Friday, June 03, 2005

Barra, Iraq, May 05 Posted by Hello

'8 long, horrible hours' safeguarding a bridge

..."2:52 p.m. First Lt. Jason Scott, patrolling the bypass road in one of the humvees, receives a radio call that a white plastic bag lying near the bridge appears to have wires coming out of it.
'Nine times out of 10 it's nothing,' Scott says. But he must monitor the bag until an explosive ordnance disposal unit arrives. Scott and his men stand about 150 feet from the bag, training their guns at the road.

About half an hour later, another humvee pulls up. Soldiers unload 'Johnny Five,' a small robot that will probe the bag. The operator, who asked not to be identified, sits down on a folding camp stool, putting the controls for the robot on the passengers' seat of the humvee. A remote monitor shows the contents of the bag as he guides the robot's pincers to shake the bag. It is filled with garbage. Soldiers climb back into the humvees and drive off. "

[bth: I highlighted this section only because I was interested in how they identify IEDs and initially inspect them.]

Truth and Deceit - New York Times

"When he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 1968, Richard Nixon said, 'Let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth - to see it as it is, and tell it like it is - to find the truth, to speak the truth, and to live the truth.' "...

Now, with George W. Bush in charge, the nation is mired in yet another tragic period marked by incompetence, duplicity, bad faith and outright lies coming once again from the very top of the government. Just last month we had the disclosure of a previously secret British government memorandum that offered further confirmation that the American public and the world were spoon-fed bogus information by the Bush administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

President Bush, as we know, wanted to remove Saddam Hussein through military action. With that in mind, the memo damningly explained, "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

That's the kind of deceit that was in play as American men and women were suiting up and marching off to combat at the president's command. Mr. Bush wanted war, and he got it. Many thousands have died as a result.

Even in Afghanistan, where the U.S. had legitimate reasons for going to war, the lies have been legion. Pat Tillman, for example, was a popular N.F.L. player who, in a burst of patriotism after Sept. 11, gave up a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army Rangers. He was sent first to Iraq, and then to Afghanistan, where he was shot to death by members of his own unit who mistook him for the enemy.

Instead of disclosing that Corporal Tillman had died tragically in a friendly fire incident, the Army spun a phony tale of heroism for his family and the nation. According to the Army, Corporal Tillman had been killed by enemy fire as he stormed a hill. Soldiers who knew the truth were ordered to keep quiet about the matter. Corporal Tillman's family was not told how he really died until after a nationally televised memorial service that recruiters viewed as a public relations bonanza.

Mary Tillman, Corporal Tillman's mother, told The Washington Post:

"The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."...

Congress and an aggressive press ultimately played crucial roles in bringing the truth about Vietnam and Watergate to light.

A similar challenge exists today. We'll see how it plays out.

U.S. Army Names HemCon Bandage 'Greatest Invention'

HemCon Inc. today said the U.S. Army has named its HemCon bandage as one of the 2004 "Top 10 Greatest Inventions."

The awards, given annually by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, recognize the best new technology solutions impacting soldiers on the battlefield. Out of the 10 products honored, the HemCon bandage is the only medical product included on the list of 2004 awards winners

"HemCon, a hemorrhage-control technology company, will be recognized at the June 8 awards ceremony at the Hilton McLean Tyson's Corner in Washington DC.

HemCon Bandages are manufactured from a natural product called chitosan, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, crab and other crustaceans. The positively charged chitosan material bonds with red blood cells and forms a clot that stops hemorrhaging.

Based on the strength of the innovative technology, the HemCon Bandage was ushered through the FDA in October 2002 and represents the second-fastest approval of a medical device granted by the FDA, the company said. The HemCon bandage has now evolved into the standard treatment for severe hemorrhaging and is included in the recommended guidelines for all three casualty management phases of 'Tactical Combat Casualty Care.'

'HemCon Inc. is a company of highly talented men and women dedicated to providing life-saving technologies to our courageous military forces. We are truly honored to be recognized as one of the Army's 'Top 10 Greatest Inventions of 2004,'' said John Morgan, CEO and president of HemCon Inc.
Nominees were submitted from across the Army laboratory community and were evaluated by soldier teams from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and active U.S. Army Divisions. Entries were then judged based on their impact on Army capabilities, innovation behind the technology and potential benefit outside the Army.

'The inventions submitted demonstrate the vast experience within the Army laboratory community as a sincere commitment of these laboratories to improving the readiness of our Army,' said Lt. Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army's deputy chief of staff, G-3 and the final selection authority for the program.

[bth: laudable as this is, the Army needs to field it. Futher they delayed fielding of any blood clotting agent for almost two years rather than buy a product developed for the Navy and issued to all marines in combat back in 2003. This is a superior product in some ways but some product is better than no product if you've had your leg blown off so fielding is critical now. Incredibly these products are not expensive and combining them with a tourniquet issued to every soldier may save between 10 and 20% of current KIAs. Let's get on with it.]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

You've got to kiss the girl. Posted by Hello

UK plans south Iraq security handover in months

"British troops in southern Iraq expect to hand over control of security to local Iraqi defence and police forces within a year, according to the senior British police officer overseeing their training."

“I would expect that within the next six to nine months in certain areas under British military control, the day to day running of security will be handed over entirely to the Iraqis,” said Paul Kernaghan, the British police force's main spokesman on international affairs...

Saudi on guard for return of jihadists from Iraq

"RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi security forces, having dealt a blow to Al-Qaeda inside the kingdom, are on guard for the return of Saudi Islamist militants from their 'jihad' (holy war) against US troops in neighbouring Iraq. "

"Of course we expect whoever is left (in Iraq) to come back to Saudi Arabia. But of course, we will deal with them the same way we dealt with the others," said interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Mansoor Sultan al-Turki....

Nerds & pot, a bad combination Posted by Hello

Death Rate For Reservists Rises

"WASHINGTON - The death rate in Iraq this month among members of the National Guard and Reserve is the highest since January and one of the highest of the entire war, Pentagon figures show. "...

Gulf actions of U.S. prove boon to Iran

"And the winner is - drum roll, please - Iran!
That's at least one surprising answer to the question of who is coming out on top in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Everything has gone very well for the Iranians,' says Juan Cole, a professor specializing in Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, a view echoed by many others who study the region.

'They had two major geopolitical enemies on the region. One was the Taliban and the other was Saddam Hussein,' Cole says. 'So from their point of view, the United States has very helpfully removed their major problems.

'And not only has it removed those major problems, it has installed regimes that have strong traditional alliances with the Iranians,' he says. "...

Iraqi FM concerned over US troops

"Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says he is worried that the US may pull its troops out before local forces are able to maintain security.

He told the UN Security Council that the US-led Multi-National Force should stay in the country until Iraqi forces were able to do the job themselves. "...

October 1942. Douglas Aircraft Co. Bombadier canopy. Posted by Hello

Detainees say they were sold for bounty -

Detainees say they were sold for bounty - The Boston Globe - - World - News: "SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- They fed them well. The Pakistani tribesmen slaughtered a sheep in honor of their guests, Arabs and Chinese Muslims famished from fleeing US bombing in the Afghan mountains. But their hosts had ulterior motives: to sell them to the Americans, said the men who are now prisoners at Guantanamo Bay."

Bounties ranged from $3,000 to $25,000, the detainees testified during military tribunals, according to transcripts the US government gave The Associated Press to comply with a Freedom of Information lawsuit....

Anti-Syrian journalist killed in Beirut

"A prominent anti-Syrian journalist has died after a bomb destroyed his car as he started the engine in a Christian district of Beirut. "...

Rice Says Nuclear Material Headed to Iran Intercepted (Update1)

"May 31 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and its allies in a program to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction prevented Iran from obtaining material for its nuclear weapons program within the past nine months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

``The trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in countries of concern, including Iran'' was blocked as was the transfer of ``equipment used to produce propellant'' to a ``ballistic missile program in another region'' of the world, Rice said.
Rice disclosed the intercepts in a speech celebrating the second anniversary of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a global effort started by President George W. Bush to stop trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.

Rice gave no details but said that the U.S. and 10 of its partners in the initiative have cooperated on 11 successful interdiction efforts over the past nine months. Iran was the only nation interdicted that she cited by name. "...

UAV Hunter Drone Posted by Hello


This link is to a Feb 3, 2005 report on sensors to support soldiers. It specifically addresses marines in urban combat.

North Korean at Panmunjom Posted by Hello

North Korean Capital Posted by Hello

North Korea, Facing Food Shortages, Mobilizes Millions From the Cities to Help Rice Farmers

"TOKYO, Wednesday, June 1 - To combat growing food shortages, the North Korean government is sending millions of city dwellers to work on farms each weekend, largely to transplant rice, according to foreign aid workers."...

A decade ago, up to two million North Koreans starved to death in one of the rare peacetime famines of modern history. ...

Now, with worldwide opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, foreign food aid is drying up.

"At end of June, I cut 2.5 million people off from their food rations," said Mr. Ragan, an American, referring to a group equal to 10 percent of North Korea's population. Unless new food comes quickly from the outside, the number of North Koreans receiving foreign food aid will plunge to 1.5 million in August, from 6.5 million people this spring.

The World Food Program, the largest foreign food supplier to North Korea, has received only 6 percent of the 230,000 tons it needs this year,...

Foreign aid workers predict a summer of severe food shortages for North Korea's urban dwellers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Daily life in Iraq with a police trainer

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - A red Passat with a suspected suicide bomber handcuffed to its steering wheel is waiting outside the hotel headquarters of America's police training mission in Iraq. As soon as it's spotted, it disappears. It's 6:55 a.m.

The heavily armed security detail taking Contingent Commander Michael J. Heidingsfield to appointments with American police trainers and Iraqi police in Ba'qubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, decides to delay its 7 a.m. start. Twenty minutes pass, then a half hour.

Finally, convoy team leader Lance Jacobs, 31, from South Africa, gathers the drivers, bodyguards, translators, gunners and scouts in the parking lot of the Al Sadeer Hotel. There are a lot of red Passats in Baghdad, he tells them. Don't get jumpy and shoot just any one that comes near. But if one violates the security 'vacuum' around Heidingsfield's armored Chevy Suburban, 'that's a different story,' he says. Shoot its tires, then its engine block.

Then he gives the order: 'We're moving.'"...

One new worker will have real insight on what Humvees need

"A soldier from Hooks, Texas, who was wounded in Iraq has been awarded two Purple Hearts and is getting a job at Red River Army Depot there -- working on vehicles used in the war.

Army Spec. Matt Shelton received the medals on Tuesday. He is getting a job modifying Humvees at Red River through the Always a Soldier program, which provides support to soldiers after their active duty.

Shelton was in a Humvee when it was hit by a roadside bomb.

'It more or less let's me put in my own experience to show what concepts the Humvees need to have and what areas need to be worked on most,' Shelton said of his new job.

Shelton said he was lucky to survive his second wound, which came from a roadside bomb. The blast struck the passenger side of the Humvee, killing a fellow soldier. "

Massachusetts guardsman protects convoy

"BOSTON - A National Guardsman from Massachusetts is being credited with saving an Army convoy from a suicide bomber in Iraq after he fired on a truck carrying 400 pounds of explosives, killing the driver and detonating the load.

According to his family and military officials, Spc. Dean Levy, 21, a gunner with a Brockton-based Guard unit, was in the third vehicle in a convoy of five Humvees heading back to a base near Bayji, in north-central Iraq, on Friday.

Levy, who grew up in Pembroke, told his family he opened fire when he realized the pickup truck was heading for the convoy. He fired his .50-caliber machine gun and the truck exploded, killing the driver. Levy suffered only facial burns and some shrapnel in his arms and is expected to make a full recovery. "...

[bth: Well done Mr. Levy. My best wishes to you and yours.]

Pentagon delays release of May recruiting data

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday postponed by more than a week the release of military recruiting figures for May, as the Army and Marine Corps struggle to attract new troops amid the Iraq war.

The military services had routinely provided most recruiting statistics for a given month on the first business day of the next month.

Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the May numbers for the active-duty and reserve components of the all-volunteer military will be released on June 10.

'Military recruiting is instrumental to our readiness and merits the earliest release of data. But at the same time, this information must be reasonably scrutinized and explained to the public, which deserves the fullest insight into military performance in this important area,' Krenke said.

Asked whether the move would simply delay the release of bad news, Krenke said, 'That's not necessarily true,' noting that 'we expect the numbers to improve during the summer months.'

Military recruiters have said potential recruits and their parents were expressing wariness about enlisting during the Iraq war. They said improving civilian job opportunities also were affecting recruiting.

The regular Army missed its recruiting goals for three straight months entering May, falling short by a whopping 42 percent in April. The Army was 16 percent behind its year-to-date target entering May, with a goal of signing up 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30.

The Marine Corps missed its goal for signing up new recruits for four straight months entering May and was 2 percent behind its year-to-date goal. It hopes to sign up 38,195 recruits in fiscal 2005."

[bth: Bad news gets released on Fridays by the Public Affairs guys. June 10 is a Friday.]

Concept airship able to transport over 1000 tons of men and equipment 8000 miles. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Vicenza community honors soldier killed in Afghanistan

"VICENZA, Italy -It's unlikely that most of those attending the memorial service Thursday for a soldier killed in Afghanistan had a chance to know Pfc. Steven Tucker.

But a few hundred Americans and Italians paid their respects and listened to a few soldiers who did know him.

Tucker, killed Saturday by an improvised explosive device while on a mounted patrol, arrived in Vicenza in January just a few months before the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment deployed to Afghanistan."...

A Mothers' War - New York Times

\"They were talking about military burial benefits as the waitress took the salad plates away, and one of them had come up with something perversely humorous even on this subject, so they had been laughing. Now there was a brief, comfortable silence. They had one of the back rooms at Boone Tavern in downtown Columbia, Mo., where they usually go. It was a Friday night in February, and because one woman had other plans, there were only five of them, which made the big, round table seem too large. Instead of spacing themselves around it, they had taken seats along one side, closer to one another. "

Patricia said, ''I had a doorbell moment this week.'' ...

Time for an Iraq Accounting

"American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve the nation's thanks and respect this Memorial Day. But they deserve more. They deserve a clearer, more realistic explanation from President Bush of their strategic mission, and they deserve directives that show them precisely how to accomplish it. The American public also needs explanations and, yes, directives. The White House seems to underestimate the fraying of national support that is occurring for the U.S. military presence in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan. Freedom may be on the march, but Americans need to be told more specifically and persuasively how U.S. and allied combat deaths abroad advance that march now, not years from now."....

Analysts Behind Iraq Intelligence Were Rewarded

"Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said.

The civilian analysts, former military men considered experts on foreign and U.S. weaponry, work at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), one of three U.S. agencies singled out for particular criticism by President Bush's commission that investigated U.S. intelligence."

...Pentagon spokesmen said the awards for the analysts were to recognize their overall contributions on the job over the course of each year. But some current and former officials, including those who called attention to the awards, said the episode shows how the administration has failed to hold people accountable for mistakes on prewar intelligence.

Despite sharp critiques from the president's commission and the Senate intelligence committee, no major reprimand or penalty has been announced publicly in connection with the intelligence failures, though investigations are still underway at the CIA. George J. Tenet resigned as CIA director but was later awarded the Medal of Freedom by Bush....

Support Rising for Near-Space Blimps

"Good news, blimp boys: the Air Force is slowly starting to line up behind a plan to put airships on the edge of the atmosphere.

According to Inside Defense, a 90-day Air Force study has concluded that there would be 'military utility' in putting blimps, balloons, and drones in near space -- between 65,000 and 350,000 above sea level. Up there, they could serve as cheap substitutes for satellites, relaying communications and snooping on foes. They might be able to carry equipment, effectively becoming giant U-Hauls in the sky. And this could be done, at least in the balloons' case, without 'significantly strain[ing] existing infrastructure or requir[ing] large amounts of equipment or personnel to operate the balloons,' Inside Defense says."...

Lighter-Than-Air Force

"Transporting US troops to the front lines usually takes weeks and requires massive airfields and seaports. Logistics will get even more hellacious when the Department of Defense eventually replaces the current system of battalions and brigades with 1,800-person 'units of action' - infantry plus their armor and air support. But Darpa, the Pentagon's mad science division, has a plan: a gi-normous airship that can take a unit of action anywhere in the world, without infrastructure, in four days."...

The Death Spiral of the Volunteer Army - New York Times

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likes to talk about transforming America's military. But the main transformation he may leave behind is a catastrophic falloff in recruitment for the country's vital ground fighting forces: the Army and the Marine Corps. The recruitment chain that has given the United States highly qualified, highly skilled and highly motivated ground forces for the three decades since the government abandoned the draft has started to break down. "

This is astonishing, even allowing for the administration's failure to prepare Americans honestly for how long and difficult the occupation of Iraq would be. There are over 60 million American men and women between 18 and 35, the age group sought by Army recruiters. Getting the 80,000 or so new volunteers the Army needs to enlist each year ought not to be such a daunting challenge. ...But Army recruitment is now regularly falling short of the necessary targets. Recruiters are having even more trouble persuading people to sign up for Army National Guard and Reserve units. The Marine Corps has been missing its much smaller monthly quotas as well. Unless there is a sharp change later this year, both forces will soon start feeling the pinch as too few trainees are processed to meet both forces' operational needs.

Why this is happening is no mystery. Two years of hearing about too few troops on the ground, inadequate armor, extended tours of duty and accelerated rotations back into combat have taken their toll, discouraging potential enlistees and their parents. The citizen-soldiers of the Guard and Reserves have suddenly become full-time warriors. Nor has it helped that when abuse scandals have erupted, the Pentagon has seemed quicker to punish lower-ranking soldiers than top commanders and policy makers. This negative cycle now threatens to feed on itself. Fewer recruits will mean more stress on those now in uniform and more grim reports reaching hometowns across America.

...The Pentagon now says it gives field commanders as many troops as they ask for. But those commanders are aware of Mr. Rumsfeld's doctrinaire commitment to holding down troop numbers and of the diminished career prospects that could result from challenging him.

... Young people and their parents are reacting rationally to a regrettable and unnecessary transformation in how the United States government treats its ground troops. That is what needs to be changed.

Wired 13.06: Attack of the Drones

"The F-16s had come and gone, dropping a pair of 500-pound satellite-guided bombs on an insurgent safe house in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. Now it was up to Major Shannon Rogers to see whether they had hit their target. With a tug of the throttle, he brought his plane to 10,000 feet for a closer look." ... [bth: here is an excellent article on UAV drones.]

Ground Zero Is So Over - New York Times

"IN its not-so-brief and thoroughly unhappy life, ground zero has been a site for many things: tragedy and grief, political campaigns and protests, battling architects and warring cultural institutions, TV commercials and souvenir hustlers. Perhaps it was inevitable we'd end up at pure unadulterated farce."

That's where we are as of this Memorial Day weekend. A 1,776-foot Freedom Tower with no tenants - and no prospect of tenants - has been abruptly sent back to the drawing board after the Marx Brothers-like officials presiding over the chaos acknowledged troubling security concerns about truck bombs. But truck bombs may be the least of the demons scaring away prospective occupants. The simple question that no one could answer the day after 9/11 remains unanswered today: What sane person would want to work in a skyscraper destined to be the most tempting target for aerial assault in the Western world?...

But what has most separated America from the old exigencies of 9/11 - and therefore from the fate of ground zero - is, at long last, the decoupling of the war on terror from the war on Iraq. The myth fostered by the administration that Saddam Hussein conspired in the 9/11 attacks is finally dead and so, apparently, is the parallel myth that Iraqis were among that day's hijackers. Our initial, post-9/11 war against Al Qaeda - the swift and decisive victory over the Taliban - is now seen as both a discrete event and ancient history (as is the hope of nailing Osama bin Laden dead or alive); Afghanistan itself has fallen off the American radar screen except as a site for burgeoning poppy production and the deaths of detainees in American custody. In its place stands only the war in Iraq, which is increasingly seen as an add-on to the war provoked by 9/11 and whose unpopularity grows by the day....

Speaking bitterly about the Army's strenuous effort to cover up his son's death by friendly fire, Pat Tillman's father crystallized the crisis in an interview with The Washington Post last week: "They realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about this death got out. They blew up their poster boy." ...

When he read 721 names in April 2004, Mr. Koppel was labeled a traitor by the right for daring to call attention to the casualties, and some affiliates even refused to broadcast the show. This time the prospect of a televised roll call of the dead has caused little notice at all. Like the latest setbacks at ground zero, it is a troubling but increasingly distant event to those Americans who, unlike the families and neighbors of the fallen, can and have turned the page.

Mom of Slain GI Denied Gold Star Status

"Everyone agrees that Ligaya Lagman (search) is a Gold Star mother, part of the long line of mournful women whose sons or daughters gave their lives for their country. Her 27-year-old son, Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Lagman (search), was killed last year in Afghanistan, but American Gold Star Mothers Inc., has rejected Lagman, a Filipino, for membership because "though a permanent resident and a taxpayer "she is not a U.S. citizen. "...

[bth: Ann Herd refused to participate in the Faces of the Fallen event we attended in March with perhaps 1500 other Gold Star Families. The Blue Stars were represented and TAPS but she declined to come to the event even though she was in town and declined to let others represent the Gold Star Mothers there. This latest ruling against Lagman is nonsense. Similar rules have had to be changed for this organization over time including the inclusion of mothers not born in the US and mothers of adopted children over age 7. This can and must be corrected.]

Zarqawi Followers Clash With Local Sunnis

"BAGHDAD, May 28 -- For four days this month, U.S. Marines were onlookers at just the kind of fight they had hoped to see: a battle between suspected followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a foreign-born insurgent, and Iraqi Sunni tribal fighters at the western frontier town of Husaybah.

In clashes sparked by the assassination of a tribal sheik, which was commissioned by Zarqawi, the foreign insurgents and the Iraqi tribal fighters pounded one another with small weapons and mortars in the town's streets as the U.S. military watched from a distance, tribal members and the U.S. military said."...

The experiences of Husaybah's residents illustrate why tension has emerged between local Iraqis and the foreign fighters.

Families who had the means to escape the town began to flee in April, as Zarqawi's followers started building up their operations there, a Husaybah educator said. His name was withheld because of the threat of retaliation.

Zarqawi's fighters squatted in the newly abandoned homes, eating the food that the families left behind, the educator said. He said foreign Arabs had ordered women in the town to wear all-enveloping scarves and robes and forbidden young men to wear Western clothes. The outsiders closed music stores and satellite-dish vendors, he said....

Zarqawi's group ordered the assassination of the Sulaiman sheik after the tribal leader invited Marines for lunch to show goodwill between his people and the Americans, said Salman Reesha Sulaiman, the tribal member. He said Zarqawi's group asserted responsibility for the killing in a statement.

That killing touched off the clashes between foreign and tribal fighters, with Husaybah as the battleground....

RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war

"THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive." ...

The secret Downing Street memo - July 2002

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."...

Monday, May 30, 2005

The 173rd Airborne Brigade holds a vigil for 24 hours every year in Dedham, MA at a statue for John Barnes, a 173rd soldier who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam. Alma and I went there yesterday and took this picture. Posted by Hello

Memorial Day Address by Brian T. Hart

Memorial Day Address by Brian T. Hart
Stoneham, MA
May 30, 2005

Memorial Day is a beautiful and necessary ceremony. It is fitting that we pay tribute to those that gave their lives for our country; to honor the brave.

It is also fitting that we know the full cost of war. Remembrance is a partial obligation we owe to those who won our freedom.

Kneeling at the grave of my son in Arlington National Cemetery, I have wondered “why and why not.” Why evil men like Hussein and Bin Laden are alive while so many brave and noble souls have died.

I look up the grassy slope of that cemetery and see row upon row of white markers. I look down the same slope at the open field waiting to be tilled by a grateful nation. White markers by the thousands, individual testaments to the goodness of man; to the willingness of one man to give his life for another.

We honor our dead in different ways.

While visiting Arlington last summer, an old man stood near me. He had come to visit his neighbor’s son, who is now my son’s neighbor.

He looked at the marker and said, “God’s will. This is all God’s will.”

He walked slowly down the row reading each marker, repeating the refrain, “God’s will, all God’s will.”

I wanted to ask him if it was God’s will that John was dead and Osama Bin Laden was alive, but I did not. I feared the answer.

A woman from Pennsylvania whose son is buried near John called us shortly before St. Patrick’s Day to say she sensed their thirsty spirits. She asked permission to pour Guinness on their graves. Who could deny soldiers a free beer?

Sharing the same funeral home with us in Arlington was a gathering of older families there to inter as a group together the remains of their loved ones, killed together decades ago in a helicopter during Vietnam, their bones only recently returned.

Remembrance is a small price we pay to keep faith with the dead.

We here today share a wound that will not heal. We don’t want it to. We remember and we cannot forget.

Yet we must stand up from the graves of our children, brush off the soil that is now their home and move on.

There is a time when our nation requires our children to put down their toys and pick up the tools of war.

Did their deaths have meaning? Their sacrifices purpose?

Justice is made by men on this earth. It will not exist without the courage to make it manifest.

This is seen every day by those who wish to see: The policeman patrols a dark alley, the soldier crawls into a dark cave, the marine steps through a doorway.

But how best to honor them? We owe the fallen more than remembrance.

If we, the living, fail to pick up the burden of responsibility, to do what is right in this world then who will? … And when?

The lasting commitment of the living toward making a more perfect and just world is a lasting tribute we can make to the dead. ... It keeps the faith. Honors them with action.

This often requires courage: courage to act, courage to speak, courage to determine and do what is right.

It is unacceptable to the Vietnam vet, who has suffered much, to see a new generation return home wounded in mind and body. He will do something about it.

It should be unacceptable that wounded are sent anonymously to Walter Reed without name or acknowledgement by their neighbors or government.

It is unacceptable for generals to dishevel the truth; to fail to provide the troops with the tools they need to finish the job.

It should be unacceptable for analysts to distort intelligence, or for leaders to lie because it is expedient.

It is wrong to hide the costs of war.

To break the faith with the public is to break the faith with the dead who gave so much.

It is wrong not to speak in a democracy. Democracy cannot fear discourse or dissent. Silence is deadly.

It has become too easy to send another man’s son to war.

The only justice we will see in this world is through the courage of the living to act in the right as God has given us the ability to see it.

The courage to act is the final tribute to those who came before us, and a lasting legacy for those who come hereafter.

Making a better world is our right and our responsibility.