Thursday, May 27, 2004
There won't be any posts until Tuesday. I'll be on vacation. Happy Memorial Day.


Another link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, this time possibly to 9-11. Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:

One striking bit of new evidence is that the name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir appears on three captured rosters of officers in Saddam Fedayeen, the elite paramilitary group run by Saddam's son Uday and entrusted with doing much of the regime's dirty work. Our government sources, who have seen translations of the documents, say Shakir is listed with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

This matters because if Shakir was an officer in the Fedayeen, it would establish a direct link between Iraq and the al Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11. Shakir was present at the January 2000 al Qaeda "summit" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the 9/11 attacks were planned. The U.S. has never been sure whether he was there on behalf of the Iraqi regime or whether he was an Iraqi Islamicist who hooked up with al Qaeda on his own.

It is possible that the Ahmed Hikmat Shakir listed on the Fedayeen rosters is a different man from the Iraqi of the same name with the proven al Qaeda connections. His identity awaits confirmation by al Qaeda operatives in U.S. custody or perhaps by other captured documents. But our sources tell us there is no questioning the authenticity of the three Fedayeen rosters. The chain of control is impeccable. The documents were captured by the U.S. military and have been in U.S. hands ever since.

As others have reported, at the time of the summit Shakir was working at the Kuala Lumpur airport, having obtained the job through an Iraqi intelligence agent at the Iraqi embassy. The four-day al Qaeda meeting was attended by Khalid al Midhar and Nawaz al Hamzi, who were at the controls of American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. Also on hand were Ramzi bin al Shibh, the operational planner of the 9/11 attacks, and Tawfiz al Atash, a high-ranking Osama bin Laden lieutenant and mastermind of the USS Cole bombing. Shakir left Malaysia on January 13, four days after the summit concluded.

That's not the only connection between Shakir and al Qaeda. The Iraqi next turned up in Qatar, where he was arrested on September 17, 2001, four days after the attacks in the U.S. A search of his pockets and apartment uncovered such information as the phone numbers of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers' safe houses and contacts. Also found was information pertaining to a 1995 al Qaeda plot to blow up a dozen commercial airliners over the Pacific.

After a brief detention, our friends the Qataris inexplicably released Shakir, and on October 21 he flew to Amman, Jordan. The Jordanians promptly arrested him, but under pressure from the Iraqis (and Amnesty International, which questioned his detention) and with the acquiescence of the CIA, they let him go after three months. He was last seen heading home to Baghdad.

Imagine if this received as much coverage as Abu Ghraib...



Presidential candidate John Kerry begins an 11-day focus on foreign policy designed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the opening of the World War II Memorial. Foreign policy has been Kerry's weakest point. His message has been at best confusing, at worst gravitating towards the Howard Dean antiwar spectrum of the Democratic Party that scares the living heck out of most Americans. His worst moments came during the Democratic primaries, naturally. He played it skillfully, allowing many far Left pacifists believe that he was closer to Dean than not. This is where Joe Lieberman failed, even though he's a better man for doing so. Unlike Kerry, Lieberman has a core belief system and wasn't willing to play to the socialist appeasement crowd just to win primaries. Since the primaries, Kerry has tried to move toward the center, but in doing so has muddled his message and greatly contradicted himself. The highlight of his confusion came when he stated "I actually voted for the $87 billion [to supplement troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan] before I voted against it."

So, what's he going to propose? Nothing. Really. Kerry's strategists have watched the poll numbers closely. As Mickey Kaus pointed out, when Kerry says nothing he creeps ahead of Bush. But whenever he starts announcing a vision he drops in the polls. On Iraq, Kerry has become much more moderate, claiming he would not withdraw troops, and remaining silent on the topic the last few weeks.

But on the central question of the day, the future of Iraq, Kerry may have less to say than some voters expect. Aides said that none of Kerry's speeches, the first of which he will deliver Thursday here in Seattle, will deal directly with Iraq. Instead, he will seek to provide a broader vision of how he sees the U.S. role in the world and reassure voters that he can step into the role of commander-in-chief during a period of war.
Blah, blah, blah... reach out to allies... blah, blah, blah... more multilateralism... blah, blah, blah... make people around the world like us again... blah, blah, blah. Really, will John Kerry ever propose something more than the empty rhetoric we've already heard? Again, my question to Senator Kerry is what would he have done differently to convince France and Russia, both who we now know were taking bribe money from Saddam Hussein, that regime change was necessary in Iraq? He's never answered that. He never will. Eventually Kerry won't be able to run as the anti-Bush candidate. Eventually he's going to have to specifically say what he plans on doing to fight terrorism, because it's not going away. From here out the article uses Democrats to promote Democrat spin. But, it's not that Bush has moved more towards Kerry's position, but that Kerry has moved more towards Bush's.

Kerry advisers said his views on Iraq are well documented, the most recent coming in a speech last month in Fulton, Mo. Critics say that Bush's recent initiatives, particularly his outreach to the United Nations to put together a new government in Iraq, have narrowed the differences between the two men and that Kerry will have an increasingly difficult time explaining what he would do differently in the future.

Like Bush, Kerry does not favor setting a date for withdrawing U.S. forces and supports raising troop levels there if necessary. Kerry advisers said Wednesday that Bush has moved in Kerry's direction but that he should have done so earlier. "We can't act like the debate started today," said communications director Stephanie Cutter. "It started two years ago. For Bush now to be adopting these steps is problematic because he's ignored our allies for two years and lost respect and credibility for the United States. So these are going to be harder to achieve, and the delay has come at great cost."

Democratic garbage. Bush didn't just start "adopting" steps to woo allies recently. No matter if Ms. Cutter has lost her history book I recall Bush going before the United Nations on several occasions, and even successfully getting the United Nations to pass resolution 1441 in October 2002, which declared "a final opportunity" for Saddam Hussein to come clean on his WMD program. Whether we've found only one Sarin gas shell or 1000 that never occurred. The Hussein regime never fully cooperated, and was never going to. It's not Bush's fault that only the US, UK, Australia, Spain and Poland, among many others, meant what they said when they approved 1441. It's France, Russia, Syria, China and the rest of the world's appeasers and dictators who turned the war over the war into a semantics game.

I ask you, what is John Kerry's vision? He's spouting off 1990s multilateralism, but we tried that and got September 11. The world loved us when Clinton was in charge, so we've been told ad nausea, yet that never prevented a major terrorist strike on almost an annual basis when he was president. Bush's vision is to destroy Islamic radicalism by spreading more liberal, democratic and secular values to the Middle East. Even if you don't agree with that, or think it too difficult, at least Bush has a vision. John Kerry doesn't.



I'm not going to disect Al Gore's speech yesterday for the liberal group MoveOn point by point. I will say that it is the most vile, vitriolic diatribe I've read in a long time. It's bad. Really bad. Not bad for Bush, but bad for Gore and any Democrat who remotely associates themselves with him. Gore's incoherent rant is filled with half-truths, quarter-truths and flat out lies. He parses words, and uses partial quotes as evidence (imagine had I quoted FDR as saying "The only thing we have... is fear.") I do want to point out a few things.

In his rant, Gore said of Iraq, "He [Bush] has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests [sic] that pose no threat whatsoever to us." No threat whatsoever...? People can certainly debate the war but to argue that Saddam Hussein was "no threat whatsoever" is simply delusional.

Who said in 2002, "Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power. We know he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country"? Same guy, Al Gore.

Who said on May 23, 2000, "Despite our swift victory [in 1991] and all our efforts since, there is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein still seeks to amass weapons of mass destruction. You know as well as I do: as long as Saddam Hussein stays in power, there can be no comprehensive peace for the people of Israel, or the people of the Middle East. We have made it clear that it is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone. We have sought coalitions of opponents to challenge his power from within or without. I have met with the Iraqi resistance, and I have invited them to meet with me again next month – when I will encourage them to further unite in their efforts against Saddam. We have maintained sanctions in the face of rising criticism, while improving the oil-to-food program to help the Iraqi people directly. We have used force when necessary. And we will not let up in our efforts to free Iraq from Saddam’s rule. Should he think of challenging us, I would strongly advise against it. As a Senator, I voted for the use of force. As Vice President, I supported the use of force. And if entrusted with the Presidency, my resolve will never waver"? Again, same guy, Al Gore.

So much for never wavering.

What didn't make it in Gore's speech: any mention of Nick Berg, any mention of our civilian contractors mutilated and drug through the streets, etc.

It's also worth remembering that MoveOn, the group hosting Gore's speech, proposed a "peaceful" solution to the September 11 attacks. That's right, this group is so far to the left they even opposed military force against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Yet here's a man who came this close - you can't see me but my thumb and index finger are very, very close - to becoming our president and who would have had to have responded to those attacks as such. This makes Gore either a fraud - for he would have responded just like Bush - or an incompetent, appeasing ninny - for he would have followed a movement like MoveOn.

The GOP responded officially with a well humored and constructed response:

Al Gore served as Vice President of this country for eight years. During that time, Osama Bin Laden declared war on the United States five times and terrorists killed US citizens on at least four different occasions including the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the attacks on Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole. Al Gore’s attacks on the President today demonstrate that he either does not understand the threat of global terror, or he has amnesia.
That's beautiful.

Likewise, John Podhoretz had a simple, true response:

He [Gore] accused the United States of setting up an "American Gulag," thus comparing the incidents at Abu Ghraib to Josef Stalin's vast slave-prison archipelago that shackled nearly 30 million people in an Arctic wasteland and caused the deaths of many millions more. He has, in essence, declared that the monstrous American creeps we've seen in the Abu Ghraib photographs are victims as much as those they humiliated: "On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool. The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W. Bush."

Gore's speech is the single craziest political performance of my lifetime, and I use the word "craziest" advisedly. The speech, at 6,600 words, was twice as long as Bush's address to the nation on Monday night. The indiscipline shown by the sheer endlessness of Gore's address is a reflection of the psychic morass in which he has become mired. A man who was very, very nearly president of the United States has been reduced to sounding like one of those people in Times Square with a megaphone screaming about God's justice. It is almost impossible to believe that this man was once vice president of the United States.

As did Rush Limbaugh, pointing out a defense which Kate O'Beirne recently wrote about how the liberal community had taken his comments on Abu Ghraib out of context. Al Gore demands Bush condemn Rush Limbaugh? Only after somebody demands John Kerry and the Democrats condemn Al Gore.



Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of an illegal Shiite militia which has been battling coalition forces in several Iraqi cities, announced through his spokesman that the Mahdi Army would be willing to pull out of Najaf and form a truce with coalition forces in return for the same from the coalition. The deal does not meet expectations of the coalition, which demands that al-Sadr disband his militia and turn himself in for the murder of a fellow cleric. Additionally, al-Sadr would use the truce to position himself and try and reconcile with other Shiite leaders, who oppose his violent militia.

A negotiated end to the rebellion would be a major step toward pacifying the south, home to most of Iraq's majority Shiite population. U.S. forces also are fighting a Sunni Muslim rebellion in central and western Iraq. If the deal works, it would also go a long way toward affirming the willingness of mainstream Shiite political parties and religious leaders to cooperate with the coming transfer of power. Shiite leaders view elections scheduled for next January as a vehicle for coming to power for the first time in Iraq's history.
Is it 1938 all over again? I don't mean to compare this pipsqueak of a leader Sadr with Adolf Hitler, but allowing even a third-rate thug like Sadr to live another day to start rebellion later smacks of appeasement. But that's exactly what this newspaper article is urging.

The truth is that the only reason Sadr is capitulating is because the military's plan, formed by Marine Lt. Gen. James Conway, is working. I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong about Conway. At the time I called it the right strategy at the wrong time, but it's working. Because the military did not go into Sadr's strongholds all guns blazing Sadr has lost the public relations battle among the Iraqi civilians. Conway's forces systematically picked off the outskirts of Sadr's forces, surrounding the Mahdi Army slowly but surely. At the same time the Iraqi security forces, including some Iraqi Special Forces who have performed wonderfully, have taken a lead in engaging Sadr head to head. We captured his brother-in-law and key confidant on Tuesday. All the while Shiite leaders began more vocal opposition to Sadr.

If the local Shiites are willing to negotiate with Sadr, however, we may have to let go, because no matter what on June 30 Iraqis have a lot more say in how they want to do things. We have to get used to that. In fact, we have to encourage it. But I don't trust Sadr. He is now on the ropes. It would problematic to pull back now. Unfortunately, initial reports show that the coalition have agreed and will suspend activities until Iraqi security can take over, even though they are skeptical because the deal does not force Sadr to disband his army. Meanwhile, the political talks between Sadr and local Shiite authorities probably won't occur until after June 30, when the US has less say in the matter. Might the local Iraqis dismiss the murder charges against Sadr? This is just one of those distasteful deals we're going to have to swallow.



Here's a rare article about all the good the military is doing in Iraq through public works, in this case via a group of armored cavalry turned sewer diggers. At night they fight insurgents. At day they build and buy back weapons. As you read it imagine if these stories got the kind of nonstop coverage that Abu Ghraib receives.

[Maj. Gen. Peter] Chiarelli kicked off two sewer projects that will cost $31 million, part of a $240 million pot of money he has to spend on public works construction and power generation. Instead of hiring private contractors, Chiarelli intends to turn senior military officers into project managers, saving the high security costs that have become a part of doing business in Iraq.

Soon after the groundbreaking ceremony ended, a group of tribal sheiks strode up to Chiarelli. One complained that they were not formally invited to the event. "We think this means you don't respect us," Ismael Dona said. About 10,000 neighborhood residents belong to the tribes and generally follow what the sheiks say. Chiarelli, the 54-year-old son of a butcher in Seattle who was a lifelong union member, realized immediately he was looking at what amounted to a wildcat strike before the job had even begun.

"Not at all, and this is the first of many ceremonies," Chiarelli bellowed good-naturedly about not respecting the sheiks. "How about some pictures?" With that, the group walked over to a set of souvenir shovels and dug into the dirt for a second groundbreaking. The sheiks were appeased for the moment, but their long-term interests revolve around which tribe will secure the bulk of the 1,200 jobs on the project to lay seven miles of pipe and renovate a pump station to rid the streets of standing green slime. "That's the next fight," Lanza said. "Who gets the work."

The people in the surrounding neighborhood, many of whom Chiarelli places among the fence-sitters, remain skeptical of the project. "Any possible improvements in basic services will help the Americans," said Ismael Saeed Abdul Rahman, a 50-year-old electrical engineer with a graduate degree, who has remained ambivalent about the occupation. "The Americans should have done it from the beginning, when they were welcomed."

Chiarelli said U.S. civilian officials have moved too slowly to free up public works money and failed to ask the Iraqis to draw up their own wish lists, as his senior officers have done and compiled in an inch-thick binder he flips through during meals. He said he believes U.S. civilian officials focused too intently on satisfying the Iraqis who already support them -- a group he estimates at 55 percent of the population -- rather than reaching out to those who still might. Referring to the insurgents, he said, "This is their worst nightmare -- our delivering on promises to these places." Of the fence-sitters, he added, "They don't believe me. They think this should have been done a year ago." In seeking to minimize conflict with any Iraqi, even those among the 5 percent he says "we'll probably have to hunt down and capture or kill," Chiarelli has experimented with solutions short of war.

This is a grand indictment of the US State Department and Paul Bremer. The State Department is without a doubt the weakest link in the governmental chain. It epitomizes all the worst stereotypes about government and bureaucracy - too slow, too big, too much regulation, too expensive yet too frugal, reactionary never proactive. The soldiers have kicked ass in this war - not just with fighting but with reconstructing. The State Department civilians are more concerned with rules than getting the job done. Related, it is the State Department and Paul Bremer who are assisting Kofi Annan in covering up UN Oil-for-Food scandal. (see below)

Last week, on the edge of the Shiite slum of Sadr City, a stronghold of an anti-occupation militia, Chiarelli's officers tried out a law enforcement technique imported from urban American: the weapons buyback. The program, which pays Iraqis for weapons they turn in, was part of a truce arranged between Chiarelli's officers and sheiks from the neighborhood. The sheiks would rein in the militia, led by cleric Moqtada Sadr, and U.S. forces would cut down on patrols. Chiarelli's idea was to allow his soldiers back in the neighborhood to continue public works projects, but first he had to stop the shooting. The gun buyback was an incentive.

For days, men, women and children lined up outside a sports stadium on the neighborhood's dusty edge. They clutched burlap sacks filled with AK-47s, each selling for $200. Little girls held artillery rounds. A donkey cart dragged in a worn antiaircraft gun. "If they keep this going a few more days, maybe I'd bring them a chemical weapon," said Khadar Hassan, 35 and unemployed, holding a sack full of assault rifles. "I have 35 more of these at home."

Capt. Kevin Baird, a 29-year-old from Nashville, watched the flow of weapons burn through his budget with an air of amusement and amazement. By the end of six days, he had collected 800 AK-47s and half that many rocket-propelled grenade rounds -- each one of which, he said, would likely have killed a soldier or crippled a vehicle. "We knew everyone had an AK-47, but the tank rounds, artillery rounds, we had no idea," said Baird, surveying piles of munitions cluttering the stadium tunnels. "This is stuff they had just laying around the house. It's made a dent, maybe only a small dent, but there are now that many fewer guns that will shoot at us down the road."

I think we need to ask that guy about the chemical weapons. He's probably joking, but...



Now that George Bush has backed away from any Wilsonian pretensions in Iraq, the question arises: if democracy fails there, will the American intervention have been proven to be a failure? Not necessarily. The war in Iraq has clearly dealt a severe blow to a terror network that was much larger than Saddam Hussein or Al-Qaeda -- one that is over 75 years old. Because of the politically correct blackout in the mainstream media on serious inquiry into the roots of Islamic radicalism, many Americans still believe that the terrorist threat will end once Al-Qaeda is neutralized. But in reality, the roots of today's war on terror lie in the creation not of Al-Qaeda, but of the Muslim Brotherhood.
-- Robert Spencer, with an excellent background and understanding of the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood.



You have to admire the resilience of the United Nations. In theory, the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food relief program for Iraq, which ran from 1996-2003, is now the subject of at least five investigations into billions worth of alleged fraud and corruption. In practice, however, while U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan dismisses well-founded allegations as "outrageous," and President George W. Bush chalks out a big new role for the U.N. in Iraq, it is the investigators themselves who are now largely stalled, stymied, carefully contained, or even attacked.
-- Claudia Rosett, who has followed this story for years, has the entire, frustrating episode in her latest report. Read the whole thing.


It may be too little too late to truly placate fiscal conservatives but the Bush administration's 2006 budget may include spending cuts for domestic programs across the board. I say may because a recently revealed memorandum, on which this news is based, tells agencies that their 2006 budget will likely match 2005. The media, and Democrats, call this a cut because it's an anathema to try anything other than increase taxdollar spending in the Beltway. They also do this because they think that cutting government spending is somehow politically bad. Well, only if you're a liberal.

"Assume accounts are funded at the 2006 level specified in the 2005 Budget database," the memo informs federal program associate directors and their deputies. "If you propose to increase funding above that level for any account, it must be offset within your agency by proposing to decrease funding below that level in other accounts."

The funding levels referred to in the memo would be a tiny slice out of the federal budget -- $2.3 billion, or 0.56 percent, out of the $412.7 billion requested for fiscal 2005 for domestic programs and homeland security that is subject to Congress's annual discretion.

But the cuts are politically sensitive, targeting popular programs that Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. The Education Department; a nutrition program for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeownership, job-training, medical research and science programs all face cuts in 2006.

The deficit is, in my opinion, always a bit of a red herring because forecasts are usually very much off the mark. A deficit, or a surplus, is a symptom of two things, spending and economic growth. To get surpluses you must create conditions to spark a healthy economy, such as cutting taxes (See Coolidge, Kennedy and Reagan). But in Bush's case, his domestic spending has been so out of control that it has countered any benefits of the 2001 tax cut - see the recently passed Medicare bill for an example. But Bush's domestic spending is the brainchild of Karl Rove, who has taken a page out of the Dick Morris/Bill Clinton playbook of triangulation - take away an opponent's issue by making it your own. The danger in this strategy is it creates an opportunity for Democrats to say that Bush's tax cuts caused the deficit. Again, only liberal government would call allowing you and me to keep more of the money we earned as a "cost." This is exactly what they're doing too.

"Despite [administration] denials, this memorandum confirms what we suspected all along," said Thomas S. Kahn, Democratic staff director on the House Budget Committee. "Next February, the administration plans to propose spending cuts in key government services to pay for oversized tax cuts."
Actually those oversized tax cuts are the only reason we've averaged 4.3% growth in gross domestic product since the first quarter of 2003. And I love how liberals always manage to forget how much September 11 damaged the economy. But that's to be expected considering so many of them still live in the September 10 world.

But with the budget deficit exceeding $400 billion this year, tough and painful cuts are unavoidable, said Brian M. Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Federal agencies' discretionary spending has risen 39 percent in the past three years. "I think the public is ready for spending cuts," Riedl said. "Not only does the public understand there's a lot of waste in the federal budget, but the public is ready to make sacrifices during the war on terror."

This may not help Bush politically, but it's not going to hurt him. The people calling for more spending don't vote Republican to begin with, so blowhards like Tom Kahn are wasting their breath. What concerns me in this analysis, and I didn't post the whole article, is that some of the Bush spokespeople are playing down the attempts to curb or cut spending, instead of touting it. Much of the spending is related to domestic security programs. After 9-11 we simply have no choice but to make sure the FBI and Homeland Security have every computer, person and resource they need. But honestly, most of the spending is domestic, and usually on programs that have had decades and billions of dollars to "solve" something but never have. I used to believe that Bush's domestic spending was a triangulation ploy to disguise eventual cuts. But after years of waiting I now believe that Bush is a spender, and that this memo is a ploy to placate conservatives, not moderates or liberals, and after the election he'll just return to spending big.


You may not know it, because it's never reported, but Iraqis throughout the country are creating their own websites and blogs, much like this one, in a frenzied fashion. They're popping up everywhere. This is remarkable. This is unheard of. A year ago there were no (legal) Iraqi blogs because Saddam Hussein would have had his security forces hunt down the authors and tortured them in prison or killed them. The most important thing freedom gives is expression. And at least one Iraqi blogger, titled Iraq the Model, wants to share his thanks by posting statements from other grateful Iraqis.

What happens these days in Iraq is a natural process as a result from the transfer from dictatorship to democracy. --Ali Ahmed-Baghdad.

I'm an Iraqi citizen and I want to thank president GWB from all my heart for the great service he's done to the Iraqi people by freeing us from one of the worst tyrants in history. This liberation didn't suit the enemies of humanity and freedom, thus we see them committing terrorist acts claiming to resist occupation by killing their own people, but that will not affect the Iraqis lust for freedom. Thanks again GWB. --Kamal-Adhamya-Baghdad.

I won't forget the day when I saw one of Saddam's tanks crushing the heads of 40 She'at Iraqis who were among others arrested for no obvious reason in 1991. Their hands were tied and put on the street for the tank to pass over their heads. The words" No She'at after today" where written on that tank. I was one of those people. My hands were tied to the back and a grenade was put between them and the safety pin removed. It was positioned in a way that it should explode if I was to make any move, and I was left a lone in a deserted area that was at least 5 Km. from any life. If it wasn't for the kindness of one of the soldiers who came back and rescued me, I would've certainly died soon. --Ihsan Al-Shimmari-Sweeden.

We lived our worst years under Saddam regime, a regime that many Arabs still believe in!We don't know why don't they leave us in peace, especially the Arab media that turns liberation into occupation and criminals into resistant. We, Iraqis, know the truth very well. The situation is much better now for the vast majority of Iraqis. Most of the people are government employees who used to get paid 4 or 6 thousand Iraqi dinars. Now the lowest salary is 100 thousand Iraqi Dinar. We feel free and we don't fear prisons and torture. The Arab media, as expected, made a huge fuss about the prisoners abuse in Abu-Gharib. Shame on them. Where were they when Saddam put explosives around a bunch of young men and blasted their bodies and they all saw that on TV? Where were they? --Saman-Iraq.

I had to leave Iraq because I didn't want to be one of Saddam's slaves. After so many years, I'm back to my country and I saw that people are not as nervous as they used to be. I saw hope in their eyes despite the security problems. All I have to say to our Arab brothers is,"We are practicing democracy. You keep enjoying dictatorship" --Ilham Hussain-Baghdad.

I'm from an area not so far from Shat Al-Arab, still at Saddam's time we never had clean water supply. Now the situation is better and the British are very gentle and kind. I no longer fear for my life or my family's. The only problems we have are the thieves and some shortage in power supply. --Kadim Jabbar-Al-Zubair-Basra.

The daily life in Basra is not that different from other parts of Iraq; It's very hot, the water and power supply are not Continuous, still I prefer to live a year in these conditions than one hour like those we lived under Saddam. --Abbas Mahir Tahir-Basra.

Imagine if these comments received the same amount of media coverage as Abu Ghraib.



A belated US indictment led to a UK raid against a London extremist connected to several al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists, including one who was establishing terror training camp in Oregon. In an 11-count indictment Abu Hamza al-Masri is charged with aiding a deadly kidnapping in Yemen in 1998. Hamza, aka Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, ran the Finsbury Park mosque when both "20th Hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoebomber" Richard Reid attended. Hamza was also involved in the James Ujaama led cell that was training for future terror attacks from their Bly, Oregon camp. (While my theory was off the mark I wrote a lot about Hamza here).

The federal indictment accuse Hamza, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, of providing material support to terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, from October 1999 to early 2000. The charges allege that he helped al Qaeda volunteers travel from Britain to Afghanistan, of plotting to establish a "violent jihad training camp" in Oregon and of providing a satellite phone to the leader of a 1998 kidnapping in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of four hostages. The maximum sentence for the hostage-taking charges is the death penalty or life imprisonment, Ashcroft said. Hamza also faces a maximum sentence of up to 100 years in prison on the additional charges contained in the indictment, [Attorney General John] Ashcroft said.

The U.S. and British governments and some in the Muslim mainstream consider Abu Hamza a dangerous radical whose extremist views nourish hatred mainly among disaffected young Britons. The Egyptian-born cleric is fighting attempts to strip him of his British citizenship. Hamza is one of Britain's best known Islamic radicals. He has been fighting deportation by the British government, which has accused him of advising and supporting terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. The Egyptian-born cleric also is wanted in Yemen on charges of orchestrating terrorism there from Britain. The UK government revoked his British citizenship in April 2003, calling him a threat to the country's interests. He has appealed that decision to a special immigration tribunal and a ruling is not expected until next January 10.


A virtue I don't know, but am asking from you. I'll have some stuff up in a bit. Lunch calls.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS - WASHINGTON - Laboratory tests have confirmed that the chemical weapon sarin was in the remains of a roadside bomb found in Baghdad earlier this month, government officials say. Some analysts worry the 155-millimeter artillery shell, found May 15, may be part of a larger stockpile of Iraqi chemical weapons now in the hands of insurgents, but no more have turned up. Several military officials have speculated that the shell may have been an older one that predated the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq's first field-test of a binary-type shell containing sarin was in 1988, U.S. defense officials have noted. Saddam's government only disclosed that it was testing and producing sarin after Iraqi weapons chief Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Saddam's son-in-law, defected in 1995. But Iraq never declared any sarin or shells filled with sarin remained. Saddam's alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction was the Bush administration's chief stated reason for invading Iraq, but U.S. weapons hunters have been unable to validate the prewar intelligence that described those stockpiles.

Boy, that's the quietest story of confirmed Iraqi WMD ever... "We'll always have Paris," went the line from a famous Bogart movie. Well the media will "always have Abu Ghraib."



According to intelligence officials al Qaeda operative sleeper units are already inside the United States awaiting the signal to attack, possibly between now and Labor Day, but likely before November in the hopes of influencing the presidential election as occurred in Spain. The suspects include Aafia Siddiqui and Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, a Bonnie and Clyde terrorist couple who have been at large since their names were leaked during interrogation of the 9-11 mastermind Khalid Mohammed.

That information dovetails with other intelligence "chatter" suggesting that al Qaeda operatives are pleased with the change in government resulting from the March 11 terrorist bombings in Spain and may want to affect elections in the United States and other countries. "They saw that an attack of that nature can have economic and political consequences and have some impact on the electoral process," said one federal official with access to counterterrorism intelligence.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials are trying to strengthen security at the presidential nominating conventions this summer in Boston and New York. They are also concerned about the possible targeting of other prominent events, starting with the World War II Memorial ceremony Saturday in the District, the Group of Eight summit June 8-10 in Sea Island, Ga., and the Summer Olympic Games in August in Athens.

The bureau probably plans another public push to find Aafia Siddiqui, 32, a Pakistani woman who has a doctorate in neurological science and has studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University in the Boston area, as well as in Houston.

The FBI also could seek help locating a man Siddiqui has been linked to, Adnan G. El Shukrijumah. He is a suspected al Qaeda member who spent time in Florida, and his name has come up in interrogations of captured al Qaeda lieutenant Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

In April, an FBI bulletin to law enforcement agencies warned of possible truck bombs. A source familiar with the government's threat discussions said yesterday that truck bombs are a primary concern. One counterterrorism official said al Qaeda still aims to carry off an attack that would kill large numbers of people, and is aiming at modes of transportation such as airlines and ships. Anything less than a spectacular attack, such as a suicide bombing, would appear weak to al Qaeda's financiers, according to the counterterrorism official.

The damage of the Spanish voter continues. Terrorism can never be appeased, else it just brings more. Now, of course, al Qaeda would plan attacks on US soil regardless of the outcome in the Spanish elections, but they are undoubtedly encouraged by the rise of the Spanish Socialist Party and its subsequent withdraw of forces from Iraq. Terrorism, while considered an illegal form of war, is nonetheless designed like any war to achieve a political objective. Any attack against the US around election time seeks the same thing - a strike designed to push the American voter to encourage politicians to pull troops from Iraq.

Now, in a rare nod to John Kerry the presidential candidate stated plainly after the Madrid bombings that he would not withdraw US forces from Iraq if elected, thus subduing the opportunity for al Qaeda to use the election as a political objective to attain. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't fold. If al Qaeda successfully executed a massive, 9-11 attack on US soil and then issued a proclamation that a truce could be attained were the US to withdraw from Iraq I think there's a decent chance you'd see the American resolve crack. In turn the antiwar appeasement movement would grow stronger, politicians like Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd would become more vocal and a President John Kerry, assuming the attack changed the outcome of the election, would have no choice but to curb the proactiveness of the war on terror, based upon waning support from his party. This is exactly what's happening to UK PM Tony Blair right now. Kerry, as president, would likely go back to the 1990s style of occasional tit-for-tat cruise missile strategy against terror - ineffective but politically safe. It gives an appearance of strength (to some American voters, certainly not to al Qaeda) with zero risk.



Iraq needs less violence and more politics. The former probably requires more of a U.S. presence, the latter requires less. If there is a way to reconcile these imperatives, and there may not be, it is by a Madisonian connection: A government supported by sufficient Iraqi factions must feel a life-or-death stake in the success of the U.S. war — and such it shall largely remain — against the insurgents.
-- George Will



I'm humored by the reaction of Iraqis concerning the Abu Ghraib prison scandal on a number of counts. For all the Western and Pan-Arab media's hysterical coverage, turning a serious problem into a Holocaust, the Iraqis, the ones most effected by this event, have the most perspective.

For example, the Lebanese Daily Star (hat tip Frog Brother) reports that "To Saddam's Prisoners US Abuse Seems a Joke." Ibrahim al-Idrissi, the president of the Iraqi non-governmental group Association for Free Prisoners, which was started to document Saddam's atrocities against political prisoners, said his organization has confirmed the execution of 147,000 prisoners by Saddam. Al-Idrissi spent more than six years at Abu Ghraib under Saddam.

Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation. "As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."

If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad: "They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."

"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."

"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."

I'm no longer humored. I'm ticked off. Our media and more leftist members of society have allowed the abuses by a handful of military police and military intelligence to become equated with using a knife to cut a baby out of a mother while the father is forced to watch.

On a related note Iraqis are also bewildered by President Bush's promise to destroy Abu Ghraib prison as a gesture of goodwill to the Iraqi people. I can understand where he's coming from, and many other politicians have been making this demand. But to Iraqis it's either a waste of a good prison or the destruction of museum.

"Abu Ghraib is the biggest one and can keep many detainees," [Ghassan] Abbas said, shaking his head. "How can they demolish it?"

Interior Minister Sameer Shaker Sumaidaie, who is in charge of police and security in Iraq, said the building is not the problem. "I can understand the rush to abolish Abu Ghraib," Sumaidaie said on Monday, but added, "I personally don't think the building itself has a meaning positive or negative." Sumaidaie said the stain of Abu Ghraib would be erased simply by making it more open and making the people who run it more accountable.

Rajaa Habib Khuzai, a member of the Governing Council, said demolishing the prison "will not change the impressions of the Iraqis about what happened at the jail. "The coming generation should see what the Iraqi people suffered," she said. "The best thing is to make half of it a museum and remain the other half as a prison because the prison is so big and there is not need to demolish it and build a new one."

Kadhim Ali Jasim, a 29-year-old security guard at the Babylon Hotel, said he did not support demolishing the prison. "I am with changing the staff and the rules of the prison and respect the Iraq man even if he was a criminal," he said, stopping for a moment to talk after buying a pack of cigarettes from Abbas's tobacco shop. He added, "I don't think they can change the staff and prison's rules until we have a government."

...Muhammad Hussein Abdul Rahim, 45, who owns an appliance shop on the same street, said Abu Ghraib was the best prison the world. "It is comfortable," he said. "It is built on a very big space and far from the city." "They can change the staff," he said.

Now, maybe the article engaged in selective quoting, although two Iraqis questioned did support its demolishment, but there doesn't seem to be a massive movement by the Iraqis to destroy what they see as their own Holocaust symbol under the Hussein era. I've got a solution. Make a national referendum out of it. Democracy in action.



Speaking of our media's overreaction to Abu Ghraib, according to a NY Times report the death of captives in both Iraq and Afghanistan is more widespread than previously thought or stated. Well, what is "widespread"? 100 cases? 1000? 10,000? No, 37. Now, I'm not an apologist for Abu Ghraib. Any Iraqi deaths that occurred as a result of interrogation - such as malnourishment or "water boarding" - need to be investigated seriously, although the NY Times grouping Taliban and al Qaeda captives with Iraqis is egregious. Likewise, the activities of the seven military police at Abu Ghraib should be punished. But once again, we're watering down terms like "abuse" and "torture" and applying them equally to every "victim," whether they be Khalid Mohammed or an Iraqi kid at the wrong place at the wrong time (or not).

But the details paint a broad picture of misconduct, and show that in many cases among the 37 prisoners who have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army did not conduct autopsies and says it cannot determine the causes of the deaths. In his speech on Monday night, President Bush portrayed the abuse of prisoners by American soldiers in narrow terms. He described incidents at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which were the first and most serious to come to light, as involving actions "by a few American troops who disregarded our country and disregarded our values."

According to the Army summary, the deaths that are now being investigated most vigorously by Army officials may be those from Afghanistan in December 2002, where two prisoners died in one week at what was known as the Bagram Collection Point, where interrogations were overseen by a platoon from Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg.

On March 4, 2003, The New York Times reported on the two deaths, noting that the cause given on one of the death certificates was "homicide," a result of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease." It was signed by an Army pathologist. Both deaths were ruled homicides within days, but military spokesmen in Afghanistan initially portrayed at least one as being the result of natural causes. Personnel from the unit in charge of interrogations at the facility, led by Capt. Carolyn Wood, were later assigned to Iraq, and to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib.

The document also categorizes as a sexual assault a case of abuse at Abu Ghraib last fall that involved three soldiers from that unit, who were later fined and demoted but whose names the Army has refused to provide. As part of the incident, the document says, the three soldiers "entered the female wing of the prison and took a female detainee to a vacant cell." "While one allegedly stood as look-out and one held the detainee's hand, the third soldier allegedly kissed the detainee," the report said. It says that the female detainee was reportedly threatened with being left with a naked male detainee, but that "investigation failed to either prove or disprove the indecent-assault allegations." The May 5 document said the three soldiers from the 519th were demoted: two to privates first class and one to specialist. One was fined $750, the other two $500 each.

According to Army officials and documents, at least 12 prisoners have died of natural or undetermined causes, including nine in Abu Ghraib. In six of those cases, the military conducted no autopsy to confirm the presumed cause of death. As a result, the investigations into their deaths were closed by Army investigators. In another case, an autopsy found that a detainee, Muhammad Najem Abed, died of cardiac arrest complicated by diabetes, without noting, as the investigation summary does, that he died after "a self-motivated hunger strike."

The Times can lambast Bush - and they will - for portraying abuse in "narrow" terms, but at the end of the day we're talking about just 37 documented cases. Of those 37 some are likely deaths caused by interrogation gone too far. But others are going to be from natural causes, preexisting medical conditions, and so on. In at least one of those 37 the detainee was shot trying to escape. We also have to account for several prison riots - one during the war in Afghanistan, one last November at Abu Ghraib - and if the military has counted any deaths into the 37 cases. I find it hard to call the death from a prison riot or escape an "abuse." We've got thousands of Iraqi, Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners, yet only 37 cases, most of which the military has been dealing with.

Next, look at how the Washington Post blurs the lines of acceptable or legal interrogation behavior by citing the presence of dogs at Abu Ghraib. Col. Thomas Pappas told the Post that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a military intelligence head dispatched from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Iraq to oversee interrogations, ordered the dogs be present. Pappas said that Miller urged the practice to scare the Iraqi detainees into talking. Miller denies the charge or that any related conversations between him and Pappas took place. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt also reiterated the denial.

The subject becomes more relevant because Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba cited the dogs specifically in his March report to Gen. Sanchez.

Taguba, in a rare classified passage within his generally unclassified report, listed "using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees" as one of 13 examples of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" inflicted by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib. Experts on the laws of war have charged that using dogs to coerce prisoners into providing information, as was done at Abu Ghraib, constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions that protect civilians under the control of an occupying power, such as the Iraqi detainees.

"Threatening a prisoner with a ferocious guard dog is no different as a matter of law from pointing a gun at a prisoner's head and ordering him to talk," said James Ross, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. "That's a violation of the Geneva Conventions." Article 31 of the Fourth Geneva Convention bars use of coercion against protected persons, and Common Article Three bars any "humiliating and degrading treatment," Ross said. Experts do not consider the presence in a prison of threatening dogs, by itself, to constitute torture, but a 1999 United Nations-approved manual lists the "arranging of conditions for attacks by animals such as dogs" as a "torture method."

Taguba was clearly miffed at the use of unmuzzled dogs, especially in cases where the dog bit the detainee. But this artcile quickly turns Taguba's report into a clear cut violation of Geneva Conventions, complete with quotes from a human rights activist for fodder, when it's anything but. But look how the Post confuses a complex issue: The top paragraph states that the dogs constitute a violation designed to protect "civilians." Well, pardon me, but a lot of these Iraqis were carrying AK-47s and trying to put bullets into our soldiers, so labeling every detainee as civilian, across the board, doesn't fly. Secondly, Article 31 of the Geneva Conventions protects civilians and legal combatants, not illegal combatants who wear no distinguishable insignia, like a uniform, and who use civilians as human shields and hide their weapons and generally act as terrorists. Even the Viet Cong wore black pajamas.



Under the headline "Prison Investigator's Army Experience Questioned" Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus constructs what can only be called a smear piece on Maj. Gen. George Fay, whom the commanding general in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, appointed to lead the investigation of the role of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib. Why? Because he's an insurance company executive who has been on active duty for five years. But Fay is the acting deputy chief of staff for Army intelligence, and a career Army reservist. If being a reservist is automatically synonymous with inexperience then the Washington Post just insulted 40 percent of all troops in Iraq as incompetent. So, what's the next beef, other than a reporter stirring muck for muck's sake? General Fay made several political contributions to local New Jersey politicians! Is this illegal? No. Any member of the military can make financial contributions to candidates. Was it partisan? No, Fay contributed to both Republicans and Democrats, including Senator Bill Bradley. Is anyone complaining? No. In fact, in 17 paragraphs reporter Pincus includes only one quote of frowning - by a professor of military history at the University of North Carolina. Oh! Well if a university professor says it's a problem then it must be true.

Two Pentagon officials and one public affairs officer in Iraq said yesterday they could not say who chose Fay to run the inquiry, but one Army official said the orders "were cut by" Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the commanding general in Iraq.
Oooooh! "were cut by..." A hint of a conspiracy! Could there be a conspiracy here! I don't know, but I'm sure the Post will find one somehow, somewhere.

Fay worked for Chubb but had a series of Army reserve posts, primarily in the New York area, from 1974 until 1999, when he was activated and assigned as deputy commanding general of the Army Intelligence and Security Command. Once activated, as a colonel, he was quickly promoted, first to brigadier general in 2000 and last year to major general. In October, he became deputy chief of staff for intelligence at the Pentagon.

Fay has continued to make political contributions since he started active duty in 1999, some through the Chubb Corporation Political Action Committee (Chubbpac), according to public records. In 2000, he gave $500 to the campaign of Bob Franks, a New Jersey Republican running for the Senate; $1,000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee; and $1,000 to Chubbpac. In 2001 he gave $2,500 to Chubbpac and in 2002 another $2,500, but made no similar donations in 2003, according to election records. In the years before he went on active duty, Fay gave smaller contributions to Chubbpac. In 1997, he contributed $1,500 to the New Jersey Republican Party. In 1990, he gave $1,000 to New Jersey Democrat Bill Bradley's Senate campaign.

What! He was promoted quickly? Hmmm. And he made political contributions! Hmmm. I smell something foul. It's probably just Walter Pincus' lack of professionalism, or his underwear, but it could be... A SCANDAL! After all, people don't get promotions through hard work, diligence and talent. No, no! Anyone who succeeds is just bribing their way to the top! Say... I wonder how many political contributions Mr. Pincus has made... Hmmm.

Defense Department regulations permit political contributions by military personnel but it is unusual for them to go through a corporate political action committee.
Hmmm. "Unusual"... It must be... A SCANDAL!

Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday he was unaware of Fay's background as a reservist and his political contributions. "These are very hard facts and have to be considered," Warner said. He added that "we don't have reason to question whether he will do other than an honorable job."
Oh, sure, just your run of the mill empty statement of concern by Senator soandso from suchandsuch.

Richard Kohn, professor of military history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said yesterday that Fay's limited experience as a reservist "does not inspire confidence in the investigation." He said the choice "is troubling. It raises the most basic question as to who chose him and why and what his tasking is."
Yes... we're all very troubled here at the University of North Carolina department of military history. We don't know exactly what we're troubled about, but I'm sure there's something.

Must be a slow news day at the Post. Pincus needs to get a life.



In a raid in Najaf US military forces captured a key aide and brother-in-law of Moqtada al-Sadr, Riyadh Nouri. The news was annouced by a spokesman for Sadr.

The capture of al-Nouri would be a major blow to al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army, which has been battling coalition forces since early April. Al-Sadr launched his uprising in response to a crackdown by coalition authorities who announced an arrest warrant against him in the April 2003 assassination of a moderate cleric in Najaf. Al-Nouri was also sought in the 2003 killing.
This falls on the heels of major accomplishments in Kufa and Karbala, reported on Monday.



Dr. Hussain al-Shahristani, who once headed Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, is rising to the top of the list for the post of Iraqi prime minister. Saddam sent al-Shahristani to Abu Ghraib for 10 years because the scientist objected to the weapons program. More likely al-Shahristani didn't make progress as quickly as Saddam wanted, as I doubt he'd still be alive had he openly refused an order by Saddam.

The search for a prime minister and other top aides in the caretaker government has been led by Lakhdar Brahimi, a United Nations special envoy, and Robert D. Blackwill, President Bush's envoy in Iraq. A senior administration official said from Baghdad that no final decision had been made on the top jobs in the government but that Mr. Blackwill and Mr. Brahimi were closing in on their choices. "We're down to a handful of names for each of the positions, and in some cases a smaller number than that," the official said.

Other people close to the process said Dr. Shahristani had recently emerged as a compromise choice for prime minister among various groups, including the dominant Shiites and rival factions among the Kurds, Sunnis and others. "Shahristani is a really good choice," said an Iraqi familiar with the selection process. "He was head of Iraq's nuclear program when Saddam gathered them all in a room and told them they were going to build a bomb. In that meeting, Shahristani said no, and he spent 10 years in Abu Ghraib." He escaped into exile in London at the time of the first Persian Gulf war in 1991, and from there led a relief group that assisted Iraqi refugees.

Another advantage of selecting Dr. Shahristani, according to various officials, is that he is considered a devout but moderate Shiite and is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most respected Shiite cleric in Iraq. Mr. Brahimi and Mr. Blackwill are said to have been trying to make sure that the job of prime minister, the most important post in the new caretaker government, is filled by a Shiite.

For the largely ceremonial post of president, Bush administration officials have said the United States favors Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister of Iraq. Mr. Pachachi is a Sunni who has little popular following but has won respect for his work in the American-picked Iraqi Governing Council. There will be two vice presidents, also in largely ceremonial posts, and a cabinet of up to 26 members that is expected to include both nonpolitical leaders and also representatives of various constituent groups.

Also in the report French, German, Russian and Chinese officials are "all demanding that Iraqi sovereignty be more explicitly laid out than what was outlined" in a submitted US-UK United Nations Security Council resolution. Excuse me, but didn't all these countries oppose regime change to begin with? Were it up to them there would now be no issue of Iraqi sovereignty, other than taking bribes from Saddam.



[Wash Times] Al Gore will try to boost his party's chances of regaining the White House by criticizing President Bush's Iraq policy in a speech today, in which he will call for the resignation of five Bush administration officials and one military leader. The event, sponsored by the political action committee of the liberal group, seeks to motivate the Democratic base. Mr. Gore will argue that Mr. Bush's foreign policy has created animosity against the United States throughout the Islamic world and is putting Americans at greater risk.
Right... So if they loved us before this foreign policy then why did we have so many terrorist attacks against us, including 9-11, which was planned well before Bush took office? Anyway, Al, by all means please pretty-please with sugar on top go after Bush and endorse Kerry. The last time Gore endorsed somebody it was Howard "Screamin" Dean, and look how fast he fell from that association.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It seems to me that it doesn't matter too much what President Bush said in his televised speech last night because no matter what he says his critics will accuse him of not saying enough. Take for example this Washington Post "news analysis" - again, opinion disguised as news - that finds Bush did not provide midcourse correction "that even some Republicans had called for" - such as those from Northeastern states where "Republican" means moderate Democrat - and did not "try to answer some of the looming questions that have triggered growing skepticism and anxiety at home and abroad about the final U.S. costs, the final length of stay for U.S. troops, or what the terms will be for a final U.S. exit from Iraq." Got all that? It's a mouthful. And manure too.

What questions are unanswered? I don't know because nobody ever asks a specific question. I can easily give you the answers to the three questions above. 1) Final cost? It's a war, so like dinner you'll get the bill at the end. 2) The length of stay? When the job is done and Iraqis are autonomous 3) Terms for exit? When Iraqi security can secure itself without coalition support.

To support its argument this "news analysis" goes to its nonpartisan expert... from the Jimmy Carter administration: one Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's former national security advisor. This is akin to asking Rush Limbaugh to bipartisanly measure John Kerry's foreign policy.

Still, the questions left unanswered last night could continue to make the administration vulnerable to criticism. "The more explicit and precise, the better. A lot of rhetoric without altering the substance will not do," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, who has been critical of the Bush administration's foreign policy. "What's involved is basically American credibility."
Forgive me dear readers, if I don't take my foreign policy advise from a member of the Carter administration; an administration that was made powerless by a clan of religious nuts in Iran and quit after just one failed rescue attempt and which was shocked - yes shocked! - when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, probably because it undermined every Liberal dreamy, utopian, apologetic, morally-equivalent notion of Communism (But it's not the system! Besides, everyone invades some country)

And again, what questions specifically? We don't know. Why? Simple. If the opposition party began asking specific questions about Iraq someone might bother to inquire of John Kerry what his answer is. This would produce two results, both negative. Either he'd give the same answer as Bush, or he wouldn't have an answer other than inexplicit, imprecise rhetoric.

"I'm extremely disappointed. He didn't answer any of the important questions. I don't think he leveled with the American people. This may be the last time we have to get it right," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del), ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry said Bush had only repeated general principles already laid out by the administration. Kerry said the president needed instead to "genuinely reach out" to allies so the United States no longer has to "go it alone" and to create stability. "That's what our troops deserve, and that's what our country and the world need at this moment," he said in a statement.

Senator Kerry, what would you as president in 2003 have done differently to convince France and Russia that military force was necessary in Iraq given that both countries, along with so many others, were accepting massive amounts of bribe money through the corrupted UN Oil-for-Food program in return for preventing war and reversing sanctions? Any time you're ready to answer, senator... We're waiting senator... yeah, didn't think so. Instead we get the same old meaningless garbage about "reaching out" and multilateralism.

If Bush's critics are demanding specifics they need to give a few themselves.



It wasn't an exciting or moving speech, but it wasn't supposed to be. Nonetheless from my biased sight President Bush's address was pretty good and began with a rare admission by the administration - that the quick defeat of Saddam enabled his minions to disperse into the population, where they now fight as illegal combatants. Unexpected was news that the US military will demolish Abu Ghraib prison, a symbol of the Hussein era, upon completion of a new facility. Bush also summed and then detailed the five steps to help Iraq achieve freedom and democracy:

We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; help establish security; continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure; encourage more international support; and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.
But back to Bush's early admission that Saddam's quick defeat helped spawn an insurgency - more than anything else in his speech Bush emphasized that the US military is learning from mistakes, even when they are unintended or were not predictable. Just as Saddam's quick fall was not all that it seems so too is the military's engagement with the illegal militia of Moqtada al-Sadr. We're taking time to fight al-Sadr on purpose (and this pleased even hard to please Ralph Peters, see below). In explaining this Bush emphasizes the key to victory:

In the city of Fallujah there has been considerable violence by Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters, including the murder of four American contractors. American soldiers and Marines could have used overwhelming force. Our commanders, however, consulted with Iraq's governing council and local officials and determined that massive strikes against the enemy would alienate the local population and increase support for the insurgency. So we have pursued a different approach. We're making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah. Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city.

Our soldiers and Marines will continue to disrupt enemy attacks on our supply routes, conduct joint patrols with Iraqis to destroy bomb factories and safe houses, and kill or capture any enemy. We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country's enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them. At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy. And those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.

In the cities of Najaf and Karbala and Kufa, most of the violence has been decided by a young radical cleric who commands an illegal militia. These enemies have been hiding behind an innocent civilian population, storing arms and ammunition in mosques and launching attacks from holy shrines. Our soldiers have treated religious sites with respect, while systematically dismantling the illegal militia. We're also seeing Iraqis themselves take more responsibility for restoring order. In recent weeks, Iraqi forces have ejected elements of this militia from the governor's office in Najaf. Yesterday, an elite Iraqi unit cleared out a weapons cache from a large mosque in Kufa.

Respected Shia leaders have called on the militia to withdraw from these towns. Ordinary Iraqis have marched in protest against the militants. As challenges rise in Fallujah, Najaf and elsewhere, the tactics of our military will be flexible. Commanders on the ground will pay close attention to local conditions and we will do all that is necessary by measured force or overwhelming force to achieve a stable Iraq. Iraq's military police and border forces have begun to take on broader responsibilities. Eventually, they must be the primary defenders of Iraqi security as American and coalition forces are withdrawn. And we're helping them to prepare for this role.

In some cases, the early performance of Iraqi forces fell short. Some refused orders to engage the enemy. We've learned from these failures and we've taken steps to correct them. Successful fighting units need a sense of cohesion so we've lengthened and intensified their training. Successful units need to know they are fighting for the future of their own country, not for any occupying power. So we are ensuring that Iraqi forces serve under an Iraqi chain of command. Successful fighting units need the best possible leadership. So we improved the vetting and training of Iraqi officers and senior enlisted men. At my direction and with the support of Iraqi authorities, we are accelerating our program to help train Iraqis to defend their country. A new team of senior military officers is now assessing every unit in Iraq's security forces. I've asked this team to oversee the training of a force of 260,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and other security personnel. Five Iraqi army battalions are in the field now, with another eight battalions to join them by July 1st. The eventual goal is an Iraqi army of 35,000 soldiers in 27 battalions fully prepared to defend their country.

After June 30th, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations. Iraq's new sovereign government will still face enormous security challenges and our forces will be there to help.

Message: we've learned from past failures. We're deliberately slowing our military response so that the Iraqis can respond instead, giving them confidence and making the fight theirs as much as ours. The remainder of Bush's speech concerned asking for more foreign aid and noting that Iraqi elections will begin by January. In fact, most Americans might not realize - thanks to our media - that at the local level Iraqis are already practicing representative government and electing town councils and city governments, despite the violence. Think about that. In less than two years Iraq has moved from a dictatorship to a democracy. It's not going to be the Thirteen Colonies overnight, and might not even be as secular as Western standards, but a democracy it is going to become, and no car bomb or insurgency is going to stop that. At this point only naysaying Americans can stop it.



I'm posting this article in full. In today's media spotlight portraying every soldier as your average Abu Ghraib abuser it's important to know the truth: young American soldiers sacrifice everything selflessly. They deserve our honor and thanks. Yet, it's a sad statement that most will never hear of Jason Dunham's sacrifice. They will only see everlasting Abu Ghraib coverage. But Dunham, not Abu Ghraib, sums up America.

[Wall Street Journal] AL QA'IM, Iraq -- Early this spring, Cpl. Jason Dunham and two other Marines sat in an outpost in Iraq and traded theories on surviving a hand-grenade attack. Second Lt. Brian "Bull" Robinson suggested that if a Marine lay face down on the grenade and held it between his forearms, the ceramic bulletproof plate in his flak vest might be strong enough to protect his vital organs. His arms would shatter, but he might live. Cpl. Dunham had another idea: A Marine's Kevlar helmet held over the grenade might contain the blast. "I'll bet a Kevlar would stop it," he said, according to Second Lt. Robinson. "No, it'll still mess you up," Staff Sgt. John Ferguson recalls saying.

It was a conversation the men would remember vividly a few weeks later, when they saw the shredded remains of Cpl. Dunham's helmet, apparently blown apart from the inside by a grenade. Fellow Marines believe Cpl. Dunham's actions saved the lives of two men and have recommended him for the Medal of Honor, an award that no act of heroism since 1993 has garnered.

A 6-foot-1 star high-school athlete from Scio, N.Y., Cpl. Dunham was chosen to become a squad leader shortly after he was assigned to Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment in September 2003. Just 22 years old, he showed "the kind of leadership where you're confident in your abilities and don't have to yell about it," says Staff Sgt. Ferguson, 30, of Aurora, Colo. Cpl. Dunham's reputation grew when he extended his enlistment, due to end in July, so he could stay with his squad throughout its tour in the war zone.

During the invasion of Iraq last year, the Third Battalion didn't suffer any combat casualties. But since March, 10 of its 900 Marines have died from hostile fire, and 89 have been wounded. April 14 was an especially bad day. Cpl. Dunham was in the town of Karabilah, leading a 14-man foot patrol to scout sites for a new base, when radio reports came pouring in about a roadside bomb hitting another group of Marines not far away. Insurgents, the reports said, had ambushed a convoy that included the battalion commander, 40-year-old Lt. Col. Matthew Lopez, of Chicago. One rifle shot penetrated the rear of the commander's Humvee, hitting him in the back, Lt. Col. Lopez says. His translator and bodyguard, Lance Cpl. Akram Falah, 23, of Anaheim, Calif., had taken a bullet to the bicep, severing an artery, according to medical reports filed later.

Cpl. Dunham's patrol jumped aboard some Humvees and raced toward the convoy. Near the double-arched gateway of the town of Husaybah, they heard the distinctive whizzing sound of a rocket-propelled grenade overhead. They left their vehicles and split into two teams to hunt for the shooters, according to interviews with two men who were there and written reports from two others.

Around 12:15 p.m., Cpl. Dunham's team came to an intersection and saw a line of seven Iraqi vehicles along a dirt alleyway, according to Staff Sgt. Ferguson and others there. At Staff Sgt. Ferguson's instruction, they started checking the vehicles for weapons. Cpl. Dunham approached a run-down white Toyota Land Cruiser. The driver, an Iraqi in a black track suit and loafers, immediately lunged out and grabbed the corporal by the throat, according to men at the scene. Cpl. Dunham kneed the man in the chest, and the two tumbled to the ground.

Two other Marines rushed to the scene. Private First Class Kelly Miller, 21, of Eureka, Calif., ran from the passenger side of the vehicle and put a choke hold around the man's neck. But the Iraqi continued to struggle, according to a military report Pfc. Miller gave later. Lance Cpl. William B. Hampton, 22, of Woodinville, Wash., also ran to help. A few yards away, Lance Cpl. Jason Sanders, 21, a radio operator from McAlester, Okla., says he heard Cpl. Dunham yell a warning: "No, no, no -- watch his hand!"

What was in the Iraqi's hand appears to have been a British-made "Mills Bomb" hand grenade. The Marines later found an unexploded Mills Bomb in the Toyota, along with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers. A Mills Bomb user pulls a ring pin out and squeezes the external lever -- called the spoon -- until he's ready to throw it. Then he releases the spoon, leaving the bomb armed. Typically, three to five seconds elapse between the time the spoon detaches and the grenade explodes. The Marines later found what they believe to have been the grenade's pin on the floor of the Toyota, suggesting that the Iraqi had the grenade in his hand -- on a hair trigger -- even as he wrestled with Cpl. Dunham.

None of the other Marines saw exactly what Cpl. Dunham did, or even saw the grenade. But they believe Cpl. Dunham spotted the grenade -- prompting his warning cry -- and, when it rolled loose, placed his helmet and body on top of it to protect his squadmates. The scraps of Kevlar found later, scattered across the street, supported their conclusion. The grenade, they think, must have been inside the helmet when it exploded. His fellow Marines believe that Cpl. Dunham made an instantaneous decision to try out his theory that a helmet might blunt the grenade blast.

"I deeply believe that given the facts and evidence presented he clearly understood the situation and attempted to block the blast of the grenade from his squad members," Lt. Col. Lopez wrote in a May 13 letter recommending Cpl. Dunham for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor. "His personal action was far beyond the call of duty and saved the lives of his fellow Marines."

Recommendations for the Medal of Honor are rare. The Marines say they have no other candidates awaiting approval. Unlike other awards, the Medal of Honor must be approved by the president. The most recent act of heroism to earn the medal came 11 years ago, when two Army Delta Force soldiers gave their lives protecting a downed Blackhawk helicopter pilot in Somalia.

Staff Sgt. Ferguson was crossing the street to help when the grenade exploded. He recalls feeling a hollow punch in his chest that reminded him of being close to the starting line when dragsters gun their engines. Lance Cpl. Sanders, approaching the scene, was temporarily deafened, he says. He assumed all three Marines and the Iraqi must surely be dead. In fact, the explosion left Cpl. Dunham unconscious and face down in his own blood, according to Lance Cpl. Sanders. He says the Iraqi lay on his back, bleeding from his midsection.

The fight wasn't over, however. To Lance Cpl. Sanders's surprise, the Iraqi got up and ran. Lance Cpl. Sanders says he raised his rifle and fired 25 shots at the man's back, killing him.

The other two Marines were injured, but alive. Lance Cpl. Hampton was spitting up blood and had shrapnel embedded in his left leg, knee, arm and face, according to a military transcript. Pfc. Miller's arms had been perforated by shrapnel. Yet both Marines struggled to their feet and staggered back toward the corner.

"Cpl. Dunham was in the middle of the explosion," Pfc. Miller told a Marine officer weeks later, after he and Lance Cpl. Hampton were evacuated to the U.S. to convalesce. "If it was not for him, none of us would be here. He took the impact of the explosion."

At first, Lance Cpl. Mark Edward Dean, a 22-year-old mortarman, didn't recognize the wounded Marine being loaded into the back of his Humvee. Blood from shrapnel wounds in the Marine's head and neck had covered his face. Then Lance Cpl. Dean spotted the tattoo on his chest -- an Ace of Spades and a skull -- and realized he was looking at one of his closest friends, Cpl. Dunham. A volunteer firefighter back home in Owasso, Okla., Lance Cpl. Dean says he knew from his experience with car wrecks that his friend had a better chance of surviving if he stayed calm. "You're going to be all right," Lance Cpl. Dean remembers saying as the Humvee sped back to camp. "We're going to get you home."

When the battalion was at its base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., the two Marines had played pool and hung out with Lance Cpl. Dean's wife, Becky Jo, at the couple's nearby home. Once in a while, Lance Cpl. Dean says they'd round up friends, drive to Las Vegas and lose some money at the roulette tables. Shortly before the battalion left Kuwait for Iraq, Lance Cpl. Dean ran short of cash. He says Cpl. Dunham bought him a 550-minute phone card so he could call Becky Jo. He used every minute.

At battalion headquarters in al Qa'im, Chaplain David Slater was in his makeshift chapel -- in a stripped-down Iraqi train car with red plastic chairs as pews -- when he heard an Army Blackhawk helicopter take off. The 46-year-old Navy chaplain from Lincoln, Neb. knew that meant the shock-trauma platoon would soon receive fresh casualties. Shortly afterward, the helicopter arrived. Navy corpsmen and Marines carried Cpl. Dunham's stretcher 200 feet to the medical tent, its green floor and white walls emitting a rubbery scent, clumps of stethoscopes hanging like bananas over olive-drab trunks of chest tubes, bandages and emergency airway tubes.

The bearers rested the corporal's stretcher on a pair of black metal sawhorses. A wounded Iraqi fighter was stripped naked on the next stretcher -- standard practice for all patients, according to the medical staff, to ensure no injury goes unnoticed. The Iraqi had plastic cuffs on his ankles and was on morphine to quiet him, according to medical personnel who were there.

When a wounded Marine is conscious, Chaplain Slater makes small talk -- asks his name and hometown -- to help keep the patient calm and alert even in the face of often-horrific wounds. Chaplain Slater says he talked to Cpl. Dunham, held his hand and prayed. But he saw no sign that the corporal heard a word. After five minutes or so, he says, he moved on to another Marine.

At the same time, the medical team worked to stabilize Cpl. Dunham. One grenade fragment had penetrated the left side of his skull not far behind his eye, says Navy Cmdr. Ed Hessel, who treated him. A second entered the brain slightly higher and further toward the back of his head. A third punctured his neck.

Cmdr. Hessel, a 44-year-old emergency-room doctor from Eugene, Ore., quickly concluded that the corporal was "unarousable." A calm, bespectacled man, he says he wanted to relieve the corporal's brain and body of the effort required to breathe. And he wanted to be sure the corporal had no violent physical reactions that might add to the pressure on his already swollen brain.

Navy Lt. Ted Hering, a 27-year-old critical-care nurse from San Diego, inserted an intravenous drip and fed in drugs to sedate the corporal, paralyze his muscles and blunt the gag response in his throat while a breathing tube was inserted and manual ventilator attached. The Marine's heart rate and blood pressure stabilized, according to Cmdr. Hessel. But a field hospital in the desert didn't have the resources to help him any further.

So Cpl. Dunham was put on another Blackhawk to take him to the Seventh Marines' base at Al Asad, a transfer point for casualties heading on to the military surgical hospital in Baghdad. During the flight, the corporal lay on the top stretcher. Beneath him was the Iraqi, with two tubes protruding from his chest to keep his lungs from collapsing. Lt. Hering stood next to the stretchers, squeezing a plastic bag every four to five seconds to press air into Cpl. Dunham's lungs.

The Iraqi, identified in battalion medical records only as POW#1, repeatedly asked for water until six or seven minutes before landing, when Cpl. Dunham's blood-drenched head bandage burst, sending a red cascade through the mesh stretcher and onto the Iraqi's face below. After that, the man remained quiet, and kept his eyes and mouth clenched shut, says the nurse, Lt. Hering.

The Army air crew made the trip in 25 minutes, their fastest run ever, according to the pilot, and skimmed no higher than 50 feet off the ground to avoid changes in air pressure that might put additional strain on Cpl. Dunham's brain. When the Blackhawk touched down at Al Asad, Cpl. Dunham was turned over to new caretakers. The Blackhawk promptly headed back to al Qa'im. More patients were waiting; 10 Marines from the Third Battalion were wounded on April 14, along with a translator.

At 11:45 p.m. that day, Deb and Dan Dunham were at home in Scio, N.Y., a town of 1,900, when they got the phone call all military parents dread. It was a Marine lieutenant telling them their son had sustained shrapnel wounds to the head, was unconscious and in critical condition.

Mr. Dunham, 43, an Air Force veteran, works in the shipping department of a company that makes industrial heaters, and Mrs. Dunham, 44, teaches home economics. She remembers helping her athletic son, the oldest of four, learn to spell as a young boy by playing "PIG" and "HORSE" -- traditional basketball shooting games -- and expanding the games to include other words. He never left home or hung up the phone without telling his mother, "I love you," she says.

The days that followed were filled with uncertainty, fear and hope. The Dunhams knew their son was in a hospital in Baghdad, then in Germany, where surgeons removed part of his skull to relieve the swelling inside. At one point doctors upgraded his condition from critical to serious.

On April 21, the Marines gave the Dunhams plane tickets from Rochester to Washington, and put them up at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where their son was going to be transferred. Mrs. Dunham brought along the first Harry Potter novel, so she and her husband could take turns reading to their son, just to let him know they were there.

When Cpl. Dunham arrived that night, the doctors told the couple he had taken a turn for the worse, picking up a fever on the flight from Germany. After an hour by their son's side, Mr. Dunham says he had a "gut feeling" that the outlook was bleak. Mrs. Dunham searched for signs of hope, planning to ask relatives to bring two more Harry Potter books, in case they finished the first one. Doctors urged the Dunhams to get some rest.

They were getting dressed the next morning when the intensive-care unit called to say the hospital was sending a car for them. "Jason's condition is very, very grim," Mrs. Dunham remembers a doctor saying. "I have to tell you the outlook isn't very promising." She says doctors told her the shrapnel had traveled down the side of his brain, and the damage was irreversible. He would always be on a respirator. He would never hear his parents or know they were by his side. Another operation to relieve pressure on his brain had little chance of succeeding and a significant chance of killing him.

Once he joined the Marines, Cpl. Dunham put his father in charge of medical decisions and asked that he not be kept on life support if there was no hope of recovery, says Mr. Dunham. He says his son told him, "Please don't leave me like that."

The Dunhams went for a walk on the hospital grounds. When they returned to the room, Cpl. Dunham's condition had deteriorated, his mother says. Blood in his urine signaled failing kidneys, and one lung had collapsed as the other was filling with fluid. Mrs. Dunham says they took the worsening symptoms as their son's way of telling them they should follow through on his wishes,.

At the base in al Qa'im, Second Lt. Robinson, 24, of Kenosha, Wis., gathered the men of Cpl. Dunham's platoon in the sleeping area, a spread of cots, backpacks, CD players and rifles, its plywood walls papered with magazine shots of scantily clad women. The lieutenant says he told the Marines of the Dunhams' decision to remove their son's life support in two hours' time.

Lance Cpl. Dean wasn't the only Marine who cried. He says he prayed that some miracle would happen in the next 120 minutes. He prayed that God would touch his friend and wake him up so he could live the life he had wanted to lead. In Bethesda, the Dunhams spent a couple more hours with their son. Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee arrived and pinned the Purple Heart, awarded to those wounded in battle, on his pillow. Mrs. Dunham cried on Gen. Hagee's shoulder. The Dunhams stepped out of the room while the doctors removed the ventilator.

At 4:43 p.m. on April 22, 2004, Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham died.

Six days later, Third Battalion gathered in the parking lot outside the al Qa'im command post for psalms and ceremony. In a traditional combat memorial, one Marine plunged a rifle, bayonet-first, into a sandbag. Another placed a pair of tan combat boots in front, and a third perched a helmet on the rifle's stock. Lance Cpl. Dean told those assembled about a trip to Las Vegas the two men and Becky Jo Dean had taken in January, not long before the battalion left for the Persian Gulf. Chatting in a hotel room, the corporal told his friends he was planning to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour. "You're crazy for extending," Lance Cpl. Dean recalls saying. "Why?"

He says Cpl. Dunham responded: "I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive. I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive."



Former Lt. Col. now author Ralph Peters blasts the media coverage of Iraq. Without thought of consequence (or perhaps not) the media's pile on approach leads us further from victory.

AMERICANS can be proud of the superb job our troops are doing, not only against [Moqtada] Sadr, but throughout Iraq. Yet, revealing their prejudices in an election year, many "leading" media outlets are determined to turn Iraq into a failure.

The endless orgy of coverage of the Abu Ghraib incident, for example, is insufferable. The successes and sacrifices of more than a hundred thousand soldiers go ignored, while a sanctimonious media focuses on the viciousness of a few ill-led criminals in uniform. The truth is that Abu Ghraib was the story big media longed for, a scandal journalistic vultures could turn into strategic roadkill. Press coverage of our military's many successes has been scant.

Development projects go ignored. If soldiers don't complain, they don't get camera time. When our forces successfully target a terrorist hideout, the evidence doesn't matter. The media leaps to validate enemy lies that a "wedding party" was attacked. Not one voice in the media raised the possibility that terrorists willing to slaughter 3,000 civilians on 9/11 might be perfectly willing to murder a dozen or so Arab women and children to set up a propaganda victory. Increasingly, our enemies make sophisticated use of our own roundheels media - which is always ready to credit evil men with virtue, while assuming that American soldiers are wrong.

Recent press and broadcast stories have focused sympathetically on the plight of military deserters. Ludicrous stories of abuse told by Iraqis looking for a cash handout are presented without the least skepticism. And in the most disgraceful essay of this new century, Susan Sontag, writing in The New York Times Magazine, associated the prisoner-abuse affair with the massacres in Rwanda and the Holocaust. Really? Does Ms. Sontag truly believe that Abu Ghraib equals Auschwitz? Does she know a single American soldier? How simple the world must look from behind her desk . . .

This is not an argument for censorship. America needs a free media. But we also need a responsible media. Abu Ghraib was an ugly little story that big media exaggerated into a strategic disaster - with no thought for the consequences for our troops, our country or the people of Iraq. For too many journalists, sensation trumps all else. American successes, such as the Army's recent victories, are an annoyance. Doesn't anyone care about the truth?



[UK Independent] Teenage rape victims fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being sexually exploited by the United Nations peace-keeping troops sent to the stop their suffering. The Independent has found that mothers as young as 13 - the victims of multiple rape by militiamen - can only secure enough food to survive in the sprawling refugee camp by routinely sleeping with UN peace-keepers.

The UN has announced its own inquiry into the allegations, warning that it will apply "all available sanctions" against those responsible. But doubts remain about the effectiveness of the investigation and the ability of the UN to bring those responsible to justice.

The UN investigate? Believe that and I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Considering how the UN has refused to fully disclose it's collusion with Saddam Hussein via the corrupted UN Oil-for-Food program I don't see any justice in the Congo any time soon. But hey, John Kerry wants the UN to have full authority over Iraq.



The US Army relieved Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of her command yesterday. Karpinski was the overseer of Abu Ghraib prison, but had been stationed back in the states for the past month. Karpinski has spent the past month preemptively throwing barbs and accusations at top military leaders, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander of all Iraqi forces. Some of these accusations may or may not be true, and it will all come out in the wash. But what was most troubling about Karpinski was her willingness to carouse the talk show circuit and portray herself as a victim. Generals shouldn't act like that. They take responsibility. They don't play the victim card.

Karpinski was in charge of all 16 U.S. detention facilities in Iraq when the abuses occurred last fall. She has stated repeatedly that she did not know about the problems because a military intelligence brigade ran the section of the prison where detainees were humiliated and physically maltreated. An Army investigation of the performance of military intelligence officers at the prison is still underway.

Reached yesterday by telephone in New Jersey, Karpinski said she had not received official written notice of her suspension but had confirmed it with Army officials. She said she is angry because she believes she has done nothing wrong. "I suspect that they want to make the statement that all the officers who have been involved in Abu Ghraib have been suspended," Karpinski said. "I'm angry because it just seems consistent with the rest of this unfairness. This is such a gross miscarriage of justice."

Unfair! What a cry baby. It doesn't matter if she actually did something wrong or not. In the military the leaders are held responsible, at least to an extent, for the actions of their subordinates. Even if true that military intelligence took control of the cell block where the abuses occurred, as she charges, it doesn't absolve her of responsibility. Those are her soldiers and she should have been keeping better tabs on them. She did not. She failed. Her unwillingness to admit any responsibility is disgusting.


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