Saturday, July 23, 2005


Operation Sunrise detainees Posted by Picasa

Torturing the American Soul

There is a storm gathering in the Caribbean over Camp X-Ray and within the American soul. Here are some observations -- draw your own conclusions.

First this week Pentagon lawyers refused a federal court order to release photos from Abu Ghraib previously required by a federal judge. The following article appears today in the NYTs.

"Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos."

I've posted it below
. Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.

The photographs were some of thousands turned over by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the whistle-blower who exposed the abuse at Abu Ghraib by giving investigators computer disks containing photographs and videos of prisoners
being abused, sexually humiliated and threatened with growling dogs.

The small number of the photographs released in spring 2004 provoked international outrage at the American military.

In early June, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan ordered the release of the additional photographs, part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine the extent of abuse at American military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The government has turned over more than 60,000 pages of documents on the treatment of detainees, some containing graphic descriptions of mistreatment. But the material that the judge ordered released - the A.C.L.U. says there are 87 photographs and 4 videos - would be the first images released in the suit. The judge said they would be the "best evidence" in the debate about the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

"There is another dimension to a picture that is of much greater moment and immediacy" than a document, Judge Hellerstein said in court.

He rejected arguments from the government that releasing the photographs would violate the Geneva Conventions because prisoners might be identified and "further humiliated," but he ordered any identifying features to be removed from the images.


In the letter sent Thursday, Sean Lane, an assistant United States attorney, said that the government was withholding the photographs because they "could result in harm to individuals," and that it would outline the reasons in a sealed brief to the court.

The A.C.L.U. accused the government of continuing to stonewall requests for information "of critical public interest."

"The government chose the last possible moment to raise this argument," said Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the A.C.L.U.

"Because it is under seal, we don't know whether their reasons are adequate," Ms. Singh said.



Second, turns out events at Abu Ghraib were not isolated but in fact were techniques developed first at Guantánamo and where sanctioned by Rumsfeld.


"Report: U.S. first used tough tactics at Gitmo" by Washington Post and Assoc. Press and published in the Seattle Times.

WASHINGTON — Interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, forced a suspected terrorist to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling dogs and attached a leash to his chains, according to a newly released military investigation that shows the tactics were employed there months before military police used them on detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed al-Qahtani — the alleged "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks — at Guantánamo Bay in late 2002 as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the stubborn detainee.

According to investigators, the interrogators told al-Qahtani that his mother and sisters were whores, forced him to wear a bra, forced him to wear a thong on his head, told him he was homosexual and said that other prisoners knew it.

They also forced him to dance with a male interrogator and subjected him to strip searches with no security value, forced him to stand naked in front of women and forced him onto a leash, to act like a dog.

Military investigators who briefed the Senate Armed Services panel yesterday called the tactics "aggressive" but said they did not cross the line into torture, which involves inflicting physical pain or withholding food, water or medical care.

The report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the tactics seen in photos at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of military police at the prison.

The report shows that they were used on al-Qahtani several months before the United States invaded Iraq.

A central figure in the investigation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib, was accused of failing to properly supervise al-Qahtani's interrogation plan, and investigators recommended that he be reprimanded. However, Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.

The Guantánamo investigation looked into 26 allegations by FBI personnel that military interrogators had mistreated detainees. It found that almost all the tactics were "authorized" interrogation methods. Investigators found only three instances of substantiated abuse, including short-shackling detainees to the floor in awkward positions, the use of duct tape to keep a detainee quiet, and a threat by military
interrogators to kill a detainee and his family.

In the case of al-Qahtani, who endured weeks of sleep deprivation and many of the harshest tactics, investigators Lt. Gen. Mark Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John Furlow found the cumulative effect of those tactics "resulted in degrading and abusive treatment" but stopped short of torture. Military commanders have said the techniques prompted al-Qahtani to talk.The military achieved "solid intelligence gains," by interrogating al-Qahtani, Craddock said yesterday, and other military officials have said he revealed details on how the terrorist network operates.

Third, earlier this month several Senators, both Republican and Democrat, went to Guantánamo as part of their continuing investigation. Sen. Kennedy publicly asked for the resignation of Sec. Rumsfeld. Several Republican senators along with most Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee are seeking further oversight to prevent abhorrent treatment of some prisoners from recurring. Today, this article shows up in the Washington
Times.


GIs criticize


Soldiers from Massachusetts and Hawaii who work at the U.S. military detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, gave visiting home-state senators a piece of their mind last week.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, met with several soldiers during a visit led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Pentagon officials said soldiers criticized the harsh comments made recently by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, last month invoked widespread military outrage when he compared Guantánamo to the prison labor systems used by communist tyrant Josef Stalin, Cambodia's Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler.

"They got stiff reactions from those home-state soldiers," one official told us. "The troops down there expressed their disdain for that kind of commentary, especially comparisons to the gulag."

A spokesman for Mr. Kennedy had no comment. A spokeswoman for Mr. Akaka
confirmed that the senator met with soldiers from Hawaii but did not recall receiving any complaints during the meeting.

Both senators made no mention of the incident in press statements after the visit. Mr. Kennedy, in his statement, said that he is "impressed with the courtesies and professionalism of the men and women in our armed forces."

Mr. Kennedy has been a leading advocate for closing the prison facility. Mr. Akaka in April voted for an amendment that would have cut funds for the prison.

Normally I'd dismiss this article as the normal banter of politics on a slow news day. But look closely at the article. The "hometown" soldiers are not identified nor are they quoted. Indeed both the senators do not recall the conversations at all. The statements quoted are actually made by unnamed Pentagon officials and not known "hometown" soldiers. Why would an unnamed Pentagon official make this statement to a favored Pentagon reporter now?

On Thursday of this week the Defense spending bill was opened to the Senate. Oddly the Republicans are trying to hold debate on this critical $400+ billion item to under 30 hours supposedly so that a gun manufacturers liability bill can be debated.


Fourth, an amendment requiring a reform of the handling of prisoners and detainees has been submitted by maverick Republicans which will have wide Democratic party support. The implications of this could be explosive for the Administration. Indeed, so much so that the Administration has threatened to VETO the Defense Authorization bill to prevent it from happening.


"White House Aims to Block Legislation on Detainees, " by Josh Whit and R. Jeffrey Smith of the Washington Post, July 23, 2005


The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.

Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case that legislation on these matters would usurp the president's authority and -- in the words of a White House official -- interfere with his ability "to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack."

It was the second time that Cheney has met with Senate members to tamp down what the White House views as an incipient Republican rebellion. The lawmakers have publicly expressed frustration about what they consider to be the administration's failure to hold any senior military officials responsible for notorious detainee abuse in Iraq and the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

This week's session was attended by Armed Services Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and committee members John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Warner and Graham last week chaired hearings that explored detainee abuse and interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay and the concerns of senior military lawyers that vague administration policies have left the door open to abuse.

Neither Cheney's office nor the lawmakers would say exactly what was
discussed at the meeting, citing a routine pledge of confidentiality. But Cheney has long been the administration's chief defender of presidential prerogatives, and at the meeting he reiterated opposition to congressional intervention on the topic of detainee interrogations, according to a source privy to what happened.

The White House, in a further indication of its strong feelings, bluntly warned in a statement sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday that President Bush's advisers would urge him to veto the $442 billion defense bill "if legislation is presented that would restrict the President's authority to protect Americans effectively from terrorist attack and bring terrorists to justice."

The threat was a veiled reference to legislation drafted by McCain and being circulated among at least 10 Republican senators, Senate aides said. No effort has been made by McCain to cultivate Democratic support, although his aides predict he could get it easily. John Ullyot, a Warner spokesman, said that the senator has been working with McCain and Graham on detainee legislation and that "the matter continues to be studied."

A spokeswoman for McCain, Andrea Jones, said yesterday that McCain plans to introduce the legislation next week. McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has criticized the way detainees have been treated by U.S. forces and is said by aides to want to cut off further abuse by requiring that the military adhere to its own interrogation rules in all cases.

One McCain amendment would set uniform standards for interrogating anyone detained by the Defense Department and would limit interrogation techniques to those listed in the Army field manual on interrogation, now being revised. Any changes to procedures would require the defense secretary to appear before Congress.

It would further require that all foreign nationals in the custody or effective control of the U.S. military must be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross -- a provision specifically meant to block the holding of "ghost detainees" in Iraq, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. The provision would not apply to detainees in CIA custody at nonmilitary facilities.

Military investigations into the abuse in 2003 of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad disclosed that dozens were held without being registered at numerous prisons; the administration has said it needed to do so to conduct interrogations in isolation and to hide the identity of prisoners from other terrorists.

Another McCain amendment prohibits the "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" of anyone in the custody of the U.S. government. This provision, modeled after wording in the U.N. Convention Against Torture -- which the United States has already ratified -- is meant to overturn an administration position that the convention does not apply to foreigners outside the United States.

Graham, who has been outspoken on the need for Congress to get involved in the issue of detainee treatment, said in an interview that he intends to pursue additional amendments that would define the term "enemy combatant" for purposes of detention and regulate the military trials of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

Graham said he believes that his amendment would strengthen the president's ability to pursue the war on terror because it would give
congressional support to the process of prosecuting detainees after they are transferred to Cuba, an issue that has been hotly contested in federal courts. "Every administration is reluctant to not have as much authority as possible," Graham said, adding that he has gotten mixed signals from the White House. "But we need congressional buy-in to Guantanamo."

The Republican effort is intended partly to cut off an effort by Senate
Democrats to attach more stringent demands to the defense bill regarding detainees. One group, led by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), has proposed an amendment calling for an independent commission -- similar to the Sept. 11 commission -- to look into administration policies on interrogation and detainee abuse.

Fifth, despite almost no coverage in the U.S., the international media is covering a hunger strike by about one-third of the Guantanamo detainees and all the sudden the Pentagon has announced that it will begin trials for suspects held in detention after years of waiting.

Sixth, I was told last year by a trusted private individual that his organization had obtained photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and had tried to give them to the Pentagon for action eight months prior to it finally becoming public. I was also told by a source that a Major and a senior NCO in a Pennsylvania guard unit tried to report the abuse in Abu Ghraib and were cashiered out. When the initial photos were released Sec. Rumsfeld offered his resignation to Bush who also asked to see the photos that have not yet been released to the public. Those photos have been seen by members of Congress and they were appalled by them.

If it turns out that rampant and sanctioned torture occurred, it will have incredible and damning consequences to the U.S. and its moral authority. Rather than take the heat blast directly through the Sec. of Defense's Office, the Vice President's office to the President, watch to see continued delays and vacillation by Pentagon lawyers and unnamed officials, selected news leaks blaming "liberals" for discussing this issue and implications from various Republican Party officials like Rove that looking behind the curtain of prisoner treatment will somehow betray American troops.

In truth, over 1 million soldiers and marines have served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despicable conduct by some sanctioned by others at the highest levels of power threaten to tarnish our national honor. Means are just ends in the making. Let this country re-affirm its morality.



Victim of insurgents in Ramadi earlier this year. This man was accused of working with Americans. Without sufficient troops in the western part of Iraq, we cannot maintain a permanent presence in all locations sufficient to protect those Sunnis willing to work with us, so the insurgents can rule by terror. I fear that we do not have sufficient troops strength to win so we are at somewhat of a long steady state of attrition bringing neither victory, nor defeat. Posted by Picasa

Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide - New York Times

..."We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others.

I would compile it in a nondiscriminatory way. I want the names of the Jewish settler extremists who wrote 'Muhammad Is a Pig' on buildings in Gaza right up there with Sheik Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, a Saudi who is imam of Islam's holy mosque in Mecca. According to the Memri translation service, the imam was barred from Canada following 'a report about his sermons by Memri that included Al-Sudayyis calling Jews 'the scum of the earth' and 'monkeys and pigs' who should be 'annihilated.' Other enemies of Islam were referred to by Sheik Al-Sudayyis as 'worshipers of the cross' and 'idol-worshiping Hindus' who must be fought.'"

Sunlight is more important than you think. Those who spread hate do not like to be exposed, noted Yigal Carmon, the founder of Memri, which monitors the Arab-Muslim media. The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.

"Whenever they are exposed, they react the next day," Mr. Carmon said. "No one wants to be exposed in the West as a preacher of hate."

We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder.

Finally, we also need to shine a bright light on the "truth tellers." Every week some courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst. The truth tellers' words also need to be disseminated globally. "The rulers in these countries have no interest in amplifying the voices of moderates because the moderates often disagree with the rulers as much as they disagree with the extremists," said Husain Haqqani, author of the new book "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military." "You have to deal us moderates into the game by helping to amplify our voices and exposing the extremists and their amen corner."

Every quarter, the State Department should identify the Top 10 hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world. It wouldn't be a cure-all. But it would be a message to the extremists: you are free to say what you want, but we are free to listen, to let the whole world know what you are saying and to protect every free society from hate spreaders like you. Words matter.

[bth: sometimes Friedman's work is downright inspired. I particularly like the quote from Cohen, "these terrorists are what they do." It reminds me of Ghandi's saying that "the means are an end in the making." ]

Why Do They Hate Us? Not Because of Iraq - New York Times

"WHILE yesterday's explosions on London's subway and bus lines were thankfully far less serious than those of two weeks ago, they will lead many to raise a troubling question: has Britain (and Spain as well) been 'punished' by Al Qaeda for participating in the American-led military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan? While this is a reasonable line of thinking, it presupposes the answer to a broader and more pertinent question: Are the roots of Islamic terrorism in the Middle Eastern conflicts? "...

Conflicts in the Middle East have a tremendous impact on Muslim public opinion worldwide. In justifying its terrorist attacks by referring to Iraq, Al Qaeda is looking for popularity or at least legitimacy among Muslims. But many of the terrorist group's statements, actions and non-actions indicate that this is largely propaganda, and that Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are hardly the motivating factors behind its global jihad.

First, let's consider the chronology. The Americans went to Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11, not before. ...

Another motivating factor, we are told, was the presence of "infidel" troops in Islam's holy lands. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was reported to be upset when the Saudi royal family allowed Western troops into the kingdom before the Persian Gulf war. But Mr. bin Laden was by that time a veteran fighter committed to global jihad.

He and the other members of the first generation of Al Qaeda left the Middle East to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980's. ... Mr. bin Laden's mentor, gave up supporting the Palestinian Liberation Organization long before his death in 1989 because he felt that to fight for a localized political cause was to forsake the real jihad, which he felt should be international and religious in character.

From the beginning, Al Qaeda's fighters were global jihadists, and their favored battlegrounds have been outside the Middle East: Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir. For them, every conflict is simply a part of the Western encroachment on the Muslim ummah, the worldwide community of believers.

Second, if the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan - or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

What was true for the first generation of Al Qaeda is also relevant for the present generation: ..., they are for the most part Westernized Muslims living or even born in Europe who turn to radical Islam. ... They find it in the dream of a virtual, universal ummah, the same way the ultraleftists of the 1970's (the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Italian Red Brigades) cast their terrorist actions in the name of the "world proletariat" and "Revolution" without really caring about what would happen after.

... They do not have a rational strategy to push for the interests of the Iraqi or Palestinian people.

Even their calls for the withdrawal of the European troops from Iraq ring false. After all, the Spanish police have foiled terrorist attempts in Madrid even since the government withdrew its forces. Western-based radicals strike where they are living, not where they are instructed to or where it will have the greatest political effect on behalf of their nominal causes....

Thorny Issues Remain on Draft of New Constitution for Iraq - New York Times

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 22 - With only about three weeks left before the parliamentary deadline for the draft of a new constitution, a senior Western diplomat in Baghdad said Friday that some of the most contentious issues still remain to be resolved, including regional autonomy, women's rights, electoral law and the control of revenues from natural resources."

The disclosures came on the third day of a walkout by the Sunni Arab members of the constitution-writing committee, who halted their participation after two Sunni colleagues were assassinated, throwing the constitutional process into doubt. The comments by the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Western officials are trying to remain in the background, seemed to counter recent comments by some Shiite committee members that the draft was almost complete.

The American authorities have insisted that the National Assembly meet its Aug. 15 deadline to approve the draft to win public confidence, both in Iraq and the United States, in Iraq's fledgling democratic process....

But the diplomat also said that in spite of its staunch public demands, the Sunni contingent has privately expressed its intention to return to the negotiating table.

"They definitely want to come back in," he said....

Arguably the most contentious remaining issue is regional autonomy. The Western diplomat said that while the Shiites and Sunni Arabs have agreed that the Kurds should keep their autonomous powers, a debate remains over whether and how the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan should be redrawn. At the same time, the Sunni Arabs appear adamant that no other part of Iraq, namely the Shiite-controlled south, should be able to declare autonomy.

The Sunnis are concerned that with Kurdish autonomy in place in the north and Shiites agitating for an autonomous region in the oil-rich south, they will be left with an impoverished region barren of any natural resources.

A prominent Sunni Arab cleric on Friday criticized proposals to transform Iraq into a federal state, saying such a "division of the country" would be a betrayal of the population. "The voices that call for federalism are not those of loyal people," the cleric, Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidie, said Friday at the prominent Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad, Agence France-Presse reported. "The patriots are against dividing the country, and I call on them to fight for maintaining a united Iraq."

The Western diplomat said the disputed issue of women's rights was still on the table, though he said that in the most recent draft he had seen, the drafters had removed a section - Article 14 - that would require court cases dealing with matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance to be judged according to the law practiced by the family's sect or religion. Among other constraints dictated by that measure, Shiite women in Iraq generally could not marry without their families' permission.

Committee members also still have to decide whether national elections are going to be based on a system of provincial representation, as the Sunni Arabs prefer, or a nationwide system, which would favor the majority Shiites and the Kurds.

Finally, the diplomat said, the committee has been wrestling over the sharing of revenues from natural resources, namely oil, and whether revenue will be controlled by local or federal authorities or both. The Kurds believe that in the near future they will be able to gain control of the northern city of Kirkuk, which has oil fields, while Shiites in the south are sitting on the country's largest oil resources. The Sunnis, who dominate the desert region in the western part of the country, are trying to ensure that they will have what they regard as a fair share of the oil profits.

[bth: Carl Levin maintains that the US should make its involvement in Iraq contingent upon the timely draft and then approval of a national constitution; that if we do not make our presence contingent, we will be put in the position of fighting their civil war while Shiite leaders remain uncompromising and while Sunnis stoke a bloody insurgency. Personally, I would go further than that and say that our default position, if a national constitution is not promptly written and approved later this year, is a confederacy or even the break-up of Iraq itself. Levin astutely observed earlier this month that no political faction in Iraq (excluding jihadists) are openly demanding that the Coalition withdraw from Iraq now.]


Friday, July 22, 2005


Destroyed Iraqi tak. Posted by Picasa

CNN.com - Egyptian resort town blasts kill 30, wound 107 - Jul 22, 2005

"Three explosions shook the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh and a nearby resort area, killing at least 30 people and wounding 107 early Saturday, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said.
The blast at the city's Old Market was caused by a car bomb, the ministry said.

What caused the other two explosions -- in a parking lot and at the Ghazala Hotel, both in Naama Bay -- were not yet known"...

Burning US tanker truck. April 2005 Posted by Picasa

Senate Approves Up-Armored Humvee Amendment

"An amendment co-sponsored by Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has been approved by the Senate. "

The amendment would provide 1,826 up-armored Humvees for the U.S. Marines, who are expected to triple the number of armored vehicles they need in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new requirement increases the required number of up-armored Humvees from 498 to 1,826. The amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill passed the Senate unanimously. The Humvees are manufactured by Indiana's AM General.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Press Release

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Evan Bayh today applauded Senate passage of an amendment he co-sponsored to provide 1,826 up-armored Humvees for the U.S. Marines, who are expected to triple the number of armored vehicles they need in Iraq and Afghanistan. The new requirement, which was revealed yesterday, increases the required number of up-armored Humvees from 498 to 1,826, the latest in a series of dramatic increases since the start of the Iraq War. The amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill passed the Senate unanimously this afternoon.

"This amendment will provide our troops with the up-armored Humvees they need and make sure that the Pentagon lives up to its pledge that all Humvees in Iraq will be fully armored," Senator Bayh said. "After everything we have learned in the past two years about the importance of armored Humvees, it is mind-boggling that the Pentagon would consider sending any Humvees to Iraq without the maximum level of protection. For too long, the Pentagon has dragged its feet and underestimated critical equipment needs - our troops should not have to pay the price for the Pentagon's mistakes."

In addition to securing up-armored Humvees for the Marines, today's amendment includes funding to ensure that all Army Humvees going to Iraq in fiscal year 2006 (FY2006) are fully armored. Despite assurances from Administration officials that all Humvees in Iraq would be fully armored, the Army was planning to send 4,037 Humvees to Iraq in FY2006 without the maximum level of armor. The amendment will provide $105 million to purchase the armor kits that are needed to provide maximum security for the troops traveling in these Humvees.

Bayh has been a vocal critic of the Pentagon's failure to accurately estimate the number of vehicles needed to keep troops safe in Iraq. Since May of 2003, the Army's requirements for additional up-armored Humvees has grown from only 235 vehicles to more than 10,000 today. Senator Bayh has consistently led the way to provide funding for more up-armored Humvees for our troops, securing roughly $3 billion to produce almost 30,000 standard and up-armored Humvees for all of the Armed Services over the past five years. Most recently, Bayh introduced an amendment to the Iraq Supplemental that provided an additional $150 million for up-armored Humvees.

Source: Indiana Senator Evan Bayh's Office

[bth: This is an excellent amendment and the unanimous approval of the senate is positive. Now it goes to appropriations. What is interesting is that the Pentagon issued in writing a statement back in April that it did not need additional armored vehicles. This makes not the 10th time in a row that they have been dead wrong in their estimate of requirements only three months later. It is also interesting that Sen. Warner introduced this amendment in his opening discussion of the defense appropriation debate. I view it as an attempt to pre-empt well earned criticism of the Pentagon and the Republican controlled Armed Services Committees for persistent delays and underestimations. Regardless of his motives, this is a good amendment and while probably not yet enough, it is a further step in the right direction. I applaud the Senate on its actions.]


Captain Wahab was ambushed with his newlywed wife at their wedding ceremony. His wife was killed. Posted by Picasa

The Iran War Buildup

"There is no evidence that President Bush has already made the decision to attack Iran if Tehran proceeds with uranium-enrichment activities viewed in Washington as precursors to the manufacture of nuclear munitions. Top Administration officials are known to have argued in favor of military action if Tehran goes ahead with these plans--a step considered more likely with the recent election of arch-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president--but Bush, so far as is known, has not yet made up his mind in the matter. One thing does appear certain, however: Bush has given the Defense Department approval to develop scenarios for such an attack and to undertake various preliminary actions. As was the case in 2002 regarding Iraq, the building blocks for an attack in Iran are beginning to be put into place. "

...This record is worth revisiting because of the many parallels to the current situation. Just as Bush gave ambiguous signals about his intentions regarding Iraq in 2002--denying that a decision had been made to invade but never ruling it out--so, today, he is giving similar signals with respect to Iran. "This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," Bush declared in Belgium on February 22. He then added: "Having said that, all options are on the table." And, just as Bush's 2002 denials of an intent to invade Iraq were accompanied by intense preparations for just such an outcome, so, today, one can detect similar preparations for an attack on Iran.

Just what form such an attack might take has probably not yet been decided. Just as he considered several plans for an invasion of Iraq before settling on the plan described in the Times, Rumsfeld is no doubt considering a variety of options for action against Iran. These could range from a burst of air and missile attacks to a proxy war involving Iranian opposition militias or a full-scale US invasion. All have obvious advantages and disadvantages. An air and missile attack would undoubtedly destroy some key nuclear centers but could leave some hidden facilities intact; it would also leave the hated clerical regime in place. The use of proxy forces could also fail in this regard. An invasion might solve these problems but would place almost intolerable demands on the deeply over-stretched US Army....

The first step in such a process is to verify the location of possible targets in Iran and to assess the effectiveness of Iranian defenses. The identification of likely targets apparently began late last year, when the Central Intelligence Agency and US Special Operations Forces (SOF) began flying unmanned "Predator" spy planes over Iran and sending small reconnaissance teams directly into Iranian territory. These actions, first revealed by Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker in January, are supposedly intended to pinpoint the location of hidden Iranian weapons facilities for possible attack by US air and ground forces. "The goal," Hersh explained, "is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision [air] strikes and short-term commando raids."...

There are also indications that the CIA and SOF officials have met with Iranian opposition forces--in particular, the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK)--to discuss their possible involvement in commando raids inside Iran or a full-scale proxy war. In one such report, Newsweek disclosed in February that the Bush Administration "is seeking to cull useful MEK members as operatives for use against Tehran." (Although the MEK is listed on the State Department's roster of terrorist groups, its forces are "gently treated" by the American troops guarding their compound in eastern Iraq, Newsweek revealed.)

Given the immense stress now being placed on US ground forces in Iraq, it is likely that the Pentagon's favored plan for military action in Iran involves some combination of airstrikes and the use of proxy forces like the MEK. But even a small-scale assault of this sort is likely to provoke retaliatory action by Iran--possibly entailing missile strikes on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf or covert aid to the insurgency in Iraq. This being the case, CENTCOM would also have to develop plans for a wide range of escalatory moves.

Repeating what was said at the outset, there is no evidence that President Bush has already made the decision to attack Iran. But there are many indications that planning for such a move is well under way...

[bth: while planning may be going on, I do not see sufficient troops or equipment strength to mount a ground invasion. An aerial attack or use of surrogate forces might be workable though I do not see the Shia of Iraq who are rising in power allowing Iraq to be used as a jumping off point. To the contrary, it appears that the Iranians and the Shia of Iraq are using each other to add a new element to the power struggle in Iraq and to in part give the new Iraqi government a negotiating lever in dealing with the U.S. This became somewhat evident when Iran announced that it was willing to train Iraqi police and provide financial aid.]




Tribal elder, three relatives killed in Pakistan

"WANA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Gunmen killed a pro-government tribal elder, two of his sons and a brother on Friday in a troubled Pakistani tribal region where al Qaeda-linked militants are believed to have been hiding. ..."

Veterans to assist Marine who lost leg in Iraq

"A group of South Mississippi veterans wounded in past wars wants to help a Marine who lost his leg in Iraq.

Proceeds from Saturday sales of 'Combat Wounded - Our Story' will go to Lance Cpl. Aaron Rice, who is continuing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The 224-page book, which recounts the experiences of Pine Belt area veterans, will be sold near Garfield's at Turtle Creek Mall.

'The man is a lance corporal and the pay isn't all that great,' said Robert Ledford, commander of the Hub City Memorial chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. 'He was going to college and got called up. He had only been married 30 days prior to going to Iraq.'

Rice, 21, was a Stennis Scholar studying political science at Mississippi State University when his Marine Reserves battalion was called to active duty. He lost his left leg after the Humvee he was in hit a land mine March 18 in al Anbar province.

'He's been fitted for a prosthesis, but he can't use it a lot yet because there's a little place that hasn't healed up,' said his mother, Debbie Rice of Hattiesburg."...

Rallies against Pakistan crackdown fall flat

"ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - An Islamist call for nationwide protests in Pakistan against a crackdown on militants after the July 7 London bombings fell flat on Friday with rallies in big cities failing to attract more than a few hundred people. "

More than 300 militant suspects have been detained across Pakistan since revelations that three of the four London bombers were British Muslims of Pakistani origin who had visited the country before the attacks.

Pakistan's main alliance of Islamist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, called for protest rallies after Friday prayers, when tens of millions of Pakistanis visit mosques.

But like previous calls for demonstrations against President Pervez Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led "war on terror," it failed to draw big crowds.

Up to 700 Islamists, most of them teenagers or in their 20s, chanted anti-Musharraf and anti-U.S. slogans at Islamabad's Lal or Red Mosque, which was raided by security forces searching for militants on Tuesday.

Some shouted slogans in support of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban government, which was overthrown by U.S.-led forces after the al Qaeda attacks on U.S. cities on Sept. 11, 2001.

The protesters pelted a police post with stones, destroyed lamp posts and set fire to a police motorcycle.

Similar rallies were held in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar. Many of the protesters were students from Islamic schools, or madrasas, some of which are accused of being breeding grounds for militancy....

Pentagon wants to raise age limit for�recruits - Jul 22, 2005

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Faced with major recruiting problems sparked by troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has asked Congress to raise the maximum age for U.S. military enlistees from 35 to 42 years old."...

Senate unanimously increases funding for vehicle armor (7/21/05)

"The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved an amendment to the $441.6 billion fiscal 2006 defense authorization bill to increase funding for Army and Marine Corps vehicle armor by $445 million to meet needs outlined by military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The amendment, introduced late Wednesday by Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., quickly drew several top Democratic co-sponsors, including Armed Services ranking member Carl Levin, D-Mich.

'We don't often get 100 votes and it was not put up here in mind we would get 100 votes,' Warner said.

But before Democrats voted to approve the amendment, they cautioned that the Defense Department had failed to quickly define field requirements and spur industry to rapidly produce armor for Humvees and other tactical vehicles.

'Too many have died because of needless delays,' Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said during the floor debate. Warner defended the Pentagon, stating that it was dealing as best it could with a 'constantly evolving requirement.'

Under the amendment, $340 million would go to the Marine Corps, and $105 million to the Army.

The vehicle armor language was among the first of scores of amendments expected on the defense authorization bill, which was approved by the Armed Services Committee more than two months ago.

Democrats said Wednesday they have prepared several amendments, including language that would dramatically improve healthcare coverage for National Guard members and reservists. A similar amendment failed this spring in the House. Levin said he also plans to support an amendment that would further reform the Pentagon's procurement system, a topic the Senate Armed Services Committee addressed at length during closed-door markups in May. Levin hopes to improve the language in the committee report by adding an amendment limiting profits for defense contractors.

In addition, Democrats want to strip $63 million from the $8 billion earmarked for missile defense to pay for cooperative threat reduction programs, and also cancel funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program. Similar attempts also failed in the House. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., also said she would introduce an amendment to fully fund healthcare for veterans. "It's time we take our vets out of this ping-pong match," she said.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he supports Warner's desire to wrap up debate and vote on the bill by the August recess, leaving only a little more than a week for floor action on a bill that typically draws hundreds of amendments. Reid also criticized Senate Republican leaders for what he considered to be a delay in bringing the bill to the floor.

"It is too bad [we are] waiting this late to take it up," he told reporters this morning.

New 'up-armored' Humvee 'makes a world of difference'

"LSA ANACONDA, Iraq - At a time when the Hawai'i National Guard has lost two lives to roadside bombs in eight days, greater protection has arrived in the form of 50 of the most heavily armored Humvees in the U.S. military.

The $148,000 M-1114 factory 'up-armored' vehicles, each weighing more than 5 tons with bullet-proof steel and plate-glass cocoons around their occupants, were trucked in recently from Kuwait.

'I will tell you, the confidence level in the soldiers will go up 100 percent knowing they are riding in an M-1114,' said Brig. Gen. Joseph Chaves, who commands the 29th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. 'It makes a world of difference.'

Chaves, who has direct control over some Hawai'i units and administrative oversight for others, assigned 30 of the up-armored Humvees to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry. Last week the vehicles were being outfitted with radios and weapons systems.

Roadside bombs are the No. 1 troop killer in Iraq. The U.S. military has tried � with limited success - to counter the threat by adding more armor to vehicles and with technology such as Warlock signal jammers that interrupt cell-phone or walkie-talkie remote detonation of bombs.

Up-armored Humvees are being produced at a rate of 500 a month to meet the need in Iraq and Afghanistan - up from 15 a month in August 2003. "

TOO LATE FOR SOME


The 29th Brigade Combat Team will continue to use a combination of the fully up-armored Humvees and older vehicles with side, door, window and floor armor kits that provide added protection, officials said.

But the new vehicles give soldiers a better chance of survival.

A 46-year-old soldier with the "Go For Broke" battalion was killed Saturday evening by a roadside bomb on Route Raider outside Logistical Support Area Anaconda.

Staff Sgt. Frank F. Tiai from American Samoa, a reservist with the battalion for more than 20 years, was the fourth member of the 29th Brigade Combat Team to be killed in Iraq, and the third to die as the result of an "improvised explosive device," or IED.

Two of the four deaths were from a California battalion attached to the 29th Brigade Combat Team.

On July 8, 20-year-old Sgt. Deyson K. Cariaga of Kalihi was killed in an Air Force Humvee near Logistics Support Area Anaconda when a 155 mm artillery round planted in the road exploded almost directly beneath him.

A service for Cariaga, who was part of a Tactical Human Intelligence team with the 229th Military Intelligence Company out of Hawai'i, will be today at 5 p.m. at Mission Memorial Auditorium, 560 S. King St. in Honolulu.

The 2002 Roosevelt High graduate, the first Hawai'i National Guard soldier to be killed on the yearlong deployment to Iraq, will be buried tomorrow at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Spc. Francisco Arvizu, 32, who joined the battalion from Arizona, said the new M-114 Humvees will give him greater peace of mind — "to a point."

"We've found IEDs that would blow away a tank," Arvizu said as he prepared to head outside the base by convoy on another mission. "You feel a little more safe, but ... "

One undetonated roadside bomb included three 105 mm mortars, a white phosphorous round, TNT and a high-explosive round. "So if that would have hit an 1114, it wouldn't matter," Arvizu said. ...

BBC NEWS | Business | Warning signs for the funding of terror

"Investigating the money trail of attacks such as the London bombings or 9/11 can be a frustratingly nebulous business.
Investigators are not under the illusion that financial support for such attacks comes in neat packages, or from pre-determined directions.

The small amounts of money involved, and the rapid learning curve of those behind the assaults, mean that off-the-shelf templates for spotting suspicious patterns simply do not exist.

But experts and investigators do, however, have firm ideas about where to start. ..."

[bth: this is a pretty good article on funding of terrorism.]

New tourniquet aids deployed Soldiers

"Spc. Jeremy D. Crisp, Army News Service
2005-07-21

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (Army News Service, July 19, 2005) � The Army is now providing troops with a new tool designed to save life and limb.

The Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet, the Army�s newest medical device, is being issued to Soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Designed for one-handed application, the SOFTT allows a Soldier to apply a tourniquet himself, replacing the Army's field-expedient method in which Soldiers used a bandage and a stick to stop blood flow from a wound.

The field-expedient method worked, "but the SOFTT is better" said Sgt. 1st Class Michael C. Klemowski, serving with the Multi-National Force -Iraq personnel section.

"Having this issued to Soldiers will cut down on casualties because it is a time- saving device" said Klemowski, a former drill sergeant.

"The less time that is wasted, the better chance there is of saving someone;s life"

The new tourniquet is suitable for hard to reach injuries. The SOFTT's strap can be released completely through the web clamp and then re-threaded, allowing for application to trapped limbs.
Working on the same principles as all tourniquets, "The SOFTT) is used to stop the bleeding from an extremity and to prevent shock" said Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Brennan, Multi-National Corps - Iraq surgeon cell NCOIC.

The SOFTT has two latches used to secure the metal handle. While only one latch is required for the tourniquet to be effective, the extra latch provides extra securing ability, depending on the handle's position after tightening.

To apply the tourniquet, one slides it over the limb and pulls the tail quickly. Once the slack is removed, twist the handle until bleeding is controlled and secure the latch. Finally, to prevent accidental loosening, tighten the screw on the belt.

The SOFTT is used as a last resort to treat a wound, Brennan said.

“Try to stop the bleeding with a bandage,” Brennan said to a class of Soldiers learning how to use the new tourniquet. “After using a pressure dressing for five minutes, if the bleeding persists, use the tourniquet.”

Once the tourniquet has been applied, check the pulse on either the hand or foot where the injury is.

“No pulse means the tourniquet is working,” Brennan said.

“The new tourniquet became available in Iraq and Afghanistan in January and Soldiers can get the SOFTT at their unit’s supply section,” Brennan said.

Scotsman.com News - UK - A small blast ... then bomber exclaimed it had gone wrong

"TO ONE, the noise was like the pop of a champagne cork. To another, it recalled the sound of an explosion on television. Yet for every passenger on board, the sound of what is thought to have been a detonator going off triggered the same terrible response: fear.

For one woman, the culprit who caused such commotion was just a few feet away. "

Last night, an eyewitness who was on the train at the Oval Underground station described seeing a man flee after his rucksack exploded, while other passengers tried to stop him.

The woman, who was not named, explained: "There was a woman with a baby and there was a man standing beside her with a rucksack. There was a little explosion. As soon as the door opened, the man ran away and people were trying to run after him. There were three men struggling with him, but he ran off and they couldn't catch him."

Another witness, called Andrea, also said she had seen the prime suspect fleeing the scene. She said: "We all got off on the platform and the guy just ran and started running up the escalator. Everyone was screaming for someone to stop him. He ran past me ... and he ran out of the station. In fact he left a bag on the train." ...

Kirkuk reclaimed by Kurds, secret Iraqi-Turkish meeting criticised

"London (KurdisMedia.com) 22 July 2005: The head of the Kirkuk city council, Rizgar Ali, strongly condemned those members of the Iraqi Assembly who visited Turkey secretly, reported the Kurdish daily Kurdistani Niwe on Tuesday.

Some members of the Iraqi Assembly secretly visited Turkey and met with Turkish officials in a small town. "We, as the members of the [Kirkuk] City Council, regard this [visit] act illegal" Ali said.

In related news, the Kurdistani team responsible for producing the Iraqi constitution issued a map of Kurdistan, based upon historical documents, which makes Kirkuk a part of it, reported the Kurdish news website Peyamner.com. "

Kamal Kirkuki, the deputy head of the Kurdistan Parliament stated that two of those documents that based upon to produce the map of Kurdistan go back to 1794 and to the period of Sultan Abudl-Hamid during Ottoman Empire. In the former, Kirkuki stated, Kirkuk is identified as part of Kurdistan and in the later over the Mosul Wilayiet, which also covers Kirkuk, clearly written “Kurdistan”.

The deputy head of the Kurdistan Parliament, according to Peyamner.com, stated, “Obviously there are some oppressive voices in the Baghdad committee responsible for producing the [Iraqi] constitution. They have the same approach and behaviour [of Saddam]. They are even more oppressive.”

I asked terrorist: You OK?

"A TUBE passenger last night told how he watched a suicide bomber bungle his intended atrocity.

Abisha Moyo was on his way to Hammersmith, west London, when he heard what sounded like a gunshot.

The 28-year-old said: "I turned round and there was a man lying with his arms outstretched on top of a rucksack face up. Some girls started screaming. The emergency cable was pulled and everyone starting moving away from him"

"I went up to him and said: "Are you all right, mate" But he just ignored me and kept his eyes shut.

"He looked about 19 or 20. He was of mixed race, clean shaven and he was dressed smartly in jeans, a navy blue T-shirt and a baseball cap.

"The rucksack was ripped at the bottom with some kind of muslin showing and some gooey lard coming out of it.

"I could see what looked like a pressurised canister or tube and there was a strong smell of vinegar."

Abisha moved away from the bomber.

Then, he said: "I looked back and saw him stand up looking disorientated and confused. He walked to the back of the carriage, leaving the bag and his cap on the floor, and I could see some copper wire showing out of the back of his T-shirt.

"It was then I clicked he was an attempted suicide bomber.

"He opened the emergency exit door and jumped down on to the tracks and started walking away down the line heading west"

The Hammersmith and City Line train was close to Shepherd's Bush station at the time.

Shortly afterwards, witnesses at the station -which is above ground level -said they saw a man climb over the station wall.
He then clambered over a fence and sprinted away.

At least three people said he ran up Wood Lane past the BBC HQ in West London....

Experts puzzled by bomb 'failure'

"Experts were unsure last night whether yesterday's devices were intended to cause greater harm.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that most of the explosives used in the attempted attacks were triacetonetriperoxide - TACP - the same substance thought to have been used in the 7/7 attacks and was said to have been recovered from a suspected bomb factory in Leeds.
TACP is known to degrade over time, which may explain why none of yesterday's devices exploded after the detonators were activated."...

Homemade bombs typically use a small amount of high explosive to set off a larger quantity of less volatile material.

Witnesses reported seeing white powder after the blast on the Hackney Road bus. Acetone peroxide, linked to the July 7 attacks, can be used both as a detonator and to cause larger explosions.

The compound, which looks like a white power, was used as a detonator by the attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Hans Michels, an explosives expert at Imperial College London, said a batch of acetone peroxide would turn to vapour so quickly it would lose almost two-thirds of its mass over a couple of weeks unless stored properly.



Young Muslims Reveal Beliefs

"Radical clerics who preach violence are not out of touch with mainstream Muslim views, according to nearly half of British Muslims questioned in a poll.

The opinion poll for Sky News revealed that roughly the same number thought of themselves as Muslims first and British second.

Almost all - 91% - were against the bombings of July 7, but 2% agreed with what the suicide bombers did.

Around 88% thought there was no justification in the Koran for the bombings, but 5% thought there was.

The interviewees were asked to respond to the statement: 'Muslim clerics who preach violence against the West are out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinon.'

Nearly half - 46% - disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 54% thought they were out of touch.

And 46% said they thought of themselves as Muslim first and British second, with another 42% not differentiating.

Only 12% saw themselves as British first and Muslim second.
When asked if Britain's role in the Iraq war led to the bombings, just over 60% thought the war was largely to blame, while 40% did not agree.

Most - 79% - agreed that the Muslim community must take more responsibility for preventing young Muslims from becoming bombers.

Finally, one in five - 22% - said they had experienced increased racial or religious prejudice as a result of the bombings.

But 78% said they had not seen any backlash."

Police kill man on London Tube - Jul 22, 2005

"LONDON, England (CNN) -- Police in London have shot a man dead at a subway station, a day after bombers apparently failed to repeat the carnage of the July 7 blasts.
The incident just after 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) Friday triggered new fears about the security of the capital's transit system just one day after four attempted bombings targeted three Underground trains and a bus.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said: 'We can confirm that just after 10 a.m. armed officers entered Stockwell Tube station.

'A man was challenged by officers and subsequently shot. London Ambulance Service attended the scene. He was pronounced dead at the scene.'..."

People's Daily Online -- Central Asia asks US troops to leave

"The Central Asian country Kyrgyzstan, which has been a strategic position since the ancient times, recently has drawn the attention of the world with a series of surprising moves.

On July 11 at his first press conference since being elected, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said in a firm tone that the situation in Afghanistan had stabilized and it is time to discuss the necessity of US military presence in Kyrgyzstan. Bakiyev stressed when interviewed by a Russian TV station on July 17 that the United States should terminate its military presence in his country. These remarks roused strong responses in the international community and the military presence of the US and its anti-terrorist coalition in Central Asia became the focus of attention. ..."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Armor Holdings to Face Competition for New Models of Humvees

By Edmond Lococo

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Armor Holdings Inc., the sole provider
of armor for Humvees used by the U.S. Army in Iraq, will face
competition to equip the trucks for the first time next year.

The Army plans to switch to two new models and allow AM
General LLC, which manufactures the vehicle, to select suppliers
for the armor, said Don Jarosz, an Army spokesman. Purchases of
the current M1114 vehicles will be halted in February, to be
replaced by the M1151 and M1152 versions.

The competition may damp earnings for Jacksonville, Florida-
based Armor Holdings. The company's sales have almost tripled and
its stock quadrupled in the past two years as demand increased for
armored Humvees after insurgents in Iraq attacked convoys using
rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs.

``The transition is one reason earnings will be down in
2006,'' said Timothy Quillin, an analyst in Little Rock, Arkansas,
at Stephens Inc. ``I've factored in lower revenue per vehicle for
Humvees.''

Profit may drop to $3.12 a share next year from $3.65 a share
in 2005 as output declines, said Quillin, who has an
``overweight'' rating on Armor Holdings.

Armor Holdings is expected to report today that second-
quarter profit rose 85 percent to $33 million, or 93 cents a
share, according to six analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.
Shares of Armor Holdings rose 98 cents to $41.66 in New York
Stock Exchange composite trading yesterday.

`Not Forever'

The U.S. military uses the Humvee as a troop transport,
ambulance and arms carrier. Designed as a light transport, the
Army decided to add armor in 1993.

Armor Holdings' O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt unit has made the
armor built around a chassis supplied by AM General since 1996.
The unit began working on a $35 million contract from South Bend,
Indiana-based AM General in March to design and build removable
armor for the two new models.

``The parts we have bought so far have come from O'Gara, but
that will not necessarily continue to be the case forever,'' said
Craig MacNab, an AM General spokesman. ``The whole point is to
open the supply of armor to more producers.''

MacNab declined to identify other potential suppliers. The
Army's Jarosz said closely held ArmorWorks, of Phoenix, Arizona,
is among the companies being considered.

Larry Cox, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Engineered Support
Systems Inc., said his company is interested in competing for
Humvee armor business.

``Whenever there's increased demand, there's a lot of people
who want to come out and capture market,'' said Robert Mecredy,
president of Armor Holdings' aerospace and defense unit. ``I feel
very capable of competing in that environment.''

`Hillbilly Armor'

Sales more than doubled to $979.7 million last year from
2003. Eight analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect sales to
rise 51 percent to $1.48 billion this year.

The trucks cost about $180,000 each, said Michael Fox, an
Armor Holdings spokesman. He declined to provide figures for
Humvee-related sales. Its aerospace and defense unit accounted for
$605.4 million, or 62 percent, of 2004 sales.

Armor Holdings charges the Army $58,000 per vehicle to armor
550 Humvees a month, up from 60 in 2003. The company cut prices
after the Army increased orders.

Pressure to provide better protection for U.S. soldiers
mounted after U.S. troops preparing for deployment to Iraq told
visiting Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Kuwait in December
they were salvaging metal and armored glass from landfills to
install ``hillbilly armor'' on their Humvees.

Grassroots Push

After his son was killed in an unarmored Humvee in Iraq in
2003, Brian Hart quit his job as a pharmaceutical executive to
meet with politicians including Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy
of Massachusetts and Army officials including General Benjamin
Griffin, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, to
press for faster production.

``It's a good idea to have a second source lined up for armor
as a matter of principle,'' Hart said. ``I'd love to see it move
faster. For now, they don't have an alternate source of armor.''
Current armored Humvees have limited mobility and can't carry
some gear with their slant-backed configuration. The M1151 version
will be similar to the existing carrier, and the M1152 will be
able to carry additional equipment. AM General has orders for 500
of the new Humvees.

Production of the three models will remain at 550 a month
through next year, the Army's Jarosz said. As output of the two
new models rises, the old model will decline.

Lesser Role

``There isn't any other company which gets near the
production volume that Armor Holdings can do,'' said Michael
Hoffman, deputy director of research at Friedman Billings Ramsey &
Co., an investment bank and brokerage in Arlington, Virginia.

``You are hard pressed to find a credible high-volume producer.''
ArmorWorks is in contract negotiations with the Army and
can't comment on supplying armor, said Robert Codney, vice
president of business development. ArmorWorks got a $30 million
Army order for 1,500 bolt-on Humvee armor kits last year,
according to its Web site.

Engineered Support has received orders for 1,822 add-on armor
kits for Army five-ton FMTV trucks, and 355 kits for tractor
trailers, said Cox. He declined to provide details on capacity for
Humvee armor.

Armor Holdings outfits M1114s in Fairfield, Ohio. It will
supply armor for the new Humvees to AM General's plant in
Mishawaka, Indiana. Mecredy said the cost of the new armor is
``about the same'' as the $58,000-per-vehicle cost of the old
armor. ``The government would like to have it less,'' he said.
The price for the new armor may drop to between $30,000 and
$40,000 a vehicle, said analysts Quillin and Hoffman.

``The Armor Holdings content per vehicle will be lower, but
the potential market is much larger,'' Quillin said.

--Editors: Bunker, Hart, Liedtka, Todd.

Story illustration: To graph the relative performance of shares in
Armor Holdings, see {AH US COMP D }. For information
on Armor's sales and earnings, see {AH US FA 16 }. To
graph U.S. annual federal budget outlays for defense, see
{USBODEFN GP }. For the performance of Engineered
Support Systems Inc. shares, see {EASI US GP }.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Edmond Lococo in Boston at (1)(617) 338-5808 or:
elococo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Dave Liedtka in Princeton at (1)(609) 750-4564 or:
dliedtka@bloomberg.net.

[bth: second sourcing is good as a national policy. Unfortunately for most of the last year and a half, the primary and sole contractor was running at a fraction of capacity. It logical to push that existing producers to capacity under any circumstances. Given the production knowledge and capacity of Armor Holdings, it will probably be the case that they remain the dominant supplier of armor to the M1151 program. In my opinion we need both continued M1114 production into next year and M1151 production. What are the Iraqi army soldiers going to ride in as they take over more patrols? Nissan pickups are IED bait and it does not serve us well that they are vulnerable. I suspect we will end up giving the Iraqi's most of our vehicles that are currently in Iraq before this is all over. Our wheeled land fleet is simply going to have to be replaced almost in full; this is a cost of war no one is budgeting or talking about within the Administration.]

Bloomberg.com: Armor Holdings, Inc. Receives $78 Million Up-Armored HMMWV Order

"JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Armor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AH), a leading manufacturer and distributor of security products and vehicle armor systems serving military, law enforcement, homeland security and commercial markets, announced today that it has received a $78 million contract award from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command to provide additional M1114 Up-Armored HMMWVs. The Company indicated that all Up-Armored HMMWVs purchased under this order will be delivered to the United States Marine Corps. Work will be completed in 2005 and into 2006 by Armor Holdings' Aerospace and Defense Group facilities located in Fairfield, Ohio. The Company also stated that it will provide an update to previously provided fiscal year 2005 financial guidance during its July second quarter conference call scheduled for July 21, 2005.

Robert Schiller, President of Armor Holdings, Inc., said, 'We are grateful that the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command has elected to continue fielding M1114 Up-Armored HMMWVs through the U.S. Army contract in support of our Marines serving in Iraq. This new order enables us to sustain monthly production rates at a minimum of 550 vehicles per month through 2005 and adds to previously announced 2006 backlog. We are proud to support the Corps and look forward to additional opportunities to support our Marines, Soldiers, and other potential customers of the Up-Armored HMMWV.' "

[bth: given the uneven start up of the M1151 I think keeping this production line going for the M1114 is the only sensible decision. The Army actually wanted to stop production of M1114s this summer which was perhaps the dumbest idea of the year. Luckily this was prevented and between the funding from the April appropriate amendments and this Marine order, the production will remain at near full capacity in coming months giving the M1151 production time to ramp up.]

Company seeks drivers to send to Iraq

..."Pay is usually between two and three times what the drivers make in the states, Norcross said. Drivers work 12-hour shifts seven days a week and get tax-free hourly straight time, overtime and hazard pay because they are working in a war zone. "All convoys are escorted by the Army" Norcross said.

The job is also very dangerous. Sixty-eight Halliburton employees have been killed since the company began sending people over. Twenty of those killed were truck drivers.

"Our recruiters try to talk people out of going over there" Norcross said. "They need to know up front what they are getting into. We don't want anyone to go over and feel like they don't know what they are getting into"

The drivers will haul anything the military needs, from medical supplies to heavy equipment, Norcross said. "What they tell us to haul, we haul. We do everything at their direction"

Living conditions are varied, but most likely any drivers signing on would live in a tent with eight to 20 people, Norcross said.

As reported by Truckers News in a July 2004 cover story, some American truckers in Iraq, working for various contractors, earn tax-free annual salaries as large as $120,000. Many have complained of unexpected dangers and hardships, including 40-year-old trucks that lack sufficient armor."...

[bth: these unheralded truck drivers are really the merchant marines of our day. I think its a shame that they are not getting more media coverage.]

Off Course in Iraq - New York Times

"Most of the Bush administration's justifications for invading Iraq have turned out to be wrong. But the one surviving argument for overthrowing Saddam Hussein has been an important one: it was a chance to bring freedom and equality to the citizens suffering under a brutal dictatorship. For those of us holding onto that hope, this week brought disheartening news on multiple fronts. "

Most chilling of all are the prospects for Iraqi women. As things now stand, their rights are about to be set back by nearly 50 years because of new family law provisions inserted into a draft of the constitution at the behest of the ruling Shiite religious parties. These would make Koranic law, called Shariah, the supreme authority on marriage, divorce and inheritance issues. Even secular women from Shiite families would be stripped of their right to choose their own husbands, inherit property on the same basis as men and seek court protection if their husbands tire of them and decide to declare them divorced.

Less severe laws would be imposed on Sunni women, but only because the draft constitution also embraces the divisive idea of having separate systems of family law in the same country. That is not only offensive, but also impractical in a country where Sunnis and Shiites have been marrying each other for generations.

Unless these draft provisions are radically revised, crucial personal freedoms that survived Saddam Hussein's tyranny are about to be lost under a democratic government sponsored and protected by the United States. Is this the kind of freedom President Bush claims is on the march in the Middle East? Is this the example America hopes Iraq will set for other states in the region? Is this the result that American soldiers, men and women, are sacrificing their lives for?

Women are not the only ones facing big losses in the new Iraq. The Sunni minority continues to be treated with contempt and suspicion because it enjoyed a privileged position under the old Baathist dictatorship. It took considerable American pressure to get a fair share of Sunnis, as members and consultants, added to the committee working on the new constitution. Two of those appointed Sunnis were assassinated by insurgents this week, and yesterday the others temporarily suspended their participation, citing security concerns.

In considering whether to put their lives on the line again, these Sunnis will not be encouraged by the latest destructive antics of Ahmad Chalabi, the former American favorite who is now a powerful deputy prime minister. Mr. Chalabi, who has long advocated barring even low-level former Baathists from official employment, has now succeeded in disrupting and discrediting the judicial tribunal preparing for the trial of Mr. Hussein. He is pressing for the dismissal of senior staff members, including a top judge, because of former Baathist associations.

The single most crucial requirement for Mr. Hussein's trial is preserving the appearance of impartial justice in the name of the whole Iraqi nation. Mr. Chalabi's actions, which his nominal boss, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, seems powerless to oppose, risk turning the proceedings into a tawdry spectacle of sectarian revenge, which would only fuel divisive and deadly hatreds.

Mr. Bush owes Americans a better explanation for what his policies are producing in Iraq than tired exhortations to stay the course and irrelevant invocations of Al Qaeda and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Most days, the news from Iraq is dominated by suicide bombers and frightening scenes of carnage. Occasionally, the smoke clears for a day or two to reveal the underlying picture. That looks even scarier.

[bth: the treatment of women under the law is to me a key bellweather of the level of freedom in a country. It would be a terrible shame from my perspective if the new Iraqi government rolled back the clock for half the population in Iraq.]

Deadlier bombs, more victims

"As makeshift enemy bombs became the number-one killer in Iraq, U.S. commanders clamored for more armored vehicles. So the bomb-makers recently started building more sophisticated armor-busting charges.

U.S. forces figured out how to jam cell-phone and other signals used to trigger bombs from afar. So insurgents started trying to use infrared lasers immune to those jammers."

when insurgents wanted to stage headline-grabbing mass killings, they started loading cars with as much as 800 pounds of explosives -- sometimes enlisting a suicide driver to deliver the kind of massive blast that recently killed six troops in Fallujah, including three women.

The result, despite billions of dollars of improvements, thousands of jammers and tons of armor plate, is that so-called improvised explosive devices in Iraq killed more Americans in May and June than in any previous months, U.S. military figures show. Attacks in May spiked to 700, and the roadside bombs, car bombs and other devices now are the cause of more than half of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

Top military experts say the prognosis for eliminating the devices is doubtful, especially amid these signs of growing expertise by bomb-makers. Even Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, top U.S. general in charge of defeating the problem, acknowledges, "There is no silver bullet."...

That's part of the broad-based approach being advocated by Votel, who heads a Pentagon task force on insurgent bombings. But the Pentagon is making a big bet on technology as well, awarding a $550 million contract last week to an upstate New York firm for up to 9,700 jammers over the next four years.

The Pentagon already has sent more than 5,000 jammers into the field, though it has taken criticism from some in Congress for being slow to put technology in the hands of troops.

The first improvised bombs were crude yet effective, often simply roadside artillery shells with a hardwired detonator, meaning the bomber had to be nearby to set it off. Troops reported bombs that were buried, hidden in guardrails or piles of trash, even stuffed into dead animals. They were devastating to the lightly armored Humvees that were the main transport for most troops.

U.S. forces now are seeing evidence that insurgents are building shaped charges, Votel said, devices that can direct the force of the blast more narrowly so that it can at times even damage more heavily armored vehicles. In some instances, insurgents also have used infrared triggers to replace cell phones, doorbells and garage-door openers that can be jammed, he said.

Votel said he believes the steps U.S. forces are taking are making a difference, saying that the rate of casualties per explosion has dropped 45 percent in the past year. But he said the fast-changing enemy tactics also make it difficult to fashion a comprehensive answer to the problem....

TV shows the true horror of Saddam's rule in Iraq

"A DISSIDENT'S baby is shoved into a sack with a vicious cat; undercover agents throw a man to his death from the roof of a building; men tied to poles are shot in the head one by one.

Al-Iraqiya state television is reviving images of life under Saddam Hussein as a court prepares to announce the date for the start of his trial for crimes against humanity. "

"I wish they were here to see the day when Saddam is finished," a tearful woman who lost her relatives under the dictator told the station, which broadcast footage of abuses filmed by the same former security forces who committed them.

Grainy footage of senior officials, including Ali Hassan al-Majid - nicknamed Chemical Ali because his men allegedly gassed 5,000 Kurds in 1988 - shows them questioning Shi'ites after a failed rebellion in 1991.

In one chilling scene, Saddam's men pump bullets into the heads of men tied to poles. "That one is still breathing," says an officer in the footage. Another bullet is fired.

Iraqis Not Ready to Fight Rebels on Their Own, U.S. Says - New York Times

"WASHINGTON, July 20 - About half of Iraq's new police battalions are still being established and cannot conduct operations, while the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only 'partially capable' of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, and only with American help, according to a newly declassified Pentagon assessment. "

Only "a small number" of Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting the insurgency without American assistance, while about one-third of the army is capable of "planning, executing and sustaining counterinsurgency operations" with allied support, the analysis said.

The assessment, which has not been publicly released, is the most precise analysis of the Iraqis' readiness levels that the military has provided. Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the 160,000 American-led allied troops cannot begin to withdraw until Iraqi troops are ready to take over security. ...

"We need to know, the American people need to know the status of readiness of the Iraqi military, which is improving, so that we can not only understand but appreciate better the roles and missions that they are capable of carrying out," Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said at the hearing.

General Pace's statement comes as the Pentagon prepares to deliver to Congress as early as Thursday a comprehensive report that establishes performance standards and goals on a variety of political and economic matters, as well as the training of Iraqi security forces, and a timetable for achieving those aims. The report was due on July 11, but the Pentagon missed the deadline.

The Defense Department is required to update the assessment every 90 days. From a single American-trained Iraqi battalion a year ago, the Pentagon says there are now more than 100 battalions of Iraqi troops and paramilitary police units, totaling just under 173,000 personnel. Of that total, about 78,800 are military troops and 94,100 are police and paramilitary police officers. The total is to rise to 270,000 by next summer, when 10 fully equipped, 14,000-member Iraqi Army divisions are to be operational.

American commanders have until now resisted quantifying the abilities of Iraqi units, especially their shortcomings, to avoid giving the insurgents any advantage. ...

Level 1 units are able to plan, execute and sustain independent counterinsurgency operations. By late last month, American commanders said, only 3 of the 107 military and paramilitary battalions had achieved that standard. At the lower end, Level 4 units are just forming and cannot conduct operations. Units graded at levels in between need some form of allied support, often supplies, communications and intelligence. ...

About a half of their police battalions are still being formed and are "not yet capable of conducting operations," General Pace wrote.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Armed Services Committee's ranking Democrat, visited Iraq this month and praised the military for devising a system for rating Iraqi units akin to what the American military uses to judge the combat readiness of its own forces.

But in a report issued July 11, Mr. Levin said American and Iraqi officials needed to develop measurable benchmarks for when Iraqi units are deemed capable enough of dealing with insurgents to allow American forces to begin to withdraw. "Without such a plan, Iraqis may never assume the responsibility for taking back their country," he said.

Senior American commanders maintain that the Iraqis are making progress. In the past few months, more than 1,500 American troops have joined Iraqi units as advisers, in most cases living and working with individual units. In addition, dozens of American Army and Marine units are working with Iraqi in counterinsurgency missions.

Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of the Third Infantry Division, which is responsible for Baghdad and the surrounding area, predicted earlier this month that by October there should be a full, 18,000-member division of Iraqi soldiers sufficiently trained to take the lead in securing the Iraqi capital.

[bth: what this article fails to mention is that none of the units have a logistical support network. The Americans will still need to supply that for several more years. That means convoy runs and IED ambushes will continue to be the number one source of casualties for the US and it means that there is little likelihood of US forces leaving the area for several years unless training is accelerated.]







Georgia police detain suspected Bush attacker

"TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgian police detained on Wednesday a man suspected of throwing a grenade during a speech by visiting President Bush in May, the Georgian Interior Ministry said. "

Police raided a property in the Vashlijvari suburb of Tbilisi where the suspect was hiding, but he got away after a gunfight in which one policeman was killed, a ministry spokesman said.

Dozens of police combed a nearby wood and emerged with the suspect, who was covered in blood, and put him in a police car, a Reuters witness said.

"As a result of an exchange of fire, started by the young suspect, one of the anti-terrorism officers has been killed and the suspect himself was wounded," Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili told reporters...

[bth: looks like there was indeed an assassination attempt on Bush in Georgia.]

Stories from embedded journalists with U.S. units in Iraq

"About three dozen reporters, photographers and members of television crews are now embedded with American forces in Iraq, far fewer than the 700 journalists assigned during the invasion of the country two years ago. ..."

[bth: hard to imagine that a nation at war relies on oly about 3 dozen reporters and photographers. No wonder that the news from Iraq at the soldier's level has all but disappeared from the public radar. Compare that to the crowds of reporters at Michael Jackson's trial. My fear is that the public has become complacent and simply wants to forget the matter -- as long as its not their kid.]

Who Supports the Troops?

"What is the price of complacency?

For months -no, make that years- we have argued, both on the boards and here in the letters sections, about the need to support the troops now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what exactly does 'support'really mean.

Conservatives never tire of accusing the left of undermining the efforts of our men and women in uniform in Iraq by criticizing our government's actions and inactions. Speaking from the left I�d like to point out that this criticism, as well as the so-called 'support'of the right, is hollow.

It is my belief that our troops, understaffed and under equipped, are done more harm by the complacency of conservatives who acquiesce in the proven incompetence of those politicians who sent them into harm's way than any possible criticism of the way the war was begun or conducted since.

Symbolic gestures are meaningless in the final analysis. Waving flags and wearing little yellow ribbons on the bumpers of your cars may make you feel patriotic inside but in reality it is absolutely the least that you can do, and, like our president, the least you can do is all you're interested in doing... "

[bth: a good editorial worth a read.]

Top al-Qaeda Briton called Tube bombers before attack

"THE British al-Qaeda leader linked to the London terrorist attacks was being questioned by police in Pakistan last night after the discovery of mobile phone records detailing his calls with the suicide bombers.

Haroon Rashid Aswat has emerged as the figure that Scotland Yard have been hunting since he flew out of Britain just hours before the attacks which killed 56 people.


Aswat, 30, who is believed to come from the same West Yorkshire town as one of the bombers, arrived in Britain a fortnight before the attacks to orchestrate final planning for the atrocity. He spoke to the suicide team on his mobile phone a few hours before the four men blew themselves up and killed fifty-two other people.
Intelligence sources told The Times that during his stay Aswat visited the home towns of all four bombers as well as selecting targets in London. "

Alleged bomber 'revered bin Laden'

"A suspected suicide bomber in the London attacks revered Osama bin Laden and was upset over the deaths of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir, a newspaper in Pakistan has reported.

A day earlier, a Pakistan intelligence official said an 'important' man suspected of links with the London attacks had been arrested in the eastern city of Lahore. The official did not name the suspect, nor provide details of his alleged role in the bombings.

Authorities are investigating whether the suspects received training or other assistance from militants in Pakistan. "...

[bth: perhaps the London bombings will give the US and the UK an opportunity to refocus our efforts in this so called War on Terror, on the al-Qaeda network harbored in Pakistan. The President is right we need to kill them on the offensive, but we can't accomplish by giving them semi-govt. sanctuary in Pakistan. Either the Paki government and the ISI get them fast or we will have to do it. They have had 4 years of sanctuary since 9-11. That's too long.]

GET OUT THE VOTE [in Iraq]

"The January 30th election in Iraq was publicly perceived as a political triumph for George W. Bush and a vindication of his decision to overturn the regime of Saddam Hussein. More than eight million Iraqis defied the threats of the insurgency and came out to vote for provincial councils and a national assembly. Many of them spent hours waiting patiently in line, knowing that they were risking their lives. Images of smiling Iraqis waving purple index fingers, signifying that they had voted, were transmitted around the world. Even some of the President's harshest critics acknowledged that he might have been right: democracy, as he defined it, could take hold in the Middle East. The fact that very few Sunnis, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein, chose to vote was seen within the Administration as a temporary setback. The sense of victory faded, however, amid a continued political stalemate, increased violence, and a hardening of religious divides. After three months of bitter sectarian infighting, a government was finally formed. It is struggling to fulfill its primary task: to draft a new constitution by mid-August."...

[bth: this is an article that says the US was involved in spiking the ballot boxes in favor of Allawi. Hard to say really. If we were, we could have done a better job.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Lance Corporal Angel GOmez wounded in action in Iraq becomes a US Citizen. Posted by Picasa

Two Videos of recent IED attacks on Coalition Vehicles

Global Terrorism Alert has linked two recent videos of IED attacks on coalition vehicles. The first is a July 5 attack on a humvee. The second is a July 18 attack on an armored vehicle that appears to be a Armored Scouting Vehicle. The humvee appears completely immobilized while the ASV appears to have kept moving.

Al-Qaeda sends European warning

"DUBAI - The al-Qaeda terror network warned European nations to pull their troops out of Iraq within a month or face more attacks like the deadly London bombings, according to an Internet statement.

'This message is the final warning to European states. We want to give you a one-month deadline to bring your soldiers out from the land of Mesopotamia (Iraq),' said the statement signed by al-Qaeda group the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades and dated July 16.

'After August 15, there will be no more messages, just actions that will be engraved on the heart of Europe. It will be a bloody war in the service of God,' said the statement, the authenticity of which could not be verified.

'It's a message we are addressing to the crusaders who are still present in Iraq - Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, Italy and those other countries whose troops continue to criss-cross Iraqi territory.'
'These are our last words. The mujahedeen, who are on the lookout, will have other words to say in your capitals.' ..."

Iraqi government denies country in state of civil war

"IRAQ'S national security adviser today denied the country was in a state of 'civil war' following a surge in suicide bombings.

Muwafaq al-Rubaie predicted that insurgents would 'escalate' their attacks in the run-up to the planned constitutional referendum and elections, but insisted that the Iraqi government was determined to defeat them. "

He warned that a "world war" was being fought on Iraqi soil, in which defeat would mean barbarism prevailing not just in Iraq, but throughout the world.

Dr al-Rubaie's comments came as news broke that gunmen had assassinated two of the drafters of the proposed Iraqi constitution, while the latest suicide bomb killed at least ten people at an army recruiting centre in Baghdad.

At least 150 people died in suicide attacks in the last weekend alone.

Prince Hassan of Jordan said yesterday that Iraq was fragmenting. He said: "I think civil war has actually started in Iraq and I don't think there is any other way of putting it." But Dr al-Rubaie insisted today: "I totally disagree with this. Iraq is not in a civil war and there are no conditions which would help a civil war."

He added: "This is a world war being fought on Iraqi soil and if we succeed in this war, then there will be democracy, human rights, civil liberties, justice, prosperity, not only in Iraq but in the whole region.

"If we fail, God forbid, I think we might as well forget about modern life and humanity, and the barbarians will prevail in the world." ...

Father of 9/11 hijacker warns of 50-year war

"The father of one of the September 11 hijackers said today he had no sorrow for what had happened in London and claimed more terrorist attacks would follow.

Egyptian Mohamed el-Amir, whose son Mohamed Atta commandeered the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York, said there was a double standard in the way the world viewed the victims in London and victims in the Islamic world.

El-Amir said the attacks in the US and the July 7 attacks in Britain were the beginning of what would be a 50-year religious war, in which there would be many more fighters like his son.

Speaking to a CNN producer in his apartment in the upper-middle-class Cairo suburb of Giza, he declared that terror cells around the world were a 'nuclear bomb that has now been activated and is ticking'.

Cursing in Arabic, el-Amir also denounced Arab leaders and Muslims who condemned the London attacks as being traitors and non-Muslims.

He passionately vowed that he would do anything within his power to encourage more attacks."