Saturday, August 06, 2005

Just Cause Posted by Picasa

Trapped sub surfaces, crew safe - Aug 6, 2005

"MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- A Russian submarine that had been trapped nearly 190 meters (625 feet) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean was raised Sunday, and all seven crew members are alive, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet has confirmed.
The sub was raised about 4:20 p.m. (3:20 a.m. GMT).

A U.S. Navy doctor on board a Russian ship was evaluating the conditions of the Russian crew, John Yoshishige said."...

Damaged Humvee being removed. Posted by Picasa

UK terrorists got cash from Saudi Arabia before 7/7

"Two senior al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia made money transfers and used coded text messages to communicate with suspected terrorists in Britain before last month's attacks in London, according to officials in the kingdom.

The two men, of Moroccan descent, have since been shot dead. Younis Mohammed Ibrahim al-Hayari, allegedly al-Qaeda's leader in Saudi Arabia, was killed in Riyadh three weeks ago and Abdel Karim al-Mejati died in a shoot-out in the central al-Qassim region in April."...

Huge amounts of chemicals and other bomb-making materials were found at al-Hayari's hideout. Al-Mejati is said to have planned the train bombings in Madrid in March last year.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed last week that Scotland Yard was investigating evidence that the two waves of terrorist attacks in London were also planned in Saudi Arabia.

...A Saudi security adviser said: "We are trying to establish whether the money was directly linked to the individuals who carried out either the first or the second sets of bombings in London.

"The messages and the money transfers were highly professional. They were using SIM cards for six hours and then throwing them away." ...

Vietnam era vet holds American flag during vigil in Ohio. Posted by Picasa

Iraqi insurgent writes of flawed leadership - Aug 6, 2005

"BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A letter apparently written by a rebel leader to terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi decries the insurgency's leadership in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a hotspot in the war.

Security forces seized the letter last week in a raid on a safe house that netted arrests and other items. Task Force Freedom, based in Mosul, issued a copy of the letter and a statement about it Saturday.

The letter, from an insurgent named Abu Zayd, who calls himself 'emir of Farming reform battalion on the west side,' cited the incompetence of Mosul's emirs and the disobedience of other people in the network."

It discussed "the noticeable decrease in the attacks carried out by the mujahideen" and said that suicide bombings seem to be of more "quantity and not quality."

The letter writer said that collaboration among insurgent leaders is lacking and that "Muslim money" was being squandered on "petty expenses, cars and phones."

He also wrote that "foreign fighters endure 'deplorable' conditions, including lack of pay, housing problems and marginalization."

The letter offer solutions, including replacing the emirs, forming "new symbiotic battalions with diverse experience," and "resolving the housing problem."

"Be attentive to the jihad in Mosul and pursue its development, because the fall of Mosul in the hands of the mujahedeen is possible, and because it relieves the pressure off the other cities such as al-Qaim, Tal Afar," the letter said.

Qaim is in western Iraq near Syria, and Tal Afar is near Mosul.

[bth: I wonder what he means by 'housing problem' and 'muslim money?']

Hiroshima 60 years later. Posted by Picasa

Rescue Delayed After Russia Sub Cut Free

"PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, Russia - A British remote-controlled vehicle on Sunday cut away the cables that had snarled a Russian mini-submarine and its seven-man crew deep under the Pacific Ocean, and rescuers were preparing for the sub to surface, a naval spokesman said."

Capt. Igor Dygalo told The Associated Press that the Super Scorpio had freed the mini-sub from the military antenna that had tangled it some 625 feet below the surface. But a mechanical problem with the Super Scorpio forced workers to bring the rescue vehicle to the surface, delaying a process complicated by the discovery of a fishing net caught on the mini-sub, Interfax quoted another naval spokesman as saying.

"After the last cable holding down the mini-sub was cut off, rescuers found a piece of fishing net on the nose of the submersible," Capt. Alexander Kosolapov was quoted as saying. "They were unable to take it off because the Scorpio had to be raised to the surface due to functioning problems."...

Kick the cat? Posted by Picasa

Newsweek Poll: Bush's Battle - Newsweek Politics -

"Aug. 6, 2005 - As U.S. troops endured a deadly week in Iraq, 61 percent of Americans polled say they disapprove of the way President George W. Bush is handling the war in Iraq, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll. Thirty four percent say they approve. This is Bush's lowest rating on Iraq and the first time it has dropped below 40 percent in the NEWSWEEK poll. And 50 percent of those polled say the United States is losing ground in its efforts to establish security and democracy in Iraq; just 40 percent say the U.S. is making progress there."

A NEWSWEEK poll taken one month ago showed that 41 percent of Americans approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq; 54 percent did not.

While 26 percent of those polled say they support keeping large numbers of U.S. military personnel in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve U.S. goals there, 38 percent say they would support keeping troops there less than a year, 13 percent say one to two years and 12 percent volunteered that troops should be brought home now.

Meanwhile, Bush’s approval ratings have dropped to 42 percent; 51 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president. Bush’s approval ratings reached a high of 88 percent in his first term, in the month after the September 11 attacks. Forty-two percent is his low.

...Bush earns his best marks for homeland security, with 51 percent of Americans saying they are satisfied with his handling of the matter, though that is a drop of six points from a NEWSWEEK poll taken in March. ...In general, 28 percent say the war in Iraq has made Americans safer from terrorism; 64 percent say it has not, the poll shows. In the wake of the London attacks, 45 percent of those polled say it’s very likely that Islamic extremists will carry out major terrorist attacks against U.S. cities, buildings or national landmarks in the near future; 37 percent say it’s somewhat likely and 10 percent say it’s not too likely....

August 6, 2005 convoy hit by suicide bomber Posted by Picasa

Saudis alerted Britain to looming London attacks:

"LONDON (AFP) - Saudi officials alerted Britain several weeks before the deadly July 7 bombings in London that a terror attack was being planned, two Sunday newspapers reported. "

The Observer quoted a security official in the Saudi capital Riyadh as saying that information was passed to MI5 and MI6, Britain's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies respectively.

The Sunday Telegraph quoted the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, as saying that details of a possible conspiracy to attack London -- apparently extracted from terrorism suspects in Saudi Arabia -- had been given to British intelligence.

"There were reports passed on to your authorities several months ago (in April-May) in general terms of a heightened expectancy of attacks on London," said the ambassador, a former chief of Saudi intelligence.

Security sources played down the reports. The Observer quoted one source as "categorically" denying that any specific information had been received that could have averted the July 7 attacks.

The source said they "did not recognize" the details of the Saudi claims, which came to light one month to the day after the attacks....

Sgt. Dennis Osborne, Marine from Ohio still in Iraq. Posted by Picasa

Where Are the War Heroes?

"ONE soldier fought off scores of elite Iraqi troops in a fierce defense of his outnumbered Army unit, saving dozens of American lives before he himself was killed. Another soldier helped lead a team that killed 27 insurgents who had ambushed her convoy. And then there was the marine who, after being shot, managed to tuck an enemy grenade under his stomach to save the men in his unit, dying in the process."

Their names are Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester and Sgt. Rafael Peralta. If you have never heard of them, even in a week when more than 20 marines were killed in Iraq by insurgents, that might be because the military, the White House and the culture at large have not publicized their actions with the zeal that was lavished on the heroes of World War I and World War II.

Many in the military are disheartened by the absence of an instantly recognizable war hero today, a deficiency with a complex cause: public opinion on the Iraq war is split, and drawing attention to it risks fueling opposition; the military is more reluctant than it was in the last century to promote the individual over the group; and the war itself is different, ... Then, too, there is a celebrity culture that seems skewed more to the victim than to the hero.

Collectively, say military historians, war correspondents and retired senior officers, the country seems to have concluded that war heroes pack a political punch that requires caution. They have become not just symbols of bravery but also reminders of the war's thorniest questions. "No one wants to call the attention of the public to bloodletting and heroism and the horrifying character of combat," said Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina. "...

Heroism in the past was easier to highlight. ..."Everyone was involved," said Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The deliberate mobilization of the home front was considered a major priority by government in a way that it's just not now."

The change began, historians said, with the murky stalemate of the Korean War, which did not require as much mobilization or support as previous wars. Vietnam cemented the shift. ...
The military responded by pulling inward, ... He recalled the case of a marine who received the Navy Cross, the second-highest military honor, in the mail.

President Bush has taken the middle road. He presented the Medal of Honor to the family of Sergeant Smith in a White House ceremony on April 4. He praised Sergeant Peralta, a Mexican immigrant, in a radio address and at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in June.

But these citations did not occur in prime time, nor have they been repeated. And Sergeant Smith's Medal of Honor is the only one that has been awarded for action in Iraq.

Meanwhile, despite recruiting shortfalls, the Army's television advertisements have not featured the stories of Sergeant Smith or Sergeant Hester, the first woman since World War II to receive a Silver Star.

"We have not done as much as we ought to be doing to remind people that we're at war," said Eliot A. Cohen, a military historian at Johns Hopkins University, whose son is an infantry officer about to ship to Iraq.

Perhaps, some experts said, the military knows that promotion will attract unwanted scrutiny. After the heroic tales of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and Sgt. Pat Tillman were largely debunked - with Private Lynch shown to have never fired a shot during her capture and rescue in Iraq, and Sergeant Tillman killed accidentally by fellow Americans, not the enemy, in Afghanistan - the Pentagon may have grown cautious.

...So instead of highlighting heroes, the military and the White House favor a two-pronged approach: for those who are likely to support the war, there is occasional talk of heroic sacrifice; for the larger national audience, there are speeches about victory.

It is a rhetorical split that mirrors the larger national divide between the minority who serve in the military and those who do not, said Anthony Swofford, a former Marine and the author of "Jarhead." And it leaves important stories untold and unappreciated. "There might be heroes," Mr. Swofford said, "in some of those coffins."

[bth: Its shameful that the heros are not acknowledged. The censors leave their mark on photos of ceremonies in Iraq and at Dover AFB honoring the dead. The wounded are shipped anonymously to Walter Reed. There are now only 3 dozen reporters and photographers embedded with US troops in Iraq at any one time. The cost of war has been hidden from view and the heroism with it. The public relations officers at the Pentagon are missing something major. In their determination to hide the cost of war, they also hide the heroism and the personal sacrifice. So now soldiers are increasingly recruited for financial bounty instead of patriotic duty. America needs living heros - examples for others to follow - we are missing today. The Lynch and Tillman debacles were not about Lynch or Tillman. What made those examples so tragic was lies generated by the Pentagon when the truth would have sufficed. And somehow the virtues we honor and the debt of gratitude we owe them, were cheapened too. America should not hide the cost of war, nor its leaders be afraid to show it. It would be an honor if President Bush got up from his ranch and went to Ohio to honor the dead marines. But then that would cause us to admit that this war had a human cost, borne by 0.4% of the population in uniform or their families. It might cause others to reflect on the wisdom of a tax cut amidst deficits, the lack of sacrifice by others ,or the wisdom of an Iraq strategy easily endorsed while shipping another man's son to war. "There might be heros in some of those coffins."]

Ohio remembers Posted by Picasa

Ohio Posted by Picasa

Police 'warned on London suspect'

"LONDON, England (CNN) -- A leader at a mosque visited by one of the London July 21 bombing suspects says he warned police that Hamdi Issac was dangerous more than two years ago.
An elder at the Stockwell Mosque in south west London says he wrote to a senior police officer urging him to help deal with a group of young people who had been 'harassing' and intimidating the moderate Muslims.

Toaha Qureshi, one of the mosque's Trustees, told CNN that Issac -- the alleged Shepherds Bush attempted bomber currently fighting extradition from Italy -- was a prominent member of the group.
Qureshi told CNN that mosque officers had made it clear they regarded 27-year-old Issac as a threat and a destabilizing force.

'We were having problems with a group which was trying to take over the mosque,' he said -- adding that Issac was part of that group."...

Indonesian supreme court rejects Bashir's appeal

"JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Abu Bakar Bashir, the Muslim cleric serving to 30-months in jail for his role in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombing that killed 202 people, his lawyer said on Saturday."...

SSgt. Ryan Kelly Posted by Picasa

G.I.s' night in firefight hell

"FORWARD OPERATINGBASE SALERNO, Afghanistan - For Army Staff Sgt. Jesse Landazuri, the decision to bail out of his two-man border outpost last month came after the ninth or 10th incoming rocket-propelled grenade finally knocked him to the ground.

Wounded in the face and leg by the shrapnel, the 82nd Airborne Division trooper abandoned his position just as he and Queens-born Pfc. David Joy were about to be overrun on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border by a platoon of suspected Al Qaeda fighters.

'I made the call, we have to get out of here or we're gonna get killed,' Landazuri calmly recounted yesterday over a plate of meatloaf at this base about 6 miles from Pakistan.

Landazuri, 23, of Fontana, Calif., and Joy, 23, raised in upstate Lockport, had held off the 40 or so enemy fighters for almost an hour with their M-240 SAW machine gun, repelling a well-coordinated attack that made worldwide headlines.

Just after midnight on July 14, a foggy, moonless evening, green tracer rounds from Kalashnikov rifles and heavy machine guns streaked past the duo from Company B of the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, known as the 'White Devils.'
The enemy forces were firing from two positions, the hero G.I.s said.

'One was covering us and the other was covering our escape,' Landazuri told the Daily News in the pair's first interviews. Nearby, a squad of U.S. troops moved to higher ground overlooking Joy and Landazuri at Outpost 4, on the peak of a rubble-strewn hill dotted with trees and shrubs in eastern Afghanistan's Khost Province.

On the opposite hill inside Pakistan, just a few meters away, a Pakistan Army border outpost responded by firing its .50-caliber heavy machine gun straight up in the air - a move that infuriated the Americans taking massive enemy fire. It was a warning that the U.S. soldiers should not try to seek safety on the Pakistan side of the border.

"We were screwed where we were, and we needed to get more people up there," Joy said of his "terrifying" night.

After 40 minutes of the firefight, almost a dozen RPG rounds exploded near the two men, including one that stunned them when it landed on their bunker. Their buddies nearby thought they were dead.

So did the enemy.

"To Allah! To Allah! We took for you," the Islamic jihadis could be heard yelling, they were so close. "We give this mountain back to you!"

Dazed and bleeding from a spray of shrapnel, Landazuri stood up and blasted away with a sawed-off shotgun, which he kept within reach even during the chow hall interview.

The U.S. backup squad opened fire again and covered the men’s escape. A quick-reaction force soon arrived by helicopter and the enemy fighters fled back into Pakistan, where coalition forces counted at least 11 killed by U.S. artillery and air strikes. The Pakistani government reported finding 24 bodies inside its border, angering local tribal leaders.

Pakistan has publicly insisted U.S. forces do not operate inside their country, but it has recently relaxed some restrictions in the wake of terror attacks in London and Egypt, sources told The News.

For Joy and Landazuri, little trust remains for Pakistan’s border guards. And after their first firefight, they said a few lines from Johnny Cash’s "The Man Comes Around," are what they live by.

"And I looked, and behold: A pale horse/And his name, that sat on him, was Death/And Hell followed with him."

Joy said everybody in the squad knows those words by heart now.

Corporal Andre Williams, Marine killed in Iraq, buried in Ohio with honor Posted by Picasa

U.S. and Iraqis Start Offensive Where Marines Were Killed .

."The American military said Friday that it had begun a major offensive in the rebellious desert region of western Iraq, where at least 22 marines had been killed since Monday in one of the deadliest weeks of the war for the Americans."

The operation, in Anbar Province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, involves a sweep by 800 marines and nearly 200 Iraqi soldiers in towns along the Euphrates River corridor, which foreign fighters use to enter Iraq.

Marine fighter jets pummeled buildings with guided bombs, and tanks blasted away at insurgents. By Friday evening, the American and Iraqi troops had killed or wounded at least 25 insurgents and detained at least 25 men, a Marine colonel said....

Hundreds Attend Vigil for Marine Families

"With the last of 16 Ohio families notified that their Marines were dead in Iraq, other military families rallied to help, and hundreds gathered for a prayer vigil in Cleveland. "

"When my son comes home, I can have my nervous breakdown," said Isolde Zierk, who leads a support group for a Columbus-based reservist company that has suffered 11 of the casualties. "Until then, I'll just keep on doing what I can."

Tears flowed at a prayer vigil for Ohio's fallen Marines that ended with a bagpiper playing "Amazing Grace."

With his wife crying at his side, Jim Boskovitch, the father of Cpl. Jeff Boskovitch, said his family wanted to honor his fallen son and support the troops still in Iraq.

"We wanted to show, even though we're still grieving, we're still part of this community and we're going to get up and move on," Boskovitch said.

The losses came in quick succession for the suburban Cleveland-based 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. Two soldiers died July 28 in a gun battle, followed by five on Monday while on sniper patrol. Then nine members of the battalion were killed Wednesday along with five other Marines and an interpreter in the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Laurie Meadows, 29, said she spent several hours Wednesday at a front window of her home in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, just to make sure no one in a Marines dress uniform was approaching about her husband, Cpl. Jason Meadows, 28.

...Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, a critic of U.S. policy in Iraq, has attended six war-linked funerals since the war began and said he would attend as many as he can for the most recent casualties.

"You have to understand the human dimension," Kucinich said. "For those families, this becomes a tragedy of monumental proportions. There have been more than 1,800 families like that."....

Friday, August 05, 2005

FOIA released photo Posted by Picasa

Poll: Bush's Iraq rating at low point - Aug 5, 2005

"Americans' approval of President Bush's handling of Iraq is at its lowest level yet, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that also suggests fewer than half now think he is honest.
A solid majority still see Bush as a strong and likable leader, though the poll indicates the president's confidence is seen as arrogance by a growing number.

Approval of Bush's handling of Iraq, which had been hovering in the low- to mid-40s most of the year, dipped to 38 percent. Midwesterners and young women and men with a high school education or less were most likely to disapprove of Bush on his handling of Iraq in the past six months"...

Bush's overall job approval was at 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. That is about where Bush's approval has been all summer but slightly lower than at the beginning of the year.

The portion of respondents who consider Bush honest has dropped slightly from January, when 53 percent described him that way while 45 percent did not. Now, people are just about evenly split on that issue -- with 48 percent saying he is honest and 50 percent saying he is not.

The drop in the number of people who see Bush as honest was largest among middle-aged Americans as well as suburban women, a key voting group in the 2004 election. A further erosion of trust could make it tougher for Bush to win support for his policies in Congress and internationally.

"The reason that trust is so important has to do with the long-standing belief that you could trust him, even if you don't always agree with him and don't understand what he's doing," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas. "The honesty dip is partly caused by a loss of faith in his credibility on Iraq."...

Almost two-thirds in the poll described Bush as strong and likable....

Six in 10 surveyed said they think the country is headed down the wrong track, despite some encouraging economic news in recent weeks.

"Iraq is just a great weight holding down perceptions of an economy that is quite robust," said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. "Whenever you have troops in harm's way, people are anxious about things in general."...

Betterfly shrimp. yum. Posted by Picasa

The Iraq Infection

"NEW YORK - Military doctors are fighting to contain an outbreak of a potentially deadly drug-resistant bacteria that apparently originated in the Iraqi soil. So far at least 280 people, mostly soldiers returning from the battlefield, have been infected, a number of whom contracted the illness while in U.S. military hospitals.

Most of the victims are relatively young troops who were injured by the land mines, mortars and suicide bombs that have permeated the Iraq conflict. No active-duty soldiers have died from the infections, but five extremely sick patients who were in the same hospitals as the injured soldiers have died after being infected with the bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii.

'This a very large outbreak,' says Arjun Srinivasan, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. public health service and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control. "...

IED sweep Posted by Picasa

U.S. Indicts 2 in Case Of Divulged Secrets

"Two former employees of an influential pro-Israel lobbying group were indicted yesterday on charges that they illegally received and passed on classified information to foreign officials and reporters over a period of five years, part of a case that has complicated relations between the United States and one of its closest allies.

Although no foreign government is named in the indictment, U.S. government sources have identified Israel as the country at the center of the probe. The Israeli Embassy in Washington also confirmed yesterday that it has been 'approached' by investigators in the case.

The 26-page indictment, handed up in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, represents the first formal allegations of criminal wrongdoing against the former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC is widely recognized as one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington and has carefully cultivated close ties to Congress and the Bush administration."

The indictment also recasts the government's allegations against Lawrence A. Franklin, a Defense Department analyst who had already been charged with disclosing secret information about possible attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and other topics. One of six original counts was dropped against Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va.

Former AIPAC director of foreign policy issues Steven J. Rosen, 63, of Silver Spring was indicted on two counts related to unlawful disclosure of "national defense information" obtained from Franklin and other unidentified government officials since 1999 on topics including Iran, Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda. A former AIPAC analyst, Keith Weissman, 53, of Bethesda, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to illegally communicate classified information.

Rosen was instrumental in making AIPAC a formidable political force and helped pioneer the strategy of lobbying the executive branch as energetically as Capitol Hill, beginning in the Reagan administration. The FBI's long-running investigation -- which has involved clandestine wiretaps and other surveillance dating back several years -- has angered many political supporters of Israel and has caused friction between the two governments.

AIPAC fired Rosen and Weissman but continues to pay their legal fees. "AIPAC dismissed Rosen and Weissman because they engaged in conduct that was not part of their jobs, and because this conduct did not comport in any way with the standards that AIPAC expects of its employees," said Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for AIPAC....

Marines standing between severed halves of an amphibious vehicle in western Iraq in which 14 marines were killed. Posted by Picasa

Iran sends in troops to crush border unrest

"The Iranian government has deployed large numbers of troops in cities in the northwestern region which borders Iraq in an effort to quell three weeks of civil unrest that has left up to 20 people dead and more than 300 wounded, according to reports from dissident groups.

They said as many as 100,000 state security forces, backed up by helicopter gunships, had moved into the region to crack down on pro-Kurdish demonstrations.

The claims, from Kurdish groups in Iraq, could not be independently verified, and Iranian officials remained silent about the unrest.

The state-owned news agency IRNA said the trouble was due to 'hooligan and criminal elements'.

News agencies have reported trouble in the northern areas over the past two weeks, though the scale of the unrest has been unclear.

The protests in the Kurdish areas came after the killing of a Kurdish activist by Iranian security forces in the city of Mahabad on July 9. ...

34 civilians killed per day for two years in Iraq. Posted by Picasa

Families of battered unit are `just numb'

"CLEVELAND -- Since May, parents like Rosemary Palmer have anxiously watched the death toll grow steadily in Iraq among a 1,000-Marine reserve unit that includes her son.

One here, one there, then four, then eight, then one. That was the toll in May alone for the flinty battalion, headquartered in Brook Park, a Cleveland suburb, and dispatched to a remote desert outpost on the Euphrates River in Iraq in March.

Then came this week, the worst so far. Five Marines from the battalion were killed Monday, and an additional 14 on Wednesday. Palmer watched the account of the 14 fallen Marines on a TV newscast Wednesday, and though he wasn't mentioned, she 'knew' instinctively that her son, Edward 'Augie' Schroeder, 23, was among them.

So sure was Palmer, a former newspaper editor, that she had lost her only son, that she started typing up his life story. 'I wanted to have it ready before they showed up to tell me, so I could give it out to the news crews later,' she said. 'You do what you have to do [to get through the pain], and for us, that's writing it all down.'

As she and her husband, Paul Schroeder, waited for what they felt would be the inevitable knock on the door, Palmer reached for the phone and called her church to ask someone to join her in prayer, 'because I knew, I knew.'

Two hours later, Marine representatives knocked at their door to announce that her son was among those killed Wednesday when an amphibious assault vehicle hit a bomb.

More than 40 members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, a reserve unit based in Brook Park, have been killed since being deployed in January...

Corporal Jeffrey Boskovitch, Ohio Marine Posted by Picasa

Papers show Saddam snatched $1bn from bank a day before invasion

"Saddam Hussein ordered Iraq's central bank to withdraw $1 billion for his youngest son the day before the invasion to stop it falling into foreign hands, according to a leaked letter apparently written by the former dictator.

In a hand-written note to the bank's governor, marked 'top secret' and dated March 19, 2003, the former president told Isam Huwaish to give $920 million and 90 million euros to his son Qusay and another man, al-Mashriq newspaper reported yesterday. The Iraqi national broadsheet reproduced the letter, which appears to bear Saddam's signature."...

The huge amount of cash, said to be in $100 bills, was loaded in metal boxes on to three lorries during a five-hour operation, said bank officials interviewed after the fall of Baghdad....

American officers suspect that much of the money was moved to Syria, where Saddam's relatives are said to have fled before the invasion.

Two of his daughters, Raghad and Rana, are now said to be living in a villa in the Jordanian capital, Amman. His first wife Sajida and her daughter Halan are in Qatar. Saddam's only surviving son, Ali, who is in his early twenties, and his second wife, Samira Shahbander, are living in Lebanon apparently under assumed names.

At least $650 million, possibly part of the bank hoard, was recovered behind a false wall by American marines who captured the palace of Uday Hussein, the dictator's eldest son. Uday and Qusay died together in a battle with US troops in the northern city of Mosul in July 2003.

Saddam is also reported to have distributed huge bundles of cash to his supporters shortly after the occupation. That could account for some of the insurgents' funding.

The cash amounted to about a quarter of the central bank's hard currency reserves....

IED crater were marine vehicle was blown up. Posted by Picasa

Elusive sniper saps US morale in Baghdad

"They have never seen Juba. They hear him, but by then it's too late: a shot rings out and another US soldier slumps dead or wounded.

There is never a follow-up shot, never a chance for US forces to identify the origin, to make the hunter the hunted. He fires once and vanishes.

Juba is the nickname given by American forces to an insurgent sniper operating in southern Baghdad. They do not know his appearance, nationality or real name, but they know and fear his skill.

'He's good,' said Specialist Travis Burress, 22, a sniper with the 1-64 battalion based in Camp Rustamiyah. 'Every time we dismount I'm sure everyone has got him in the back of their minds. He's a serious threat to us.'

Gun attacks occasionally pepper the battalion's foot and mounted patrols, but the single crack of what is thought to be a Tobuk sniper rifle inspires particular dread.

Since February, the killing of at least two members of the battalion and the wounding of six more have been attributed to Juba. Some think it is also he that has picked off up to a dozen other soldiers. "...

Brook Park Ohio Posted by Picasa

Pakistan 'Taleban law' rejected

"Pakistan's Supreme Court has said that various clauses of a bill introducing a Taleban-style moral code in North-West Frontier Province are unconstitutional.

It said the provincial governor was not obliged to sign the bill into law. It has been passed by the NWFP assembly.

The court said its opinion was advisory and it could not strike down the bill.

President Musharraf says the bill is a breach of fundamental human rights. The NWFP government says it was mandated to pass the bill and will revise it. "...

Kirkuk policeman outside hospital after his unit was ambushed. Posted by Picasa

Lawsuit Forces Release of More Casualty Images

"In response to a lawsuit, the Pentagon has released a few dozen new and uncensored images of flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops and agreed to process 'as expeditiously as possible' future Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for photo and video images of returning war casualties.

The decision was called a victory for open government by the National Security Archive, a nongovernmental research group here that helped the litigation. 'We forced the Pentagon to admit that release of these images was not a mistake but was in fact required by law,' said Thomas Blanton, director of the archive, which posted the images on its Web site yesterday.

As a result, he said the parties to the suit agreed July 28 to dismiss the case."... Begleiter's suit was filed to demonstrate that under the act, such photographs must be released as long as they do not harm national security or violate privacy laws.

The Pentagon yesterday said "further consideration" of a Begleiter appeal led it to release the latest photographs in an "unredacted form," meaning without the blacked-out faces. "The Department of Defense has an obligation and a responsibility to strike a balance between our strong desire to be as transparent as possible and the legitimate concerns to protect the privacy of military families and as necessary, operational security," a spokesman said.

[bth: the redacted photos blackened out chaplains and soldiers. It was in my opinion an adulteration on the part of the Pentagon of these images and a disrespect to the soldier or marine honored and their families. The photos show nothing but respect and appropriate behavior of the men and women in attendance. Then someone at the Pentagon comes in and puts big black squares over their faces and uniforms. If a punk on a subway had done this it would be considered vandalism, but because the Pentagon does it under the guise of "national security," it is tolerated. ... Tell me, how is national security protected by adulterating these photos? Doesn't this have more to do with hiding the costs of war? To me it is sad that this story barely gets national mention.]

Digging around for explosives Posted by Picasa

Jonah Goldberg: Bombers got rights, too, you know!

"When Ramzi Mohammed, one of the failed bombers in the second wave of attacks on London, was surrounded by representatives of the decadent, infidel West, he didn't shriek, 'Allahu Akbar!' and throw himself at his captors in a suicidal lunge for martyrdom. No, instead he whined, 'I have rights! I have rights!'

I was willing to bet we'd be arguing about this odd plea for weeks. One side would complain, 'Can you believe the chutzpah?' The other side would applaud how even alienated Islamic youth have learned to respect the majesty of our criminal justice system.

Of course, I'm squarely in the 'Can you believe the chutzpah?' column. Murderous goons like Mohammed tempt God's wrath to the point of assuming the form of human lightning rods when, the moment they get caught, they suddenly stand firm on the principle that everyone be treated with dignity.

But the shocking part was that the tidbit vanished almost without comment"...

Reflections Posted by Picasa

Blast kills five Pakistani troops

"A ROADSIDE bomb killed five Pakistani soldiers and wounded two overnight in a restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan where al-Qaeda militants are thought to be hiding.

An army spokesman said the blast hit a vehicle the soldiers were travelling in near the village of Ghor Malai in the North Waziristan region."...

New Iraqi policemen Posted by Picasa

Briton may be free to go, in spite of his 452 fake passports

"Bangkok: A Briton has been arrested in Thailand with 452 fake blank European passports in his luggage, as he prepared to board a flight to return to Britain.

Mahieddine Daikh, an Algerian who became a naturalised Briton two years ago, will probably escape punishment unless there is a formal complaint in the next few days from the government of one of the countries affected, Thai and British authorities said."

Mr Daikh was caught on Wednesday while in transit from the southern Thai island of Samui to Amsterdam, from where he was due to fly to Scotland.

Officials found about 200 forged passports from France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal in his hand luggage and 250 from the same countries in his checked-in bags, an immigration chief, General Suwat Thamrongsisakul, said.

"There were 452 altogether," he said. "He told us he bought the passports from a Pakistani man for £3000 ($7000) in Koh Samui and that he would be paid £15,000 when he delivered them to his contact in London.

"Of course he can't remember the name of the Pakistani."

A British embassy official who examined the passports was very impressed with their quality, General Suwat said. "He had to look at them very carefully before being certain they were fake."

Mr Daikh is being held in an immigration detention centre but he could be free by the weekend, because there appears to be no terrorism link to the case.

"We will not prosecute him unless one of the embassies [of the countries whose passports were forged] files a formal complaint," General Suwat said. "If they do not, we will revoke his visa and return him [to Britain]."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said he "could not be prosecuted in Britain for this offence".

[bth: this is insane.]

My First Time Under Fire

"Four of us were driving the dangerous BIAP road to take CJ to catch a plane back to the States. When we were about 300 yards from the Airport gate, all traffic came to a stop and it started to pile up behind us. Soon, a fair-sized traffic jam had been created. CJ was able to call a 'source' who informed him a car bomb had been found near the gate and its imminent detonation was the reason for the delay. Our driver, Khattab, walked up in that direction to check and confirmed that a car bomb was being de-activated so as not to explode and put the road out of service.

After a 45 or 50 minute wait, there was a monstrous explosion and a large shower of dirt and debris and "stuff" came flying from a spot about 25 yards from our car. It was not the car bomb being detonated. It was an 82mm mortar shell fired at us from a spot about 125 yards to our right. The caliber was determined by someone more familiar than I with the relative decibel sounds of exploding mortar shells....

[bth: very interesting read in full.]

Afghanistan Agrees To Accept Detainees

"The Bush administration is negotiating the transfer of nearly 70 percent of the detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to three countries as part of a plan, officials said, to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars.

U.S. officials announced yesterday that they have reached an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to transfer most of its nationals to Kabul's 'exclusive' control and custody. There are 110 Afghan detainees at Guantanamo and 350 more at the Bagram airfield near Kabul. Their transfers could begin in the next six months."

Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador at large for war crimes, who led a U.S. delegation to the Middle East this week, said similar agreements are being pursued with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, whose nationals make up a significant percentage of the Guantanamo population. Prosper held talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday and Monday, but negotiations were cut off after the announcement of King Fahd's death.

The decision to move more than 20 percent of the detainees at Guantanamo to Afghanistan and to largely clear out the detention center at Bagram is part of a broader plan to significantly reduce the population of "enemy combatants" in U.S. custody. Senior U.S. officials said yesterday's agreement is the first major step toward whittling down the Guantanamo population to a core group of people the United States expects to hold indefinitely....

"The Guantanamo issue is clearly a liability for the Bush administration, and emptying it has become a priority," said John Sifton, a specialist on Afghanistan and detainee issues at Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group. "It's not a victory for human rights if a whole set of people deprived of their liberty are then moved to another place and continued to be deprived of their liberty unlawfully."

The agreement with Afghanistan is the largest of its kind so far. Prosper said yesterday that the U.S. government is working to send 129 Saudis and 107 Yemenis from Guantanamo to the custody of their home countries. If the U.S. government is able to arrange the transfer of detainees who came from all three countries, the population at the U.S. facility will drop by 68 percent, from 510 to 164....

In a military fact sheet about "the future" of Guantanamo, developed in early July, defense officials indicated that the operational priority of the facility is to shift from intelligence gathering to long-term detention.

The document noted that "the significant majority of detainees are no longer regularly interrogated" and that officials expect the population to decrease.

"The way that we've looked at it is that in waging the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, we will continue to capture enemy fighters and need to prevent them from returning to the battlefield," Waxman said. "But it need not be the U.S. who detains them for the long term."

Soul of Republican Party at stake in prison-abuse scandal debate

"There is a quiet struggle going on in the nation's capital, and the stakes are the very soul of the Republican Party and this administration.

Three senior Republican senators wrote a small amendment into the Defense Appropriations bill this summer that outlaws cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of all detainees in American custody.

No one can call Sens. John Warner, R-Va., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., soft on anything, much less terrorism. They constitute the Republican leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee. All three have worn the uniform of our country. One, John McCain, spent long years in the hands of America's enemies as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton.

The Bush White House is doing all that it can to stop this legislation from passing. Vice President Dick Cheney took the three senators to the wood shed and told them that their law would tie President Bush's hands in the war against terrorism. His bombast carried no weight with the three senators.

On the floor of the Senate, before everyone left on vacation, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., sounded the administration line: There is no need for this legislation because we are not dealing with prisoners of war but 'terrorists.'

John McCain stood up and responded that the debate was not 'about who they are. It's about who we are.' We are Americans, the senator said, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard than those who slaughter the innocent in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in London or on 9/11 here at home. "...

A few days ago the former warden of Abu Ghraib prison was offering testimony in the case of two of those low-level American military guards accused of using military dogs to terrorize Iraqi detainees. Maj. David DiNenna testified that this illegal use of dogs was suggested by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then-commander of Guantanamo, who was sent to Iraq in August 2003 on an urgent mission to review and revise prisoner interrogation methods there.

In sworn testimony before Congress on May 19, 2004, Miller denied that he had ever recommended the use of dogs for interrogation at Abu Ghraib, or that they were ever used at Guantanamo. Army investigators last month reported that in fact while Gen. Miller commanded at Gitmo, an al-Qaeda suspect named Mohamed Qahtani was faced with snarling military dogs, forced to wear women's underwear on his head, and was led around by a dog leash attached to his chains. Sound familiar? Remember those nasty soldier photos that started all the ruckus early in 2004 at Abu Ghraib?

And lest it escape anyone's notice: Miller was not acting on his own initiative. The investigators found that the interrogation of Qahtani was conducted under rules approved by Secretary of Defense Donald L. Rumsfeld on Dec. 2, 2002.

Under protests from military lawyers, the Rumsfeld standard was revised in the spring of 2003. Yet the same practices would later be used at Abu Ghraib.

Maj. DiNenna in his testimony hit a raw nerve: "We understood that (Gen. Miller) was sent over by the secretary of defense." ...

The senators - Warner, McCain and Graham - have taken the first step toward shedding some light in the darker corners of the dungeon. Don't be surprised if that light finds a lot of people who rank much higher than specialist 4 or staff sergeant cowering in the corners.

Please repeat after the good senator who knows about prisons and the torture of helpless human beings:

This is not about who they are. This is about who we are. We are Americans and we hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct. And, no, the end does not justify the means. Not now. Not ever, when the means include torturing prisoners.

[bth: Bush has threatened to veto the Defense bill over this amendment. Amazing. That is why the defense bill did not reach closure as it should have in July and will not be extended into September. My bet is that we dump the prisoners from Gitmo to Afghanistan, Paki, Saudi, etc. and turn over Abu Ghraib to the Iraqis concurrent with the release of information Pentagon lawyers have been stonewalling on releasing to a federal judge which supposedly shows rape and sodomy being conducted on prisioners. The author of the piece ababove is correct, its about defining who we are that this is all about.]

Thursday, August 04, 2005


"Enrolment has begun in Iraqi Kudistan for the first Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to join Iraq's national army. The recruitment represents the completion of the first phase to create a special brigade within the fourth division of the Iraqi army. Peshmerga is the term used by Kurds to refer to freedom fighters, and literally means 'those who face death'.

The agreements reached in the last few months will see some 32,000 former guerrillas join the ranks of Iraq's new armed forces, said Jaafar Mustafa, a member of the Peshmerga leadership, but 'so far only one brigade has been set up', whose members come from the Sulaymaniya area."...

Military wrests control of Mauritania

"Military officials have wrested control of Mauritania in a bloodless coup, forcing from power what officers termed the "totalitarian regime' of a leader who cracked down on Islamist militants and befriended Israel during his 21 years in power.

President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya was out of the country at the funeral of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd when officers seized control of Mauritania's television and radio stations in the capital Nouakchott during a pre-dawn raid, cutting off all broadcasts."...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Just Give Us the Stuff! Posted by Picasa

Tourniquets and Truth

Ever since Robert Little from the Baltimore-Sun called me earlier this year to talk about how Lt. David Bernstein died, I've been troubled by the whole issue of tourniquets. There is a strong indication that David may have lived had a tourniquet been available according to medical reviews of the case Little obtained. I found that the Army was estimating 10% of the KIAs would have survived if a $20 tourniquet was on hand. This seems like a small sum for such a return on human life. Convoys are being ambushed and the victims may be half an hour from real medical help because of distance and the nature of this ambush/IED conflict. To top it off there was a medical review board for the military that recommended tourniquets be issued to all soldiers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2003. The marines acted in 2003 to implement this recommendation along with new training procedures. So the marines had them but the army did not. The Army deemed it appropriate to only give them to medics which was a largely useless gesture in this conflict since the casualties are often in vehicles abandoned in the kill zone with their occupants inside meaning that medics are late returning to the kill zone along with their tourniquets. So a week after the Little articles came out in series, the Army announced that they would indeed spend the $8 million or so required to get everyone a tourniquet by the end of 2005 after they picked out a carrying pouch for it. The whole catastrophe of leadership on this issue hung on picking out a nylon pouch!

So I've left a Google key word search running ever since with "Iraq" and "tourniquets" as key words and I usually post worthy articles mentioning them. This week two articles popped up.

First, it looks like the Baltimore-Sun won a finalists list nomination for its investigative journalism on the subject. Here is a link to the article. "The Associated Press Managing Editors association's 35th annual Award for Public Service...The (Baltimore) Sun, [was a finalist] for exposing how wounded soldiers in Iraq bleed to death for want of a tourniquet." So my hat off to the Baltimore-Sun and Mr. Little for his work on the topic. I think it has saved lives by prodding the Army into action.

Another winning award for investigative journalism went to the Marine Corps Times. "In the under-40,000 circulation category, the Marine Corps Times of Springfield, Va., won for its investigation into substandard military body armor. ... Of the Marine Corps Times entry, the judges said the investigation was more than great journalism. "Sometimes great reporting is a case of life and death. Such was the case when an anonymous tip led the Marine Corps Times to establish that the Marine Corps had knowingly provided substandard armored vests to 19,000 troops," they said. After the newspaper's inquiries and on the eve of publication, the Pentagon recalled 5,000 vests." Great work! Given the level of scandal and stupidity we've seen in the whole procurement process with this war, one would think that investigative journalists would be leaping at opportunities, but alas that is not the case. I think it requires too much work to interest radio or TV journalists; newspapers are a little better but shouldn't we be seeing more investigative work?

The second link this week mentioning tourniquets is a website called "" which provides a means for soldiers to buy their tourniquets for the special low low price of $25 (30% off retail) on the internet via their website. Further it shows a Congressman who was in Iraq handing out 100 of them as promotional items. Isn't it kind of sickening that even after all these months we are still reduced to buying tourniquets over the internet? ... Don't even get me started on blood clotting agents. Let's just say we can do much better than this.

Photo from Turkey Posted by Picasa