawl back to your caves.

We Do Need To Talk About The War

I generally avoided the kabuki theater that was the battle over whether we get to debate the war in Eye-Rack as it stands as so much raw, uncut bullshit that talking about it will only diminish me further. Apparently John Warner sponsored a weak-kneed, non-binding resolution whether or not to agree with Bush's Surge™ (but not whether the war was a stupid fucking idea in the first place), and a few other Republican Senators such as Hagel and Bob Smith of Oregon feel some discomfort about the war. But the rest of the rat bastard Republicans want to block discussion of any resolution by holding a filibuster, and every Republican except for Coleman and Susan Collins voted against cloture.

That's right, Chuck Hagel is all talk but no action and Warner voted against his own resolution.

But that's not the best part. Seems that the media reported this act of utter spinelessness and legislative dysfunction in a way that cast a rather bad light on the Republicans, especially the vulnerable ones who are up for re-election. Seven Republican Senators, five of whom voted against cloture, signed a letter whining that they weren't allowed to debate the war EVEN THOUGH THEY VOTED NOT TO DEBATE THE WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE. Perhaps they were swayed by this testimony by Peter Pace.

February 07, 2007

Worst Than Civil War

I admit that I've been dilatory in highlighting the conclusions of the NIE released during the Friday-night dump, but it should put to rest the debate over whether Eye-Rack is in a state of civil war:

Iraq is unraveling at an accelerating rate, and even if U.S. and Iraqi forces can slow the spreading violence, the country's fragile government is unlikely to deliver stability to its people during the next year, according to a much-anticipated assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The report, titled "Prospects for Iraq's Stability: A Challenging Road Ahead," catalogs an array of forces pulling the country apart and concludes that to call the situation a civil war "does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict" because the causes of violence are so varied.

Didja all hear that? Ken Burns couldn't even begin to make a documentary covering all the angles of this shitstorm of a clusterfuck.

But what about The Surge™?

Soldiers on the ground agree: no amount of escalation is going to stop the trend:

Soldiers interviewed across east Baghdad, home to more than half the city's 8 million people, said the violence is so out of control that while a surge of 21,500 more American troops may momentarily suppress it, the notion that U.S. forces can bring lasting security to Iraq is misguided.

Lt. Hardy and his men of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colo., patrol an area southeast of Sadr City, the stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

A map in Hardy's company headquarters charts at least 50 roadside bombs since late October, and the lieutenant recently watched in horror as the blast from one killed his Humvee's driver and wounded two other soldiers in a spray of blood and shrapnel.

Soldiers such as Hardy must contend not only with an escalating civil war between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but also with insurgents on both sides who target U.S. forces.

"We can go get into a firefight and empty out ammo, but it doesn't accomplish much," said Pvt. 1st Class Zach Clouser, 19, of York, Pa. "This isn't our war - we're just in the middle."

Almost every foot soldier interviewed during a week of patrols on the streets and alleys of east Baghdad said that Bush's plan would halt the bloodshed only temporarily. The soldiers cited a variety of reasons, including incompetence or corruption among Iraqi troops, the complexities of Iraq's sectarian violence and the lack of Iraqi public support, a cornerstone of counterinsurgency warfare.

"They can keep sending more and more troops over here, but until the people here start working with us, it's not going to change," said Sgt. Chance Oswalt, 22, of Tulsa, Okla.

Expect things to go umistakably to hell come this summer.

February 06, 2007

Fuggit. Give Them The War.

I've said before that if Democrats and liberals try to be the responsible adults and end this abortion of a war they will get nothing but blame for denying this country its glorious, glorious victory over the mud-slims. Kevin Drum, who inspired my current position, points to this Weekly Standard article as Exhibit A for the coming neocon backlash if the dirty fucking hippies don't shut up and clap harder:

[If] the surge is seen to fail, they will be the ones who made it more difficult, demoralized the armed forces, kneecapped the commander, and telegraphed to the enemy that our will was cracking, and we would shortly be leaving.

The Democrats have also given Bush a partial alibi for a possible failure -- he tried, but at a critical moment they threw in the towel. This argument would be plausible enough to attract support from a great many people.

If these clowns want to learn the hard way, then so be it.

February 03, 2007

Really?

Sunni-Shiite Split in U.S. Is Widened by Iraq’s Shadow

DEARBORN, Mich. — Twice recently, vandals have shattered windows at three mosques and a dozen businesses popular among Shiite Muslims along Warren Avenue, the spine of the Arab community here.

Although the police have arrested no one, most in Dearborn’s Iraqi Shiite community blame the Sunni Muslims.

“The Shiites were very happy that they killed Saddam, but the Sunnis were in tears,? Aqeel Al-Tamimi, 34, an immigrant Iraqi truck driver and a Shiite, said as he ate roasted chicken and flatbread at Al-Akashi restaurant, one of the establishments damaged over the city line in Detroit. “These people look at us like we sold our country to America.?

Escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East are rippling through some American Muslim communities, and have been blamed for events including vandalism and student confrontations. Political splits between those for and against the American invasion of Iraq fuel some of the animosity, but it is also a fight among Muslims about who represents Islam.

Long before the vandalism in Dearborn and Detroit, feuds had been simmering on some college campuses. Some Shiite students said they had faced repeated discrimination, like being formally barred by the Sunni-dominated Muslim Student Association from leading prayers. At numerous universities, Shiite students have broken away from the association, which has dozens of chapters nationwide, to form their own groups.

“A microcosm of what is happening in Iraq happened in New Jersey because people couldn’t put aside their differences,? said Sami Elmansoury, a Sunni Muslim and former vice president of the Islamic Society at Rutgers University, where there has been a sharp dispute.

Though the war in Iraq is one crucial cause, some students and experts on sectarianism also attribute the fissure to the significant growth in the Muslim American population over the past few decades.

Before, most major cities had only one mosque and everyone was forced to get along. Now, some Muslim communities are so large that the majority Sunnis and minority Shiites maintain their own mosques, schools and social clubs. Many Muslim students first meet someone from the other branch of their faith at college. The Shiites constitute some 15 percent of the world’s more than 1.3 billion Muslims, and are believed to be proportionally represented among America’s estimated six million Muslims.

Sectarian tensions mushroomed during the current Muslim month of Muharram. The first 10 days ended on Tuesday with Ashura, the day when Shiites commemorate the death of Hussein, who was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad and who was killed during the bloody seventh-century disputes over who would rule the faithful, a schism that gave birth to the Sunni and Shiite factions.

The Shiites and the Sunnis part company over who has the right to rule and interpret scripture. Shiites hold that only descendants of Mohammad can be infallible and hence should rule. Sunnis allow a broader group, as long as there is consensus among religious scholars.

Many Shiites mark Ashura with mourning processions that include self-flagellation or rhythmic chest beating, echoing the suffering of the seventh-century Hussein. As several thousand Shiites marched up Park Avenue in Manhattan on Jan. 28 to mark Ashura, the march’s organizers handed out a flier describing his killing as “the first major terrorist act.? Sunnis often decry Ashura marches as a barbaric, infidel practice.

Last year, a Sunni student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor sent a screed against Ashura to the Muslim Student Association’s e-mail message list. The document had been taken off SunniPath.com, one of many Web sites of Islamic teachings that Shiite students said regularly spread hate disguised as religious scholarship.

Azmat Khan, a 21-year-old senior and political science major, said that she, like other Shiites on campus, was sometimes asked whether she was a real Muslim.

“To some extent, the minute you identify yourself as a Shiite, it outs you,? Ms. Khan said. “You feel marginalized.?

Yet some Shiite students said they were reluctant to speak up because they felt that Islam was under assault in the United States, so internal tension would only undermine much-needed unity among Muslims. At the same time, the students said, the ideas used by some Sunnis to label Shiites as heretics need to be confronted because they underlie jihadi radicalism.

Fuck you Bush. Fuck you very much.

Petraeus *hearts* Mercs

God help us:

The Defense Department plans to continue hiring private contractors to provide security at reconstruction projects in Iraq and to train U.S. and Iraqi military officers in counterinsurgency, despite problems with past contracts for such jobs that traditionally have been done by military personnel.

The contracting out of these wartime activities comes at a time when the United States is stretching its resources to provide the additional 21,500 troops in Iraq that are needed under President Bush's new strategy, which involves stepped-up counterinsurgency operations in Baghdad and the expansion of economic reconstruction activities.

During an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new top commander in Iraq, said he counts the "thousands of contract security forces" among the assets available to him to supplement the limited number of U.S. and Iraqi troops to be used for dealing with the insurgency.

A former senior Defense Intelligence Agency expert on the Middle East, retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, said last week that contracting out intelligence collection and security for Army units and their contractors "results from actual military forces being too small." He added: "I can't remember a subordinate commander considering mercenaries as part of his forces."

Under the new contract now out for bids, the winner is to monitor all convoys, maintain a Web site, provide "Iraq-wide unclassified daily reports," as well as "provide relevant and timely intel/ops reports throughout Iraq" -- referring to intelligence/operations reports.

The U.S. government will provide about 134 vehicles, primarily sport-utility vehicles, but also armored personnel carriers. The government will also furnish weapons and ammunition, but the contractor must identify the people to whom the weapons will be issued. Employees will have access to government dining facilities and post exchanges, "where available," and will be entitled to "acute medical and dental services to include medical evacuation under emergency circumstances . . . at no cost" while they are "in theater."

Another contract up for bids is the operation of the Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence (COIN CFE) for up to three years at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, in a section called the Phoenix Academy, which is devoted to joint U.S.-Iraqi training. Established in 2005 by Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq then, it will now operate under Petraeus, who recently rewrote the Army's counterinsurgency manual.

Last May, a Pentagon news release said COIN CFE, which involves U.S. and Iraqi personnel, was established "to help units adapt to and train for the war against terror in Iraq as it is fought today." At that time, it was a week-long course with 31 trainers and classes with about 40 trainees, including "brigade commanders, battalion commanders, company commanders and senior staff -- including noncommissioned officers," the news release said.

Under the new proposal, contractors will handle a variety of classes, including a special seminar for "general officers and senior field grade leaders at the multi-national corps and division levels." The group for senior leaders will be limited to 25, while the lower-level classes will include up to 70 students and will involve not just Iraqi army forces but also Iraqi National Police.

Eeewwwgh. . .

Baghdad truck bomb kills 121 - police

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A huge truck bomb killed 121 people and wounded 226 in a busy market in a mainly Shi'ite area of central Baghdad on Saturday, in the deadliest single bombing in the capital since the 2003 U.S.-led war.

The blast in Sadriya shattered food stalls and smashed the facades of shops, setting some on fire. Three car bombs ripped through the same market in December, killing 51.

"It was a terrible scene. Many shops and houses were destroyed," said one resident, Jassem, 42, who had rushed from his home nearby to help pull people from the rubble after hearing the ear-splitting explosion.

The casualties swamped the capital's hospitals. There were chaotic scenes at Ibn al-Nafis hospital in central Karrada, where hallways overflowed with wounded on trolleys and relatives and friends screaming for help.

February 02, 2007

Eye-Rack And Afghanistan To Cost More Than Nam

Happy now, bitches?

So far, Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers $477 billion, according to the House Budget Committee. Of that, $379 billion went to Iraq.

On Monday Bush will announce that he'll seek $100 billion more to pay for the both wars through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2007. He's also expected to seek another $145 billion for war spending in fiscal 2008 and $50 billion more for fiscal 2009. Total cost: $772 billion.

Most experts think the U.S. military will be involved in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond 2008.

The Vietnam War cost $536 billion, after adjusting for inflation.


Surge In Drug Users

Army STRAWNG!!

Tonight, Local 2 investigates a new danger for U.S. troops in Iraqi war zones. Our hidden cameras uncover how drug users and even addicts are being ushered into military service as tens of thousands of new troops are being sent to Iraq.

KPRC Local 2 investigative reporter Stephen Dean's investigation is leading to action in the nation's capital.

Congress and the Pentagon are now reacting to our investigation. We've been sending our hidden cameras in with people who want to be soldiers, and when they get into these recruiting offices, we found they're being told a drug problem may be no problem at all. Recruiters are even helping people to avoid some of the drug testing.

Just minutes into our hidden camera visits to military recruiting offices, we found Army recruiters describing a urine test packet for prospective solders. Our Local 2 Investigates producer is told if he fails this drug test, he can still get into the Army.

This is part of the reason they had to end the Vietnam war, because the ranks were rife with undisipline and drug usage. Today's army is deteriorating right before our eyes and all Bush could do is fiddle while the country burns.

Surge Upon The Surge

I thought the extra 21,000 was going to be the total number of troops being sent to Eye-Rack. Turns out they are just the combat troops, silly me:

President Bush and his new military chiefs have been saying for nearly a month that they would "surge" an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a last, grand push to quell the violence in Baghdad and in Anbar Province. But a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the real troop increase could be as high as 48,000 -- more than double the number the President initially said.

That's because the combat units that President Bush wants to send into hostile areas need to be backed up by support troops, "including personnel to staff headquarters, serve as military police, and provide communications, contracting, engineering, intelligence, medical, and other services," the CBO notes.

How do we know they are lying? When their lips are quivering, that's how.

January 26, 2007

"Angry American" Now Angry About The Eye-Rack War

Flag-hugging country singer Toby Keith is now telling Newsday that he "never did" support the Eye-Rack war:

"Never did," he says -- and he favors setting a time limit on the occupation. He says he suspects civil war in Iraq is inevitable and predicts the Kurds will be the victors: "I promise you, they'll end up with it all."

That is despite the fact that he voted for Bush twice and has performed in front of Photoshopped images of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks ( maligned for criticizing Bush over the war) together with Saddam Hussein. It must be very goddamn lucrative to be such a weathervane.

via Thinkprogress.

Update: Hmm, looked like Keith was having serious doubts about the war around the time the Bush propoganda about there not being an insurgency was demolished along with the UN building, but in the end decided to put all his eggs in Bush's and Condoleeza's baskets:

"Look, my stance is I pick and choose my wars. This war here [in Iraq], the math hasn't worked out for me on it. But I'm smart enough to know there's people smarter than me. [National security advisor] Condoleezza Rice, [Secretary of State] Colin Powell, George Bush — this is their job, and I have to trust in them. I support the commander in chief and the troops."

Don't Trust The Military To Report The Facts

Apparently, the story of how five soldiers died in an ambush by Iraqis posing as American soldiers didn't go down as first reported:

Four American soldiers were abducted during a sophisticated sneak attack last week in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and their bodies were found up to 25 miles away, according to new information obtained by The Associated Press.

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.

The commando team also took an unclassified U.S. computer with them as its members fled with the four soldiers and left behind an American M-4 automatic rifle, senior U.S. military officials said.

The new information has emerged after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad did not respond to repeated requests for comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials on the abduction and a major breakdown in security at Karbala site.

The two senior American military officials now confirm the reports, gathered by The Associated Press from five senior Iraqi government, military and religious leaders. The U.S. military also has provided additional details from internal military accounts.

As mcjoan from The Daily Kos said, this story was initially covered up in hopes of not furthering the opposition to the troop escalation. Well, since it was reported during the Friday night dump, the Bushelvikis may well get their wish.

January 25, 2007

Generalissimo Petraeus

I used to have charitable feelings for General Petraeus and his efforts in Eye-Rack after seeing how he is only one the handful of characters in the debacle that actually done things right, at least according to the books written by Michael R. Gordan and Thomas E. Ricks. But now that he is the head ground commander in Eye-Rack, he has taken a dangerously fascist tone, as outlined by Glenn Greenwald:

In a move that is unusual for an active-duty officer, Petraeus also spoke against pending Senate resolutions disapproving of the new Bush administration strategy. Asked by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) whether those resolutions would give encouragement to the enemy by exposing divisions among the American people, he replied: "That's correct."

Glenn Greenwald, in his usual eloquent and biting commentary, details the ramifications of the general's comment, including another crusade by the reich-wing blogosphere and the echoing of that rhetoric by the Vice President himself. Quoting a single piece of that post would do a disservice to the entire message, so as they say go read the whole thing.

Glenn Kessler And The Washington Post Calls Bullshit On Bush

Imagine that, a reporter that compares Bush's public statements with actual facts on the ground:

In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.

Under Bush's rubric, a country such as Iran -- which enjoys diplomatic representation and billions of dollars in trade with major European countries -- is lumped together with al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat," Bush said, referring to the different branches of the Muslim religion.

Similarly, Bush asserted that Shia Hezbollah, which has won seats in the Lebanese government, is a terrorist group "second only to al-Qaeda in the American lives it has taken." Bush is referring to attacks nearly a quarter-century ago on a U.S. embassy and a Marine barracks when the United States intervened in Lebanon's civil war by shelling Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah has evolved into primarily an anti-Israeli militant organization -- it fought a war with Israel last summer -- but the European Union does not list it as a terrorist organization.

At one point, Bush catalogued what he described as advances in the quest for freedom in the Middle East during 2005 -- such as the departure of Syrian troops from Lebanon and elections in Iraq. Then, Bush asserted, "a thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics and in 2006 they struck back." But his description of the actions of "the enemy" tried to tie together a series of diplomatic and military setbacks that had virtually no connection to one another, from an attack on a Sunni mosque in Iraq to the assassination of Maronite Lebanese political figure.

Read the whole thing, including the debunking of Bush's upbeat claims about job performances and budget deficits. But the real crime is his lumping together Shiite extremists with Al Qaeda, and it is doing nothing but pissing off the people we are supposed to be supporting:

Iraqi Shi'ite officials on Wednesday dismissed as "ridiculous" U.S. President George W. Bush's comment that Shi'ite militants were as big a danger to the United States as Sunni al Qaeda.

. . .An official from a top Shi'ite party in Iraq said Washington would lose focus in fighting terrorism if it decided to open up a new front against Shi'ite militias.

"Comparing Shi'ite militias to al Qaeda is ridiculous. They are protecting their own communities after a three-year onslaught by terrorists and only a few outlaws take revenge. How are the militias a threat to the United States?" he said.

"The only solution is to give the government control of its own forces," said the official, who declined to be identified.

That's the Uniter, uniting everybody against us.

January 24, 2007

Sacrifice

Hell, this fucktard administration and their military industrial corruption complex can't even sacrifice the armored Humvees needed for their cool refreshing Surge™

WASHINGTON // After nearly four years of war in Iraq, the Pentagon's effort to protect its troops against roadside bombs is in disarray, with soldiers and Marines having to swap access to scarce armored vehicles and the military unsure whether it has the money or industrial capacity to produce the safe vehicles it says the troops need.

On Jan. 10, The Sun reported that most of the 21,500 troops President Bush has ordered to Iraq as reinforcements will not have access to specialized blast-resistant armored vehicles because they are in such short supply.

But the problem runs deeper than that. In congressional testimony and interviews last week, senior Army and Marine Corps officers acknowledged that they are struggling just to meet the needs of service members already in Iraq. Even if the Pentagon can find millions of dollars not currently budgeted, and even if it can find factories to produce the armored vehicles, most U.S. troops in Iraq will not have access to the best equipment available, as President Bush has often promised.

The Army acknowledged last week, for example, that it is still 22 percent short of the armored Humvees it needs in Iraq despite heated criticism in 2004 and 2005 over the lack of armored vehicles. Army officials said it will be another eight months before that gap can be filled.


It's Over. We've Failed. Let's Move On.

When even supposedly heart-warming feel-good stories such as this one conveys the utter hopelessness of the situation, then the war is surely lost:

That night, they had their first real test. It was nearing midnight, the generator had failed, there was no heat, the radio was malfunctioning — and an Iraqi girl no more than 4 was dying in the bitter cold on an Army cot.

At the same time, a loud firefight erupted outside, apparently an attack on an Iraqi Army checkpoint nearby.

Captain Peterson had brought the sick child to the base because her family was afraid to travel after curfew and no Iraqi government ambulance would dare visit the neighborhood after dark, if at all.

One of the company’s medics, Cpl. Peter Callahan, 23, worked by flashlight, trying to soothe the girl, whose body was rejecting the medication her parents had given her.

“She needs to go to the hospital right now,? he told Captain Peterson. With no time to call in support, Captain Peterson quickly arranged a convoy to the nearest hospital — a risky proposition even in daylight and with more soldiers to provide security.

But the girl’s Sunni family resisted, fearing they would be killed at the hospital, which was in Shula, the Shiite district, if the Americans left them there.

Frustrated, Captain Peterson said over the radio, “I think they are pretty much willing to let this kid die instead of all dying together.?

The Americans decided to head to a safer hospital farther away. But time was running out; the girl’s pulse was dropping fast, dipping below 25.

Corporal Callahan gave her a small shot of atropine, which was all he had, to increase her heart rate. She stabilized, and when he emerged with the girl alive and breathing, he and her parents could barely contain their joy. He had saved her life.

A competent and charitable occupation of a country would have a running civilian medical infrastructure in place, and hospitals wouldn't be poles of sectarian violence and partisanship. But since this is not a competent occupation, the soldiers have to resort to this ad-hoc method of helping this girl. Hopefully this will sway the family to support Americans, but it is still a drop in a bucket and we do have a sad cumulative record of increasing anti-occupation sentiment among the Iraqis.

January 23, 2007

Worse Than Vietnam

Even when the CIA ran the notorious Phoenix Program during Vietnam, it still was ineffective in getting rid of the Vietcong and was ultimately deemed a failure since it provided poor intelligence, ostracized the population and led to corruption.

Today in Eye-Rack, according to a new CQ article, the CIA could only dream of running such covert operations as extensive as that, given that most of the Iraqi population has already antagonized the Americans, appearing with Americans is now considered a taboo, and operating in the open is very dangerous anyways. As they say, read the whole thing and realize that there is no hope for success in Eye-Rack.

Via Americablog.

January 22, 2007

"Once They Stand Up. . ." Part VIII

Bush allus sez he'll lissen to the good folks in Eye-Rack an' give 'em what dey want. So when they establish a timetable for withdrawal, will he adhere to it? The eight ball says "yeah, right":

The Sadr bloc returned to the assembly after a parliamentary committee and the speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, agreed to a series of demands, said Falah Hasan Shenshel, a member of the Sadr bloc.

The demands included establishing a timetable for the buildup of Iraqi troops and the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and a condition that the presence of foreign troops would not be extended without a vote by the assembly, Shenshel said. U.S. troops should retreat from Iraqi cities and return to their bases by the end of August, he said.

"By doing so, America would confirm that it came to Iraq as a liberator and not as an occupier," Shenshel said.

Enjoy Your Surge, Bush.

It's gonna be a doozy:

KARBALA, Iraq - Chilling details emerged Sunday of gunmen posing as American and Iraqi soldiers in an ambush on U.S. troops in Karbala a day earlier that killed five Americans and wounded three.

On Saturday, a civil affairs team of American soldiers sat with local leaders in Karbala's provincial headquarters to discuss security for Ashoura, a Shiite commemoration of the massacre of the revered Imam Hussein that began Sunday.

Outside, danger was approaching. A convoy of seven white GMC Suburbans sped toward the building, breezing through checkpoints, with the men wearing American and Iraqi military uniforms and flashing American ID cards, Iraqi officials said. The force stopped at the police directorate in Karbala and took weapons but gave no reason, said police spokesman Capt. Muthana Ahmed in Babel province.

A call was made to the provincial headquarters to inform them an American convoy was on its way, said the governor of Karbala, Akeel al-Khazaali. But the Americans stationed inside the building, which acts as a coordination center for Iraqi officials, Iraqi security forces and U.S. forces, had not been informed, Iraqi officials said.

As the U.S. soldiers and the Iraqis scrambled to figure out if the men were Americans or an illegally armed group, the convoy arrived and the gunmen tried to break in.

The gunmen launched grenades, mortars and small arms fire, according to a U.S. military statement. The U.S. military said Sunday it was still not clear if the gunmen were Sunni or Shiite militia. Abu Abdullah, a commander in Karbala of the Mahdi Army, the militia led by firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, on Sunday denied involvement in the attack.

After 15 minutes of fighting, the gunmen fled towards Hilla, the capital of Babel, a mixed Sunni-Shiite province, Ahmed said.

January 21, 2007

Black Hawk Down, Part. . . uh, I Stopped Keeping Count.

12 killed. Nineteen total today Saturday. And to think how the media raked Clinton over the coals for the same number of deaths in that other fabled Black Hawk Down incident.

The example of Time Magazine was the worst. Back in 1993 when the Battle of Mogadishu happened, the magazine wastes no time filling its pages with images of dead American soldiers being dragged in the street. This was just a couple years after they refrained from showing grisly photos from the first Gulf War. Now they are engaging in the same form of censorship with this war, except they are acting shocked, SHOCKED, that they would so "recklessly" give the Black Hawk Down incident so much unfiltered coverage at the time. They shouldn't be so shocked. It all depends upon which party the president is from.

Sorry for the digression, but it will be interesting how the librul media will handle this latest Black Hawk down incident.

January 17, 2007

B-But They Were Wrong About Stuff Too!

I don't usually waste my time reading commentary by smug-ass warmongers, but today's op-ed by Jonathan Chait that appeared in today's Strib forced my hand:

Radar magazine recently published an article bemoaning that pro-war liberal pundits have not been drummed out of the profession for their error. In it, lefty foreign policy guru Jonathan Schell sniffs, "There doesn't seem to be a rush to find the people who were right about Iraq and install them in the mainstream media."

Being right about something is a fairly novel experience for Schell, and he's obviously enjoying it immensely. But before we genuflect to Schell's wisdom, it's worth recalling that his record of prognostication is not exactly perfect. After the 9/11 attacks, Schell railed against attacking the Taliban, which was sheltering Osama bin Laden and much of the Al-Qaida hierarchy. "A military strike against the Taliban or any other regime is full of perils that ... are far greater than the dangers we already face," he warned. For instance, he wrote, "millions of Afghans could starve to death this winter," Pakistan's government could be overthrown, etc.

Shyeah, and we all know how swimmingly our invasion of Afghanistan is going. We might even outlast the Russians. But wait, wait, you have to read the next part, it's goddamn priceless:

Or go back to the last war we fought with Iraq. Schell insisted that we could force Iraq to leave Kuwait with sanctions alone, rather than by using military force. But the years that followed made it clear just how impotent that tool was. Saddam Hussein endured more than a decade of sanctions rather than give up a weapons of mass destruction program that turned out to be nonexistent. If sanctions weren't enough to make him surrender his imaginary weapons, I think we can safely say they wouldn't have been enough to make him surrender a prized, oil-rich conquest.

Yep, because Saddam didn't hand over the weapons he never had, the sanctions didn't work. Nice fucking trainwreck of logic, Chait.

What I don't understand is why support for the first Gulf War is automatically a good thing. Yes, it was done cheaply, quickly and relatively few casualties, it had a real international coalition and it was popular with those watching the fireworks on CNN back home. But in the end, we defended one autocracy from the invasion of another autocracy just after we supported Iraq's failed invasion of a neighboring theocracy.

And today, you can't go to any Arab country (except Kuwait) and justify the Gulf War as anything other than an oil war. It's easy to say in hindsight that the Gulf War is an easy one to support, since any victory has many fathers, but don't discount the fact that there were legitimate reasons for opposing it as well.

Did We Paint That School?

3 Bombs Kill at Least 70 at University in Baghdad

By DAMIEN CAVE
Published: January 17, 2007

BAGHDAD, Jan. 16 — At least 70 people were killed at a largely Shiite university in northeastern Baghdad on Tuesday when a wave of explosions tore through a crowd of students and employees leaving the main gate minutes after classes ended.

Witnesses said the lethal strike of two car bombs and a suicide bomber at Mustansiriya University left the campus littered with shattered glass, body parts, ashen books and charred metal.

As one of the most deadly attacks on Shiites since the summer, it suggested that Sunni insurgents remain unfazed, even brash, in the face of the American military’s newest plan to secure the capital.

The attacks came only a day after a fresh spark for Sunni outrage: on Monday, the sudden hanging of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein’s half brother, and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, Mr. Hussein’s former chief judge, ended with Mr. Ibrahim’s head being severed from his body by the noose.

. . .In all, at least 108 people were killed in the capital, an Interior Ministry official said, and 25 more were found dead, many showing signs of torture.

And we have to endure 6-9 months of this shit before declaring Bush's escalation a failure.

JAMming With The Eye-Rack Army

How cute. They think they are going to pacify Sadr City with this army:

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi soldiers broke into chants to commemorate the 86th anniversary of the creation of their army.

"Muhammad, Haider, Fatima, Hasan and Husayn!" shouted a group of dancing soldiers, bellowing the names of the prophet and other long-dead Islamic icons revered by Shiite Muslims.

A second later, the name of a living Shiite figure came out of the din. "Moqtada! Moqtada!" one soldier exclaimed, invoking the name of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric and leader of the Mahdi Army militia that American officials blame for many of the worst acts of violence in Baghdad.

Standing quietly in the crowd were four U.S. Army officers, there to represent the team of American soldiers advising the Iraqis. "Sounds like the Mahdi militia is in the tent," said their interpreter, Mohammed Noshi.

JAM of course meaning Jaish al-Mahdi, or Mahdi Army.

It's All Falling Into Place

The only reason Bush is pushing for an escalation virtually everybody opposes is because it's a delaying tactic in order for him to leave office without having to deal with the Eye-Rack problem like a man. The plan is that he announces his addition of more troops in order to project the image that he is trying, diddle around for at least six month telling all your critics that your plan was not given enough time to work.

Six months after that when it's been revealed that your plan is a spectacular failure, this country will already be in the middle of a major presidential campaign with primary races in both parties. Bush will say his hands are tied because he doesn't want to implement a major policy in deference to the next president. Of course, the Eye-Rack disaster will not look good for Republicans and Americans will likely vote a Democrat to inherit the shitmire, and if s/he is unable to solve it or withdraws the troops, then it will be her/his war to lose.

Welp, via ThinkProgress Phase Two of "Operation: Cover His Ass" has already been announced:

The top generals on the ground are trying to keep expectations low. Yesterday, Gen. George Casey, the outgoing top U.S. military commander in Iraq, warned that it is “going to take time? and no one should evaluate the impact of the plan until “summer or Fall.?

January 15, 2007

"A Raw Deal"

joncarry.jpg
More stuck than you think, assholes

Even when the soldiers get a notice telling them about their extention of their tours of duties, the higher ranked messenger doesn't even bother with putting lipstick on a pig:

Dear Families,

I have been made aware that the 1/34 BCT will be extended in Iraq for an unspecified period of time. We have not yet determined how this decision will affect the mission of the BCT, but will provide as much information as possible once the unit has been able to analyze any mission change and determine what information is appropriate to disseminate while maintaining operational security.

The President has given his message and the troops currently in Iraq are being extended. This includes 1st BCT!

Is this a raw deal? Of course! We have every right to be angry, but the reality is that the long awaited homecoming will be pushed back.

The message I want to give is that now, probably more than ever, is the time to reach out to each other and through mutual support, weather this set-back. I will be asking the State of Minnesota to step up to help the families of our soldiers. My hope is that this would help ease the burdens.

I am so proud of our soldiers and airment and their families. We owe all of you so much and will do our utmost to help you through this change and disappointment.

Please be sure to send this information to as many family members as possible so that they are receiving the information from our family vice hearing about it through the media.

God Bless!!

Larry W. Shellito
MG, The Adjutant General
Minnesota National Guard

When I heard that the Minnesota National Guard was going to be the only division to have their tours extended for up to two years, I thought "wouldn't it be ironic if it was the very same Minnesota National Guard company that mocked John Kerry for his botched joke during the runup to the midterm elections?"

Well whattaya know, sure enough it is the very same unit of the Minnesota National Guard that is being held back in the shitmire by the Decider they decided to support at the time. Despite the fact that John Kerry has stated emphatically dozens of times that no soldier was the target of his misunderstood dig at Bush, and despite the fact that John Kerry is decorated veteran himself, those Guardsmen decided to take Bush's blinkered interpretation of Kerry's speech and provide a priceless photo-op for the Bush smear machine.

And what do they get as thanks for their efforts to give Bush a boost? More painful separation from their families and loved ones, more time with the inurgent bombs and IEDs and more of the same misery you get in the sandbox.

And do you know what? Fuck em. They chose to lie in bed with the WorstPresidentEver and his wet dreams of "victory", they can stay in the piddle he created. I'm done holding their hands and reaching out to them with my sympathies. Maybe in the future when they are truly contrite (or if there's a draft) will I champion their cause. But for now, let them know that they cannot come home because they have made a deal with the devil.

January 14, 2007

Eye-Racknam: Strategic Hamlet Edition

These people have learned nothing:

'Gated communities' planned for Baghdad

New U.S. strategy calls for creating zones of safety in the Iraqi capital, then working outward.

By Julian E. Barnes, Times Staff Writer
January 11, 2007

WASHINGTON — The military's new strategy for Iraq envisions creating "gated communities" in Baghdad — sealing off discrete areas and forcibly removing insurgents, then stationing American units in the neighborhood to keep the peace and working to create jobs for residents.

The U.S. so far has found it impossible to secure the sprawling city. But by focusing an increased number of troops in selected neighborhoods, the military hopes it can create islands of security segregated from the chaos beyond.

The gated communities plan has been tried — with mixed success — in other wars. In Vietnam, the enclaves were called "strategic hamlets" and were a spectacular failure. But counterinsurgency experts say such zones can work if, after the barriers are established, the military follows up with neighborhood sweeps designed to flush out insurgents and militia fighters.

The strategy, described in broad terms by current and former Defense Department officials, is an attempt to re-create the success military units have had in smaller Iraqi cities, most notably Tall Afar.

This is the "success" they are trying to replicate:

A suicide bomber killed four civilians in a crowd outside a police station Wednesday in the northern Iraqi city Tal Afar, police said.

At least 12 people were also injured by the blast when the bomber walked into a crowd of people gathering outside the building about 90 miles east of the Syrian border, an officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Around the same time, another suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Tal Afar's mayor. A child was killed and four other people were wounded in that attack, including the mayor's driver, said Mosul police Brig. Abdel-Karim Khalaf. The mayor survived, he said.

Via Steve Gilliard.

Don't Believe The Hype

Glenn Greenwald details an NPR oral essay by conservative columnist/activist Rod Dreher in which Dreher recants his support for the Eye-Rack war, for WorstPresidentEver and his band of fellow travellers, and for authoritorianism. Dreher also admits that the dirty fucking hippies (and most of the country at the time) were right to oppose the Vietnam War and to question authority and he was wrong to castigate them for hating America and for assuming Democrats are wimps and Republicans are strong.

Apparently Glenn Greenwald and most of the liberal bloggers that trackbacked to his post are singing hosannas that the tide has finally turned against the Bush Republicans and all they stand for. But one blogger wasn't fooled. Chester N. Scoville at The Vanity Press notes that there are some very telling inconsistencies in Dreher's oral essay, namely that the conduct of the war has taught him to abandon his complete trust in American presidents and their policies, even though in the same breath he chronicled how the "wimpiness" of Jimmy Carter threw him into the arms of Ronald Reagan. And lord knows when Clinton was in office he wasn't quick to defend the Commander in Chief from the attacks of his fellow conservatives.

That rank disingenuousness is proof positives that these scumbuckets will quickly forget their opposition to the Eye-Rack war and learn to love the shitmire again once the dust settles. And they will quickly blame the Democrats for denying them their glorious victory, either because we haven't clapped hard enough or haven't allowed them to kill enough mud-slims.

As I've said before, we've done the same dance with Vietnam. Most people understood that the war couldn't be won, but quickly forgot and were fooled again by the myth of unilateral American hegemony. Know that it will happen again with Eye-Rack if we continue to hold the hands of the warmongers. Until the country realizes the full disaster of the policy they've given sanction to, they will never learn.

January 12, 2007

The Killing Machine

Three months before he allegedly killed an Iraqi family after raping a young girl, Private Stephen Green was diagnosed by army mental-health experts as being a "homicidal threat". Did they immediately remove him from duty and prepare a comprehensive treatment program? Nope, they shipped him off to Anbar with some pills and told him to get some sleep:

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- An Army private charged with the slaughter of an Iraqi family was diagnosed as a homicidal threat by a military mental health team three months before the attack.

Pfc. Steven D. Green was found to have "homicidal ideations" after seeking help from an Army Combat Stress Team in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2005. Green said he was angry about the war, desperate to avenge the death of comrades and driven to kill Iraqi citizens, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

The treatment was several small doses of Seroquel - a drug to regulate his mood - and a directive to get some sleep, according to medical records obtained by the AP. The next day, he returned to duty in the particularly violent stretch of desert in the southern Baghdad suburbs known as the "Triangle of Death."

No follow-up exams or further treatments were scheduled, records indicate. But Green had a conversation with his battalion commander one month after the examination in which he expressed hatred for all Iraqis.

The rest of the long article deals with the sorry state of how the military treats it's soldiers who suffer from mental problems and a bio of how Green got to where he is. A chilling quote comes at the end, however:

Lt. Col. Richard Anderson, the military judge hearing that case, asked Barker why he agreed to participate.

"I hated Iraqis, your honor," Barker replied. "They can smile at you then shoot you in your face without even thinking about it."

Now that people are going to be trapped in the shitmire for more than two years at a time, with a population that hates their guts, how many of these feelings will manifest themselves? God only knows.

January 11, 2007

Prodigal Children

I blogged about this article in the Washington Post two days ago and merely pointed out that the generals knew that they could only scare up 20,000 troops for any escalation. It was early in the morning and I was tired.

But Steve Benen catches an eye-popping passage in the article that reveals the extent of the Bush Administration's monumental carelessness and incompetence, all in an effort to raise the finger to his dad:

I realize that the Bush White House looked at the Iraq Study Group with some disdain. So-called “elder statesman,? mostly friends of Bush’s dad, weren’t going to come in and tell the president how to wage his war, no siree. Within a few minutes of Bush thanking ISG members for their work, Bush made the panel instantly irrelevant. The report that was going to “change everything? went from front-of-the-bookstore to remainder-table-discount in a matter of days.

But far more troubling is the notion that the Bush administration has shaped its escalation plan in part to spite the ISG.

Although the president was publicly polite, few of the key Baker-Hamilton recommendations appealed to the administration, which intensified its own deliberations over a new “way forward? in Iraq. How to look distinctive from the study group became a recurring theme.

As described by participants in the administration review, some staff members on the National Security Council became enamored of the idea of sending more troops to Iraq in part because it was not a key feature of Baker-Hamilton. (emphasis mine)

I had to read that a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. The Bush gang decided to change course in Iraq, but went out of their way to “look distinctive? from the Iraq Study Group? Troop escalation wasn’t in the ISG report, so the Bush gang latched onto the idea because the ISG didn’t endorse it? As if this all some kind of exercise in Oedipal spite?

Exactly what kind of men-children are we dealing with here?

The type of men children who jokes about "calling his lawyer" when being asked questions about human rights abuse. The type who mocks those he puts to death after rejecting their pleas for clemency. The type use launches an undeclared war in order to look good to the voters.

B-But Jon Carry Says Troops R Stoopid

joncarry.jpg
Suckers

Man, if people did this to the National Guard 40 years ago, we wouldn't be hearing of Bush the "fighter pilot" nor will there be Memogate. Nope, we'd get Bush the draft dodger kicking back daquiris in Tiajuana during the war:

The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq.

....Until now, the Pentagon's policy on the Guard or Reserve was that members' cumulative time on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months, Pace said.

In other words, a citizen-soldier could be mobilized for a 24-month stretch in Iraq or
Afghanistan, then demobilized and allowed to return to civilian life, only to be mobilized a second time for as much as an additional 24 months. In practice, Pace said, the Pentagon intends to limit all future mobilizations to 12 months.

Hey, those Minnesota guardsmen in those pictures clearly refused to find out the real context of Kerry's poorly delivered joke, and went ahead and provided their strongest support for Bush. Now he's stabbing them in the back, like he does to all his supporters he can misuse. I hope they have a learning curve.

via Kevin Drum.

Good Thing We Killed Saddam

Or else we may have to re-invade the country because he did things like these:

Sectarian violence against civilians has surged in Iraq while abuse, torture and killing of detainees in official custody is commonplace, Human Rights Watch has said in its annual report.

"Civilians remained the primary victims of directed or indiscriminate attacks perpetrated by Sunni and Shia armed groups," HRW said of a conflict that had grown "increasingly sectarian in nature."

. . .The group also pointed to "evidence of widespread torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in the custody of the Iraqi ministries of interior and defense."

Fueling suspicions of wrongdoing, the Iraqi government's own investigations "failed to lead to the arrest and prosecution of alleged suspects, despite mounting evidence," it said.

During a six-month span between December 2005 and May 2006, US and Iraqi inspectors "found consistent evidence of detainee abuse at most locations" during a check of eight government-run facilities in and around Baghdad.

At one interior ministry facility known as Site No. 4, "many of the 1,845 detainees displayed recent injuries consistent with severe beatings and electric shock."

New York Times Throws In The Towel

After weeks of dithering around the subject, the New York Times decides to say "fuck it" to the whole Eye-Rack war experiment and the impending escalation after they saw Bush's deer-in-the-headlights speech this night. This time they bring out the long knives:

President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it.

Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy? in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one.

. . .We have argued that the United States has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq as long as there is a chance to mitigate the damage that a quick withdrawal might cause. We have called for an effort to secure Baghdad, but as part of the sort of comprehensive political solution utterly lacking in Mr. Bush’s speech. This war has reached the point that merely prolonging it could make a bad ending even worse. Without a real plan to bring it to a close, there is no point in talking about jobs programs and military offensives. There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq.

Indeed, now when will the rest of the media elite follow suit?

January 10, 2007

"We Must Go Up Before We Come Down"

Expect that new slogan when WorstPresidentEver delivers his latest "Tust me!" speech concerning his splurge of new troops. The Post has the article in which they say practically EVERYONE is opposed to the plan. That we already know. What's new, however, is that the Joint Chiefs are now going public over the fact that, well, we don't HAVE 20,000 troops to send to the shitmire - at least not right now:

Then there was the thorny problem of finding enough troops to deploy. Those who favored a "surge," such as Kagan and McCain, were looking for a sizable force that would turn the tide in Baghdad. But the Joint Chiefs made clear they could muster 20,000 at best -- not for long, and not all at once.

The fact that the established Washington elite in the media are not raising hell over the new fantasy mission truly is scary.

David Petraeus, Bush Stooge

Via Kevin Drum, Leon Panetta of the now neutered Iraq Study Group reports that none of the generals they've interviewed favored any type of escalation, including soon-to-be top commander of Eye-Rack forces on the ground David Petraeus:

When your bipartisan panel came to the conclusion that relying on Iraqi forces and embedding U.S. advisors was the right course of action, rather than a surge, did you think that you were reflecting the consensus of the U.S. military at the time? Yes. We sat down with military commanders there and here, and none of them said that additional troops would solve the fundamental cause of violence, which was the absence of national reconciliation. We always asked if additional troops were needed. We asked the question of [Gen. George] Casey and others, we asked it of Marine commanders in Anbar. Do you need additional troops? They all said the same thing: we don't need additional troops at this point; we need to get the Iraqis to assume the responsibility they're supposed to assume...

Did you interview Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who's about to take over command of multinational forces in Iraq? What did he recommend? He is now said to be a supporter of the surge.
At that time he was talking about the need to train and embed U.S. forces in the Iraqi army. (laughs)

So if Petraeus is toadying up to Bush for a plan he never supported just to get a promotion, he should immediately resign. He is just prolonging the catastrophe.

January 09, 2007

"My Name Is Joe Klein, And I'm A Dumbass"

HI, JOE KLEIN!!

Originally, I wasn't going to pay attention to the attention Time columnist Joe Klein has been getting with his typically braindead commentary on his new blog. Apparently liberals are right about opposing the splurge and neocons are wrong about supporting it, but liberals are wrong to press the issue since some generals (excluding the ones that just got effectively fired by Bush for opposing the splurge) seem to be on board with it.

Ezra Klein, however, in an attempt to unsully his good name he shares with the other Klein, reveals the alarming exent of Joe Klein's practiced ignorance:

Let's recap: Klein is arguing that Paul Krugman is a lazy fool because he attributes the surge strategy to Frederick Kagan and the neocons. This week, in Time magazine, Michael Duffy, their main political reporter and a guy who presumably does "talk to key players" and "read the doctrines," reported that the surge "belongs to the neocons and in particular to Frederick Kagan," and made it clear that Kagan sought out Jack Keane to add credibility to his proposal. A far cry from Klein's claim that military intellectuals "are the motivating force behind Bush's new policy."

So only one of two interpretations can be true here: Either Joe Klein is wrong on the facts, or Michael Duffy is. In either case, Time magazine is paying someone to misinform their readership. Since Klein is so quick to throw out challenges ..., here's a question for him: Are you misrepresenting the facts in order to blast liberals, or is your magazine's cover story a heap of lies? I, by the way, am a subscriber, and so would really like to know.

But Ezra Klein isn't serious because he's a dirty fucking hippie who talks too much.

January 08, 2007

McCain Was For 20,000 More Troops Before He Was Against It.

Flippity-Floppity-Floo.

He also doesn't want to raise the necessary funds to pay for his excellent Surge. Media whores, wake the fuck up.

I'd Move To Eye-Rack If It Weren't For All The Violence

In addition to the troop splurge, WorstPresident ever is going to spend $1 billion dollars in a works program in Eye-Rack.

Meanwhile, in this hemisphere, the 2007 budget written by this maladministration is calling for inflation adjusted cuts of 14.5% into domestic job training programs (a total of 31 percent during the whole administration), according to the AFL-CIO.

I just hope this time the Dems will make them answer for such brain freezing cognitive dissonances.

Saddam Hussein Declared Not Guilty For Slaughtering Kurds

The kangaroo court continues with its kabuki theatre:

An Iraqi court on Monday dropped all charges against former dictator Saddam Hussein nine days after he was executed. The trial continues for six other men for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Saddam and the others had been on trial for the killing of 180,000 Iraqi Kurds during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war in a military operation code-named Operation Anfal.

Shortly after the court reconvened Monday, Chief Judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa said the court decided to stop all legal action against the former president, since "the death of defendant Saddam was confirmed."

Where They Are Getting The Troops

It's not enough that Bush has to fuck up Eye-Rack beyond all recognition, now he has to toom Afghanistan to distaster as well. The Baltimore Sun reports that even though the troop level in Afghanistan is too small to effectively combat the resurgent Taliban rebels, and the commanders on the ground there saying they need additional troops, the War President who listens and responds to his generals decides to pull one Army battalion in order to provide enough troops for his Eye-Rack escalation:

The accelerating war here and the critical need for troops vastly complicate the crumbling security picture across the region - from Afghanistan, where the United States chose to strike back after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, to Iraq, where American troops have been unable in almost four years of fighting to establish basic security and quell a bloody sectarian war.

As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.

"We anticipate significant events there next spring," said Tata.

As Atrios would say, thanks Oh Wise Men of Washington.

January 06, 2007

Buyer's Remorse

A poll done by ABC News shows that 57 senators who served when the Iraq War Resolution was put up to vote would have voted against the authorization knowing what they know now. That number includes the 23 who had already voted against it at the time. The Repubs who were turned includes Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Mike Grassley, Mike Dewine and Arlen Spector.

Out of the 43 who didn't say they will vote against the war, Ben Nelson stands as the lone idiot Dem among the 15 who still stands by their vote for the disaster. Joe Lieberman, who obviously still stands by his vote, doesn't count since he's his own party now.

Blanche Lincoln and Zig-Zag Zell were among the 25 cowards who either refused to embarrass themselves even further or don't want to take a stand for sanity by answering the poll. Three of the senators, most famously Tim Johnson and Strom Thurmond, are incapacited.

Death And Coverup In Haditha

The Washington Post has a lenghty Sunday article on the findings revealed in the trial of the Marines accused of killing 24 civilians in Haditha, but I wonder when anyone will come around to investigating this:

Numerous Marine officers in the chain of command in Iraq -- including a major general -- knew about the civilian deaths almost immediately but did not launch an investigation for months, according to interview transcripts. Some lower-level officers did not believe that the Marines had done anything inappropriate, while high-ranking officers had limited information about the incident and did not inquire further.

Always the grunts who bear the burden. Always the grunts.

Not Gonna Work

surge.jpg
Not halal.

Guess who else is not a big fan of Bush's surge of an escalation?

Al-Maliki's aides said disagreement remained between Bush and Iraqi officials on key issues.

The Iraqi leader is uneasy about the possible introduction of more U.S. troops, and he has repeatedly refused U.S. demands to crush the militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the prime minister's most powerful backers.

Any serious drive to curb the extreme chaos and violence in the capital would put not only American forces but al-Maliki's Iraqi army in direct confrontation with al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

. . .Sami al-Askari, an al-Maliki political adviser, told The Associated Press on Friday that al-Maliki had not acquiesced to the reported White House plan to send as many as 9,000 more U.S. troops to Baghdad alone.

"President Bush told the prime minister he was ready to send additional troops, but al-Maliki said he would have to talk that over with his senior military officers to see if they were needed," al-Askari said.

via Matthew Yglesias.

You Have GOP To Be Kidding Me

Even the Israelis are saying that they were better off with Saddam still in power:

Jerusalem - Although few tears were shed in Israel over Saddam Hussein’s death last week, a small but growing chorus — including government officials, academics and Iraqi émigrés — is warning that Israel could find itself in more danger with him gone, and that it might even regret having welcomed his toppling.

“If I knew then what I know today, I would not have recommended going to war, because Saddam was far less dangerous than I thought,? said Haifa University political scientist Amatzia Baram, one of Israel’s leading Iraq experts.

Saddam was feared and reviled in Israel, both as a tyrant and as an enemy of the Jewish state. He demonstratively supported Palestinian terrorists, and few have forgiven his bombarding of Israel with Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.

“Retrospectively, justice has been done,? Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israel Radio this week. Still, he cautioned, Israel must now be concerned “about what is liable to happen in the future.?

Saddam’s death, Sneh warned, could lead to “a reinforcement of Iranian influence in Iraq.? He said that Iraq had turned into a “volcano of terror? following the war, with “destructive energies? that could spill over into Jordan and Israel.

Such misgivings, though rarely aired publicly for fear of offending Washington, reach high into Israel’s security establishment. Yuval Diskin, director of the Shin Bet security service, told a group of students in a military preparatory program last May that Israel might come to regret its support for the American-led invasion in March 2003.

“When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos,? Diskin said, unaware that the meeting was secretly recorded. “I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam.? The tape was later broadcast on Israeli television.

Although Iraq was long feared as a formidable enemy of the Jewish state, on the eve of the invasion it was poor and powerless. Palaces across the country were made of cheap plaster. Nuclear and biological weapons seen as threats by the Bush administration were nonexistent.

Baram, the Iraq expert, said that before the war started, he advised American officials of problems they might face afterward. What he did not anticipate, he said, was the scale of terrorism that would spread across the country, calling it “much, much more than I expected.?

. . .Even some of those who suffered directly from Saddam’s brutality told the Forward that in retrospect, Israel was better off with him than without.

Baghdad-born Avraham Eini was a teenager when his father was arrested and tortured by Saddam’s security agents in the 1970s. “He later died of his wounds,? said 54-year-old Eini, who had escaped with his family and settled in Ramat Gan. Two decades later, in 1991, Iraqi Scud missiles fell 200 yards from his house.

Eini said he felt a sense of “revenge and relief? when Saddam was executed last week. Yet, he said, “Israel would be safer today if Saddam stayed in power."

Ijits

posted without comment:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.

The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action.

"Army personnel officials are contacting those officers' families now to personally apologize for erroneously sending the letters," the Army said in a brief news release issued Friday night.

The Army did not say how or when the mistake was discovered. It said the database normally used for such correspondence with former officers had been "thoroughly reviewed" to remove the names of wounded or dead soldiers.

"But an earlier list was used inadvertently for the December mailings," the Army statement said, adding that the Army is apologizing to those officers and families affected and "regrets any confusion."

January 04, 2007

Like A Bad Penny

Oh, oh, oh, you are NOT gonna guess the people behind Bush's new escalation strategy! I mean, I mean it can't possibly be the same ones who brought us the Vietnam escalation, the Reagan-era military build-up and the Eye-Rack war itself, right? I mean, those morons must've learned their lessons and crawled to whatever rathole they came from, right? right?

Analysis: Behind troop surge, a Neocon force

By Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writer
January 3, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Ever since Iraq began spiraling toward chaos, the war's intellectual architects -- the so-called neoconservatives -- have found themselves under attack in Washington policy salons and, more important, within the Bush administration.

Paul Wolfowitz, who was the Defense Department's most senior neocon, was shipped off to the World Bank. His Pentagon colleague Douglas Feith departed for academia. John Bolton left the State Department for the United Nations.

But other neocons have moved back into the mainstream of steering Iraq policy. A key part of the new Iraq plan that President Bush is expected to announce next week -- a surge in U.S. troops coupled with a more focused counterinsurgency effort -- has been one of the chief recommendations of these neocons since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

This group -- which includes William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard magazine, and Frederick Kagan, a military analyst at the American Enterprise Institute -- was expressing concerns about the administration's blueprint for Iraq even before the invasion almost four years ago. In these neoconservatives' view, not enough troops were being set aside to stabilize the country. They also worried that the Pentagon had formulated a plan that concentrated too heavily on killing insurgents rather than securing law and order for Iraqi citizens.

They have long advocated for a more classic counterinsurgency campaign: a manpower-heavy operation that would take U.S. soldiers out of their large bases dotted across the country and push them into small outposts in troubled towns and neighborhoods to interact with ordinary Iraqis.

Until now, it was an argument that had fallen on deaf ears.

. . .The problems with the war gradually undermined the clout they had wielded. But perhaps the more important hurdle to their views being heeded — especially on military matters — was the White House's refusal to see its Iraq policy as a failure.

That changed this summer, when the spike in sectarian violence and the failure of an offensive to secure Baghdad created what one Pentagon advisor called a "psychological break" within the administration. Until then, neoconservatives argued, the administration saw little proof that Abizaid's plan, which was backed by Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the military commander in Iraq, was failing.

The main reason for the new ascendancy of the neocon recommendations, said Kristol, is that "the Rumsfeld-Abizaid-Casey theory was tried and was found wanting…. Some of us challenged it very early on, but, of course, then we were just challenging it as a competing theory."

Although Kristol, Kagan and their intellectual allies have pushed hard for their policy change for more than three years, they bristle at the notion that the idea of a larger troop presence in Iraq and a different approach to securing the country is wholly a neoconservative idea.

Yeah, nice for the mainstream press to finally catch up since the bloggers have noted the nuttiness of the think tank neocons for a while now. But to think that these morons still enjoy credibility at this stage of the war tells us that our policy is more fucked up than we gave credit for.

January 03, 2007

Clusterfuck Defined

Once again, Nir Rosen describes the Saddam lynching and the events surrounding it with the detail and background rarely found in Western media:

The important Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha was due to begin over the weekend. For Sunnis it began on Saturday the 30th of December. For Shias it begins on Sunday the 31st. According to tradition in Mecca, battles are suspended during the Hajj period so that pilgrims can safely march to Mecca. This practice even predated Islam and Muslims preserved this tradition, calling this period 'Al Ashur al Hurm,' or the months of truce. By hanging Saddam on the Sunni Eid the Americans and the Iraqi government were in effect saying that only the Shia Eid had legitimacy. Sunnis were irate that Shia traditions were given primacy (as they are more and more in Iraq these days) and that Shias disrespected the tradition and killed Saddam on this day. Because the Iraqi constitution itself prohibits executions from being carried out on Eid, the Iraqi government had to officially declare that Eid did not begin until Sunday the 31st. It was a striking decision, virtually declaring that Iraq is now a Shia state. Eid al Adha is the festival of the sacrifice of the sheep. Some may perceive it as the day Saddam was sacrificed.

Bush Can't Even Kill A Murderous Dictator Right

Even reliably wingnut columnist Charles Krauthammer has admitted that the lynching disguised as a state-sponsored execution was a total fiasco instead of an event that provided closure.

Things are so bad that the Bush administration is openly distancing themselves from the lynching, saying that they would have handled it differently. Yeah, maybe Bush would have mocked Saddam differently than how his Mahdi Army executioners taunted him.

The Puppet Wants His Strings Cut

maliki.jpg
Quitter

Okay so he hasn't resigned yet, but Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made it clear that the idea was at the top of his Santa list:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has made clear he dislikes being the country's leader and would prefer to leave the job before his term ends.

In an extensive interview with a US newspaper, Mr Maliki said he would certainly not be seeking a second term.

A compromise choice, his tenure has been plagued by factional strife within both the country and government, and rumours the US has no faith in him.

"I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term," he said.

"I didn't want to take this position," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again."

Yeah, the Bushies now thinks he sucks as well. Can't say I blame the guy. I'd rather spend my time degreasing the floors at Burger King during closing time than be the leader of the shithole.

Sacrifice

Post reporters Ann Scott Tyson and Scott White probaby wrote this article in anticipation of this news that WorstPresidentEver will emphasize the need for sacrifice in making his case for the coming escalation:

"Grenade!"

Manning a .50-caliber machine gun in the turret of a Humvee, Pfc. Ross McGinnis could see the insurgent on a rooftop fling a hand grenade at his vehicle. He shouted and tried to deflect it, but it fell inside. Four of his buddies were down there.

What followed was a stunning act of self-sacrifice. McGinnis, a 19-year-old from rural Pennsylvania and the youngest soldier in his unit, threw himself backward onto the grenade, absorbing the blast with his body. He was killed instantly. The others escaped serious injury.

. . .For much of the rest of the country, the reverberations of the conflict are limited to headlines and television images of explosions or discussions about Iraq policy. The nation's war dead are returned to the United States privately, their flag-draped coffins shielded from cameras.

"The fatal flaw was when right after September 11 the president asked everyone to go on with their lives. That set the stage for no one sacrificing," said a Special Forces team sergeant who recently served in Iraq. "That's why they aren't behind it, because they don't have a stake in this war. They aren't losing or gaining anything. If you don't see it, smell it, feel it, how are you connected?"

via DuVernois

Eye-Rackees: Give Us Saddam Back

Ninety percent of Eye-Rackees think the situation was better before Bush launched the invasion, according to a new poll released by the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies and Gulf Research Center.

Mazel-tov Bush, you are now worse than Saddam.

January 01, 2007

Commas

Don't know how long it will last, but the New York Times has a beautiful interactive mosaic of all the people who were slaughtered in WorstPresidentEver's vanity war.

Backlash

Happy now, morans?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Enraged crowds protested the hanging of Saddam Hussein across Iraq's Sunni heartland Monday, as a mob in Samara broke the locks off a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine and marched through carrying a mock coffin and photo of the dictator.

The demonstration in the Golden Dome, shattered in a bombing by Sunni extremists 10 months ago, suggests that many Sunni Arabs may now more actively support the small number of Sunni militants fighting the country's Shiite-dominated government. The Feb. 22 bombing of the shrine triggered the current cycle of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiia, in the form of daily bombings, kidnappings and murders.

. . .Until Saddam's execution Saturday, most Sunnis sympathized with militants but avoided taking a direct role in the sectarian conflict -- despite attacks by Shiite militia that have killed thousands of Sunnis or driven them from their homes. The current Sunni protests, which appear to be building, could signal a spreading militancy.

Angered by taunts
Sunnis were not only outraged by Saddam's hurried execution, just four days after an appeals court upheld his conviction and sentence. Many were also incensed by the unruly scene in the execution chamber, captured on video, in which Saddam was taunted with chants of "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada."

The chants referred to Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand Shiite cleric who runs one of Iraq's most violent religious militias. He is a major power behind the government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Many Sunnis are also upset that Saddam was put to death the day that Sunni celebrations began for Eid al-Ahda, a major Muslim festival. The judge who first presided over the case that resulted in Saddam's death sentence said the former dictator's execution at the start of Eid was illegal according to Iraqi law, and contradicted Islamic custom.

The law states that "no verdict should implemented during the official holidays or religious festivals," said Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd.

Mr. 3,000

A real president would give addresses or attend funerals when marking a sad milestone. The worst president ever gives press releases.

CRAWFORD, Texas, Dec 31 (Reuters) - President George W. Bush mourned the death of the 3,000th U.S. soldier in Iraq, the White House said on Sunday, but cautioned war weary Americans that no quick end was in sight to the fight against terrorism.

. . ."The president believes that every life is precious and grieves for each one that is lost," said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. "He will ensure their sacrifice was not made in vain."

Puh-thetic. I would just like to add that I certainly hope that Bush doesn't take comfort in his latest scalp from the Eye-rack pillaging. All that the Saddam execution signifies is the tranfer of power from a fascist, secular dictator to a cleric body of religious fanatics.

December 30, 2006

Meet The New Boss

saddamrip.jpg
Snuff film or state-sponsored execution? You decide

If there isn't any other evidence that this execution is a farce and nothing more than revenge killing, then this is it:

The room was quiet as everyone began to pray, including Mr. Hussein. “Peace be upon Mohammed and his holy family.?

Two guards added, “Supporting his son Moktada, Moktada, Moktada.?

Mr. Hussein seemed a bit stunned, swinging his head in their direction.

They were talking about Moktada al-Sadr, the firebrand cleric whose militia is now committing some of the worst violence in the sectarian fighting; he is the son of a revered Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, whom many believe Mr. Hussein ordered murdered.

“Moktada?? he spat out, mixing sarcasm and disbelief.


Murder as Photo-Op

Jane Hamsher describes my feelings of disgust over the pageantry of Saddam's execution sometime at 10 pm last night. I know it's weird to have this feeling over the death of a truly awful human being, but the thuggery of it all, from the blatant show-trial to the execution itself, doesn't convince me that we are much better than he was.

What's worse, the whole drama over Saddam has been heavily politicized by this war president, from the timing of the verdict to fit with the November election to timing the execution to distract us from the fact that this has been the deadliest month for troops in two years. Josh Marshall sums it up perfectly:

This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us.

Try to dress this up as an Iraqi trial and it doesn't come close to cutting it -- the Iraqis only take possession of him for the final act, sort of like the Church always left execution itself to the 'secular arm'. Try pretending it's a war crimes trial but it's just more of the pretend mumbojumbo that makes this out to be World War IX or whatever number it is they're up to now.

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic 'So There!'

Marx might say that this was not tragedy but farce. But I think we need to get way beyond options one and two even to get close to this one -- claptrap justice meted out to the former dictator in some puffed-up act of self-justification as the country itself collapses in the hands of the occupying army.

Marty Peretz, with some sort of projection, calls any attempt to rain on this parade "prissy and finicky." Myself, I just find it embarrassing. This is what we're reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there's nothing else this president can get right.

What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?

December 26, 2006

Those Poor Kurds

They just have no idea what to do with their arbitrarily detained and mistreated prisoners:

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq — The inmates began their strike with an angry call. “Allahu akbar!? they shouted, 120 voices joining in a cadence punctuated by whoops.

They thrust their arms between the metal bars and ripped away the curtains and plastic sheets covering the windows facing the prison courtyard. Their squinting faces were exposed to light.

Their Kurdish guards gathered, ready to control a prison break. There was no break. The inmates were able only to shove their bunks against the doors and barricade themselves in their cells. They settled into a day of issuing complaints.

They were not allowed the Koran, they said. Their rations were meager and often moldy. Sometimes the guards beat them, they said, and several inmates had disappeared. The entire inmate population had either been denied trials or had been held beyond the terms of their sentences, they said — lost in legal limbo in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq.

The prison strike here, on Dec. 4, ended when the local authorities agreed to transfer three unpopular guards and to allow copies of the Koran in the cells. But it exposed an intractable problem that has accompanied Kurdish cooperation with the United States in Iraq.

The Kurdish prison population has swelled to include at least several hundred suspected insurgents, and yet there is no legal system to sort out their fates. So the inmates wait, a population for which there is no plan.

The Kurdish government that holds the prisoners says they are dangerous, and points out that the population includes men who have attended terrorist or guerrilla training in Iraq or Afghanistan. But it also concedes to being stymied, with a small budget, limited prison space and little legal precedent to look back on.

“We have not had trials for them,? said Brig. Sarkawt Hassan Jalal, the director of security in the Sulaimaniya region. “We have no counterterrorism law, and any law we would pass would not affect them because it would not be retroactive.?

They Can't Do Anything

Here's another example of how the U.S. military is woefully unable to do much about Eye-Rack's violence:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - For half an hour last week, mortar rounds rained down on Baghdad's largest Palestinian enclave. Neither Iraqi police at a station nearby nor U.S. troops at a base adjacent to the neighborhood responded.

At the end of the attack, the Palestinians counted their losses: six dead and 29 injured, including a repairman next to the compound's generator, two neighborhood boys with their heads and stomachs split open in the billiards hall, and the bean-seller beside his pushcart who screamed "Save me!" before he died.

Are You Happy Now?

You got your revenge on the A-rabs, any A-rabs, and we've paid double. Once again, I hope all the morans are fucking satisfied.

U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9-11 Count

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday.



December 25, 2006

Waiting For The Nuhremburg Trial

Atrios (and apparently quite a few other bloggers) strongly disagrees with Kevin Drum's suggestion that Democrats and liberals just sit back and allow the neocon dream in Eye-Rack run its course without interrupting it in any way, lest the warbots blame them for getting in their way of their inevitable victory in that country.

Their criticism are rightly based not only on the immoral calculus of dooming the Iraqi population to years of misery and bloodshed under U.S. occupation and escalation in order to hand liberals a political victory, but also on the fact that the unrepentant warmongers will never admit that they were wrong and will convince the collective limbic system of the next generation of uberpatriot suckers that they were right all along.

But Kevin Drum has history on his side. The latest example is that the Vietnam War was a fiasco which turned a huge majority of the country against it and at first we couldn't leave that quagmire fast enough. Drum says that if the surge fails then the public will reject another rerun of the dolchstosslegende. But we've added several thousand more troops and dropped more bombs in Vietnam than we did in World War II, and we still couldn't break the Vietnamese resistance. Yet one Reagan and three Rambo movies later, the 'Murikan public were still convinced that if we had stayed longer and lost more troops the jungles of Indochina, then we could have prevailed, like we did in Panama, Grenada and Leba - whoops, scratch that last one. But it was those dirty fucking hippies in Congress that got in the way of glorious, glorious victory.

Now this generation has been sold a bill of goods on the shitmire in Eye-Rack, and significant majorities now want out. But don't underestimate the stupidity and fickleness of the American public, especially with the pundits who advocated for the war still not being held to account and the news media that is only too happy to project the latest reich-wing talking point. Keep in mind that we are talking about the same American public where a full 30 percent cannot remember the year 9-11 happened. If that many can forget something as concrete as September 11, 2001, then think how many more will quickly forget the nuances of the Eye-Rack war, why we can't win, and turn on the Democrats if they pull the plug on their illusory victory.

I hate to say it but Mr. Drum is ultimately the right one. Yes it is honorable and courageous to put an end to this madness immediately, but as columnist Paul Krugman has elucidated recently, Democratic pragmatism and good governance will always fall prey to Republican demogoguery, and the latter will never learn their lesson if we keep cleaning up their mistakes. Of course, Krugman is talking about budget deficits, but on the war, the only way the public will wake up if they are, like the Germans and Japanese before them, have come to face the complete failure and defeat and are forced to look upon the atrocities of their own making with their cold dead eyes. Perhaps multiple massacres will be exposed. Perhaps the army will completely break down beyond any spin or coverup. In one form or another this country should see the end result of our folly. I would just want to add some qualifiers to Kevin Drums near-fatalistic solution for the Eye-Rack war that Democrats should not be blind followers. Keep throwing rocks on the lemon and engage in proctological oversight on the war, so that when the Day of Judgement is finally upon us, there will be ample evidence and irrefutable reminding us of our wrongdoing that will rival the Shoah Foundation.

December 24, 2006

"Flip-Flap, Flop-Flip"

That was what John Kerry said on The Daily Show during the Presidential campaign of 2004 when Jon Stewart asked him in an over-the-top, point-blank manner "Have you ever flip-flopped?"

Kerry could have knocked that out of the park, went down the list of how WorstPresidentEver has himself flip-flopped (I was against nation-building before I was for it, I was against the Department of Homeland Security before I was for it, I was against the 9/11 Commission before I was for it, etc, etc.) or he could have explained how contrived convictions is no substitute for good judgement. But he came back with that lame answer. If he didn't come up with a powerful standard response to that ridiculous "flip-flopping" charge that late in the campaign, I knew he was in trouble.

Welp, two years and one shitmire later, Kerry has been somewhat vindicated (remember, he still supported a war in Eye-Rack, just not Bush's war in Eye-Rack) and he has a new "I toldja so!" column in the Washington Post. There he FINALLY puts the smackdown on the discredited "stay the course" logic, but he also highlights an overlooked criticism of Bush's latest strategy:

We have already tried a trimmed-down version of the McCain plan of indefinitely increasing troop levels. We sent 15,000 more troops to Baghdad last summer, and today the escalating civil war is even worse. You could put 100,000 more troops in tomorrow and you're only going to add to the number of casualties until Iraqis sit down together at a bargaining table and compromise. The barrel of a gun can't answer the question of how you force Iraqi nationalism to trump sectarian loyalty.

Indeed.

December 23, 2006

Army STRAWNG! (Part III)

This part of the article about military recruiter's role in getting Boosh the surge that he needed made me want to vomit:

In his six years as an Army recruiter in South Dakota and now in Chicago, Sgt. First Class Roger White has heard his pitch rejected for all kinds of reasons: The job is too dangerous. My parents hate the war. I can make more money working.

But when Sergeant White tried to explain why he trusted that the military could continue to sustain and swell its ranks at a time of war, he said, one story came to mind.

A 39-year-old woman who once worked as a chemical specialist in the Army found herself down and out and living in a women’s shelter, he said. The Army came calling one more time, and she re-enlisted. Now, the woman is back in uniform at her previous job, serving in South Korea.

“It was amazing,? Sergeant White said, “to see how much change we could bring to just this one woman’s life.?

What the fuck? The army failed to help this woman get a job in the real world, and now he's happy bringing her back in the fold of foreign tours, substandard wages and Halliburton chow? I guess it's better than nothing, but if this is the trap the army is going to set for the poor recruits, and this recruiter is happy about it, then the army is in a sorrier state than it's ever been.

Fire The Generals. Fire Them Now.

Recently there was a veritable blogstorm over a Washington Post article where the Joint Chiefs of Staff were unanimous in their opposition to Bush's plan to "surge" the armed forces in Eye-Rack by 30,000 troops. Obviously this creates a cognitive dissonance coming from a man who has repeatedly said he will follow the advice of "the generals". Also, the Army Chief of staff General Shoomaker has advocated that the army needs to grow, but only by 7,000 a year because that is the maximum the armed forces can train and deploy per year.

But all those criticisms are now moot since the yes-mens fucking up the struggle for Eye-Rack have fallen into line with WorstPresidentEver's ill-conceived plan:

Top U.S. military commanders in Eye-Rack have decided to recommend a "surge" of fresh American combat forces, eliminating one of the last remaining hurdles to proposals being considered by President Bush for a troop increase, a defense official familiar with the plan said Friday.

The approval of a troop increase plan by top Iraq commanders, including Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, comes days before Bush unveils a new course for the troubled U.S. involvement in Iraq. Bush still must address concerns among some Pentagon officials and overcome opposition from Congress, where many Democrats favor a blue-ribbon commission's recommendation for a gradual withdrawal of combat troops.

But the recommendation by the commanders in Iraq is significant because Bush has placed prime importance on their advice. The U.S. command in Iraq decided to recommend an increase of troops several days ago, prior to meetings in Baghdad this week with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, the defense official said.

So the plan was recommended by Raymond "mock execution" Odierno? This is gonna go well.

Siding With The Winners

These are who we are trying to benefit when we implement the "80 percent solution":

BAGHDAD, Dec. 22 — As the United States debates what to do in Iraq, this country’s Shiite majority has been moving toward its own solution: making the capital its own.

Large portions of Baghdad have become Shiite in recent months, as militias press their fight against Sunni militants deeper into the heart of the capital, displacing thousands of Sunni residents. At least 10 neighborhoods that a year ago were mixed Sunni and Shiite are now almost entirely Shiite, according to residents, American and Iraqi military commanders and local officials.

For the first years of the war, Sunni militants were dominant, forcing Shiites out of neighborhoods and systematically killing bakers, barbers and trash collectors, who were often Shiites. But starting in February, after the bombing of a shrine in the city of Samarra, Shiite militias began to strike back, pushing west from their strongholds and redrawing the sectarian map of the capital, home to a quarter of Iraq’s population.

The Shiite-dominated government publicly condemns violence against Sunnis and says it is trying to stop the militias that carry it out. But the attacks have continued unabated, and Sunnis have grown suspicious.

Plans for a new bridge that would bypass a violent Sunni area in the east, and a proposal for land handouts in towns around Baghdad that would bring Shiites into what are now Sunni strongholds underscored these concerns.

Sunni political control in Baghdad is all but nonexistent: Of the 51 members of the Baghdad Provincial Council, which runs the city’s services, just one is Sunni.

The first sentence in the bolded paragraph is entirely fatuous. The second sentence is a gross understatement, as we shall see:

A college student with a Sunni name said he hid in his house, as Shiite militiamen went into homes on his block in late September and marched people away. A few days later, his uncle, a 35-year-old refrigerator repairman, was taken. The body was found in Ur, a Shiite stronghold in north Baghdad.

But unlike a bomb blast, where everybody remembers how someone died, the Sunnis’ losses seems to melt away. The Mahdi Army-controlled police station had no record of them.

Terrified, the men of the family scattered, settling on couches and in a garage of friends and family.

The student, Omar, is keeping a diary.

“One day I’ll be a teacher,? he said. “I should teach children what we passed through.?

I hope you're happy, all you warbots.

December 22, 2006

Asking Too Much Of Our Country

There are many reasons not to support the "surge" of 30,000 troops to Eye-Rack, like the fear of finally provoking a Shiite insurgency against our troops (would you like having 60 percent of the population against you? We already have enough trouble controlling the 20 percent Sunnis) the fact that it would stretch our already broken military even further, and the fact that it further ignores the silent disaster happening in Afghanistan. But liberal hawk turned unhappy customer Fred Kaplan at the Slate elaborates on what surge proponent John McCain has already said: it's just not gonna happen, namely because we are a nation of pant-pissing chickenhawks:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, when Bush was at peak popularity, and when the country was experiencing a surge of patriotism, Congress passed a bill expanding the size of the Army by 30,000 troops. Five years later, the Army has actually expanded by just 23,000 troops. It's still 7,000 troops short of that target. How does Kagan expect to attract 30,000 more in just one year, much less to do so two years in a row?

There are a lot of other logistical headscratchers Kaplan points out, like how the Army can now only recruit, train, equip and send off only 7,000 soldiers a year despite the need to expand the army by 30,000. But hey, why do we need logic when we can always wish for more ponies?

Update: Oh, right, THAT'S how it's gonna happen. . .

(via Atrios)

December 21, 2006

The Mobius Strip Of Fatuousness

When historians come around to writing a definitive account of the Bush era, this koan to willful and militant ignorance from Cornerite Stanley Kurtz should be included somewhere for posterity:

Media coverage of Iraq has been biased, and that bias has indeed helped to shape events there for the worse. At the same time, conservative distrust of the media’s very real bias has inclined us to dismiss reports about problems in Iraq that are real.

In the end, I think the media bears fundamental responsibility for this. Had they been less biased–had they reported acts of heroism and the many good things we have done in Iraq–I think conservatives would actually have taken their reporting of the problems in Iraq more seriously. In effect, the media’s consistent liberal bias discredits even its valid reports.

But you are right that MSM’s failings place a burden on smart conservatives not to be too dismissive, just because of the bias. We wish the media were more balanced, and therefore more believable. But we only hurt ourselves if we automatically dismiss anything MSM reports. Again, I think the media bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for this problem. But conservatives still need to be smart about this, or we only end up hurting ourselves.

. . .But it’s a terrible shame that we’ve come to the point where our ability to believe news reports hinges on a those rare cases where the record shows freedom from liberal bias. The media has discredited themselves, making it tough to take them seriously even when they are right, and that has hurt us all.

December 20, 2006

Head Soldier In Eye-Rack Throws In The Towel

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Quitter

How sad it must be for Abizaid. He got the CENTCOM job in the first place because he's been such a team player for Rumsfailed, and all his bullshit about how a small, fast and hyper-mechanized army can easily take over countries that hate our guts. Now that the Rumsfailed doctrine has been so repudiated, he has no other choice but to resign:

WASHINGTON — Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq.

Abizaid has been the primary architect of U.S. military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan since becoming head of the U.S. Central Command more than three years ago. He has strenuously resisted calls to increase troop levels to quell rising violence in Baghdad, arguing it would increase Iraqi dependence on Americans.

But a growing number of current and former officers have embraced the idea, some of whom have briefed President Bush as part of his monthlong review of Iraq policy, and the White House is believed to be considering the move.

"If you're going to change the strategy, in fairness to [Abizaid], let him go," said a former senior Pentagon official who has worked closely with the general. "He's given it all he's got, in terms of personal sacrifice."

Abizaid's planned departure clears the way for new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to recommend his own commander, a decision current and former Defense officials say is nearly as important as the new administration strategy expected to be unveiled by Bush in January.


Rich Lowery Turns On Eye-Rack

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Rich Lowery rightly mocks Laura Bush's recent attacks against the media concerning their coverage of Eye-Rack in a new syndicated column:

First Lady Laura Bush spoke for many conservatives when she excoriated the media’s coverage of Iraq the other day. She complained that “the drumbeat in the country from the media ... is discouraging,? and said “there are a lot of good things happening that aren’t covered.?

What are those things, one wonders? One can only imagine how Mrs. Bush can figure that they outweigh the horrors in Iraq. The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 1.6 million Iraqis have fled the country, about 7 percent of the population. But that means that an overwhelming 93 percent haven’t left. Why doesn’t the liberal media ever report that? About 120 Iraqis are killed per day, nearly 4,000 a month. But most are still living. Couldn’t one of the morning shows do a soft feature on this heartwarming fact?

Then he finally joins those among us who has bought a clue:

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

. . .The “good news? that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war. An old conservative chestnut has it that only four of Iraq’s 18 provinces are beset by violence. True, but those provinces include 40 percent of the population, as well as the capital city, where the battle over the country’s future is being waged.

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

We'll see where his newfound distaste for rose-colored glasses takes us. But for now it is too little, too late for this draft deferment-in-waiting.

Bush: "We're Not Winning"

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Okay, okay, Bush actually used the open-ended copout line, "We're not winning, we're not losing" but as today's Washington Post article says, it's certainly a far cry from Bush's pre-election thumpin' line "Absolutely we're winning!"

But don't take Bush's turnaround as a sign he's going to give up. Oh no, that is for other president's to do for him, preferably a Democratic one. The extra troop surge is just going to be another delaying tactic. I'll present TPM reader MD's likely scenario of what's going to happen in full:

It hit me the other day that what the surge is going to accomplish for Bush and Cheney is to take them through these next two years. By the time they can claim to have the extra troops in Bagdhad it's gonna be May or June. They'll be there a few months till everyone has to admit that it isn't working (though in the interim I would predict the first really horrendous event in which our troops suffer a big loss, like 200 men in one blast), then it will be the end of 2007 and the argument will be about whether we should remove some of the surge troops. That will take a few months, at least, and we'll be in the throes of a presidential election. Bush won't want to do anything too "political" at that point, of course, so he'll happily leave it to the new prez to make shitcakes out of shit. And Bush and Cheney will spin it for all it's worth for the rest of their lives...

December 19, 2006

Eye-Rack: We. Have. Failed.

William Arkin says what needed to be said in this online column. An outdated metric for measuring insanity is if doing something repeatedly while expecting different results.

A telling example is that it's been ten months since Iraq's only "level one" unit - a level of which Iraqi units can fight eithout American assistance - has been downgraded. Have they been upgraded during that time? How many level one units have been trained in those ten months? We went into this war unprepared, and now we are reaping the whirlwinds. Get out get yourselves together and next time you want to occupy a country that never attacked us, let us know what we're getting ourselves into before we go in.

Robert Farley of TAPPED got it exactly right with this graf:

The magic bullet that Connable (and, incidentally, the ISG) presents is a well trained and effective Iraqi military, one capable of overcoming sectarian division and carrying out a competent and efficiently executed counter-insurgency doctrine without resorting to genocidal bloodshed or fratricidal civil war. In other words, the expectation is that forces inevitably less capable than the units already deployed will be able to solve the problem and prevent insurgent control, bloodletting, brutality, etc. Right. This expectation itself depends on the assumption that an Army which has never been good at counter-insurgency will be able to train, in a remarkably short period of time (as the founding of armies goes) an Iraqi force up to the level of competence it will require to operate without substantial U.S. support.

December 17, 2006

"B-But What About All The Schools?"

Moving on to another Eye-Rackee institution in shambles, Kagro X at the Daily Kos writes a post highlighting the shameless shilling Laura Bush is doing for her husband's disaster in Eye-rack. Of course she trots out the usual canards, like how the media is biased and not reporting how the schools are being rebuilt. Well, the media is actually focusing on the educational situation in that country, and the results are not good:

BAGHDAD — Iraq's schools, long touted by American officials as a success story in a land short on successes, increasingly are being caught in the crossfire of the country's escalating civil war.

President Bush has routinely talked about the refurbishment and construction of schools as a neglected story of progress in Iraq. The U.S. Agency for International Development has spent about $100 million on Iraq's education system and cites the rehabilitation of 2,962 school buildings as a signal accomplishment.

But today, across the country, campuses are being shuttered, students and teachers driven from their classrooms and parents left to worry that a generation of traumatized children will go without education.

Teachers tell of students kidnapped on their way to school, mortar rounds landing on or near campuses and educators shot in front of children.

. . .No credible current national school attendance statistics exist in Iraq, whose education system was once considered a model in the Arab world. But examples abound of schools being closed or left mostly empty as parents flee the country or keep their children home.

So to all the wingers out there, Eye-Rack is an unmitigated disaster with nothing good coming out of it. Deal with it.

Eye-Rackee "Justice" In Action

Like every other thing in that shitmire, the Iraqi justice system is broken beyond all repair, according to the lengthy front page New York Times story today. The details are staggering, but one passage is metaphorical of how much of a sham this all is:

The judges dismissed the case against a man accused of joining an armed group after the Iraqi prosecutor told them there was not sufficient evidence.

He smiled as his verdict was read, but he did not leave the courthouse a free man. All the American-held detainees were taken back to the detention center. Those found guilty would be sent to Iraqi prisons. The man whose case was dismissed would be reviewed again by American military officials, who would determine whether to release him.

There's no Eye-Rackee sovereignty, period.

December 16, 2006

Go Big

Per the Thomas Ricks article last month, WorstPresidentEver is going to defy all popular demands and send even more cannon fodder - I mean troops - to the clusterfuck.

Merry Christmas, all you soon-to-be-deployed soldiers.

December 14, 2006

Let's Iraq's Future Dictator Be OUR Dictator

Scott Lemieux brings us this Jonah Goldberg column of which he argues for an Eye-Rackee strongman in the model of Pinochet. It's just part and parcel of the reich-wing's strange attraction to that terrorist military dictator.

Eye-Racknam

Tony Snowjob announces the new Bush administration reversal - I mean policy - of giving daily body counts, in order to refute the impression that Bush "isn't doing anything" in the quicksand. I wonder how long it will take for them to claim they've killed or injured 133 percent of the insurgrents.

December 13, 2006

The Army Is Broken

Army Strawng!

The Army and Marine Corps are planning to ask incoming Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Congress to approve permanent increases in personnel, as senior officials in both services assert that the nation's global military strategy has outstripped their resources.

In addition, the Army will press hard for "full access" to the 346,000-strong Army National Guard and the 196,000-strong Army Reserves by asking Gates to take the politically sensitive step of easing the Pentagon restrictions on the frequency and duration of involuntary call-ups for reservists, according to two senior Army officials.

. . .At least two-thirds of Army units in the United States today are rated as not ready to deploy -- lacking in manpower, training and, most critically, equipment -- according to senior U.S. officials and the Iraq Study Group report. The two ground services estimate that they will need $18 billion a year to repair, replace and upgrade destroyed and worn-out equipment.

If another crisis were to erupt requiring a large number of U.S. ground troops, the Army's plan would be to freeze its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and divert to the new conflict the U.S.-based combat brigade that is first in line to deploy.

Beyond that, however, the Army would have to cobble together war-depleted units to form complete ones to dispatch to the new conflict -- at the risk of lost time, unit cohesion and preparedness, senior Army officials said. Moreover, the number of Army and Marine combat units available for an emergency would be limited to about half that of four years ago, experts said, unless the difficult decision to pull forces out of Iraq were made.

"We are concerned about gross readiness . . . and ending equipment and personnel shortfalls," said a senior Marine Corps official. The official added that Marine readiness has dropped and that the Corps is unable to fulfill many planned missions for the fight against terrorism.

. . .According to Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, the Army and Marine Corps today cannot sustain even a modest increase of 20,000 troops in Iraq. U.S. commanders for Afghanistan have asked for more troops but have not received them, noted the Iraq Study Group report, which called it "critical" for the United States to provide more military support for Afghanistan.

"We are facing more operational risk than we have for many, many years," said Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. He called it "shocking and scandalous" that two-thirds of Army units are rated "non-deployable." He said the country has not faced such a readiness crisis since the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

December 11, 2006

A New Way Together Forward

Newsweek reports that Bush is going to respond to the ISG report by revealing his new slogan - I mean strategy - for Eye-Rack called "A New Way Forward."

How fuggin' typical. Instead of real plans, we get a media sell. Let's see how far we're gonna fall for it this time around.

December 10, 2006

From Domino Democracies To Domino Disorders

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Nostradumbass

Bob Johnson over at The Daily Kos discusses the new David Brooks column in today's New York TImes in which Brooks descibes a nightmare scenario of which several Arab nations gets toppled by anti-Sunni insurgents and chaos reigns throughout the Middle East, only to eventually end up on our doorstep via terror acts worst than September the Eleventh ("apply directly to your forehead"). Bob Johnson calls it The New Domino Theory©, a rehash of a discredited theory that will no doubt be peddled by the Eye-Rack war dead-enders like David Brooks to justify our staying in the shitmire, and to therefore protect their diminishing credibility.

The warbots have promoted the theory that a successful Eye-Rack war will inspire the growth of democracies in the Arab world, like spring blossoms in the arid desert.

But they've supported a war president who desperately needed to market this fiasco to the gullible voters in this country, so he rushed through elections in Eye-Rack without providing the security needed for moderate voices to be heard. Now the elections have only sharpened sectarian divides that is now fueling the civil war and the moderate voices have since been lost by the wayside. And now those same morons have shifted from predicting a Renaissance to predicting an Apocalypes. But those two theories will not pan out for the same obvious reason.

Bush's fuck-up in Eye-Rack has provided a potent example to other Arab autocracies as to why their iron-fisted rule is a necessary evil and why any incipient insurrections will be put down swiftly and with full backing of their constituencies. A dictactorship may not be perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the "freedoms" being enjoyed by the Eye-Rackees. As I've said before, Bush's legacy will not be the one laid down by Harry Truman. It will be the ones provided by the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the 13th century. The Mongols invasion effectively ended the growth and liberalization of Islam when the clerics declared that the invasion was God's punishment for their not following the strict interpretations of Islam. The Bush invasion will do the same to whatever nascent democratization efforts in the Middle East.

Continue reading "From Domino Democracies To Domino Disorders" »

December 09, 2006

Arming The Civil War

Some time ago the office of the Inspector General released a report that says about 14,000 weapons that were supposed to be given to the new Iraqi army could not be accounted for.

Well, turns out the discreptancy covers only the time before the weapons were given to the Iraq army units. What happens to the weapons after being handed over to the recruits gives a much worse picture:

“I certainly concede that there are weapons that have been lost, stolen and misappropriated,? General Dempsey said. He noted that the inspector general had estimated that 4 percent, or about 14,000 weapons, were lost between arriving in Iraq and being transferred to Iraqi forces. Most of the weapons were pistols.

The general said that he thought the estimate was high and that accountability was improving. A weapons registry was being created, he said. “Serial numbers are being registered,? he said.

But the estimate of a 4 percent loss did not include weapons that were lost or stolen after being issued to Iraqi units. The arms dealers said this was the main source of their goods.

The arms dealers described several factors that kept weapons flowing from state custody.

Some have been taken by insurgents in ambushes or raids. Defections and resignations have also been common in Iraqi police and army units, they said, and often departing soldiers and officers leave with their weapons, which are worth more than several months of pay.

Yeap, keep enabling the disaster there, oh Wise Men. We can certainly fix this. First three years haven't done it, but by golly give us another 3-10 years, we'll figger it out! Especially with a tone-deaf president at the helm.

Civil War? Phhhsht, Naaaah!

These are just Iraqis going through a "phase":

Shiites Rout Sunni Families in Mixed Area of Baghdad By JOHN F. BURNS BAGHDAD, Dec. 9 — Bands of armed Shiite militiamen stormed through a neighborhood in north-central Baghdad on Saturday, driving hundreds of Sunni Arabs from their homes in what a Sunni colonel in the Iraqi Army described as one of the most flagrant episodes of sectarian warfare yet unleashed in the capital.

The officer, Lt. Col. Abdullah Ramadan al-Jabouri, said that more than 100 Sunni families, many with very young children, had left the Hurriya neighborhood aboard a convoy of trucks and cars under cover of the nightly curfew. Government officials tried to urge the families to return by promising army protection, but could not persuade them.

. . .The fighting began around noon, when militiamen began rampaging through the only mixed district in Hurriya, a mostly Shiite neighborhood, and killed at least three Sunni Arabs. One family was shot as they left their home, with a 20-year-old man killed and his mother and younger brother wounded, according to an account given by the man’s father, who was at work as a security guard elsewhere at the time. The man said the three were hit by automatic rifle fire as they finished loading possessions into their car and prepared to drive to a safer area.

Colonel Jabouri said that skirmishes set off by the militia attacks continued for about five hours, until sunset. Meanwhile, a large convoy of Sunni Arabs waited in their vehicles outside the fortified Muhaimin mosque, waiting to drive to neighboring Sunni districts while local leaders negotiated with militiamen for safe passage.

A Sunni cleric, Sayed Ahmed Muhammad, said the negotiations also involved appeals from top government officials, including Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, for the Sunni families to return to their homes in Hurriya under promise of Iraqi Army protection. But the cleric said the assurances failed to persuade the Sunnis, whom he described as the last of more than 4,000 Sunnis to flee the area under Shiite militia threats in recent months. The convoy set out after dark.

And as for our finest men and women staying the course in the sandbox, you know, those thousands of soldiers who were supposed to protect the good people of Baghdad in OPERATION TOGETHER FORWARD, where the fuck were they?

The role of American troops in the turmoil was unclear. The Sunni cleric, Sayed Muhammad, said appeals for assistance from the First Cavalry Division, its headquarters about three miles southwest of Hurriya, had gone unanswered. But Colonel Jabouri said Iraqi commanders had told the Americans there was no need for their help. A First Cavalry Division spokesman said American advisers with Iraqi troops in Hurriya had reported only one instance of sectarian trouble, when Iraqi troops assisted a Shiite family under threat from Sunnis.

And they KNEW it was going to fail. Oy vey iz mir.


The Rise of The Cassandras

A giant plus for the Iraq Study Group report is that it is direct and unambiguous in declaring WorstPresidentEver's adventure in Eye-Rack an unmitigated mistake that should have never been pursued. No Beltway pundit who wants to be taken seriously anymore would declare otherwise. Even those who vigorously cheerled the war are forced to eat their own words (more or less). New York Times columnist Paul Krugman gets to write a well-deserved "I toldja so" in yesterday's edition:

And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war - a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats - gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.

At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"

Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.

Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been proved wrong, I'd like to offer some praise to those who got it right. Here's a partial honor roll:

Former President George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, explaining in 1998 why they didn't go on to Baghdad in 1991: "Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Representative Ike Skelton, September 2002: "I have no doubt that our military would decisively defeat Iraq's forces and remove Saddam. But like the proverbial dog chasing the car down the road, we must consider what we would do after we caught it."

Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."

Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."

Representative John Spratt, October 2002: "The outcome after the conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less certain."

Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."

Senator Russ Feingold, October 2002: "I am increasingly troubled by the seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. ... When the administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its urgency. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has much to do with the troubling phenomenon of many Americans questioning the administration's motives."

Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. ... Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war - or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly - should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.

We must not forget about one brave soul who, despite going through a very tough re-election campaign, remained true to his principles and voted against this ill-fated war and reportedly said that he didn't care if his vote cost him the election. That would be Paul Wellstone, and sadly we were denied the opportunity to see if his vote vindicated by the election. Recently WCCO dug up old videos of Wellstone's speech during that critical time and compared his words to the facts on the ground today. Needless to say, the foresight was eerie.

December 08, 2006

Ethnic Cleansing Inc.

The Eye-Rack civil war is providing new business to professional movers in that country:

Iraqi movers are front-line witnesses to the violent purges that are transforming this capital's once-diverse neighborhoods into a mosaic of hamlets cordoned off by religious sect. At great personal risk and for very little money, they race through hostile territory to help families pack heirlooms and electronics in the minutes before fleeing.

The movers' callused hands and sad eyes betray the hardships of a job that brings to life a grim United Nations statistic: Sectarian violence displaces 1,000 Iraqis each day.

"All this moving isn't just changing the character of Baghdad. It's destroying it," said Abu Zaid, a third-generation mover who was too scared to give his full name.

In 1941, Abu Zaid's grandfather bought a red Dodge pickup, said to be the first kind of truck that Iraq imported, and established a family moving business. Abu Zaid's father added a white Mercedes truck in the 1980s to deliver furniture to Sunni and Shiite residents in upscale, mixed-sect neighborhoods.

Now, Abu Zaid said, his own yellow Hino truck is reversing his family's work, depopulating the very neighborhoods that his father and grandfather helped to fill.

"We lived for years without thinking about what's a Sunni or what's a Shiite," he muttered with bitterness.

Abu Zaid, a towering, rotund man, stood Tuesday at an informal gathering place for movers along a main road that links the predominantly Sunni western part of Baghdad with the majority-Shiite east side.

Iraqis intimidated into leaving their homes cruise this strip to find movers whom they can trust to be discreet, quick and fearless. Sometimes, the movers said, customers lie about where they live, worrying that they'll be turned down because their neighborhoods are rife with snipers and fake checkpoints.

Relatively safe trips to Karrada or Zayuna run from $35 to $50 an hour; forays into the deadly districts of Jihad, Doura, Ghazaliyah or Ameriya can fetch $200 an hour or more.

"Once - only once - I went to Jihad," recalled Abu Zaid, 30, who's a Shiite. "It was to move in a Sunni woman who had to leave a Shiite neighborhood. The minute we reached Jihad, clashes broke out between Interior Ministry commandos and insurgents. All I could do was dump the furniture and get out of there.

"I parked in an alley and went to ask a policeman how I could escape. He told me, `OK, go back to your truck and when I give you the sign, make a run for it.'"

Read the whole thing. Then ask yourself how the three year occupation could have prevented this fact of life from happening. Then ask yourself how continuing our presence in that country is going to help the situation. While the wise men and politicians pat themselves on the back over the ISG report, the country burns.

December 07, 2006

Painting The Schools With Blood

While Bush and Blair are busy openly repudiating the ISG report, the situation in Eye-Rack continues to deteriorate:


BAGHDAD, Iraq - The toll in one of the U.S. military’s deadliest days in Iraq rose to 11 when the military said Thursday that another soldier had died in fighting west of Baghdad.

At least seven Iraqis — six policemen and a 7-year-old girl — were killed in a series of bombings and shootings.

. . .Gunmen also broke into a school in western Baghdad, killing its Sunni headmaster in his office, then instructing teachers not to return, an Iraqi army officer said, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday urged university professors and students to ignore a Sunni Arab insurgent group’s warnings to avoid class, calling them “desperate attempts.?

The group had sent e-mails to students and posted signs at schools and mosques saying students should stay away while it cleanses the campuses of Shiite death squads, according to a statement from al-Maliki’s office late Tuesday.

But they MUST set aside their differences or else. . .

John McCain The Straight Shooter

If the national media rigorously held our elected officials to account for their words and predictions, I'll eat my keyboard:

Here’s what McCain said almost exactly a year ago:
“I think the situation on the ground is going to improve. I do think that progress is being made in a lot of Iraq. Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course. If I thought we weren’t making progress, I’d be despondent.? [The Hill, 12/8/05]

via Atrios

The Pony Show

The Iraq Study Group report is out. And people who aren't self-serving politicians aren't impressed.

Of course they aren't, because I haven't seen a document so mealy-mouthed and so lacking of insight since, well, the September 11th Commission report, also co-written by the ISG member Lee Hamilton who just admitted what a sham his last blue-ribbon commission was. Basically it gives a lot of "musts" (the Iraq government MUST settle their differences and come together, the U.S. MUST get Syria and Iran to fix Eye-Rack, the U.S. MUST train more Eye-Rackee troops, etc. ad nauseum) without being detailed on how to achieve those goals [e.g. "Come on Asad, Ahmadenijad, help us out here. Puhleeeeze? We'll be your friends? Oh don't be like that!" (pg. 51)]. And they urge us to support and butress institutions like the Iraq Parliament which they admit is dysfunctional beyond all repair. They also tell us to train more Iraq security forces without discussing the fact that militia members get paid more than the regular Iraq soldier and that the U.S. military program for training Iraqi soldiers is too ill equipped to live up to that task anyways.

But the most damning thing is that while they admit that Eye-Rack is such a mess, they urge us to be patient and give it one final chance for it to work, even though that ship has long sailed. What kind of fools do they take us for? As Michael R. Gordon says in the New York Times today, "[n]ow the study group is positing that the United States can accomplish in little more than one year what it has failed to carry out in three."

Ho well, Steve Gilliard is right. If anything, at least the report will give those in the mushy-moderate give-the-president-a-chance crowd political cover to give WorstPresidentEver the harsh criticism that he so richly deserves.

If anything.

December 05, 2006

Fire The Generals

Buried deep within a pro-forma article about the upcoming Iraq Study Group report, Newsweek has a scoop from the shitmire that details how fed up the generals are with the situation:

The American military is fed up with Maliki. The ground commanders in Iraq felt betrayed by him this summer when he undermined a push to get control of the streets of Baghdad. The Iraqis failed to deliver on a promise to put enough troops on the ground. A four-star general who declined to be identified discussing a confidential conversation told of this encounter with Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who was in charge of day-to-day ground operations. "Do you have enough forces? Enough to clear an area and stay there to secure it 24/7?" Chiarelli replied, "Of course not." The four-star recalls replying, "It's going to fail, it's absolutely going to fail." The Americans never had enough forces to sweep even half the city, much less secure it. Maliki made their job tougher by in effect forbidding the U.S. military from taking on Shiite fighters; ordering them to lift roadblocks around Sadr City, the Shiite slum, and ordering them to release prisoners suspected of running death squads.

Oh really? With all the grandstanding with last summer's "Operation Together Forward" it turns out we would never have enough troops to complete that grandiloquently named mission? And they sat on this simple fact up until now, after weeks upon weeks of utterly predictable failure?

The military has become too much of a haven for ass-covering careerist yes-men who tell their commanders what they want to hear so they can get that promotion. Withholding the truth about the situation does nothing to win wars, it only furthers an illusion. If these military men don't have the balls to call it as it is, then they need to retire immediately.

Continue reading "Fire The Generals" »

My Solution To The Eye-Rack War

With the report from the Eye-Rack Study Group due to be out tomorrow and with every blowhard pundit who has ever backed the war offering magical pony plans for how to get out of it, I just thought I'd offer my suggestion on how to right this wrong:

Get RID of that delusional, denying murdering sonuvabitch president from OUT the Oval office, NOW!

NEW YORK At today's meeting with reporters at the White House, the major topics for Press Secretary Tony Snow, as expected, were the pending release of the Iraq Study Group's report -- and today's surprise, the admission by Robert Gates, at his confirmation hearings as new Pentagon chief, that the U.S., indeed, is not winning the war in Iraq.

Snow said that, as far as he knows, the president has not backed away from his recent statement that the U.S. is actually "winning" in Iraq. He also suggested that Gates, elsewhere in his testimony, seemed to say that maybe we weren't losing and we weren't winning. And he charged that the press was being too negative about all this: "What I think is demoralizing is a constant effort to try to portray this as a losing mission," he said.

He was also pushed on the question of the Iraq conflict turning into a civil war -- which he seriously questioned. "Well, I think one of the dangers is that civil war had been used in a political context," he said. "It's interesting -- what intervened other than an election to get people to change the label?"

A reporter shot back: "The violence got worse, I suppose."

Snow concluded: "I said it's very difficult to figure out that there is any clear definition, and if you have one, please pass it on."

Unless Bush is removed, nothing will be achieved except more chaos and violence.

Morons Leading The Insane

The lizard-brain wing of the blogosphere are offering their solution to what they now recognize as a real clusterfuck in the country formerly known as Eye-Rack. Of course, the offerings of those who cheerled the initial misadventure in the first place is going to suffer from a deficiency in quality, originality,or insight. They range from "exporting Iraq to the region" to disrupting Iranian oil trading to regenerating a whole new mercenary Eye-Rack army replete with re-education centers and close proximity to U.S. soldiers.

But this plan by the appropriately named Jacksonion Party takes the cake:

What is that, pray tell?

The Jacksonian way out?

I promise you, you will not like it.

It is to widen the war and take out SYRIA using Egyptian or Jordanian or Kurdish troops in an 'Afghanistan style' light infantry attack and use US air supremacy to wipe out the forces of Syria wherever they appear.

. . .What is even better is that this offers a way out and a way UP for the Middle East. Iran, will either have to open up and HELP, in which case their people will get first hand knowledge of how the US operates and realize the insanity of going after us militarily and start to work hard on a new regime OR it will close up and become an immediate threat realizing that its existence is being threatened without a single shot being fired at it. It will lash out, in that case. And find the US Forces that have been stabilizing Iraq have already been shifting to counter them. The moment they *do* a two pronged attack from the southwest and northeast out of Afghanistan by US forces will put Iran out of operation in three weeks or so. Maybe even three or four months. Definitely not long as the regime is 'one deep' and are facing the hard demographics of their population coming to loathe them.

And who gets to run Iran while it recovers?

Simple: Afghanistan and Iraq.

And if you have time to read through the numbingly dense prose this writer puts forth (has he ever heard of run-on sentences?) you'll find that his ultimate goal is to create a pan-Islamic superstate in which Mecca and Medina is shared by everyone, all in an effort, ironically, to punish and correct Muslims for not being a "religion of peace."

Why can't these infants shut up and leave the thinking to the grown-ups?

December 02, 2006

Rumsfailed: Too Little, Too Late, Too Much For Bush.

Looks like the real reason Donald Rumsfeld got the heave-ho was not his crippling arrogance and incompetence, but it was the fact that he was no longer being a team player:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 — Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,? wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.?

And lookee here, he was even going as far as considering the Democrat's cut-n-run/retreat-n-defeat plan:

To limit the political fallout from shifting course he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.

“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,? he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ?

“Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist,? he added. Mr. Rumsfeld’s memo suggests frustration with the pace of turning over responsibility to the Iraqi authorities; in fact, the memo calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House’s sharpest Democratic critics.

The memo’s discussion of possible troop reduction options offers a counterpoint to Mr. Rumsfeld’s frequent public suggestions that discussions about force levels are driven by requests from American military commanders.

Instead, the memo puts on the table several ideas for troop redeployments or withdrawals that appear to conflict with recent public pronouncements from commanders in Iraq emphasizing the need to maintain troop levels.

As I've already said, Bush already has an exit strategery: to weather out this shitstorm for a couple more years all the while saying how great Eye-Rack is, and having other adults clean up his mess after he leaves. Those who tell him otherwise will need to start printing out their resumes soon.

December 01, 2006

Bush Picks A Side

And it appears that they are going with the winners:

The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.

The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.

Some insiders call the proposal the "80 percent" solution, a term that makes other parties to the White House policy review cringe. Sunni Arabs make up about 20 percent of Iraq's 26 million people.

. . .A decision to step back from reconciliation efforts would also be highly controversial among America's closest allies in the region, which are all Sunni governments. Sunni leaders in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have been pressuring the United States to ensure that their brethren are included in Iraq's power structure and economy.

That last paragraph is important because if the Bushelvikis side against the Sunnis, the Saudis will also be forced to pick sides.

November 29, 2006

FOBbits

Roger Charles at the website Soldiers For Truth just posted an email he recieved that details how expendable soldier's lives are in todays corporatized and privatized army, which sees only costs-benefits analyses instead of doing everything they can for the troops, enabled by the coddled desk-jockeys in the rear Forward Operating Bases. Of course I'm pretty sure the military will not confirm the account since they have a habit of making shit up when faced with unflattering stories, so take it as is. I believe it because it contains the language soldiers on the ground used, the unit names and specific locations so if there was an investigation there would be a lot to work with. The piece is filled with all sorts of military jargon so I'll help you out: REMF=Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers, SPPT = support, FOB = Forward Operating Base, MEDIVAC = Medical Evacuation, QRF = Quick Reaction Force, POGs = Persons Other than Grunts, EOD = Explosives, Ordinance and Disarmament (the bomb squad), LZ = Landing Zone, TOC = rear Tactical Operations Center:

The 4/1 SPPT Team was traveling back from Salman Pak to Camp Rustamiyah along EFP alley (RTE Pluto South) on Sunday May 14th about 5:15pm in a 3 vehicle convoy. About 3 miles from Camp Rustamiyah, the first Humvee was hit by a massive roadside bomb called an EFP. The bomb blew the HUMVEE into the air and created a giant cloud of debris, dirt and pavement. We stopped as fast as we could and when the smoke cleared enough, we could see the first HUMVEE had been completely blown off the road and was lying upside down in a ditch. To make matters worse it was also on fire. The rest of the team tried to free the driver and vehicle commander from the wreckage but the frame of the HUMVEE was bent and the door would not open. The two soldiers in the front were trapped inside the burning vehicle and died. We could only pray that they were already dead from the EFP blast and did not burn to death. We tried to pull the front doors off with a winch and a tow strap, but the burning ammunition inside the wreck started to explode and the entire vehicle caught fire and blew up. The gunner was pulled from the wreckage and was severely wounded with shrapnel wounds from the spalling. The Medic with the SPTT Team was able to start working on the gunner to save his life and we gave the interpreter aid as best as we could. A MEDIVAC was immediately called for the litter urgent and critical soldier and the QRF rolled from the FOB. About 10 minutes later the tanks and HUMVEES of the QRF got there and secured the area. What happened at this point is what we need your help with.

The MEDIVAC was denied because we could not guarantee the LZ was not hot. Even with the QRF securing the area, the MEDIVAC was not launched. We were told we had to transport the severely wounded soldier and interpreter back to the FOB, have the aid station stabilize them and the MEDIVAC would then fly to the FOB to pick them up. To complicate matters the QRF did not have an ambulance with them, because the medical until will not roll any of the 20 odd HUMVEE and M113 combat ambulances with the QRF because it is too dangerous outside the FOB. We had to put the soldier in a HUMVEE and drive him to the FOB, where the chicken shit medics were waiting inside the FOB gate to transport him, via ambulance to the TMC. Thank God this soldier is still alive and on his way to Landstuhl. The two soldiers were eventually pulled from the wreckage after a HEMMIT with a tank pump unit put out the fire that engulfed the wrecked HUMVEE. It took the HEMMIT almost an hour to get to the site, 3 miles away from the FOB, because the KBR contracted Fire Department and EMT unit refused to leave the FOB, because their contract states they will ONLY work within the protection of the FOB.

Their brand new fire engines and rescue vehicles were waiting inside the gate when we finally towed the wrecked HUMVEE back. By the time the HEMMIT arrived, both soldiers were burned beyond recognition. to the point where their own wives could not recognize them. Last night at 1:00am in the morning, we loaded the body bags on a helicopter to BIOP and to start their trip home

When we asked why the MEDIVAC would not land on a secured LZ to MEDIVAC the critically wounded soldier, we were told “the policy is that we cannot afford to lose a Blackhawk and crew flying into potentially hostile LZ.? We work in Salman Pak, which is almost an hour southeast of Baghdad. If a soldier is wounded, we are expected to self evac him back to Rustamiyah because “it is too dangerous to send a MEDIVAC, Ambulance or M113 combat medic vehicle (even if it is with the QRF). From he time we landed in Kuwait and after we arrived in Iraq, we were given MEDIVAC procedure cards and even given a MEDIVAC Freq . We were told that all we had to do is call and follow the procedures on the card and a MEDIVAC would be launched. This is BOGUS! ALL Soldiers need to know that unless they are at a FOB, the MEDIVAC will not be launched. Fire departments, EMT, combat medic vehicles, field ambulances all have orders not to leave the FOB because it is to :?dangerous.? The reality is if you are wounded, you are SOL until your own unit puts you into a HUMVEE and you get back to the FOB.
Please help us contact [deleted] about this policy. 4th ID is telling us that “this is just the way things are.? That, “these things happen.? We need your help before this is swept under the rug.

Continue reading "FOBbits" »

Friedman's Reinvasion Revisted

We already know that Thomas Friedman was off his rocker when he asserted on the Today Show that his solution for the fucked up Eye-Rack invasion was to re-invade that country. But that was just the Today Show, only stay-at-home-mothers and people who just happened to catch it before going off to work would see.

But no, today Friedman decides to put that insanity into writing and inject it with steroids:

Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq's institutions and political culture from scratch.

Greg Sargent is right, how the hell does Friedman know that doubling our troop strength in Eye-Rack is going to work the miracle instead of just giving the insurgents and militias more targets? And where the hell is he going to get that many troops anyways?

So once again, will the men in the white labcoats please take him away?

From White Man's Burden To White Man's Blame

Thomas Ricks and Robin Wright of the Washington Post notices how several commentators are not only passing the buck that is the Eye-Rack disaster over to the hajjis - I mean Iraqis - but firmly burying it in the square of their backs:

From troops on the ground to members of Congress, Americans increasingly blame the continuing violence and destruction in Iraq on the people most affected by it: the Iraqis.

Even Democrats who have criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the occupation say the people and government of Iraq are not doing enough to rebuild their society. The White House is putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and members of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group have debated how much to blame Iraqis for not performing civic duties.

This marks a shift in tone from earlier debate about the responsibility of the United States to restore order after the 2003 invasion, and it seemed to gain currency in October, when sectarian violence surged. Some see the talk of blame as the beginning of the end of U.S. involvement.

. . .For example, a Nov. 15 meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee turned into a festival of bipartisan Iraqi-bashing.

"We should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it belongs -- on the Iraqis," began Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), the committee's next chairman. "We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves." He has advocated announcing that U.S. troops are going to withdraw as a way of pressuring Iraqi politicians to find compromises.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) followed by noting: "People in South Carolina come up to me in increasing numbers and suggest that no matter what we do in Iraq, the Iraqis are incapable of solving their own problems through the political process and will resort to violence, and we need to get the hell out of there."

"We all want them to succeed," agreed Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.). "We all want them to be able to stabilize their country with the assistance that we've provided them." But, he added, "too often they seem unable or unwilling to do that."

Later the same day, members of the House Armed Services Committee took their turn. "If the Iraqis are determined and decide to destroy themselves and their country, I don't know how in the world we're going to stop them," said Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.).

Notice how all but one of the critics have voted for the Iraq War Resolution, therefore officially making what they think a dead letter? While it's now fashionable to shift from "cut and run" to "blame the towelheads," the most clarifying thing from the whole article comes from an unnamed intelligence officer:

"People never understood the culture and the challenges that we faced in trying to build a new Iraq," a senior U.S. intelligence official said. "There's incredible frustration . . . but it also shows a great deal of ignorance."

Yeppers. And nothing personifies that lack of understanding of the extant cultures and politics of Saddam's Eye-Rack than the person of Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr:

Continue reading "From White Man's Burden To White Man's Blame" »

None Dare Call It Civil War

How the hell could things get any worse in the shitmire? Oh yeah. . .

Shi'ites, Sunnis amass arms

By Sharon Behn
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published November 29, 2006

Rival Shi'ite and Sunni groups are massing their militias in expectation of major confrontations, Iraqis say, even as President Bush prepares to meet today with the nation's embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Mr. Bush's meeting in Jordan is part of a wider attempt to involve Iraq's neighbors in efforts to end Iraq's vicious sectarian violence before it spills over into a larger regional conflict.

But Iraqis on both sides of their nation's sectarian divide report worrisome signs that the conflict will soon evolve into pitched battles between large armed groups.

One secular Shi'ite speaking on the telephone from Baghdad said Shi'ite militias were massing in preparation for a large offensive against Sunnis in the capital.

"They had a big militarylike ceremony today for the Mahdi militia, to show their force. They are making themselves ready for something big -- protests, fighting, killing," said the Shi'ite.

A secular Sunni in close contact with one insurgent faction, said rebel Sunnis were also trying to form alliances among militias for a big push in the city against the Shi'ites, including more raids on government buildings.

"I am waiting for the Sunnis to launch a 'Tet Offensive.' That is the one plug they have not pulled yet, and I could see that happening," said senior Rand defense analyst Ed O'Connell.

The Tet Offensive was a series of attacks by the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies that many consider a turning point in the war, leading eventually to the U.S. withdrawal.

Any emergence of pitched battles between massed groups of Sunnis and Shi'ites would largely settle a long-running argument in Washington over whether the conflict in Iraq should be described as a civil war -- a description the Bush administration has so far rejected.


Continue reading "None Dare Call It Civil War" »

November 28, 2006

They're Coming To Take Him Away (Ho-Ho!)

Thomas Friedman. Former New York Times mideast correspondent and bureau chief who covered the civil war in Lebanon and the first Palestinian intifada. Currently the most well known commentator on foreign affairs whose columns in the same newspaper are widely read. Author of seminal books and best-selling books on global issues such as From Beirut to Jeruselem, The Lexus and The Olive Tree and The World Is Flat. Candidate for Most Batshit Insane Person on the face of this planet:

Friedman: …To have a proper civil war you need to have two sides —-you have about thirty sides—It's beyond a civil war there.

Vieira: So what does that mean in terms of our role there then, Tom?

Friedman: Um, Obviously when you're dealing now with something broken up into so many little pieces–it's hard to believe that anything other than re-occupying the country–um, and establishing the very coherent order we failed to do from the beginning is really the only serious option left.

Vieira: But, is that really a serious option—to reoccupy the country?

Friedman: Well, I'm simply saying if you actually want to actually bring order there—the idea that you're going to train the Iraqi army and police to this kind of fragmented society is ludicrous. Who's training the insurgents? Nobody is training them and they seem to be doing just fine. This is not about the way–it's about the will. Do you have a will to be a country? If you don't have that then there's not much training is going to do..

Oh yeah, this song was written for guys like Thomas Friedman in mind (mp3).

Another disturbing thing is that if you watch the accompanying video, Friedman several times blamed the current chaos on the Sunnis who harbor the Baathist and Al-Qaeda elements (not on, you know, the actual invasion itself thought up by WorstPrez). It seems that the final solution he proposed for the Sunni problem a little over a year ago still stands to this day:

Maybe the cynical Europeans were right. Maybe this neighborhood is just beyond transformation. That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. We must not throw more good American lives after good American lives for people who hate others more than they love their own children.

Indeed it's time to prepare a bed in the nearest happy home.

Army STRAWNG!!

anbar.jpg
We give up.

Remember how I said the situation in Eye-Rack is unwinnable and unsalveagable? Well ABC News just got a scoop that the Pentagon is considering abandoning the Al-Anbar province, the center of the Sunni insurgency, and placing assigning the Marines stationed there to their new task of preventing Bagdhad from embarrassing the Bushies even further:

ABC News has learned that Pentagon officials are considering a major strategic shift in Iraq, to move U.S. forces out of the dangerous Sunni-dominated al-Anbar province and join the fight to secure Baghdad.

. . .In a recent intelligence assessment, top Marine in al-Anbar, Col. Peter Devlin, concluded that without a massive infusement of more troops, the battle in al-Anbar is unwinnable.

In the memo, first reported by the Washington Post, Devlin writes, "Despite the success of the December elections, nearly all government institutions from the village to provincial levels have disintegrated or have been thoroughly corrupted and infiltrated by al Qaeda in Iraq."


Faced with that situation in al-Anbar, and the desperate need to control Iraq's capital, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace is considering turning al-Anbar over to Iraqi security forces and moving U.S. troops from there into Baghdad.

"If we are not going to do a better job doing what we are doing out [in al-Anbar], what's the point of having them out there?" said a senior military official.

Another option under consideration is to increase the overall U.S. troop level in Iraq by two to five brigades (that's about 7,000 to 18,000 troops).

Generals Casey and Abizaid, however, have both weighed in against this idea. And such an increase would only be sustainable for six to eight months. Far more likely, the official says, will be a repositioning of forces currently in Iraq. "There is a push for a change of footprint, not more combat power."

"A New Phase"

That idiot son of a chimp today refused to describe the situation in Eye-Rack as a civil war, instead calling it a "pattern" that has lasted for the past nine months. Indeed, even his minions are all out in force today, utilizing the word "phase" to try to dispell the new media meme that Eye-Rack is now in a civil war.

Look, the terrible twos is a phase, puberty is a phase, post-partum depression is a phase, mid-life crisis is a phase. The thing we have in Eye-Rack is an unmitigated disaster that is just going to keep getting worse. Today in the front page of the local Strib, we have a former Iraqi stringer for the newspaper telling us how she is forced to quit her lifelong home:

I left my home Monday.

As my family fled the fighting that's engulfed our neighborhood in Baghdad, I gazed out the car window, thinking that I might never again see the fruit stand off our street, the shops where my sisters and I bought soft drinks, the turquoise-domed mosque where we prayed in the holy month of Ramadan.

And to think I'd spent Sunday in my garden, using the forced free time of a curfew to plant geraniums for spring. Later that night, Shiite militiamen encroached on our Sunni enclave; the reverse had happened in so many other neighborhoods, and now it was our turn. Any thoughts of the future were overshadowed by the need to survive the night.

A year ago, I was a newlywed excited about finally having a place of my own. I filled it with what we call baghdadiyat, the artifacts of a bygone time in Iraq's history: an Ottoman trunk, Persian carpets, copper spoons and silver vases finely etched with designs of birds and flowers. Abstract paintings by young Iraqi artists hung on the wall. My garden outside was ringed with stones and filled with climbing vines and seasonal flowers.

When it became too dangerous to dine at restaurants, my husband and I would sometimes set a table in the garden and eat together under a floodlight -- if there was electricity. This was my sanctuary from war.

With the birth of our daughter last September, I became even more grateful for a safe place where I could play with her and momentarily forget the sad stories I hear all day in my job as a journalist.

But the violence in Baghdad worsened over the summer. Strangers crept into the Jihad district, our middle-class neighborhood of Sunnis and Shiites. Were they there to protect us? Nobody knew for sure.

. . .On Sunday night, I was home watching the evening news when my sister rushed over from next door and said, "There's a lot of shooting outside. Can't you hear it?"

The loud whir of my generator, our only source of electricity that night, had drowned out the gunfire a few blocks away. Within minutes we feared we'd be under attack.

Even though we'd planned for this moment, I panicked. I switched off the generator, but I couldn't find my flashlight. As I fumbled in the darkness, my daughter started crying and grabbing my leg. I scooped her up, wrapped her in a blanket and rushed to my parents through the back passageway.

My family gathered in the living room, terror in their eyes. The women and children moved to a corridor away from the windows. The men made frantic phone calls and readied their weapons.

Men stood watch on the roofs, and some neighbors fired warning shots out their windows.

After a while, it seemed as if everyone was shooting. Then a loud boom sounded, a rocket or a mortar shell, very close.

My daughter woke up crying. When the shooting grew louder, I covered her ears with my hands.

"What am I still doing here?" I asked myself. "What more needs to happen for me to leave?"

I felt angry with myself for being so stubborn, for staying in the neighborhood long after most of my friends had fled. I made a promise to myself: If we made it through the night, I'd leave.

The shooting died down after midnight. We tried to sleep, but we woke up nearly every hour and checked to see if the sun had risen. Somehow, morning seemed safe.

After dawn, the curfew ended, but we didn't want to be the first family on the road. Who knew if there were illegal checkpoints? Car bombs? Gunmen?

Not things, but memories

I stood in my home, remembering how my husband and I had told everyone that we'd never leave. I looked at my paintings, the century-old chest, all the antiques that we'd spent days picking out so carefully in Baghdad's ancient markets. They weren't just things, they were memories.

I had two suitcases. What to take? I stuffed one with my daughter's clothes and diapers, along with all our personal documents. Into the other went my smallest painting, a cherished Indian bedspread and warm sweaters for winter.

As we began loading the car, I realized that there was no space for the second bag. With a broken heart, I left it behind.

I told myself they were just material things. There's nothing we can't buy except our lives. Nothing was as important as my daughter, and I was just grateful that we'd made it to morning.

I took one last look at my living room, locked the door and walked away.

Try telling her it's all just a "phase."

Four Friedmans Of Chaos

Eye-Rack has been in a state of emergency for two whole years, and the parliament has understandably extended that condition for another 30 days. Boy, it was a great thing the Iraq parliament declared that state of emergency conveniently after the 2004 presidential election, wasn't it. John Forbes Kerry might have failed miserably in his mission to defeat the insurgents in the Anbar province, unlike our golden warrior president:

The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq or counter al-Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report that set off debate in recent months about the military's mission in Anbar province.

The Marines recently filed an updated version of that assessment that stood by its conclusions and stated that, as of mid-November, the problems in troubled Anbar province have not improved, a senior U.S. intelligence official said yesterday. "The fundamental questions of lack of control, growth of the insurgency and criminality" remain the same, the official said.

The Marines' August memo, a copy of which was shared with The Washington Post, is far bleaker than some officials suggested when they described it in late summer. The report describes Iraq's Sunni minority as "embroiled in a daily fight for survival," fearful of "pogroms" by the Shiite majority and increasingly dependent on al-Qaeda in Iraq as its only hope against growing Iranian dominance across the capital.

True or not, the memo says, "from the Sunni perspective, their greatest fears have been realized: Iran controls Baghdad and Anbaris have been marginalized." Moreover, most Sunnis now believe it would be unwise to count on or help U.S. forces because they are seen as likely to leave the country before imposing stability.

Between al-Qaeda's violence, Iran's influence and an expected U.S. drawdown, "the social and political situation has deteriorated to a point" that U.S. and Iraqi troops "are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar," the assessment found. In Anbar province alone, at least 90 U.S. troops have died since Sept. 1.

November 27, 2006

Eye-Rackee Boat People

alimahdi.jpg
Eye-Rackee occupation collaborators to get their private choppers

Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly points us to an article by George Packer printed in the latest edition of the New Republic. Packer basically says that Bush's war is lost and the only conversation we should be having now is what is the best way to leave. He also brings up this puzzler:

Withdrawal means that the United States will have to watch Iraqis die in ever greater numbers without doing much of anything to prevent it, because the welfare of Iraqis will no longer be among our central concerns. Those Iraqis who have had anything to do with the occupation and its promises of democracy will be among the first to be killed: the translators, the government officials, the embassy employees, the journalists, the organizers of women's and human rights groups. As it is, they are being killed one by one. (I personally know at least half a dozen of them who have been murdered.) Without the protection of the Green Zone, U.S. bases, or the inhibiting effect on the Sunni and Shia militias of 150,000 U.S. troops, they will be killed in much greater numbers. To me, the relevant historical analogy is not the helicopters taking off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, leaving thousands of Vietnamese to the reeducation camps. It is the systematic slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of every Cambodian who appeared to have had anything to do with the West.

If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible. . .The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad does not issue visas. Iraqis who want to come to the United States must make their way across dangerous territory to a neighboring country that has a U.S. Embassy with a consular section. Iran and Syria do not; Jordan has recently begun to bar entry to Iraqi men under the age of 35. For a military translator to have a chance at coming to the United States, he must be able to prove that he worked for at least a year with U.S. forces and have the recommendation of a general officer--nearly impossible in most cases. Our current approach essentially traps Iraqis inside their country, where they will have to choose, like Osman, between jihadists and death squads.

We should start issuing visas in Baghdad, as well as in the regional embassies in Mosul, Kirkuk, Hilla, and Basra. We should issue them liberally, which means that we should vastly increase our quota for Iraqi refugees. (Last year, it was fewer than 200.) We should prepare contingency plans for massive airlifts and ground escorts. We should be ready for desperate and angry crowds at the gates of the Green Zone and U.S. bases. We should not allow wishful thinking to put off these decisions until it's too late. We should not compound our betrayals of Iraqis who put their hopes in our hands.

I got one thing to say about that: mazel tov. George Packer supported this turkey when it counted; in his own words he "found it impossible to say no to a war that would get rid of Saddam Hussein." And that is despite the fact that the TOP reason why the Eye-Rack war was a bad idea in the first place is that removing Saddam Hussein will create a thing called a "power vacuum" with the various factions warring over control. And the resulting civil war will, per usual, create a refugee problem that WE will have to deal with because it is OUR war.

There you are, America. You got your war you wanted because of your hatred of Arabs. Now you all might as well get the fuck over your islamophobia quick because you are going to have to deal with a whole lot more of them in the coming years.

November 26, 2006

"WWIII" Now Longer Than WWII

I meant to post this last Friday, but for some reason the servers were down. So here you go, the grand result of an assiduously incompetent leadership:

War in Iraq has outlasted U.S. role in WWII

Only Revolution, Vietnam, Civil War were longer

November 26, 2006, BY TOM RAUM

WASHINGTON -- The war in Iraq has lasted longer than U.S. involvement in the war that President Bush's father fought in, World War II.

As of today, the conflict in Iraq has raged for three years and just over eight months.

Only the Vietnam War, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War engaged America longer.

LA Times Finally Calls A Spade A Spade

This daily catalogue of the violence in Eye-Rack, courtesy of the LA Times, is unremarkable except for the first line:

BAGHDAD — Iraq's civil war worsened Friday as Shiite and Sunni Arabs engaged in retaliatory attacks after coordinated car bombings that killed more than 200 people in a Shiite neighborhood the day before.

It's simply unfair to the Iraqi people to avoid the obvious just to cover some political ass. I hope the rest of the media will finally start calling it as it is and go from there. John Roberts of CNN has the right idea although the "media watchdog" Howard Kurtz is being as much of a giant putz as he ever was.

via Daily Kos.

Continue reading "LA Times Finally Calls A Spade A Spade" »

Al-Sadr Broadcasting Company

This is how political coups usually start:


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists" and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms.

The two-hour broadcast from a community gathering in the heart of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City included three members of al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc, who took questions from outraged residents demanding revenge for a series of car bombings that killed some 200 people Thursday.

. . ."This is live and, God willing, everyone will hear me: We are not interested in sidewalks, water services or anything else. We want safety," an unidentified Sadr City resident said as the televised crowd cheered. "We want the officials. They say there is no sectarian war. No, it is sectarian war, and that's the truth."

Fundyclown Mahdi Freaks

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The faceless guy on the far left will return to rid the world of the enemies of Shias.

Everyone is always talking about how much of a radical, Anti-American shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr is, but they never really detail the type of messianism and apocalyptic rhetoric that he expouses. Luckily we have Nir Rosen a Brooklyn-born freelance journalist who has mastered the Arabic street slang (as well as looking like an Arab) that has allowed him to have such a unique access to the insurgent and militia underground that is now infesting Iraq. His latest book-length article for the Boston Review provides that sort of unique window to the radical shia movement:


The crowds marched into the mosque, and I marched with them, past more security. Many men carried umsalayas, prayer rugs, on their shoulders, setting them down in the concrete courtyard. Next to each marble column stood grim-faced men in dark suit jackets, their arms pressed down to hide their guns and keep them within reach. They had once openly carried Kalashnikovs, but this was now considered undignified.

Over 10,000 people filled the mosque. Unlike Sunnis, who go to whatever mosque is nearest to their home, Shias take buses to attend Friday prayers in one of several key mosques. Many women were there, sitting in a separate section. And I had never seen so many children at a mosque: Muqtada was the “cool? cleric, a fighter who defied authority, and he reached out to children, offering them stickers for their notebooks. As the call to prayer ended, the crowd chanted and sang songs they all knew by heart.

A murmur and a frisson spread through the crowd to the back as Muqtada waddled in with his head down, surrounded by assistants and bodyguards. People had been expecting one of his deputies to speak for him that day. “Ali wiyak Ali!? they thundered, waving their fists. “Ali is with you!? Muqtada was flanked by his two closest friends and advisers. On his left stood the young and very thin Ayatollah Ali al Baghdadi, originally from Sadr City. On his right stood his more rotund brother-in-law, Riyadh al Nuri, the usual imam of the Kufa mosque. Nuri lived with Muqtada and had cared for Muqtada’s mentally handicapped brother, who died in 2004. As a leader of Muqtada’s Islamic courts, Nuri also had a militia at his disposal, which he would dispatch to arrest and torture people for suspected infractions ranging from homosexuality and the sale of pornography to theft and slander against Muqtada.

Nuri raised his hand to quiet the crowd as Muqtada began to speak.

. . .Muqtada read a verse from the Quran and then switched into Iraqi dialect. Like his father, Muqtada spoke in a quiet monotone, without the emotion many clerics invest in their speeches. He was not a talented speaker. He kept his eyes down most of the time, reading from his notes and only glancing up occasionally.

“This is the time when right becomes wrong and wrong becomes right,? he said. “When women become corrupt. Occupation has become liberation, and resistance has become terrorism. The occupation has joined the nawasib—those who do not accept the Shia imams and hate the family of the prophet.? To Muqtada’s followers this meant the Sunnis. “Look at them,? he said, “the occupation and the nawasib. And look at their values.? He called for Muslims to be united. “Which Muslims?? he asked. “The ones who say we are good Muslims. The ones who follow the family of the prophet. In the past God punished people by sending frogs, locusts, lice. Now he punishes them by sending earthquakes, mad-cow disease, hurricanes, floods, bird flu, the diseases in Africa, and globalization, armies, politics, solar and lunar eclipses.?

Muqtada sat down for a minute, and somebody in the crowd shouted a hossa, a responsive slogan. “For the love of the oppressed, the two martyrs, the Sadrs, pray for Muhammad and the family of Muhammad!? he shouted. Thousands of people bellowed, “Our God prays for Muhammad and the family of Muhammad.? They waved their fists. “And speed the Mahdi’s return! And damn his enemies!?‚

Although Al-Sadr repeatedly warned against waging a civil war, apparently his followers are hell bent on wreaking chaos throughout the country. Just like the christian funadamentalists who await the rapture and actually wish for discord in this world in order to hasten the rapture, the shias also await the return of their messiah--the twelfth imam recognized by the shias who supposedly disappeared in the ninth century. And, of course, the Mahdi's return will involve all sorts of death and violence for those who oppose the "true" religion.

When Bush started his little vanity war, he couldn't be bothered with knowing the sectarian divisions that was extant in that country. I hope Bush appreciates the Pandora's box he has opened. The rest of us sure have.

Baghdad Bush

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is proving to be, at most, just as polular as WorstPresidentEver is in this country:

Calls for calm as crowd stones Iraqi PM By Mussab Al-Khairalla

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Angry fellow Shi'ites stoned Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's motorcade in a Shi'ite stronghold of Baghdad on Sunday in a display of fury over a devastating car bomb that tore through their area.

Maliki was visiting the Sadr City slum to pay respects to some of the 202 victims of last week's devastating bombing.

"It's all your fault!" one man shouted as, in unprecedented scenes, a hostile crowd began to surge around the premier and then jeered as his armored convoy edged through the throng away from a mourning ceremony.

The area is a base for the Mehdi Army militia led by Maliki's fellow Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

Though the violence was limited, it was a dramatic demonstration of the popular passions Maliki and his national unity government are trying to calm following Thursday's multiple car bombs in Sadr City -- the worst since the U.S. invasion -- and later revenge attacks

November 25, 2006

A Shiite Curfew

the curfew imposed on Baghdad after the multiple bombings in Sadr City isn't really working too well:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

The savage revenge attack for Thursday's slaying of 215 people in the Shiite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques, and several homes while killing an unknown number of Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad.

Models For Failure.

In their scramble to contain the chaos that is Eye-Rack, the Bushies are looking to the "successes" of their military interventions in the cities of Tal Afar and Fallujah. Well, if those two occasions are successful, I'd hate to see what a failure looks like:

The attack in Tal Afar, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad, involved explosives hidden in a parked car and in a suicide belt worn by a pedestrian that detonated simultaneously outside a car dealership at 11 a.m., said police Brig. Khalaf al-Jubouri. He said the casualties - 22 dead, 26 wounded - were expected to rise.

Continue reading "Models For Failure." »

November 23, 2006

Still Trying To Influence The Elections

Because you know how the insurgents want Hillary Clinton to be president:

At least 132 people have been killed in a series of blasts in the Shia Sadr City area of the Iraqi capital, police and medical sources say.

Details are still sketchy, but a further 200 people were reportedly wounded in three car bombs and at least one mortar blast.

In one attack a car exploded at a food market which is a regular target of mainly Sunni Muslim insurgents. (...)

In Sadr City, a car exploded in the Jamila food market, where eyewitnesses told reporters burned bodies and human flesh littered the ground.

Eye-Rack War As Therapy.

There's a veritable blogstorm over the recent column by the liberal formerly Iraq-war-loving columnist at the Washington Post. No, I don't care that he's finally seen the light, or that he doesn't try to contrive his own magical pony plan for Eye-Rack, or that he blames dirty hippie leftists for his past support for the war. This passage in the column says it all:

If anything, I was encouraged in my belief by the offensive opposition to the war -- silly arguments about oil or empire or, at bottom, the ineradicable and perpetual rottenness of America.

On the contrary, I thought. We are a good country, attempting to do a good thing. In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.

Face it. These mushheads just hate Arabs. Period, end of sentence. If they didn't hate Arabs, the Palestinian conflict would be over tomorrow, the Lebanese war in the summer wouldn't have happened, and thousands of Iraqis wouldn't be slaughtered every month. Who the hell would advocate violence against a country that didn't attack us as a way to make us feel good UNLESS they hated Arabs? The sad thing is that these same snakes will find themselves at the levers of power again and we will probably make the same goddamn mistake in another generation. We are just that full of our own bullshit.

November 22, 2006

Support Yer Troops

Yeah, I know, I shouldn't judge unless I've been there. If I had to serve multiple tours in a shithole country that hates me and wants me dead, I'd probably do the exact same thing too. But the Bushies haven't stripped me of my common decency yet, and scenes like these break my heart:

Why we need to get out. NOW.

Oil For Blood

The petrochemicals that we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars liberating from Saddam's soon-to-be cold, dead grasp is now being illegally funneled to the insurgency that is shutting down our effectiveness in Eye-Rack:

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi oil ministry has uncovered illegal operations whereby oil products were sold and profits were pooled into financing local militancy, Al Sabah newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the Minister for Oil, Hussein Al Shahristany, ‘the ministry discovered operations where oil extracts from the Bayji refinery were sold, and the money was directed to terror elements who commit acts of sabotage.’

Some of those held responsible for the criminal operations were dismissed while others were referred to investigative courts and committees, said the minister.

Don't Pull Our Troops! It'll Only Get Worse!

Oy vey iz mir:


BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgent attacks in Iraq killed 3,709 civilians last month, making October the deadliest month since the war began in 2003, according to U.N. figures.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, which issues bimonthly human rights reports on the war-torn country, came out with its findings for September and October on Wednesday.

September had 3,345 civilian deaths -- which, along with October, would bring to 7,054 the number of violent deaths during the two-month period, according to the U.N. tally.

Baghdad alone had no less than 4,985 deaths, "most of them as a result of gunshot wounds," said the U.N. Assistance Mission, using figures provided by the Iraqi Health Ministry.

The figures were slightly higher than in July and August, when 6,599 civilians were killed.

Also 1.6 million people have left the country since WorstPresidentEver started the war, with 100,000 people leaving per month. more than 400,000 people have been displaced since February. Listening to the NPR report the death toll might be even higher, according to the Iraq Health Ministry. Combined with the recent assassination of a Lebanese minister Pierre Gemayel, the continued violence in Palestine and the lack of democratic reforms in other areas of the mideast, this is indeed an Arab Winter.

Speaking Of Eye-Rack. . .

Things are going swimmingly over there. No, seriously, the speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani escaped an attempted bomb attack unscathed. The disturbing part is this little detail:

Garver said he was not sure how the explosives made it so far into the Green Zone, which houses the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British embassies and thousands of foreign troops and private contractors. Anyone trying to enter the zone must pass through several checkpoints -- first to get into the complex, then to enter individual buildings.

If we can't protect the Green Zone, then that's pretty much it for us, isn't it. This is an inside job if there ever was one.

Can We Do ANYTHING Right?

You heard WorstPresidentEver over and over again: our success in Eye-Rack is contingent upon the success of our training of the security forces. Well, according to today's report in the Washington Post, that plan is coming along like, well, a dripping shit house:

The U.S. military's effort to train Iraqi forces has been rife with problems, from officers being sent in with poor preparation to a lack of basic necessities such as interpreters and office materials, according to internal Army documents.

The shortcomings have plagued a program that is central to the U.S. strategy in Iraq and is growing in importance. A Pentagon effort to rethink policies in Iraq is likely to suggest placing less emphasis on combat and more on training and advising, sources say.

In dozens of official interviews compiled by the Army for its oral history archives, officers who had been involved in training and advising Iraqis bluntly criticized almost every aspect of the effort. Some officers thought that team members were often selected poorly. Others fretted that the soldiers who prepared them had never served in Iraq and lacked understanding of the tasks of training and advising. Many said they felt insufficiently supported by the Army while in Iraq, with intermittent shipments of supplies and interpreters who often did not seem to understand English.

The Iraqi officers interviewed by an Army team also had complaints; the top one was that they were being advised by officers far junior to them who had never seen combat.

Some of the American officers even faulted their own lack of understanding of the task. "If I had to do it again, I know I'd do it completely different," reported Maj. Mike Sullivan, who advised an Iraqi army battalion in 2004. "I went there with the wrong attitude and I thought I understood Iraq and the history because I had seen PowerPoint slides, but I really didn't."

. . .A separate internal review this year by the military's Center for Army Lessons Learned, based on 152 interviews with soldiers involved in the training and advisory program, found that there was "no standardized guideline" for preparing advisers and that such instruction was needed because "a majority of advisors have little to no previous experience or training."

. . .After arriving in Iraq, advisers said, they often were shocked to find that the interpreters assigned to them were of little use. Ciesinski reported that at his base in western Nineveh province, "They couldn't speak English and we would have to fire them."

Nor were there enough interpreters to go around, said Sullivan. "It was a real juggling act" with interpreters, he said, noting that he would run from the headquarters to a company "to borrow an interpreter, run him over to say something, and then send him back."

But he was better off than Maj. Robert Dixon, who reported that during his tour in 2004, "We had no interpreters at the time."

The Center for Army Lessons Learned study, whose contents were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, found one unit that learned after 10 frustrating months that its interpreters were "substandard" and had been translating the advisers' instructions so poorly that their Iraqi pupils had difficulty understanding the concepts being taught.

Trainers and advisers also reported major problems with the Army supply chain. "As an adviser, I got the impression that there was an 'us' and 'them' " divide between the advisers and regular U.S. forces, said Maj. Pete Fedak, an adviser near Fallujah in 2004. "In other words, there was an American camp and then, outside, there was a bermed area for the Iraqis, of which we were part."

Well, when Bush first campaigned, he said we should not be nation builders, and damned if he isn't keeping THAT promise. The problem with the whole mission could be summed up in this nutshell:

"The thing the Army institutionally is still struggling to learn is that the most important thing we do in counterinsurgency is building host-nation institutions," he told the interviewers, "yet all our organizations are designed around the least important line of operations: combat operations."


November 21, 2006

Leaving By Ship Or By Casket

A new poll of Iraqis says that 71 percent of Iraqis, including 74 percent of Shiites and 91 percent of Sunnis, wants the troops to leave within a year. Also, overall, 61 percent of Iraqis support attacks on our troops. So is WorstPresidentEver going to listen to the Iraqis on the ground or what?

Magical Pony Plans

Atrios, picking up on what A.J. posted on Americablog clearly articulated better than I ever could my growing impatience with the various Iraq solutionists, from Kenneth Pollack, to Thomas Friedman, to Fareed Zakaria, to Dennis Ross and all the rest of those maundering jokers whose nostrums are now plainly becoming inseparable among each other. Iraqi SHOULD do this, Maliki SHOULD do that, the militias HAVE TO do this, Iran MUST do that. If those things don't magically happen within the next six months (one friedman) THEN Eye-Rack is a failure.

There's a reason why we call what these people do "searching for ponies." And sadly Iraq is so full of manure that it puts the Aegean Stables look like a mudbucket. What, the Iraqis are SUPPOSED to do something? Heh, you and what army? The U.S. Army? And if the government doesn't do what we say we pull the plug and declare it a failure and start from scratch? How are the Eye-Rackees going to like that?

The only way the situation is going to be resolved is if a security force emerges that has the numbers and the will to enforce its agenda. And frankly we Americans have little control on what shape the force(s) is going to take, and with the task at hand controlling the militias, insurgents, terrorists and criminals, it will have a better stomach for the job than we ever will. And that's not usually a good thing. So if any armchair general poser commentator gives his opinions on Eye-Rack that includes 1.) policy directives that the Maliki government is clearly not capable of doing 2.) exhortations to uncontrollable elements of the Iraqi chaos, such as militias or insurgents or 3.) talk about stong-arming Syria or Iran into saving our asses without considering what incentives they have to do that beyond saving our asses, then those clowns need to remember four little words: Shut. The. F*ck. Up.

November 20, 2006

Kissinger Calls It Quits

Ironic Nobel recipient Henry Kissinger gave an interview to BBC where he says a military victory in Eye-Rack is not possible:

ANDREW MARR: Do you think there is any hope left of a clear military victory in Iraq?

HENRY KISSINGER: If you mean by clear military victory an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible.

Of course he says we can't withdraw from Eye-Rack because, well, it could get worse. We've been through that already, but we now have a major enabler pretty much dumping on the war he helped to create.

The Death Of Satire

When you live in a country governed by chaos and violence brought to you by war-hungry occupiers looking for quick victories and the glories that comes with them, nothing, I mean nothing enjoyable can ever survive in that environment for long:

Iraqi TV satirist killed in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Nov 20 (Reuters) - One of Iraq's best known satirists and broadcasters was gunned down on his way to work on Monday, his colleagues and the police said.

Waleed Hassan's "Caricature" sketch show was an unmissable part of weekend Fridays for Iraqis seeking a release in laughter from the blood and chaos around them. Hassan poked fun at sectarian violence, bickering politicians, power blackouts and all aspects of the turmoil that is daily life in Iraq.

He was found in west Baghdad with three bullet wounds to the head, said the Sharkiya channel. Hassan was a director of the station and also produced a political interview show for it.

As with other media, several journalists and employees of Sharkiya have been killed. Owned by a London-based Iraqi businessman it takes an independent editorial line, though many viewers see it as leaning toward minority Sunni Arab viewpoints.

November 15, 2006

National Strategy for Victory In Iraq: The 2006 Edition

In case you've haven't noticed, the continuous disaster that is Eye-Rack has proven Bush's last plan for victory in that theater to be a collection of false promises, false hopes and classic fearmongering masquerading as policy. There is now a separate Baker-Hamilton Commission that will create new strategies for the military campaign in Eye-Rack and it includes figures from Poppy Bush's administration such as Jim Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger and, formerly, Robert Gates. This gives the obvious signal that nobody at the White House has any goddamn clue what they are doing and sonny-boy needs Daddy's help out of a jam. That is why Bush is going to undercut that criticism by implementing a parallel Iraq policy review. All by himself!

President Bush formally launched a sweeping internal review of Iraq policy yesterday, pulling together studies underway by various government agencies, according to U.S. officials.

The initiative, begun after Bush met at the White House with his foreign policy team, parallels the effort by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to salvage U.S. policy in Iraq, develop an exit strategy and protect long-term U.S. interests in the region. The two reviews are not competitive, administration officials said, although the White House wants to complete the process before mid-December, about the time the Iraq Study Group's final report is expected.

The White House's decision changes the dynamics of what happens next to U.S. policy deliberations. The administration will have its own working document as well as recommendations from an independent bipartisan commission to consider as it struggles to prevent further deterioration in Iraq.

"The president has asked all his national security agencies to assess the situation in Iraq, review the options and recommend the best way forward. The ISG report will be duly considered, and we look forward to their recommendations, as the president has always said," a White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the new initiative has not been announced. "The president indicated Monday that he is interested in hearing interesting ideas both within his administration and from the Baker-Hamilton commission."

The White House review could give the administration alternatives so that it feels less pressure to fully implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report, foreign policy experts said.

Who wants to place bets on which report is going to be more positive than the other?

November 13, 2006

A Hundred Billion Here, A Hundred Billion There. . .

and soon you get to be talking about real money:

The civil reconstruction of Iraq will cost at least $100 billion, U.S. officials in Baghdad told Iraqi contractors who are vying for some of the work.

"United Nations and World Bank estimates approximated Iraq's infrastructure needs to be about $60 billion (before the 2003 invasion). But this was before we had an opportunity to fully assess the condition of Iraq's infrastructure. After careful analysis, the infrastructure needs have been estimated well over $100 billion," said Terry F. Bautista, director of business management of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division.

Power is available over 12 hours a day across most of the country, but in Baghdad, home to more than 6 million people, about a quarter of the Iraq population, it is only available for four hours a day. Countrywide, about 46 percent of Iraqi power needs go unmet by the fragile electrical infrastructure.

The U.S. government has put about $22 billion toward civilian reconstruction projects -- most security, power and water related -- with very mixed results so far.

So all we'll be getting from this war are debts inherited by our grandchildren. Waytogo shrub.

Continue reading "A Hundred Billion Here, A Hundred Billion There. . ." »

November 10, 2006

The Blame The Iraqis First Crowd

Still reeling from his declaration of failure in Eye-Rack one-half friedman ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman provides more post-mortem for the litter box on the Tigris (subscription normally required, but apparently you can access the articles for free this week, so get em while you can):

Our only two options left today in Iraq are “tolerable? and “awful.? “Good? is no longer on the menu. When you read stories from Iraq saying that all we need to do is get rid of all the police there, get one-third of the soldiers in the Iraqi Army to actually report to duty regularly, and replace all the ministers who are corrupt, you know why “good? is not on the menu anymore.

Apparently his nostrumfor the Iraqi mess (other than "don't pull our soldiers out, or else it will get worse. . .er") is a very loose federation of Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite autonomous regions that controls their own oil revenues. But even that plan has expectations that are as realistic as asking a wishing star for a pony. Sadly it doesn't stray much from the new conventional wisdom of the Wise Men.

But what really galls me is this passage passage from the column in which he assigns blame for the chaos on the Iraqis themselves, rather than on the forces that brought them the invasion in the first place:

A U.S. withdrawal under such conditions would be messy and shameful. But when people are that intent on killing each other there’s not much we can do. As bad as we’ve performed in Iraq, what Iraqis have done to each other, and the little that other Muslims have done to stop them, is an even bigger travesty.

What the HELL did he think was going to happen when you take the ruling party/sect out of power and create a power vacuum? That they would immediately get along and submit to a new political reality that would marginalize them and afterwards sing "Kumbaya"? That the Shiites will smile and remain patient while the Sunni insurgents blow them to pieces?

Oh, he did believe that? No wonder Eye-Rack is in such a gawd-awful mess.

November 08, 2006

Rumsfailed

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Quitter

Bush announced Rummy's resignation today, swearing up and down that the timing of this development right after the elections was in no way politically motivated. Yeah, cause not standing by your man would have had devastating consequences on Republican electoral aspirations.

Bush names unindicted Iran-Contra co-conspirator Robert Gates to replace Rum-dum. So even in victory we still get a booby prize.

UPDATE: Even in the face of defeat Bush still can't be straight with the American people. Bush admitted he discussed Rummy's resignation at the time he said publicly that he was going to keep Rumsfeld for the rest of his term. And he has the audacity to ask the Democrats for cooperation? In order to be forgiven, you must first atone for your sins.

November 06, 2006

Quitter

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Khalilzad boards his private chopper.

Current ambassador to Eye-Rack Zalmay Khalilzad decides he has had enough of the sandbox:

WASHINGTON - Zalmay Khalilzad, the plainspoken dealmaker and Republican insider who has won praise and criticism for attempts to broker Sunni political participation in Iraq's fragile government, is likely to quit his post as U.S. ambassador in Baghdad in the coming months, a senior Bush administration official said Monday.

As the midterm elections approached in the United States, Khalilzad has been a public face of Bush administration attempts to project both willingness to change strategy or tactics in an unpopular war and solidarity with the increasingly fractious Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Khalilzad's departure has been rumored for months, but he has not turned in his resignation, the State Department official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the White House nor Khalilzad has announced any personnel changes. Khalilzad could leave as soon as the end of this year, but is more likely to remain in his post through the spring, the official said.

Atrios with his long memory points out that Khalilzad had set up something of a two-month timetable for the Iraqi government to take care of its militias six weeks ago.

November 04, 2006

SUNDAY!. . .SUNDAY!. . .SUNDAY!

Reflecting back on the last entry, everybody who hasn't had their head up somewhere it shouldn't be knows that the Saddam trial verdict coming this Sunday, November 5th, was cynically scheduled in order to provide the necessary political capital to the Republican apparatchik just before the election. But the problem is that the verdict, whichever it will be, will inevitably lead to a violent reaction from either side. If Saddam gets sentenced to death by his Shiite enemies, loyal Sunnis will likely revolt. If Saddam gets less than a hanging or a stoning, the Shiites will go on a rampage.

Sure, I may be wrong. Perhaps the checkpoints the U.S. set up will indeed quell any incipient violence. I sure hope I'm wrong.

But still, Operation Together Forward was supposed to pacify Baghdad months ago.

November 03, 2006

Neocon Pitty Party

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Rats leaving a sinking ship

The situation in Eye-Rack is getting worse with no end in sight. Apparently eight soldiers and Marines died in a single day yesterday, and the looming verdict on Saddam, whichever way it goes, will only incite more violence and mayhem from the losing sectarian side. The neocons who brought us this disaster have suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of history and have come to their former journalistic enabler, David Rose, to set the record straight:

According to Perle, who left the Defense Policy Board in 2004, this unfolding catastrophe has a central cause: devastating dysfunction within the administration of President George W. Bush. Perle says, "The decisions did not get made that should have been. They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly.… At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible.… I don't think he realized the extent of the opposition within his own administration, and the disloyalty."

. . .Kenneth Adelman, a lifelong neocon activist and Pentagon insider who served on the Defense Policy Board until 2005, wrote a famous op-ed article in The Washington Post in February 2002, arguing: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk." Now he says, "I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent. They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

. . .David Frum: "I always believed as a speechwriter that if you could persuade the president to commit himself to certain words, he would feel himself committed to the ideas that underlay those words. And the big shock to me has been that although the president said the words, he just did not absorb the ideas. And that is the root of, maybe, everything."

So in other words:

Ididntdoit.jpg

I know that a victory has many fathers, yadda-yadda-yadda, but this is ridiculous. These losers should just own up to the fact that they were too stupid to realize Bush was too stupid to pull off a war that was too fucking stupid on its own premises in the first place.

Continue reading "Neocon Pitty Party" »

Quitters

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Bechtel employees boarding their private chopper

The mercenary, war-profiteering shitbags at Bechtel, after having stolen billions of taxpayer money on failed reconstruction contracts, have decided to cut and run from Eye-Rack:

Bechtel Corp. went to Iraq three years ago to help rebuild a nation torn by war. Since then, 52 of its people have been killed and much of its work sabotaged as Iraq dissolved into insurgency and sectarian violence.

Now Bechtel is leaving.

The San Francisco engineering company's last government contract to rebuild power, water and sewage plants across Iraq expired on Tuesday. Some employees remain to finish the paperwork, but essentially, the company's job is done.

Bechtel's contracts were part of an enormous U.S. effort to put Iraq back on its feet after decades of wars and sanctions. That rebuilding campaign, once touted as the Marshall Plan of modern times, was supposed to win the hearts of skeptical Iraqis by giving them clean water, dependable power, telephones that worked and modern sanitation. President Bush said he wanted the country's infrastructure to be the very best in the Middle East.

But Bechtel -- which charged into Iraq with American "can-do" fervor -- found it tough to keep its engineers and workers alive, much less make progress in piecing Iraq back together.

"Did Iraq come out the way you hoped it would?" asked Cliff Mumm, Bechtel's president for infrastructure work. "I would say, emphatically, no. And it's heartbreaking."

The violence that has gripped Iraq drove up costs and hamstrung the engineers who poured into the country after the U.S.-led invasion.

Bechtel's first reconstruction contract, awarded shortly after Saddam Hussein's overthrow in April, 2003, assured the company that it would have a safe environment for its workers. But, by the end, dozens of Bechtel's employees and subcontractors had been killed, some of them kidnapped, others marched out of their office and shot. Forty-nine others were wounded.

Bechtel responded by hiring more guards, driving armored cars and fortifying its camps. Those steps ate up money that otherwise would have brought electricity and clean water to Iraqis.

The size of Bechtel's contracts also shrank over time, as U.S. officials diverted money from reconstruction and toward security. Instead of the nearly $3 billion originally budgeted, Bechtel finally received about $2.3 billion, a figure that includes money the company spent on projects as well as its undisclosed profit.

Two New York Times Bombshells

Wow, the Friday news dump has some juicy tidbits today. Two story in the Times chronicle the Republican one party rule's criminal incompetence and it's criminal corruption/lack of accountability

First the criminal incompetence:

Last March, the federal government set up a Web site to make public a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The Bush administration did so under pressure from Congressional Republicans who had said they hoped to “leverage the Internet? to find new evidence of the prewar dangers posed by Saddam Hussein.

But in recent weeks, the site has posted some documents that weapons experts say are a danger themselves: detailed accounts of Iraq’s secret nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The documents, the experts say, constitute a basic guide to building an atom bomb.

Last night, the government shut down the Web site after The New York Times asked about complaints from weapons experts and arms-control officials. A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said access to the site had been suspended “pending a review to ensure its content is appropriate for public viewing.?

Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearing that the information could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms, had privately protested last week to the American ambassador to the agency, according to European diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. One diplomat said the agency’s technical experts “were shocked? at the public disclosures.

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,? said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.?

The government had received earlier warnings about the contents of the Web site. Last spring, after the site began posting old Iraqi documents about chemical weapons, United Nations arms-control officials in New York won the withdrawal of a report that gave information on how to make tabun and sarin, nerve agents that kill by causing respiratory failure.

The campaign for the online archive was mounted by conservative publications and politicians, who said that the nation’s spy agencies had failed adequately to analyze the 48,000 boxes of documents seized since the March 2003 invasion. With the public increasingly skeptical about the rationale and conduct of the war, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees argued that wide analysis and translation of the documents — most of them in Arabic — would reinvigorate the search for clues that Mr. Hussein had resumed his unconventional arms programs in the years before the invasion. American search teams never found such evidence.

The director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, had resisted setting up the Web site, which some intelligence officials felt implicitly raised questions about the competence and judgment of government analysts. But President Bush approved the site’s creation after Congressional Republicans proposed legislation to force the documents’ release.

Now the criminal corruption:

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

One line in the article is all you need to know about how the Republican apparatchik in Washington operates to circumvent checks and balances, the deliberative process and the rule of law:

Neither the House nor the Senate version contained such a termination clause before the conference, all involved agree.

Ah, yes, the conference committee, that hole in the ground where the laws are REALLY made. Let's go back to Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stones article:

[Republican Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Bill] Thomas is also notorious for excluding Democrats from the conference hearings needed to iron out the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill. According to the rules, conferences have to include at least one public, open meeting. But in the Bush years, Republicans have managed the conference issue with some of the most mind-blowingly juvenile behavior seen in any parliament west of the Russian Duma after happy hour. GOP chairmen routinely call a meeting, bring the press in for a photo op and then promptly shut the proceedings down. "Take a picture, wait five minutes, gavel it out -- all for show" is how one Democratic staffer described the process. Then, amazingly, the Republicans sneak off to hold the real conference, forcing the Democrats to turn amateur detective and go searching the Capitol grounds for the meeting. "More often than not, we're trying to figure out where the conference is," says one House aide.

In one legendary incident, Rep. Charles Rangel went searching for a secret conference being held by Thomas. When he found the room where Republicans closeted themselves, he knocked and knocked on the door, but no one answered. A House aide compares the scene to the famous "Land Shark" skit from Saturday Night Live, with everyone hiding behind the door afraid to make a sound. "Rangel was the land shark, I guess," the aide jokes. But the real punch line came when Thomas finally opened the door. "This meeting," he informed Rangel, "is only open to the coalition of the willing."

But remember kiddies: Kerry said something bad about the troops.

Oy.

Jesus Christ On A Trailer Hitch II: Eye-Rackie Boogaloo

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This war needs to end NOW! We have no military, otherwise we wouldn't be sending a convicted Abu Ghraib abuser back to Eye-Rack to train the Iraqi police force:


An Abu Ghraib Offender Heads Back to Iraq
Exclusive: A military dog handler convicted for his role in the prisoner abuse scandal has been ordered back to help train the country's police
By ADAM ZAGORIN
Posted Thursday, Nov. 02, 2006

As if the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal weren't bad enough for America's image in the Middle East, now it may appear to much of the world that one of the men implicated in the scandal is returning to the scene of the crime.

The U.S. military tells TIME that one of the soldiers convicted for his role in Abu Ghraib, having served his sentence, has just been sent back to serve in Iraq.

Sgt. Santos Cardona, 32, a military policeman from Fullerton, Calif., served in 2003 and 2004 at Abu Ghraib as a military dog handler. After pictures of Cardona using the animal to threaten Iraqis were made public, he was convicted in May of dereliction of duty and aggravated assault, the equivalent of a felony in the U.S. civilian justice system. The prosecution demanded prison time, but a military judge instead imposed a fine and reduction in rank. Though Cardona was not put behind bars, he was also required to serve 90 days of hard labor at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Before Cardona boarded a plane at Pope Air Force Base this week for the long flight to his unit's Kuwait staging area, he told close friends and family that he dreaded returning to Iraq. One family member described him as "depressed," though stoic about his fate. According to a close friend with whom Cardona spoke just before his departure, the soldier is fearful that he remains a marked man, forever linked to the horrors of Abu Ghraib — he appears in at least one al-Qaeda propaganda video depicting the abuse — and that he and comrades serving with him in Iraq could become targets for terrorists. To make matters worse, his 23rd MP Company has been selected to train Iraqi police, which have been the target of frequent assassination attempts and, according to US intelligence are heavily infiltrated by insurgents. Attempts to reach Cardona directly were unsuccessful.

But-but, Kerry sed sumting mean about duh soldiers. God this war can't end fast enough.

Via Steve Gilliard, who also doesn't have much to say about this latest development from the shitmire.

UPDATE: Apparently the morons at the military decided the story was too hot to handle, so they cancelled Cardona's redeployment to Eye-Rack and are sending him back home. Embarrassment averted.

October 31, 2006

Major General Nouri Al-Maliki

Maliki orders the military cordon around Sadr City to be lifted, thereby effectively ending the search for the missing U.S. soldier:

U.S. forces ended a five-day-old military blockade of Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City section Tuesday, meeting a deadline set by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid tensions between U.S. and Iraqi officials and pressure from the anti-American cleric whose militia controls the sprawling Shiite slum.

Maliki ordered that the security cordon be lifted hours after cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a civil disobedience campaign in Sadr City to protest the blockade, which the U.S. military launched Wednesday in an effort to find an abducted U.S. soldier and capture a purported Iraqi death squad leader.

It was the Maliki government's greatest demonstration of independence from the occupying U.S. military forces, following two weeks of increasingly pointed exchanges between Iraqi and U.S. officials. But it was also a reminder of the degree to which Maliki must cooperate with Sadr, who leads the political party that comprises one of the biggest blocs in the governing alliance and who effectively runs the Shiite Muslim stronghold named for his deceased father.

Armed fighters of Sadr's Mahdi Army militia had enforced boycotts as part of the civil disobedience campaign, entering schools to force out children and forcing workers and customers to abandon shops and offices, including government electrical facilities, witnesses and residents said. The checkpoints and barricades had effectively isolated Sadr City from the rest of the capital, making it difficult if not impossible for the slum's 2.5 million residents to travel to schools and jobs elsewhere in Baghdad.

Precisely at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EST), the deadline set by Maliki, U.S. armored personnel carriers pulled away from the roadblocks. Young men in pickup trucks drove through the streets waving banners of the Mahdi Army, and drivers of other vehicles honked their horns in celebration.

I'm sure the soldiers and the American back home will be thrilled that we are taking orders from an Al-Sadr appeaser who doesn't want to see one of our own released.

Or maybe we'll see what happens in the next episode of "Lost".

(via Atrios and Josh Marshall)

Continue reading "Major General Nouri Al-Maliki" »

Al-Sadr's New Baghdad Police Force.

Yes, we are basically financing and equipping Shiite militias:

BAGHDAD -- The signs of the militias are everywhere at the Sholeh police station.

Posters celebrating Moqtada al-Sadr, head of the Mahdi Army militia, dot the building's walls. The police chief sometimes remarks that Shiite militias should wipe out all Sunnis. Visitors to this violent neighborhood in the Iraqi capital whisper that nearly all the police officers have split loyalties.

And then one rainy night this month, the Sholeh police set up an ambush and killed Army Cpl. Kenny F. Stanton Jr., a 20-year-old budding journalist, his unit said. At the time, Stanton and other members of the unit had been trailing a group of Sholeh police escorting known Mahdi Army members.

"How can we expect ordinary Iraqis to trust the police when we don't even trust them not to kill our own men?" asked Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

. . .Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Shaw and other military police trainers. Police officers are too terrified to patrol enormous swaths of the capital. And while there are some good cops, many have been assassinated or are considering quitting the force.

I've already said what needed to be said of how this Iraq situation is going to end. It's just up to the anuses to recognize how utterly unwinnable the situation is.

(via Steve Gilliard)

October 30, 2006

Fareed Zakaria Searches Desperately For Ponies

No matter how much he digs within the coprolite in the Aegean stable that is Eye-Rack, Newsweek's foreign policy Wise Man Zakaria cannot find a good solution to resolving the crisis, so all he can suggest is to draw down troops, redeploy them, and cross our fingers:

At that point the United States should begin taking measures that lead to a much smaller, less intrusive presence in Iraq, geared to a more limited set of goals. Starting in January 2007, we should stop trying to provide basic security in Iraq's cities and villages. U.S. units should instead become a rapid-reaction force to secure certain core interests.

We can explain to the Iraqi leadership that such a force structure will help Iraqis take responsibility for their own security. Currently we have 144,000 troops deployed in Iraq at a cost of more than $90 billion a year. That is simply not sustainable in an open-ended way. I would propose a force structure of 60,000 men at a cost of $30 billion to $35 billion annually—a commitment that could be maintained for several years, and that would give the Iraqis time to come together, in whatever loose form they can, as a nation.

True, as we draw down, violence will increase in many parts of the country. One can only hope that will concentrate the minds of leaders in Iraq. The Shia government will get its chance to try to fight the insurgency its way. The Sunni rebels can attempt to regain control of the country. And perhaps both sides will come more quickly to the conclusion that the only way forward is a political deal. But until there is such a change of heart, the United States should stick to more limited goals.

As Steve Gilliard highlights, that just leaves the door open to more problems. As I've said before, the solution is not going to look pretty, it will involve a lot of blood, and the U.S. cannot keep a lid on it forever. Plus Gilliard is right about how maddening it is for Zakaria to say that the toppling of Saddam and an autonomous Kurdistan are the silver linings to this ill advised invasion. If you really wanted Saddam gone, a 30-cent bullet and a scope is a hell of a lot cheaper than a full scale invasion, and we could have separated Kurdistan from the rest of Iraq a long time ago without toppling Baghdad if we loooove the Kurds so much. Only when these Wise Men admit what fools they are for embarking on this fiasco will I ever be happy.

October 27, 2006

The Century Mark

One hundred and one US deaths in Eye-Rack this month.

I hope the warmongers sleep well tonight.

October 26, 2006

Iraqi PM Blames Coalition For Continued Violence

This can't be good for troop morale:

Q. Are you concerned that the United States could try to push you aside if there is no progress in the coming months?

A. I don't think American policy would commit the mistake of replacing a prime minister or a government in Iraq. That would be burning their slogans. I don't think they think like that as it would mean the failure of the entire political process. As far as 'tough decisions' go, I say we want to take firm and difficult decisions. But anyone who wants to take a difficult decision has to do so from solid ground and so the far the ground is unstable -- due to current security policies ...

If anyone is responsible for the poor security situation in Iraq it is the Coalition. I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces yet I cannot move a single company without Coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate. So those who have the authority and could move the forces are also responsible. This should be clear ...

I have to be careful fighting some militias and terrorists ... because they are better armed than the army and police. The other point is that the army and police have been infiltrated because they were randomly formed. There are terrorists in the army and militias in the police and also members of the old regime.

The Freedom Agenda

The insidious legacy of WorstPresidentEver's damnable invasion of Iraq is that other despots around the world can use that as an example of why they must maintain their rule:

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Horror at the bloodshed accompanying the U.S. effort to bring democracy to Iraq has accomplished what human rights activists, analysts and others say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been unable to do by himself: silence public demands for democratic reforms here.

The idea of the government as a bulwark of stability and security has long been the watchword of Syrian bureaucrats and village elders. But since Iraq's descent into sectarian and ethnic war -- and after Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, on the other side of Syria -- even Syrian activists concede that the country's feeble rights movement is moribund.

Advocates of democracy are equated now with supporters of America, even "traitors," said Maan Abdul Salam, 36, a Damascus publisher who has coordinated conferences on women's rights and similar topics.

"Now, talking about democracy and freedom has become very difficult and sensitive," Salam said. "The people are not believing these thoughts anymore. When the U.S. came to Iraq, it came in the name of democracy and freedom. But all we see are bodies, bodies, bodies."

Ordinary people in Syria are hunkering down, and probably rightly so, said Omar Amiralay, a well-known Syrian filmmaker whose documentaries are quietly critical of Assad's one-family rule.

"If democracy brings such chaos in the region, and especially the destruction of society, as it did in Iraq and in Lebanon, it's absolutely normal, and I think it's absolutely a wise position from the people to be afraid to imagine how it would be in Syria," Amiralay said. "I think that people at the end said, 'Well, it is better to keep this government. We know them, and we don't want to go to this civil war, and to live this apocalyptic image of change, with civil war and sectarianism and blood.

. . .Meanwhile, Syria's people remain spectators of their government's maneuvering, free to watch it but not to speak.

They enjoy the small freedoms that their neighbors in dangerous Iraq no longer do -- such as the ability to go out after dark. This month, after breaking the daily Ramadan fast, families chugged in their cars up the steep roads of Mount Cassion to stroll, sip colas and fruit drinks and take in the view of Damascus spread out below.

Seated on a plastic chair on the road with a friend, real estate salesman Mohammed Yousif gestured toward the city. Green lights of mosques glowed among the white lights of a capital fully powered and at peace. Speaking to a foreign journalist, the 42-year-old salesman measured his words carefully, answering questions with the blandness often seen in Iraq before Hussein was toppled.

"We are talking and enjoying ourselves," Yousif said, waving the nozzle of the traditional water pipe he and his friend were using to smoke flavored tobacco. "This is our democracy. This is our freedom."

So that's it? Has Bush's awe inspiring incompetence destroyed the hope that real positive change could come about without severe consequences?

Well, not necessarily. American military interventions in foreign countries have rarely produced free democracies. The best way to spread freedom is for the people to buy it themselves.

No Longer Fighting Them "Over There"

In today's presser, WorstPresidentEver pretty much abandoned all this favorite catch phrases and rhetoric on Eye-Rack and based his entire argument on what radio personality/comedienne Stephanie Miller calls "the puppy dog excuse" - that if you don't do something over there, they (the terra-ists) will just follow you home.

Well, if you'll pardon the expression, that dog won't hunt anymore:

The conflict in Iraq is drawing fewer foreign fighters as Muslim extremists aspiring to battle the West turn their attention back to the symbolically important and increasingly violent turf of Afghanistan, European and U.S. anti-terrorism officials say.

The shift of militants to Afghanistan this year suggests that Al Qaeda and its allies, armed with new tactics honed in Iraq, are coming full circle five years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban mullahs.

Until Sept. 11, 2001, Afghanistan was the land of jihad: hallowed ground where fighters from across the Muslim world helped vanquish the Soviet Union in 1980s, fought alongside the Taliban in the 1990s and filled training camps overseen by Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Loss of the Afghan sanctuary scattered the networks and sent Bin Laden fleeing toward the Pakistani border region, where many anti-terrorism officials believe he remains.

After the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, Muslim extremists from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Europe flocked to confront the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. Although foreigners have been a minority in the Iraqi insurgency, militants such as Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi played a major role in suicide attacks and kidnap-killings.

But insurgent leaders in Iraq are now mainly interested in foreign recruits ready to die in suicide attacks, anti-terrorism officials say. Moreover, the conflict is dominated by violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. In contrast, an accelerating Afghan offensive by the resurgent Taliban offers a clearer battleground and a wealth of targets: U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops, and the Western-backed government.

Oh, and if you think all we have to do is fight them in the first shitmire, I mean Afghanistan, think again:

The movement of fighters to Iraq began to decline last year as insurgent leaders in Syria, who serve as a conduit to the combat zone, began screening volunteers aggressively, turning them back unless they had strong military skills or were eager to carry out suicide attacks, European anti-terrorism officials said.

Some newcomers were redirected to training camps in North Africa. Others were told to launch attacks in Europe, said a senior Italian anti-terrorism official. He described the confessions of Milan-based Tunisian and Moroccan suspects who got to Syria, but then were sent back: "They said the representative of Zarqawi's group really grilled them: 'Do you have military experience? Here's an AK-47; do you know how to use it? Have you ever fired a mortar? If not, we don't want you.' "

Instead, they were directed to bomb a basilica in Bologna because it displays a painting of the prophet Muhammad as depicted in Dante's Inferno, investigators say. Moroccan and Italian police broke up the alleged plot and arrested the group this spring.


October 24, 2006

Scratch That Exit Strategery

It's been speculated that one of the plans considered by the congressionally appointed and Bush-approved Baker Commission tasked to develop new strategies for Iraq is for the U.S. to talk to Iran and Syria into helping stabilize the country. Well today the Bushies are trying their damn best not to let that option get off the ground:

U.S. blames Iran, Syria for Iraq violence


BAGHDAD, Oct 24 (Reuters) - America's civilian and military leaders in Iraq linked Iran and Syria with al Qaeda on Tuesday as forces trying to tear the country apart and prevent the United States from establishing a stable democracy.

The comments from ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey were among the strongest U.S. officials have levelled against Iraq's two neighbours over alleged support for armed groups behind much of the bloodshed.

Khalilzad depicted the struggle to build a united, democratic Iraq as "the defining challenge of our era" and said it would shape the future of the Middle East and global security.

"Those forces that constitute the extremist camp including not only al Qaeda but Iran and Syria are at work to keep us and the Iraqis from succeeding," Khalilzad told a rare joint news conference with Casey, two weeks before U.S. Congressional elections.


October 23, 2006

Still A Quagmire

Remember when the Mahdi Army effectively took over the southern Iraqi city of Amara only for them to make a deal with the Iraq Army to allow them to patrol the town again. How is that status quo holding up? Not so good:

Shiite militiamen loyal to a fiery anti-American Shiite cleric re-emerged in the troubled southern city of Amarah on Monday.

In Amarah, gunmen dragged police Lt. Sarmad Majid al-Shatti from his home before dawn, then dumped his bullet-riddled body at a farm on the city's outskirts, said Ali Chaloub of Sadr General Hospital. Another policeman, Lt. Alaa al-Kabi was shot to death outside his home, Chaloub said.

At about the same time, provincial policemen Hamid Majeed and Hassan Abdullah were kidnapped from their homes, and their bodies were later found dumped outside the city, Chaloub said.

Despite an increased police and army presence on the streets, many Baghdad Sunnis said they would rather stay home than risk falling victim to car bombs or Shiite death squads.


Bush's New Strategery On Eye-Rack

Hey kiddies! Never mind what we just said over and over and over again for the past two years or so, we were never about "staying the course", we are now about *adaptation* because, ya need to *adapt* to the enemy (cue Beavis-like chuckle).

But seriously, how badly is this gonna end?

BAGHDAD After three years of trying to thwart a potent insurgency and tamp down the deadly violence in Iraq, the American military is playing its last hand: The Baghdad Security Plan.

The plan will be tweaked, adjusted and modified in the weeks ahead, as American commanders attempt to reverse the dismaying increase in murders, drive-by shootings and bombings.

But military commanders here see no plausible alternative to their bedrock strategy of clearing violence-ridden neighborhoods of militias, insurgents and arms caches, holding them with Iraqi and American security forces and winning over the population and generating jobs with reconstruction projects, primarily programs underwritten by the Iraq government. There is no winning fall-back plan that the generals are holding in their hip pockets. This is it.

The Iraqi capital is, as the generals like to say, the center of gravity for the larger American mission in Iraq. The generals' assessment is that if Baghdad is overwhelmed by sectarian strife, the cause of fostering a more stable Iraq will be lost. Conversely, if Baghdad can be improved, the effects will eventually be felt elsewhere in Iraq - or so the American calculation holds. In invading Iraq, American forces started from outside the country and fought their way in. The current strategy is essentially to work from the inside out.

"As Baghdad goes, so goes Iraq," said Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the corps commander who oversees American forces throughout Iraq. snip


As a commentator on The News Blog puts it succinctly, it would be more accurate if you replace the words "center of gravity" with "last stand" and the word "work" with the word "fight".

The bad news is that they can't depend on the New Iraq Army to back them up, because, well, they make the ARVN look like the IDF:

So far, the plan has been short on resources, as well as results. The Iraqi Defense Ministry has supplied only two of the six Iraqi Army battalions that Thurman has requested. It is not just a question of numbers. Some in the U.S. military believe that the Iraqi Army may be more effective than the police and more trusted by local citizens. Yet several Iraqi battalions have gone AWOL rather than follow the orders to go to Baghdad, according to American military officials. In the case of these divisions, summoning them to the Iraqi capital was tantamount to demobilizing the units.

Sorry, but we just don't pay them enough.

October 21, 2006

More Iraqis Voting For Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Because you know when Iraq descends into civil war, they do it to help Democrats.

Iraqi Shiite Militias Clash Near Babylon

Rival Shiite Militias Clash Near Ancient Iraqi City of Babylon Until U.S. Forces Separate Them

By SINAN SALAHEDDIN

BAGHDAD, Iraq Oct 21, 2006 (AP)— Rival Shiite militiamen battled near the ancient city of Babylon on Saturday until American forces and helicopters rushed to separate the combatants.

Gunfights broke out in Hamza al-Gharbi, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, after a bomb exploded near the offices of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a leading Shiite political party that sponsors the Badr Brigades militia.

The party's supporters accused members of the Madhi Army headed by the radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr of being behind the blast, Police Capt. Muthana Khalid Ali said. He said Iraqi army and police called for reinforcements and backup from American forces, who imposed a curfew. There was no immediate confirmation of U.S. involvement from a military spokesmen.

Father south in the city of Amarah, where the Mahdi Army briefly took control on Friday, shops and government offices reopened and Iraqi army units manned checkpoints, keeping the militia fighters off the streets.


Iraqi forces clash, Bush talks of changing tactic

By Ibon Villelabeitia
Reuters
Saturday, October 21, 2006; 5:17 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Shi'ite militias battled Iraqi police for a second day running and bombs killed more than a dozen people on Saturday, as President Bush talked of changing tactics.

. . .raqi Police Lieutenant Ali Naamah said violence erupted in Suwayra after some 150 Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr attacked a police station in the Tigris town 45 km (30 miles) south of Baghdad. Eight gunmen died.

A Sadr spokesman said the attack on the police station was a response to a raid by U.S. troops backed by helicopters on a Sadr office that killed six people. U.S. military said it had no reports of helicopter attacks.



Gunmen stage parades in Iraqi towns

Published Saturday, October 21, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Al-Qaida-linked gunmen staged military-like parades yesterday in a string of towns west of Baghdad, underlining the growing confidence of Sunni insurgents in a part of Iraq where U.S. and Iraqi forces maintain a heavy counterinsurgency presence.

Like the audacious show of force by up to 60 insurgents in the city of Ramadi on Wednesday, the latest parades - including two less than a mile from U.S. military bases - were staged in support of an announcement this week by a militant Sunni Arab group that it had created an Islamic state in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including the capital, Baghdad.

The declaration was made Sunday by the Mujahedeen Shura Council - an umbrella organization of Sunni insurgent groups that includes al-Qaida in Iraq - in a video posted on the Internet.

Iraqi insurgents are not known to control any territory in Iraq, but the declaration appeared designed to counter the adoption this month of a law that paves the way for Iraq’s mainly Shiite south to establish an autonomous region similar to a Kurdish one in the north.

Significantly, two of yesterday’s four parades - involving dozens of gunmen in the towns of Haditha and Haqlaniyah - took place less than a mile from U.S. military bases, according to witnesses. There were no reports of clashes.

Besides Haditha and Haqlaniyah, parades were also held in the towns of Bani Daher and Rwah, all of which are in Anbar, a vast and mostly desert province where the Sunni insurgency has been fiercest since Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003. Ramadi is Anbar’s provincial capital.

October 20, 2006

Eye-Rack To Impement Memory Hole

You see, the recent body counts certified by the U.N. highlighting thousands of dead Iraqis have embarrassed both the quising Iraqi government and the American occupiers that control it. So the obvious solution is to stop giving the U.N. the data. Problem solved!

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 19 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office has instructed the country's health ministry to stop providing mortality figures to the United Nations, jeopardizing a key source of information on the number of civilian war dead in Iraq, according to a U.N. document.

A confidential cable from the United Nations' top official in Baghdad, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi of Pakistan, said the Iraqi prime minister is seeking to exercise greater control over the release of the country's politically sensitive death toll. U.N. officials expressed concern that the move threatens to politicize the process of counting Iraq's dead and muddy international efforts to gain a clear snapshot of the scale of killing in Iraq.

Qazi warned in the cable that the development "may affect" the United Nations' ability to adequately record the number of civilians killed or wounded in the Iraq war as it endures a bloody new phase of sectarian violence. He said U.N. human rights workers would have "no guaranteed means to corroborate" figures provided by the government.

Still The Worst President Ever.

Heard the good news today? We've totally failed in our mission in Baghdad:

Baghdad security plan 'failing'

The US military has said a security initiative aimed at reducing violence in Baghdad has failed to meet expectations and is being reviewed.

Military spokesman Maj Gen William Caldwell said there had been a "disheartening" 22% rise in attacks in Baghdad since the end of last month.

His comments came as a wave of bombings across Iraq killed at least 41 people.

. . . Deadly month

Launched in June, Operation Together Forward is a joint US and Iraqi security drive in which thousands of extra troops have been deployed in Baghdad.

The operation was seen as key to asserting the authority of the Iraqi government over all of the capital and eventually the rest of the country, paving the way for the withdrawal of US forces.
But Gen Caldwell said attacks on US troops and Iraqi forces in Baghdad has risen significantly in the first three weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in the last week of September.

"Operation Together Forward has made a difference in the focus areas but it has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in... violence," he said.

Gen Caldwell said 73 US soldiers had been killed so far in October, which was heading towards becoming the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq for two years.

The senior US commander in Iraq, Gen George Casey, has now ordered a review of the strategy.

Yeah, you'd think that such embarrassing setbacks would get the president to cancel all of his plans and set up impromptu high-level war cabinet meetings in order come up with strategies or policies that would reverse the situation.

Oh no-no-no my little naif. That is not how the Bushies operate:

The gloomy assessment by the US military will add to growing pressure on the Bush administration for some shift in strategy in Iraq, says the BBC's James Westhead in Washington.

But the White House dismissed reports that it was preparing for a change of course, with spokesman Tony Snow describing them as a "bunch of hooey".

Continue reading "Still The Worst President Ever." »

October 18, 2006

"But They Aren't Reporting The Good News!"

Atrios is right. They aren't even trying anymore:


Electricity Levels In Baghdad At Lowest Level Since U.S. Invasion

In Sept. 2003, President Bush promised that he would help Iraqis “restore basic services, such as electricity and water, and to build new schools, roads, and medical clinics. This effort is essential to the stability of those nations, and therefore, to our own security.?

But three years later, electricity levels in Baghdad are at an all-time low. Residents of Baghdad are receiving just 2.4 hours of electricity this month, compared to an average of 16-24 hours of electricity before the U.S. invasion. The lowest level prior to this month was 3.9 hours/day.

The Civil War

This is what "peace" will look like in Eye-Rack in the near future:

Police and black-clad Shiite militiamen toting machine guns sealed off the predominantly Shiite city of Balad on Tuesday, guarding against attacks by Sunni insurgents flooding into towns just north of Baghdad, vowing revenge for four days of violence in which dozens of Sunnis were killed.

Calm largely returned to Balad by Tuesday, with Iraqi army troops forcing Shiite militia fighters out of police cars that the militiamen had commandeered for the attacks, said residents reached by telephone in the cut-off town. American troops patrolled the city and guarded one end of a Tigris River bridge that links Balad with Duluiyah, a Sunni farm town also at the epicenter of the outburst of sectarian conflict.

Yes, why should Al-Maliki hurry up and disarm the militias? They're among the only ones providing the security for his people.

October 17, 2006

Iraq Media Freedom: Still Better Than China

In keeping with it's vaunted record for liberating the press the quisling government of Eye-Rack is thinking about closing down two media outlets of whose views they disagree with:

A statement by the Iraqi parliament urges Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki to close down Azzaman newspaper.

The statement also asks Maliki to ban Al-Sharqiya television, the nation-wide network operated in coordination with Azzaman newspaper.

The statement issued Monday cites what the parliament describes the outlets’ coverage of a recent draft law the legislators passed on turning the country into a federal state.

Both the newspaper and al-Sharqiya television were critical of the law, warning that it represents a prelude to the division of the country on sectarian and ethnic grounds.

Azzamman is Iraq’s most read newspaper. Al-Shariqiya is the most viewed television network in the country.

It is not clear whether Maliki will heed the parliament’s request which is not binding.

Juan Cole has more.

October 16, 2006

64 Percent Of Americans Objectively Pro-Saddam

CNN Poll (PDF)

Me And What Army?

Nouri al-Maliki gives an interview to USAToday in which he explains why the pie-in-the-sky plans for Eye-Rack involving roundatbles and conferences such as this one will never produce anything:

Q: . . . When will the militias be disbanded?

A: We should not think of the security challenge as being only militias. The militias may be one of the easier problems to deal with. The more serious challenge is terrorism, composed of the remnants of the Saddam (Hussein) regime and al-Qaeda. That's why we are working on two lines: facing militias and facing terrorists, who reject the entire state. The militias are members of the political process, while the Baathists and al-Qaeda reject the entire political system.

Regarding setting a time, I don't think we could determine it specifically. The problem of militias, in countries throughout the world, requires time. The most important thing is that we have started and started strong. We have given a clear message: Militias should reconsider their existence. ... The more success we have on the political side will help us deal with this issue. The initial date we've set for disbanding the militias is the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

Yep, while his own citizens are being slaughtered by the dozens every day, he prefers not to deal with the militias until hundreds more are dead and they grow much more stronger.

Well, at least he and his procrastination enjoys good company:

U.S. President George W. Bush assured Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday that the United States had not set any deadline for his government to control sectarian violence or risk losing American support for his leadership, the White House said.

October 15, 2006

Less Reporters In Bed With Military

You know the situation in Eye-Rack is bad when there are less reporters being protected by the military in exchange for favorable press:

Fewer reporters embedded in Iraq By LEE KEATH and ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writers Sun Oct 15, 2:41 PM ET


The number of embedded journalists reporting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to its lowest level of the war even as the conflict heats up on the streets of Baghdad and in the U.S. political campaign.

In the past few weeks, the number of journalists reporting assigned to U.S. military units in Iraq has settled to below two dozen. Late last month, it fell to 11, its lowest, and has rebounded only slightly since.

During the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 600 reporters, TV crews and photographers linked up with U.S. and British units. A year ago, when Iraqis went to the polls to ratify a new constitution, there were 114 embedded journalists.

"This is more than pathetic," said Sig Christenson, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and president of Military Reporters and Editors, a journalists' group. "It strikes me as dangerous" for the American public to get so little news of their military, said Christenson, who recently returned from an embedded assignment in Iraq.

Continue reading "Less Reporters In Bed With Military" »

Dennis Ross Digs For Ponies

The man who enabled the derailment of the Camp David II talks by ensuring Israel's upper hand now thinks he has a solution to the Iraq problem. Unsurprisingly, it involves a lot of bluster (I mean "conferences") and little beef:

First, it's time for the Bush administration to insist that a national reconciliation conference be held and not be disbanded until agreement is reached on amendments to the constitution.

. . .Second, a long-discussed regional conference with all of Iraq's neighbors should be held. None of them -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey -- wants the Bush administration to succeed in Iraq (at least in the way the president defines success). And yet every one of them fears the consequences of an Iraq convulsed in the aftermath of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal. A full-scale civil war, with refugees streaming out of the country, with instability bound to leak across borders, and with other nations intervening to protect their own interests and their Iraqi allies is just as much a nightmare for Iran as it is for Saudi Arabia.

. . .Third, President Bush should inform Maliki that we will not impose a deadline for withdrawal but we are going to negotiate with his government a timetable for our departure. The difference between a deadline and an agreed timetable is the difference between leaving the Iraqis in the lurch and informing them they have to assume responsibilities. The former guarantees preservation of the militias as they anticipate a deepening civil war; the latter puts all sectarian groups on notice that they can shape the future but the clock is ticking and if they don't begin to get serious about reconciliation and about fulfilling their own responsibilities they face the abyss.

So basically we can leave all of a sudden, or we can wag our fingers at the naughty militias before leaving all of a sudden.

Face it, none of these ideas will bear fruit unless you have one thing overall - S-E-C-U-R-I-T-Y. The "unity government" was supposed to be a confluence of different sects and ethnic groups that will cooperate towards a solution, but they are isolated behind the Green Zone fortress with little influence over much of the country and the voting only led to sharpening of sectarian lines. They can think of a lot of ideas, but without the manpower or will to enforce those ideas, all they are are writings on a paper in the face of the writings on the wall.

The only way this crisis will be resolved is if a powerful amd unified security force comes in and restores order. Dennis Ross and the rest of the Tinkerbell crowd will just have to accept that we have little control over the form that security force is going take shape as.

For We Warned Them, So We Are Excused

Jonathan Scwarz at A Tiny Revolution makes a damning comparison between the recent Lebonon bombing campaign by Israel and the current sectarian ethnic cleansing going on in Iraq. We all know how the Israeli hardliners, even those who are intelligent and who I used to admire, (and Ed Schultz) excuse the bombing of civilians using the abominable fig leaf that the Israelis dropped a bunch of fliers warning the people that they should leave their homes and livelihoods behind.

A simple response to that contemptible argument is to ask the apologists how much better they would feel about the rocket attacks if Hezbollah delivered similar leaflets upon Israeli villages and cities beforehand, but now in a way we don't have to imagine anymore since other killers of Shiites have also been kind enough to post warnings before they embark on their slaughter:

In the name of Allah, the most merciful Subject: Deportation

As a result of the criminal and sectarian behaviour of what is called (the disgraceful) Jaish Al-Mahdi and (the treacherous) Badr forces by killing, kidnapping and deporting the Sunni community (at Mahmoudiya, Rashidiya, Sha’ab, Shu’la and Hurriya), as well as violating the honour of Sunnis and plundering their possessions, the organisation has decided, Inshallah, to return the strike twofold and treat them the same (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth). It has been decided to deport you from Sunni areas, including Ghazaliya, within 24 hours, or otherwise your heads will be cut off, the same as your militias act with members of the Sunni community. He who has warned is henceforth excused.

Compare to the warnings that the Israelis papered Southern Lebanon with a few months ago:

To the people of Lebanon Pay attention to these instructions!!

The IDF will intensify its activities and will heavily bomb the entire area from which rockets are being launched against the State of Israel.

Anyone present in these areas is endangering his life!

The State of Israel

Don't take my word for it, take Dershowitz's: Israel is justified in bombing civilians because they are not stopping the terrorists who attack Israel. Likewise, the sectarian militias are justified in killing civilians because they are protecting the rival militias. If that's the moral universe Israel chooses to occupy (all puns intended) then I only feel sorry for the Israeli citizens who have to suffer because of their government's choices.

October 13, 2006

British Army Chief Calls It Quits

As Digby said, that would be like Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman saying we need to withdraw:

The head of the Army is calling for British troops to withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk catastophic consequences for both Iraq and British society.

In a devastating broadside at Tony Blair's foreign policy, General Sir Richard Dannatt stated explicitly that the continuing presence of British troops "exacerbates the security problems" in Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Sir Richard also warns that a "moral and spiritual vacuum" has opened up in British society, which is allowing Muslim extremists to undermine "our accepted way of life."

The Chief of the General Staff believes that Christian values are under threat in Britain and that continuing to fight in Iraq will only make the situation worse.

His views will send shockwaves through Government.

They are a total repudiation of the Prime Minister, who has repeatedly insisted that British presence in Iraq is morally right and has had no effect on our domestic security.

October 12, 2006

Turning Another Corner

If we are going to be in Eye-Rack forever, that would mean we need to screw over more troops:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is delaying the departure of thousands of soldiers from Iraq while speeding the arrival of thousands more as a way to keep more troops on the ground to handle unrelenting violence, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The United States, in a bid to stem a rise in sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims that has heightened concern over civil war, has increased its troop count in the past two months to the current level of 142,000.

A brigade of roughly 3,800 soldiers from the Army's 1st Armored Division, based in Germany, that was due to have left Iraq in January is being held in place for a little under two months, said defense officials who asked not to be named because the decision has not been formally announced.

These soldiers, serving in the volatile Ramadi area, are now set to serve roughly 13 months in Iraq, longer than the U.S. policy of 12-month tours of duty for Army soldiers, an official said.

Meanwhile, a similarly sized Texas-based Army brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division is being sent to Iraq about a month earlier than previously scheduled, and should be leaving in October, an official said.

October 11, 2006

Operation Together Backwards

2,667 Baghdad civilians killed in September. Up four hundred from August and approaching the 2884 killed in July.

And, BTW, the Army says we're gonna be in Eye-Rack forever.

Rwanda on the Tigris

Killing 600,000 "over there" so we can avenge the 3,000 here is NOT a foreign policy:

Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says By SABRINA TAVERNISE and DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. BAGHDAD, Oct. 10 — A team of American and Iraqi public health researchers has estimated that 600,000 civilians have died in violence across Iraq since the 2003 American invasion, the highest estimate ever for the toll of the war here.

The figure breaks down to about 15,000 violent deaths a month, a number that is quadruple the one for July given by Iraqi government hospitals and the morgue in Baghdad and published last month in a United Nations report in Iraq. That month was the highest for Iraqi civilian deaths since the American invasion.

But it is an estimate and not a precise count, and researchers acknowledged a margin of error that ranged from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths.

It is the second study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It uses samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate an overall figure of 601,027 Iraqis dead from violence between March 2003 and July 2006.

The findings of the previous study, published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, in 2004, had been criticized as high, in part because of its relatively narrow sampling of about 1,000 families, and because it carried a large margin of error.

The new study is more representative, its researchers said, and the sampling is broader: it surveyed 1,849 Iraqi families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. The selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across Iraq was based on population size, not on the level of violence, they said.

For a reference point, it's estimated that at least 400,000 have died in Darfur. 900,000 were slaughtered in Rwanda.

October 10, 2006

The Last Horse Crosses The Finish Line

Fareed Zakaria is the latest Eye-Rack war cheerleader-turned-pessimist to finally see that the shitmire is not worth waging any more:

Oct. 16, 2006 issue - When Iraq's current government was formed last April, after four months of bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis, many voices in America and in Iraq said the next six months would be the crucial testing period. That was a fair expectation. It has now been almost six months, and what we have seen are bitter disputes, wrangling and paralysis. Meanwhile, the violence has gotten worse, sectarian tensions have risen steeply and ethnic cleansing is now in full swing. There is really no functioning government south of Kurdistan, only power vacuums that have been filled by factions, militias and strongmen. It is time to call an end to the tests, the six-month trials, the waiting and watching, and to recognize that the Iraqi government has failed. It is also time to face the terrible reality that America's mission in Iraq has substantially failed.

More waiting is unlikely to turn things around, nor will more troops. I understand the impulse of those who want to send in more forces to secure the country. I urged just such a policy from the first week of the occupation. But today we are where we are. Over the past three years the violence has spread and is now franchised down to neighborhoods with local gangs in control. In many areas, local militias are not even controlled by their supposed political masters in Baghdad. In this kind of decentralized street fighting, 10,000 or 20,000 more troops in Baghdad will not have more than a temporary effect. Nor will new American policies help. The reason that the Democrats seem to lack good, concrete suggestions on Iraq is that the Bush administration has actually been pursuing more-sensible policies for more than a year now, trying vainly to reverse many of its errors. But what might well have worked in 2003 is too little, too late in 2006.

I wonder how it feels to know that even Thomas Friedman could see the fucking writings on the wall earlier than you can.

October 06, 2006

It Keeps Getting Worse

Back in the good ole days of yore Iraqis can't even dial 911 without the insurgents knowing about it and killing you. Now Lara Logan (the woman I fantasize sitting on the anchor chair while Katie Couric debases our hard news with her coos) is reporting that Iraqis can't even get shot and be brought to the hospital without being killed by death squads who are now manning the hospitals and morgues:

A U.S. intelligence report finds that sectarian death squads have taken control of hospitals and morgues in Iraq, reports Lara Logan of CBS News.

Secret documentation by the U.S. military shows that sectarian militias use hospitals for command and control centers. The militias often kill Sunni patients, some "dragged from their beds." Ambulances are used to transport hostages and weapons and to escape from coalition troops.

Lara Logan interviewed one hospital worker, who said, "A man was bringing his murdered brother to the morgue. They asked him if he knew who the killers were and he said 'yes.' They shot him right there." The hospital worker says that spies are everywhere. Militia member have replaced more than eighty percent of the original staff where she works.

Sunnis are too terrified to retrieve the bodies of their relatives from the morgues. As the violence worsens, more nameless bodies fill anonymous graves in Iraq.

Welp, at least Baghdad is still safer than Philadelphia.


Morons.

October 04, 2006

Eye-Rack & Roll

While the media is busy giving their viewers hot man-on-boy action courtesy of Mark Foley, here's what's been happening in Iraq for the past few days:


BAGHDAD, Oct. 4 -- Thirteen U.S. soldiers have been killed in Baghdad since Monday, the American military reported, registering the highest three-day death toll for U.S. forces in the capital since the start of the war.

The latest losses -- four soldiers who were killed at 9 a.m. Wednesday by small-arms fire -- are part of a recent spike in violent attacks against U.S. forces that have claimed the lives of at least 24 soldiers and Marines in Iraq since Saturday, the military said.

The number of planted bombs is "at an all-time high," said Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, a military spokesman, defying American efforts to stanch the vicious sectarian bloodshed in Baghdad that threatens to plunge the country into civil war.

"This has been a hard week for U.S. forces," Caldwell said. "Unfortunately, as expected, attacks have steadily increased in Baghdad during these past weeks." Independent databases showed the three-day toll for American troops to be the highest in Baghdad so far.

This is gonna be one tough Ramadan.

Party Like It's 2006. . .2007. . .2008. . .?

Oy vey iz mir.

In Bill’s Fine Print, Millions to Celebrate Victory

By THOM SHANKER

Published: October 4, 2006

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — Even as the Bush administration urges Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Republicans in Congress have put down a quiet marker in the apparent hope that V-I Day might be only months away.

Tucked away in fine print in the military spending bill for this past year was a lump sum of $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success? in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, the money was not spent.

Now Congressional Republicans are saying, in effect, maybe next year. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007.

The original legislation empowered the president to designate “a day of celebration? to commemorate the success of the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to “issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.?

Well, at least that $20 million that won't be added to the deficit.

We Who Are Also Wrong

The Washington Post, in what is possibly the most unforgivable hit piece against the war critics masquerading as a "news piece", is saying that war critics aren't vindicated by the complete and utter disaster going underway in Eye-Rack because, um, some of them might not have predicted accurately how the events would unfold. Imagine what the Post would print if WMDs were found, a Jeffersonian democracy was founded right after The Fall of the Statue, and a neoconservative economic paradise had flourished in the Arab heartland, in other words, if we were actually wrong about the war:

Antiwar liberals last week got to savor the four most satisfying words in the English language: "I told you so."

This was after a declassified National Intelligence Estimate asserted that the war in Iraq was creating more terrorists than it was eliminating. For millions of people who opposed President Bush's mission in Iraq from the start, this was proof positive that they had been right all along. Yes, they told themselves, we saw this disaster coming.

Only . . . that isn't quite true.

One of the most systematic errors in human perception is what psychologists call hindsight bias -- the feeling, after an event happens, that we knew all along it was going to happen. Across a wide spectrum of issues, from politics to the vagaries of the stock market, experiments show that once people know something, they readily believe they knew it all along.

This is not to say that no one predicted the war in Iraq would go badly, or that the insurgency would last so long. Many did. But where people might once have called such scenarios possible, or even likely, many will now be certain that they had known for sure that this was the only possible outcome.

"Liberals' assertion that they 'knew all along' that the war in Iraq would go badly are guilty of the hindsight bias," agreed Hal Arkes, a psychologist at Ohio State University, who has studied the hindsight bias and how to overcome it. "This is not to say that they didn't always think that the war was a bad idea."

He added: "It is to say that after it was apparent that the war was going badly, they assert that they would have assigned a higher probability to that outcome than they really would have assigned beforehand."

The hindsight bias plays an important role in public debate, because it gives people a false sense of certainty. When people convince themselves that they knew something would happen, what they effectively ignore is how much that outcome may have been unpredictable.

In place of accuracy, what the hindsight bias seems to offer is a form of comfort. It is easy to be confident about the past, because one cannot be proved wrong.

Continue reading "We Who Are Also Wrong" »

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.

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.

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.

May 29, 2006

No Blood For Oil Shortages

Three years in Eye-Rack, and all we got is rolling oil shortages:

BAGHDAD - As Iraq's brutal summer heat sends temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), a dire shortage of petroleum products is damaging the economy and cutting electricity supplies in Baghdad to new lows.

The shortage is due to a host of reasons, including rivalries among political parties in the south, but an interior ministry spokesman said the security situation was a major cause.

"In addition to attacks on pipelines, trucks carrying petroleum products are in the sights of the rebels. Some gas stations had to close after their drivers refused to go pick up gasoline and other products stored in the dangerous areas around Baghdad," said Assem Jihad.

The capital has some 160 gas stations, of which half are privately run, and long lines of motorists stretch in front of those still selling gasoline.


May 19, 2006

Iraqnam, Part II

The Homeless Soldier:

Some Iraq war vets go homeless after return to US

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The nightmare of Iraq was bad enough for Vanessa Gamboa. Unprepared for combat beyond her basic training, the supply specialist soon found herself in a firefight, commanding a handful of clerks.

"They promoted me to sergeant. I knew my job but I didn't know anything about combat. So I'm responsible for all these people and I don't know what to tell them but to duck," Gamboa said.

The battle, on a supply delivery run, ended without casualties, and it did little to steel Gamboa for what awaited her back home in Brooklyn.


When the single mother was discharged in April, after her second tour in Iraq, she was 24 and had little money and no place to live. She slept in her son's day-care center.

Gamboa is part of a small but growing trend among U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- homelessness.

On any given night the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps 200 to 250 of them, and more go uncounted. They are among nearly 200,000 homeless veterans in America, largely from the Vietnam War.

Advocates say the number of homeless veterans is certain to grow, just as it did in the years following the Vietnam and Gulf wars, as a consequence of the stresses of war and inadequate job training.

Homeless veterans have remained in the shadows of the national debate about Iraq, although the issue may gain traction from the film "When I Came Home," which won an award the month for best New York-made documentary at the city's Tribeca Film Festival.

What? You mean those asinine car magnets aren't enough?

May 15, 2006

Ask, And Ye Shall Be Used

The Wall Street Journal has a report on how General-turned-critic John Batiste claims he's been repeatedly denied additiional troops and other necessities in this war - and Paula Zahn is a despicable bushbot harpie

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Six days after he called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to leave his post, retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste faced a crushing moment of doubt.

Earlier that morning, Mr. Rumsfeld had brushed off Gen. Batiste and other critics as inflexible bureaucrats, uncomfortable with change. A few hours later, President Bush vowed to stand by his secretary.

Now CNN's Paula Zahn was grilling Gen. Batiste: "So, do you plan to continue with these kinds of attacks ... when the president has made it clear he's not budging?"

"I have yet to determine if I will do that or not," Gen. Batiste said.

Afterward, the 53-year-old officer retreated to a deserted parking garage outside the television station. For 30 minutes, he paced up and down, he says, literally shaking. Military officers, like Gen. Batiste, are constantly reminded that their role is to advise civilian leaders and execute their orders -- even if they disagree with them.

Now he was stepping way out of that culture. Gen. Batiste and his wife, the children of career military officers, had spent their entire lives in the Army. He fought in the first Gulf War, led a brigade into Bosnia, and in 2004 commanded 22,000 troops in Iraq, losing more than 150 soldiers.

"I was shocked at where I was," he says. "I had spent the last 31 years of my life defending our great Constitution." Over the course of the war in Iraq he says he saw troop shortages that allowed a deadly insurgency to take root, felt politics were put ahead of hard-won military lessons and was haunted by the regretful words of a top general in Vietnam.

. . .Gen. Batiste stands out among the generals who have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to resign because he is the only one who served in a high position in the Pentagon and commanded troops in Iraq. He turned down a promotion and resigned last fall. He then spent the next seven months trying to decide whether to speak out in public, weighing a strong sense of duty and respect for his chain of command against a feeling that he owed it to his soldiers and their families to speak out.

Among the generals who have spoken out, "the only one that really shocked everyone was Batiste," says Don Snider, a professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

. . .In 2001, Mr. Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz arrived at the Pentagon with a mandate from President Bush to transform the military into a lighter, faster force. Mr. Wolfowitz tapped Gen. Batiste, who had been recommended by his superiors, to become his senior military assistant.

Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz kicked off their tenure with a massive review of military spending. To ensure that the generals and Congress didn't organize to block change, Mr. Rumsfeld insisted that much of the review initially be conducted in secret. As Mr. Wolfowitz's aide, Gen. Batiste had access to some of the high-level discussions.

Initial plans called for shrinking the Army by as much as 20%, to pay for high-tech airplanes, space and missile defense systems. In discussions with Mr. Wolfowitz, Gen. Batiste argued the virtues of a big Army, drawing on his Bosnia experience.

Some on Mr. Wolfowitz's staff say Gen. Batiste often offered a parochial Army view. He touted the Crusader artillery cannon, which was too heavy to move by plane and didn't mesh with President Bush's vision of light, agile forces. Studies dating to the Clinton administration branded the cannon unnecessary. Mr. Rumsfeld eventually spiked it.

The general says he forged a close relationship with Mr. Wolfowitz. "He is a brilliant, dedicated hard-working man," Gen. Batiste says. "I didn't always agree with him, but he listened. He was a fair man." Mr. Wolfowitz declined to comment for this article.

Gen. Batiste didn't feel the same way about Mr. Rumsfeld, who served as a Navy pilot from 1954 to 1957. Mr. Rumsfeld's plan to cut the Army by 20%, before 9/11, reflected a belief that new technology made it possible to win wars with smaller ground formations. "He came in with a lot of ideas about warfare that I thought were just bankrupt," Gen. Batiste says.

But he kept his reservations about the war plan to himself. "You don't know what you don't know until you are there on the ground," Gen. Batiste says. In January 2004, after a personal sendoff from Mr. Wolfowitz, his division deployed to Iraq. Gen. Batiste oversaw a territory about the size of West Virginia in the heart of the Sunni Triangle.

Once in Iraq, he believed some of his reservations were justified. Like most units in Iraq at the time, the 1st Infantry Division's humvees lacked armor. His soldiers contracted with Iraqis to weld whatever metal they could find to the sides of their humvees.

He also felt the unit didn't have enough reconstruction funds. When Mr. Wolfowitz came to visit in June 2004, Gen. Batiste said that his division had spent $41 million in three months on rebuilding. It had $23 million left for the remaining six months of the year. That wasn't enough, he says, to repair infrastructure destroyed by decades of misrule and sanctions, such as sewer, electrical or health-care systems. In addition, reconstruction funds put unemployed Iraqi men, who offered a potential recruiting pool for the enemy, on the U.S. payroll.

Over the course of the year-long tour, Gen. Batiste says he had to deal regularly with troop shortages. On three occasions, he was ordered to send soldiers to help other U.S. units in the cities of Najaf and Fallujah to put down revolts. Typically, the Army holds a couple of units in reserve to deal with unforeseen flare-ups. But the desire to keep the force as lean as possible meant there were no extra troops in Iraq.

Each time his soldiers left their area, attacks, intimidation and roadside bombs spiked, Gen. Batiste says. "It was like a sucking chest wound," he says. Relationships that soldiers had painstakingly built with local sheiks -- who had been persuaded to cooperate with U.S. forces at great risk to themselves and their families -- were lost when the soldiers were sent elsewhere, he says.

Gen. Batiste told Mr. Wolfowitz about this problem during the June 2004 visit, saying increased unrest in his sector was the "direct result of the boots-on-the-ground decrease." But he told Mr. Wolfowitz he believed his soldiers were making progress.

Gen. Batiste says he also relayed his concerns to his military bosses in Baghdad. "I always spoke out within my chain of command. I spoke my mind freely and forcefully," he says. His immediate commanders, Lt. Gen Thomas Metz and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, didn't respond to requests for comment. His commanders were sympathetic, Gen. Batiste says, but he doesn't know whether his concerns were relayed to the Pentagon.

Just weeks before his troops left Iraq, the general had an opportunity to confront Mr. Rumsfeld publicly. The secretary, who was making a 2004 Christmas tour through Iraq, came to meet with him and take questions from his troops.

Gen. Batiste introduced Mr. Rumsfeld to his soldiers as a "man with the courage and conviction to win the war on terrorism." The general says he was disillusioned with Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership at the time, but felt he needed to pump up his soldiers who were in the final days of a grueling, bloody deployment.

After the speech, Mr. Rumsfeld, accompanied by reporters, met with Gen. Batiste in his plywood office, in the corner of one of Saddam Hussein's unfinished marble palaces. Mr. Rumsfeld asked the general whether he had been given everything he needed, Gen. Batiste recalls. Not wanting to discuss problems in front of the press, he says he deflected the question, by talking about his efforts to train Iraqi security forces.

The defense secretary then turned to Gen. Batiste's boss, Gen. Metz and asked: "What has Batiste told you he needs that he has not received?" according to a Dec. 26, 2004, account of the meeting by the Associated Press. Gen. Metz made no mention of troop levels, but said that Gen. Batiste could use some more unmanned spy planes and Iraqi linguists, the 2004 AP report says.

Today Gen. Batiste says the encounter left him furious with Mr. Rumsfeld. "We had fought and argued about these issues internally ad nauseam and a decision had been made ... . You get what you get and do the best you can. I am not going to air our dirty laundry in public. That is our culture," he says. "It was an outrageous question and he knew I couldn't give him an honest answer in a public forum. I felt as though I had been used politically."

Of course, the designated spokesliar for Rumsfailed said that Batiste had several opportunities to air his views, but we all know what becomes of his misgivings, they are dismissed out of hand, and if he persists he gets punished in some way.


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Continue reading "Ask, And Ye Shall Be Used" »

May 13, 2006

"Once They Stand Up. . ." Part V

Oy ye vey:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — An armed confrontation between two Iraqi army units left one soldier and one civilian dead Friday, raising questions about the U.S.-trained force's ability to maintain control at a time when sectarian and ethnic tensions are running high.

The incident near Duluiyah, about 45 miles north of Baghdad, illustrates the command and control problems facing the new Iraqi army, which the Americans hope can take over security in most of the country by the end of the year. It also shows that divisions within the military mirror those of Iraqi society at large.

The trouble started when a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army convoy, which police said was made up of Kurdish soldiers. Four soldiers were killed and three were wounded, police said. U.S. military officials put the casualty figure at one dead and 12 wounded.

The wounded were rushed to the civilian Balad Hospital. Police said that as the Kurdish soldiers drove to the hospital, they fired weapons to clear the way, and one Iraqi Shiite civilian was killed.

Shiite soldiers from another Iraqi unit based in Balad rushed to the scene, and the Kurds decided to take their wounded elsewhere, Iraqi police said. Iraqi troops tried to stop them and shots were fired, killing one Shiite soldier, Iraqi police said.

The U.S. account said an Iraqi soldier from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade was killed in a "confrontation" as the other Iraqi troops were trying to remove their wounded from the hospital. The U.S. statement did not explain why the troops wanted to take their wounded from the best-equipped U.S. medical facility in the country.

A third Iraqi army unit set up a roadblock and stopped the soldiers who were leaving with their wounded, the U.S. statement said. American troops intervened at the roadblock and calmed the situation.

May 06, 2006

Fallujah II

Almost two years ago we've witnessed a turning point in the Iraq occupation when contractors in Fallujah were ambushed, burned alive, and had their bodies mutilated and dragged through the streets by a mob. At that time, Iraq began to become very unsafe for Westerners and it only got worse from there.

Now a similar situation erupted in Basra, and we can now cross that place as one of the "safe zones":


Iraqis Cheer Crash of British Helicopter

By BUSHRA JUHI

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A British military helicopter crashed in Basra on Saturday, and Iraqis hurled stones at British troops and set fire to three armored vehicles that rushed to the scene. Clashes broke out between British troops and Shiite militias, police and witnesses said.

Police Capt. Mushtaq Khazim said the helicopter was apparently shot down in a residential district. He said the four-member crew was killed, but British officials would say only that there were "casualties."

British forces backed by armored vehicles rushed to the area but were met by a hail of stones from the crowd of at least 250 people, who jumped for joy and raised their fists as a plume of thick smoke rose into the air from the crash site.

The crowd set three British armored vehicles on fire, apparently with gasoline bombs and a rocket-propelled grenade, but the soldiers inside escaped unhurt, witnesses said.

British troops shot into the air trying to disperse the crowd, then shooting broke out between the British and Iraqi militiamen, Khazim said. At least four people, including a child, were killed, he said. Two of the victims were adults shot by British troops while driving a car in the area, Khazim said.

The crowd chanted "we are all soldiers of al-Sayed," a reference to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ardent foe of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.

Later the crowd scattered after hearing explosion, but groups of men set fire to tires in the streets and the situation remained tense. The chaotic scene was widely shown on Iraqi state television and on the Al-Jazeera satellite station.

The British are now using that as a signal that it's time to start packing:

The shooting down of the British military helicopter in Basra yesterday and the violent rioting that followed were grim reminders of the fragility of the security situation in southern Iraq. Although the region has escaped much of the daily mayhem of the Sunni areas of the country, the time has long gone since it was portrayed as a model of reconstruction. Once the British may have been out of this firing line and seen by the Shia population of the south as "liberators". Now the picture is very different.

The attack on the helicopter is a racheting up of the threat facing the UK forces. British commanders had drastically restricted movements by road after a series of deaths caused by sophisticated bombs allegedly supplied by Iran. Transport by air was adopted as a far safer option. However, the large numbers of operations had left crews more vulnerable to attacks. Safety devices fitted to helicopters protected them from surface-to-air missiles - but not from rocket-propelled grenades.

There has been another reason for curtailing the number of ground convoys. Co-operation and joint patrols with the Iraqi police have dwindled to the extent that British soldiers no longer leave their heavily fortified bases unless absolutely necessary. The main aim now is to keep as low a profile as possible while preparing for the withdrawal of the bulk of the 8,000 plus British forces during the next 12 months.

April 30, 2006

"Once They Stand Up. . ." (Part Four)

This is what we sacrified thousands of our soldiers for:

HABBANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Newly graduated Iraqi soldiers protested after a passing out parade on Sunday saying they were promised they would serve only in their hometowns.

The troops were among 1,000 graduates, mostly from the Sunni Arab minority, at the Habbaniya base near Falluja west of Baghdad.

The protesters told reporters they were unhappy about their first assignments after being promised they would serve only in their hometowns.

Some took off their shirts and threw them down in anger. Others yelled at their officers and threatened to quit. One officer yelled back, telling them to leave, witnesses said.

Well, if they don't like the military, they can always get cushier jobs with the militias:

Militias steal new recruits with better pay and perks By Daniel McGrory

SOON after he graduated near the top of his class at the American-run police academy, Alah defected. He did not bother to inform his superiors. The young Iraqi police officer simply walked into a recruitment office in a rundown neighbourhood of Baghdad and signed on for the Mahdi Army, the private militia run by the radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that has been blamed for some of the most savage atrocities in this city in recent weeks.
The 23-year-old absconder described it as “a career move?. The pay was better, the duties less onerous and there was far less chance of being killed.

Three years after President Bush declared “mission accomplished? in Iraq, young gunslingers such as Alah are what passes for the law across much of this city today.

Nobody knows for sure the strength of Iraq’s militias, but they certainly outnumber the 120,000-strong police force that estimates it is losing several hundred recruits a month. This is the only country where police and soldiers have it written into their contracts that they can leave on a whim without being punished.

Alah’s defection is a blow to attempts to rebuild Iraq. Western money and manpower trained him to replace the British and US forces. But, with young recruits deserting in ever growing numbers, the prospect of a swift pullout recedes still further.

. . .Alah was brought up in a Shia neighbourhood but laughs at the idea that it was religious conviction that encouraged him to join the ranks of the Mahdi Army. “It is an attractive package,? he says, weighing up the economic advantages offered by the militia, such as a pledge to take care of Alah’s family if anything happens to him. He and his colleagues do as they please. They do not bother with warrants before searching premises, and can open fire at will.

April 27, 2006

Fobbits

Looks like the soldiers neither acknowledge or care anymore that those who put them on the frontlines are coming to make some photo-ops in secure "temporary" bases:

BALAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made their surprise visits to Baghdad on Wednesday, many of the troops stationed north of Baghdad, in Balad and Dujail, say either they didn't know about it or didn't care.

"I'd ask him for a plane ticket home to see my wife. I have barely seen her in the last two years," said a young sergeant, who did not want to be identified. Like many of the soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, he is on his second deployment to Iraq.

Some joked that whenever VIP's come to visit they just go to the main bases and meet the "fobbits," the nickname given to troops who do not go outside the barbed wire.

"They have to get out to see the people that are doing the jobs they are making them do. If they didn't they would not be very good leaders," said Maj. Michael Humphreys, one of the few soldiers here willing to tell journalists some of his opinions on senior leadership.

"Fobbits" of course coming from the term Forward Operating Bases.

Continue reading "Fobbits" »

April 26, 2006

Iraq Army Commanders Supply Insurgents With Weapons

Looks like the New Eye-Rack Army is standing up all right, standing up to the Americans:

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2006 (UPI) -- Eight Iraqi soldiers, mostly privates, have turned in their company commander, a major, and a captain who were supplying army weapons to local insurgents. U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officers had believed for some time that munitions from the Badush ordnance depot in al Kisik, near Tal Afar, were being purloined and supplied to guerrillas, who used them to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

The Badush munitions depot was established during the reign of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Stars and Stripes reported on April 24 that although Iraqi army officers repeatedly assured their U.S. counterparts that the magazine had been secured, U.S. intelligence noted that local guerrillas seemed to have a limitless supply of artillery shells and other military ordnance. The issue strained local relations between Iraqi officers and U.S. military commanders in northwestern Iraq.

The soldiers turned in their commanders last month.

The 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade liaison officer to the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division, Maj. John Stark, said, "It's an incredible story. What makes it great is that it wasn't just one guy who came forward, it was eight, and they did it when they were scared. They had never done something like that before."

On March 6 the soldiers, members an intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance company, were using night-vision equipment to monitor the site when they observed two civilian cars, which they decided to investigate.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the men said, "We went down to question them and they confessed. They told us, 'we have bombs in our car. Don't worry though, we are only going to use them on Americans.'"

A search of the men and one of the cars uncovered a battery, explosive timers and a cell phone. After they summoned their commanding officer, he ordered them away from the vehicles, took out something, and then allowed them to drive off. The commander subsequently told them that he had searched the vehicles and found nothing.

The soldiers then contacted a U.S. liaison officer and some U.S. Special Forces soldiers and informed them about what had happened.

Under interrogation the officers were determined to be lying and imprisoned. Ordnance disposal teams were sent then to the facility to inventory the remaining explosives.

The 3rd Iraqi Army Division's intelligence officer, Col. Khalid Al Murad, said, "I am very proud of the soldiers who told us what happened. It's hard to find faithful men and I'm really proud of them."

April 18, 2006

Bush Lied, People Died. Period. End Of Sentence.

Remember those "sixteen words" in the 2003 SOTU that Bush and his shock troops played semantics games with until people grew tired of it? Well there's now a memo written several days before that speech that said unequivocally that the conclusions reached in the Niger forgeries, even after talking to the British, cannot be verified:

Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored documents information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

The memo says: "On January 12, 2003," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries."

Moreover, the memo says that the State Department's doubts about the veracity of the uranium claims may have been expressed to the intelligence community even earlier.

Those concerns, according to the memo, are the reason that former Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to cite the uranium claims when he appeared before the United Nations in February 5, 2003 - one week after Bush's State of the Union address - to try to win support for a possible strike against Iraq.

"After considerable back and forth between the CIA, the (State) Department, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association), and the British, Secretary Powell's briefing to the UN Security Council did not mention attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information on the alleged Iraq-Niger agreement," the memo further states.

If it weren't for this damn outrage fatigue, I'd be more outraged.

How Does Rumsfailed Keep His Job

I guess Worst President Ever needs a lightning rod that looks stupider than him. In any case, this news piece says that the Pentagon ignored the rise of the Shiite militias (now responsible for the plurarity of the civilian deaths in Iraq) in order to concentrate on the Sunni insurgency:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. officials were warned for more than two years that Shiite Muslim militias were infiltrating Iraq's security forces and taking control of neighborhoods, but they failed to take action to counteract it, Iraqi and American officials said.

Now American officials call the militias the primary security concern in Iraq, blaming them for more civilian deaths than the Sunni Muslim-based insurgency and demanding that the Iraqi government move quickly to stem their influence.

U.S. officials concede that they didn't act, in part because they were focused on fighting the Sunni-dominated insurgency and on recruiting and training Iraqi security forces.

"Last year, as we worked through the problem set, that (militias) wasn't a problem set we focused on," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the top American military spokesman, said at a recent news briefing.

U.S. inaction gave the militias, with support from Iran, time to become a major force inside and outside the Iraqi government, and American officials acknowledge that dislodging them now would be difficult.

That's a nice act of ass-covering. The Pentagon didn't ignore the Shiite militias, they MADE the Shiite militias:

Continue reading "How Does Rumsfailed Keep His Job" »

Civil War Accomplished

What else needs to happen before all out civil war?

Baghdad street battle smacks of open civil war Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:29 PM BST Printer Friendly | Email Article | RSS By Omar al-Ibadi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Snipers held rooftop positions as masked Sunni Arab insurgents said they were gearing up for another open street battle with pro-government Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad's Adhamiya district on Tuesday.

The Arab Sunni stronghold is still feeling ripples from overnight clashes on Monday that appeared to be the closest yet to all-out sectarian fighting.

It's a reality that has Washington scrambling to avert civil war as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government four months after parliamentary elections.

A U.S. military spokesman said 50 insurgents attacked Iraqi forces in the middle of the night in a seven-hour battle that killed five rebels and wounded an Iraqi soldier.

Fighting was so fierce that U.S. reinforcements were brought in to the northern district, home to some of Iraq's most hardcore Sunni guerrillas and the Abu Hanifa mosque, near where Saddam Hussein was last seen in public before going into hiding.

April 15, 2006

Remission Accomplished

Bushies are planning a "new liberation" of Baghdad:

THE American military is planning a “second liberation of Baghdad? to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed. Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops. Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant- General David Petraeus.

He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops. The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a “carrot-and-stick? approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda. Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops.

Helicopters suitable for urban warfare, such as the manoeuvrable AH-6 “Little Birds? used by the marines and special forces and armed with rocket launchers and machineguns, are likely to complement the ground attack. The sources said American and Iraqi troops would move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, leaving behind Sweat teams — an acronym for “sewage, water, electricity and trash? — to improve living conditions by upgrading clinics, schools, rubbish collection, water and electricity supplies. Sunni insurgent strongholds are almost certain to be the first targets, although the Shi’ite militias such as the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade would need to be contained.

President George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, are under intense pressure to prove to the American public that Iraq is not slipping into anarchy and civil war. An effective military campaign could provide the White House with a bounce in the polls before the mid-term congressional elections in November. With Bush’s approval ratings below 40%, the vote is shaping up to be a Republican rout.

You can't make this shit up if you tried.

April 12, 2006

Another "Liberated" Beauty Queen Fears For Her Life

First it was Miss Afghanistan who now cannot return to her home country because she may face prosecution:

An Afghan woman, condemned in her homeland after appearing in a bikini in a Philippine beauty contest last year, rejoined the pageant Sunday as a judge, saying the controversy bolstered her advocacy for women's rights.

Vida Samadzai, 26, was among 11 judges chosen to pick the winner in Miss Earth, an annual beauty pageant that promotes environmental protection, organizers said. There was no Afghan candidate among more than 60 women vying for the title Sunday.

. . .In a radical departure from the conservative image of Afghan women, Samadzai paraded in a red bikini down a catwalk last year to qualify for the contest. She failed to make it to the semifinals but won a special "beauty for a cause" award, largely for her women's rights work.

Afghan officials, however, said she betrayed Afghan culture by appearing in the beauty contest and warned she could face prosecution if she returned to her native country.

Samadzai said she felt uncomfortable in the skimpy attire, but did it to qualify for the contest and raise awareness of the plight of women and children in her homeland. She said she was urged to join the pageant by people aware of her work as a volunteer fund raiser and as a founder of an Afghan women's rights organization.

Samadzai said she has not returned to Afghanistan since the controversy erupted. "I'm not welcomed there, they might prosecute me if ever I go back home," she said.

She has stayed mainly in the United States, where she became involved with fund-raising activities and was often invited on talk shows. Her busy schedule has prevented her from returning to school to finish a course in speech communications and international business.

Now it's the newly crowned Miss Eye-Rack that is fearing for her life:

Iraq's newly crowned beauty queen has gone into hiding, fearing she will be targeted by Islamic militants who reportedly threatened to kill other women who participated in a Baghdad pageant last week.

Silva Shahakian, an Iraqi Christian, received the title of Miss Iraq when the initial winner stepped down after receiving death threats and two other runners-up also bowed out, a person familiar with the event said Wednesday.

Since receiving the crown, Shahakian has been lying low, fearing she will be targeted, he said. The pageant was held April 9 in a Baghdad social club and the initial winner, Tamar Goregian, gave back the crown four days later, he said.

The man spoke on condition of anonymity, refusing to be identified further, saying he also feared retribution from militants.

Shahakian's whereabouts were unknown, although it was believed that she was still in Iraq. Several attempts to reach Goregian, who is believed to have left Iraq, failed.

That's our Boosh, spreading peece and democrapsee all over the world.

Winnebagoes Of Mass Destruction Revisited

Oh those lying bastards. Back during the spring of 2003, they sent a team to check out the trailers they found in Eye-Rack suspected of being the mobile biolabs so carefully explicated in Colin Powell's February presentation to the U.N., and they came back and wrote a report that said they were fucking sand toilets.

But Bush and the rest of his cabal went ahead for four months afterwards saying they were INDEED bioweapons labs, starting the next day in Poland.

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

The authors of the reports were nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- scientists and engineers with extensive experience in all the technical fields involved in making bioweapons -- who were dispatched to Baghdad by the Defense Intelligence Agency for an analysis of the trailers. Their actions and findings were described to a Washington Post reporter in interviews with six government officials and weapons experts who participated in the mission or had direct knowledge of it.

I especially like the next sentence, however:

None would consent to being identified by name because of fear that their jobs would be jeopardized.
We can't be embarrassing Chairman Boosh, can we now?

So how are his minions going to spin this? Why blame the CIA of course:

"The lead suggested that what the president was saying was based on something that had been debunked, and that is not true," McClellan said. "In fact, the president was saying something that was based on what the intelligence community — through the CIA and DIA — were saying."

The "I didn't do it" presidency indeed.

April 11, 2006

Demons Playing Hockey In Hell

A HUGE rat jumps the sinking ship:

Gingrich at USD: Pull out of Iraq

Ex-House speaker says U.S. should scale back

VERMILLION - Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.

"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."

Update: ThinkProgess is busy cataloguing the various flipflops the newly minted anti-American Saddamite has said in the past

Zarqawi is Goldstein

"Propoganda campaign" are the exact words the Washington Post used to describe the blame peddlers at the Pentagon who are augmenting the role the Jordanian terrorist is playing in Eye-Rack:

Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi Jordanian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 10, 2006; A01

The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.

I know the first casualty of war is the truth, but do they have to make it a hard and fast policy? BTW, this story reminded me of this:

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq

By Jim Miklaszewski
Correspondent
NBC News
Updated: 7:14 p.m. ET March 02, 2004

. . .NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,? said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,? according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,? Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today

I'm surprised Bush hasn't already adopted Zarqawi as his pet terrorist.

April 05, 2006

The Return of Jafaari

You know, the Sadr-supported divisive prime minister of Eye-Rack, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, might have bucked down under intense pressure from other partisan groups. But the way the Bush administration, who on foreign policy are so stupid they couldn't pour piss from a boot if the instructions were written on the heels, had to stick their necks in, giving Jafaari an opportunity to play the hero and stand up to the Crusaders:

Iraqis Say Rice Trip Stiffened Premier's Resolve to Stay

By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: April 5, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 5 — The visit here this week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart, Jack Straw, only served to stiffen the resolve of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to retain his post, prolonging a deadlock in the formation of a new government, a top aide to Mr. Jaafari said today.

The aide, Haider al-Abadi, said the visit was ill-timed, counterproductive and what he called "naked intervention."

"Pressure from outside is not helping to speed up any solution," he said. "All it's doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari."

He added, "They shouldn't have come to Baghdad."

His comments were echoed by other leaders across the political spectrum today, including Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

"They complicated the thing, and now it's more difficult to solve," said Mahmoud Osman, an independent member of the Kurdistan Alliance, speaking of Ms. Rice and Mr. Straw. "They shouldn't have come and they shouldn't have interfered."


March 30, 2006

"A Little Warning"

the raid by U.S. forces on a Shiite mosque, now the center of a huge clusterfuck, looked like it was the result of American dick-wagging:

The U.S. military was trying to send a "little reality jab" to radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr when American and Iraqi troops raided a Shiite community center and shrine over the weekend, says a top U.S. military official.

The joint assault killed at least 16 people, most of them believed to be tied to Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army. U.S. officials insist the center was being used as a base for insurgent activities and was not a mosque. But many Iraqis say the complex did indeed include the Shiite equivalent of a mosque, and the raid has drawn harsh condemnation from Shiite politicians and prompted Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, to launch an investigation.

The mayor of Baghdad promptly cut off cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, and Shiite politicians suspended their negotiations to form a new government. The U.S. military has long contemplated taking tougher steps against Sadr and his troublesome militia but has held off in the past because it did not want to antagonize his many fervent supporters. This raid, officials say, was intended as a reminder to Sadr of the U.S. military's reach in Iraq.

Is Mosul Next?

FIrst Fallujah was turned into a parking lot, then Tal Afar was converted into a prison. Is an operation in Mosul next?


Saadi Pire, until recently the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Mosul, says bluntly that the 12,000 police "are police by day and terrorists by night. They should all be dismissed and other police brought in from outside."

He thinks that Mosul, the northern capital of Iraq with a population of 1.7 million, could erupt at any moment. He points out that it is difficult to pacify because so much of Saddam Hussein's army - some 250,000 soldiers and 30,000 officers - was recruited from there.

General Muthafar Deirky, the ebullient commander of the 3rd Brigade, is more confident about the government's grip the city. He has been stationed there since 11 November 2004 when, in one of the least publicised disasters of the US occupation of Iraq, insurgents captured the city as the police and army deserted en masse. Some 11,000 weapons and vehicles worth $40m (£23m) were lost.

The American media was almost entirely embedded with the US Marines who were engaged in the bloody battle for Fallujah, population 350,000, so the outside world did not notice that the anti-American resistance had captured a city five times as large.
General Deirky, a peshmerga veteran, was called in a panic by the army commander in Baghdad who told him that "Mosul was under the control of terrorists". He gathered 700 men and, having fought off two ambushes, advanced into the city just in time to prevent the capture of the television station. He was dismayed to discover that out of an 1,800-strong Iraqi Army unit all but 30 Kurds had deserted.

March 29, 2006

The "I Didn't Do It" President

ididntdoit.jpg


Worst President Ever blames Iraq violence on O-Saddam Bin Laden:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush said Wednesday that Saddam Hussein, not continued U.S. involvement in Iraq, is responsible for ongoing sectarian violence that is threatening the formation of a democratic government.

In his third speech this month to bolster public support for the war, Bush worked to counter critics who say the U.S. presence in the wartorn nation is fueling the insurgency.

Bush said that Saddam was a tyrant and used violence to exacerbate sectarian divisions to keep himself in power, and that as a result, deep tensions persist to this day.

"The enemies of a free Iraq are employing the same tactics Saddam used, killing and terrorizing the Iraqi people in an effort to foment sectarian division," Bush said.

Maybe later I'll find out that this is an Onion article instead of real life.

March 28, 2006

Bush "Doesn't Want, Doesn't Support, Doesn't Accept" Purple Fingers

I guess those racist nebulous figures who keep saying Muslims are not capable of forming democracies are actually influening Worst President Ever's policies is just him projecting again:

Shiites Say U.S. Is Pressuring Iraqi Leader to Step Aside By EDWARD WONG BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 28 — Senior Shiite politicians said today that the American ambassador has told Shiite officials to inform the Iraqi prime minister that President Bush does not want him to remain the country's leader in the next government.

It is the first time the Americans have directly intervened in the furious debate over the country's top job, the politicians said, and it is inflaming tensions between the Americans and some Shiite leaders.

The ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the head of the main Shiite political bloc at a meeting last Saturday to pass a "personal message from President Bush" on to the prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who the Shiites insist should stay in his post for four more years, said Redha Jowad Taki, a Shiite politician and member of Parliament who was at the meeting.

Ambassador Khalilzad said that President Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari to be the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on the issue of the candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said.

An American Embassy spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Khalilzad and Mr. Hakim had met, but declined to comment directly on what they had spoken about.

The Americans have harshly criticized the Jaafari government in recent months for supporting Shiite militias that have been fomenting sectarian violence and pushing Iraq closer to full-scale civil war. Ambassador Khalilzad has sharpened his attacks in the last week, saying the militias are now killing more people than the Sunni-led insurgency.

There is growing concern among American officials that Mr. Jaafari is incapable of reining in the private armies, especially since Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric who leads the most volatile of the militias, is Mr. Jaafari's strongest backer.

Haider al-Ubady, a spokesman for Mr. Jaafari, said the prime minister had heard of the ambassador's verbal message through officials in his party, and accused the Americans of trying to subvert Iraqi sovereignty and weaken the Shiite ranks.

"How can they do this?" Mr. Ubady said. "An ambassador telling a sovereign country what to do is unacceptable."

"The perception is very strong among certain Shia parties that the U.S., led by Khalilzad, is trying to unseat Jaafari," he added.

The American Embassy spokeswoman, Elizabeth Colton, confirmed that the ambassador did see Mr. Hakim on Saturday. The two meet regularly to discuss Iraq's political situation.

"The decisions about the choice of the prime minister are entirely up to the Iraqis," Ms. Colton said. "This will be an Iraqi decision."

March 23, 2006

"Why Can't The Liberal Bush-Hatin' Media Report The Good News In Eye-Rack"?

Yesterday, brownshirt radio personality Laura Ingraham appeared on the Today Show in order to slam the media for their lack of coverage of the "good stories" coming from the war zone and implies that they are too cowardly to do so. NBC Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel quicky responds by showing us what reporters have to go though in order to get any kind of story (which includes leaving the balcony) and Keith Olbermann provides the appropriate put-down of such a craven harpie.

We all know that the warmongers have only the troops to hide behind which is why they are shrill in their criticism of the media in order for them to showcase stories that fit their biases. But Jack Tapper, the ABC News correspondent in Baghdad, provides a harrowing example of how such a feel-good story can quickly turn awry in the New Eye-Rack:

Struck by this phenomenon, my producers and I called Iraqi TV and spoke to Amjad Hamid, the manager of the entertainment division. He seemed very proud of a new sitcom set to debut next month. In 15 half-hour episodes, "Me and Layla" - starring Odei Abdel-Sattar, an Iraqi Danny DeVito - will show the misadventures of a hapless Romeo. Hamid invited us to visit the set to interview the producer, director and actors. He was convinced that what they were trying to do was important.

. . .For us, it was a chance to cover something besides car bombs, carnage and body counts. That perhaps understandable focus as well as concerns for our own security have clearly hindered the ability of journalists to tell stories about Iraqi society, about the less obvious ways that Iraqis are trying to rebuild their country.

. . .For us, it was a chance to cover something besides car bombs, carnage and body counts. That perhaps understandable focus as well as concerns for our own security have clearly hindered the ability of journalists to tell stories about Iraqi society, about the less obvious ways that Iraqis are trying to rebuild their country.

. . .Yet tragedy still has a way of rearing its head.

We had been on the set for less than an hour when Mustafa got a phone call that clearly upset him. Grabbing Abed-Jasim by the arm, Mustafa took him aside and told him that gunmen had assassinated Hamid, the entertainment-division chief, outside his Baghdad home just minutes earlier.

The director told the cast and crew. Shock and grief turned to terror. Everyone on the set immediately became restless, anxious. Eyes moist with tears began darting about the street. Iraqi TV is widely perceived as being pro-Shiite and pro-government; the Sunni-leaning Baghdad TV had just had one of its anchors shot and killed a few days before. Not that any of the violence in today's Iraq needs a reason.

Mustafa told the crew to break down; within minutes everyone had jumped into cars and minivans and fled. My crew and I weren't far behind. Iraqi TV put a black band of mourning on the top left corner of its screen and spent much of the rest of the day covering Hamid's funeral.

It is American journalists' duty to try to look at the broader picture in Iraq - telling the stories about those brave souls who seek to restore normalcy and laughter into the daily routine here. But there is no denying that the horrific violence will often make that task impossible.

March 21, 2006

Worst President Ever

Bush's only exit strategy out of Eye-Rack appears to be having other adults clean up his messes:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Tuesday refused to give a timetable for the pullout of American troops from Iraq and suggested they many remain there beyond his term in office.

Asked about full troop withdrawal from Iraq, Bush told a news conference: "That of course is an objective and that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."

He reiterated that troop withdrawal decisions would be made by commanders on the ground.

I think this has GOT to be the first time that any president has deliberately relegated the finishing of a war to future presidents. Neither Truman, Kennedy, Johnson or Clinton has come out and made public their desires that their successors finish what they started.

He has made it clear. If we are going to win this war, or at least reach a definite conclusion, it will not be with this small, small, leadership deficient little man.

March 19, 2006

Feeling Depressed? Let's Ship You Back To Iraq!

Wow, what's next? Are we going to mine amputees for warm bodies too before we enact a politically unpopular draft?

Some troops headed back to Iraq are mentally ill

By Rick Rogers
STAFF WRITER

March 19, 2006

Besides bringing antibiotics and painkillers, military personnel nationwide are heading back to Iraq with a cache of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.

The psychotropic drugs are a bow to a little-discussed truth fraught with implications: Mentally ill service mem-bers are being returned to combat.

The redeployments are legal, and the service members are often eager to go. But veterans groups, lawmakers and mental-health professionals fear that the practice lacks adequate civilian oversight. They also worry that such redeployments are becoming more frequent as multiple combat tours become the norm and traumatized service members are retained out of loyalty or wartime pressures to maintain troop numbers.

Sen. Barbara Boxer hopes to address the controversy through the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health, which is expected to start work next month. The California Democrat wrote the legislation that created the panel. She wants the task force to examine deployment policies and the quality and availability of mental-health care for the military.

“We've also heard reports that doctors are being encouraged not to identify mental-health illness in our troops. I am asking for a lot of answers,? Boxer said during a March 8 telephone interview. “If people are suffering from mental-health problems, they should not be sent on the battlefield.?

Stress reduces a person's chances of functioning well in combat, said Frank M. Ochberg, a psychiatrist for 40 years and a founding member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

“I have not seen anything that says this is a good thing to use these drugs in high-stress situations. But if you are going to be going (into combat) anyway, you are better off on the meds,? said Ochberg, a former consultant to the Secret Service and the National Security Council. “I would hope that those with major depression would not be sent.?

"A Few Bad Apples"

I don't know what to say anymore, I truly don't

March 19, 2006

Before and After Abu Ghraib, a U.S. Unit Abused Detainees
By ERIC SCHMITT and CAROLYN MARSHALL

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

. . .The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.

It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp.

March 18, 2006

Support Our Troops With Propoganda

According to Time an army unit in Iraq received a $15,000 plasma television so that they can watch the Worst President Ever do his daily briefings. The problem is that the TVs kept breaking down so they got nine replacements. Yes, they complain about the conspicuous lack of armor, but instead they get their daily dose of Bush.

So even the neocon fuckwits who got us into this quagmire in the first place are now admitting the war will cost us over a trillion dollars (a cost I could have predicted FOUR YEARS AGO) but they can only afford high-definition propoganda? The incompetence of these people go beyond mere words.

The firewalled article is here, Michael Moore reprinted it.

Operation: Save Falling Poll Numbers

Time reporter Brian Bennet reports that Operation:Swarmer is 100 percent hype with little results:

The press, flown in from Baghdad to this agricultural gridiron northeast of Samarra, huddled around the Iraqi officials and U.S. Army commanders who explained that the "largest air assault since 2003" in Iraq using over 50 helicopters to put 1500 Iraqi and U.S. troops on the ground had netted 48 suspected insurgents, 17 of which had already been cleared and released. The area, explained the officials, has long been suspected of being used as a base for insurgents operating in and around Samarra, the city north of Baghdad where the bombing of a sacred shrine recently sparked a wave of sectarian violence.

But contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war. ("Air Assault" is a military term that refers specifically to transporting troops into an area.) In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What’s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

The operation, which doubled the population of the flat farmland in one single airlift, was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces, says Lt Col Skip Johnson commander of the 187 Battallion, 3rd Combat Brigade of the 101st Airborne. "They have the lead," he said to reporters at the second stop of the tour. But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers. Iraqi Army General Abdul Jabar says that Samarra-based insurgent leader Hamad el Taki of Mohammad’s Army was thought to be in the area, and Iraqi intelligence officers were still working to compare known voice recordings and photographs with the prisoners in custody.

With the Interior Ministry's Samarra commando battalion, the soldiers had found some 300 individual pieces of weaponry like mortars, rockets and plastic explosives in six different locations inside the sparsely populated farming community of over 50 square miles and about 1,500 residents. The raids also uncovered high-powered cordless telephones used as detonators in homemade bombs, medical supplies and insurgent training manuals.

Before loading up into the helicopters for a return trip to Baghdad, Iraqi and American soldiers and some reporters helped themselves to the woman’s freshly baked bread, tearing bits off and chewing it as they wandered among the cows. For most of them, it was the only thing worthwhile they’d found all day.

Typical, just typical. What a way to celebrate the third anniversary of Bush's Excellent Disaster, by shamelessly recreating the Shock 'n Awe videogame theatrics that hypnotized the public and the news media in the beginning?

Back to Iraq has more.

March 17, 2006

When Fashionable Ethnic Groups Go Bad

I remember when the plight of the Kurds was cynically used to pull at our heartstrings in order to support the war to further enslave the Iraqi people, but how will the warmongers explain this?

HALABJA, Iraq, March 16 (Reuters) - Hundreds of Kurdish protesters destroyed a memorial to the 1988 gas attack in the Iraqi town of Halabja on Thursday, setting the museum ablaze on the 18th anniversary of the deaths of 5,000 local people.

A hospital official said one man was shot dead when a gathering to commemorate the attack turned into a protest over poor local services.

A local journalist working for Reuters said he saw police and Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen fire shots to disperse the protesters after they rampaged through the one-storey, circular museum that serves as a potent reminder of the 1988 attack.

..."The Kurdish government exploited Halabja to draw world attention to the plight of the Kurds and get donations that have never reached us," one angry protester said.

Witnesses said residents had gathered outside the museum to mark the attack but began shouting angrily when Shahu Mohammad Saed, a representative of the Kurdish government, appeared.

Residents complain many buildings in Halabja are dilapidated and that electricity and water supplies are poor. They said the museum was the only new building to have been constructed in the town by the regional government in more than a decade.

People stormed into the museum, pulling down ceilings and smashing displays reconstructing the gas attack. One rioter used a metal chair to smash the polished black stone memorial bearing the names of each of the 5,000 victims.

If the war can't control the Kurds, what is under control?

March 14, 2006

From A Times Staff Writer

During Bush's Save My Approval Ratings speaking campaign, he blamed an LA Times report describing a new device to neutralize IEDs for helping "the enemy". Well, it turns out that the article was very circumspect, was only very general in its description and did not reveal any technical details of the device.

The article did not provide specific information about the technology, and The Times deliberately withheld some details about the neutralizers from its report.

"We knew about some of the technical details of the program, but voluntarily omitted them because they were not germane to the story," Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus said.

The Times spoke to several Defense Department officials before the article appeared. None expressed concern that publication could endanger U.S. troops.

Even before The Times published its article, the technology was featured in several news reports. Last year, NBC News broadcast a segment about the neutralizers, showing video footage of the device detonating improvised explosives in its path.

"We do not knowingly publish information that puts troops in danger," McManus said. "The government often asks us not to publish sensitive facts. They made no such request in this case."

Before Bush mentioned the report Monday, no U.S. officials had contacted The Times to raise those concerns.

"No one in the U.S. government came to us after the story was published to complain about it," McManus said. "Even now, no official complaint has been made directly to us."

But what is most interesting is that the person writing this article decided not to use his or her name on the byline. Are they really THAT afraid of the Bushies?

March 11, 2006

"I Was Always Against That War"

If these warmongers aren't blaming liberals for the war, they are shamelessly distancing themselves from it.


Morons.

March 08, 2006

US Releases Three of Spades And Ten of Hearts

I guess those people on the playing cards aren't as much of a threat as they made them out to be:


US forces release two former Iraqi officials

Baghdad, March, 8 (BNA) The US Forces in Iraq have recently released Former Iraqi Minister of Military Production , Abdultawab Haweesh, and Foreign Undersecretary, Saad Al Faisal.
Radio Sawa said Al Huwaish and Al Faisal left Baghdad soon after being released and headed to a European capital. It is noteworthy that the former Minister of Military production was on the list of the 55 most wanted officials of the former Iraqi regime.

Which begs the question, what about all the other detainees, of whom the U.S. only convicted one and a half out of more than 40,000?

March 06, 2006

Is It Civil War Yet?

Believe the Bush mouthpiece, aka Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace, the answer is an emphatic "no". There's still progress even if we can't put a "smiley face" on the situation. However, other experts paint a less sanguine picture:

Expert on Iraq: 'We're In a Civil War' U.S. Officials Deny Violence Has Risen to That Level, but ABC News Analysts See a 'Serious Lack of Realism' By JAKE TAPPER

BAGHDAD, March 5, 2006 — - As Pentagon generals offered optimistic assessments that the sectarian violence in Iraq had dissipated this weekend, other military experts told ABC News that Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq already are engaged in a civil war, and that the Iraqi government and U.S. military had better accept that fact and adapt accordingly.

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told ABC News, "If you talk to U.S. intelligence officers and military people privately, they'd say we've been involved in low level civil war with very slowly increasing intensity since the transfer of power in June 2004."

Since the elections last year, Cordesman says, more radical Islamist insurgents have made "a more dedicated strike at the fault lines between Shiites and Sunnis." And they have succeeded.

As Jack Murtha said in response to Peter Pace on "Face The Nation", they lied about almost everything else in Eye-Rack, why should we believe them here?

March 03, 2006

How Useless Is The New Iraqi Government?

You can't dial 911 without getting yourself killed.

The dysfunction works its way down to the street, too, which becomes apparent on a visit to the home of Bakr (he asked that his last name not be used), an engineering student who lives in the middle-class Waziriya neighborhood. One morning, as he was studying, Bakr explains, he looked out his window and noticed men setting up a mortar in the middle of the street. As the government encourages all Iraqis to do, he called the Interior Ministry's emergency line, 130, to report the insurgents. "They didn't answer," Bakr recounts.

"The next day, my friends warned me not to call, because your telephone number appears and they sell it to the insurgents." He insists we drive his Opel--the Humvee of the Sunni, as Iraqis call it--to an adjacent neighborhood so he can prove the point. There, faded on a wall, hangs the picture of a young man and the announcement of his death. The dead man, Bakr explains, got through to the emergency line.

Of course, the New Republican writing the article, Lawrence Kaplan, says the worsening disfunction is the very reason why we must STAY in Iraq. All right, I hope he is putting on a uniform and grabbing a gun because the current policy is just not going to fly. At this point, it's not a case if we are going to "declare victory and leave", but when.

Iraqnam

I think we are making a transition from "nation building" to "kill em all and let Allah sort em out."

AP: AC-130 gunships returning to Iraq

By CHARLES J. HANLEY
AP SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

AN AIR BASE IN IRAQ -- The U.S. Air Force has begun moving heavily armed AC-130 airplanes - the lethal "flying gunships" of the Vietnam War - to a base in Iraq as commanders search for new tools to counter the Iraqi resistance, The Associated Press has learned.

An AP reporter saw the first of the turboprop-driven aircraft after it landed at the airfield this week. Four are expected.

The Iraq-based special forces command controlling the AC-130s, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, said it would have no comment on the deployment. But the plan's general outline was confirmed by other Air Force officers, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.

(snip)

The left-side ports of the AC-130s, 98-foot-long planes that can slowly circle over a target for long periods, bristle with a potent arsenal - 40 mm cannon that can fire 120 rounds per minute, and big 105 mm cannon, normally a field artillery weapon. The plane's latest version, the AC-130U, known as "Spooky," also carries Gatling gun-type 20 mm cannon.

The gunships were designed primarily for battlefield use to place saturated fire on massed troops. In Vietnam, for example, they were deployed against North Vietnamese supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where the Air Force claimed to have destroyed 10,000 trucks over several years.

The use of AC-130s in places like Fallujah, urban settings where insurgents may be among crowded populations of noncombatants, has been criticized by human rights groups

March 02, 2006

"Fuck Saddam, We're Taking Him Out"

This new National Journal article by Murray Waas details two new classified memos that directly contradicts the rational for the current clusterfuck in Iraq. One from October 2002 contained dissent from the Department of Energy and the intelligence branch of the State Department against the claim that the aluminum tubes could be used for nuclear weapons. They said it's for conventional uses like for missles. The other memo from January 2003 contained a summary of the National Intelligence Estimate which include