Thursday, July 21, 2005

Iraq war takes heavy toll on civilians Survey says 25,000 killed since start of conflict; U.S. disputes details

Iraq war takes heavy toll on civilians Survey says 25,000 killed since start of conflict; U.S. disputes details

Updated: 11:13 a.m. ET July 19, 2005
BAGHDAD - U.S.-led forces, insurgents and criminal gangs have killed nearly 25,000 civilians, police, and army recruits since the war began in March 2003, according to a survey by Iraq Body Count, a U.S.-British non-government group.

Nearly half the deaths in the two years surveyed to March 2005 were in Baghdad, where a fifth of Iraq's 25 million people live, according to media reports monitored by the group.
Of the total, nearly 37 percent were killed by U.S.-led forces, it said.
The U.S. military disputed the findings and said it did not target civilians.
"We do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties in all of our operations," said Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad.

"Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom until now, we have categorically not targeted civilians. We take great care in all operations to ensure we go after the intended targets."
Iraq Body Count said its findings provided "a unique insight into the human consequences of the U.S.-led invasion."

"Leaders who commit troops to wars of intervention have diminishingly few excuses for failing to seriously weigh the human costs," it said in a 28-page dossier.
The numbers included civilians, army and police recruits,and serving police. They do not include serving Iraqi military or combatant deaths, for which there are "no reliable accounts... either official or unofficial."

The group took its data, including figures showing that more than 42,000 civilians were wounded in the same period, from an analysis of more than 10,000 press and media reports.
Survey confirms U.N. findingsThe death toll almost mirrors a U.N.-funded survey conducted last year, which found some 24,000 conflict-related deaths since the U.S.-led invasion.
Another survey, published in Britain's Lancet medical journal last October, found nearly 100,000 deaths in the 18 months after the invasion, more than half due to violence. These findings were contested by U.S. and British officials.

Since the media in Iraq is forced to focus on Baghdad for security reasons, it is likely that Iraq Body Count's death toll throughout the country is under-estimated.
The survey found that almost a third of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion itself, from March 20 to May 1, 2003, when U.S.-led forces carried out their "shock and awe" bombing campaign on Baghdad.

In the first year after the invasion, around 6,000 civilians were killed, a number that nearly doubled in the second year, indicating a general increase in violence. The group said deaths caused by insurgents and criminals had risen steadily.

U.S. forces primarily responsibleU.S.-led forces were found to be chiefly responsible for deaths, and criminals a close second at 36 percent, while insurgents accounted for a surprisingly small 9.5 percent.

That would not appear to tally with the situation on the ground, where insurgent violence is rife. It may reflect media sourcing, since it is often not clear who carried out a specific attack. According to Iraq Body Count, "unknown agents" were responsible for 11 percent of deaths.

"I don't know how they are doing their methodology and can't talk to how they calculate their numbers," said the U.S. Army's Boylan, disputing the findings on who is responsible for deaths.
The survey would also appear not to capture the full extent of the devastation caused by insurgent car bombings. Over the past 18 months, hundreds of suicide car bombs have exploded around the country, killing well over 2,000 people.

Moral : Up or Down?

News media differ in how to describe how the soldiers feel about fighting and sometime being killed and most often criticized -there at the war and at home- while they continually risk their lives fighting an unpopular war that was based on lies and self serving profit motivations by former Haliburton CEO who now happens to be the Vice President whispering into the ear of the befuddled `missing in action' President.....

Army: GI morale low in IraqChicago Tribune, IL - 5 hours agoWASHINGTON -- A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report. But soldiers' mental health has ...

US soldiers in Iraq suffer "psychological stress", UK - 6 hours agoAn Army report says that the majority of the American soldiers in Iraq reported morale problems, with psychological stress weighing heavily specially among ...

Morale of soldiers in Iraq improving, Army survey findsSeattle Times, United States - 8 hours agoBy Josh White and Ann Scott Tyson. WASHINGTON — Morale among US soldiers in Iraq has improved since the start of the war in 2003 ...

Survey: Troops' morale better, still a problemMinneapolis Star Tribune (subscription), MN - 14 hours agoWASHINGTON, DC -- Morale among US soldiers in Iraq has improved since the start of the war in 2003, and the soldiers' suicide rate dropped by more than half ...

Majority of Soldiers Say Iraq Morale LowSan Francisco Chronicle, United States - 19 hours agoBy ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer. A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds ...

Army Cites Drop in Suicides Among SoldiersGuardian Unlimited, UK - 23 hours agoBy ROBERT BURNS. WASHINGTON (AP) - The overall mental health of US soldiers in Iraq has improved from the early months of the insurgency ...

Report:Morale on upswingConcord Monitor, NH - 3 hours agoBy JOSH WHITEand ANN SCOTT TYSON. ASHINGTON - Morale among US soldiers in Iraq has improved since the start of the war in 2003, and ...

Soldiers’ mental health has improvedThe State, SC - 4 hours agoWASHINGTON — A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress weighs particularly heavily on ...

Army finds the mental health of GIs in Iraq getting betterSan Antonio Express (subscription), TX - 9 hours agoWASHINGTON — The mental health of US troops in Iraq improved last year despite constant combat stress, according to an Army study. ...

NEW: Mental health of troops in Iraq improvesSan Antonio Express (subscription), TX - 13 hours agoWASHINGTON — The mental health of US troops in Iraq improved last year despite constant combat stress, but an Army study also showed that more than half of ...
Army says mental health among soldiers in Iraq has improved but ...WBAY, WI - 22 hours agoPENTAGON The Army says there are fewer suicides among its personnel in Iraq and Kuwait, but morale is still low. The Army has released ...

US soldiers in Iraq report low moraleBoston Globe, United States - 1 hour agoBy Robert Burns, AP Military Writer July 21, 2005. WASHINGTON --A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according ...

US Soldiers in Iraq Report Low MoraleSalon - 3 hours agoBy ROBERT BURNS AP Military Writer. July 21,2005 WASHINGTON -- A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to ...
US soldiers in Iraq report low moraleSan Jose Mercury News, United States - 3 hours agoWASHINGTON - A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily ...

US Soldiers in Iraq Report Low MoraleWashington Post, United States - 4 hours agoBy ROBERT BURNS. WASHINGTON -- A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological ...

Soldiers say morale low; mental health seen upBoston Globe, United States - 8 hours agoBy Robert Burns, Associated Press July 21, 2005. WASHINGTON -- A majority of US soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to ...

Army finds morale woes among US soldiers in IraqWired News - 18 hours agoBy Will Dunham. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than half of US soldiers in the Iraq war reported morale problems in their units, with ...

Army says mental health among soldiers in Iraq has improved but ...USA Today - 22 hours agoWASHINGTON (AP) — The overall mental health of US soldiers in Iraq has improved from the early months of the insurgency, with a significant drop in suicides ...

Army Cites Drop in Suicides Among SoldiersLos Angeles Times, CA - 23 hours agoBy ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer. WASHINGTON -- The overall mental health of US soldiers in Iraq has improved from the early months ...

A well written blog:

Tomgram: The Immoral Relativists of the Bush Administration
by Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's
(Images were added)

"At a breakfast meeting with reporters, Wolfowitz said he hasn't read the [Downing Street] memos because he doesn't want to be ‘distracted' by ‘history' from his new job as head of the world's leading development bank. He returned this weekend from a tour of four African nations.

"'There's a lot I could say about what you're asking about, if I were willing to get distracted from the main subject,' Wolfowitz said. ‘But I really think there's a price paid with the people I've just spent time with, people who are struggling with very real problems, to keep going back in history.'" (Jon Sawyer, Wolfowitz won't talk about war planning, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.)
For at least 30 years now, the right has fought against, the Republican Party has run against, and more recently, the Bush administration has claimed victory over the "moral relativism" of liberals, the permissive parenting of the let-them-do-anything-they-please era, and the self-indulgent, self-absorbed, make-your-own-world attitude of the Sixties. Since September 11th, we have been told again and again, we are in a different world... finally. In this new world, things are black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. You are for or you are against. The murky relativism of the recent past, of an America in a mood of defeat, is long gone. In the White House, we have a stand-up guy so unlike the last president, that draft dodger who was ready to parse the meaning of "is" and twist the world to his unnatural desires.

In his speeches, George Bush regularly calls for a return to or the reinforcement of traditional, even eternal, family values and emphasizes the importance of personal "accountability" for our children as well as ourselves. ("The culture of America is changing from one that has said, if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else, to a new culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.") And yet when it comes to acts that are clearly wrong in this world -- aggressive war, the looting of resources, torture, personal gain at the expense of others, lying, and manipulation among other matters -- Bush and his top officials never hesitate to redefine reality to suit their needs. When faced with matters long defined in everyday life in terms of right and wrong, they simply reach for their dictionaries.

You want to invade a country not about to attack you. No problem, just pick up that Webster's and rename the act "preventive war." Now, you want an excuse for such a war that might actually panic the public into backing it. So you begin to place mushroom clouds from nonexistent enemy atomic warheads over American cities (Condoleezza Rice: "[W]e don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."); you begin to claim, as our President and other top officials did, that nonexistent enemy UAVs (Unmanned Airborne Vehicles) launched from nonexistent ships off our perfectly real East coast, might spray nonexistent biological or chemical weapons hundreds of miles inland, and -- Voila! -- you're ready to strike back.
You sweep opponents up on a battlefield, but you don't want to call them prisoners of war or deal with them by the established rules of warfare. No problem, just grab that dictionary and label them "unlawful combatants," then you can do anything you want. So you get those prisoners into your jail complex (carefully located on an American base in Cuba, which you have redefined as being legally under "Cuban sovereignty," so that no American court can touch them); and then you declare that, not being prisoners of war, they do not fall under the Geneva Conventions, though you will treat them (sort of) as if they did and, whatever happens, you will not actually torture them, though you plan to take those "gloves" off. Then your lawyers and attorneys retire to some White House or Justice Department office and, under the guidance of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales (now Attorney General), they grab those dictionaries again and redefine torture to be whatever we're not doing to the prisoners. (In a 50-page memo written in August 2002 for the CIA and addressed to Alberto Gonzales, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, now an Appeals Court judge, hauled out many dictionaries and redefined torture this way: "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.") And if questioned on the subject, after emails from FBI observers at the prison lay out the various acts of abuse and torture committed in grisly detail, the Vice President simply insists, as he did the other day, that those prisoners are living the good life in the balmy "tropics." ("They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want. There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people.")

Women and Children Last
What the Bush administration has proved is that, if you have a mind to do so, there's no end to the ways you can define "is." No administration has reached not just for its guns but for its dictionaries more often, when brought up against commonly accepted definitions of what is.
Why just the other day, faced with a downward spiraling situation in Iraq and plummeting public-opinion polls, Vice President Cheney went on Larry King Live and declared that the Iraqi insurgency was actually in its "last throes." In this case, he had perhaps reached for his dictionary a little too fast. The phrase was taken up and widely questioned. So Cheney who, as Juan Cole reminds us, claimed he "'knew where exactly' Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction were and who was sure Iraqis would deliriously greet the U.S. military as liberators," simply returned to the administration's definitional stockpile. When asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer whether General John Abizaid's description of the Iraqi situation -- that the insurgency was "undiminished" (with ever more foreign fighters entering Iraq) -- didn't contradict his, he responded:
"No, I would disagree. If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period -- the throes of a revolution. The point would be that the conflict will be intense, but it's intense because the terrorists understand if we're successful at accomplishing our objective, standing up a democracy in Iraq, that that's a huge defeat for them. They'll do everything they can to stop it."

Actually, according to my own patriotically correctly named and so indisputable reference book, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, a "throe" is "a severe pang or spasm of pain, as in childbirth," and the "throes" of a country in, say, revolution or economic collapse would also be brief spasms. Of course, just the other day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, looking into his murky crystal ball, claimed that this "spasm" could last up to another 12 years. I suppose from now on we should all speak of that period from birth to death as the "throes of life." As it happens, the American people seem uncomfortable with our Vice President's latest definitional forays. (For more on defining "throes," I turn you over to the indefatigable Juan Cole.)

Here's the strange thing, then: No one in our lifetime has found the nature of reality to be more definitionally supple, more malleable, more… let's say it… postmodern and relative (to their needs and desires) than the top officials of the Bush administration.

Their watchwords might be defined, if you don't mind my reaching for my dictionary of sayings, as -- batten down the definitional hatches, full speed ahead, and if you hit a mine, women and children last. In that way, they have redefined "accountability" as never having to say you're sorry; or, as then-Governor of Texas evidently put it to the man ghostwriting his campaign autobiography in 1999, " a leader, you can never admit to a mistake"; or as former Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz put it when telling reporters he hadn't bothered to read the Downing Street Memos, you shouldn't let yourself be "distracted" by messy old "history." In the Bush administration, accountability has largely meant promotion.
Let's throw in just a few other moments of high Bush postmodernism: No administration in memory has been quicker to lie in its own interests and never stop doing so, no matter what. (For instance, to this day the President never ceases to push the absurd link between the war in Iraq and the September 11th attacks). None in recent memory has been quicker to lie about or smear its opponents, or had, in political hand-to-hand combat, a nastier, sometimes filthier mouth, publicly (as Karl Rove proved in recent statements) or privately. None has, in fact, seemed to care less about any of the moral categories of behavior it was ostensibly promoting, when those happened to run aground on the shoals of its own political desires and fantasies.
A Five-Star Rendition and Other Acts of Relativity

Every administration sets a mood. You can see the one this administration has established reflected way down the line -- in, for example, the depths of Abu Ghraib's interrogation chambers. As it happens, you can also catch a glimpse of it in five-star Italian hotels. The other day, Stephen Grey and Don Van Natta of the New York Times reported (Thirteen With the C.I.A. Sought by Italy in a Kidnapping) that an Italian judge had ordered the arrest of 13 American agents, assumedly working for the CIA, for performing an "extraordinary rendition" in Italy. They kidnapped an Egyptian cleric named Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who may or may not have been linked al-Qaeda, and flew him to Egypt to be tortured. Now, you may imagine that our "shadow warriors," operating in the dark zone of international illegality in the name of our President's Global War on Terror, are Spartan men and women, stripped down for action, ready to sacrifice everything for missions they believe in. You undoubtedly assume that, while in Italy, they laid low, bunking in safe houses, while organizing their covert kidnapping. But wait, these are representatives of the Bush administration, so think again. Here was a paragraph buried deep in the Times piece that caught my eye:
"The [CIA] suspects stayed in five-star Milan hotels, including the Hilton, the Sheraton, the Galia and Principe di Savoia, in the week before the operation, at a cost of $144,984, the [Italian] warrant says, adding that after Mr. Nasr was flown to Egypt, two of the officers took a few days' holiday at five-star hotels in Venice, Tuscany and South Tyrol."

A Washington Post report added this little detail: "The Americans stayed at some of the finest hotels in Milan, sometimes for as long as six weeks, ringing up tabs of as much as $500 a day on Diners Club accounts created to match their recently forged identities." The Los Angeles Times contributed the fact that the $145,000 tab actually only covered accommodations. As it happens, our luxury warriors were gourmets as well. They ran up tabs at Milan's best restaurants.

All of this fits so well with general attitudes at the upper reaches of this self-indulgent administration. Ours is, after all, a war to satisfy our own desires, to make the world the way we wish it -- and who wouldn't wish for luxury surroundings and a nice five-star, post-kidnapping vacation in Venice or Florence, all at the taxpayer's expense? (I guarantee, by the way, that our agents also ate all the macadamia nuts and drank all the liquor and downed all the $10 cokes in their mini-fridges.) And yet you can rest assured that no one in this administration is going to demand repayment. In fact, no one has even whispered a word about these expenses so far, no less promised taxpayers our money back, but you wouldn't expect that from an administration that stonewalls for a corporation, Halliburton, which seems to have taken both the American taxpayer and the Iraqis to the five-star cleaners. And while we're at it, let's just note that our rendition teams circle the world not on some scruffy cargo plane, but on a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort "favored by CEOs and celebrities," as Dana Priest of the Washington Post puts it. This is the mentality not of warriors, of course, but of looters who never saw a payoff or an opening they didn't exploit.

From top to bottom, Bush's people are, in this sense, a caricature of their own caricature of the 1960s. In fact, given their fixation on the Sixties, it's worth revisiting their record in that long-ago era when they were already the most morally relative of beings. On the central issue of those years, the Vietnam War, they were essentially missing in action; or, as our Vice President so famously commented, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service." The striking thing about the record of most of the Bush administration's key players (and almost all of the neocons) was that they used privilege, legalistic tricks, and every bit of slyness they could muster to avoid any entanglement with Vietnam (on any side of the issue) and later on, coming to power, they had not the slightest compunction about wrapping themselves in the flag and the uniform, acting like the warriors they never were, and attacking those who had engaged in some fashion with the Vietnam War.

It is perhaps not an irony but a kind of inevitability that, having worked so hard to avoid Vietnam (and its "mistakes") all those years, they now find themselves tightly gripped by a situation of their own making that has a remarkably Vietnam-like look to it; and, worse yet, they find themselves acting as if they were now, after all these years, back in the 1960s fighting the War in Vietnam rather than the one in Iraq. In his testimony before the Senate last week, Donald Rumsfeld even managed to get the classic Vietnam word "quagmire" and the equivalent of "light at the end of the tunnel" into a single sentence: "There isn't a person at this table who agrees with you [Senator Ted Kennedy] that we're in a quagmire and there's no end in sight."
As a group, the top figures in this administration have often seemed like so many aggressive children let loose in the neighborhood sandbox by deadbeat dads and moms. Does nobody wonder where those mommies and daddies, the people who should have taught them right from wrong, actually went? Certainly, their children are, in the best Sixties manner, all libido. Let me, in fact, suggest a label for them that, I hope, catches their truest political nature: They are immoral relativists.
Yet, even for the most self-absorbed among them, the ones most ready to twist reality (and the names we give it) into whatever shape best suits their needs of the moment, reality does have a way of biting back. Count on it.

Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War.
[Special thanks go to Nick Turse for his invaluable research aid.]
Copyright 2005 Tom Engelhardt

Friday, July 15, 2005

Teddy Troopers 'Jump' Into Arms of Iraqi Children

by Spc. Derek Del Rosario, USASpecial to American Forces Press Service

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, July 15, 2005 – They can be seen parachuting into various areas around Baghdad -- specially trained individuals recruited during Operation Iraqi Freedom 3, whose primary mission is to bring smiles to the faces of Iraqi children.
Army Spc. Benjamin L. Kepenke, a crew chief with Company C, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter), prepares a "Teddy Trooper" for its descent to children below. Operation Teddy Drop is a humanitarian mission geared to give teddy bears to Iraqi children. Photo by Spc. Del Rosario, USA

high-resolution image available. These airborne "soldiers" are actually "Teddy Troopers" or "Para-Bears," stuffed animals with makeshift parachutes jumping into the arms and hearts of children during Operation Teddy Drop.
The commander for this unique operation is Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Randy M. Kirgiss, a pilot with Company C, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter). He said he started the airborne mission as a way to impact the lives of Iraqi children.
Kirgiss began the operation in mid-April, inspired by previous humanitarian efforts he had witnessed, as well as by Col. Gail Halvorsen, the "Berlin candy bomber" who dropped candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift.
"I got the idea from a lot of my friends who conducted humanitarian missions on some of my previous deployments," Kirgiss said. "In Bosnia, I saw school supplies donated; in Kosovo, teddy bears were given out. I wanted to model something after the Candy Bomber who parachuted bags of candy to kids. It was from this idea that Operation Teddy Drop began."
In order for his airborne humanitarian mission to get off the ground, Kirgiss needed support from his chain of command, his unit, and from friends and family to help him gather the stuffed animals.
He said he had the support of his company and battalion commanders. "They were very supportive, and they helped me brainstorm ideas to make the operation run safely and smoothly, he said.
In conjunction with his official flight missions, Kirgiss brings boxes of stuffed animals with makeshift parachutes along with him. When he sees a child down below, he instructs a crewmember to drop a Teddy Trooper.
"There is a mission to be done, but dropping bears doesn't take away from that mission," Kirgiss said. "We have the assets to do both our mission and execute Operation Teddy Drop effectively."
Kirgiss originally told a group of eight friends and family members about the operation. He received help in the form of donated stuffed animals and parachute supplies. The original network of eight grew immensely, and Kirgiss began to receive donations from everywhere around the States -- receiving old parachutes and boxes of teddy bears. Kirgiss is even getting a donation from a well-known teddy bear manufacturer.
"Originally, I just wanted my friends and families to look into their kid's closet to find old teddy bears to donate," said Kirgiss. "When unit members started talking and my friends started talking, through word of mouth it just got out, and now I get donations from everywhere."
Kirgiss spends most of his free time, usually at night, making the parachutes for the Teddy Troopers. The airborne recruits come in all shapes and sizes, so specialized parachutes usually have to be made. Using material from old, donated parachutes, Kirgiss makes the parachutes that are best suited for his troopers so they can complete their "mission." It takes Kirgiss approximately three minutes to make each chute, he said.
The unit's largest recruit jumped May 21 as part of the largest drop in the unit's short history. "We received eight boxes of donated stuffed animals one day. The boxes stacked to my ceiling," Kirgiss said. "The following day we dropped (more than) 200 stuffed animals, including the largest one we have ever received -- a bear that was about 3 feet tall and weighed around six pounds. I needed to make a special chute for that trooper."
Kirgiss tries to get the plush toys to all kids, but his main aim is to get them to the poorer Iraqi children in the countryside.
"It can be a safety hazard to drop them in the city. We don't want kids running into the streets to get them," said Kirgiss, also the safety officer of the company. "When we can, we try to send the bears to urban and poorer areas, and for each kid we see we send down a bear so there is no fighting among the children."
Sending these Teddy Troopers on their mission is very fulfilling for Kirgiss. He said he enjoys seeing the smiles on their faces when they get hold of their new stuffed animals. "It's a great thing to see, even from 200 feet above," Kirgiss said. "When we see those kids wave and we send down a bear, most kids will not know what it is at first. Some hide behind their parents, some stay back in hesitancy, but once they see that parachute open, they know what it is and go running toward it. Some even catch them before they hit the ground."
More than 900 Para-Bears have bravely "jumped" since the start of the operation.
It is Kirgiss' hope to continue the humanitarian mission for the duration of his deployment and hopefully pass on the operation to the next aviation unit that comes to Taji. For Kirgiss, it is a personally gratifying experience to be a part of the operation -- an operation he hopes will have an impact on the future.
"It is something I find very fun and constructive," he said. "Talking about it also helps me stay grounded to my two young children. I can't help but think that somewhere down the line we might be influencing the future decision makers of Iraq. This operation is only a small way to show that we are human and compassionate. We are soldiers, but we are humane as well."
(Army Spc. Derek Del Rosario is assigned to 3rd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade.)

Army Spc. Richard Kanagie, Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, prepares a "Teddy Trooper" for descent. Photo by Staff Sgt. Mick Minecci, USA

Joe Wilson -Background information

1. Wilson, who was in charge of the Embassy in Iraq during the first Gulf War under Bush 41
2. Wilson was the last American to speak personally with Saddam Hussein before the
war begain,
3. Wilson and was responsible for taking care of some 125 Americans who had sought refuge in the American Embassy there when they were not allowed by Saddam to leave the country just prior to the war
4. Wilson wrote an article San Jose Mercury News, on October 13, 2002, in which Wilson related his concerns about the pitfalls of the approach to Iraq being taken at the time by both the U.N. and the U.S.
5.In reply to that article, Wilson said that the former President Bush 41 wrote that he had "read your article and I agree with a lot of it."
6.Bush 41's own National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, had contacted him to ask whether he "could walk on over to the White House with the letter" at the time
7. Plame, Wilson's wife, was indeed a "NOC", an agent with "nonofficial cover", the most valuable, secretive and vulnerable of CIA assets at the time of her outing.
8."The CIA said [my wife] was not the person to have authorized my trip. They've repeated that time and time again." ( Though not in this article, it has been claimed that it was actually Cheney who had picked Wislon to go to Nigers- Cheney would deny this.)
blogged on

posted by here by Paul Grant (follower of Basho)

See related post:
23 Administration Officials Involved In Plame Leak

Video Documentary- Part 4 on the Neocons

Joe Wilson's Op-Ed for New York Times

BLOGGED BY Brad ON 7/13/2005 2:45PM
JOE WILSON: 'The President should fire Rove'!
The Ambassador Strikes Back, Answers to the Right Wing Spin Machine

Ambassador Joseph Wilson fired back today at the Rightwing Spin Machine, which, having been issued marching orders late yesterday in a set of talking points from the RNC, is once again hoping to distract from the potentially treasonous crimes that George W. Bush's top political operative and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, is alleged to have committed.

In a phone discussion early this afternoon, Wilson told The BRAD BLOG in no uncertain terms that "the President should fire Rove."

He told us that he'd be appearing on NBC's Today Show tomorrow morning and would be repeating that call.

As well, he told The BRAD BLOG that he planned to read a letter on air which he received from Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush shortly after an article of his was printed in the San Jose Mercury News, on October 13, 2002, in which Wilson related his concerns about the pitfalls of the approach to Iraq being taken at the time by both the U.N. and the U.S.

In reply to that article, Wilson said that the former President wrote that he had "read your article and I agree with a lot of it."

Additionally, Wilson explained, Bush 41's own National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, had contacted him to ask whether he "could walk on over to the White House with the letter" at the time. Which apparently he did.

Wilson also had sent the article to Bush 41's Secretary of State, James Baker.

"None of them responded saying you're a Democratic partisan hack and your views suck," said Wilson.

The above points are notable, because armed with those RNC talking points, Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News" and Friends have today kicked into overdrive smearing and lying about Wilson, claiming that he was against the Iraq War from the get-go.

If fact, Wilson, who was in charge of the Embassy in Iraq during the first Gulf War under Bush 41 (he was the last American to speak personally with Saddam Hussein before the war begain, and was responsible for taking care of some 125 Americans who had sought refuge in the American Embassy there when they were not allowed by Saddam to leave the country just prior to the war), says that it was "a full eight months" after he was sent by the CIA to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium there, "before I had said anything publicly about what America should consider in regard to a war with Iraq."

"My real concern was always WMD," he told us, "not Regime Change."

That concern was expressed in the October 2002, San Jose Mercury News editorial which apparently George W. Bush's own father and National Security Advisor tended to agree with. Wilson's trip to Niger occurred a full eight months earlier, in February of that same year.

We asked him if he had heard Fox "News'" John Gibson make his deplorable and irresponsible statement yesterday which said that "Karl Rove should receive a medal," because Wilson's wife, covert CIA asset Valerie Plame, "should have been outed."

"Where I come from," slurred Gibson, "we do not want secret spy masters pulling the puppet strings in the background.

Gibson's "logic", such that he has any, seems to be based on the unsupported claims that Plame --- or Wilson's "little wifey" as Gibson condescendingly referred to her --- was "pulling the puppet strings" of national policy from her covert position in the CIA, by sending Wilson to Niger. That was, in Gibson's false claim, because Wilson, "was opposed to the War in Iraq, opposed to Bush policy, and pointedly and loudly said so."

No, he didn't, Mr. Gibson. Never mind those pesky facts. It's only Fox "News" you work for, so we realize such facts are hardly relevant to you receiving your paycheck there.

"That is something that should be out in the open," blathered Gibson, "And the person doing it should be identified and should own up to it. So Rove should get a medal, if he did do what he says he didn't do."

In response, Wilson simply said, "Well, that's a lie. But no surprise there."

In the meantime, despite such pesky facts, the wingnuts also continue to claim that Plame was, in fact, not even a covert asset at the time of her outing.

The BRAD BLOG has learned from several sources, as also confirmed in Time magazine that Plame was indeed a "NOC", an agent with "nonofficial cover", the most valuable, secretive and vulnerable of CIA assets.

In regard to whether she was covert or not at the time of her outing by Rove, Bob Novak or whoever his "two senior administration sources" were, Wilson said, "What I can say is, that the CIA looked at the evidence of what had happened and referred the case to the Justice Department. That means that the CIA may think that a crime has been committed."

On Rightwing Hackery hoping to cynically deflect from the seriousness of the potentially treasonous crime committed by claiming that "Wilson lied" about his wife's involvement in sending him to Niger, Wilson says, "In actual fact, all I've done is repeat what the CIA itself has said since July 22nd, 2003 as reported initially in Newsday by Knut Royce and Tim Phelps."

That Newsday article says [emphasis added]:
A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked "alongside" the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger.

But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. "They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising," he said. "There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason," he said. "I can't figure out what it could be."

"The CIA said [my wife] was not the person to have authorized my trip. They've repeated that time and time again."

And the Bush Apologists, who suddenly don't seem to care all that much about National Security after all, keep repeating the opposite. Time and time again.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Peace in Iraq

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Telling the Iraq War story by the Numbers

Little Progress in Training Iraqi Forces

Congress approved the Bush Administration April 2005 request for about $80 billion more for a third year of US spending and war efforts in Iraq.

To evaluate this request and war progress to date, it's vital to understand results in the two years since the US invaded and overthrew leadership of Iraq.

For your clear and quick reading, I listed key statistics taken from data analyzed by various think tanks, including the Center for American Progress and The Brookings Institution. Most info is presented through March 2005, except as indicated.

Spent & approved to spend in Iraq $300 billion of US taxpayers' money, as of June 2005
Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq $9 billion of US taxpayers' money
Halliburton Overcharges Hidden by the Pentagon from Auditors $108 million

Troops Total 175,000, including 150,000 from the US, 8,000 from the UK, 3,600 from South Korea

US Troop Casualities 1,535 US troops; 98% male.
93.6% non-officers; 79% active duty, 13% National Guard; 60.1% white, 9.1% African-American, 6.4% Latino.

34% were killed by unidentified causes. Non-US Troop Casualties Total 177, with 87 from the UK.

US Troops Wounded 11,568

Iraqi Forces Casualities about 3,700, including police, soldiers, security forces and interpreters

Iraqi Civilians Killed 28,000 to 40,000

Iraqi Insurgents Killed 15,000

US Contractors Killed 232

Non-Iraqi Kidnapped 193, including 33 killed, 85 released, 3 escaped, 2 rescued and 20 status unknown.

Estimated insurgents, June 2003 5,000

Estimated insurgents, March 2005 18,000, including less than 1,000 foreign nationals

Daily insurgent attacks, Feb 2004 14

Daily insurgent attacks, Feb 2005 70

Trained Iraqi Troops Needed by July 2006 271,000

Trained Iraqi Troops, Per the Pentagon 142,472

Trained Iraqi Troops, Per General Richard Meyers 40,000

Trained Iraqi Troops, Per US Senator Joseph Biden 4,000 to 18,000

Iraqi Police Needs - Weapons Have 93,093; Need 213,185

Iraqi Police Needs - Vehicles Have 5,923; Need 22,395

Iraqi Police Needs - Body Armor Have 42,941; Need 135,000

Iraqi Unemployment Rate 28 to 40%

Average Hours Iraqi Homes Have electricity 8

Length of Gasoline Lines 1 mile

Hepatitis Outbreaks 2002, 100; 2003, 170; 2004, 200.

Car Traffic Change 500% from July 2003 to Jan 2005

Children Enrolled in Primary School 2000, 3.6 million; 2003, 4.3 million

Telephone Subscribers pre-war, 833,000; March 2005, 2.9 million

And the statistic that us cyber-writers find interesting....Internet Subscribers pre-war, 11,000; March 2005, 147,076

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