Saturday, April 15, 2006

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Spending on training Iraqi forces is lagging

The Albuquerque Tribune: National Government: "WASHINGTON - The U.S. military has spent just 40 percent of the $7 billion appropriated in 2005 for the training of Iraqi and Afghanistan security forces. The training is a top Pentagon priority as for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The slow pace of spending was outlined in a congressional report. It also raised questions about whether the Pentagon needs the full $5.9 billion it requested for training this year. The request is included in an emergency spending bill that is pending in Congress.

The report comes as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Bush administration have complained about funding cuts for Iraqi forces. The cuts are included in the House-passed version of the bill.

In a report, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said the Pentagon is spending at a slower rate than Defense Department officials initially expected. As of Jan. 1, the report said, the Pentagon had allocated $2.1 billion, or just 37 percent, of the $5.7 billion in Iraqi training funds for the 2005 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. "...

[bth: the article goes on to discuss 'glidepaths' to sepending all the money etc., but what's happening here? Well the Shia government hasn't hired a single US trained recruit for the police in the last 3 1/2 months! This was reported about a week ago. Why it isn't getting more news is beyond me. The Shia militia are stacking the police slots with their own untrained militiamen. We in turn look like we are holding back on funding the equipment for the police and army to keep from loading up the Shia with armored vehicles, better communications gear and heavier weapons. Also I noted from budget reports about a month ago that $16K was being allocated in the budget for each policeman and Iraqi soldier in Iraq, which means we must be planning to pay for the whole force! Since the Iraqi government is essentially bankrupt based on damaged oil export revenue which is the only meaningful source of income for it, then one can quickly conclude that the Shia governed police and army - quasi militia- are or soon will not be being paid. Unpaid soldiers have never been a good thing. Probably by early summer Iran will offer to financially assist the Iranian government (the Shia) which will break the US monopoly on money.]
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Whose side are we on? - Editorials

Whose side are we on? - Editorials & Commentary - International Herald Tribune: "No friends in Iraq

The United States is reaching a breaking point with the Shiites in Iraq. The quiescence to date of this dominant and relatively united sectarian force has been the key factor in America's ability to keep the lid on in Iraq so far.

That is now changing.

The Shiites have never had any particular love for the United States. They are bitter about what they saw as their betrayal by the United States after the first Gulf war, when the elder President George Bush called for uprisings against Saddam Hussein and then stood by while Saddam's forces brutally put the insurrection down, with huge Shiite losses.

As for the United States, after the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the crisis of American diplomats held hostage in Tehran, a mantra developed in Washington: 'Shiite bad, Sunni good.' The Shiites were the anti-American revolutionaries in the region.

But after the emergence of Al Qaeda, 9/11, the outbreak of the Sunni insurrection against the U.S. occupation in Iraq and Iraqi Shiite quiescence, Washington's working mantra was reversed: it became 'Shiite good, Sunni bad.' Today it is hard to tell who the good guys are.

One thing was clear on the eve of the war in Iraq: The Shiites would favor the overthrow of Saddam and a brief U.S. occupation only if Washington promised to deliver power into the hands of the Shiite majority via the ballot box.

This has now come to pass. As far as most Shiites are concerned, the United States has basically fulfilled its mission and should go home.

The Shiites, however, are tactically divided as to when the United States should go home. ...

[bth: this is a short and clear article that concludes that the various factions are coalescing around a policy of asking the US to leave. I'm having trouble linking other segments so you will need to read it to get the other main points.]
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Haditha, Iraq Nov. Massacre?

Haditha, Iraq MediaChannel.org: "As the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday, this much is known to be true: On November 19, after a roadside bomb killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 15 Iraqi civilians -including seven women and three children -were allegedly shot and killed by a unit of US Marines operating in Haditha, Iraq. Then, this past Friday, a battalion commander and two company commanders from the same unit were relieved of their duties.

We also know that the Marine Corps initially claimed that the 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by a roadside bomb. But in January, after Time magazine presented the military with Iraqi accounts and video proof of the attack's aftermath, officials acknowledged that the civilians were killed by Marines but blamed insurgents nonetheless who had 'placed noncombatants in the line of fire.'

However, video evidence shows that women and children were shot in their homes while still wearing nightclothes. And while there are no bullet holes outside the houses to support the military's assertion of a firefight with insurgents, 'inside the houses-the walls and ceilings are pockmarked with shrapnel and bullet holes as well as the telltale spray of blood.'
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has launched a criminal investigation to determine whether the civilians were intentionally massacred by Marines. A second investigation will explore the initial misleading explanations of the killings.

US media coverage of the Haditha allegations has been startlingly limited. In addition to the Time investigation, AP reporter Bassem Mroue has followed the case and Knight-Ridder reporter Nancy A. Youssef has written an article as well. That's it. Much has been written in the UK press and in English-language papers around the world. "...
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Friday, April 14, 2006

U.S. Military Buys Back Stolen Flash Drives With Sensitive Data in Afghan Shops

FOXNews.com - U.S. Military Buys Back Stolen Flash Drives With Sensitive Data in Afghan Shops - International News News of the World Middle East News Europe News: "BAGRAM, Afghanistan � Shopkeepers outside U.S. military headquarters in Afghanistan said Friday that American investigators have paid them thousands of dollars to return stolen computer drives, many of which contained sensitive military data.

But dozens of the memory sticks were still on sale in shops outside the base and the shopkeepers let an Associated Press reporter review about 40 of them on a laptop computer."...

He said he sold about 50 for $2,000, roughly about $40 each. A day earlier, he was selling them for about half that price.

"They said they wanted them all and price wasn't important," the shopkeeper said....
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US counts cost of Treasury yields

Telegraph Money US counts cost of Treasury yields: "Yields on 10-year US Treasuries have risen above 5pc for the first time since 2002 on heavy selling by big institutions, sending tremors through the US mortgage and corporate credit markets."

The US 10-year bond is the key instrument used to price borrowing in the American economy, with ripple effects through the global system.

Yields have risen sharply by 0.6 percentage points so far this year, reaching 5.036pc in New York last night.

The powerful upward draft has lifted German, French and other eurozone bonds in step, driving up the cost of borrowing on the capital markets.

Analysts said the spike in yields is chiefly caused by an exodus of Asian investors, who hold a huge chunk of the US national debt....

"This could be the catalyst for a sharp correction in property prices and wean consumers off their credit binge," he said.

The cost of the average 30-year mortgage in the US has risen from 5.5pc last summer to 6.43pc this week. The housing boom is now the mainstay of the US economy. Last year Americans withdrew the equivalent of 6pc of GDP in home equity from their houses, spending most of it on daily bills, holidays and consumption.

Long-term yields remained near historic lows during 2005 despite a string of rate increases by the US Federal Reserve. The muted response of the bond markets dulled the impact of Fed tightening, prompting ex-chairman Alan Greenspan to talk of a "conundrum". "The conundrum just died," said Paul McCulley, an economist at the world's biggest bond trading company Pimco.

Joachim Fels, an economist at Morgan Stanley, said the conundrum had been caused by the easy money policies in Japan and Europe, creating a flood of global liquidity that continued to overrun the US credit markets long after the Fed began raising rates.

He said synchronised tightening across the world was now leading to bond sell-offs everywhere, with "nasty implications" for risky assets. "I think it is time to hunker down," he said. The bank is predicting a 7.9pc fall in European stock markets over the next six months.

JP Morgan Chase is forecasting a 13pc fall in Amer-ica's S&P 500 stock index, and 12pc fall in the FTSE 100. "Our big concern is the combination of rising bond yields, sustained high energy prices and weakness in US housing," said Abhijit Chakrabortti, the global equity chief.

Analysts said the surge in bond yields may have been accelerated by panic selling of Treasuries by hedge funds and US investment banks.

[bth: we can't fund a war with tax breaks- its that simple. Rock ribbed republicans are horrified at the federal financial disaster they have created and they will try to take it out on social programs while preserving their tax cuts. Democrats will want to raise taxes but fail to utter the word this election year. In the meantime, the markets are driving interest rate costs up in a vote of no-confidence whichI don't see abating for months to come.]
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Terror Watch: Is Pentagon Creating a Secret Police Force?

Terror Watch: Is Pentagon Creating a Secret Police Force? - Newsweek National News - MSNBC.com: "...An informal panel of senior Pentagon officials has been holding a series of unannounced private meetings during the past several weeks about how to proceed with a possible merger between the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), a post-9/11 Pentagon creation that has been accused of domestic spying, and the Defense Security Service (DSS), a well-established older agency responsible for inspecting the security arrangements of defense contractors. DSS also maintains millions of confidential files containing the results of background investigations on defense contractors’ employees."....
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Fighting displaces tens of thousands of Iraqis - Apr 13, 2006

CNN.com - Fighting displaces tens of thousands of Iraqis - Apr 13, 2006: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes for safer parts of the country has more than doubled in two weeks to 65,000, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said Thursday.

A ministry spokesman reported a twofold jump from the 30,000 internal refugees estimated on March 30. The ministry put the number of families on the move at 10,991....

People are receiving warning leaflets. ' 'Leave now, without taking any of your belongings. Take only your clothes,' these warnings say,' according to Said Hakki, chairman of the Iraq Red Crescent Society."
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Replace Rumsfeld - David Ignatius WaPo

Replace Rumsfeld: "With luck, Iraq will make a fresh start soon with the formation of a new government. The Bush administration should do the same thing by replacing Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

Rumsfeld has lost the support of the uniformed military officers who work for him. Make no mistake: The retired generals who are speaking out against Rumsfeld in interviews and op-ed pieces express the views of hundreds of other officers on active duty. When I recently asked an Army officer with extensive Iraq combat experience how many of his colleagues wanted Rumsfeld out, he guessed 75 percent. Based on my own conversations with senior officers over the past three years, I suspect that figure may be low."... Rumsfeld should resign because the Bush administration is losing the war on the home front....

[bth: Rumsfeld should have resigned in 2004 when he lost the support of the congress. At this point, the generals haven't realized that they have also lost the confidence of the American people - Americans have huge confidence and respect for the soldiers in the field, but at some point in the last year, the public seems to have given up on the towel boy leadership in the Pentagon as well. Years of public trust painstakingly built since its ebb after Vietnam have been trashed when propaganda became news. Moreover and perhaps most importantly the Pentagon has not articulated much less implemented a military strategy for victory in Iraq and Osama Bin Laden hasn't been touched.]

Thursday, April 13, 2006

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Freedom from Fear

IRAQ: FRANCE BACKS IDEA OF SOUTHERN FEDERATION, SAYS AMBASSADOR

IRAQ: FRANCE BACKS IDEA OF SOUTHERN FEDERATION, SAYS AMBASSADOR: "basra, 12 April (AKI) - France supports the idea of a regional federation in southern Iraq. Moreover, the French government wishes to strengthen its ties with local authorities there, and is willing to provide manpower training and a French cultural centre, 'to promote the role of culture in the political process and people's intellectual development,' the French ambassador to Baghdad, Bernard Bajolet, stated on Wednesday during a visit to the southern port city of Basra.

On the occasion of Bajolet's visit, Basra's governor, Bassora Muhammad al-Wayli signalled the future potential of the oil-rich province in a reconstructed Iraq. 'Basra is considered one of the wealthiest cities in the Orient and it is ready to play a primary role in Iraq's political and economic life, thanks to its oil reserves, its strategic location and various other factors,' he said.

Bajolet explained his visit to Basra is 'exploratory and is aimed at a collaboration between France and the local administration, in the hope that our bilateral relations may improve, independently of our relations with the former Iraqi regime and our position over the invasion and occupation of Iraq.'

Wayli invited Bajolet to open a French Consulate in Basra. Doing so would 'simplify many political and economic questions, also because the city offers great opportunities, especially investment in the oil and agricultural sectors,' he said."

[bth: the games begin. The war might or might not have been about oil - Cheney might have thought so, but no American family would knowingly send its kids to fight a war for Exxon - but the peace will depend on oil because oil means cash and cash means power.]
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What did you do today for Freedom?

Hiring Initiative Allows IED Survivors to Fight Back

DefenseLINK News: Hiring Initiative Allows IED Survivors to Fight Back: "WASHINGTON, April 6, 2006 -Servicemembers seriously injured by improvised explosive devices during duty in the global war on terror are getting a unique opportunity to use their experience to combat and prevent future IED attacks.

The Joint IED Defeat Organization here has entered into full partnership with the Operation Warfighter program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in an initiative to target, recruit and hire servicemembers, including many who have suffered serious injuries from IED attacks.

Operation Warfighter is a nationwide program that places wounded servicemembers in positions within the federal government. Thanks to this partnership, these servicemembers can now continue their service to the nation working for the Joint IED Defeat Organization, and possibly can transition into government service or civilian positions in the same organization once they leave active duty. "...
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Watch List Delays Reservist's Homecoming - Yahoo! News

Watch List Delays Reservist's Homecoming - Yahoo! News: "MINNEAPOLIS - A Marine reservist returning home after eight months in Iraq was told he couldn't board a plane to Minneapolis because his name appeared on a watch list as a possible terrorist. "

Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown, who was in uniform and returning from the war Tuesday with 26 other Marine military police reservists, was delayed briefly in Los Angeles until the issue was cleared up.

The other reservists arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled, but instead of immediately meeting their families, they waited on a bus for Brown.

"We don't leave anybody behind," 1st Sgt. Drew Benson said. "We start together, and we finish together."

Brown, 32, arrived more than an hour later. He had also had airport trouble when he was trying to go to Iraq — and he missed his plane then as well.

"A guy goes over and serves his country fighting for eight or nine months, and then we come home and put up with this?" he asked....
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Pakistani army kill 6 suspected militants

Pakistani army kill 6 suspected militants: "MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan -- Army helicopter gunships struck a militant hideout in a village in a tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, killing six suspects, an intelligence official said Thursday.

The attack was carried out Wednesday night in Anghar Kalai village in North Waziristan tribal area, which borders Afghanistan, an intelligence official in Miran Shah, the region's main town, said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job.

He said four of the suspected militants killed were foreigners and two were local tribesmen."...

Last Wednesday, a suspected militant rocket attack on a military post in North Waziristan triggered gunbattles between the fighters and Pakistani troops, leaving four soldiers and 40 suspected militants dead. Nineteen other fighters were captured, according to security officials.
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Rumsfeld Rebuked By Retired Generals

The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the defense secretary's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste noted that many of his peers feel the same way. 'It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense,' he said earlier yesterday on CNN.

Batiste's comments resonate especially within the Army: It is widely known there that he was offered a promotion to three-star rank to return to Iraq and be the No. 2 U.S. military officer there but he declined because he no longer wished to serve under Rumsfeld. Also, before going to Iraq, he worked at the highest level of the Pentagon, serving as the senior military assistant to Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense.

Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he thinks the violation of another military principle -- ensuring there are enough forces -- helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops."....

Military experts expressed some concern about the new outspokenness of retired generals.

"I think it flatly is a bad thing," said Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina who writes frequently on civilian-military relations. He said he worries that it could undermine civilian control of the military, especially by making civilian leaders feel that that they need to be careful about what they say around officers, for fear of being denounced as soon as they retire.

"How can you prosecute a war if the military and civilians don't trust each other?" Kohn asked.

Also, the generals themselves may be partly to blame for the situation in Iraq, along with Rumsfeld and the White House, said Michael Vickers, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank.

"It's just absurd to lay the blame on Don Rumsfeld alone," he said.

[bth: So when Wolfowitz' office was virtually fabricating intelligence and this general worked for him, why was he silent? When he was in charge of 1 ID, did he ask for more troops to ensure there are enough forces? While I am pleased to see these generals speaking out - though its a shame they didn't do it when they could have made a real difference - it looks like they are trying to shove the blame for what they now see as a failing program on to Rumsfeld and away from the professional officers corp that did nothing while this country marched to war. ... One sees a similar pattern when reading autobiographies of generals from the Confederacy after the war - to blame Jefferson Davis and to promote self-serving descriptions of events.... When he was in Wolfowitz' office knowing that intel was bad but then driving the war with inadequate troops and equipment and being quiet, and then not having a plan at all for what to do with Iraq after May 2003 is to tell me and others that these generals are forgetting a few things themselves. Selective memory is a conventient thing but it will not bring back the dead, re-attach legs and arms and it will not recover the hundreds of billions spent in Iraq while Osama Bin Laden sleeps comfortably and plans his next attack.]
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Documents Show Link Between AT&T and Agency in Eavesdropping Case - New York Times

Documents Show Link Between AT&T and Agency in Eavesdropping Case - New York Times: "SAN FRANCISCO, April 12 � Mark Klein was a veteran AT&T technician in 2002 when he began to see what he thought were suspicious connections between that telecommunications giant and the National Security Agency. "

But he kept quiet about it until news broke late last year that President Bush had approved an N.S.A. program to eavesdrop without court warrants on Americans suspected of ties to Al Qaeda.

Now Mr. Klein and a few company documents he saved have emerged as key elements in a class-action lawsuit filed against AT&T on Jan. 31 by a civil liberties group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The suit accuses the company of helping the security agency invade its customers' privacy.

Mr. Klein's account and the documents provide new details about how the agency works with the private sector in intercepting communications for intelligence purposes.

The documents, some of which Mr. Klein had earlier provided to reporters, describe a mysterious room at the AT&T Internet and telephone hub in San Francisco where he worked. ...

The equipment, which Mr. Klein said was installed by AT&T in 2003, was able to select messages that could be identified by keywords, Internet or e-mail addresses or country of origin and divert copies to another location for further analysis....
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Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away - New York Times

Analysts Say a Nuclear Iran Is Years Away - New York Times: "Western nuclear analysts said yesterday that Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions, even as a senior Iranian official said Iran would defy international pressure and rapidly expand its ability to enrich uranium for fuel. "

The official, Muhammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran's atomic energy organization, said Iran would push quickly to put 54,000 centrifuges on line — a vast increase from the 164 the Iranians said Tuesday that they had used to enrich uranium to levels that could fuel a nuclear reactor.

Still, nuclear analysts called the claims exaggerated. They said nothing had changed to alter current estimates of when Iran might be able to make a single nuclear weapon, assuming that is its ultimate goal. The United States government has put that at 5 to 10 years, and some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020. ...

Since the beginning of the year, the diplomatic crisis has prompted fears that Iran might be tempted to restrict its oil sales, provoking a price jump that would cause economic havoc around the world. Iranian officials have repeatedly said they might use their country's "oil weapon" in a confrontation with the West. But, as is often the case in Iranian politics, such statements were just as rapidly offset by more reassuring comments from the Oil Ministry that Iran would not use its oil exports as a bargaining chip with the West.

More realistically, many traders fear that any international penalties against Iran might hurt Iran's oil industry, slow investments, or remove sorely needed barrels from oil-hungry markets....

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

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Saudi Arabia: Al-Qa�ida Critic Arrested

Scoop: Saudi Arabia: Al-Qa�ida Critic Arrested: "Saudi Arabia: Al-Qa'ida Critic Arrested for "Destructive Thoughts"
Secret Police Ensnare Liberal Journalist

(New York) -Saudi authorities in the northern city of Ha'il should immediately release Rabbah al-Quwai'i, a journalist for Riyadh's al-Shams newspaper, Human Rights Watch said today. The group also urged Turki al-Sudairy, Saudi Arabia's minister for human rights, to open a public inquiry into the role of the country's security and intelligence services in al-Quwai'i's arrest.

On April 3, Saudi Arabia's domestic intelligence agency, (al-mabahith), arrested al-Quwai'i, 24, on charges of "doubting the [Islamic] creed"and for "harboring destructive thoughts." Al-Quwai'i had been a frequent contributor to Internet discussion forums in Ha'il and was the editor for the media section of the Saudi Internet forum "A Body of Culture," (Jasad al-Thaqafa). His writings questioned prevalent religious doctrine and in particular criticized thinking that in his view contributed to acts of violence in Saudi Arabia by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. "...
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Pentagon admits to surveillance of gay groups, releases documents

PageOneQ Pentagon admits to surveillance of gay groups, releases documents: "The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has released documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Defense, which confirm the military's surveillance of organizations working to repeal the Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy, PageOneQ has learned.

The government's monitoring of anti-war protestors, including protests against the Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, was first reported by Ron Brynaert of Raw Story.com in December."...
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Mubarak roils Arab summit on Iraq

AP Wire 04/11/2006 Mubarak roils Arab summit on Iraq: "CAIRO, Egypt - Iraq's government said on Tuesday it would not attend a gathering of Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss the war-torn nation in a protest of remarks by Egypt's president, who said Iraqi Shiites are more loyal to Iran than their own country.

The flap over President Hosni Mubarak's comments over the weekend continued to roil the Middle East, drawing angry condemnations from Shiites in the Gulf, who also felt tarred by Mubarak's brush."

The boycott of Wednesday's planned meeting in Cairo indicated a deepening rift between Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish-led government and Sunni-led Arab nations, including regional powerhouse Egypt. It comes at a time when Arab countries appear to be trying to forge a new alliance with Turkey to counter fears of increasing Iranian influence in Iraq.
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said his government has decided not to participate in the meetings because of Mubarak's comments.
Egypt said the meeting would go on despite the boycott. The ministers aims to forge a new Arab strategy on Iraq that includes reopening the Arab embassies in Iraq closed since Saddam Hussein's fall in April 2003, a top demand by Baghdad.
"I am surprised that this confusion would occur among intellectuals, especially a man with such stature as the president of the biggest Arab country," al-Jaafari told a press conference in Baghdad. He said he hoped "this mistake can be corrected."

"We cannot allow ourselves to be part of a country other than Iraq and we don't allow anyone to accuse us of such," al-Jaafari said.

During an interview with the Al-Arabiya news channel aired Saturday, Mubarak said Shiites in Iraq and across the Middle East are more loyal to Iran than to their own countries and that civil war "has almost started" in Iraq....

[bth: the article is worth reading in full. Note the Sunni countries are trying to ally with Turkey to hold back Iran and Iran's new found strength and push into Iraq.]
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Top officer defends Rumsfeld from ex-generals - Yahoo! News

Top officer defends Rumsfeld from ex-generals - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer on Tuesday defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld against three retired generals demanding his ouster, and denied that the United States invaded Iraq without sufficiently weighing its plan. "

Standing next to Rumsfeld at a Pentagon briefing, Marine Corps Gen. Pete Pace said critics could legitimately question the defense secretary's judgment but not his motives.

"People can question my judgment or his (Rumsfeld's) judgment," Pace said. "But they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni have recently separately called for Rumsfeld to be replaced. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died.

"I don't know how many generals there have been in the last five years that have served in the United States armed services -- hundreds and hundreds and hundreds," said Rumsfeld, whom critics have accused of bullying senior military officers and stifling dissent.

"And there are several who have opinions, and there's nothing wrong with people having opinions. And I think one ought to expect that when you're involved in something that's controversial as certainly this war is," he said....

[bth: why shouldn't we question his motives and patriotism in the face of repeated and unrepentent disshevelments of the truth?]
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Iran Hits Milestone in Nuclear Technology

BREITBART.COM - Iran Hits Milestone in Nuclear Technology: "Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday. He insisted, however, that his country does not aim to develop nuclear weapons.

In a nationally televised speech, Ahmadinejad called on the West 'not to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians' by trying to force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment. "

"At this historic moment, with the blessings of God almighty and the efforts made by our scientists, I declare here that the laboratory- scale nuclear fuel cycle has been completed and young scientists produced enriched uranium needed to the degree for nuclear power plants Sunday," Ahmadinejad said.

"I formally declare that Iran has joined the club of nuclear countries," he told an audience that included top military commanders and clerics in the northwestern holy city of Mashhad. The crowd broke into cheers of "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" Some stood and thrust their fists in the air. ...
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Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War

Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War: "On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile 'biological laboratories.' He declared, 'We have found the weapons of mass destruction.'

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true."

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories....

[bth: read the article in full and then damn the liars that used it knowing all along that their statements were false.]

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

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Soldiers for the Truth - Suggested live shoot-off on body armor with Gen. Sorenson

Soldiers for the Truth: [bth: the following was an email received by Soldiers for the Truth regarding the recent seizure of Dragon Skin body armor.]


"Sir,

I have a very simple way of solving this debacle. We ask General Sorenson to volunteer to be the subject of a ballistics shoot off test to determine which armor is the superior body armor. He gets to wear the PM Soldiers body armor, which he is so proud of. I will volunteer to wear the Dragon Skin armor. The General and I will be at a distance of 30 paces from the firing line where we have two each AK's mounted on a bench rest. We then ask some open fire, single shot, then sustained automatic fire and see who survives the test.

I'm willing to volunteer for this because I know there is no way in hell that this perfumed prince is going to risk his ass.

Hell, I'd love to see someone ask the General or any one on his staff to volunteer for this. None of them would.

I spent 10 years as an Army Ordnance Officer and one of the first things I did as a young LT in Desert Storm was demonstrate to my platoon that our wheeled vehicles and our flack jackets were not bullet proof. I did this by the field expedient method of shooting 20 rounds of M-16 ammo into them from 50 yards away. The Battalion XO went ape-shit on me, but I learned a very valuable lesson, namely these systems are fielded for the most part by people who have never been in combat and are only concerned about how much budget they get from year to year. I also learned that I wasn't an idiot for wondering just how in the world a thin skinned aluminum vehicle was supposed to stop shrapnel or small arms fire.
Keep up the good work.

PMcB"
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Zarqawi, al Qaeda Threaten Iraq, Military Spokesman Says

DefenseLINK News: Zarqawi, al Qaeda Threaten Iraq, Military Spokesman Says: "WASHINGTON, April 10, 2006 -A senior military spokesman in Baghdad today dismissed as untrue a U.S. newspaper article claiming the U.S. military launched a propaganda campaign to exaggerate terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's significance in Iraq to turn Iraqis against him and sway American public opinion.

'A recent article citing a military briefing from 2004 has called into question the threat that Abu Musab Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq pose to Iraq, dismissing it as 'propaganda' - nothing could be further from the truth,' Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman, said in a written statement rebutting today's Washington Post story. "...

[bth: the Pentagon has squandered the public trust by planting stories. Their words mean little now. This is truly regrettable.]
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Chron.com | Official: U.S. Backing Somali Militants

Chron.com Official: U.S. Backing Somali Militants: "NAIROBI, Kenya - The United States is backing a new coalition of Somali militants fighting Islamic extremists for control of the lawless nation's capital, a U.S. official said, as both sides prepared for a battle that could explode in widespread violence.

Clan leaders have put aside their traditional rivalries to take on the extremists, whom they describe as terrorists. The extremists, though, say they can offer unity and order after decades of chaos in Somalia."...

[bth: interesting article worth a full read.]
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