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This is one way to do it, I suppose...
Key figures in Iraq’s Sadrist movement said on Friday that US forces had detained one of its top members, the latest in a series of signs that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had authorised a crackdown on the radical Shia movement whose militias are blamed for a large share of the country’s sectarian violence.
The Sadrists identified the detainee as Abd al-Hadi al-Darraji, the movement’s media director in Baghdad.
Update (20 Jan): Turns out there's a bit more to the story. It's Sadr's organization that claims Daraji is simply a " media director" - others say he's much more. The story is still developing. Here's General Casey responding to early questions from reporters:
And here's today's news on the story:
The aide, Abdel Hadi al-Daraji, a powerful cleric whose official position is as a spokesman for Mr. Sadr but who also is accused of running a Mafia-style crime empire in northeast Baghdad, was arrested in a mosque close to his house in the neighborhood of Baladiyad. He was detained with two of his guards. A third was shot dead in the raid.According to the NY Times, Daraji has been in hiding since the fall, "when the military began actively pursuing members of Mr. Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army, a central driver of sectarian violence here." Has the Times reported on this months-long active pursuit of members of Sadr's militia before? If so, I missed it.
The American military did not identify Mr. Daraji by name, saying only that it had captured “an illegal armed-group leader,” and that he was suspected of having been involved in “the organized kidnapping, torture and murder of Iraqi civilians.” A spokesman for Mr. Sadr confirmed that Mr. Daraji was the aide who was arrested and denied the charges of criminal activity.
Mr. Daraji was a central figure in Mr. Sadr’s organization during its battles with the American military in 2004, leading his vast army of spokesmen and media advisers. But as the years passed, he staked out territory of his own in his native Sadr City, a sprawling grid of cement-block houses in northeast Baghdad, and local residents said he had been involved in some of the worst militia crimes.Sadr city residents are glad to see this guy go, and Sadr had "disavowed him" in recent months. But now Sadr is caliming he was just a "media director" and using his arrest to rouse public anger at the coalition - a win/win for Sadr. "Information war" indeed. All done!
Iraqis who knew him said he had grown rich from his power in the neighborhood. He was known as a middleman, arranging government contracts with local businessmen and taking commissions, and also receiving secret Iranian financing. He had built a fancy new house in Baladiyad, near the mosque where he was arrested Friday morning.
His involvement in crime became well known in the neighborhood and in recent months Mr. Sadr disavowed him, but some still consider him a top aide. He went into hiding, and in October had all but stopped answering his cellphone and responded only to previously arranged agreed-upon patterns of rings.
Many welcomed the news of his arrest.
“It’s a good thing,” said one Iraqi who knew people around Mr. Daraji and who spoke anonymously out of concern for his family’s safety. “He’s No. 1 in all this city.”
If you want to know whether a surge of U.S. troops in Baghdad will make a difference, listen to Iraqis like taxi driver Ali Mansoor, 38. Last fall Mansoor's neighborhood in central Baghdad, a mixed Shi'ite-Sunni area known as al-Sadoon, became a sectarian killing zone. The streets around his house were the scene of scores of murders and abductions every day. And then, for one week last October, the violence stopped. "There was a big change in the security situation. Everybody noticed," says Mansoor, who asked not to be identified by his real name. "In my area, there was not a single kidnapping or killing."In other surge news: Pelosi Says House Democrats To Oppose Surge
So what happened? For the first time since the war began, U.S. forces had locked down the Baghdad slum known as Sadr City, haven to the militias and death squads loyal to rebel Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Looking for a missing U.S. soldier, the Americans cordoned off much of Sadr City, preventing hundreds of killers from slipping out. On Oct. 24, the daily murder rate fell roughly 50%. It stayed down for more than a week, until Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded that the U.S. end the blockade around Sadr City. After the U.S. pulled out, the body count in Baghdad returned to its previous levels, and life for Iraqis like Mansoor became hell again. "I think most of the bad guys came from Sadr City," says Mansoor. "The Americans should attack that place today, not tomorrow."
Please tell me it wasn't "Keep on lovin' you".
Meanwhile, John J. Miller says "the blame-America-first crowd is wasting no time in blaming America first":
Michael Krepon, president emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center, another non-profit involved with security issues in Washington, called the Chinese test a likely — and unfortunate — response to American space policies.
"The Chinese are telling the Pentagon that they don't own space," he said. "We can play this game, too, and we can play it dirtier than you."
Krepon said the Chinese test "blows a hole through the Bush administration reasoning behind not talking to anybody about space arms control — that there is no space arms race. It looks like there is one at this point."
Bet he's not an REO Speedwagon fan either.
Holy prolificacy, Batman! Buck has not only posted more than once this month already, but twice this week?! Alert Glenn Reynolds! Someone text Drudge! Quick, somebody update his Wikipedia profile! Belay that -- quick, somebody create his Wikipedia profile! D'oh! Stupid pseudonymity...
Seeing as how Buck is soon to be a master's candidate in Military Studies with a concentration in Strategic Leadership (granted, a stretch for a lowly noncom), expect all future posts to get brainier, more pompous, and even more compellingly unreadable than ever before. All telling, more of all the wonderful qualities that routinely awarded him B minuses at his beloved alma mater Liberal Groupthink University.
But until he becomes a regular on Fox News -- to the point where Roger Ailes begins seriously pondering how well "Hannity & Buck" would roll off the tongue -- keep enjoying him for free here.
"The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire... The level of violence is high and growing. There is great suffering, and the daily lives of many Iraqis show little or no improvement. Pessimism is pervasive."
Indeed it is. Especially in this report!
China has shown it can destroy a satellite in orbit. What could the U.S. do to stop Beijing, if it decided to attack an American orbiter next? Short answer: nothing.
It takes about 20 minutes to fire a ballistic missile into space, and have its "kill vehicle" strike a satellite at hypersonic speed -- over 15,000 miles per hour -- in low-earth orbit. That's far too quick for anything in the American arsenal to respond, in time. There's "no possibility of shielding" a relatively-fragile satellite against such a strike. "And it is impractical [for a satellite] to carry enough fuel to maneuver away even if you had specific and timely warning of an attack," Center for Defense Information analyst Theresea Hitchens notes.
Meh. Welcome to 1985, Chicoms. The year when --presumably with REO Speedwagon cranked-- we sent an F-15 soaring to the edge of space to kill a target sat.
While I'm sure this will get the gears turning at places like the Space Warfare Center and RAND, there's simple solutions here, methinks. I'm not sure how long it takes to plug a burn into one of our keyholes to dodge one of these red rockets, but surely we could do it in under 20 minutes? Hitchens says we don't have the fuel for such a move, maybe she's right. But seeing that hitting an orbital vehicle from the ground is the rough equivalent of tossing a pebble into a coke bottle from end zone to endzone in the Superdome, I'm not so sure that this isn't something a simple delta-v maneuver couldn't cure. Suppose the simplest solution would be to spend a little extra on rocket fuel and send our new birds into orbits with perigees that are out of range of the Chinese arsenal.
Oh and if this piece of junk ever works, I guess we could work it into the calculus of defensive counterspace as well.
...like the sound of that too. Let's just hope it isn't the sound of one hand clapping ourselves on the back.
If this story turns out to be true, then all I can say is:
It's about damn time.
Failing to target the Mahd Squads is the key to everything that has been going wrong the past year in Baghdad. They outnumber the Sunni insurgents there by at least a 10-1 margin and their intentions are just as nefarious. They are the very reason the civilian bodycount is so high still on a day-to-day basis.
The Iraqi government must take JAM on directly before the people will ever take their elected officials seriously, much less the ISF.
I got a letter my my bank today offering every assistance in recovering from the Disaster that apparently occurred where I live. I don't watch television news and don't get the local newspaper...I was completely unaware that a disaster had occurred.
I've done some research - From FEMA
“The recovery process for survivors of the November floods begins by calling FEMA’s registration number, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week
Survivors??? Huh?? I would have heard about some sort of mass casualty event
So more research -From Seattle Times
One man was killed in the flooding, and two other deaths were attributed to rain-slicked roads.
One guy standing on a river bank got whisked away by the river, and there were two fatal vehicle accidents.
How did this become a "National Disaster"? Why has the Federal Government dispatched "Disaster Recovery" people to help the "survivors?"
Have we so overused the term "disaster" and "crisis" that the people who "survive" the disaster don't even know they were victims?All done!
...like the sound of this, too.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Mahdi Army fighters said Thursday they were under siege in their Sadr City stronghold as U.S. and Iraqi troops killed or seized key commanders in pinpoint nighttime raids. Two commanders of the Shiite militia said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has stopped protecting the group under pressure from Washington and threats from Sunni Muslim Arab governments.(Via Instapundit.)
Update: Here's a slightly different version by the same AP reporter in the Prescott, Arizona Herald (a great town, from what I hear...)
Another tidbit from that Fox poll: "By 59 percent to 36 percent, Americans oppose sending more U.S. troops to Iraq."
That's right in line with other polls on the topic - so much so that it's hard to refute the results. USA Today/Gallup Poll: "those surveyed oppose the idea of increased troop levels by 61%-36%." Times/Bloomberg found 36% approve, 60% disapprove of the plan. CBS reported 33% favor sending more troops and 59% oppose.
That, my friends, is consistency. And it's also the peg upon which many politicians are hanging their political hopes. (I'd say "betting their political futures" but I suspect that given American media it's a safe bet - they'll get "cover" regardless of what transpires.)
Now let's revisit that other question from Fox: Do you personally want the Iraq plan President Bush announced last week to succeed?
Yes 63%, No 22, Don’t know 15
Democrats 51% 34 15
Republicans 79% 11 10
Independents 63% 19 17
That 22% of respondents personally want failure is appalling, indeed - even if the inclusion of "President Bush" in the question triggered a Pavlovian response among the BDS crowd. A bit less disturbing explanation might be that some (even if free of BDS symptoms) may have simply interpreted the question to mean "do you want The Plan to be executed" not "If executed, do you want the plan to succeed". (Although if so, they mis-read the question.)
Regardless, consider the majority. Sixty-three percent (including most Democrats) personally want the pan to succeed. Given that this number exceeds the number of people who "oppose the plan", and virtually doubles the number who "support the plan", there's a significant signal here - and it's not faint. Nearly 30% of people want the plan to succeed, but profess they don't support/approve of it. This isn't self-refuting data. Unless these people are lying when they say they personally want it to work (and some are - but not all), they simply have some other reason for opposing the plan beyond their own "wants".
I can propose a few possibilities:
1. They think most people are opposed to the plan, therefore they are willing (or programmed) to go along with the majority.
2. They want the plan to succeed but think the plan will fail, and don't want to be on the "losing side".
3. They think the plan puts an undue burden on the troops.
4. Failure, while personally undesirable, would be good for The Party (or some other entity) for which they are willing to subborn their own desires.
For those in the first group - guess what? The majority actually want the plan to succeed, and we're glad you're with us. Don't be afraid to say so.
Second group: the plan will certainly fail without your support. We need you, too.
Group three: I've addressed you here, but will say it again. Some troops are going a couple months early, others will stay late. Stop the "surge" and the same troops will go to Iraq - just on their normal schedule and in time to hive-five the folks they will replace instead of reinforce. Those newly arrived troops will be completely up shit creek, of course, as no one in Iraq is going to take them at all seriously. At this point it isn't the surge that's going to break the troops - it's the message to the enemy we'd send otherwise that will.
For all three of those groups: Iraq is "winnable" - if that's the term you need to hear. And "winning it" matters - if I didn't think so, I'd retire and draw my pension instead of returning there this year. As to why I think so - I've been there, and I know a lot of folks who have been since and are there now. And by the way, no matter how we vote, we ain't laying our lives on the line for the benefit of one political party.
Speaking of which, for group four: Go f@#k yourselves. And by the way, even if the coalition "wins" Iraq you might still win the White House in '08 - just ask Bill Clinton about '92.
If I were an elected official who was quick out the gate with some anti-troop increase proposals this week I'd be a bit concerned with these numbers. And if I were among the majority of elected officials who haven't done so (""There is very little chance in the short run that we are going to pass any legislation," Clinton confided during her news conference. Asked to elaborate, she explained: "I can count."") I'd start responding - now.
I suspect future polls won't be asking this question (or if so, media coverage of future polls won't be mentioning it) but if this country had any leaders, they would reach out to this large group (and the 15% that "don't know" if they want American success or not) who're waiting for some actual leadership - quick.All done!
In a Pentagon news conference today, Daniel J. Dell'Orto, the Defense Department's principal deputy general counsel, said the new procedures faithfully follow the Military Commissions Act and ensure that "alien unlawful enemy combatants" who are suspected of war crimes receive "all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people."
Dell'Orto also announced that Susan J. Crawford, the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, will serve as "the convening authority for military commissions." Crawford formerly worked in the Pentagon, serving for a time under then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
Air Force Gen. Thomas L. Hemingway, legal adviser to the Pentagon's Office of Military Commissions, said detainee trials at Guantanamo that had been suspended will now go forward before the special military tribunals. He said 10 cases had been underway when the process was halted by a challenge in federal court and that a total of 14 cases had been "in various preparatory stages."
Here's a link to the Manual for Military Commissions (PDF--238 pages)
Much has been made of the rules of evidence present in the commissions and the extent to which "coerced" and hearsay statements are admissible. From the Manual's Preamble:
(g) Statements obtained by torture are not admissible (10 U.S.C. § 948r(b)), but statements “in which the degree of coercion is disputed” may be admitted if reliable, probative, and the admission would best serve the interests of justice (10 U.S.C. § 948r(c)). In addition, for such statements obtained after December 30, 2005, the methods used to obtain those statements must comply with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, enacted on that date (10 U.S.C. § 948r(d)(3)).
[ed: I.E. recognizing that coerced statements may not be reliable, the rules permit challenges to that evidence based on reliability and probative value.]
(h) In addition, rules may provide for:
(3) admission of an accused’s allegedly coerced statements if they comport with § 948r (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(C)); [ed: again, must be reliable, probative, and admission must be in the interests of justice]
(4) authentication of evidence similar to Military Rule of Evidence (Mil. R. Evid.) 901 (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(D));
(5) admission of hearsay evidence not meeting an exclusion or exception under the Mil. R. Evid. if the proponent gives notice and the opposing party does not demonstrate that the evidence lacks probative value or reliability (10 U.S.C. § 949a(b)(2)(E)); and
[ed: note that BOTH parties may offer hearsay evidence; again it's out if it's neither reliable nor probative]
In addition to these rights, the accused has the right to counsel, be present at trial, examine and respond to evidence, cross-examine witnesses who testify against him, obtain and present evidence, and not be required to testify against himself.
If a society has ever afforded such a panoply of due process to those accused of waging unlawful war against it, I am unaware of it.All done!