Friday, January 21, 2005

War zone

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Maybe Bush should abdicate the Presidency

Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam: US Senator Kennedy

WASHINGTON (AFP) - America's ongoing military entanglement in Iraq has become President George Bush's Vietnam, US Senator Edward Kennedy, a leading member of the opposition Democratic party, said.

The harsh words refer to the US role and ultimate defeat in the 1964-1975 Vietnam war.
Iraq is "clearly is George Bush's Vietnam," said Kennedy, speaking on CBS's "Face The Nation" program.

Kennedy then blasted Bush's claim in an interview in Sunday's Washington Post that his Iraq policy was endorsed by the US public because of his November 2004 re-election victory.
"I think that's ridiculous," said Kennedy. He quickly referred to the 1964 elections, when Democrat Lyndon Johnson, who had increased US military involvement in Vietnam, defeated Republican Barry Goldwater by an overwhelming majority.

Johnson then had to "basically abdicate the presidency" when he announced in March 1968 that he would not seek re-election, largely due to the drain on time, resources and his popularity resulting from failures in Vietnam.

According to Kennedy, Iraq "is a disaster because it's the a result of blunder after blunder after blunder. And it is George Bush's Vietnam," he insisted.

It has "absolutely been a mistake that we went into Iraq, instead of following (September 11 mastermind) Osama bin Laden," said Kennedy.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Terror cop: Qaeda 'heavily damaged'

WASHINGTON - Al Qaeda is "heavily damaged," constantly on the run and so financially strapped that it is having trouble making payments to the families of its dead fighters, the Daily News has learned.

The terror group remains determined, however, to attack the U.S.

"What we see, and I'm including information we've seen as recently as this month, is that the remnants of the organization are not diverted from their goals of attacking us," a senior counterterrorism official told The News.

Al Qaeda Central also can no longer field "committees," teams of terrorists focused solely on operations, fund-raising, propaganda or acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Money woes also are plaguing the once-powerful terror group.

"They have financial problems, including even their ability to take care of families of Al Qaeda fighters who have gone down," the official said.

A report last week by a CIA think tank predicted that by 2025, Islamic extremists unaffiliated with Al Qaeda will dominate global terrorism

Sunday, January 16, 2005

I was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn’t do this to us

A former inmate at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison forced by U.S. guards to masturbate in public and piled onto a pyramid of naked men said on Tuesday even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein did not do such things.

The inmate testified at the court martial of reservist soldier Charles Graner, accused ringleader of guards who engaged in the abuse, which prompted outrage when pictures of the sexual humiliation were published around the world.

“I couldn’t believe in the beginning that this could happen, but I wished I could kill myself because no one was there to stop it,” Hussein Mutar, who was sent to Abu Ghraib accused of car theft, said in videotaped testimony.

“They were torturing us as though it was theater for them,” he said, as the prosecution wound up its case against Graner on assault, dereliction of duty and other charges that could bring him up to 17 1/2 years in prison.

An obviously ill-at ease Mutar added: “I was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn’t do this to us.”- My Way News

Saturday, January 15, 2005

U.S. reportedly damaged Ancient Babylon

Museum claims military caused 'substantial damage'

LONDON - U.S.-led forces, using Iraq’s ancient city of Babylon as a military base, have caused “substantial damage” to one of the world’s most renowned archaeological treasures, a British Museum report said.

The report, quoted in Saturday’s Guardian newspaper, said U.S. and Polish military vehicles had crushed 2,600-year-old pavements in the city, a cradle of civilization and home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Archaeological fragments were used to fill sand bags, it added.

John Curtis, keeper of the museum’s Ancient and Near East department, invited to visit Babylon by Iraqi antiquities experts, also said he had found cracks and gaps made by people who had apparently tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the city’s Ishtar Gate.

“This is tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain,” Curtis said in the report.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Special Forces May Train Assassins, Kidnappers in Iraq

Special Forces May Train Assassins, Kidnappers in Iraq
The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq
By Michael Hirsh and John Barry
Updated: 7:59 p.m. CT Jan 14, 2005

Jan. 8 - What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report "utterly gratuitous.")

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Also being debated is which agency within the U.S. government—the Defense department or CIA—would take responsibility for such an operation. Rumsfeld’s Pentagon has aggressively sought to build up its own intelligence-gathering and clandestine capability with an operation run by Defense Undersecretary Stephen Cambone. But since the Abu Ghraib interrogations scandal, some military officials are ultra-wary of any operations that could run afoul of the ethics codified in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That, they argue, is the reason why such covert operations have always been run by the CIA and authorized by a special presidential finding. (In "covert" activity, U.S. personnel operate under cover and the U.S. government will not confirm that it instigated or ordered them into action if they are captured or killed.)

Meanwhile, intensive discussions are taking place inside the Senate Intelligence Committee over the Defense department’s efforts to expand the involvement of U.S. Special Forces personnel in intelligence-gathering missions. Historically, Special Forces’ intelligence gathering has been limited to objectives directly related to upcoming military operations—"preparation of the battlefield," in military lingo. But, according to intelligence and defense officials, some Pentagon civilians for years have sought to expand the use of Special Forces for other intelligence missions.

Pentagon civilians and some Special Forces personnel believe CIA civilian managers have traditionally been too conservative in planning and executing the kind of undercover missions that Special Forces soldiers believe they can effectively conduct. CIA traditionalists are believed to be adamantly opposed to ceding any authority to the Pentagon. Until now, Pentagon proposals for a capability to send soldiers out on intelligence missions without direct CIA approval or participation have been shot down. But counter-terrorist strike squads, even operating covertly, could be deemed to fall within the Defense department’s orbit.

The interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is said to be among the most forthright proponents of the Salvador option. Maj. Gen.Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani, director of Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, may have been laying the groundwork for the idea with a series of interviews during the past ten days. Shahwani told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat that the insurgent leadership—he named three former senior figures in the Saddam regime, including Saddam Hussein’s half-brother—were essentially safe across the border in a Syrian sanctuary. "We are certain that they are in Syria and move easily between Syrian and Iraqi territories," he said, adding that efforts to extradite them "have not borne fruit so far."

Shahwani also said that the U.S. occupation has failed to crack the problem of broad support for the insurgency. The insurgents, he said, "are mostly in the Sunni areas where the population there, almost 200,000, is sympathetic to them." He said most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won’t turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."

Pentagon sources emphasize there has been no decision yet to launch the Salvador option. Last week, Rumsfeld decided to send a retired four-star general, Gary Luck, to Iraq on an open-ended mission to review the entire military strategy there. But with the U.S. Army strained to the breaking point, military strategists note that a dramatic new approach might be needed—perhaps one as potentially explosive as the Salvador option.

With Mark Hosenball
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report, initially published on Jan. 8, was updated on Jan. 10 to include Negroponte's comments to NEWSWEEK.
And at a news conference on Jan. 11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the idea of a Salvador option was "nonsense" and denied that U.S. Special Forces were going into Syria. But when asked whether such a policy was under consideration, he replied, "Why would I even talk about something like that?"


Iraq New Terror Breeding Ground; War Created Haven, CIA Advisers Report

By Dana Priest / Washington Post
Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of "professionalized" terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.

President Bush has frequently described the Iraq war as an integral part of U.S. efforts to combat terrorism. But the council's report suggests the conflict has also helped terrorists by creating a haven for them in the chaos of war.

"At the moment," NIC Chairman Robert L. Hutchings said, Iraq "is a magnet for international terrorist activity."

According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of conflicts -- including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand -- that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology.

At the same time, the report says that by 2020, al Qaeda "will be superseded" by other Islamic extremist groups that will merge with local separatist movements. Most terrorism experts say this is already well underway. The NIC says this kind of ever-morphing decentralized movement is much more difficult to uncover and defeat.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Department of Defense announced deaths -----------IN ONE WEEK

Sgt. Thomas E. Houser, 22, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, died Jan. 3 as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Staff Sgt. Robert K. McGee, 38, of Martinsville, Va., died June 30, in Manila, Republic of the Philippines, of non-combat related injuries. McGee was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Fort Lewis, Wash. Operation Iraqi Freedom

Sgt. 1st Class Otie J. McVey, 53, of Oak Hill, W.V., was medically evacuated from Baghdad, Iraq, on Sept. 23 for treatment of a non-combat related illness. He died Nov. 7 in Beaver, W.V. McVey was assigned to the Army Reserve’s 706th Transportation Company, Kenton, Ohio.

Sgt. Foster Pinkston, 47, of Warrenton, Ga., died Sept. 16, in Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., from a non-combat related illness. Pinkston was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 878th Engineer Battalion, Augusta, Ga.

Pvt. Cory R. Depew, 21, of Beech Grove, Ind., died Jan. 4 in Mosul, Iraq, when his Stryker military vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Depew was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.

Lance Cpl. Julio C. CisnerosAlvarez, 22, of Pharr, Texas, died Jan. 6 as result of hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Sgt. Bennie J. Washington, 25, of Atlanta, Ga., died Jan. 4 in Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained Oct. 14 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when his military vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Washington was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Howze, Korea.

Sgt. Zachariah S. Davis, 25, of Twentynine Palms, Calif., died Jan. 6 as result of hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

The Department of Defense announced the death of three soldiers . They died Jan. 4 in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive devise detonated near their military vehicle. Killed were:

Spc. Jimmy D. Buie, 44, of Floral, Ark. Buie was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fordyce, Ark.

Spc. Jeremy W. McHalffey, 28, of Mabelvale, Ark. McHalffey was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 39th Infantry Brigade, Little Rock, Ark.

Spc. Joshua S. Marcum, 33, of Evening Shade, Ark. Marcum was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Camden, Ark.

Pfc. Curtis L. Wooten III, 20, of Spanaway, Wash., died Jan. 4 in Balad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Wooten was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

The Department of Defense announced the death of six Soldiers . They died January 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device struck their Bradley fighting vehicle. All six were assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La. A seventh Soldier was also killed in the incident but the information will be released separately based upon next of kin notification policies. Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Kurt J. Comeaux, 34, of Raceland, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La.

Sgt. Christopher J. Babin, 27, of Houma, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La.

Spc. Bradley J. Bergeron, 25, of Houma, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La.

Spc. Huey P. L. Fassbender, 24, of LaPlace, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La.

Spc. Armand L. Frickey, 20, Houma, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La. Spc. Warren A. Murphy, 29, of Marrero, La., was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Lafayette, La.

Pfc. Kenneth G. Vonronn, 20, of Bloomingburg, N.Y., died January 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, with six of his fellow Soldiers when an improvised explosive device struck their Bradley fighting vehicle. Vonronn was assigned to the Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division, New York, N.Y.

Pfc. Daniel F. Guastaferro, 27, of Las Vegas, Nev., died January 7 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when his military vehicle left the road and went into a canal. Guastaferro was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Camp Casey, Korea.

Spc. Dwayne J. McFarlane Jr., 20, of Cass Lake, Minn., died Jan. 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his dismounted patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device. McFarlane was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), from Fort Drum, N.Y.

Cpl. Joseph E. Fite, 23
, of Round Rock, Texas, died Jan. 9 as a result of hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Austin, Texas.

On January 11th 2005 Department of Defense announced the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Jan. 10 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device hit their military vehicle. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade, Lake Charles, La. Killed were:
Staff Sgt. William F. Manuel, 34, of Kinder, La.
Sgt. Robert W. Sweeney III, 22, of Pineville, La.

The correct target was nearby, the military said.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least five people were killed when a coalition F-16 bombed the wrong target south of Mosul, Iraq, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S.-led multinational forces were searching for an insurgent cell leader and targeted a house, which was struck by a 500-pound bomb, the military said in a statement.

Normal Texas Behavior?

Quote of the Week: "You're keeping control of them. A tether is a valid control to be used in corrections. In Texas we'd lasso them and drag them out of there." – Guy Womack, attorney for reservist Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader of the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal now facing a court martial at Fort Hood, commenting on the guard's use of leashes around the prisoners' necks.

If he knew how to swim...there wouldn't have been a problem

GUILTY: Soldier apologizes for Iraq assaults

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — An Army sergeant Perkins, 33, was convicted Friday of two counts of aggravated assault, a charge of assault consummated by battery and a charge of obstruction of justice.

Perkins, who did not testify during his trial, told the jury of Army officers and enlisted members during the sentencing phase yesterday that his actions were wrong, but he did not apologize to the Iraqis. He said he still loved the military and did not want to lose his job.

Perkins and another soldier were accused of ordering soldiers to push the two Iraqis into the river in Samarra in January 2004. Prosecutors say Zaidoun Hassoun, 19, drowned and his cousin, Marwan Hassoun, climbed out the river.

Perkins did not discuss specifics of the incident on the stand Saturday, but admitted he ordered his soldiers to throw an Iraqi man into the river a month earlier.

He said he never meant to injure or kill the Iraqi by throwing him in the river; and he ordered him thrown in the river to teach him a “hard lesson” . .... I didn’t want them to think we were soft or weak,” said Perkins, who has 14 years of military service.

'spectacular' attacks

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A U.S. general warned yesterday that insurgents may be planning "spectacular" attacks to scare voters in the three weeks before Iraq's landmark elections, and Shiite and Sunni religious leaders voiced sharply divergent views on whether the vote should be held at all.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, who is deputy chief of staff for strategic communications in Iraq, said the United States has no intelligence indicating specific plots, but he said American leaders expected a rise in attacks. He said the insurgents' biggest weapon was their ability to instill fear.

"If you look over the last six months, they have steadily escalated the barbaric nature of the attacks they have been committing. A year ago, you didn't see these kinds of horrific things," he said.

The comments came amid an escalating insurgency believed to be led by minority Sunnis whose dominated the country during Saddam Hussein's regime. In the election — the first democratic vote in Iraq since the country was formed in 1932 — the Sunnis are certain to lose their dominance to the Shiites, who comprise 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million population.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Bush does not exprect to be a write-in candidate in Iraq, though he might consider the taking on the job if chosen..

WASHINGTON Jan 12, 2005 — The White House sought Wednesday to lower expectations for Iraq's elections, suggesting that there could be little or no voting in the most unstable provinces and that polling is likely to be disrupted in places by violence.

"The election is not going to be perfect," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said

McClellan said coalition forces and the Iraqi government are "working to address those ongoing security challenges." We want to make sure that there's as broad a participation as possible in those elections," he said.

One idea being considered is to let people who are prevented from voting by violence to vote later.

Monday, January 10, 2005

NARCOTIC FERVOR: Fallujah insurgents were addicted to more than mayhem

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Although the ferocity of insurgents is generally attributed to religious fervor and a hatred of America, Marines who participated in the November assault on Fallujah say many of their foes also had something else to bolster their tenacity: drugs.

The Marines say they found numerous stockpiles of needles and drugs such as adrenaline and amphetamines while battling insurgents in the fiercest urban combat waged by U.S. forces since the Vietnam War.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Powell gives bleak assessment of Iraq

Colin Powell, US secretary of state, says he would like to see US troops leave Iraq “as quickly as possible” but that the insurgency does not allow the Bush administration to set a timeframe for a withdrawal.

He said Mr Rumsfeld, criticised for the conduct of the war, had an interest in hiding the true picture from the president. According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and head of the independent Middle East Policy Council, Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. “We're losing,” Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.

One counterinsurgency expert said Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, had a “brutally accurate” picture of the situation and the potential dangers. But a member of an influential neoconservative policy group, who asked not to be named, said such warnings “stop well short of thepresident”.

He said Mr Rumsfeld, criticised for the conduct of the war, had an interest in hiding the true picture from the president. According to Chas Freeman, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia and head of the independent Middle East Policy Council, Mr Bush recently asked Mr Powell for his view on the progress of the war. “We're losing,” Mr Powell was quoted as saying. Mr Freeman said Mr Bush then asked the secretary of state to leave.

Asked to comment on this account, a senior White House official said he had no knowledge of such an exchange and added: “The president acknowledges there are significant challenges. He does not characterise them as insurmountable. Others do.”

Analysts are concerned that with the departure of Mr Powell and his replacement by Condoleezza Rice, the president's loyal national security adviser, the White House will be further shielded from dissent.

“A president is not well served when he has people in his cabinet who have points of view but are not prepared to argue those points of view forcefully for fear that it might leak or it looks like members of the cabinet are squabbling,” Mr Powell told Fox News.

The White House is stressing the January 30 election is just the start of a process that is scheduled to lead to a national referendum on a constitution by October and another parliamentary election by December.

Mr Powell said there must be Sunni representation in the government to be formed after the elections. This reflects US efforts to persuade the main parties of the Shia majority, who are expected to sweep the polls, to co-opt members of the Sunni minority into the administration and the process of drafting the constitution. US leverage rests upon awareness among the Shia that their government is unlikely to survive a civil war without continued US military support.

Charles Boyd, a former general who had opposed the war, said he was dismayed at the administration's lack of commitment in fighting it.

“Our government is not mobilised for war of this size and complexity. We are acting on a ‘business as usual' format,” he said.

Weapons hunt over

Although the search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction has ended, the Iraqi Survey Group will continue gathering information to help US forces deal with insurgents in Iraq. Charles Duelfer, the CIA special adviser who led the search, is expected to issue a final addendum next month to his September report concluding Iraq had no such weapons.

(Click titles to link to any origional articals)

Of course we (they) knew- the Bush people are oil men

US ignored warning on Iraqi oil smugglingA joint investigation by the FT and Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian business daily, shows that the single largest and boldest smuggling operation in the oil-for-food programme was conducted with the knowledge of the US government.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Broken force of mercenaries?

Lt. Gen. James Helmly says the Army Reserve is no longer able to meet its commitments in Iraq. WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon's reliance on volunteers from the Army Reserve for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan risks creating a "broken force," the reserve force's commander warned his superiors in a December memo, and he urged a wider call-up of reservists to active duty.

Reserve commanders spend too much time trying to accommodate troops who don't want to serve, leaving the force unable to meet its mission requirements, Helmly concluded -- the result of policies that were designed for peacetime, "as opposed to a mobilized force in wartime."

In addition, offering a $1,000 monthly bonus to volunteers for active duty risks creating a "mercenary" culture in its ranks, he wrote.

"Contrary to a perceived intention of caring for troops, the insistence on even more restrictive policies and practices governing mobilization, manpower management and the insistence on incentivizing 'volunteers' through the use of money threatens to unhinge an already precariously balanced situation in which we are losing as many soldiers through no use as we are through the fear of overuse," he wrote.

Helmly recommended extending the mandatory retirement dates for reserve officers, rather than having to recall and retrain retired officers; and making more use of retirees who have volunteered to return to duty. Current policies have "hamstrung" the reserve as it tries to manage its force, he wrote.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Kerry in Iraq- "Elections have to happen"

".. we are at war, and I think you can't really make all the judgments that you need to make without digging in," Kerry said. "The Coalition Provisional Authority made some horrendous judgments and complicated our presence here tremendously.

"Now it's a different time and different set of judgments that need to be made. I need to understand it, so I can make the judgments. That's why I'm here, to see and hear firsthand what the dynamics are."

Meanwhile, in the city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, rescue workers scrambled to the scene of a suicide car bombing at a police academy graduation ceremony. The bomb, detonated at the academy's main entrance, killed 10 officers and injured 44 people, most of them officers, according to military officials.

A few hours later, a car bomb detonated at a police checkpoint near Baqubah, about 35 miles northeast of the capital, killing five officers and wounding eight, the military said.

The car bombings were only the most spectacular in a rising wave of insurgent attacks in advance of nationwide elections set for Jan. 30. Despite the violence, U.S. and Iraqi officials have remained adamant that the vote will go forward, both because the transitional law requires it by the end of January and because a delay might be seen as a victory for the insurgents.

Kerry echoed that sentiment, saying that the "elections will happen. It's something that has to happen."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A dog's (or cat's) life.

It's very common in Iraq for soldiers to adopt local dogs and cats as mascots, such as "PFC Conner". Unfortunately, there are new policies in place to kill local dogs and cats for health reasons. Often, even mascots are destroyed, damaging morale in the process. Military Mascots is a small organization that is helping to bring mascots back to the U.S. for safety, but this can cost over $1000 per mascot for shots, boarding, fees, and the plane ride back home. It's their hope to save dozens of mascots before they are killed, but Military Mascots may be running out of time.posted by insomnia_lj at 9:05 AM PST

- (Posted at web site: Metafiliter.Com- click title to link back)

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Justice is not part of our version of Democracy

Senator Says Lifetime Terror Detentions 'Bad Idea'
Sun Jan 2, 2005 10:39 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A reported U.S. plan to keep some suspected terrorists imprisoned for a lifetime even if the government lacks evidence to charge them in courts was swiftly condemned on Sunday as a "bad idea" by a leading Republican senator.

The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for those it was unwilling to set free or turn over to U.S. or foreign courts, the Washington Post said in a report that cited intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.

Some detentions could potentially last a lifetime, the newspaper said

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