Saturday, October 06, 2007

Even sprinkler systems fail at U.S. embassy in Baghdad

Even sprinkler systems fail at U.S. embassy in Baghdad - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON — The latest problem with the trouble-plagued new U.S. embassy complex in Iraq is that the sprinkler systems meant to contain a fire do not work, according to officials in Congress and the State Department . "

The previously undisclosed problem in the $592 million project was discovered several weeks ago when the fire-safety systems were tested and pipe joints burst, State Department representatives recently informed Congress .

The embassy complex, being built by First Kuwaiti General Trade and Contracting Co. , has been marred by repeated problems. In May, when kitchen facilities at a guard camp that is part of the embassy complex were tested, the electrical system malfunctioned and wires melted. A subsequent inquiry showed that First Kuwaiti had used counterfeit electrical wiring that did not meet specifications, according to testimony at a congressional hearing in July.

Former top investigators for State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard have charged that Krongard refused to aggressively investigate allegations of misconduct by First Kuwaiti and deficiencies in the Baghdad Embassy.

Krongard has disputed his former aides' version of events, and is expected to testify before Congress later this month.

The one-time aides to Krongard, including former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations John DeDona, have told Congress that the inspector general did not pursue allegations that First Kuwaiti failed to construct blast-resistant walls to protect the embassy, as required by its contract.

Krongard also took the unusual step of personally investigating allegations that First Kuwaiti abused foreign workers and illegally brought some workers to Iraq against their will, the aides have told Congress .

The embassy is eventually supposed to hold almost 1,000 U.S. diplomats and embassy staff, who are now crowded into a former palace in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

It remains unclear when the embassy, intended to be the largest U.S. diplomatic post in the world, will open for business. An embassy spokesman in Baghdad had no comment Saturday on the latest problems with the new complex....

[bth: why do these diplomats protect corrupt contractors? Doesn't it make you wonder?]

National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War - National Guard Troops Denied Benefits After Longest Deployment Of Iraq War: "MINNEAPOLIS, MN (NBC) -- When they came home from Iraq, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard had been deployed longer than any other ground combat unit. The tour lasted 22 months and had been extended as part of President Bush's surge."

1st Lt. Jon Anderson said he never expected to come home to this: A government refusing to pay education benefits he says he should have earned under the GI bill.

"It's pretty much a slap in the face," Anderson said. "I think it was a scheme to save money, personally. I think it was a leadership failure by the senior Washington leadership... once again failing the soldiers."

Anderson's orders, and the orders of 1,161 other Minnesota guard members, were written for 729 days.

Had they been written for 730 days, just one day more, the soldiers would receive those benefits to pay for school.

"Which would be allowing the soldiers an extra $500 to $800 a month," Anderson said.

That money would help him pay for his master's degree in public administration. It would help Anderson's fellow platoon leader, John Hobot, pay for a degree in law enforcement.

"I would assume, and I would hope, that when I get back from a deployment of 22 months, my senior leadership in Washington, the leadership that extended us in the first place, would take care of us once we got home," Hobot said.

Both Hobot and Anderson believe the Pentagon deliberately wrote orders for 729 days instead of 730. Now, six of Minnesota's members of the House of Representatives have asked the Secretary of the Army to look into it -- So have Senators Amy Klobuchar and Norm Coleman.

Klobuchar said the GI money "shouldn't be tied up in red tape," and Coleman said it's "simply irresponsible to deny education benefits to those soldiers who just completed the longest tour of duty of any unit in Iraq."

Anderson said the soldiers he oversaw in his platoon expected that money to be here when they come home.

"I had 23 guys under my command," Anderson said. "I promised to take care of them. And I'm not going to end taking care of them when this deployment is over, and it's not over until this is solved."

The Army did not respond questions Tuesday afternoon.

Senators Klobuchar and Coleman released a joint statement saying the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this personally, and they say Geren asked a review board to expedite its review so the matter could be solved by next semester.

Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are "victims of a significant injustice."

[bth: I find this reprehensible. What more do we ask of these troops and why is the leadership within the Pentagon allowed to do this?]

DHB says feds probing former company head --

DHB says feds probing former company head -- "Federal prosecutors are investigating whether the former head of DHB Armor had the company supplement his lavish lifestyle and support some members of his family, according to a document the company filed Friday."

The probe into David Brooks' possible misuse of funds of DHB, which manufactured most of the body armor for U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, was contained in a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was featured in a hearing in the U.S. District Court in Central Islip in a class-action suit by company shareholders.

"We are cooperating with investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York," the company said in the report. "These investigations concern: executive compensation issues involving David H. Brooks ... our former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer [and] related party transactions with our former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, his family members and entities controlled by him or his family members."

According to the filing, Brooks or his family received cash or a number of perks from the company. The filing does not say that any of the actions were illegal. Among the items included in the report are two cars Brooks got from DHB, a $200,000 Bentley Flying Spur and an armored Ford Expedition valued at $190,000; a $307,000 DHB payment to a company that owned Brooks' Florida residence (Brooks owned the company); and a $227,000 payment for a private jet service for Brooks (the company's silent owner).

DHB also said is it's cooperating with a general civil Justice Department investigation into whether a relatively new chemical, Zylon, used by the industry in some armor is not up to standards.

Brooks has not been charged with any crime, but two of his top DHB associates, Sandra Hatfield and Dawn Schlegel, have been indicted on federal securities fraud charges. Brooks resigned as DHB's chief executive shortly before the indictment.

Before he resigned, Brooks was known for his extravagant lifestyle. In November of 2005, for example, he reportedly spent almost $10 million on a bat mitzvah for his daughter. Brooks' attorney, Jerome Gotkin, declined to comment.

Friday's court hearing was to determine whether U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert would approve a settlement of a civil class-action suit in which stockholders had alleged the company was operated in a fraudulent manor.

But Seybert said she would delay a ruling on a settlement for 45 days after federal prosecutors who were in the court room asked for a delay. The prosecutors would only discuss the reasons for delay privately with the judge.

Federal prosecutors John Martin and Jennifer Chorpening declined comment, as did Robert Nardoza, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office.

The class-action attorneys, who were not told of the reason for the delay, said it was highly unusual in a civil case. Eric Rieder, the lawyer for DHB's new management, declined comment.

Under the proposed settlement, shareholders, who had contended that the past fraudulent operation of the company cost the stock to decline by $140 million, would receive about $49 million.

Sources said part of the impetus for the large settlement was probably fear of government action against the company, which has said that it has said it is now profitable under a new management after Brooks' ouster from management.

[bth: Brooks is the ultimate slime wad. He cashed out his $175 million or so before the military made public that they had been complicit in releasing body armor to marines and soldiers that was subspec or had failed to conform to generally accepted batch quality assurance practices. There is no shame with this guy. He is the ultimate war profiteer. He cares for no one but himself. His CFO and others will take the rap. He shows just how rich you can get when you don't give a damn about what you are doing or who you harm.]

Iraq Veterans Memorial

Iraq Veterans Memorial
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US Iraq troop withdrawal 'by Easter'

US Iraq troop withdrawal 'by Easter' | "IRAQI forces are making good progress which could allow US troops to begin a partial withdrawal from Iraq earlier than planned, Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said today."

Our Iraqi forces are gaining capabilities very fast. By the end of the year, these forces will be in place and we'll probably go back to 15 foreign troop brigades by Easter," Mr Rubaie said.

"We believe, with the capability growth of our security forces and if the security situation continues to get better, then my prediction is that we will go to the pre-surge level of foreign troops (by) Easter."

The Christian holiday usually falls in late March or early April.

US President George W Bush said last month that he hoped to begin a gradual drawdown of US forces in Iraq, cutting the number of brigades from 20 to 15, about 21,500 men, by July 2008.

"Our assessment is slightly different from the coalition force because we believe Iraqi security forces capabilities are much higher than assessed by the coalition," said Mr Rubaie.

"What we are lacking is logistic support, intelligence, transport, firepower, airpower ... But we have a detailed plan. By end of next year, hopefully this will all be in place."

The limited pullout would bring the US troop level in Iraq back to 130,000, the amount before President Bush ordered in January a "surge" of US forces in a bid to quell violence in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province.

General Ray Odierno, the deputy US commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday that "over time" the United States would shift to "transition teams" tasked with training and supporting Iraqi forces.

"Now we have to determine: how many transition teams do we need? ... I hope in the next several weeks we'll be able to figure that out," he said.

[bth: by depriving Iraqi forces of logistical support, transport, air power, artillery, we've prevented these militias disguised as Iraqi government forces from committing genocide upon others. It prevents them from effectively occupying areas where they do not hold popular support. A sole exception might be the neighborhoods of Baghdad where Shea in adjacent neighborhoods are numerous enough to occupy and clear out Sunnis. I doubt this would happen in Anbar especially as we arm local Sunni insurgents and call them allies - at least during the day.]

Iraq MP found at al Qaeda meeting - U.S. military

Iraq MP found at al Qaeda meeting - U.S. military | Reuters: "BAGHDAD, Oct 4 (Reuters) - A member of Iraq's parliament is in U.S. custody and being questioned after an Iraqi special forces raid on a suspected al Qaeda meeting, the U.S. military said on Thursday."

A spokesman for the Iraqi parliament said the lawmaker was from the assembly's main Sunni Arab bloc.

The man was held after a raid in the Sunni Arab town of Sharqat, 260 km (160 miles) northwest of Baghdad, in volatile Salahuddin province on Sept. 29, the U.S. military said in an email in response to queries from Reuters.

"The man being held is one of the 275 members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives," the military said.

"Officially, he is not considered a 'detainee' at this time. He is being held for questioning after being found at a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq meeting during a combined Iraqi Security Forces/Coalition operation," it said.

The military said it would not release the man's name. It is believed to be the first time a member of Iraq's parliament has been detained by Iraqi or U.S. forces.

The Iraqi parliament spokesman said Accordance Front member Naif Mohammed Jasim had been taken into custody while he was attending a funeral in Sharqat on Wednesday.

The Accordance front, parliament's main Sunni Arab bloc, pulled out of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's fractured Shi'ite-led coalition government last month, protesting at what it said was his failure to address their demands for a greater say in government.

Sunni Arabs, politically dominant under Saddam Hussein, accuse Maliki's government of marginalising them and want faster progress on reconciliation legislation, including a law to allow former members of Saddam's Baath party back into public life.

[bth: surprise, surprise, surprise]

Organizing a Private Security Company Blazing Saddles Style

Iraqi Mojo

War and Piece: Gitmo prosecutor quits

War and Piece:: "Gitmo prosecutor, Air Force Col. Morris Davis , quits. "People involved in the prosecutions, who spoke on condition of anonymity, have said that General Hartmann challenged Colonel Davis’s authority in August and pressed the prosecutors who worked for Colonel Davis to produce new charges against detainees quickly. They said he also pushed the prosecutors to frame cases with bold terrorism accusations that would draw public attention to the military commission process, which has been one of the central legal strategies of the Bush administration. In some cases the prosecutors are expected to seek the death penalty. ... Colonel Davis filed a complaint against General Hartmann with Pentagon officials this fall saying that the general had exceeded his authority and created a conflict of interest by asserting control over the prosecutor’s office. Colonel Davis said it would be improper for General Hartmann to assess the adequacy of cases filed by prosecutors if the general had been involved in the decision to file those cases."

[bth: read this and the next article. One begins to conclude there is a pattern of criminal conduct in the treatment of these prisoners going to the highest levels of our government. What is it that we stand for as a country?]

The Daily Dish - War Criminal

The Daily Dish: "After reading the full investigative piece in the NYT today on how this administration decided on breaking America's historic ban on torture and then pursued a long, corrupting policy of ensuring that the interpretation of the law was politicized to keep torture alive, it is hard to disagree with Marty Lederman:"

Between this and Jane Mayer's explosive article in August about the CIA black sites, I am increasingly confident that when the history of the Bush Administration is written, this systematic violation of statutory and treaty-based law concerning fundamental war crimes and other horrific offenses will be seen as the blackest mark in our nation's recent history -- not only because of what was done, but because the programs were routinely sanctioned, on an ongoing basis, by numerous esteemed professionals -- lawyers, doctors, psychologists and government officers -- without whose approval such a systematized torture regime could not be sustained.

The way in which conservative lawyers, and conservative intellectuals, and conservative journalists aided and abetted these war crimes; the way in which the president of the United States revealed so much contempt for the law that he put a candidate to run the Office of Legal Counsel on probation before he appointed him in order to keep the torture regime in place, the way in which Republicans and Democrats in the Congress pathetically refused to stand up to these violations of American honor and decency in any serious way (and, I'm sorry, Senator McCain, but in the end, you caved, as you always do lately): these will go down in history as some of the most shameful decisions these people ever made.

Perhaps a sudden, panicked decision by the president to use torture after 9/11 is understandable if unforgivable. But the relentless, sustained attempt to make torture permanent part of the war-powers of the president, even to the point of abusing the law beyond recognition, removes any benefit of the doubt from these people. And they did it all in secret - and lied about it when Abu Ghraib emerged. They upended two centuries of American humane detention and interrogation practices without even letting us know. And the decision to allow one man - the decider - to pre-empt and knowingly distort the rule of law in order to detain and torture anyone he wants - is a function not of conservatism, but of fascism.

James Comey - one of the principled conservatives, like Jack Goldsmith, who actually supported the rule of law and American decency - put it succinctly enough:

"We are likely to hear the words: 'If we don’t do this, people will die,'" Mr. Comey said. But he argued that government lawyers must uphold the principles of their great institutions.

"It takes far more than a sharp legal mind to say ‘no’ when it matters most," he said. "It takes moral character. It takes an understanding that in the long run, intelligence under law is the only sustainable intelligence in this country."
A couple of things need to be stressed, because I've learned the hard way that intelligent people simply refuse to absorb what is staring them in the face, when what is staring them in the face is so staggering:

Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics.
There is no doubt - no doubt at all - that these tactics are torture and subject to prosecution as war crimes. We know this because the law is very clear when you don't have war criminals like AEI's John Yoo rewriting it to give one man unchecked power. We know this because the very same techniques - hypothermia, long-time standing, beating - and even the very same term "enhanced interrogation techniques" - "verschaerfte Vernehmung" in the original German - were once prosecuted by American forces as war crimes. The perpetrators were the Gestapo. The penalty was death. You can verify the history here.

We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thompson asking for some applause

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog I don't think he's going to cut it.
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M of A - Israel Failed to Provoke War

M of A - Israel Failed to Provoke War: "Hannah K. O'Luthon pointed to this Haaretz' analysis by Amir Oren about the Israeli air attack on Syria three weeks ago."

The farce came to a partial end yesterday, and even though there is still a gag order on most of the juicy details, we can safely say that behind the successful blackout campaign lies an enormous failure. The silence of official Israel was not meant to protect military secrets.
Policy was shaped on the basis of a certain assumption about Bashar Assad's behavior in response to the operation. ... [I]t seems that once again Assad surprised Israel; whoever expected him to respond to the operation in a military operation was wrong.

In my September 11 piece I also claimed that the operation was a failure. One of the Israeli jets dropped its extra fuel tanks over Turkey. This only made sense as an emergency measure while under threat from Syrian air defense. The Israeli planes likely never saw their real target.

But the second assertion in Oren's analysis is much more frightening. If he is right, which I think he is, the Israeli air attack was done to provoke a military answer by Syria. The attack was an attempt to justify the start of a wider war.

Back in September I didn't see the real picture but had questions:

There will be no major IDF response to Qassam strike in Negev due to tensions in north, Haaretz analyzes. But why does the Israeli army need all it has on the border to Syria? This when it also claims that there are no signs of Syrian preparations for war?

If the Syrians refrain from retaliating for the air strikes, which they will for lack of capacity, why is the Israeli army preparing to fight on or from the Golan heights?

These question are now answered. An immediate attack was planed based on some provokated Syrian action. But Syria didn't fall into the trap. The chief of the UN observation force on the Golan, in an interview (in German) with Der Spiegel, recently unveiled that throughout the summer Israel has intensly trained and prepared for large attack operations. This despite quietness on the Syrian side of the Golan boarder.

But to what purpose might Israel have tried to provoke Syria into a wider war? Why did it train large ground attack operations?

I can think of three possible intentions:

1. Avoid to give back the Golan heights
There was pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to include Syria in the next round of peace talks with the Palestinians and other Middle East countries. Any peace with Syria would end Israeli control of the Golan. A new war with Syria, even a small one, could avoid this for further years.

2. Prepare for war with Iran
An attack on Syria now avoids later interference from it in case of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran. Next to an intense air campaign to destroy Syrian missile capacities, a ground component could have included a temporary rush from the Golan some 30 miles northeast to threaten Damascus and block the Beirut-Damascus highway.

3. Shut down Hisbullah
A wider operation could include operation 2 and, while blocking Damascus, make a wide 180 degree turn towards the Mediterranian with the aim to cut off Hisbullah's area in South Lebanon from the rest of that country. This would open the possibility to 'roll up' Hizbullah's South Lebanese positions along the Litani river from their back side. A big, risky operation, but the distances are relative small, it avoids crossing the mountains and Heinz Guderian would have liked it.

Whatever the plan was, Oren explains that it failed because the expected military response by Syria, which would have justified wider action, did not come. Syria avoided a military answer and the obvious consequences.

Like the Bush administration, the Israeli planers assume their enemies think like themselves. They project. Israel would certainly respond militarily to any air attack. It expected Syria to do the same, but Assad isn't as stupid as they think.

We can be certain that Washington approved the Israeli air-attack and the wider plan. Thereby Washington must also have agreed with the false prediction.

The same dumb projection mechanism will be the base for the plans for war on Iran. They will fail for the same reason.

[bth: so is the purpose to seize water resources from the Litani River? I'm not sure I buy the thesis of this author. Whatever the case, my guess is that Israel will want to play out its hand before Bush leaves office, not after.]

The Washington Note - Five Million and Counting -- Iraqi Refugees Weigh on Our National Conscience

The Washington Note: "October 04, 2007 Five Million and Counting -- Iraqi Refugees Weigh on Our National Conscience "

Critics of the administration have recently turned to take up the cause of Iraqi refugees as an instantiation of US moral failure in the region, to which Steve Clemons and Nir Rosen among others have drawn attention. But even as politicians rhetorically adopt this position, little is actually being done to attend to the needs of what now amounts to nearly 5 million refugees.

Angelina Jolie -- after visiting the region and making a moving and compelling plea about Iraqi refugees while in conversation with Nick Kristof at the Clinton Global Initiative last week -- has put her money where her mouth is, commiting substantial resources to assist children of conflict. But based on US actions alone, it appears the US government has not suffered the same moral compunctions.

Leave aside the accounts of translators who served with US soldiers and are now being hung out to dry -- caught between tribal militias who have threatened their lives and the department of homeland security that denies most of them access to a country they served -- there has been very little beyond lip service and a pittance of funds. Bill Frelick of Human Rights Watch wrote in the Wall Street Journal in May:

How many Iraqi refugees did the U.S. resettle in 2006? It settled 202. The State Department said it would resettle 7,000 this fiscal year. Halfway through, it has admitted 68. (...)
Whether the U.S. resettles 70 or 7,000, it amounts to a drop in the ocean of Iraqi refugees -- 700,000 in Jordan; more than a million in Syria
. Iraq's neighbors are inundated and they need meaningful international support to keep their borders open. Ms. Dobriansky says that "the U.S. has funded 30% of UNHCR's $60 million Iraq appeal" this year. That's $18 million. She says the U.S. "intends" to provide $100 million more. Meanwhile, the U.S. is spending $2 billion per week to wage the war that directly or indirectly has caused four million Iraqis to be forced from their homes.

Unlike the pace of "political reconciliation" in Baghdad, the status, treatment, and resettlement also appears to be something we can wield far more control over if we actually attempt to devise a policy. Senators Smith (R-OR) and Kennedy (D-MA) have been working on legislation for the translators but that still sidesteps the plight of millions of innocent civilians fleeing the scene....

[bth: something like 5-7 million Iraqi Sunnis before the war and 5 million displaced internally and externally? That is a huge percentage even if the stats are exaggerated. Entire towns and neighborhoods must be vacating for this to happen.]

War and Piece: On the Israeli Raid into Syria

War and Piece:: "Intelligence Online reports from Damascus on the Israeli raid on Syria last month:"

In attacking Dair el Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn't targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country.

Dair el Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria's 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons.

The parts were shipped from North Korea aboard a container ship flying the Panamanian flag. The U.S. Navy wanted to board the ship in Morocco's territorial waters but Rabat vetoed the operation. The parts were loaded aboard six trucks in the Syrian port of Tartus on Sept. 3 and took three days to reach Dair el Zor. The trucks and their loads were destroyed the moment they arrived at the underground base. A unit of military police that escorted the convoy was also wiped out in the attack.

Damascus immediately appealed to several Palestinian groups with strong ties to Syria to retaliate. But Hamas, whose strategy chief Khaled Meshal lives in exile in Syria, refused to act. That was also the case of Hezbollah, which sent its political adviser, Hussein Khalil, to Damascus to signify the movement's reluctance to strike back at Israel.

Khalil, who met with the head of Syrian military intelligence, gen. Assef Chawkat, as well as the official in charge of Lebanese affairs in the president's office, gen. Mohamed Nassif, claimed that Israel would launch a new invasion of southern Lebanon if Hezbollah began firing at Israeli targets.

David Wurmser - SourceWatch

David Wurmser - SourceWatch: "David Wurmser replaced Eric Edelman as Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs in the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney in early September 2003, after Edelman was named Ambassador to Turkey. [1] [2] Wurmser, a neo-conservative, previously served as a 'special assistant' to John R. Bolton at the State Department and was a former research fellow on the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). "...

[bth: Wurmser who is reported on in the following article is worth understanding. It is worth reading this SourceWatch report on him in full. We need to be careful of people trying to talk us into preemptive wars.]

US 'must break Iran and Syria regimes' - Telegraph

US 'must break Iran and Syria regimes' - Telegraph: "America should seize every opportunity to force regime change in Syria and Iran, a former senior adviser to the White House has urged."

"We need to do everything possible to destabilise the Syrian regime and exploit every single moment they strategically overstep," said David Wurmser, who recently resigned after four years as Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser.

"That would include the willingness to escalate as far as we need to go to topple the regime if necessary." He said that an end to Baathist rule in Damascus could trigger a domino effect that would then bring down the Teheran regime.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the first since he left government, he argued that the United States had to be prepared to attack both Syria and Iran to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that could result in a much wider war.

Mr Wurmser, 46, a leading neo-conservative who has played a pivotal role in the Bush administration since the September 11th attacks, said that diplomacy would fail to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power. Overthrowing Teheran's theocratic regime should therefore be a top US priority.

Iran was using Syria as its proxy against Israel and among Sunni Arabs and both regimes had to be overthrown, he insisted.

"It has to be, because who they are is now defined around provoking a wider clash of civilisations with the West. It is precisely to avoid this that we need to win now."...

[bth: how is it that we let these crazy bastards into power? He actually wants us to provoke a war with Syria and Iran. So easily said, if it isn't your son.]

Bill Applies U.S. Law to Contractors

Bill Applies U.S. Law to Contractors - New York Times: "WASHINGTON" Oct. 4 — With the armed security force Blackwater USA and other private contractors in Iraq facing tighter scrutiny, the House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would bring all United States government contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law. The measure would require the F.B.I. to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing.

The bill was approved 389 to 30, despite strong opposition from the White House. It came as lawmakers and human rights groups are using a Sept. 16 shooting by Blackwater personnel in Baghdad to highlight the many contractors operating in Iraq who have apparently been unaccountable to American military or civilian laws and outside the reach of the Iraqi judicial system.

The State Department, which had been leading the investigation into the shooting, said Thursday that a team of F.B.I. agents sent to Baghdad in recent days had taken over the inquiry. No charges have been filed in the case, and Justice Department officials have said it is unclear whether American law applies.

Even if enacted, the House bill would have no retroactive authority over past conduct by Blackwater or other contractors. ...

But he expressed frustration that officials had not been more active in prosecuting crimes in Iraq and that the legal situation remained gray.

When we have got a contractor city, say, of 180,000 people, and there hasn’t been a completed prosecution of anybody coming out of Iraq, not one,” he said, “what sort of city in America would be like that, where no one is prosecuted for anything for three years? It’s unthinkable.”

[bth: this situation must be reigned in.]

Iraqi Judge Says Maliki’s Government Shields Officials Accused of Corruption - New York Times

Iraqi Judge Says Maliki’s Government Shields Officials Accused of Corruption - New York Times: "WASHINGTON Oct. 4 (Reuters) — Widespread corruption in Iraq stretches into the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, an Iraqi investigating judge told United States lawmakers on Thursday, and an American official said that efforts by the United States to combat the problem were inadequate.

Judge Radhi Hamza al-Radhi, who was named by the United States in 2004 to lead the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, said his agency estimated that corruption had cost the Iraqi government up to $18 billion.

Mr. Maliki has shielded relatives from investigation and allowed government ministers to protect implicated employees, said the judge, who left Iraq in August after threats against him. Speaking at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Judge Radhi said that 31 employees of his agency had been killed.

He said that he did not have evidence against Mr. Maliki personally, but that the prime minister had “protected some of his relatives that were involved in corruption.”

One of these was a former minister of transportation, Judge Radhi said. The American official who testified, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said he also saw a “rising tide of corruption in Iraq.” He said American efforts to combat it were “disappointing,” lacking funding and focus.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who heads the panel, questioned whether the Maliki government was “too corrupt to succeed,” and contended that American efforts to address the problem were in “complete disarray.”

He criticized what he said was State Department resistance to the panel’s investigation. Larry Butler, the deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, declined to answer questions publicly about whether Mr. Maliki had obstructed corruption investigations, saying he could respond only in a closed session.

Mr. Waxman called that condition “absurd,” but the State Department defended Mr. Butler’s position. Sean McCormack, the department’s spokesman, said that in corruption investigations it was best to handle matters privately at first to protect the rights of those under suspicion.

Judge Radhi said he did not return to Iraq because of threats to his security, but he also suggested that Mr. Maliki was behind efforts to prosecute him if he went back.

In his statement, he said that 31 of his co-workers and 12 of their relatives had been killed because of their work. “This includes my staff member, Mohammed Abd Salif, who was gunned down with his seven-month-pregnant wife,” he said.

The body of the father of another worker was found on a meat hook, he said.

Judge Radhi also said it had been impossible for the commission to investigate oil corruption adequately, contending that it was because Sunni and Shiite militias had control of the distribution of Iraqi oil.

[bth: this last paragraph is most telling - it says that the militias control the cash flow of the country - the oil exports.]

Thursday, October 04, 2007

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Iraq's Kurdish region approves four new oil deals | Markets | Reuters

Iraq's Kurdish region approves four new oil deals | Markets | Reuters: "ARBIL, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Iraq's Kurdish regional government (KRG) has approved four new oil and gas deals that will attract around $500 million of investment in exploration, the KRG said in a statement on its Web site."...

[bth: This is pretty important. It is establishing economic and legal independence from Baghdad. You can bet that when Hunt Oil is involved, that it has been sanctioned by the White House]

US says finds list of Qaeda fighters in Iraq

AFP: US says finds list of Qaeda fighters in Iraq: "BAGHDAD (AFP) — The US military said on Wednesday it had seized a list of some 500 Al-Qaeda members recruited to fight in Iraq from the Middle East and Europe during a raid in northwest Iraq that killed eight militants."

Major General Kevin Bergner said the September 11 raid near Sinjar targetted a senior Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, known as Muthanna, who was killed along with seven colleagues.

"Muthanna was the emir of Iraq and Syrian border area and he was a key facilitator of the movement of foreign terrorists once they crossed into Iraq from Syria," Bergner told a news conference in Baghdad.

"He worked closely with Syrian-based Al-Qaeda foreign terrorist facilitators," he added.

"During the operation, we captured multiple documents and electronic files that gave an insight into Al-Qaeda's foreign terrorist operations not only in Iraq but throughout the region," he said.

The files revealed "a list of some 500 foreign terrorists being recruited by Al-Qaeda, biographies on 143 foreign terrorists en route to Iraq or who have already arrived, including personal data, photographs, recruiters' names, route and date of entry into Iraq."

Bergner said they came from a range of countries including Libya, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Oman, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

The Iraqi and US governments have accused neighbouring countries such as Syria and Iran of not doing enough to check the flow of foreign fighters across their borders into Iraq.

Among the documents were pledges by foreign recruits who were committed to suicide operations, Bergner added.

[bth: why is this critically important piece of operational intelligence in the news and being talked about by Gen. Bergner who is a political operative of the White House? Why are we publicizing this instead of rounding up these individuals? Something is going on here that doesn't meet the eye.]

Taxing the war - - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Taxing the war - - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "House Democrats are now divided among themselves over the best way to damage the war effort in Iraq. On Tuesday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, and Reps. John Murtha and James McGovern, vowed to unilaterally block President Bush's $189 billion emergency war-funding bill and called for a new income-tax surcharge of up to 15 percent to finance the war in Iraq. Mr. Obey said he would not even consider the Pentagon's request for the new funding until early next year, and that he would work to block the president's request unless he establishes a goal of halting combat operations in Iraq by January 2009 (irregardless of the military situation there). Mr. Obey said his tax surcharge, which would range from 2 percent for lower-income taxpayers to 15 percent for the wealthiest, would raise up to $150 billion a year.

Mr. Obey's proposal was too much for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both made it clear that while they have no qualms about seeing the military chased out of Iraq, they don't want to leave Republicans an opening to criticize their advocacy of higher taxes. But the idea of increasing taxes apparently has some appeal to triangulating Republicans and Democrats. Sen. Pete Domenici described Mr. Obey's threat as "pretty gutsy," but admitted that he wasn't sure that it could work, because it's necessary to "feed the soldiers." Sen. Judd Gregg wouldn't reject the idea out of hand, and he indicated that he might favor an unspecified "reasonable way to help pay for some of the costs" of the war. Sen. Mark Pryor didn't sound like he was as bothered by the prospect of military defeat in Iraq, as much as he was worried about the Democrats being labeled the party of tax and spend. "I think Democrats understand that is one of the tags the Republicans always try to put on us," he told the Politico. "Many Democrats are sensitive to that. Given that we're in a presidential election cycle, they don't want to give the Republicans an issue like that."

Mr. Obey and Mr. McGovern say candidly that they are pushing the tax increase in part to turn more Americans against the war. "If you don't like this war, and you don't want to pay taxes, then fight doubly hard against this war," Mr. McGovern said. Yet another reason why Mr. Obey and some of his colleagues are pressing for a tax increase is to give themselves political leverage against Mr. Bush in debating 12 mostly domestic appropriations bills that will be coming to the floor in coming weeks. Mr. Bush has indicated he will veto most of them because they are too expensive. Many Democrats see political advantage in attacking the president for slashing domestic programs while spending more money on the war.

In all likelihood, the Democrats' sabotage campaign will result in a bill containing $40 billion to $50 billion in new spending for the war in Iraq instead of the $189 billion requested by the president. The lower funding level undermines any effort to do long-term military planning, and in all likelihood it guarantees yet another ugly political fight over war funding early next year.

[bth: so no one wants to pick up the tab for this war. If this war is so damned important, then why shouldn't we pay for it with higher taxes? Stick it to the man instead of sticking it to the kids?]

Iranian minister: US can't launch war because of cost to taxpayers

Iranian minister: US can't launch war because of cost to taxpayers | Jerusalem Post: "Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday the United States is not in a position to launch a war against Iran because American taxpayers are already saddled with the very costly war in Iraq. "

Nonetheless, Manouchehr Mottaki accused US President George W. Bush's administration of engaging in a "psychological war" and raising the option of a military strike every six months over the last two years.

At some point during each six-month period, he said, "we were receiving information which looked very exact - in some specific hour and date the strike will take place."

While the US maintains that all options including a military attack remain on the table, Mottaki said "Our analysis is clear. US is not in a position to impose another war in our region against their taxpayers."

[bth: kind of a curious insight into their thinking. They think the cost of the war is what is holding us back. They think they are being fed false data as to specific dates, etc. and they don't seem to calculate that our air force or navy would be able to wax their targets without much incremental cost to us. This Iranian official clearly believes our cost in Iraq is a deterrent on attacking Iran. Does that mean he thinks keeping the cost up by harassing our convoys and giving Shia EFP components helps protect Iran? Kind of flies in the face of the Iran wants a stable Iraq logic.]

Suspected '100 million dollar al-Qaeda financier' netted in Iraq

AFP: Suspected '100 million dollar al-Qaeda financier' netted in Iraq: "BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraqi and US forces have detained a man they believe received 100 million dollars this summer from Al-Qaeda sympathisers to hand out for 'terrorist' operations in Iraq, the US military said Thursday."

"The 100 million was what our intelligence reports indicate he has received spanning several months this year," US military spokesman Sam Hymas told AFP. "That is all the unclassified information I can give you."

A statement from the military said the man, who was detained in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Kindi, was suspected of handing over 50,000 dollars a month to Al-Qaeda using his leather merchant business as a front.

"He is believed to have received one hundred million dollars this summer from terrorist supporters who cross the border illegally or fly into Iraq from Italy, Syria and Egypt," the military said.

He is suspected of travelling abroad himself to seek money for Al-Qaeda and of employing up to 50 extremists to help deliver bomb-making materials to insurgents attacking the US-led coalition.

The US military also accused the unnamed man of involvement in two attacks on a revered Shiite mosque at the heart of Iraq's bitter sectarian conflict.

He was linked to purchasing explosives and weapons for the February 2006 attack on the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra, widely seen as the trigger of Iraq's sectarian strife. Another attack on June 13 of this year destroyed the mosque's two minarets.

The suspect, who according to US military intelligence has stores in Jordan, Syria and the Iraqi city of Fallujah, is also wanted for allegedly shooting dead three US soldiers and wounding another in April this year, the military said.

[bth: note there is no referenced date as to his arrest. It is very likely he was arrested some time ago and for some reason now is the time the story is released. The release of a story like this usually precedes a major Congressional hearing, scandal or book. One good point is that this story wasn't held until Friday.]

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


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War Is Boring - Release the gunships: Part One

War Is Boring: "The tech-heavy, increasingly irrelevant Air Force is finally making a half-hearted effort to actually contribute to low-tech counter-insurgency fights. But it could do a lot more, according to Major Robert Seifert in a recent piece for Joint Forces Quarterly. First up, the service needs to reconceptualize the enemy, Seifert writes:"

Strategists yearn for a center of gravity to attack in order to crush the insurgency, and many claim there is none. They fail to see that the center of gravity is the individual insurgent and the location of his attack. For it is at that location alone, and only for a brief time, that the insurgent we struggle to define is an irrefutable enemy and a definable target. Strategists and tacticians both must look at each insurgent attack in the same light as our grandfathers looked at Germany’s war industry.

Next, the Air Force must give more freedom to one of its most effective weapons, the AC-130 gunship, to go out and destroy this “industry.” Why gunships? Because they combine a wide range of sensors and weapons in a platform with a long loiter time. It’s a perfect combo for a low-threat environment. The problem is that the Air Force assigns gunships to orbit over specified ground units for hours at a time, whether or not those units are likely to come across any bad guys:

[Gunships] fly every night in Iraq but rarely identify a single insurgent due to the inefficient manner in which they are requested by the Army and employed by the Air Force. … [A] simple yet fundamental change in AC–130 employment can kill or capture more insurgents, save friendly lives, and improve prospects for coalition success.

“I am convinced that if I was allowed to employ my gunship the way I propose, I would find and kill insurgents every single night,” Seifert told me:

I would ask where the insurgents are most likely to be (although I would start figuring it out pretty quickly myself) and I would then fly over those areas as much as possible all the while being on a frequency that all of the ground forces in the triangle knew to call at the first sign of trouble. Sure a lot of insurgents would get away every night but you catch a dozen insurgents every night and you start demoralizing them pretty darn quickly. I’ve shot dozens of them and they don’t even know what’s shooting them. AC-130s against insurgents is a total and complete unfair fight. We’ve made it fair, though, by sitting the gunships in the same spot for hours at a time “defending” whatever ground force happens to be in that location.

My concept is no different than how police forces are used. Do cop cars sit in the same spot and defend a neighborhood? Or do they roam around looking for bad guys all the while being on call to EVERY citizen in their jurisdiction. Cops are the best weapon against bad guys and gunships are the best weapon against insurgents. Another example is F-15 employment. Do F-15s sit in the same spot defending a particular army unit against air attack or do they roam the skies looking for MiGs and waiting for AWACS to push them to the first indication of MiGs? The Air Force has perfected the art of air-to-air and is the reason the Iraqi Air Force wouldn’t even take off. Put the same effort and expertise into gunship employment and you’d start seeing insurgents that didn’t want to leave their houses.

Sounds a bit optimistic to me, but the man does make an interesting argument. Today and tomorrow I am posting a two-part Q&A with Seifert:

Q: Do you think the gunship presence in theater will support this new strategy? In other words, are there enough planes?

Seifert: There are more than enough planes in theater. Keep in mind there are 13 U model gunships in existence with 4 more being built [plus 8 H models — ed.]. My article proposes two every night which would put a gunship anywhere in the triangle WORST case in 20 minutes. Another one or two would be nice but two employed optimally would change the course of the war. Have fighters working the same way and talking to the gunships and you’d have an airborne sensor on scene in minutes. And once that sensor locks on the insurgent(s), it’s a done deal. The gunship shows up and is either cleared to engage by the ground force commander for known insurgents or the gunship escorts a QRF to the scene so they can see if the insurgents act hostile or not. Approximately 10 seconds after showing hostile intent, there’s a single 40-mm round on the way or a single 105[-mm] howitzer round, ground commander’s choice. Again, the insurgent doesn’t even know what’s shooting at them. A total and complete unfair fight.

Q: In your article, you posit that the insurgency’s center of gravity is the individual fighter and his attacks. I disagree. I say the center of gravity is ideological and infused in the regional populace. Can you address my assessment in light of your proposal?

Seifert: I know what you’re saying but I still say that the insurgent shooting at U.S. troops is the center of gravity. Destroy and demoralize him as quickly and efficiently as possible and the war will start going better. The insurgents keep fighting because we haven’t made it painful enough for them to stop fighting. Sure there is the politicial aspect to the war but there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we need to kill as many insurgents as possible, as fast as possible, as cheaply as possible, as unfairly as possible, etc etc. Killing insurgents with M-16s and F-16s is tough, dangerous, complicated, expensive, etc. Killing insurgents with an ammo-laden transport aircraft that can loiter in the Sunni triangle for 10+ hours every night shooting bullets that cost pennies compared to other means of killing insurgents and now we’ve got a chance of winning the war without bankrupting our country. I will also say that the Arab culture respects strength. If the gunships were unleashed, the only defense would be to stop attacking US forces. Again, you’d get away with some attacks but it would only be a matter of time before a gunship or another air asset caught you or a US soldier called quick enough to get the gunship in place. How many hours long battles have you read about in the paper. Why? Other air assets respond but only the gunship has the situational awareness and the ability to shoot a single 40-mm round at a time to efficiently kill insurgents and not cause collateral damage. The gunship is the only air asset I know that shows up on scene and quicly has more situational awareness than the ground forces. Too many times I’ve told ground forces that personnel were sneaking up on them and that we were 10 seconds away from a round on target the second they gave the command. No other asset compares (in a low threat environment like Iraq). There are CAS aircraft and then there is the AC-130. How many times have you read about other air assets making low passes and dispensing flares to scare away the enemy after they’ve attacked our forces. Why are we asking our pilots to fly hundreds of feet from the ground to dispense flares? Our pilots’ bravery is unquestioned but there has to be a better way. When you have enemy forces attacking your forces, they need to be killed not scared away. I’ll say it again, the Arab respects strength.

Israel lifts veil of secrecy over air strike in Syria

Israel lifts veil of secrecy over air strike in Syria | Jerusalem Post: "Israel decided Tuesday to lift the strict veil of secrecy over an air strike in Syria last month. "

The censor announced that it was allowing the Israeli media to report on the raid without attributing such reports to foreign sources.

The censor did not release any other details of the raid for publication.

Israel has kept quiet on the subject until now. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad told the BBC on Monday that IAF jets had hit an "unused military building" in his country.

Assad said Israel's air raid on northern Syria showed Israel's "visceral antipathy towards peace," according to excerpts posted on the BBC's Web site.

The comments were the first by the Syrian leader about the incursion, which raised speculation that warplanes had hit weapons headed for Hizbullah or even a nascent nuclear installation - reports Damascus has repeatedly denied.

Journalists in Israel are required to submit articles related to security and military issues to the censor, which can make changes to stories or bar publication altogether. In a rare move, the censor's office issued a special directive about the Syrian air raid, specifically prohibiting publication of any details. ...

[bth: so what's going on here? Why and why now?]

Records on North Korean ship docked in Syria were altered

Records on North Korean ship docked in Syria were altered - Haaretz - Israel News: "Online databases tracking a ship reportedly flying a North Korean flag that docked in Syria have changed their records following a report in The Washington Post linking the alleged Israeli air strike in Syria to a North Korean shipment. "

Ronen Solomon, who searches information in the public domain for companies, told Haaretz he found references to a ship called Al Hamad on three different Web sites after the initial reports of the Israeli raid in Syria on September 6. These included the official sites of Syria's Tartous Port and the Egyptian Transportation Ministry.

Two of the three sites said the ship was flying a North Korean flag, and the third site reported it was flying a South Korean flag.

Haaretz confirmed Solomon's report.

Saturday, the Washington Post published an article citing an American Mideast expert, who said a shipment that arrived in Syria three days before the alleged Israel Air Forces strike was labeled as cement, but that Israel believed it carried nuclear equipment.

Following the Washington Post report, Solomon returned to the three sites, and discovered that all mentions of the North Korean flag on Al Hamad had been deleted, and that the ship's flag was now registered as 'unknown.'

The official site of Syria's Tartous Port,, had reported that Al Hamad, flying a North Korean flag and carrying cement, entered the port on September 3. Solomon stressed that several North Korean ships docked at Tartous during August.

Syria said IAF planes entered its airspace on September 5.

According to the site, the ship had passed through Tripoli port in Lebanon, Solomon said.

He then found a site,, that said Al Hamad was registered as a 1,700-ton ship intended for general cargo and flying a North Korean flag. The ship had been built in 1965 and had had several owners, according to the site.

In addition, Solomon found on the Web site of Egypt's Transportation Ministry,, a record that Al Hamad had docked in Damietta Port Said in the Nile Delta about a month earlier, on July 28. However, this site registered the ship as flying a South Korean flag.

Haaretz was able to access the Tartous Port Internet site until Saturday afternoon, after which it went offline for several hours.

'If you don't go after the network, you're never going to stop these guys. Never.' -

'If you don't go after the network, you're never going to stop these guys. Never.' - "By Rick Atkinson Washington Post Staff Writer "

BAGHDAD -- In the early spring of 2006, perhaps the most important document in Baghdad was known as the MOASS -- the Mother of All Spreadsheets-- a vast compilation of radio frequencies that insurgents used to trigger roadside bombs.

In some areas of Iraq, 70 percent of all improvised explosive devices were radio-controlled, and they caused more than half of all American combat deaths. An overworked Army intelligence officer tracked the frequencies, and an equally overworked Navy electrical engineer matched them against 14 varieties of electronic jammer used by coalition forces.

As new frequencies popped up, the updated MOASS was analyzed by the National Security Agency, by Navy electronic warfare specialists in Maryland and by Army specialists in New Jersey, which led to recommended adjustments in the jammer settings. Those modified "loadsets" were then e-mailed to U.S. military forces throughout Iraq so that the jammers could be reprogrammed. The cumbersome process took weeks, by which time new frequencies had been logged into the spreadsheet, requiring further analysis and further reprogramming even as hundreds of new jammers arrived in Iraq each month. "It was a mess," a senior defense official recalled.

By the end of 2006, the Department of Defense had spent more than $1 billion during the year just on jammers. Fielding them "proved the largest technological challenge for DOD in the war, on a scale last experienced in World War II," according to Col. William G. Adamson, a former staff officer for the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), the Pentagon office coordinating the campaign.

The U.S. strategy was defined in six words: "Put them back on the wire." By neutralizing radio-controlled bombs, the jammers would force insurgent bombmakers to use more rudimentary triggers, such as command wire. Those triggers would be simpler to detect, in theory, and would bring the triggermen closer to their bombs, where U.S. troops could capture or kill them.

That strategy has succeeded. In the subsequent 18 months, radio-controlled bombs would shrink to 10 percent of all IEDs in Iraq. Today, bombs triggered by simple command wire have increased to 40 percent of the total.

But the threat from IEDs has barely diminished. In the first seven months of this year, there were 20,781 roadside bomb attacks in Iraq, one every 15 minutes. And as of this morning, IEDs have killed 440 U.S. troops this year. Putting them back on the wire has proved a mixed blessing.


Different jammers worked by different means. Active jammers screamed constantly, disrupting radio-controlled bombs with a barrage of radio waves on pre-selected frequencies that drowned out the triggering signal. Reactive jammers "scanned and jammed" by monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum -- like a human ear in a crowded restaurant listening for a voice that whispered "detonate, detonate, detonate" -- and then blocked the frequencies they were programmed to block.

Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, a hodgepodge of jammers had arrived in Mesopotamia, both active and reactive, weak and powerful: Warlock Green, Warlock Red, Warlock Blue, ICE, MICE, SSVJ, MMBJ, Cottonwood, Jukebox, Symphony. Collectively they were now known as CREW, an awkward acronym within an acronym: counter radio-controlled IED electronic warfare.

As more jammers flooded the war zone, the mess grew messier. For many months, the shortcomings in electronic warfare expertise had been evident among Army and Marine units. "We had all these boxes over there and people didn't know how to use them," said Rear Adm. Arch Macy, commander of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. "They'd turn them on, thinking they were protected when they weren't."

Electronic "fratricide" intensified, with more instances of jammers disrupting coalition radios and even the radio links to unmanned aerial vehicles. More troops switched off their CREW systems rather than risk disrupting their radios; rumors circulated that jammers actually detonated IEDs.

In some instances, according to a senior officer in Baghdad, investigations of fatal IED attacks revealed that "the device that killed them was triggered by a frequency that could have been stopped by proper jamming." A now-retired Army lieutenant colonel said, "There were a whole lot of things that made you just want to cry."

Among the biggest problems was simply the crowded electromagnetic environment in Iraq. Most fiber-optic and above-ground telephone lines had either been destroyed during the 2003 invasion or subsequently looted by copper-wire scavengers. Now 27 million Iraqis used unregulated cellphones, walkie-talkies, satellite phones, long-distance cordless phones and, in hundreds of instances each month, radio-controlled bombs.

About 150,000 coalition troops also sent out a great spray of electronic emissions, which mutated dramatically every time new equipment or a new contingent of soldiers arrived, including some with old Warsaw Pact electronics. "People have said it's the most challenging electromagnetic place in the world," a Navy captain said. "It's very complex." Trying to make sense of the signals, he added, was "like having your head underwater."

This was especially true in Baghdad, where the electromagnetic environment seemed to vary between neighborhoods, between seasons, between times of day. "No one realized," the senior Pentagon official said, "how much tougher jamming was going to be in the ground plane" -- the ground-air interface, where earth meets sky. The Army logistician added: "We didn't scientifically map out the problem set, so we didn't know the normal electronic noise of a taxi driver doing his thing, the doorbells, the garage door openers, the satellite communications. . . . You have to know the normal program of life."

The Pentagon would spend millions of dollars trying to replicate Baghdad's idiosyncratic airwaves in laboratories and at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Senior commanders in Baghdad "were going bonkers," the Army colonel recalled. "They were saying, 'How do we fix this?' "

Worse yet, there were problems with Duke, the sophisticated reactive jammer the Pentagon had decided would replace the various models being used in Iraq. Syracuse Research Corp., a not-for-profit company created by Syracuse University in 1957, had won the competition for Duke using design concepts developed by Army engineers at Fort Monmouth, N.J. The contract was signed in June 2005, with the first Duke -- a big box with a big antenna -- completed in November. But deployment to Iraq was delayed to allow adjustments and more tests.

This state of affairs pleased no one, but it particularly displeased the Marine Corps. Marine casualties had been severe in Anbar province, where high-powered radio-controlled IEDs were pernicious. Some Marine officers also feared that they could be shortchanged as Dukes reached the field, that the Army was "taking all the good stuff," as one source put it. "The issue got ugly with recriminations."

"It was part service rivalry, part delivery schedules, and partly that no one could make stuff fast enough," said Macy, the rear admiral. "You can't walk into Circuit City and say, 'I want 25,000 high-powered jammers.' "

The Marines had already hedged their bets. Med-Eng Systems, a Canadian firm, made an active jammer that worked by "blasting away, locking up everything," according to a retired Navy captain. As a foreign firm, Med-Eng needed a U.S. partner to work on classified programs. Soon a corporate marriage was arranged with General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in Charlotte.

If inelegant, the jammer had showed promise in tests conducted in the summer of 2005. Because it could be reprogrammed to meet changing insurgent threats, from key fobs to cellphones, the gadget was named Chameleon.

The Marines bought 1,000 Chameleons in November 2005. After encouraging tests at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and elsewhere, the Marines announced on Feb. 8, 2006, a $289 million contract that increased the purchase to 4,000 Chameleons, which later grew to 10,000.

General Dynamics threw its considerable heft into the project, even using a corporate jet as a delivery van to pick up components nationwide, according to company sources. "Marines take care of their own," a General Dynamics talking point advised, but the company also eyed a bigger prize. The first Dukes had deployed overseas in February 2006, yet the jammers' difficulties in Iraq's electromagnetic environment persisted.

Noting an "Army requirement of 20,000 systems" worth $1.5 billion by 2008, General Dynamics intended to "pursue the Army requirement and displace Syracuse Research," according to a defense industry document. A corporate information campaign would promote Chameleon's virtues to Army and congressional leaders.

"We've pursued business opportunities," a General Dynamics spokesman said last week. "We were well aware of the Army requirement." A spokesman for Syracuse Research declined to comment, citing "contract restrictions."

In Baghdad, confusion only intensified as hundreds and then thousands of new jammers flooded in, some active and others reactive. Duke's shortcomings -- "it was looking like a turkey," the senior Pentagon official said -- grew so grievous by late spring that officials considered scrapping the jammer altogether in favor of Chameleon.

A naval officer, Capt. David J. "Fuzz" Harrison, had spent the winter of 2005-2006 in Baghdad trying to figure out how to fix the jammer problem. "The ground electronic warfare fight that's killing so many soldiers and Marines would be greatly aided by having people here who know electronic warfare," Harrison reported. That meant the Navy, which had extensive experience in electronic combat and had recently been chosen to coordinate all of the military's CREW systems.

Retired Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, head of the Pentagon's counter-IED effort, returned from Baghdad in early February 2006 with similar conclusions. Expertise was needed in divisions, brigades, regiments and battalions. Harrison and Col. Kevin D. Lutz, commander of Task Force Troy, the counter-IED brigade in Iraq, calculated that nearly 300 electronic warfare officers would be required. The Navy agreed to provide them.

After brief training at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state, the first batch of 33 Navy electronic warfare experts -- including submarine, aviation, surface ship and engineer officers and sailors -- arrived in Baghdad on April 15, 2006. Hundreds followed. Distributed throughout the force, they made an immediate impact.

Now soldiers and Marines had an expert to adjust those finicky boxes and antennas, and to offer advice on using jammers as a weapon against radio-controlled bombs. "It was," Meigs later said of the Navy's commitment, "a stroke of genius."


By the summer of 2006, radio-triggered IEDs had dropped to less than half the total, and they would keep plummeting for the next year. Duke became a valued battlefield asset in Iraq, and 2,300 eventually reached Afghanistan to begin replacing the venerable Acorn, which had first arrived in 2003. The integration of active and reactive jammers in both theaters proceeded apace. "Scar-tissue learning," as Meigs called the process, turned soldiers and Marines into capable electronic warriors.

Yet insurgent bombers found other options. Simple pressure plates -- two metal strips that completed an electrical firing circuit when pressed together by a tire or an unsuspecting boot -- appeared in great numbers. More than one-quarter of bomb triggers were soon classified as "VO": victim-operated.

These included growing numbers of explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), which often used passive infrared triggers tripped by a passing victim. EFPs became as flamboyant as they were deadly; a bomb with 54 warheads configured in nine "arrays" was discovered before detonation on May 17, 2006. Despite increasingly sharp warnings from the Bush administration to Iran, which was accused of supplying the bombs and other war materiel, EFPs continued to take a horrific toll in Shiite-controlled sectors of Iraq.

Six cavalry troopers would be killed in a blast on March 15 of this year, and from April 1 through July 31 roughly 300 EFP attacks occurred. EFPs still account for only about 3 percent of all roadside bombs in Iraq, but the 250 Americans killed by the devices since 2004 amount to 17 percent of all bomb deaths, according to military sources.

Underbelly or "deep buried" IEDs continued to take an even greater toll -- more than half of all coalition forces killed early this summer, for example, although only 15 percent of all bombs were classified as deep buried. The Pentagon agreed to buy at least 7,800 sturdy Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles with V-shaped hulls for approximately $1 million each. Prudent soldiers on patrol now searched every road culvert; some units began welding shut manhole covers.

An incident on June 28 in the East Rashid neighborhood of Baghdad illuminated a disquieting trend: A single underbelly IED, so violent that investigators initially believed the blast came from several car bombs, killed five soldiers and wounded seven.

Bombmakers increasingly used homemade explosives brewed from fertilizer-based urea nitrate in kiddie swimming pools or huge aluminum cauldrons, then spread on flat rooftops to dry and packed in rice bags. On July 17, bombers detonated 1,500 pounds of homemade explosives in a culvert north of Baghdad. The blast heaved a 26-ton armored vehicle 60 feet through the air, killing two Navy crewmen, according to investigative documents. Other bombmakers in late 2006 began using acetone to leach the explosives from artillery and mortar shells; much lighter and more portable, the stuff could then be molded into car wheel wells or hidden almost anywhere.

Multiple suicide truck bombs were orchestrated to penetrate sturdy perimeter defenses, like the twin blasts in late April of this year that killed nine soldiers from the 82nd Airborne in a schoolhouse command post north of Baghdad.

Another nasty variation first appeared in October 2006 with the first use of chlorine gas in an IED. Sixteen more chlorine attacks would occur, but insurgents found, as World War I soldiers had, that "it is very difficult to create a lethal concentration of chlorine gas," an Army colonel in Baghdad reported. "The gas cloud rapidly dissipates."


Defeat the device. Train the force. Attack the network.

Meigs, a retired four-star Army general, had repeated those three phrases a thousand times since becoming JIEDDO director in December 2005.

In the early years of the Iraq war, the U.S. government's counter-IED efforts had focused overwhelmingly on defeating the device, and more than half of Meigs's budget still went to preventing detonation and, if that failed, mitigating the blast. In fiscal 2007, for example, $113 million would be spent on mine rollers, a World War II technology using heavy cylinders to trip pressure plate triggers in front of a convoy.

The "molecular sniffer" long coveted by U.S. Central Command arrived on the battlefield in the guise of Fido, a $25,000 machine developed by an Oklahoma company as part of a Pentagon program called Dog's Nose. Modern explosives have very low vapor pressures, and therefore emit few molecules for a sniffer to detect; but Fido's sensor -- heated above 200 degrees Fahrenheit -- was effective enough that hundreds were deployed, including more than 70 mounted on mobile robots. "This is the closest thing we can get to a dog," a government engineer said.

Some technologies thrived: Warrior Alpha drones; surveillance cameras on towers and blimps; ground penetrating radar mounted on a South African-built Husky vehicle to detect buried IEDs. In trying to "pre-det" -- prematurely detonate -- bombs with radio signals, EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare planes flew above roads in Iraq and Afghanistan. The missions were called "burning the route."

Other technologies flopped. Forerunner, an unmanned vehicle carrying counter-IED gear, was to be "tele-operated" with remote controls by soldiers in a trailing vehicle. It "simply did not work" and was banished from the theater, according to a JIEDDO document. The controls proved sluggish, and some operators developed motion sickness while trying to drive Forerunner via a television monitor in the jouncing trail Humvee.

Still more disappointing was Blow Torch, a high-powered microwave emitter built at Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania after besting four rivals in a government competition. Similar to an Israeli gadget called Dragon Spike, Blow Torch was intended to defeat the electronic circuitry in EFPs. At $175,000 each, 101 of the devices took to the field for operational testing early this year. But enduring shortcomings halted the deployment and Blow Torch was diverted to New Mexico for more testing.

Also frustrating was the scientific effort to detect the gossamer-like copper wires increasingly used to arm or detonate bombs, including about one-third of all EFPs by this summer. Certain airborne search radars gave good resolution -- a clear picture -- when looking for a thin wire strung from a hidden roadside bomb to a triggerman. But those radars failed to penetrate beneath the surface for wires slightly buried, while radars that penetrated gave poor resolution. Different soils produced varying results, depending on moisture content, alkaline levels and other arcane variables. False positives were legion in wire-strewn, trash-cluttered Iraq.

Meanwhile, the jammer saga rolled on. By midsummer, 13,000 Dukes had arrived, to be followed by an improved Duke 2. The Pentagon also signed contracts with EDO Corp. for more than $535 million to buy the first 7,450 of an eventual 11,000 jammers -- known collectively as Spiral 2.1 -- intended as the next CREW generation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Research and development has already begun on Spirals 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3, according to the Navy.

Few issues were more emotionally charged. Since early 2006, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, had urged a "Take Back the Roads" campaign in Iraq. Among other solutions, he advocated a backpack jammer known as the Quick Reaction Dismounted (QRD), which would succeed the little Warlock Blue he had pushed into the field a year earlier. When a staffer called Hunter from Yuma and told him that "they have 163 more iterations of the tests still to go" on the QRD, the chairman angrily accused Meigs of "the slows" and of "delaying things from getting into the hands of the troops," according to sources familiar with the incident.

Meigs was furious. The backpack jammer was not ready for deployment, he countered, and the Duke's persistent difficulties had disrupted the test schedule at Yuma. Eventually the Pentagon announced that 1,400 backpack jammers -- a QRD model called the Guardian won the competition -- would be sent to the theater by spring of this year. (Hunter lost his chairmanship in January when Democrats took control of the House.)

Armor remained the last line of defense, and armor grew ever thicker, heavier and more expensive. Seven major vendors toiled to build the V-shaped MRAPs, and the Pentagon pondered whether to triple the buy, to 23,000 vehicles, in order to replace all Humvees in Iraq, according to senior officials. By the end of 2007, 1,300 MRAPs were to be built each month, compared with fewer than one a day a year earlier. For expediency, plans were made to fly at least some MRAPs to the war zone at a cost of $135,000 each, seven times the expense of sea transport.

A Marine general this spring publicly declared the MRAP to be "four to five times safer" than an uparmored Humvee, but Pentagon officials conceded that it remains vulnerable to EFPs and large underbelly bombs, as well as to anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. An even stouter model, designed to better parry EFPs, is under consideration.

The Pentagon in the past year also financed more than 8,000 anti-fragmentation kits, known as Frag Kit 5, which added still more armor plating to Humvees. Frag Kit 6, a still heavier version, will have doors weighing 650 pounds each -- so bulky that soldiers may need a "mechanical assist device" to open and close them. "It's over the top," said an Army colonel in Baghdad.


Training the force, Meigs's second imperative, has saved innumerable lives over the years. Soldiers who once spotted few roadside bombs in Iraq now detect more than half before detonation.

The "Mark 1 Human Eyeball," as troops sardonically call it, is more adept at finding IEDs than any machine. Studies to determine which soldiers made the best bomb spotters found that "it's those who hunted and fished and were much closer to their environment," an Army scientist reported. Because approximately half of all casualties occurred in the first three months of a soldier's deployment, according to a senior intelligence official, units headed overseas began receiving extensive counter-IED instruction at the Army's National Training Center in California and elsewhere.

In Iraq, SKTs -- "small kill teams" -- of five to eight soldiers learned to ambush bomb emplacers, often hiding for hours or days near IED "hot spots." Under a $258 million contract, Wexford Group International of Vienna, Va., and the Asymmetric Warfare Group, a new Army unit formed last year at Fort Meade, Md., dispatched field teams to the theater to help sharpen tactics and techniques. Troops were advised to "get off the X" -- the blast seat in an IED attack -- and to "build a box," with surveillance cameras, for example, in which to spot and trap insurgent bombers.

The new unit, now 250 strong, adopted an eccentric motto: "Normal is a cycle on a washing machine." Field commanders were urged to be unorthodox, by leaving an eavesdropping bug after searching a suspected insurgent hideout, or by shutting down microwave towers to neutralize cellphone triggers before entering a dangerous sector.

"Our mission is to challenge the culture of the whole Army," said Col. Robert Shaw, the group commander. "The institution is not designed to react as fast as our enemy reacts."

Last winter, another new Army unit, Task Force ODIN -- the acronym derives from "observation, detection, identification and neutralization" -- began hunting IED emplacers with unmanned aerial vehicles, attack helicopters and spotters in C-12 airplanes. Operating from Tikrit in northern Iraq, the task force eventually averaged "40 to 50 engagements per month," according to a senior Army official. A sequence of operations in northern Iraq -- code-named Snake Hunter, Snake Killer and Black Widow -- increased the number of suspected emplacers killed from a weekly average of 22 last fall to 71 per week this spring, an Army lieutenant colonel said.

"The enemy's killing us with a thousand cuts, and we're trying to kill him with a thousand cuts, too," the lieutenant colonel added. "Can you kill your way to victory?"


Ultimately, eliminating IEDs as a weapon of strategic influence -- the U.S. government's explicit ambition -- is likely to depend on neutralizing the networks that buy, build and disseminate bombs. Military strategists have acknowledged that reality almost since the beginning of the long war, but only in the past year has it become an overarching counter-IED policy. "Left of boom" -- the concept of disrupting the bomb chain long before detonation -- is finally more than a slogan.

"If you don't go after the network, you're never going to stop these guys. Never. They'll just keep killing people," the senior Pentagon official said. "And the network is not a single monolithic organization, but rather a loosely knotted web of networks."

The resemblance of bomber cells to a criminal enterprise has meant a greater reliance on law enforcement techniques, an approach Meigs had stressed as commander of NATO forces in Bosnia in the late 1990s. In Iraq, that has included such tactics as analyzing the copper found in an EFP slug to determine where it was mined and bringing modern forensics to Mesopotamia.

"We were policing up guys on the battlefield and turning them over to the Iraqi judicial system, which was releasing them because we didn't have any experience in gathering evidence," the senior intelligence official said. Convictions in 2006 ran as low as 20 percent in some areas.

Eventually, 18 weapons intelligence teams, drawn largely from the Air Force, began collecting evidence both from bombs that detonated and from those that did not. At Task Force Troy in Baghdad, four cyanoacrylate fuming chambers now use a concoction of Super Glue and high humidity to tease latent fingerprints from electrical tape or IED components. One million known Iraqi fingerprints are stored at a Pentagon biometrics center in West Virginia. In the first seven months of this year, technicians examined 112,000 items and recovered an average of 600 latent prints each month.

In June, for example, 17 fingerprint matches led to the detention of 10 Iraqi suspects and a hunt for seven others, officials said. Because the Iraqi judicial system traditionally has relied on confessions, witness statements and photographic evidence, two American forensics experts on July 13 gave 30 judges at the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad a 90-minute tutorial on fingerprinting. U.S. officials hope to begin introducing fingerprint evidence in Iraqi trials this year.

Ninety retired agents from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies also have been hired as field investigators in a $35 million pilot program that began a year ago. About 150 prosecutions for bombmaking activities have taken place in Anbar province alone, according to a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst.

Other unconventional initiatives include "human terrain teams," made up of anthropologists, social scientists and sundry experts who advise brigade commanders on tribal structure, local customs and cultural nuances. A preliminary assessment last month of an HTT in eastern Afghanistan concluded that the team had "a profound effect" in reducing "kinetic operations" -- gunplay -- and had even discerned that a local village would help stop Taliban rocket attacks against U.S. troops in exchange for a volleyball net. From an original $20 million plan for half a dozen teams, the Pentagon now envisions nearly 30.

To anticipate future bomb designs, scientific "red teams" last year began building IEDs that insurgents might build, while "blue teams" calculated how best to defeat them. Other red teams include 100 cadets and midshipmen from the nation's military academies, who have also been recruited as surrogate bombmakers. "Show me how many different ways you can flip a switch at a distance," the students were told. "Be conceptually sophisticated, but use the most simple, cheap and available material that you can."

Last fall, in an office building in Northern Virginia, a JIEDDO operation began fusing data from the CIA, the DIA, the NSA other organizations in an effort to give brigade commanders timely intelligence for targeting IED networks. Telephone eavesdropping, surveillance video, spy reports, roadside-bomb trends: all are packaged electronically and sent forward. The operation can build in 12 hours a three-dimensional video showing, for example, a street in Ramadi or Baqubah where an Army patrol intends to drive tomorrow, with extraordinary detail about past IED events on this corner or down that alley.

Attack-the-network results have been heartening in recent months, according to Pentagon officials, who cite the seizure of bomb caches and the destruction of several cells. Still, scarcely an hour passes in Iraq without someone planting a bomb.

"It's a hard problem. There is no solution, just better ways of dealing with it," Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England said in an interview. "You keep mitigating as much as you can, but at the end of the day, it's warfare."


At 9:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, a convoy of four uparmored Humvees rolled through the heavily fortified gate at Camp Falcon in southern Baghdad before turning north onto Route Jackson at 35 mph. Each Humvee carried a jammer against radio-controlled bombs, either a Duke or an SSVJ. Each had been outfitted with Frag Kit 5, and a Rhino II protruded from each front bumper as protection against EFPs detonated by passive infrared triggers. As recommended, the drivers kept a 40-meter separation from one another.

The senior officer in the third Humvee, Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, 41, had driven to Falcon to attend a memorial service for two soldiers killed by an IED. Now he was returning to his own command post near Baghdad International Airport. As commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 32nd Field Artillery, a unit in the 1st Infantry Division, Gadson was a gunner by training. But as part of the troop "surge" that President Bush announced in January, the battalion had taken up unfamiliar duties as light infantrymen in Baghdad.

After 18 years in the Army, including tours of duty in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in Afghanistan, Gadson was hardly shocked by the change of mission. He knew that, proverbially, no plan survived contact with the enemy. Raised in Chesapeake, Va., he had been a football star in high school and an outside linebacker at West Point before graduating in 1989. The nomadic Army life suited him and his wife, Kim, who had been a classmate at the academy before resigning her commission to raise their two children.

In the darkness on Route Jackson, no one noticed the dimple in the roadbed, where insurgents had loosened the asphalt with burning tires and buried three 130mm artillery shells before repairing the hole. No one saw the command wire snaking to the east through a hole in a chain-link fence and into a building. No one saw the triggerman.

They all heard the blast. "The boom is what I think about every day," Gadson would say three months later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A great flash exploded beneath the right front fender. Gadson felt himself tumbling across the ground, and he knew instantly that an IED had struck the Humvee. "I don't have my rifle," he told himself, and then the world went black.

When he regained consciousness, he saw the looming face of 1st Sgt. Frederick L. Johnson, who had been in the trail vehicle and had brought his commander back from the dead with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Lying on the road shoulder 50 meters from his shattered Humvee, Gadson was the only man seriously wounded in the attack, but those wounds were grievous. Another soldier, Pfc. Eric C. Brown, managed to knot tourniquets across his upper thighs. Johnson hoisted Gadson, who weighed 210 pounds, into another Humvee, an ordeal that was "extremely complicated due to the extensive injuries Lt. Col. Gadson sustained to his lower extremities," an incident report later noted.

Thirty minutes after the blast, Gadson was flown from Camp Falcon to the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad's Green Zone. For hours he hovered near death, saved by 70 units of transfused blood. "Tell Kim I love her," he told another officer.

Two days later, he was stable enough to fly to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; two days after that, he reached Walter Reed, where Kim was waiting for him. On May 18, a major artery in his left leg ruptured; to save his life, surgeons amputated several inches above the knee. The next day, the right leg blew, and it, too, was taken off at the thigh.

Gadson would be but one of 22,000 American casualties from IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that isolated incident along Route Jackson on May 7 was emblematic of the nation's long struggle against roadside bombs.

He had been wounded despite the best equipment his country could give him and despite the best countermeasures American science could contrive. His life had been saved by the armored door that shielded his head and torso, and by the superior training of his soldiers, the heroic efforts of military medicine and his own formidable grit. He had lost his lower limbs despite flawlessly following standard operating procedure. He faced months, and years, of surgery, rehabilitation and learning to live a life without legs.

Gadson's war was over, but for his comrades and for the country it goes on. An additional $4.5 billion has been budgeted for the counter-IED fight in the fiscal year that began this week. JIEDDO, which started four years ago this month in the Pentagon basement as an Army task force with a dozen soldiers, now fills two floors of an office building in Crystal City and employs almost 500 people, including contractors.

The House Armed Services Committee concluded in May that the organization "has demonstrated marginal success in achieving its stated mission to eliminate the IED as a weapon of strategic influence." Others disagree, including England. "Monty Meigs was the best thing that ever happened to us," he said, "and to the [Pentagon], and to the guys in the field."

Whether because of the surge, or despite it, total IED attacks in Iraq declined from 3,200 in March to 2,700 in July, an 8 percent drop. IED-related deaths also declined over the summer, sharply, from 88 in May to 27 in September.

If heartened by the recent trend, Meigs is cautious. He notes that sniping, another asymmetrical tactic, tormented soldiers in the Civil War. "Snipers are still around, and they're darned effective," he said. "Artillery has also been around a long time. There are some tactical problems that are very hard to solve. There are no silver bullets, no panaceas."

Virtually everyone agrees that regardless of how the American expeditions in Iraq and Afghanistan play out, the roadside bomb has become a fixture on 21st-century battlegrounds.

"IEDs are a factor in the future," Macy added. "Wherever we go, for whatever reason we go there, if there are people who don't like us, we're going to have to be prepared to deal with IEDs."

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

[bth: this is an extraordinary series of articles. A couple of notes. The number of robots is probably about 1500 at any one time. There may have been 5000 shipped but over 3500 were modified toy chassis of the Bombot or Marcbot variety and most of those are gone. The 'find' rate on IEDs has been consistent at between 40-50% since records were first recorded on this probably in 2004. Why? The reasons they are detected may vary geographically and by sect from technology to bribes to tip-offs. One important note was that the number of phone in tips vastly increased post election in 2006. The summer trend line on EFPs suggests that they are declining in number over that period, but most activity declined as the temperature rose and Sadr declared a ceasefire at the beginning of Sept. for six months. That is not a trend. 31% of our casualties in July came from EFPs which are immensely effective at killing despite their rarity. If Iran wanted to drive us out of Iraq, an EFP surge against MSR Tampa which crosses Shia controlled provinces would certainly do it.]