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From Haider Ajina - news of Basra, Sadr, the Association of Muslim Scholars, and personal tragedy:
The following is my translation of a headline and article, which appeared in Iraq's ‘Almuatin’ of November 28th.
“Iraq’s Basra has not been affected by occurrences in Sadar City, Sunnis live with their Shiites brethren in peace”.
“Sheik Khalid Almulah, Imam and speaker at Alaabanchi (Sunni) Mosque in Basra, said that what happened in Sadar city lately did not affect Basra. He urged the rebuilding of the Al-Askariah shrines in Samara. He added, ‘we live here in the coddle of our Shiite brethren, and there are no large reactions to what happened in Baghdad. Shiites & Sunnis must quickly rebuild the Askariah shrine in Samara. This will rebut the strife the terrorists are using to divide and create sectarian fighting. Alqaida wants its attack on Al-Askariah shrine to build conflict between Iraqis. Thus it is our responsibility, Sunni & Shiite, to put out this fire by rebuilding the Shrines to protect our unity’. He then commented about Muqtada Alsadar’s request of Sheik Hareth Althari (Head of the Sunni ‘Muslim Schollars’) to declare it a sin to kill Shiites and to announce that the ‘Muslim Scholar’s’ have no affiliation with Alqaida and denounce Alqaida. He added, ‘to all those who are attacking the political and religious process in Iraq. You must first examine yourselves. Are you with Iraq, are you with peace, are you defending Iraq and are you against the spilling of blood? Or are you with the terrorist or the ‘Takfirien’ (religious extremists)? ’We must issue decrees against terrorism and I hope the ‘Muslim Scholars’ will respond to Sadar’s request”.
Basra has, for some time now, been focusing on its growth and infrastructure improvement. Because it is relatively peaceful and stable. Not only in Basrah do Sunnis & Shiites live peacefully together but in most if not all the southern provinces. Of course, Sunnis are a minority in the south and that could be pat of the reason. I remember translating a piece after the bombing of the ‘Al-Askariah Shrine in Samara, when Shiites stood guard at Sunni Mosques so the Mosques did not get attacked in retaliation. This is very similar to the Iraq I grew up in, in the 60’s and 70’s. The Baathists (most if not all of whom are Sunni in Iraq) have ruled Iraq with violence during Saddam. They are trying to destabilize Iraq by attacking Shiites. Sadar city attack, Al-Askariah shrine attack, evicting Shiites from Sunni neighborhoods, planting car bombs in Baghdad and surrounding areas, planting bombs in Nejaf and other areas with much civilian traffic etc… These constant attacks and retaliation to these attacks and the inability of the security forces to protect all its citizens has brought about the growth of the militias. Iran & Syria are supporting these militias to keep Iraq destabilized. Iraq is far from being hopeless. Over 70% of the provinces live in relative peace and are busy with building and infrastructure improvement, commerce booming and healthcare improving. They are living with a provincial government they elected and rule of law, which protects them.
A Sunni Imam in Basra is calling on Shiite leader (Muqtada Alasdar in this case) to look at himself as well as the head of the Muslim Scholars (Harith Altahri) to also look at himself, and ask the question, are they for Iraq or are they for terrorism and ‘Islamic extremism’? This is a bold and courageous question, which many Iraqis in leadership and security forces need to ask them selves.
Over the last 3 weeks, I have lost an Uncle and two Cousins in two separate violent incidences in Baghdad. A home-style invasion killed my Uncle and my cousin who live near the airport ( they were asked to leave the neighborhood because they are Shiites even though my Uncles wife is Sunni) and two weeks before that a cousin was kidnapped and killed near Felujah. Their deaths and the deaths of other Iraqis and Americans will not be in vain, when we stabilize central Iraq and defeat the terrorist fueling the revenge killings in central Iraq.
Condolences to Haider and his family.
Here comes that new direction:
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal, according to people familiar with the panel’s deliberations.That sounds like a 360-degree about face to me.
The report, unanimously approved by the 10-member panel, led by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, is to be delivered to President Bush next week. It is a compromise between distinct paths that the group has debated since March, avoiding a specific timetable, which has been opposed by Mr. Bush, but making it clear that the American troop commitment should not be open-ended. The recommendations of the group, formed at the request of members of Congress, are nonbinding.
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously renewed the mandate of the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq through the end of 2007, granting a request from the Baghdad government.Guess we won't be seeing this soon:
Using money, weapons or its oil power, Saudi Arabia will intervene to prevent Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias from massacring Iraqi Sunni Muslims once the United States begins pulling out of Iraq, a security adviser to the Saudi government said on Wednesday.
"To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks -- it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse," Obaid said.
Flopping Aces continues to follow the stories on recent violence in Iraq.
But lost amidst the growing uproar over who Jamil Gholaiem Hussein is (which in any case offers little insight to the accuracy of his claims) are the more pertinent points reported from over the weekend.
From morning until afternoon, at least four mosques were attacked in Hurriya, a mixed neighborhood in the capital. Two were destroyed, and at least 5 Sunnis were killed and 10 wounded, an Interior Ministry official said. A hard-line Sunni Arab group, the Muslim Scholars Association, said 18 people had been killed when one of the mosques burned down.
Here's CENTCOMs response. Eighteen people burned to death seems more significant than six, but note the source of the claim - the Muslim Scholars Association - the same folks who ultimately claimed 184 Sunni Mosque attacks in the wake of the Shrine bombing months ago.
To accept these stories as fact, you must accept that the Sunnis are unarmed and/or not willing to put up any fight when Shiites enter their neighborhoods to burn their mosques down with people inside them. That goes against most of what I hear about Iraq today (everyone has an AK 47 and each neighborhood has a militia), and the Muslim world in general (mosques are sacred locations) but I suppose it's possible that's not completely accurate.
Video of the destroyed mosques would certainly bolster the media claims. Since even in Iraq people carry cell phones with video capability, and since most terrorist groups video their acts, video of the attacks should be widely available on line any time now, but even video taken tomorrow of the aftermath would be compelling evidence.
A Times correspondent in Ramadi said at least 15 homes were pulverized by aerial bombardment and families could be seen digging through the ruins with shovels and bare hands.CENTCOM says it didn't happen. So to counter them, show footage of the 15 recently pulverized homes.
The death tolls may always fall into the unverifiable category, and the bona fides of an Iraqi Police Captain will be difficult to prove, but there are some more obvious elements of all these stories that could be supported - if not absolutely proven - with simple video.
Too dangerous? Hell, in these cases the US military might be willing to provide security for the media to go out and get the footage. Couldn't hurt to ask, then both sides of the dispute could see the reality together.
Or we can just pretend the important thing is the identity of Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.
...for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Note: reposted from 2006-10-11 05:09:14)
(Note: This is part three of a series examining recent and little-known developments within al Qaeda, focusing on "public relations" efforts within the group. Previous entries, detailing al-Qaeda's efforts to win back the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and the response they received, can be read here and here. In this installment, we turn our attention to al Qaeda's outreach to the American people...)
You probably haven't heard much about the efforts of the Global Islamic Media Front - al Qaeda's "public relations" team. The group is well known to those who monitor terrorist web sites, but rarely reported on by the mainstream media. (Although the group's recent release of a video game in which the player's goal is to kill President Bush did get some coverage in the Washington Post.)
But another recent effort from the group won't likely be reported anywhere in the western media - at least not directly. Titled "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America", the recently translated document was originally posted on a known jihaddist web site, but has received scant public attention from it's target audience. No full translations of the treatise are currently available, but a brief description of some of the content can be seen here.
Najd al-Rawi, the document's author, begins by noting that although they've been successful in many ways, the jihaddists haven't fully exploited the opportunities presented by the US media. Inspired by a video from bin Laden addressing the American people with subtitles in English, the author notes that "It seemed the Shayk wanted to send a clear message to his brother mujahadeen to pay more attention to this part of the mission." He points out that videos from the "Shayks of jihad" are in great demand in the western media.
Such videos are readily available - but for the most part translation to English is left to the media outlets that elect to broadcast them. The plan suggests a remedy for this oversight, and the paper calls for talented professionals to join the jihad - specifically, translators, and people with journalistic or literary talent who can provide a "ringing and powerful style that will have impact on the American people." Other desirable recruits are computer graphics experts, "with experience in Photoshop, 3d Studio Max, and other programs", and finally "Sharia experts" who can review the projects for materials prohibited by Islamic law, "such as pictures of women".
Suggested projects include English translations of the declarations of the Shayks of Jihad "to throw fear into the American people's hearts". Cited examples include "Sharia Rules regarding the use of WMDs" by Shayk Nasir al-Fahd, (probably a reference to a document with an English translation already available here) or "documentation of Mujahadeen acts against the U.S., such as 'Documentation of the Destruction that Befell America' by Shayk Abd-al-Aziz al-Jarbu", (a non-al Qaeda sponsored translation may be underway here) along with "other pieces the brothers deem worthy."
As an example of the sort of video material the group should provide, the author suggests "Video of attacks on US foot patrols with the caption 'Operation against the sons of the US people whom Bush cast into the fire of war against the Muslims'."
And in that we see both the political savvy and naiveté of the Global Islamic Media Front. They recognize the advantage - and relative ease - of turning as many Americans against their President as they can (dividing the enemy into opposing camps to be eliminated in turn being a primary goal of effective propaganda) but fail to grasp the idea that this requires no effort on their part whatsoever. Still - you can't blame them for being willing to accelerate the process, or contribute to the cause.
Lastly, the paper points out what the author considers the best locations for providing this material, and suggests dissemination via the world wide web, following efforts to ensure the origin can't be traced.
- US discussion forums
- US chat rooms
- Well known newspapers and magazines
- American TV channels with web sites
- Famous US authors with email addresses such as Friedman, Chomsky, Fukuyama, Huntington, and others
- Famous US web sites like MEMRI, or those of the Zionist lobby (AIPAC), or research institutes like Rand
(Note that the translation of the document I've seen does not indicate that the original author implied that any particular individual or media outlet is more sympathetic to the al Qaeda cause than any other.)
In Iraq, many Anbar residents have reached a point of sufficient outrage at the al Qaeda terrorists to take up arms against the foe. Lacking the motivation of continued bloodshed on American soil, few Americans are so inclined, and that's fine, so far. But like it or not, Mr and Mrs Average American are involved in a propaganda war, the only battle of the war on terror currently being fought on U.S. soil - and those who choose not to be victims of that battle may wonder what the appropriate response should be. Perhaps just this - bear in mind the stated goal: "to throw fear into the American people's hearts", divide and conquer, weaken resolve, and defeat America. Be aware of the plan to reach that goal, and recognize it for what it is when next you see it in action, as you undoubtedly will. (And while you're at it, spread the word - this won't be on the evening news.)
There's nothing shocking or earth shattering here - except perhaps an actual exoneration for mainstream media outlets that may have previously been accused of conspiring with the enemy. Many close observers and participants in the war on terror have accused the media of touting terrorist propaganda for years. But the Global Islamic Media Front, in calling for an actual organized effort to that end, has demonstrated that any such apparent cooperation prior to this publication has been purely coincidental.
Next: We've seen how the residents of Anbar responded to al-Qarda's outreach efforts, now watch as the American media responds to enemy attempts to involve them in propaganda schemes...
(Note: originally posted 2006-10-11 05:09:14)
(Another from the archives. Original post: 2006-10-20 01:43:38)
I really didn't expect to see the American media even acknowledge the existence of al Qaeda's "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America", much less to see them openly embrace it. They've done both. (Live and learn.) It started a couple days ago with Tom Friedman's "Tet" column, and continued yesterday with CNN's first release of a made-to-order video from our enemy in Iraq.
Over at Blackfive, a quote from CNN:
CNN has obtained graphic video from the Islamic Army of Iraq, one of the most active insurgent organizations in Iraq, showing its sniper teams targeting U.S. troops. The Islamist Army says it wants talks with the United States and some Islamist Internet postings call for a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public.But click over to CNN and you won't find that quote on the web site any more.
But James Taranto captured it too, and in fact he screen captured it - "for posterity". A wise choice, given that CNN's acknowledgement that they are aware that they are airing an enemy propaganda piece has since disappeared.
From a distance, possibly hundreds of yards away, a sniper watches for his opportunity to strike as a fellow insurgent operates a camera to capture the video for propaganda purposes.And the quote about the terrorist "P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public" is actually heard in the audio narration of the video report itself.
Taranto's comments on the CNN story focus on the growing media theme that President Bush agrees that current events in Iraq are similar to Tet. He also mentions the Tom Friedman column that started that Tet discussion in the first place. (One we also discussed here previously.) But since the CNN story isn't about Tet, Taranto misses the disturbing thread that actually does tie both those stories even more directly together.
To catch it, we'll go back to Friedman, who says:
A friend at the Pentagon just sent me a post by the “Global Islamic Media Front” carried by the jihadist Web site Ana al-Muslim on Aug. 11. It begins: “The people of jihad need to carry out a media war that is parallel to the military war and exert all possible efforts to wage it successfully. This is because we can observe the effect that the media have on nations to make them either support or reject an issue.”And here's the real connection between the two stories: both Friedman at the Times and the folks at CNN acknowledge their complete awareness that they are fully participating in an enemy propaganda ploy. Freidman says he has a copy, and the CNN video includes clips of what it implies are the original Arabic web postings of the "media jihad" call.
...the Web site suggests that jihadists flood e-mail and video of their operations to “chat rooms,” “television channels,” and to “famous U.S. authors who have public e-mail addresses ... such as Friedman, Chomsky, Fukuyama, Huntington and others.”
That particular story - al Qaeda's "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America" - first broke right here in downtown Mudville, so it's entirely possible we brought it to their attention in the first place - though it's also possible CNN had it earlier, and didn't see fit to report it. Whatever the case - it's stunning to see them acknowledge it and go right on ahead with what they are doing.
As Taranto says:
By airing this video, CNN is participating in what it acknowledges is "a P.R. campaign aimed at influencing the American public" in ways favorable to America's enemies. And the network does not even seem to realize what a shocking admission this is.No indeed - nor does Friedman, who says "It would be depressing to see the jihadists influence our politics with a Tet-like media/war frenzy. But..." and then immediately attempts to launch what can only be called a Tet-like media frenzy.
To get the full "shock value" of this, you must read the same things they've acknowledged reading - that "working paper":
Najd al-Rawi, the document's author, begins by noting that although they've been successful in many ways, the jihaddists haven't fully exploited the opportunities presented by the US media. Inspired by a video from bin Laden addressing the American people with subtitles in English, the author notes that "It seemed the Shayk wanted to send a clear message to his brother mujahadeen to pay more attention to this part of the mission." He points out that videos from the "Shayks of jihad" are in great demand in the western media.al-Rawi declares the purpose of this campaign is to "throw fear into the American people's hearts", then...
As an example of the sort of video material the group should provide, the author suggests "Video of attacks on US foot patrols with the caption 'Operation against the sons of the US people whom Bush cast into the fire of war against the Muslims'."Of course, two of those suggested locations are TV Networks, and Tom Friedman.
Lastly, the paper points out what the author considers the best locations for providing this material, and suggests dissemination via the world wide web, following efforts to ensure the origin can't be traced.
Make no mistake about it, CNN is not dismissing the propaganda plot, nor are they presenting their information as an example of the sort of thing we should be aware of and respond to accordingly. In fact, they offer no description of the working paper beyond an acknowledgement of it's existence, perhaps because CNN's own description of the video and how they received it is all too familiar to anyone who has read the document described above. CNN admits they "passed written questions" through "intermediaries" to the terrorist group, and in response received the footage of sniper attacks on American foot patrols, including a "professionally produced" video interview with the insurgent leader in which he answered CNN's questions and denounced "Bush's war fought with taxpayer's money and the blood of Americans". The CNN narrator went the extra mile in reviewing the high-quality production, and lauded the "attention to US domestic politics and public mood" found in this "direct message to the American people."
In my comments on the original working paper story, I added my thoughts on how to respond to this sort of threat:
But like it or not, Mr and Mrs Average American are involved in a propaganda war, the only battle of the war on terror currently being fought on U.S. soil - and those who choose not to be victims of that battle may wonder what the appropriate response should be. Perhaps just this - bear in mind the stated goal: "to throw fear into the American people's hearts", divide and conquer, weaken resolve, and defeat America. Be aware of the plan to reach that goal, and recognize it for what it is when next you see it in action, as you undoubtedly will. (And while you're at it, spread the word - this won't be on the evening news.)And that newly bolded text is where I admit a failing - never in my wildest imagination did I anticipate the evening news - or one of the named desired participants - mentioning the enemy's propaganda plan while gleefully participating in it.
I'm afraid to ask if they can sink lower.
Other links found above:
Tet's Real Lesson - James Taranto, Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today
CNN Airs Islamic Death Porn - Charles Johnson, LGF
CNN airs video of jihadi sniper shooting American soldier - Allah, Hot Air, who also creen captured that CNN page before it disappeared. (But the video actually contains sniper attacks on 10 American soldiers.)
(Original post: 2006-10-20 01:43:38)
(Another one from the archives, original post 2005-08-28 19:15:27)
We've noted this quote before, but it's worth repeating:
Former Saddam army "strongman" Colonel Watban Jassam calls for jihad:
Tips On How To Beat US From Insurgents' Consultant
To gauge US public opinion, he has become an avid watcher of satellite news channels, and never misses the White House press briefings
To win the war against the US military and Badr, Colonel Jassam advises the Omariyun to follow two short-term goals - to cement mujahideen control over the Ramadi area, and to stage operations that will increase pressure on US opinion to withdraw troops.
To achieve their second goal, turning Americans against the war, the mujahideen need to shape their operations "to support anti- war sentiment in the west", he says.
But that's where Osama went wrong, you see. He thought Americans were too weak to support a long war. He was wrong! And Jassam's plan won't work either - not as long as Americans keep up that ol' fightin' spirit! That "never say die!" attitude that made this country so great...
(Original post: 2005-08-28 19:15:27)
In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.
What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?
"Democracy," the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. "Whiskey. And sexy!"
Around him, the crowd roared its approval.
Warning: Graphic descriptions of sex and violence follow.
In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein was preparring his own welcoming committee:
Colonel Raaed Faik was riding with fellow Republican Guard officers on a civilian bus thirty-two kilometers northeast of Baghdad that morning, trying to obey an order to rush to Baghdad to join in the defense of the city. They were to help keep Highway 8 open for a counterattack. Faik was a senior signal officer in the Republican Guard, but he was dressed now in civilian clothes. The chief of staff had radioed an order for this division to fight without uniforms in hopes of mounting an effective guerilla war against the American forces on the streets of Baghdad. But some officers had not received the order, and they were still in their uniforms. They bickered with the plainclothes officers over how to dress for the battle.While it may have seemed foolish, it was part of a larger plan to welcome the bringers of Democracy to the capital city of Iraq.
Faik was disgusted. He took pride in being a member of an elite unit, but now they were like women trying to decide what outfits to wear. They were fools led by imbeciles.
Meanwhile, in America, three soldiers were out of their uniforms, too, and enjoying a brief vacation prior to joining the battle...
In March 2003, she went with Graner and another soldier to Virginia Beach. During the trip, Graner took pictures of himself having anal sex with England. He also photographed her placing her nipple in the ear of the other soldier, who was passed out in a hotel room. Soon, it became their new game: Whenever Graner asked her to, England would strike a pose.She probably was. And perhaps Graner really did hand over those pictures "by mistake". Regardless, England and Graner would soon bring their brand of "sexy" to Iraq.
After the Virginia Beach expedition, England and Graner rented a car and drove to eastern Kentucky, where her parents and grandfather were turkey hunting in Daniel Boone National Forest. Sitting between Graner and her parents at a picnic table, England asked Graner to share some scenic pictures from their trip to Virginia Beach. Graner handed an envelope to England's father, who opened it and scanned the images, then handed them to Terrie. They showed nudity and sexual scenes. Apparently, Graner had given them the wrong vacation shots. "I was really bent out of shape," Terrie says.
In addition to his own troops in civilian clothes, Saddam had some "out of town help" waiting for Americans in Baghdad:
Just south of the spaghetti junction, beyond the row of greenhouses on the west side of the highway, Yusef Taha and his brother Ziad were huddled in the rear downstairs room of their two-story stucco home in the shade of the nursery awnings. The Taha brothers owned one of the greenhouses, which had been shredded by coax from the Rogue Bradleys two days earlier. They had stayed in the war zone to protect their house - not from the Americans but from the Syrian mercenaries who had arrived several days earlier to seize control of the entire greenhouse complex. The brothers knew that if they fled, the Syrians would have set up sniper's nests on their roof, drawing tank rounds that would have flattened their modest little home. So now they were hunkered down inside with twelve family members - aunts and uncles, in-laws and children - praying that the Americans would pass by quickly and leave their house intact.
Yusef was a heavyset forty-two-rear-old, with a thick mustache and the beginnings of a beard. Ziad was twenty-six, thin and handsome and had a trimmed mustache. The brothers had pleaded with the Syrians, begging them to find some other place to fight the Americans. But the Syrians said the greenhouses and nurseries occupied a strategic stretch of territory along the Hillah Highway - Highway 8 - controlling access to the airport and to the government palace complex downtown. They set up RPG teams inside the greenhouses, joined by Republican Guard troops in their dark green uniforms with distinctive maroon insignias. It seemed to the Taha brothers that the Syrians were in charge. They were certainly more fanatic and energized than the Republican Guards. They spoke often of jihad, of dying while killing American infidels. Some of them strapped packs of explosives to their chests and spoke of ramming suicide cars into the tanks and Bradleys. Some of them brandished swords, like Saladin, the Arab conqueror. The brothers did not particularly welcome the American invasion - and certainly not the devastating firepower brought to bear on their nursery business - but they resented the Syrians, who were invaders in their own right.
Lynndie England had joined the Army National Guard at age 17. Two years later she married Jamie Fike, with whom she had worked at a grocery store and a chicken-processing plant near her home town of Ft Ashby, West Virginia. Life was set.
But employed by the Guard as an administrative specialist, that life would change one drill weekend when she met another soldier who had just joined the unit.
She met him while processing his paperwork for the 372nd Military Police Company after he arrived in Cresaptown, MD, in November 2002. He was 15 years older. He used to follow her out to the smoking area. Graner didn't smoke, though; he just wanted to see her. "He was funny, the jokester," she says. "Was he too old for me? I didn't think about it at the time. He acted like he was 3 years old." He was loud, raunchy, and bad to the bone. "An outlaw," she calls him.Charles Graner had been a prison guard for several years. According to his ex-wife,
"Graner was the total opposite of Jamie [Fike, England's husband]," says Jessie. "Lynndie told me, 'He's real open. He likes to do stuff. Wild things.'" England didn't know about his past. According to court documents, Graner beat his former wife, Staci Morris, and dragged her by the hair across a room. A former civilian prison guard, he'd also been accused in a federal lawsuit of assaulting an inmate at Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institution-Greene in 1998 and putting a razor blade in the inmate's mashed potatoes.
"The whup ass [beatings] ran like a river," Ms Morris quoted Graner as saying about the frequent beatings of prisoners. "He had complete contempt for prisoners; as far as he was concerned they had no rights," she said, summing up his attitude as a prison officer in Pennsylvania.He wasn't always a soldier. In fact, he had joined the Marine Corps Reserve shortly after graduating high school in 1986. He married the former Staci Michelle Dean on June 15, 1990 - on their marriage license application, Graner listed his full-time occupation as construction worker. But not long after, he would be activated to deploy in support of Operation Desert Storm, where he would serve as a guard at a prison camp:
KDKA-TV reporter Ross Guidotti served with Graner in a military police company when both were members of the Marine Corps Reserve. For about six weeks in early 1991, both were guards at a prison camp for Iraqis captured during the Gulf War.His first child was born while he was in Iraq.
He said he was shocked to hear that Graner has been accused of mistreating prisoners, in part because of the training they and other guards received years ago. "It was drilled into our minds well before we left the continental U.S. what we were allowed to do, and not allowed to do, relative to the treatment of prisoners."
They moved to Uniontown and had two children, Brittni Stacia, born Jan. 21, 1991, and Dean Charles Graner, born two years later on Feb. 9, 1993.That may be the first evidence of Graners fascination with photography.
By 1997, the marriage was foundering. In May, Staci filed for an emergency custody ruling, alleging that Graner had taken the children and wouldn't give them back. She filed for divorce on June 4, 1997, contending in court papers that Graner had thrown her and her children out of their home.
At this point, he was working at the State Correctional Institution Greene in Greene County, according to court papers.
In June, Staci filed for the first of the three protection-from-abuse orders, alleging that in May he'd threatened to kill her, made harassing telephone calls and told her mother that "she could keep his guns because he did not need them for what he was going to do to her.''
Common Pleas Judge Ralph Warman issued an order on June 16, 1997, barring Graner from having any contact with Staci for six months except for exchanging their children for visitation. Those exchanges were to take place at the Uniontown police station.
Staci was back before Warman on Feb. 2, 1998, contending that Graner had stalked and verbally abused her, hidden her keys and thrown her against a wall and into furniture. She also testified that Graner offered to move out of their former home so that she could return with the children, then installed a secret video camera and showed her tapes of herself.
One night, Staci Morris awoke to find then husband Charles Graner holding a large knife to her throat and openly pondering whether to kill her. In subsequent days, he pretended nothing had happened.His civilian career as a prison guard ended at about the same time as his marriage
"He's like my Hannibal Lecter, he really is. He's the monster in my life,"
"He is a sexual deviant," she said. "He was very sexually strange, into very strange things."
As their relationship was faltering, Graner twice set up covert video surveillance of Morris's bedroom - and then told her about it. On other occasions Graner recounted to guests invented tales about their sexual exploits, Morris said.
The night before she went back to court, she said he crouched and hid in her laundry room until she walked by, then jumped out to scare her.But when one door closes, another opens, as they say. Graner joined the Army National Guard in 2002, and met Lynndie England. Shortly thereafter, she brought him home to meet her folks (no word on the whereabouts of Lynndie's husband at this time).
Warman issued another protection-from-abuse and no-contact order, this time for a year, and ordered Charles to return the tapes.
The Graners' divorce was final in 2000. She sought yet another protection-from-abuse order in March 2001, filing a five-page handwritten statement detailing an encounter in which she said Graner told her she was still his wife and tried to get her to go to bed with him.
She said he dragged her around the house by the hair, banged her head off the floor and tried to throw her down the stairs in front of their weeping, frightened children.
Warman issued another one-year protection-from-abuse and no-contact order on March 22, 2001. By then, Graner was listed in court papers as working for TOPS Temporaries at Sony in New Stanton.
England brought Graner home with her to Fort Ashby in early 2003. With a foul mouth and pierced nipples (they saw those later), he didn't make a good impression. That day, recalls Terrie, he stood in their living room and slowly looked around.They grabbed their cameras, and off they went to the beach.
"Charles, you're more than welcome to sit down," she told him.
He remained standing.
"He couldn't wait to get out of there," says Terrie. "I don't know if he thought we were nothing or what. I said, 'You're nothing but trying to get into my daughter's pants.' He said, 'No, ma'am, my intentions are honorable.' He was blowing smoke up her ass. I said, 'Here's the door and don't let it hit you on the way out,'" she recalls.
"We were just like, 'There is something wrong with this guy,'" says Jessie.
Worth says that in addition to photos of inmate abuse, investigators found photos of England topless on a beach. Also, one photo showed a soldier sleeping as a male soldier (he thinks Grainer) held his penis near the sleeping soldier's head. In another photo, England leans topless over the same soldier, with her breasts near the sleeping soldier's head.
First witness via telephone is Spc. Stephen Stephen Strother (name uncertain)...
Strother visited Virginia Beach with Grainer and England. They stayed in a hotel together. England went swimming topless. Grainer was nude. Photos taken after he passed out as described yesterday. Grainer exposing penis, England topless...
In Baghdad, US Soldiers confronted Iraqi army units in civilian clothes, foreign fighters who'd come for the jihad, and another group:
At Abu Ghraib, the most notorious prison, 150 inmates were crammed into cells designed for 24. The torture chamber was next to the hanging chamber, whose clanging iron trap doors were a vivid reminder of the fate awaiting those who refused to pledge loyalty to the regime.Here's one reason:
In the fall of 2002, Hussein unexpectedly released thousands of rapists, murderers and other criminals for reasons still not totally clear.
The enemy kept coming. Soldiers and civilian gunmen were arriving now in every available mode of transportation-hatchbacks, orange-and-white taxis, police cars, ambulances, pickups, big Chevys, motorcycles with sidecars. Major Nussio, the battalion executive officer, opened fire on a huge garbage truck with a soldier at the wheel. He was thinking to himself as the soldier keeled over and the truck crash-landed: A garbage truck? These people are so stupid - stupid but determined.Chaos and carnage, as described in the book Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad, and encouraged by none other than Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf - dubbed "Baghdad Bob" he had become a source of comic relief to many. Few will forget his insistence that there were no Americans near Baghdad, a claim delivered straight-faced as US battle tanks rumbled in the background.
They were not giving up. It seemed suicidal - men with nothing more than AK-47s or wildly inaccurate RPGs were charging tanks and Bradleys. It was like they wanted to die, or worse, they just didn't care. That disturbed some of the tankers. They weren't trained to fight people who didn't give a damn. Nor were they quite prepared to fight people who didn't have a plan - didn't have a clue. As each RPG team or pack of dismounts attacked with utter disregard for what the other Iraqis or Syrians were doing, the tankers kept thinking: It's all a big trap. They really do have a plan. They're just luring us in with those haphazard, disjointed tactics. Sometime soon, they're going to get organized and attack with some serious tactics.
At one point, a little white Volkswagen Passat suddenly appeared on the highway. It came off one of the access ramps. Before anyone could react, the Passat turned sharply and smacked into one of the Bradleys. Everyone thought it was a suicide car, but nothing exploded. The driver opened the door and stepped out, his hands raised over his head. He was a portly middle-aged man with a trim black mustache and wavy silver hair. He wore an Iraqi military uniform with a colonel's gold rank on his epaulets. There was a pistol on his hip.
The Bradley commander radioed Captain Hilmes. "Sir we got an Iraqi general here," he said, misreading the colonel's rank. "He just crashed his car into our Bradley. What do you want us to do with him?"
"Capture his ass," Hilmes ordered.
Several infantrymen climbed out of the Bradley's hull and snatched the colonel and dragged him inside. Later under interrogation by U.S. military interpreters, the Iraqi said he was the military quartermaster for all of Baghdad. He was a brown shoes guy, a desk officer. He had been driving to work, minding his own business - and suddenly he was involved in a fender-bender with an American Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He told his interrogators that he had no idea American forces were in Baghdad. From what he had been hearing on government-controlled radio, American forces had been stopped cold below the Euphrates River, well south of the capital. He certainly never expected to see tanks in Baghdad. Every officer he knew was convinced the Americans were afraid to bring tanks into a city.
It was baffling. Senior Iraqi officers in the capital seemed content to believe their own lies, that the war was going well and the Americans were bogged down south of the city. Even many ordinary civilians seemed unaware that there was a war going on. Despite the columns of black smoke from burning vehicles and the thunderous pounding of the tanks and the Bradleys, civilians in family sedans were coasting down the southbound lanes of Highway 8 and along the access roads, like it was just another Saturday morning in the suburbs. For all they knew from listening to government radio, the war was confined to the southern desert, where American forces were being routed. It was only the Fedayeen and Syrians, and unknown numbers of Special Republican Guards, who seemed to understand that American forces were invading the capital. And if these soldiers and fighters and militiamen were disorganized and poorly trained, they did not lack for determination or gall - and there seemed to be an endless supply of weapons and ammunition, and of gunmen eager to fight and die.
But he was an integral part of the plan for the defense of Baghdad - a long, bloody siege, fought by soldiers in civilian clothes on streets crowded with actual civilians. With no hope of military victory, the leadership in Iraq wanted to create a global outrage, fueled by media reports of civilian casualties (actual and otherwise) and other atrocities, to the point where the US would ultimately withdraw humiliated. Far from being humorous, the claims of Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf - made willingly or witlessly - had a deadly serious purpose: maximize the number of real civilians on the streets along with those soldiers posing as the same. The goal? Photographs of mounds of civilian corpses splashed across front pages and news broadcasts worldwide.
But they hadn't expected tanks in Baghdad.
Suddenly they were rolling into a traffic circle - Qahtain Square in the Yarmouk section of Baghdad. Gruneisen radioed the captain: "Did you go through a traffic circle?"However, not everyone ran:
Iraqi military trucks were parked along the square. Soldiers were milling around. It was a staging area for attacks on the column. The tank rumbled into the square. The Iraqi soldiers stared up at the big tan machine, shocked to see an M1A1 Abrams barreling down on them. The tank crew stared, too. They had never expected to confront the enemy in such a personal way - literally face-to-face. There was a brief, suspended moment.
"Oh shit," Gruneisen said.
The Iraqi soldiers didn't open fire. They ran - they scattered everywhere. It struck Hernandez as preposterous. There were five Americans surrounded by dozens of Iraqis in the heart of the Iraqi capital, and the Iraqis were fleeing. He had a mental image of cockroaches scattering when you turn on the kitchen light.
Gruneisen ordered Peterson to speed through the circle. There wasn't enough time to back up and turn around. He wanted to just plow through the circle, past the trucks and soldiers, and head back the way they had come. The soldiers scattered out of the way. Gruneisen couldn't tell whether anyone was firing at them. As they rolled into the circle, Hernandez saw yellow pickup truck speeding toward them with two men in the front seat. There wasn't time for a warning shot - no time to determine whether these were wayward civilians or militiamen trying to ram them. Hernandez got off a burst from the M-240. He saw a spray of blood stain the windshield and watched the passenger go down. The driver hit the brakes and the pickup spun and went into a skid.In other news of the day from Baghdad:
Freed journalists tell of eight-day Iraqi prison ordealBut not for long. For in the chaos following the fall of the regime, the walls literally came down:
Tortures and beatings heard by four released from notorious jail after pleas for help to Vatican and Arafat
Peter Beaumont in Amman
Thursday April 3, 2003
A group of western journalists held in a notorious Baghdad prison on suspicion of spying described yesterday how other prisoners were tortured and beaten in the corridors outside their cells.
Matthew McAllester, a Briton employed by the US newspaper Newsday, described the terror of his eight days in Abu Ghraib prison just outside Baghdad, one of the biggest prison complexes in the Arab world.
"There were beatings and torture going on outside our cells, in the corridor," McAllester said immediately after his release. He described hearing the screams of other prisoners being tortured and saw some with eyes and faces bloodied and swollen.
"Other inmates hobbled around, apparently because the soles of their feet had been burned or otherwise injured. We thought we were going to be killed at any moment," McAllester said.
McAllester, 33, and Moises Saman, 29, a photographer for Newsday, were picked up by Iraqi secret service agents nine days ago, with Molly Bingham, 34, a freelance US photographer, and Johan Rydeng Spanner, a Danish freelance photographer. McAllester and Saman were handcuffed and taken downstairs from their hotel room in the service elevator, and transported to Abu Ghraib prison just outside Baghdad.
"We could hear screams, especially during the night," McAllester said yesterday. "The Iraqi prisoners were occupying the cells opposite us. We would hear them being taken to and from a session.
The release of the journalists, and a peace activist who had been held with them, came after frantic efforts by Newsday editors and prominent international figures and journalist advocacy groups.
Newsday editors had contacted everyone from the Vatican to Iraq's ambassador to the UN and diplomats in the region and, through an intermediary, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, whose intervention is understood to have been crucial in securing the release.
McAllester added a note of caution: "We are free because we had the support of such a great network of people. There are Iraqis still in that prison who do not have that support."
Looters had a field day. They stole all the doors, the windows and in some locations, they took the bricks out of the walls and the tile off the floor. They even pulled out the wiring.Which seemed to be the end for Abu Ghraib.
Prior to the beginning of hostilities, planners estimated 30-100 thousand enemy prisoners of war would need to be secured, segregated, detained, and interrogated. The 800th MP Brigade was given the mission to establish as many as twelve detention centers, to be run by subordinate battalion units. As of May 2003, BG Hill reported that only an estimated 600 detainees were being held -- a combination of enemy prisoners and criminals. As a result, additional military police units previously identified for deployment were demobilized in CONUS. The original plan also envisioned that only the prisoners remaining from the initial major combat operations would require detention facilities, and they would eventually be released or turned over to the Iraqi authorities once justice departments and criminal detention facilities were re-established,Unfortunately, there were few prisoners because many of those soldiers had fled to fight another day - alongside the foreign fighters who were already in place, and ready for the jihad.
In June 2003, a group of about 20 soldiers, including England, Graner, Specialist Sabrina Harman, Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, and Specialist Joseph M. Darby, were deployed for duty in Iraq. The first stop: the Hilla camp, 58 miles south of Baghdad, where the army was training new Iraqi police officers. The American forces took up residence in an abandoned date-processing factory, a big, open space, like an airplane hangar, but screaming hot and full of bird shit.But soon they would be forced to leave leave their pets behind. Orders to a new location were on the way.
Not long into their stay, two of the soldiers appeared at the base one day with animal carcasses. They'd found a dead goat and a dead cat somewhere and started slicing them up. Someone took a photo of a soldier pretending to have sex with the goat's head. "Then they cut off the cat's head and shoved it on the top of a soda bottle," England says.
For several weeks, the decaying animal heads provided entertainment for the soldiers. "Someone put sunglasses on them, and put the rifle next to the heads and took a picture. Some soldiers put a cigarette in the cat's mouth," she says. The soldiers stashed the severed heads in their rooms.
"It was funny," England says. "So funny."
More to follow.
If you've wandered over from Hugh's place, welcome! (And thanks, Hugh!) There's a permanent list of some great support organizations over in our right hand column.
This is a big story, but the significance of it will likely be lost on Western media, where you might see it depicted as Americans taking sides in Iraq's Civil War. (That would certainly be the POV for some "stringers".)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMuch more at Flopping Aces, who is communicating with CENTCOM on some aspects of the story, and has yet another appearance by the Association of Muslim Scholars.
RELEASE No. 20061125-09
Nov. 25, 2006
One Mosque Burned in Hurriya
Multi-National Corps – Iraq PAO
BAGHDAD — Contrary to recent media reporting that four mosques were burned in Hurriya, an Iraqi Army patrol investigating the area found only one mosque had been burned in the neighborhood.
Soldiers from the 6th Iraqi Army Division conducted a patrol in Hurriya Friday afternoon in response to media reports that four mosques were being burned as retaliation for the VBIED attacks in Sadr City on Thursday.
The Soldiers set up a checkpoint near the Al Muhaimen mosque at approximately 2 p.m. and found the mosque intact with no evidence of any fire at the location.
While investigating the Al Meshaheda mosque, the patrol received small arms fire from unknown insurgents. The patrol returned fire, and the insurgents broke contact and fled the area. A subsequent check of the mosque found the mosque intact with no evidence of a fire.
At approximately 3:50 p.m., a local civilian reported to the patrol that armed insurgents had set the Al-Nidaa mosque on fire by throwing a gas container into the mosque. The patrol pursued the insurgents but lost contact with them.
The Soldiers called the fire department and set up a cordon around the mosque. Local fire trucks responded to the scene and extinguished the fire at approximately 4:00 p.m. The mosque sustained smoke and fire damage in the entry way but was not destroyed.
An alleged attack on a fourth mosque remains unconfirmed. The patrol was also unable to confirm media reports that six Sunni civilians were allegedly dragged out of Friday prayers and burned to death. Neither Baghdad police nor Coalition forces have reports of any such incident.
Note that Iraqi soldiers went into harm's way to investigate bogus media reports. and were attacked for their efforts. Make what you will of that. but I hope the media will extend the courtesy of devoting the same headlines to their debunking of the story as they did to the 'stringer' version.
'Military denies mosque attacks' is probably the best we can hope for.
Update: Corrected original to properly identify soldiers involved. (Thanks John!)
I don't know if we can pick winners, but we may be able to pick a couple of losers, which may be good enough. (Seeing that the right people lose is important, after all). The Sunnis seem to have picked themselves as losers, and to be doing their best to ensure that they'll be driven out of the country in response to their campaign of terror.Now I know that Glenn knows it's nowhere near as simple as Sunni vs Shiite in Iraq, but it might be beneficial to examine one specific - and important - example distinction.
UPDATE: I don't think that what's happening to the Sunnis is a good thing; I just think they've brought it on themselves by foolishly stirring up a civil war that they can't win. They haven't been as canny as I'd hoped. What's going on now is a political, not a military problem -- we'd rather it were a military problem because we're better at military matters than politics -- and it will require an Iraqi political solution. The Sunnis, however, seem to me to have ensured that it will be a solution that they don't like.
Getting away from the headlines, here are the key events to watch unfold.
First, a backgrounder from last year, following the Samarra Shrine bombing. To really know the key players you're going to have to read the whole thing, but here's a jump to the end:
THE movement of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, alleged to have played a role in the anti-Sunni violence over the last few days, publicly made peace with political and religious Sunni leaders overnight.Sadr is an obvious concern, but if you read the link carefully you know I'm talking about the Muslim Scholars group. They are the ones who declared hundreds of Sunni mosques destroyed and thousands of Sunni dead starting about 30 seconds after the Samarra shrine bombing. They've got a history of similar suspiciously timely press releases. In fact. they've got a long history of opposition to virtually everything (elections, for instance) in Iraq - except al Qaeda. Follow the links in the previous link and you'll get the idea.
Four sheikhs from the Sadr movement made a "pact of honour" with the conservative Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, and called for an end to attacks on places of worship, the shedding of blood and condemning any act leading to sedition.
Now here's today's news on these guys:
Sunni Leader Urges Arab Nations Not To Back Iraq's Shiite-Led GovernmentSounds like back to square one, right? Not quite.
A prominent Sunni religious leader is calling on the international community to end its support for Iraq's Shiite-led government.
Otherwise, he says, Iraq's escalating sectarian violence will spread throughout the Middle East.
The sheik, who heads the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, lives in Jordan.
He's wanted in Iraq on charges of inciting terrorism. The Iraqi Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for him earlier this month, but he says he doesn't take the warrant seriously.
His comments Saturday in Cairo, Egypt, come amid a surge in violence between Sunnis and Shiites that has left hundreds dead in Iraq this week.
Sunnis charge that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki isn't serious about disbanding Shiite militias accused of sectarian killings.
"He's wanted in Iraq on charges of inciting terrorism. The Iraqi Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant for him earlier this month, but he says he doesn't take the warrant seriously." That's part of the story.
Here's the original media coverage of the arrest warrant from last week:
Iraq's Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant Thursday for the country's leading Sunni Arab cleric, accusing him of colluding with insurgents, a potentially explosive charge that could exacerbate tensions between the country's warring sectarian groups and further divide a fragile national government.Note the western media still offers "cover" to the AMS - " the country's leading Sunni Arab cleric" - more on that shortly. First, here's the follow-up
The move against Harith Dhari, head of the Muslim Scholars Assn., came two days after an audacious daytime kidnapping in Baghdad ruptured the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, setting Sunni politicians against Shiites.
Doubt grows over al-Dhari arrest warrantThat's a sticky political issue the Iraqi government will have to deal with - but one that may become easier with time, as we'll soon see. Whatever the reality, note that Iraq's "leading Sunni Arab cleric" is condemning his nation from the relative safety of Jordan - where he fled some time ago.
Official close to PM disavows plans to seize top Sunni cleric
.."We will work so that the arrest warrant is not acted upon," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the internal Shiite conflict.
But here's where the story gets interesting. A day later::
Sunni sheiks from Iraq's volatile Anbar province have denounced a powerful Sunni cleric as "a thug" for supporting the al-Qaida terrorist group.So, the Sunni Anbar Salvation Council (background here) busy battling al Qaeda in Anbar, condemns "Iraq's leading Sunni cleric" who has supported al Qaeda from day one, and fled to Jordan some time ago and fears returning to Iraq. Given that Sunnis and Shiites have both declared him persona non grata, that's probably what the wise "scholar" (similar word defined here) would do.
The Anbar Salvation Council, a group of sheiks formed to resist foreign militants in Iraq, also denied accusations by cleric Harith al-Dhari that it was cozying up to the Iraqi government in exchange for money, the New York Times reported Sunday.
"We, on behalf of the Anbar tribes council, say to Harith al-Dhari: If there is a thug, it is you; if there is a killer and a kidnapper, it is you," the Times quoted Sheik Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi as saying.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani added Dhari was stirring up sectarian strife and trying to enlist the aid of Sunni-led countries to foment violence in Iraq.
Readers can decide for themselves why the American media thinks this loser is "Iraq's most influential Sunni". I suspect that like most tidbits of useless information they get from their "stringers" there's a plausible - if unfortunate - explanation.
Bottom line? It ain't easy, but it ain't over, either.
Update: Coalition forces deliver close air support to the Anbar Salvation Council. This is big.
Violence? No doubt. Exaggerated? Probably, but false reports and rumors do as much to fan the flames of "sectarian violence" as do actual attacks, especially when those reports are carried without qualification by a supposedly legitimate media source. Is that going on now? Who knows. A direct attack on Sadr's home turf will (perhaps ironically) likely spawn more violence than the attack on a revered shrine. But as the LA Times has more recently demonstrated, unlikely claims will be reported as facts without question.
Someone on your list could probably use a copy.
Click here to purchase via Amazon.
Here's to a bountiful and peaceful season for us all.
At your service - now and always!
(original post 2003-11-27 06:07:01)
UPDATE: Russ was gracious enough to whip this up for me and he explains here what inspired him. Also, get well soon Russ.
(Originally posted by Mrs Greyhawk, Thanksgiving, 2004)
A Farewell to Arms and Baghdad - from one of the best damn MilBloggers to ever knock sand from his boots.
We reported on the formation and early activities of the Anbar Salvation Council several weeks ago. This group's rise drew extensive coverage in the Iraqi and Arabic media, but was largely ignored in the western press.
Since then? Well, nothing. But this week in the London Times, Martin Fletcher reports from Ramadi:
Fighting back: the city determined not to become al-Qaeda's capital.Read the whole thing. (Hat tip to Bill Roggio, who will soon be reporting from Iraq himself.)
While the world’s attention has been focused on Baghdad’s slide into sectarian warfare, something remarkable has been happening in Ramadi, a city of 400,000 inhabitants that al-Qaeda and its Iraqi allies have controlled since mid-2004 and would like to make the capital of their cherished Islamic caliphate.
A power struggle has erupted: al-Qaeda’s reign of terror is being challenged. Sheikh Sittar and many of his fellow tribal leaders have cast their lot with the once-reviled US military. They are persuading hundreds of their followers to sign up for the previously defunct Iraqi police. American troops are moving into a city that was, until recently, a virtual no-go area. A battle is raging for the allegiance of Ramadi’s battered and terrified citizens and the outcome could have far-reaching consequences.
The situation is fragile. The Sunni Shieks are not fighting alongside Americans - they simply recognize the greater threat is al Qaeda.
As one US officer put it, the sheikhs are only “pro-American in the sense that they are fighting the same enemy”.But there is progress being made:
The US military wooed the sheikhs over what one US officer described as “hundreds of cups of chai and thousands of cigarettes”. They agreed that their chosen instrument should be the police force, which was practically defunct thanks to al-Qaeda death threats against anyone who dared to sign up. In June there were only 35 recruits; in July Sheikh Sittar sent 300 members of his 30,000-strong Resha tribe for training.Note that record from last month - one that went unreported during the record violence. These are the people who Abu Hamza al-Muhajir — aka Abu Ayyub al-Masri (the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi's replacement as leader of al Qaeda in Iraq) gave until the end of Ramadan to repent and swear allegiance, or die. Apparently he has his answer:
Last month a record 409 new recruits were dispatched to the police academy in Jordan, and 1,300 are now signed up, many of them former Baathists. The US and Iraqi armies have armed and protected them against al-Qaeda attacks, and as fear of al-Qaeda has dissipated, so the process has accelerated.
Inside the heavily fortified Abu Faraj police station, just north of Ramadi, the recruits all said that they had been too frightened to join before. “Right now almost all the tribes are fighting the terrorists — the women, the children and even the dogs are fighting them,” said Major Saidey Saleh, the station commander and former Saddam army officer who bears the scars of four al-Qaeda bullet wounds in his right thigh.Ramadi is a city ruined by war - and a city still at war, but a growing (albeit fragile) hope for the future remains.
Update: The Airstrike that Wasn't
More: Progress in Al Anbar
I should specify South Korea, protesting America.
Yes, she should move north and stay there.
Since we've been discussing both of them, it seems like a good day to bring back this seldom-seen video of a Sheehan supporter hurling John Kerry-type quotes at a Sheehan counter-protester, the mother of a fallen Marine.
Whenever Kerry unleashes one of his attacks on the troops, guys like this put off buying a new t-shirt and send him the 5 bucks instead.
Scott Ott points out (as only he can) something most people are overlooking on the Pentagon "Iraq review" story:
The unnamed Pentagon official in charge of leaking national security secrets to the Washington Post said it’s possible that the U.S. could adopt some combination of the three.His three options are a bit different than the Washington Post report - but I'm talking about the yet another leaked secret study aspect of this. (Of course, some secrets are more secret than others - nudge nudge wink wink.)
But speaking of three, I'm glad to see Scott's cousin is one of the "three high-profile colonels" leading the review group - that's not a joke.
On another note, here's an interesting tidbit from the WaPo original:
The military's study, commissioned by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, comes at a time when escalating violence is causing Iraq policy to be reconsidered by both the White House and the congressionally chartered, bipartisan Iraq Study Group.Interesting how that's become conventional wisdom - but it's also wrong:
Violence in Iraq Drops in Weeks After RamadanWhich comes as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. But that's from a military public press release - not a leaked secret study - so don't expect to see anything "in the paper" about decreasing violence - apparently it's something they'd prefer you not know.
Nov. 20, 2006
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – As expected, violence in Iraq has dropped following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a coalition spokesman said in Baghdad today.
Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said civilian and Iraqi security force casualties were at the lowest levels since the government was formed in May.
So far this month, the civilian casualty count is well below the casualty count in October and below the six-month average. The security force casualties reduced 21 percent over the past four weeks, and are at the lowest level in 25 weeks, he said.
“In Baghdad, there was a 22 percentage drop in casualties related to sectarian violence and executions,” Caldwell said during a televised news conference. “Coalition forces will continue to work closely with the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces to control the sectarian violence and terrorist attacks.”
Update: Via comments, a link to an AP headline that screams: U.N.: Iraqi civilian deaths at new high, and some accusations that this runs counter to Maj. Gen. William Caldwell's report. (In fact, some accusations that the general is in effect lying.
But a read of the story's first paragraph is revealing:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The United Nations said Wednesday that 3,709 Iraqi civilians were killed in October, the highest monthly toll since the March 2003 U.S. invasion and another sign of the severity of Iraq's sectarian bloodbath.In short, the UN is releasing a report about the death toll in October - which is news to no one other than the UN. Though not a direct part of this discussion, read deeper into the report and you'll find the AP acknowledges the numbers are disputed: "The U.N. tally was more than three times higher than the total The Associated Press had tabulated for the month" and "Asked about the U.N. report, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh called it "inaccurate and exaggerated".
Regardless of the exact number, no one is disputing the October death toll was high - it certainly was one of the highest since the invasion for America troops. While it is more correct to say the Ramadan death toll was high - as the Ramadan death toll typically is - it is certainly not news. Scarcely a day went by when we weren't reminded of the fact when it was news.
So how does the AP cover the post-Ramadan drop in violence? By ignoring it and covering a story that the UN has announced what those of us who have been paying attention to Iraq already knew - and putting a misleading headline on top.
Sound off, it's free. (Well, actually, it's on me.)
Every time I hear about John Kerry's "famous" question about the last to die for a mistake, I recall the attached, captured VC propaganda leaflet, found by members of my unit on highway QL-1 in Vietnam dating sometime prior to October 1969 (my unit left the Duc Pho area, referenced in the leaflet, by that date).
Besides plagiarizing the propaganda masters, who knows how much "original" Kerry was impressed on to him by the VC and NVA in Paris during his two (or was it three) visits with them in the early 1970's?
19th Engineer Battalion (C)(A)
11/66 - 2/68
Here's the post he was responding to.
For those not familiar with the referenced Kerry comment from his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I've prepared some "illustrated sound bites" from that event below.
The full transcript can be read here.
Update: Here's the homepage for the Vietnam-era 19th Combat Engineer Battalion. It includes a section memorializing the 100+ members of that organization who fell there.
The last? SP4 Frederick Lee Fields - who died 30 November 1970 trying to save another while conducting convoy operations in preperation for departure from Vietnam:
A deuce-and-a-half with a trailer went through the ford too fast and the trailer created a wake which washed LT Spiegel into the river and quickly downstream. Fields jumped in to help his LT. Spiegel grabbed onto an overhanging branch of a tree and was pulled to safety. Fred Fields was lost downstream.
A senior House Democrat said Sunday he will introduce legislation to reinstate the military draft, asserting that current troop levels are insufficient to sustain possible challenges against Iran, North Korea and Iraq.Well folks, don't say I didn't warn ya...
But really, he's not serious is he? I mean, he couldn't possibly be...
Update: And in case you missed it, homosexuality won't get you out of serving in the brave new world:
Two leading House Democrats said yesterday that they intend to reverse the 13-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians in the military when Congress comes under Democratic control in January.
Jules Crittenden reflects on a question asked by John Kerry decades ago:
The last man to die as a result of the decision to abandon Vietnam may not be dead yet.Gotta put that one in the "wish I'd said that" category - along with the rest of his post, and the Herald column that follows.
Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, Walter Pincus offers congressional Democrats a Vietnam-era strategy for losing the war:
Now that they'll soon be back in control, congressional Democrats are looking to play a role in shaping U.S. policy on the Iraq war. If they want a precedent to follow, there's a good one -- from the Vietnam War era.Much more at both links, and I can't add anything that tops Jules' quote above.
I witnessed this precedent up close nearly four decades ago, when I worked on Capitol Hill for Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.), then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1969, Congress's ruling Democrats began to offer amendments to funding bills -- often approved with Republican votes -- to limit President Richard M. Nixon's military alternatives in Southeast Asia. Although the Hatfield-McGovern amendment to cut off money for the war was defeated in August 1970, it accelerated Nixon's steps toward Vietnamization of the fighting. And three years later, with withdrawal of U.S. forces having begun, Congress voted to cut off all funding for "offensive" military action, sealing the deal.
This is becoming a great example of the influence of media on conduct of a war.
LEVIN: Recently, Ambassador Khalilzad announced that Iraqi officials had agreed to a timeline for reaching benchmarks to confront the sectarian militias, to implement a reconciliation program, to share oil revenues, and to recommend changes to the constitution.Levin will become Committee Chairman next year, but the good Senator may have been duped by inaccurate press accounts of the day. A complex matter, but for full understanding you might want to re-visit these three posts before reading on.
Prime Minister Maliki repudiated that timeline the next day, providing additional evidence that the Iraqi political leaders do not understand that there is a limit to the blood and treasure that Americans are willing to spend, given the unwillingness of the Iraqis themselves to put their political house in order.
Senator Levin's comments weren't limited to his opening statement, and he appears to be eager to get to the truth of the matter. He directed questions on the topic to Ambassador David Satterfield, special assistant to the secretary of state for Iraq:
LEVIN: Ambassador, you testified that it is critical that we work with the government of Iraq to set out measurable, achievable benchmarks on the three tracks that you have mentioned -- political, security and economic.
Apparently, there were some benchmarks and time lines that were said by Ambassador Khalilzad to have been agreed upon by the Iraqi leaders, and he made that announcement, and then the next day Prime Minister Maliki rejected what apparently the ambassador thought had been accepted.
LEVIN: Were we surprised when Prime Minister Maliki rejected those timelines?
SATTERFIELD: Senator Levin, the Iraqi government has articulated a sense of goals and objectives on the political process and they've been actively engaged in articulating with the United Nations a very detailed set of goals and objectives on the economic side.
On security, the discussions between our two sides continue.
And with respect to timelines, there is a timeline embedded in the political process outlined by the Iraqi government as well as on the economic steps now in the process of finalization.
Similarly, on security, we think it's valuable, very valuable, for the Iraqis to articulate -- certainly with our input -- where they intend to move, how they intend to move and over what timeline on security goals, as General Abizaid has outlined. But all of these processes are very much in train.
LEVIN: Apparently there was a specific document which Ambassador Khalilzad was referring to when he said that certain timelines and benchmarks had been agreed upon. Is that true? Is there a document?
SATTERFIELD: There is a document on political benchmarks, that is a document articulated and published by the Iraqi government in mid-October.
LEVIN: Did we present a different timeline and set of benchmarks to them from the one you just referred to?
SATTERFIELD: No, Senator. I think whatever confusion may have been reflected in Prime Minister Maliki's remarks has been resolved. I would not overplay the significance, certainly at this point, of those comments.
Meanwhile, no one questioned either guest on these statements by Maliki:
"They think building Iraqi forces will need 12 to 18 months, for us to be in control of security," Maliki said, referring to remarks two days ago by U.S. commander General George Casey.In spite of the fact that a "four to six month" timeframe for withdrawal was discussed endlessly - and is favored by Senator Levin.
"We agree our forces need work but think that if, as we are asking, the rebuilding of our forces was in our own hands, then it would take not 12-18 months but six might be enough."
We should put the responsibility for Iraq's future squarely where it belongs: on the Iraqis. We cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.Of course, Maliki's rather rosy scenario didn't get as much attention in the press as did his "rejection" of an agreement that never existed in the first place. Perhaps even Senator Levin doesn't really believe such a timetable is practical.
The only way for Iraqi leaders to squarely face that reality is for President Bush to tell them that the United States will begin a phased redeployment of our forces within four to six months.
That is not precipitous. It is a responsible way to change the dynamic in Iraq, to stop the march down the path to full-blown civil war on which the Iraqis are now embarked.
The vilest of bastards are liberals who proclaim their love for "Freedom of Speech"...and back it up with this:It's been viewed almost 45,000 times. I'm not sure who would find it "inappropriate" - but perhaps those numbers make it frightening to some.
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This is what you get when you go to watch "Hanging Out With The Boys"
...at MilBlogs today. Troop rotation announcements, goings on in the House and Senate, and more.
More troops? "We do need more troops - and the troops we need are Iraqis."
Less troops? "Under the current circumstances I would not recommend troop withdrawals."
Both comments delivered to the Senate this week by CENTCOM commander General John Abizaid.
Want a glimpse of the future? Watch the video of General Abizaid's appearance (via CSPAN) before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week (real player). The media has made much of Gen Abizaid's comments at this meeting - and they are of obvious importance. But what really matters here are what the Senators asked, and how they responded to his answers.
You probably don't have 4 1/2 hours to watch the whole thing. Some highlights:
Skip forward to 1:15:45. Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida starts with this statement, "I trust you... You have been - to me - the most forthcoming witness as you have appeared before this committee."
During the exchange, the General makes the quote at the top of this post, and also describes the details of what a "withdraw" from Iraq would entail.
Then watch Senator McCain's section immediately after. Excerpt:
Sen McCain: Would it make sense to say it might be well to get both Baghdad and al Anbar province under control...?
Gen Abizaid: ...You can't have a "main effort" everywhere... the preponderance of military activity needs to go into the Baghdad area.
Sen McCain: I don't understand that tactic, General.
Later, the Senator attempts to conclude: ...I regret deeply that you seem to think the status quo and the rate of progress we're making is acceptable, I think most Americans do not.
But the General robbed him of his sound bite: Well Senator I agree with you. The status quo is not acceptable. And I don't believe what I'm saying here today is the status quo. I am saying we must significantly increase our ability to help the Iraqi army by putting more American troops with Iraqi units in military transition teams - to speed the amount of training that is done, to speed the amount of heavy weapons that get there, and to speed the ability of Iraqi troops to deploy. It's a very difficult thing to do. Senator I believe in my heart of hearts that the Iraqis must win this battle - with our help."
McCain - arguing for an increase in US combat troops in Iraq, refused to yield the last word: "You and I have significant disagreement." (In support of his "more troops is better" campaign the Senator also invokes comments from some other generals we've discussed here recently - they may not be gone after all.)
After that - if you've time to spare - you can watch Senator Dayton explain why he has no business in the room, as he quotes recent bestsellers to the General and demands he clarify whether quotes others therein allege he made are accurate.
The first two exchanges I've highlighted above may well shape the serious "Iraq debate" in the coming months. Don't believe what you read in the papers - watch for yourself.
Update: Thanks to Soldier's Dad for the link to the transcript.
Early in which Senator Warner announces a schedule:
...we as Congress, and particularly the Senate, through our Committee on Armed Services, have to consider at least five developments between today and late in December.Looks like most of the details of the next year in Iraq might be ironed out before January. That should give the new congress time to deal with other issues before turning back to this one. I think the elected Democrats will be okay with that - some of their supporters may be disappointed. (Sound bites and occassional Kos/HuffPo rants will be provided for their benefit.)
First, this very important hearing today. This is a most appropriate and timely way to perform the committee's first step in our thorough review of this situation.
Secondly, our committee, as the White House forwards the nomination of Robert Gates to the Senate, will provide Dr. Gates with an opportunity to share his views on the future strategies in Iraq.
Thirdly the Baker-Hamilton Study Group will submit their report. Depending on the timing of their report, Senator Levin and I will renew our invitation to members of that group to come before our committee and to give us a briefing.
Fourth, General Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has undertaken an independent study among his own military analysts. Likewise, I've spoken to him desiring that he and such colleagues as he wish come before the committee and provide us with the advice that he'll be giving to the president.
Finally, the committee will benefit from the overall dialogue between the government of Iraq, our coalition partners, other nations, as the Security Council resolution progresses. That is the revised one.
By the way, want to guess the number of times "Afghanistan" was mentioned by a Senator during that 4.5-hour discussion? No need - the answer is "2".
“I’m going to pull out, or rather, redeploy to a committee chairmanship,” said Rep. Murtha, “We have to stop all the sniping and political bombshells. We need to change direction, because we can’t win this battle.”
In November, 2005, the White House was prepared to release an updated National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, spelling strategies for accomplishing short, medium, and long-term goals in the political, economic, and military/security "tracks" to that victory. The finished product could hardly be deemed an overly positive look at the situation "on the ground". In fact, it includes a sobering "laundry list" of the challenges faced and frankly acknowledges that victory will take years. The document as a whole would be an attempt to explain to Americans exactly how "victory" in Iraq was defined, and the plan for achieving it.
Democrats would have to scramble to provide some political theater to ensure that "plan" would never receive any attention from the public or the media. It wouldn't take much - the media would be perfectly willing to oblige. Marine Veteran John "Jack" Murtha was chosen to perform as ringmaster in that circus. From the November 28, 2005 issue of Newsweek:
Which was precisely what the Democratic leadership wanted Murtha to do. A close ally, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, was anxious to open a second axis of attack on Iraq—and was aware of his growing antagonism toward the war. The two met and agreed that he would make his case in private to the party conference. After that, on his own, he would introduce a resolution calling for withdrawal of troops from Iraq "at the earliest practicable date."This was a critical moment in Iraq - mere weeks away from the third of three elections that Americans and Iraqis had fought and died to make possible. But sometimes - at least for one ex-Marine - it's just gotta be "Party Uber Alles":
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy.Was he successful? The troops aren't home, of course, nor are they in Okinawa. But that was never the intent. Ask a random sampling of the people you encounter tomorrow if they've ever heard of the concepts presented in the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, and then ask them if they are familiar with "Jack" Murtha's position on Iraq.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
One that was destroyed almost immediately when congressional Republicans called the bluff:
GOP leaders hastily scheduled a vote on a measure to require the Bush administration to bring the troops home now, an idea proposed Thursday by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). The Republican-proposed measure was rejected 403 to 3, a result that surprised no one.But by the end of November, to steal the spotlight from that crushing defeat, trooper Nancy Pelosi would perform her part of the act - grabbing headlines by pretending to have considered the issue and decided to support "Murtha's position":
The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record on a proposal that the administration says would be equivalent to surrender. Recognizing a political trap, most Democrats -- including Murtha -- said from the start they would vote no.
WASHINGTON Nov 30, 2005 (AP)— House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday embraced a call by a prominent member of her rank-and-file to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, two weeks after she declined to endorse it.Except for when it comes time to shut up and vote. But that "no need to vote - I'm sure everyone's on our side" bit wouldn't work this week.
"We should follow the lead of Congressman John Murtha, who has put forth a plan to make American safer, to make our military stronger and to make Iraq more stable," Pelosi said. "That is what the American people and our troops deserve."
Pelosi, D-Calif., said she wouldn't call for a party caucus position on the plan by the Pennsylvania Democrat because "a vote on the war is an individual vote."
Nevertheless, she said: "I believe that a majority of our caucus clearly supports Mr. Murtha."
Lots of water under the bridge since then, but it shouldn't surprise anyone that Ms Pelosi threw her support behind Mr Murtha in the recent Democratic House leadership races. She owed him, plain and simple.
But it also surprises me not one bit that his fellow congressmen denied him the brass ring. When it comes to actual voting they've never much been on his side.
I did frame my response in terms of the Media War, which Al Qaeda and their sponsors think has gone rather well for them, in terms of manipulating western mainstream media (MSM). I view these kinds of appearances as offensive operations in the Media War; I’ll leave viewers to decide how effective they prove.Dadman is a fine public speaker. 'Course, he ain't as pretty as me, but damn few people are.
Great to see. I don't know how many editors for major dailies have their own blogs - but even if they all did I think Jules' would be one of the few worth reading.
Of course, back in the day, the attempted knock against blogs was that they didn't have editors. The counter argument was that said "limitation" is what made blogs great. My poor little head is now just a spinnin' trying to figure out what that means in the case of Crittenden's blog.
Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Oh I've been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, some day it's going to come
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again
Now I've been smiling lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller
Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train
Get your bags together, go bring your good friends too
Cause it's getting nearer, it soon will be with you
Now come and join the living, it's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer, soon it will all be true
Now I've been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can't we live in bliss
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again
- Cat Stevens (Click it! Click the Hippy's name!)
(Part two in a series. Part one is here.)
Although holding the biggest story of her career, Mapes (in her book Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power) confesses to some level of concern about the impact of that story on events in Iraq
Tuesday morning, the phone rang at Dan's house and the ground began to shift again. On the line was Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told Dan that he was calling personally to ask that the story be postponed once more. Myers said there were "deep, deep national security reasons to hold this piece." He implied that the American military's actions in Fallujah would somehow be compromised if we ran the story...But Bill Lawson, whose threats had failed to stop the Army's prosecution of his nephew, was not in a mood to wait:
Now the U.S. Marines were in the city, suffering and dying in the brutal almost hand-to-hand combat that marked the battle for control in Fallujah. The thought that we could hurt those American soldiers was devastating.
Roger spoke with Bill Lawson, Chip Fredericks uncle, who told him that he had prepared one hundred stamped and addressed envelopes with details of his nephew's case for other news organizations and editorial boards. He planed on sending them out after our story aired. Now he said he was prepared to send them that night, whether our story ran or not.With assurances that nothing would stop them from ultimately broadcasting the report, CBS thought they had negotiated a delay. But...
Out of the blue, Jeff Fager got a call from Lawrence DeRita, a public information person at the Pentagon, who angrily accused us of giving the photos to Sy Hersh. I ran to Jeff's office and stood listening outside the door. Jeff was yelling into the phone. This was rapidly spinning out of control. Roger Charles told me sagely, "Sy Hersh is getting us all in trouble."Hersh was perhaps most famous for his revelation and coverage of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. In an amazing coincidence, one of the members of the military defense team at the My Lai trial was Cpt. Gary Myers, who was now serving as Ivan Fredericks civilian attorney.
A final word from Mary Mapes:
We ran the story on April 28th.Hersh's lengthy story on the scandal, published online two days after the CBS broadcast, was based on interviews with Frederick and Myers.
Earlier on the 28th in Baghdad, reporters suddenly began asking questions (if not fully paying attention to the answers) about a topic they had ignored in previous months
Finally, as you remember, in January it was announced that a criminal investigation was initiated to examine allegations of detainee abuse at the Baghdad confinement facility at Abu Ghraib. The Criminal Investigation Division investigation began when an American soldier reported and turned over evidence of criminal activity to include photographs of detainee abuse. CBS television has acquired these images and may show some of the evidence tonight on "60 Minutes II."Military officials were in an awkward position on Abu Ghraib. Any information they released could be seen as prejudicial to the defense, and result in collapse of the legal proceedings. Senior officials risked charges of "undue command influence" if they made any statements at all. As should be obvious from the above, the press is well aware of this limitation. As should be obvious from subsequent events, they are more than willing to take full advantage of it. Thus that version of events would be lost in the noise surrounding the release of the photos.
Q Chicago Tribune. Can we find out a little bit more about these six military personnel -- have been detained/charged? When did this happen and what are they charged with? And men/women? And can you give us some of the circumstances? It sounds as if you're only offering this information because it's going to go out on TV tonight.
GEN. KIMMITT: That is not true, Christine. While you were gone, we had a full press conference talking about the six personnel who were detained -- who were arrested and charged with criminal charges. I can tell you that all those cases are going forward. Some the Article 32 investigation has been completed. Some the Article 32 investigation is continuing. We had a backgrounder while you were gone to explain the entire process that we would be going through, and that is a matter of the record. I'd be glad to share you the notes from that backgrounder after this press conference.
Q I would like some more information right now about the personnel. And what are they charged with? And when did this happen? And are they men or women?
GEN. KIMMITT: And again, as I said, we have spoken to the entire press corps in Baghdad for an entire presser, as well as a background brief. Be glad to share this with you afterwards.
Q Al-Zamani newspaper. I have a question regarding the six who have been detained and they have been under interrogation and investigation. What are the reasons that pushed you -- what are the reasons that you are not revealing to the people?
GEN. KIMMITT: ...With regards to the six personnel that were charged with criminal counts against them back in January, we can go over that, along with Christine, after this press conference so I can get all that information for you. We typically do not reveal their names. As we've said in the press conference when this was announced, we would wait until the Article 32 investigations were complete before a decision was made whether their names would in fact be revealed.
Q Is it true that we have reports that some of them have just used pictures in torturing the detainees? What is your role in order to take care of those detainees? And where is the security, your security, especially giving them chances to have all these pictures and also to show it to the public? So can't you just tell us why this happened?
GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. And that's exactly why we had the investigation.
Let's start from the beginning. In early January, a soldier came forward at Abu Ghraib Prison. That soldier said, "There are some things going on here that I can't live with. I am aware of some activities that are being conducted by the guards and some of the interrogators that are inconsistent with my job and inconsistent with my values as a soldier." That soldier came forward. He presented evidence to his chain of command. The chain of command brought it forward. General Sanchez, upon hearing it, immediately started a criminal investigation.
I don't remember the exact date I stood in front of this podium and talked about the outcome of that investigation. So that outcome is now -- has resulted in criminal charges being levied against six soldiers.
To answer your other question, this does not reflect the vast majority of coalition soldiers, vast majority of American soldiers that are operating out of Abu Ghraib Prison. We have had thousands, tens of thousands of detainees in Abu Ghraib. We have understood that a very, very small number were involved in this incident, and of the hundreds and hundreds of guards they have out there, a small number were involved in the guards.
I'm not going to stand up here and make excuses for those soldiers. I'm not going to stand up here and apologize for those soldiers. If what they did is proven in a court of law, that is incompatible with the values we stand for as a professional military force, and it's values that we don't stand for as human beings. They will be tried before a court, and then those decisions will be made.
Meanwhile, William Lawson made good his promise to release hundreds of copies of documents to the press. In addition to the photographs were Frederick's journals, begun after his questioning in January, that would immediately become the foundation for the "torture narrative" favored by the press (and others) to this day. The AP:
The writings were supplied by Frederick's uncle, William Lawson, who said Frederick wanted to document what was happening to him.
While the full impact of the Abu Ghraib scandal would not be known for years, little time would elapse before the first effects of the growing storm surrounding the story would be felt. In Baghdad and Washington, a debate was raging as to the fate of Fallujah. One faction wanted the Marines to finish the mission - the other favored handover of responsibilities to the "Fallujah Brigade" - a group of locals who could perhaps deal with the terrorists in the midst of the city.
From Bing West's book No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
The entire American military effort in Iraq stood on trial for the injustices and criminal acts of a few. The president said the matter deserved the most immediate and thorough attention of the Pentagon. Congress demanded an examination of the policy directives by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Gen Abizaid received queries about the orders he gave his subordinates, while LtGen Sanchez became the object of several high-level investigations. The political hurricane swept through Washington on April 29, blowing away any senior review of the precipitate decision to turn Fallujah over to the former Iraqi generals.On May 1, 2004, the United States withdrew from Fallujah, announcing that they were turning over any remaining operations to the Fallujah Brigade.
Days later, yet another graphic video would make headlines. From No True Glory:
Twenty-three-year-old Nicholas Berg, a friendly Californian - part entrepreneur, part youthful wanderer - was traveling by himself in Baghdad when he disappeared in mid-April. In mid-May, the terrorist Zarqawi posted a video on his web site, Al Ansar. The grainy pictures showed a bearded and gaunt Berg, clad in an orange prisoner jumpsuit, sitting in a white plastic chair in front of a beige wall. Five men clad in black, with facemasks and green chest vests holding AK clips, stood behind Berg as Zarqawi proclaimed retaliation for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Then shouting "God is great!" Zarqawi drew a long knife and leaped upon Berg. There was a scream, and a few seconds later Berg's severed head was placed on his bloody torso. The gory videotape made the prime-time news on Al Jazeera.The Fallujah Brigade would fail, and the city would experience months of chaos and bloodshed under the virtual control of al Qaeda fighters who made it their headquarters in Iraq. But as West makes clear, Fallujah wasn't the only campaign abandoned by the Americans in the wake of Abu Ghraib
At the beginning of May, the spotlight of national publicity had swung completely away from Fallujah and onto the Abu Ghraib scandal. The prison abuse story also pushed Sadr's rebellion to the back pages. MajGen Dempsey had backed Sadr and his bruised militia into a corner in Najaf. Instead of arresting him, the Iraqi politicians agreed to let him go free. The reason they gave was that the Coalition could ill afford to make him a martyr at a time when the Arab press was showing the Abu Ghraib pictures as proof that Americans were the oppressors in Iraq. Sadr was allowed to leave Najaf and resume his plotting, with the warrant for his arrest abated.To this day Sadr is seen by many as the greatest obstacle to peace in Iraq.
February, 2004, saw 21 US deaths in Iraq. Twelve were due to enemy action, nine were accidental. But in the background, events were already transpiring that would ensure that such a low number would never be seen again.
In a December, 2005 interview, Army 1st Lt. Parker Hahn, a nurse at Landstuhl Medical Center who arrived at Abu Ghraib after the abuse but before the CBS broadcast of the story, described the impact of the release of the photos on operations there:
- You’ve also spent some time downrange. Where were you from January 2004 to January 2005?Excluding casualty figures for major combat operations, prior to the 60 Minutes broadcast of the Abu Ghraib photos US forces averaged 45 deaths per month in Iraq. Since then, only three months have seen numbers that low.
Primarily, I was at the Abu Ghraib prison. I was part of the 53-person team — 53 give or take — that set up the first hospital there to treat the detainees. I was there until end of September. Then, I was involved with the travel nursing program of Iraq. I went to Camp Victory. I spent time at Baghdad in the international zone. I spent time at Balad at the Air Force hospital and then spent time at Mosul.
- What was it like to be at Abu Ghraib amongst all the controversy, the photos, etc., with so much attention focused on the detainees and their treatment there?
In February, we started setting up at Abu Ghraib, and the stories broke in April, I believe. At that point of course, the frequency of attacks increased. It got bad. We had [mass casualties] of 120 and 109 patients. Mortars landed in the detainee camps. Our primary mission was to treat detainees. It was very frustrating because every news reporter that came through, every VIP that came through from all over these countries, the only thing they wanted to know was what we did with the abused prisoners. We’re like, “We haven’t even seen any abused prisoners since we’ve been here. There are none.” I never saw one the whole nine months I was there … It was very frustrating for my soldiers to have to witness all this, and the good didn’t get out about what we were doing.
By June, 2004, the Fallujah Brigades would be an obvious failure.
It was not supposed to be like this. Under an agreement made last month with U.S. Marine commanders, a new force called the Fallujah Brigade, led by former officers from Saddam Hussein's demobilized army, was to safeguard the city. The unruly gunmen -- many of them insurgents who battled the Marines through most of April -- were supposed to give way to Iraqi police and civil defense units.That Washington Post story includes an account of the reporters' experience attempting to leave Fallujah:
Instead, the brigade stays outside of town in tents, the police cower in their patrol cars and the civil defense force nominally occupies checkpoints on the city's fringes but exerts no influence over the masked insurgents who operate only a few yards away.
The Marines gave the brigade the task of apprehending the killers of four American contractors whose bodies were burned, mutilated and hung from a bridge in March, capturing foreign fighters and disarming the insurgents. None of that has happened.
Moreover, continuing mayhem on Fallujah's outskirts raises the question of whether the Americans have simply created a safe haven for anti-occupation fighters. On Saturday, a Fallujah-based group calling itself the Mujaheddin Battalions announced it was transferring its fight to Baghdad -- but was still committed to the truce in its home city.
A similar dynamic has slowed the U.S. pursuit of Shiite Muslim rebels in southern Iraq, where fear of igniting a broader revolt has stayed the hand of U.S. forces. So far, two cease-fires have been called in the south.
At the brigade headquarters, a group of recruits stood idly among new U.S.-installed tents in a small military complex. Brigade members said that they had not entered Fallujah for several days but insisted that the masked men had no authority to stop anyone. "We are all cooperating, so it does not make any difference if we are there or not," said one guard....with an ironic "happy" ending:
The brigade has been billed as a trained unit of former Iraqi soldiers, with some additions of Fallujah fighters. At their base, a group of brigade members appeared to be unimpressed by their chain of command. They repeatedly interrupted a portly man, who said he was the commander on duty, when he advised us to move north, away from the city. The men insisted instead on escorting us back into Fallujah, and from there, would lead us to the highway. They said there was no way to get on the road to Baghdad by heading north. "Come with us. We will protect you, no problem," a bearded man said.
The suggestion appeared odd, since the Fallujah police had said there was a gravel on-ramp to the highway just a few miles north of the brigade camp. We turned down the offer.
Instead, we decided to follow a U.S. military convoy just a few hundred yards away. The convoy had stopped because someone had spotted a roadside bomb, and the troops were waiting for engineers to arrive and blow it up. The Fallujah Brigade members then tried to block the Post vehicle from proceeding when the U.S. troop convoy moved out. They allowed us to pass only when a U.S. military Humvee topped by a menacing machine gun rolled back to the brigade headquarters to see what was going on.
On the highway, the military convoy peeled off to travel to its home base just east of Fallujah. The Washington Post vehicle continued toward Baghdad. Ten miles down the road, the orange-and-white taxi carrying the gunmen appeared and began firing.
Despite damage to the vehicle, it eventually limped to Abu Ghraib prison, about 20 miles west of Baghdad, where U.S. military police gave us refuge. Few residents of the notorious facility probably ever entered the compound as happily as we did.
Shortly after the 2004 US Presidential elections, the "second battle for Fallujah" would begin.
During the battle, Corporal Michael Hibbert, USMC, led his squad through what appeared to be a warehouse. From No True Glory:
The third door he kicked in led to a film studio with the green and black flag of Zarqawi's terrorist gang, Al Ansar, on the wall and black blood on the floor where Nicholas Berg had been decapitated in May.
Staff Sgt Ivan Frederick entered a guilty plea at the start of his court martial in August, 2004, ensuring that no evidence or testimony from a potentially lengthy trial would appear in the media. Gary Myers, his lawyer, was at his side as he called for all those other guilty parties to follow his example. He didn't clarify who he meant. After he was sentenced to eight years Myers called the sentence "excessive" and said he intended to appeal.
Although only one of the released photos included Frederick, sensational publicity generated over the case for which he literally "made headlines" (with considerable help) had transformed him from an unnamed "subject of whispers" to a figure of world wide revulsion.
Roger Charles, whose "spare time - not that he had any" work for Soldiers for the Truth brought the Abu Ghraib photos to CBS, became leader of SFTT upon the death of co-founder David Hackworth. The CBS military consultant described his group's mission to the Washington Post:
"Our mission is simple," the soft-spoken Charles said. "We want the best available training, leadership and equipment for our kids. That's all our agenda is, the well-being of the grunts who are on the bloody end of the spear -- the ones kicking in doors in Fallujah, driving convoys from Baghdad to Basra and freezing on the plains in Afghanistan. The kids that do the heavy lifting, the fighting, the bleeding, the dying."
Mapes' and Rather's careers would effectively end following their involvement in the broadcast of crudely forged documents relating to President Bush's National Guard career. But in May, 2005, Rather and Mapes received the Peabody Award for their work on the Abu Ghraib story one year prior.
With thanks to two former colleagues who left CBS in the wake of a scandal, CBS News' Dan Rather accepted broadcast journalism's most prestigious honor on Monday for the "60 Minutes Wednesday" story that exposed the shocking conditions inside Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.60 Minutes II was cancelled by CBS, failing in ratings against ABC's drama Lost.
In one of his first public appearances since leaving the network's anchor chair in March, Rather and Mary Mapes received the Peabody Award at a luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan.
Rather took pains to acknowledge Mapes and former CBS News senior vp Betsy West (who also attended the ceremony), among others. Mapes was fired by CBS News, and West was forced to resign in the wake of another "60 Minutes Wednesday" report, which aired in September and used questionable documents as part of the sourcing for a highly critical report on President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.
"They did most of the work, bore the heaviest burdens and took most of the criticism," Rather said of Mapes and the other producers who did the front-line reporting on the Abu Ghraib story. "It took guts, and they had them."
Rather received extended applause after telling the crowd, "Never give up, never back up, never give in while pursuing the dream of integrity filled journalism that matters."
Moqtada al Sadr is still at large.
Next: Porn Squad Commandos
If the 2006 U.S. elections were a "referendum on Iraq" - who won? "The Democrats" of course - that's an easy answer. But here we've always asked the tough questions, and the full answer to that one isn't so obvious. This is part three in a series - part one is here, part two is here. More will follow.
Over the weekend the AP reported al Qaeda's response to the U.S. elections:
Al Qaeda Gloats Over U.S. ElectionBut New York Times readers only got part of the story - if they found it on page 8 (see if you notice what's been added, and what's left out...)
BAGHDAD -- The head of al Qaeda's Iraq operations yesterday gloated in a new audio tape over the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and praised U.S. voters for punishing President Bush and the Republicans in Tuesday's midterm elections.
Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, in the first public statement by a senior al Qaeda figure since the vote, said in an Internet-posted recording that his group now had 22,000 armed fighters and reserves in Iraq and taunted Mr. Bush not to copy Mr. Rumsfeld and "flee the battlefield."
Al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, urged the United States to stay in Iraq so his group would have more opportunities to kill American troops.
"We haven't had enough of your blood yet," he boasted. "We call on the lame duck not to hurry his escape the way the defense secretary did.
"We will not rest from our jihad until ... we have blown up the filthiest house -- which is called the White House," al-Muhajir said.
Qaeda Official Is Said To Taunt U.S. On TapeThat's all part of the script for al Qaeda's "Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America" - use the American media to "throw fear into the American people's hearts".
BAGHDAD, Nov. 10 — As five more American servicemen were reported killed on Thursday and Friday, an audio recording purportedly from the new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq urges the United States to “stay on the battlefield” because “we didn’t get enough of your blood.”
The recording, broadcast on the Internet on Friday but not independently verified, taunts President Bush as a “stupid” leader whose Iraq policy was repudiated by voters, and it warns that the terrorist group now has 12,000 fighters at the ready and 10,000 more who are available but not yet outfitted for combat.
The new deaths occurred in Baghdad and Anbar Province, where an overwhelming majority of American deaths have occurred. Two soldiers from the 89th Military Police Brigade were killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad. A third soldier, assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), was also killed Thursday by a roadside bomb near Haditha.
Two marines were killed in Anbar Province. One of them, from Regimental Combat Team Five, died Thursday from enemy fire. The other, from Regimental Combat Team Seven, died Friday from what the military described only as “nonhostile causes.”
The United States military suffered at least 26 deaths in the first 10 days of November, a pace only somewhat diminished from the violence that killed 105 American troops in October, the deadliest month since the beginning of 2005.
At least 18 bodies were found in the capital on Friday, an Interior Ministry official said. Such reports have become commonplace, but they tend to greatly understate the true measure of violence in Baghdad, where at one point this summer the death rate reached almost 100 per day, according to research by the United Nations.
On that subject, officials from the Iraqi Health Ministry offered a slight correction to an earlier estimate of the number of Iraqis killed since the war began. The true number is 100,000 to 150,000, a ministry official in Baghdad said Friday. The day before, the Iraqi health minister, speaking to reporters in Europe, estimated that 150,000 had been killed.
The audio message, broadcast Friday on Islamist Web sites and attributed to Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the new leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, suggested that victory was close at hand for Sunni militants who have called for an Islamic state in Iraq.
The new Qaeda chief, who American officials say took command after American warplanes killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in June, urged the Bush administration to “not be in a rush to escape, as your lame defense minister did,” an apparent reference to the departing defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld.
The Qaeda leader, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, warned of further American bloodshed and questioned claims by American politicians that they would support a troop pullout. But he said American voters took a step in the right direction by recognizing the “treachery” of the Bush’s administration’s policies associated with Israel.
A translation by The Associated Press of the recording mentioned a threat to blow up the White House. The White House spokesman, Tony Snow, declined comment.
There's no denying that plan is working - American media have done little to acknowledge its existence and (wittingly or not) much to help them achieve their goals.
But have U.S. politicians responded to al Qaeda's latest media blitz?
From President Bush's weekend radio address:
The elections will bring changes to Washington. But one thing has not changed: America faces brutal enemies who have attacked us before and want to attack us again. I have a message for these enemies: Do not confuse the workings of American democracy with a lack of American will. Our Nation is committed to bringing you to justice, and we will prevail.And here's the Democrats response, from Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Iraq is the central front in this war on terror. I look forward to listening to ideas from the new leaders of Congress on the best way to support our troops on the front lines -- and win the war on terror. I also look forward to hearing recommendations on the way forward in Iraq from a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton.
In the meantime, I have made an important change to my national security team. On Wednesday, I accepted Don Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense, and announced my intent to nominate Bob Gates to replace him. Bob is a proven leader who has served six Presidents -- four Republicans and two Democrats. As a former CIA Director and the current President of Texas A&M University, he has experience leading large and complex organizations, and he has shown that he is an agent of change. As Secretary of Defense, he will provide a fresh outlook on our strategy in Iraq, and what we need to do to prevail.
On Tuesday, Americans across the country made it clear that they want a new direction in Iraq and in the war on terror. Voters also made it clear that they want defense policies that are tough and smart. Our agenda includes a new direction in defending America at home and around that world. We will listen to the military, take their advice, and ensure that our troops and agencies have the tools and equipment they need to defend our freedom. And we will keep our promises to our brave men and women when their service is done.A careful read will reveal that while the President does not definitively argue for "stay the course", Dr Dean is not arguing for "cut and run". Democrats - with an increased say in US policy, are now confronted with the very real fact that they could be perceived as architects of defeat - as opposed to the pre-election "Cassandra" position they no longer enjoy. Still, they've promised "change" - an amorphous concept that is actually a near-daily reality in Iraq, and has no significant current Republican opposition. But while U.S. politicians move slowly towards a new, improved, compromise definition of "change", al Qaeda is able to act fast in declaring victory.
Americans also chose hope and opportunity over fear and cynicism, returning Democrats to power in Congress, state houses and legislatures with a clear call for honest, competent leadership, accountability and change in Iraq, and economic policies that put working families first.
This fits in with another aspect of that "media invasion" - divide and conquer America. Sap the will of half the people, and the other half will not be able to confront a (seemingly) distant enemy while being obstructed on the home front. Until now that split has been defined by political party affiliation. But any upcoming "compromise" will likely have the interesting impact of alienating half of Republican voters and half of the Democrats -each for different reasons, of course, but this promises a potentially interesting variation from the pre-election partisan separation.
But worse than that "new direction" might be the perception of no action whatsoever, and unless American politicians act swiftly, we have months uncertainty ahead - months that al Qaeda is prepared to use to their advantage.
Here's the potential beginning of the death spiral: As Americans debate, Iraqis lose faith that Americans will stand with them long enough to secure their country. This will lead to the strengthening of regional (or in Baghdad, neighborhood) militias at the cost of the government forces - Iraqi Army and Police. American troops attached to those units will be first to see the tipping point. While not seeing the elections themselves as reason for despair, they will recognize the reality of any second- or third-order results on their mission, and the futility of their efforts. "Battles" - primarily for external support of and internal fortitude from their charges - once thought worth the effort will become increasingly hopeless, and less frequently waged. The number of empty spaces in formations will grow...
None of this will be invisible to the Iraqi population - or al Qaeda, whose task will become increasingly easy. Along with their media strategy, it's worthwhile to review their "military" strategy that it complements so well. Its brutal simplicity requires very few "soldiers" to implement, and determined opposition - civil and military - to fail. (Undermining that opposition is the complimentary purpose of the media strategy, and it's working quite well.)
Meanwhile, back in Washington, politicians - and other Americans - will spend precious time debating whose fault it all is. And any hope for solutions will likely be sabotaged by a press that touts al Qaeda successes and body counts without any balance - as the New York Times does above - portrays any tentative steps towards American political compromise as anything but, and immediately discounts any talk of American commitment as lacking credibility, as the LA Times does here:
Top commander in Iraq says U.S. won't abandon its missionA detailed recitation of the death count follows - less any victories by the good guys. Victory is the bad word. Success is unobtainable. A "war on terror" is un-winnable. Use those terms and your credibility is questionable. - it's only been a few days from the American elections, but thus far that trend in American media has not changed.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. may soon be leaving his post. Around the nation, dozens are killed.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, voiced confidence Saturday that the United States would not abandon its mission in this violence-racked country amid a postelection reevaluation of Iraq strategy.
"The weeks and months ahead will require courage and determination," Casey said at a Veterans Day naturalization ceremony for 75 U.S. troops at Baghdad's Camp Victory. "But succeed we will."
Washington political insiders have speculated that both Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who was also at the ceremony, could leave their posts because of the Republican Party's defeat at the polls Tuesday. Both men quickly left the ceremony after reading prepared statements.
At least 40 Iraqis and two European soldiers were reported killed in Iraq on Saturday.
A clock is ticking for Americans and Iraqis alike - fast action and concrete statements of intent from politicians is called for. Accurate reporting of progress is essential. If that seems difficult, its because it is.
If that seems impossible, its because you're letting al Qaeda's strategy defeat you.
Update: Opening salvos, from today's New York Times:
Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed on Sunday to use their new Congressional majority to press for troop reductions in Iraq within a matter of months, stepping up pressure on the administration just as President Bush is to be interviewed by a bipartisan panel examining future strategy for the war.These are what's known as starting positions.
The Democrats — the incoming majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada; the incoming Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan; and the incoming Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware — said a phased redeployment of troops would be their top priority when the new Congress convenes in January, even before an investigation of the conduct of the war.
“We need to begin a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq in four to six months,” Mr. Levin said in an appearance on the ABC News program “This Week.” In a telephone interview later, Mr. Levin added, “The point of this is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to solve their own problems.”
The White House signaled a willingness to listen to the Democrats’ proposals, with Joshua B. Bolten, the chief of staff, saying in two television appearances that the president was open to “fresh ideas” and a “fresh look.” But Mr. Bolten said he could not envision the White House signing on to a plan setting a timetable for the withdrawal of troops.
“You know, we’re willing to talk about anything,” he said on “This Week.” “I don’t think we’re going to be receptive to the notion there’s a fixed timetable at which we automatically pull out, because that could be a true disaster for the Iraqi people. But what we’ve always been prepared to do, and remain prepared to do, is indeed what Senators Levin and Biden were talking about, is put pressure on the Iraqi government to take over themselves.”
The clock ticks...
A translation from the Iraqi media, by Haider Ajina.
The following is my translation of a head line and article which appeared in Iraq's 'Nahrain' on November 12.
'A day filled with celebration, Nejaf Governor opens electricity generation facility'
'Amidst happiness and celebrations by the people of Nidaa’ area in Nejaf the governor of Nejaf Mr. Asaad Sultan Abu-Kellal opened ‘Mielad Power Generation’ plant on Sunday Nov. 12th. This plant was completed with in 10 days, and did not go over budget or time. Locals were sacrificing sheep (an old tradition of celebration comes from the prophet Abraham, much of the meat is given to the needy) passing out Halvah (sweets) and juice, showing their happiness with this project, which will serve its surrounding areas. With the governor were other dignitaries, Mr. Fuad Almusawi and the engineering and building teams. In his speech the governor said, ‘we have taken an oath before God almighty to not waste any opportunity to serve you. You are in the forefront, and our duty is to serve you so you may live a life of comfort and dignity. The governor also promised further projects and improvement for these poor neighborhoods. After the opening ceremonies, the governor met with local VIPs and residents to listen to their complaints and experiences'.
Outside the Sunni triangle and Baghdad, much of Iraq is experiencing this type of infrastructure development and dedication by the locally elected officials. Nejaf province and Kurdistan are excellent examples of what Iraqi can do once security and the rule of law prevail. I have never heard any Arab politician saying that he intends to serve his people. In Saudi Arabia the locals come to a tent were a prince sits. The locals shower him with praise and kiss his hand to get some help. I see no dignity in this type of ruling. Imagine Sadam, or any member of his government, listening to the complaints or experiences of Iraqis. In other news about Nejaf, the local government is encouraging people to install solar panels on their homes and is helping them with incentives. Innovations and problem solving is flourishing in the quieter areas of Iraq.
(Thats today's news from the civil side. Haider also reveals some under-reported Iraqi military successes here)
Some of you have probably already heard about a New York "human rights group" that intends to sue Donald Rumsfeld in Germany for "for mistreating a 9/11 plotter". (In some versions of the story the focus is on "German Courts" - but more on that in a moment.)
Here's the coverage from the New York Daily News:
Rummy's Got A New Woe--Torture Suit By 9/11 ThugThis is little more than a publicity stunt, of course. Michelle Malkin offers perspective.
WASHINGTON — A New York human rights group plans to sue Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for mistreating a 9/11 plotter and a former American general intends to back up the case, Time magazine reported yesterday.
The Center for Constitutional Rights will file the claim in Germany next week on behalf of Mohammad Al-Qahtani and 11 Iraqis who claim they were tortured in Baghdad’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. German courts claim a “universal jurisdiction” for war crimes.
Before you go ballistic on GermanyHaving lived there I can assure you Germany has been a more reliable partner in the war on terror than most news stories would have you believe.
The German government isn't filing the lawsuit. It's 11 Iraqis and a Saudi who went court-shopping and filed in Germany because the country "provides 'universal jurisdiction' allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world." A previous lawsuit was filed on similar grounds and was dismissed. Yes, Germany has its share of weasels. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn't one of them and outrage at the country is premature.
But that "Germany angle" is something of a red herring. It's more worthwhile to examine the (geographically American-based) "group behind the group" - the "Center for Constitutional Rights". The Capital Research Center offers this analysis of the group (via Stop the ACLU):
The Center for Constitutional Rights is openly anti-American and pro-terrorist. Groups suspected of ties to terrorism give money to CCR. The granddaughter of the executed Communist spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg works there. The late (second) wife of the traitor Alger Hiss left money to CCR in her will. Actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon fund CCR, as does singer Natalie Merchant and 1940s Communist relic Pete Seeger (the folk singer from The Weavers). Insurance magnate Peter B. Lewis, a kingpin of George Soros’s “Democracy Alliance,” writes big checks to CCR, as does Soros’s Open Society Institute.This is not the first time left wing extremists have joined with terrorists in the war against the free world, or worked "in the background" (with media cover describing them as "human rights" or "veterans" groups) - as I've noted before, Leftist groups and Islamic terrorists view each other as "useful idiots" in their respective eternal struggles against humanity.
Although CCR is headquartered in New York City’s Greenwich Village, it’s not a bunch of latte-sipping do-nothing artsy dreamers who sit around comparing notes on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx. These are dedicated revolutionaries who, quite literally, want to overthrow the American system of government. Look on their website and you’ll see the same kind of revolutionary Communist catch-phrases that you’ll find in the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Mao Zedong.
Its current president, Michael Ratner, is an adjunct law professor at Columbia University. He served as special counsel to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a Marxist who was overthrown in 2004. Ratner is a classic limousine liberal, or more accurately, a Rolls Royce revolutionary.
Retired Army Col. Janis Karpinski is the star witness backing the detainees...
Before Bush demoted her from brigadier general because of the abuse, Karpinski commanded the Long Island-based 800th Military Police Brigade that ran all of Iraq’s prisons, including Abu Ghraib.
This disgrace to the uniform hasn't missed a chance to attack her country since she was busted for her contribution to the abuse in January, 2004.
In his final report, Major General Antonio Taguba blamed Karpinski for the abuse by not paying attention to the daily operations of the prison. According to Taguba, Karpinski rarely visited the prisons during her tenure, and she reviewed and signed reports about claims of abuse without following up to make sure her orders were carried out. As a consequence, the abuse was allowed to continue and her subordinates developed a lax attitude towards protocol. Brigadier General Karpinski was cited throughout the Taguba Report for repeated violations of Army procedure, good management and exercising her command as directed by Army regulations. During interviews it was reported within the Taguba report that Brigadier General Karpinski was disconnected from the reality of the situation in her area of command.That was four months before CBS broadcast the photos that transformed the story from an Army disciplinary action to a world wide scandal that changed the course of the war in Iraq."14. (U) During the course of this investigation I conducted a lengthy interview with BG Karpinski that lasted over four hours, and is included verbatim in the investigation Annexes. BG Karpinski was extremely emotional during much of her testimony. What I found particularly disturbing in her testimony was her complete unwillingness to either understand or accept that many of the problems inherent in the 800th MP Brigade were caused or exacerbated by poor leadership and the refusal of her command to both establish and enforce basic standards and principles among its soldiers. (ANNEX 45 and the Personal Observations of the Interview Team)General Karpinski was issued a Memorandum of Admonishment by LTG Sanchez, Commander, CJTF-7, on 17 January 2004.
For veterans and non-veterans alike, on topics of your choosing.
Free speech, on the day set aside to honor those who helped make it possible.
I believe this is true, but can we get a Democrat to confirm it1?
BAGHDAD, Iraq - President Jalal Talabani said Thursday that he had been assured by Democrat congressional leaders during a recent visit to Washington that they had no plans for a quick withdrawal of U.S. forces.Here's an indirect sort of confirmation, in the form of a trial balloon:
Talabani, a Kurd whose post is ceremonial, said Democrats also backed the idea of placing U.S. troops in bases while putting Iraqis in charge of security in and around cities.
“They all told me that they want the success of Iraq’s democratically elected government and continued support for the Iraqi people to defeat terrorism,” Talabani said about his trip to the United States in late September as many were predicting the Democratic congressional triumph in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
“One of them (a Democrat leader) told me that any early withdrawal will be a catastrophe for the United States and the world,” Talabani, speaking from his northern hometown of Sulaimaniyah, told the Dubai-based Al-Jazeera satellite broadcaster.
Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.Carville's talking money, of course, but tossing Dean in favor of the "moderate" (actually to the right of some Republicans) Ford would signal the Party's embrace of the American's who helped return them to a majority in the House.
The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.
Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."
The rise of what could ultimately be called the "Dean wing" in the Democratic party began following the 2002 election defeat, when extremists in the "base" insisted the party had "failed to deliver it's message" - and that it had abandoned it's principles in support of the pending war in Iraq. The growth of that faction was coincident with the failure of the party through the 2004 elections. This year's vote reflected a "new direction" indeed, as "moderates" like Ford, Webb, and Joe Lieberman proved the Party didn't need the presumed "base" as bad as they thought.
By the way, Republcans are positioned to repeat the Dems' '02 mistake - signs of that are beginning to appear too.
If you act fast, you can win this collection of USAF Tunderbirds memorabilia. Proceeds go to support the USAF Valour-IT team.
After a strong start, the USAF team looks likely to finish in fourth place (again), but it ain't over.
Send your donation by mail to:
Project Valour-IT Fund
1150 N Loop 1604 W, Suite 108-493
San Antonio, TX 78248
The President announced today he will award a posthumous Medal of Honor to Marine Corporal Jason Dunham.
One day after announcing his intention to step down as United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld appeared as guest speaker at Kansas State University. His appearance was part of the Landon Lecture Series.
Transcripts have been made available via the DoD, but to fully appreciate the Secretary's remarks (and the Secretary's reception by the crowd - well stocked with members of the large local military community) you'll want to watch the video (Real Media).
A few excerpts are illustrative of the man. The first won't be found in the written transcript:
I certainly appreciate this invitation. I hope all of you you appreciate how I've managed so skillfully public affairs for this this event. I wanted to put the Landon Lectures on the map, so did my best. (applause) Glad I could help out.The next comes during reflection on his career:
Today marks the 17th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall -- the most visible symbol of the end of an era and a bankrupt ideology. When thousands of Berliners climbed over that wall to reunite with friends and family, they went in one direction, to the West, and the free world vividly understood what it was it had been fighting for all those years.Another measure of a man is the caliber of those who oppose him. Rumsfeld's enemies were generally a miserable and craven lot.
If the 2006 U.S. elections were a "referendum on Iraq" - who won? "The Democrats" of course - that's an easy answer. But here we've always asked the tough questions, and the full answer to that one isn't so obvious. This is part two in a series - part one is here. More will follow
Last April a group of six retired generals made headlines with a call for the dismissal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Other retired senior officers quickly countered with endorsements of the Secretary - but while their positions were subsequently ignored, in the months that followed few stories about any aspect of Iraq would lack a quote from one of the "gang of six".
But last April, even as the original six generals explained that their efforts were independent and uncoordinated, and expressed their surprise that their fellow retired leaders had chosen the same moment to express their own misgivings, Senator Hillary Clinton called for Senate committee Hearings:
The Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on a request by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to take testimony from six retired generals who have called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's removal, the panel's chairman said.That request was voted down. But working quickly in response, Senate Democrats were able to arrange unnofficial hearings a mere five months later - just a few weeks before the U.S. elections:
Shunned by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Batiste and two other retired officers spoke before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a rump group with little legislative clout but access to a proper Senate hearing room. And Batiste made up for lost time.Strangely enough, although the anti-Rumsfeld generals had been frequently quoted over the intervening months, and the elections were looming large on the American calendar, the "show trial" received scant notice in the American media.
"Donald Rumsfeld is not a competent wartime leader," said Batiste, wearing a pinstripe suit, calling himself a "lifelong Republican" and bearing a slight resemblance to Oliver North. "He surrounds himself with like-minded and compliant subordinates who do not grasp the importance of the principles of war, the complexities of Iraq or the human dimension of warfare. . . . Bottom line: His plan allowed the insurgency to take root and metastasize to where it is today."
Further, Batiste charged, Rumsfeld "reduced force levels to unacceptable levels, micromanaged the war" and created an environment where U.S. troops "are doing unconscionable things."
One likely reason? The generals were able to give more specific information regarding what they would do differently than Secretary Rumsfeld - and those actions were not to the liking of their assumed supporters:
...Batiste and his colleagues offered their solution: more troops, more money and more time in Iraq.Go back and read the first links I've provided above and you'll discover - if you didn't know already - that the generals' criticism of Donald Rumsfeld was little more than the sort of inter-service competition for defense funds that has defined the upper levels of the Pentagon for years (and that Rumsfeld tried to eliminate). While this year's rhetoric admittedly rose to new and desperate levels, the underlying argument was perhaps thinner than most previous "peace time" funding debates. The eternal reality is that all services could use more money - the Air Force is currently attempting to slash 40,000 active duty members from it's pay rolls to enable funding of new systems - even as retired Army generals insist that their service is being short changed in favor of another.
"We must mobilize our country for a protracted challenge," Batiste warned.
"We better be planning for at least a minimum of a decade or longer," contributed retired Marine Col. Thomas Hammes.
"We are, conservatively, 60,000 soldiers short," added retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of building the Iraqi Security Forces.
Although getting Rumsfeld out of the picture was only step one, media coverage of the demands of those particular retired generals will probably vanish now that half their goals have been achieved - the remaining steps of the plan are an embarrassment to those who previously offered a large platform and amplification system for their call to arms.
But a "new direction" has been promised, and now it must be found. So Democrats are rapidly seeking a voice to fill the silence left now that "their" generals have been sent home with "mission accomplished". Here's one contender:
George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June.McGovern hints that he's talked to some other retired flag officers while researching a new book (on sale now for less than 10 bucks a copy - get yours today):
If Democrats don't take steps to end the war in Iraq soon, they won't be in power very long, McGovern told reporters before a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
McGovern's plan - as written in his new book, "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now" - also calls for the United States to remove hired mercenaries from the region, push for the removal of British troops and establish a temporary transitional force, similar to police, made up of Muslims from the region.Perhaps not what the "gang of six" had in mind, but their part in the play is over. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
"I've talked with a lot of senior officers - generals and admirals - in preparation for this book, that say this war can't be won, that the problems now are not military problems," McGovern told reporters. "There isn't going to be any decisive victory in Iraq."
...from Robert Stokely: The Cost of Freedom.
If the 2006 U.S. elections were a "referendum on Iraq" - who won? "The Democrats" of course - that's an easy answer. But here we've always asked the tough questions, and the full answer to that one isn't so obvious.
Remember the 2004 U.S. elections? For President, of course, but also the same number of House and Senate seats as this year's. In the run up, all the talk was of Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq. Everyone knew the election was about Iraq.
Then an odd thing happened - post-Republican victory news stories revealed that most voters were concerned with "values" and "morals" - it wasn't about Iraq at all!
The same thing happened in Australia, of course (and was ignored by American media who were busy declaring that the pending U.S. election would be about Iraq). Then one year later, Iraq would be cited as part of the reason for the loss of some seats for Tony Blair's Labour party in the British elections, but generally ignored in consideration of the fact that by the (indirect) will of the electorate, Blair was still Prime Minister.
Now fast forward to today, where post-voting polls have determined that Iraq actually was in fourth place among voter's concerns - with barely over a third declaring Iraq an extremely important issue.
The exit polls showed that 42 percent of voters called corruption an extremely important issue in their choices at the polls, followed by terrorism at 40 percent, the economy at 39 percent and the war in Iraq at 37 percent.So of course, as in 2004 in America and Australia, and 2005 in Britain, headlines are downplaying the significance of Iraq on the latest elections, right?
Of course not - 2006 has been declared "a referendum on Iraq" - apparently the first in history of the English speaking world*. Whether the media (or pundits) liked the results or not, Iraq was an issue then, and still is today. But now that referendum has passed, Americans have spoken, and we'd better listen to what exactly they said.
By the numbers (per CNN):
Nationally, 57 percent of voters said they disapproved of the war in Iraq, while only 41 percent approved.And the AP (perhaps citing the same exit polls, of course) reported similar results:
Polls of voters found a strong majority - about six in 10 - disapproved of the war in Iraq.But as with "values" "morals" and "corruption", that "disapproved" is open to interpretation. Fortunately, the AP adds some (limited clarity):
About a fourth of those polled said they sided with Democrats on wanting to withdraw some troops from Iraq and another three in 10 said they want all troops withdrawn.I said "limited" clarity because assuming no overlap among those two groups (if the word "another" is used correctly above), these numbers imply a third group of Americans - and at 45% they are larger than either of the other two - who want no troops brought home. But since the AP isn't talking about them, we'll turn our attention to the other two.
I'm not aware of the Democrats plan to withdraw "some" troops - and a bit concerned with exactly how that would work, how few would remain, and exactly who they would be, but let's just accept that if the AP reports it, it must be so. But seventy five percent of Americans oppose it, it would result in a bloodbath, and much of that blood would be American.
Let's turn to an option that is more feasible - all troops withdrawn. Bloodbath again, but less American blood, and seventy percent of Americans oppose it. Can a closely split House and an evenly divided Senate (let's not pretend Joe Lieberman is a Democrat on this issue) go against the majority of Americans (and a President with veto power) and make it happen?
For the record, let me admit that I'm an American who wants all the troops brought home - when we're done with our task. And I don't "approve" of any war any where, though I'm willing to participate in the one we're in. Am I the only such American?
By the way, those numbers also imply that some of those 60 percent of Americans who disapprove of the war in Iraq don't want the troops brought home - at least not precipitously.
More on that group shortly. This entry will close with a review of "groups of voters" as determined by exit polls, in diminishing order of size:
60% disapprove of the war in Iraq
45% don't want any troops brought home
40% approve of the war
37% consider Iraq an "extremely important issue"
30% want all troops brought home
25% "agree with the Democrats plan" (per the AP) to bring some troops home
*Recall that previous election losses by Italian and Spanish leaders were blamed on Iraq.
The Glenn and Helen Show: Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan on Rumsfeld, the Elections, and the War on Terror.
These guys always provide thoughtful insights and (sometimes surprisingly) fine details, usually ahead of the wider "insider media", and I generally hear confirming comments from actual "insiders" - their connections are solid.
Both dismiss the draft threat - but commenters here have noted the political possibilities of Dems forcing Bush to veto the measure. Stranger things have happened.
But given the actual split nature of both houses of congress, I don't think it likely.
I question the timing - obviously the Bush admin wants to steal the headlines from the Democrats!
But seriously folks - does anyone think Robert Gates woke up this morning to the stunning news that he was the new SecDef? Don't buy that for a minute.
One thing regarding the Democrat's victory I expected: hearings. A lot of folks were just sent to Washington on the promise of willingness to "ask the tough questions" on Iraq. (A nice way to deflect any concerns that you have no answers, of course, but I digress...) But what that translates to is hearings - probably hearings ad nauseum, and doubtless with multiple planned appearances from one Donald Rumsfeld. My guess - and I state this with sincerity - is that barring appointment of a Special Assistant to the Secretary for Listening to the Tough Questions, Mr Rumsfeld's ability to run the Defense Department would effectively come to a close in late January, 2007.
He may still be spending that time at the show trials, of course - he himself may in fact become the unpaid Special Assistant to the Secretary for Listening to the Tough Questions. But now it won't compromise his ability to lead a military in time of war.
I hope I'm wrong. I hope the man can retire in relative peace (he will always be a target, of course, and I mean that in many ways) and perhaps he can. Confirmation hearings for his replacement will certainly give us our first glimpse of whether this could be so. (And our first indication of the nature of next year's Senate. Uniters or dividers?)
Speaking of the replacement (and raise your hand if that's a job you'd take), here's a publication of interest to those desiring insight to our next SecDef (pending Senate approval). From 2004, Iran: Time for a New Approach:
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have positioned American troops along Iran’s borders, making the United States and Iran wary competitors and neighbors who nonetheless possess overlapping interests. Meanwhile, questions continue to be raised about Iran’s nuclear program and its involvement with terrorism. Clearly, contending with Iran will constitute one of the most complex and pressing challenges facing future U.S. administrations. This informative report, which sparked sharp debate in Washington and extensive coverage by U.S. and international media, offers a timely new approach.You can buy a copy of the paperback for 15 bucks from Amazon, but 'cause I love you, man, you can download a pdf here for free. (Remember though, it's from two years ago...)
Rejecting the conventional wisdom that Iran is on the verge of another revolution, the report calls for the United States to reassess its long-standing policy of non-engagement with the current Iranian government. The product of an independent Task Force chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, director of central intelligence during the George H.W. Bush administration, the report highlights several areas in which U.S. interests would be better served by selective engagement with Tehran, and breaks with current U.S. policy by encouraging a new strategy.
This report focuses on developments inside Iran, tapping into the Task Force members’ extensive expertise on Iranian politics and society. It includes a comprehensive chronology of important dates in U.S.-Iranian history, economic and demographic facts about Iran, and reference materials on Iranian state institutions and governance.
This looks like an interesting read too: From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War by Robert Gates.
Until I grow tired - or just bored - I'll post the clear victors of the various races along with their stated positions on Iraq over at MilBlogs.
...record turn out that is, I'd like to say thanks, America. There are no results in yet, no valid forecasts for the "close races", but I see numerous reports of heavy turn out, crowded polling places, etc. "Higher than 2004" is a commonly encountered phrase. (Would I be asking too much to hope this is settled at the polls, and not the courts?)
Few people have noticed my neutrality in this election season, but I can assure you that is indeed my position regarding your local races - because most likely they aren't mine. Partisans of either stripe can curse me to their heart's content, but tomorrow and for the foreseeable future the sun will rise and we'll keep doing what we do here.
We're going to be living in interesting times - of that I am sure, because the world isn't going to change to the degree most people hope (or fear), and we'll continue to seek signal amidst the noise.
And one last time for this year...
Time for the return of the soap box.
Anyone who votes can comment or trackback to their heart's content.
Shocking news! Shocking, I say
The creator of the World Wide Web said on Thursday night that the Internet is in danger of being corrupted by fraudsters, liars and cheats. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who founded the Web in the early 1990s, says that if the Internet is left to develop unchecked, "bad phenomena" will erode its usefulness.For years I've been under the impression that Al Gore created the Internet, but apparently that is not so.
If you can believe me, that is. After all, this is a blog you are reading:
He singles out the rise of blogging as one of the most difficult areas for the continuing development of the Web, because of the risks associated with inaccurate, defamatory and uncheckable information.
Berners-Lee believes devotees of blogging sites take too much information on trust.
"The blogging world works by people reading blogs and linking to them. You're taking suggestions of what you read from people you trust. That, if you like, is a very simple system, but in fact the technology must help us express much more complicated feelings about who we'll trust with what," he said.
The next generation of the Internet needs to be able to reassure users that they can establish the original source of the information they digest.
Well then, guess I'd better provide this link to the article I've quoted.
I'd like to offer a link to the full transcript of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's comments, but unfortunately the Guardian doesn't provide one.
(But here's a wikipedia bio.
The first Web site built was at http://info.cern.ch/ and was first put online on August 6, 1991. It provided an explanation about what the World Wide Web was, how one could own a browser and how to set up a Web server. It was also the world's first Web directory, since Berners-Lee maintained a list of other Web sites apart from his own.One wonders exactly how others could access such a site. But rumor has it that the first commenter on the site declared that Berners-Lee was an "asshat" - this may still influence his comments today.)
I was duly unimpressed to learn that the Military Times had published an editorial calling for the scalp of Donald Rumsfeld - but I see the issue has gotten some attention, mostly from those who would like to believe (or have you believe) that the Gannett publications aimed at the military are somehow actual military publications.
Update: Heh, I think Tony Snow reads Instapundit.
Republicans are getting ready for some election battles...
The Republican National Committee is shipping out 150 lawyers on Monday to help hundreds of local lawyers in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee and other states answering phones and working at polling stations policing against voter fraud.Although 150 lawyers may sound like a lot, I expect they're going to learn how Custer felt at Little Big Horn:
On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of the 7,000 lawyers who are working on the election for the Democratic National Committee will board planes for Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and 13 other states.And those Democrat Party lawyers will have allies:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the N.A.A.C.P. and the People for the American Way Foundation will jointly have 2,000 lawyers fanning out across 20 states.I sincerely hope the 9,000 Democrat and 150 Republican lawyers don't block your way to the polls.
Wait, did I say 9,000? More, actually, because they'll just be reinforcing the locals...
“Unfortunately, the Maryland Democratic Party wants to have this election decided in the courts, with their 400 roving attorneys,” said Audra Miller, spokeswoman for the Republican Party.Michigan Republicans:
This week, Democratic lawyers have been combing through a Republican manual for poll workers acquired by a Democratic operative that gives instructions on aggressively challenging voters’ credentials. Aside from looking for illegalities in the document, Democrats have been writing a manual to counter the Republican booklet, instructing their poll workers how to watch for overzealous Republican poll watchers.
Fifty of the party’s 200 volunteer lawyers will staff a phone bank at party headquarters in Lansing to take complaints before calling the teams of 10 to 15 lawyers to respond from one of 10 regional centers.Michigan Democrats:
Mary Ellen Gurewitz, a lawyer in Detroit for the Michigan Democratic Party, which is dispatching 800 lawyers statewide, said she hoped to catch the problem in advance.And various city campaigners are scrambling too...
“Many more votes are lost from incompetent election administration than voter suppression,” Ms. Gurewitz said. “So we’re going to minority neighborhoods in Detroit, Lansing and Flint, because that’s where we know the Republican challengers will try to contest voters’ qualifications.”
In St. Louis, a lawyer directing the Democrats’ legal efforts, Shonagh Clements, said she was prodding officials to obtain credentials for 300 lawyers, many of whom she plans to train on Sunday to work as poll challengers.Whichever side you're on - don't let them frighten you away from the voting booth.
“We’re doing a lot of sprinting just to get through the weekend,” Ms. Clements said.
Nobody's talking about it this election year, but discussion of the draft issue has never been "off the table"...
Back about this time of year in '04 there was considerable talk about President Bush reviving the draft. In fact, much was made about House and Senate Bills designed to do just that. The argument was that a vote for President Bush would be a vote for a return to the draft.
Much of that talk faded when it was revealed that the "pending draft" legislation was actually separate Democrat-sponsored Bills.
In the Senate, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (D-SC) introduced Senate Bill S. 89 ("requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security") on 7 January, 2003.
Meanwhile, over in the House, Representative Charles B. ("Charlie") Rangel (D-NY) submitted H.R.163 ("requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security") . Rangel's Bill had 14 co-sponsors.
In an effort to kill the "Bush is bringing back the draft" talk from his opposition during election 2004, the Republican-controlled House brought the measure to a vote and destroyed it in October 2004.
But away from the election limelight, Rangel introduced H.R.2723 ("requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security") in May, 2005. It was ignored by the Republican-controlled House.
Undaunted, Rangel submitted H.R. 4752 ("requiring all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security") in February 2006. It too appears fated to die, ignored, in committee.
But next year's version might be taken a bit more seriously. If you believe the pre-election polls, the Democrats are about to break the Republican control of the House and Senate. If so, Rangel is slated to chair the Ways and Means Committee, while Representative Isaac Newton "Ike" Skelton IV is tabbed for Armed Srvices and Representative John "Jack" Murtha might lead the Defense Appropriations panel (barring a successful run for House majority leader). In spite of much talk (see links), they won't be able to eliminate funding for the Iraq war (it would be characterized as 'not supporting the troops'), and will need to find another way to turn more Americans against the cause. Re-instituting the draft might just do the trick.
But draft talk is just silly, right? Surely no one in their right mind would advocate that...
Over at MilBlogs, Andi's been on a roll lately. She introduced the blogosphere to John Kerry's now infamous comments the night he made them, and followed up a couple days ago with a look at an article about Seymour Hersh.
If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.That's from a speech Hersh gave at a university in Canada.
“In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation,” he said. “It isn’t happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”
Her post on the topic led to several response posts from other contributers, and several more from me. I'm pulling my scattered posts together "under one roof" here.
When Seymour Hersh writes, he uses facts (albeit selectively and sensationally). Here's an example regarding an incident alleged to have occurred at Abu Ghraib:
His book Chain of Command would deliver the authoritative Seymour M. version: “An attorney involved in the case told me in July 2004 that one of the witness statements he had read described the rape of a boy by a foreign contract employee who served as an interpreter at Abu Ghraib,” Hersh wrote. “In the statement, which had not been made public, the lawyer told me, a prisoner stated that he was a witness to the rape, and that a woman was taking pictures.”
What we have here is third hand information about a horrifying (if true) event. But Hersh probably isn't lying when he says "an attorney involved in the case" told him he had read a document in which "a prisoner stated that he was a witness to the rape" of a young boy by "a foreign contract employee".
But when Seymour does a public speaking engagement, he tends to (ahem) expand. For instance, here's how he described the event to the annual membership conference of the American Civil Liberties Union:
“Some of the worst things that happened that you don’t know about. Okay? Videos,” he said. “And basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children, in cases that have been recorded, the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking. That your government has. They’re in total terror it’s going to come out.”Here Seymour is using a journalistic device called lying. What he describes is none the less accepted as fact by those who want desperately to believe it is so.
All that's from this April, 2005 New York Magazine profile of Hersh: Sy Hersh Says It’s Okay to Lie (Just Not in Print).
The author provides another example of one of Hersh's "crowd pleasers":
He tells me a long tale of the ghastly killing of some Iraqi civilians by U.S. soldiers. He frames his account as a hypothetical set piece: “You’re a soldier on a patrol . . . and you see people running, and you open fire, okay? . . . Maybe they were bad guys, but then they run into a soccer game.” He gradually modulates the story to its climax: “You’re a bunch of young kids. And so maybe you pull the bodies together and you drop RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] and you take some photographs about it because you’re afraid you’re gonna be investigated. And maybe somebody there tells me about what happened.”That's last year's version of a story - he's spiced it up considerably for this year's speaking tour:
Did this event happen? Who knows? Hersh never subjects these sorts of stories to any kind of public truth test, but he bandies them in his lectures, as part of the ongoing effort to bring his speaking audiences closer to that other reality of the Iraq War. He does it so frequently, in fact, that it’s hard to accept that he’s only doling out information for its own sake. In part, one senses, Hersh’s stump performances are of a piece with the sort of one-upping bravado that makes up many conversations journalists have with their colleagues—only done here in public and for hire. Again, Hersh is refreshingly candid about the showman aspect of his anecdotage: “I get paid to do speeches. . . . And I’m not there to be on straight."
“Three U.S. armed vehicles, eight soldiers in each, are driving through a village, passing candy out to kids,” he began. “Suddenly the first vehicle explodes, and there are soldiers screaming. Sixteen soldiers come out of the other vehicles, and they do what they’re told to do, which is look for running people.”Some of those newly tacked-on details make the story more like the recent headline-grabbing Marines in Haditha story than his original version of the fable was. I love the part he threw in about giving candy to kids, too.
“Never mind that the bomb was detonated by remote control,” Hersh continued. “[The soldiers] open up fire; [the] cameras show it was a soccer game.”
“About ten minutes later, [the soldiers] begin dragging bodies together, and they drop weapons there. It was reported as 20 or 30 insurgents killed that day,” he said.
Returning to the New York Magazine piece, here's a final word from Sy on that screaming rape fable - one that to this day is cited in comments by some folks right here on this blog:
Many who blogged the revelation believed that Hersh was talking about multiple rapes committed by American soldiers. Nearly everyone took it for granted that Hersh had seen the videotapes himself because he’d described their horrifying soundtrack. And everyone did assume that there were in fact videotapes, which there may not be. (“Was it a video camera or a digital camera? Nobody was quite sure,” Hersh told students at Tufts later in the year.) The speech was so widely blogged that the ACLU says Hersh asked it to remove part of the video—including the sodomy allegation—from the organization’s Website, which it proceeded to do.Or perhaps just more truthful.
That was Hersh’s first encounter with streaming online video, something that makes a spoken remark as replicable and as easy to distribute as the written word. He’d never heard of it before. “I actually didn’t quite say what I wanted to say correctly,” Hersh now says. “It wasn’t that inaccurate, but it was misstated. The next thing I know, it was all over the blogs. And I just realized then, the power of—and so you have to try and be more careful.”
If Americans knew the full extent of U.S. criminal conduct, they would receive returning Iraqi veterans as they did Vietnam veterans, Hersh said.
“In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation,” he said. “It isn’t happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”
Iraq and Vietnam - Hersh is certainly well positioned to compare the two.
Robert Elegant was a reporter in Vietnam. This is from his 1981 retrospective How to Lose A War: The Press and Viet Nam:
Not even the "old hands" were necessarily well qualified to cover the conflict—who could have been? Arthur Waley?—but, considering our divergent backgrounds and political convictions, the old hands' general agreement about the nature of the war was remarkable. Most deplored the ineffectiveness and the corruption of successive South Vietnamese governments, but judged native (i.e., Southern) disaffection incapable of mounting an armed rebellion without direction, reinforcement, and weapons from the North. Most concurred with the thesis Robert Shaplen advanced in The Lost Revolution (1966), agreeing that ineffectual leadership had failed to foster latent nationalistic and reformist enthusiasm in the South, by default ceding those dynamic forces to the North. We did not deceive ourselves that the South enjoyed even marginally good government; but we believed that Northern rule would be much worse for the mass of the people.13 We knew that the North and the South, though not necessarily two separate countries, were distinct entities because of the strong regional feelings of the Vietnamese. Although most of us had opposed major U.S. involvement, we saw no way the United States could withdraw unilaterally.And down in the footnotes:
13. Worse in every way, economically as well as politically, although there were those—from Messrs. Tom Wicker and Seymour Hersh to Mmes. Frances Fitzgerald and Mary McCarthy for the New York Review of Books—whose steadfast ideology led them to believe that Revolutionary Liberation would mean Social Progress. They had a vision of the Viet Cong future, and it would work.Not "anti-war", you see, just on the other side. (Apparently any side other than ours will do for at least one member of that crew.)
By their very nature, some groups attract unusual members.
Fire departments attract arsonists, though the vast majority of fire fighters are not.
The military attracts some violence prone, sadistic individuals - though the majority of those serving are not.
The priesthood attracts some individuals with various sexual proclivities, though the majority are following a dedicated calling.
The "news business" attracts those who would use the platform for "getting their message out" or advancing a cause rather than simply reporting news .
The examples cited for the first three groups are the exceptions, not the rule. But I'm not sure whether or not the last profession I listed has passed a tipping point in that regard. Regardless, Hersh is demonstrably no seeker of truth.
Finally, for an introduction to some of Hersh's methods used in fabricating the Abu Ghraib story, read this (to inlude the links).
I need to update that link some day soon. Much more information has come to light since then (some of which we've seen here, or some near here), information that makes the actions of Hersh and Mapes even more disgusting in hindsight...
I find the Derb/Jay line, agreeing that Senator Kerry was making a joke about Bush, highly implausible. If you talk to Democrats of the middle-class and upper-middle-class and (in John Heinz Kerry’s case) the neo-Gulf-emir-class, you’ll have heard the same thing a thousand times: these poor fellows in Iraq, they’re only there because they’re too poverty-stricken and ill-educated so they couldn’t become Senators and New York Times reporters and tenured Queer Studies professors like normal Americans do. That is, in fact, what they mean by the claim that they “support our troops”: they want to bring them home and retrain them so they’re not forced into taking jobs as Bush’s torturers and thugs. It’s part of the same condescension as describing soldiers as “our children”. If a 22-year old intern wants to drop to the Oval Office broadloom, she’s a grown woman exercising her freedom of choice. But, if a 28-year old guy wants to serve in Iraq, he’s a poor wee misguided Grade Six drop-out who doesn’t know any better. John Kerry’s soundbite is interesting not because it’s the umpteenth self-inflicted wound by Mister Nuance but because it gets right to the heart of the Democrats’ “support” for the troops.There's little to disagree with there. I've heard the leftists spout the "I suport the troops" line endlessly, but I've never seen a leftist description of the troops that veers far from Kerry's - as Steyn illuminates above. And I note Kerry's "sorry you people were too stupid to realize I was joking" 'apology' somehow fails to offer any description of exactly what he really thinks of "the troops".
It might help if a few key Democrats come out with some speeches over the next couple days telling us what they really think of the troops. Something beyond "I support them because they are brave." What I'd like to hear is an explanation of exactly who they think we are, and why they think we do what we do. (Especially if they're against what we're doing.)
So try sending this one to your local candidates - any and all parties: "Who do you think the troops are, and why do you think they do what they do?"
Answers would be illuminating.
Another translation from the Iraqi media by Haider Ajina. There are plenty of "bad news" stories to be found there (all the same stories that appear in our western outlets) but somehow they find room for these stories too.
The following is my translation of a head line and article which appeared in 'Iraqi News Agency' October 29, 2006
'Iraqi Sunni tribe helps protects Iraqi Shiite tribe'.
By Ali Alshumary in Alkut Iraq
'The Sunni Aljuhaishat tribe helped protected men from the Alkufaifan Shiite tribe after armed fighting broke out between the Alkufaifan and an armed group. Men from the Aljuhaishat tribe answered a call for help from Alkufaifan even though there were light clashes between these two tribes just a few days ago. As soon as Aljuhaishat answered the call of the Shiite Alkufaifan tribe it became evident that the attackers were not from a local Sunni tribe. The attacker were creating strife between the tow tribes by attacking the Shiite tribe and making it seem as if the local Sunni tribe Aljuhaishat was attacking the Shiite Alkufaifan tribe. After all day fighting the Shiite Alkufaifan with the support of the Sunni Aljuhaishat tribe, seven of the attackers were killed and three were captured. It became evident that the attackers were member of a murder and robbery gang or militia. Later men from both tribes praised and thanked each other for helping ending the attackers and help the truth come out. This incident proves the national unity of most Iraqis while turning a blind eye to their sect or origin'.
The cooperation and comradeship amongst Sunni & Shiite displayed here is very similar to the Iraq I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s before Saddam came to power.
Incidences such as these (Sunni & Shiite helping each other) happen frequently in Iraq. They go unreported in western media. It is mostly the former Baathists and Alqida and some Shiite militia who are creating the sectarian strife in Iraq. The foreign influences of Iran and Syria especially fund and aid the strife. Criminal gangs or militia, who can be Sunni or Shiite, are trying to ignite fighting amongst Tribes in Iraq. I could not find further details about these criminals who tried to get Aljuhaishat and Alkufaifan to fight each other. Gladly, cooler heads prevailed and the truth came out.
...they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war...
And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not--Iraqis should be doing that.
October 30, 2006:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
October 31, 2006:
"If any one thinks that a veteran, someone like me who's been fighting my entire career, to provide for veterans, to fight for their benefits, to help honor what their service is, if anybody thinks that a veteran would somehow criticize more than 140,000 troops serving in Iraq, and not the President and his people who put them there, they're crazy."